Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer at Last

Aaah....summer, what a beautiful time of the year. Other than the fact that my allergies have been raging, life is good! Painting for my new publisher, Penny Lane, is going well. Keeping me busy! Seven of my original paintings were chosen to be displayed in their booth at their biggest trade show of the year, in Las Vegas in September. That's quite a coming out party for Grammy Mouse!!!!

The garden is just growing like crazy. I can't wait for those first ripe garden fresh tomatoes. With all the controversy over salmonella in store bought tomatoes, I am really going to appreciate them this year. The squash plants are almost ready to bloom, and the cukes are already blooming. Gardening here in northern Maine is about 3-4 weeks later than what I experienced in New Hampshire but once things get going they really grow like crazy. The days here are just a wee bit longer so that must have something to do with it.

Our doves have been having babies like crazy. It is really beautiful to see the flock of them fly around the homestead. They are so elegant and dear. We did lose a couple to the bald eagle that nests down near our beaver pond but that is part of nature.

Well I have to get back to painting....stop in again soon. I will try to be more faithful with my blogging.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Howling Winds Bring Back Memories

Icy Winds Howl Through the Night

What a wild night.... all night 35 mile an hour winds with gusts up to 50 mph roared and howled. It didn't start until bedtime (10:30 PM) and they are still blowing this morning. The house creaked and shuddered as I lay in bed. I couldn't sleep so my mind was racing. I lay thinking about my childhood in the old house on Kimball Hill Road. It was a big old colonial farmhouse (13 rooms)with a center bee hive chimney. It had been built in 1764 and added onto through the years. Now there was a house that could creak and shudder during a storm. The house was up on a hill with a long sloping driveway down to the main road. We would get snowbound there too, which was great to a little school!!!! Just get out the sleds, toboggans, wooden skis and a lot of unique freestyle sliding equipment like Granddad's canoe, an old Victorian bathtub that the legs had been taken off, an old metal washtub, and anything else in the barn that had a flat bottom. My cousins, Tim, Tom, and Dustin could sure come up with some creative sliding materials. The family would be snowed in until Uncle Henry came from his farm next door with his tractor with the big bucket loader and dig out our long driveway. That tractor made great snowbanks....more like snow mountains to a 7 year old. They could be quickly modified into snow forts and snow caves or we could pretend they were Mount Everest and go on our own "expeditions".
Winter was so much fun back then. Granddad would put us on a small toboggan, and he on his snowshoes, would pull us into the woods for an exciting adventure. Nana would pack hot dogs, and the fixins' and Granddad would build a fire. We would cook our hot dogs over the open fire with sticks he cut down with his hatchet. Of course, there would always be Marshmallows for a warm toasted dessert. Times were so much simpler then and the fun was so wholesome. Now my grandkids want a ride on a snowmobile if you can tear them away from the darn TV set and their video games. Technology is great, don't get me wrong. I couldn't blog on an abacus LOL but our kids today are missing out on the magic and wonder that existed in the very simple things we found so much fun when I was growing up. This morning on the early news I heard them reporting on a group of third graders who been discovered plotting to stab their teacher with a steak knife. By the sounds of it, they were making some pretty elaborate plans. Too bad that energy and creativity wasn't used to figure out how to slide a bathtub down a hill, I think the world would be a better place.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Still More Snow!!!!!!!!!

Will this winter ever end? Here it is, April Fools Day, and we are plowing snow again! We still have about 4-5 feet of snow on the ground depending where you measure. It snowed all day yesterday...not a lot of accumulation but enough to need plowing and certainly enough to make things messy. I finished two paintings this past week, a 6 x 6 and an 11 x 14. Both winter scenes ( I just can't get winter off my mind) and now they are up on Ebay for auction. That clears the decks for me to start to paint for the print company. I don't enjoy "repainting" a creation. I've had to do it a couple of times as clients have seen a painting that I have done and want another one like it. So in repainting them, I will change things up a little; paint them in a different size format; add some more details. This will help to make it more interesting for me. I'm starting off with Sunday at Saltwater Farm. Originally it was an 11 x 14, now I will repaint it as a 16 x 20.

Last night I painted the sky and let it dry over night. Painting skies in acrylics is difficult. Acrylics dry quickly, unlike oils that give you lots of open time to blend and create drama. So you have to work at breakneck speed to do blending, but I have a different approach. When painting on canvas, first I make a thin wash of the medium sky color and apply that to the canvas. This helps me later in the painting so that I don't have to worry about any white areas showing through when the brush skips over the weave of the canvas. When this layer is completely dry, 10 to 15 minutes, I make a true sky color mixture and paint this over the entire sky area. Wait for this to thoroughly dry. Then I make another sky color mix and this time I add some transparent faux glazing medium. This slows the drying of the paint so I will have time to blend much like you do when using oils. I start applying this sky color at the top of the canvas with a 1" wash brush and in long sweeping horizontal strokes from one side of the canvas to the other work my way down the canvas. When I am half way down the sky, I stop and quickly wipe the brush on paper towels to remove the excess paint. Then I load one side of the dirty brush with Titanium White and load the other side with the original sky mixture and starting at the horizon line I work my way up to where I stopped, with the same long sweeping strokes blending into the already painted sky. When I achieve the look I want, I let it dry for 24 hours and then go back later to put in clouds.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Okay, yesterday was the first day of spring so I am doing a little "spring cleaning". UGH!!! My studio is a total disaster and I need to get organized so I can work efficiently. Time to get down to business and I can't do that with all the clutter that is in here. SIMPLIFY..... that's my motto as I attack this mess. Tomorrow Bill will have to go to the dump with all the clutter I am eliminating!
I am so excited. A print publishing and licensing company is interested in my paintings so I am going to be a published artist. I like that idea. Now I will get more mileage out of each painting. I put so much detail and work into each creation, and there is only so much you can charge for a painting in today's economy so this will give me a little more income for each work without breaking anyone's back. But all of my paintings are sold so they want me to repaint some of the old ones they saw on my website. UGH! That takes a little of the joy out of it. One of the paintings they like is the one above "Shine on Harvest Moon". Well I have to get back to my feather duster. Talk to you soon.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

