Spring is teasing us this year with its elusiveness.
One day of milder temperatures, followed by many days of wind, cold, freezing rain, and clouds. Those of us who live in the north are one hardy bunch. We know the warmer days will come. We try to be patient.
Meanwhile . . . we plot, plan, dream, and fantasize about how beautiful our gardens will be this summer.
We bundle up, pull up our hoods, and do our daily garden inspection for some sign of life. Look closely. Bend down. Squint. Nope. Move a few feet. Bend. Squint. Bend further. Yes! There it is! A little green shoot, barely visible, but boldly making its appearance in the garden!
Very soon now, green shoots will be everywhere. And, once again, the promise of flowers and warmer days will come true.
Check out my Etsy shop here to find out about commissioning
an original and affordable custom portrait of your family home!
I think it might actually be SPRING in Wisconsin! That has me thinking about gardens, grass, and leaves on the trees . . . all three of which would be a welcome sight around here. I've gotten away a few times this winter and it STILL seems like it's been an exceptionally long winter.
Spring makes me think of my mom and how she always welcomed it with open arms. Winters are hard on the elderly and she was no exception. While I was painting this journal page, I was thinking about her and the fond memories I have of going to England together. She loved that country so much - and would often tell me how she would be open to moving to some cobbled little village and living there for two or three months . . . all by herself! Oh, how I miss that amazing lady!
Yesterday, I enjoyed a visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum with a good friend. It was the last day of, "ART IN BLOOM", featuring beautiful flower stands, flower art, and everything that related to spring, all set amongst the paintings in the museum. Such a fun day - thank you Gwen!
We're going for a high of 62 today! That will feel incredible and I plan on poking around my gardens looking for signs of life.
This quote says it all.
"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." -Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Check out my Etsy shop here, to find out about commissioning
an original, and affordable custom portrait of your family home!
There's a new item in my Etsy shop! Here's how it evolved . . .
While on our trip to my oil painting workshop in Kentucky, I vowed to do a little something every day in my watercolor journal. I knew if I didn't write it down (or draw it, as the case may be), a lot of the trip's memories would be lost. So I did one or two pages in my journal every evening of our trip. A couple of those pages involved the drawing of houses - the B&B in Versailles, KY, and our own home. After posting those drawings on Facebook and this blog, several friends suggested that I add "home portraits" to my Etsy shop.
I hope you'll check it out. I think it's very reasonably priced and a great, personalized gift for a new homeowner, or as a lasting memory of your childhood or current home. I've tweaked it a bit since I first posted it on my Facebook page, altering the sizes just a bit to accommodate a mat with each drawing. When your home portrait arrives, it will be matted and ready to slip into a standard size frame. All you need to do it take a few photos and send them to me via my Etsy shop, and iPhone photos are just fine. I give photographing suggestions on the listing page in Etsy.
After a very snowy day in Kentucky touring horse country, we are all settled in for our last night in the south. We are staying in Versailles at this stunning bed and breakfast, The Storybook Inn. I'm done sketching for the night . . . maybe . . . and it's time to go downstairs and mingle with the others.
This was the last day of the workshop with DREAMA TOLLE PERRY and what a great day it was! The morning started out with an informative question and answer session with Dreama, followed by a fun exercise called "Musical Easels", and ending with an afternoon of putting all our newfound knowledge to work with a painting of our choice. We learned so much at this workshop, along with a huge dose of inspiration to go home and PAINT!
For "musical easels", we were all given a photo of a colorful cupcake. We attached the photo to our own easel, set up our palettes, blocked in our painting, and the music began. We got about 2-4 minutes at each easel adding to the painting as we saw fit. When the music stopped, we moved on to the next easel. The end results were surprisingly wonderful. The one with the red polka-dot cupcake liner and a strawberry on top was my favorite. When we were done, Dreama's husband walked in with several dozen beautiful cupcakes for the class. While this might not seem like much of an exercise, it truly was. We were all surprised at how eagerly and easily we changed things on a painting that was NOT ours, which naturally led to feeling more bold about making changes in a painting.
For my afternoon painting I used one of my favorite photos - the Ruby Horse Barn in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
And one more journal post for today. Thinking of how Kentuckians love their horses, made me think of what's roaming around in the fields of Wisconsin . . . cows. I think we love painting our cows as much as they love painting their horses!
Painting from 9:30 to 4:00 again! It was a great day of learning about color, mixing, technique, and brush strokes. It's challenging but very fun - tiring but exhilarating - all at once. In Dreama's own words, "How do we start, how do we keep colors lively, how do we use our brush as an extension of us? And then, after we have been painting awhile, the other questions that begin to surface…..how to stay excited, how to grow in our work, how to photograph your work, what about a website…..lots of things to look at! The one ingredient that will be present in each of my workshops is my passion to excite, motivate, and inspire you to find the true joy of expressing life through your painting."
She covers it all!
Then . . .
It was a little crisp today, but beautiful and sunny! So, we followed up a full day in the workshop with a drive out in the country passing horse farm after horse farm. Beautiful, rolling, narrow country roads, lined with towering oaks on both sides and miles and miles of fence line enclosing each property. Many of the farms have majestic, stone entrances bearing the name of the farm. They're really quite beautiful. Names like, Three Chimneys Farm, Lane's End Farm, and Magdalena. The whole city of Lexington is surrounded by the farms that care for and train some of the greatest racing horses in the world.
So, two journal pages for tonight.
Tomorrow we are to bring all our art related questions for an all group discussion led by Dreama and our OWN photo for our 3rd painting when we'll receive one on one time on how to develop that work and get more good advice on developing our own style. The last two days have been so inspirational - I know the last day will be more of the same.
Meeting Dreama Tolle Perry was awesome! It was pretty intimidating at first, but once we settled in (and I learned that everyone else was a little overwhelmed also) the day proved to be chock full of fun. There were about twenty, friendly, like-minded women, and lots of new techniques and challenges. Dreama is just as sweet and encouraging as I had heard - and a fantastic teacher. That lady can put together a beautiful painting right in front of your eyes. It's mesmerizing to watch and she makes it look so easy. However, when you head to your own easel to put that new knowledge to work . . . it's not as easy as it looks.
Tomorrow . . . finishing up today's painting and starting a new one. Tonight we came back to the hotel after a great dinner and I did some more journaling. The topic? Next Tuesday, when the workshop is over, we're planning a fun day seeing more of this beautiful part of the country. On the itinerary is a visit to Ashford Stud, home to some Derby winners! So that was my inspiration for today's journal entry.
Today we drove into the warmth and sunshine! Our driving distance of 468.6 miles took our car thermometer from 30 degrees to 72 degrees.
We drove all the way to Lexington, Kentucky for an oil painting workshop with Dreama Tolle Perry. I told myself I would work in my watercolor journal every day of the trip - writing and painting a little bit about each day.
We drove by so many beautiful horse barns, farmhouses, tobacco curing barns, all surrounded by rolling hills, and tidy fences that went on forever.
Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I'll be off to the first day of my 3 day workshop held in the Artists Attic in downtown Lexington. Time for bed . . .
Just a sampling of some recent drawings and watercolors from my sketchbook. This first drawing was done from a photo I took at the marina on Captiva Island yesterday. Brown Pelicans are everywhere here - sleeping, airing out, and keeping their eyes peeled for a tasty treat. Beautiful birds, they are full of personality. I love the look on his face!
Below, a sketchbook watercolor of one of the cottages here. They are so brightly painted - hot pink, lime greens, turquoise - charming little cottages, every one.
I was hoping for a view of the manatees feeding near shore today. We've seen them there before - but today, no luck. Hence, a sketchbook drawing/watercolor of another one of my favorite subjects.
And some practice of different styles below - all for the sketchbook.
And last of all, three favorite photos from the last few days.
The Brown Pelican, this one posed for my first drawing, watching my every move lest I should get too close.
Morning fog in the marina with beautiful reflections from the pier and boat.
A Great Blue Heron keeping watch over the marina as the morning fog burns off.