ICY Day but Finished "The Posie Emporium"

Aah!!!! It's done...taken the full week to complete but "Petunia Philbrook's Posie Emporium" is completed and ready to go up on the auction block. Sometimes its depressing when I look at how prolific some of the folk art painters on Ebay are. They just churn out painting after painting and get an amazing number of bids and huge prices for them. To me they are cookie cutter paintings..all the same with a few different figures painted in. I guess its a great business model but to me it isn't really folk art. For me, a folk art painting should tell a story and have enough details in the painting that the story is credible. I look at the work of Grandma Moses, Charles Wysocki, Kathy Jakobesen, Rosebee, Barbara Appleyard, Will Moses, Sally Caldwell Fisher ... lots of detail so you can involve yourself in the picture. That's what folk art is to me! Although the "cookie cutter" approach is tempting from a monetary standpoint, I just can't "pimp" my paintings. I may be able to only produce one or two paintings a week (and that's a real good week) and they may only get one or two bids and end up selling for $35.00 but I am proud of what I paint and I feel that I am remaining true to my art. That is more important than all the money in the world. My Dad always told me, "Take the time to do it right, or don't do it at all." Those have been the words I have lived by all my life and every time I am tempted do something a little less than my very best, I hear a little voice inside my head repeating that refrain. Scarey but I guess we are our parents!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Busy week, tough week!!!!!

Here we are at the end of another week and I haven't been able to post all week I have been so busy. Monday and Tuesday were "shipping days" after 5 successful art auctions on Ebay. Then Bill had a visit to the VA Center in Togus on Wednesday. Thats a 350 mile round trip and definitely an all-day event. Yesterday I went to the hospital outpatient to have a PH Probe installed in my esophagus. Trying to figure out the source of that chronic cough I have. This probe thing is not a good time. It has had to stay in 24 hours to record the acidity in my esophagus. At 2:30 PM today they take it out. Yeah!!!!!! Ah, the golden spend all your time in the doctor's office.

But in spite of all that, I have managed to paint every day, even last night with that darn probe thing in the way. I am working on a very "Spring" painting called "Petunia Philbrook's Posy Emporium". I should be able to finish it up so that it can be listed on Ebay Sunday. I think that my collectors will love it!
Just got feedback from the purchaser of the painting shown above called "Footprints in the Snow". The purchaser was very happy when it arrived safely in Spokane, Washington. She loves it and says she'll be back to buy more. I'm just glad she's happy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sunday at Saltwater Farm

We've had 3 days of sun, temperatures in the 30's and I even worked on a summer painting to celebrate the weather. Finished "Sunday at Saltwater Farm" on Saturday and now its listed on Ebay. It already has a bid. Selling my art on Ebay is so much fun but a little nerve wracking.
My garden seed order is done and now I feel the urge to paint some spring painting with flowers and gardens. Starting one now of a country flower shop. I'm thinking I'll call it "Petunia Philbrook's Pansies and Posies Emporium". Lots of flowers....should be fun!!! Off to paint. By the way, grey and cloudy again today and a big 2 day snow storm starting this afternoon and ending on Thursday morning. So much for sun and fun and the 30's!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dreary Friday in the North Maine Woods

What a grey, dreary day today! As I look out the studio window, I notice that Mount Katahdin has disappeared again obliterated bythe low clouds. Usually I don't let winter get me down but this year we've had record snowfall with storms every week. The snow is piling up even with the windowsills as it drifts around the house. Snow "showers" tonight! the weather report says, less than an inch of accumulation! Thank God as I do not know where we would put anymore of the white stuff. Keeping the road into the homestead has been a lot of work this winter and pushed Bill's old plow truck to its limits. We've gotten snowbound a couple of times so far, requiring a contractor with a big loader to come in and rescue us.

This afternoon I'll sit down to start a new painting. I haven't decided on the subject matter. I've been toying with recreating an older style piece of folk art, trying to paint a historical piece with my own slant. I'll have to dig out a couple of my art history books to get some inspiration. I noticed when I came into the office that Chuckie and CJ (our two mischievious black cat-children) have been playing with my brushes so the first step will be to put them back in order. I can't figure out why they like them so much. Could be the furry bristles seem like real prey or maybe its the fact they spin so nicely on the floor so they can get a lot of action out of them.

Put two new paintings up on Ebay last night. I'm thinking that is the easiest venue for me. I'm tired of the shows, lugging, packing, unpacking. It takes a lot out me now I'm in my 60's. And dealing with the galleries is wearing plus they take such a big commission so for awhile I will try a little direct contact with the buying public. Take a peak ....

Tonite it's time to dig out the seed catalogs and plan this years garden. I've got to get the seeds ordered so I can start plants in March. It will be a late spring this year with all the snow that we have to get rid of. But tonite I can go to bed dreaming of those luscious ripe tomatoes that we'll have in July.....yummmm!!

Bye for now....keep warm!!!!!!!