(acrylic on 20" x 20", 1 1/2" extra deep gallery wrapped canvas available here)
Winter has a beauty all its own. The picket fence around our garden is wearing wide red ribbons for the holidays and the snow is deep around the fence posts. Only a few stems here and there suggest there was ever a garden under those drifts. Here's to the tulip bulbs sleeping below, patiently storing up their energy for their spring performance!
I thought about going with a theme this time, but that's too restricting. So here goes. Random as it may be . . . Day 1 of 30.
Honcho- as in - HEAD HONCHO of the barnyard. Doesn't look right, doesn't look left. Just owns the place and knows it. This oil painting is 6" x 6" on Ampersand Gessobord and arrives with a display easel. Available at Daily Paintworks.
Lately, my days have been filled with getting ready for Christmas, and getting my Christmas book ready! While A is for the BIG OAK TREE, was a brightly colored, vibrant book, my goal with this book is something old-fashioned, simple, and quiet - all done in pen and ink. No bright colors or other distractions from the age old Christmas story - the story that is so powerful all on its own!
An Owl For Christmas is the story of a little boy and his dad who go in search of the Great Horned Owl on a cold, December night. They venture down the wooded lane and, along the way, see many signs of a northern Christmas - lights blinking on their neighbors' snowy eaves, bundled up carolers singing sweetly, and snow-heavy pine branches. As they observe all this, little Jack learns of the real meaning of Christmas!
There are also a few pages at the end that give tips and suggestions on how a child can go on an owl hunt of their own, complete with a spot for recording their own owling adventures.
Here are a few teasers from my most recently finished pages.
While the book won't be ready for this Christmas, it will be in my Etsy shop early in the new year. Following close behind, will be
A Child's Nature Journal, where children can record their own observations from the great outdoors.
It's been a snowy day in SE Wisconsin and perfect for working on illustrations for my new book,
AN OWL FOR CHRISTMAS.
While I did lots of drawing today for the book, the most time-consuming part of it all is getting everything placed on the word document so that it's in the proper format and ready to send to the printer. After lots of drawing and computer time today, I'm about a fourth of the way done.
Much different from my bright and colorful ABC book, O is for the BIG OAK TREE, I want both the illustrations and the words in this book to be soft, and quiet, and old-fashioned. I'm still not sure if I want to leave the illustrations as pen and ink, or do a light wash of watercolor.
Here's the cover and a page from today's work -
O is for the BIG OAK TREE is sold out! Thanks everyone! I'll be picking up the next printing this week, so you can still get one in time for Christmas! They can be ordered here.
FOUR NEW PROJECTS are in the making and here is a sneak peek at TWO of them!
AN OWL FOR CHRISTMAS
While it won't be ready for THIS Christmas, the story is already written and I'm in the process of sketching out the illustrations. I'll be posting about all of that as I go along. An Owl For Christmas will inspire owl hunts in YOUR children and will have the opportunity for your child to add to the book, journaling about their own "owling" experiences, plus a few other surprises.
A CHILD'S NATURE JOURNAL
This will be an illustrated nature journal for children - a kind of companion book to An Owl For Christmas. It will be a place to record ALL those childhood woodland discoveries to be remembered for generations to come, written in their own handwriting. All this wrapped up in a spiral bound, child-sized notebook that can be held and filled while the exploration happens! There are a couple surprises included with this one too! I wish I had had one of these when my boys were little. What a keepsake to look back on now that they're grown.
And, last but not least . . .
With the Christmas season upon us, we're all busy trying to find that perfect gift for everyone on our list. If you have a little one (age 0 to 7 years) on YOUR list this year, I have about 5 more copies of my ABC book still available in my Etsy shop. You can click the box at the upper right of the blog to go directly to the book site on Etsy.
(I could order another printing if you find they're sold out when you log on, but let me know as soon as possible keeping in mind printing/shipping times.)
Note cards have arrived and are sold in sets of six - great to give to the hostesses of your holiday parties! Or frame one card and tie up the rest with a ribbon for a special gift. These 4.5 x 6 inch folded note cards have been professionally printed with my original artwork. They are blank on the inside and have a smaller version of the print on the back of the card. The matching original painting is still available for some of the note cards at dailypaintworks.com.