Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cardamom and Orange Butter Cookies

Cookies

By Beth Sollars (Singingirl Cooks!)

A couple of weeks ago when I bought that really expensive jar of cardamom for the Indian Inspired Dinner, I vowed to find ways to use it. After reading a little about this exotic spice and the ways in which it makes baked goods so delicious and curries so fabulous and coffee so spicy tasting, I started not to feel so bad that I had put my Pug's favorite treats on the back burner for this jar of cardamom.  Just Kidding!!! I'll have people calling the Pug Rescue Society for saying that.  Since I had made my Aunt Rose's cookie recipe in the past, I knew that with just  a touch of cardamom, it would send them over the top awesome. So, on with the recipe for Cardamom and Orange Butter Cookies, and I just know Aunt Rose won't mind that I renamed them.  If, however, you don't have cardamom, don't want to spring for the jar, or the cardamom pods and grind it yourself, then make these cookies without the cardamom. Aunt Rose did.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Accomplishments Feel So Grand

Sarah

We are very proud of our girl!
Sarah has been invited to
Queen's University
to perform her "Waterfall" composition
in a winter concert at the University
on November 21st.  

The second half of the concert will include
a performance by

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Thank You Pablo Picasso

AmericasPromise

I've been struggling.  All artists go through this at some point in their career, but I felt I should talk about it.  Richard Schmid once said that you have to paint, and the more you paint the fewer "duds" you will turn out.  Now, I don't expect every painting to be a masterwork, and even my best is far from it, (and I think this one is probably one of my very best), but I keep trying, although I must admit that I am not as passionate about trying with every painting.  I don't know why that is.  Maybe laziness, maybe impatience, maybe I'm just tired.  I was passionate about painting "America's Promise."  Can you tell?

I realize that no matter what it is we are passionate about, though, sometimes we just don't feel like giving it our best.  It happens.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Progress - The Red Barn at Outlook Farm

RedBarnatOutlookFarm

About 2 months ago, I received an email from a reader requesting a commissioned painting of the Red Barn at Outlook Farm for her sister who was getting married there in the coming months.  I have to say, nothing makes me happier than to get a commission for a painting that I love to do - and you know me and barns.  

Since that first contact, I sought out the best possible reference image, and although it isn't the best, it is enough to create a beautiful painting.  I thought I would take this opportunity to show you how I progress through paintings like this.  I do things a little differently now and then.   So let's get started!

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Monday, September 07, 2009

What Not To Do - Or...

WhatNotToDo

This year has been so discouraging that I have been thinking seriously about what options and resources are available for opening a small business.  Having been a small business owner in the past, I carry with me a bungalow of optimism when it comes to starting a business, however, I know how much energy, time, and effort goes into the building, creating, and financing of a business as well.  It's a lot of work - and that's an understatement.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

New Paintings to Share

NewPaintings

Hello everyone!  I have some new paintings to share with you that I am going to be exhibiting at the Matthews Alive Festival this weekend together with some other paintings I have for sale.  This one is called "Rolling Acres" 8 x 16 Oil on Panel. You can click on any of the paintings to see a larger view.

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Time for the Festival

MatthewsAlive4

Just want you all to know that I am busting my butt at the Matthews Alive Festival through Monday evening.  They'll have to peel me off the ground before the weekend is out.  I have to say, I really hate doing these festivals.  The last time I did this 2 years ago I swore I would never do it again and here I am.  I must be crazy.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What's the One Thing?

Feet

To everyone who stops by today ... I have a random question for you ...

What is the one thing you wished for that you are glad you never got? 

This question was posed on TypePad and it got me thinkin.  So, what is the one thing that I wished for that I am glad I never got?  Actually, I think I may have a few things.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

An Indian Inspired Dinner

Dinner

My stomach is growling and this sounds absolutely delicious.  After looking at the pictures, though, I told Big Bear we've gotta whip this up this week.  Thank you Beth!  So, are you ready for something delicious? Howza bout Melon Curry and Kicked Up Coconut Chicken Tenders!! Here ya go ...

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw © - Drawing Lesson 3

Treecropped

Good morning!  Let's draw a tree together.  How about a big ol' oak tree.  Trees can be fun to draw and they really are not that complicated.  However, the more you practice drawing them and indicating the branches, the leaves, the bark, and how the light hits the tree, your trees will look wonderful.  Just remember, your impression does not have to look like mine or anyone elses impression - it just has to be your impression of the tree.  That is what makes art so wonderful and unique - is that the way you draw, the way you paint, the colors you use, and your brushstrokes are uniquely yours.  We can learn from each other, but ultimately, take what you know and what you learn and make it your own.  Be creative.  Let's give your tree some pizzazz.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fun Before the Festival

Festival

In the last 2 weeks I have been painting nearly every day preparing for the Matthews Alive Festival in Matthews, North Carolina this coming holiday weekend.  I'll be setting up a tent and showcasing my artwork to all the visitors who stop by.  I love the meet and greet and the children who walk by with their painted faces and their cotton candy.  It is always a lot of fun regardless of whether or not I sell anything.  I've been painting some little things.  Small paintings that I can complete so that I have something to sell.  I've sold a number of my paintings in the last few months and I've been commissioned to do a few as well, so I have definitely been busy in my studio. 

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Visits with Vermeer

VisitswithVermeer

I've had one of those weeks.  I enjoyed being able to shut down my brain for the week and not have to think about getting a story out or pulling out my camera, although I love doing those things, I had other things that were pressing - like laundry, cleaning and organizing a home office, laundry, getting my mother settled back home in her own bed, laundry, and getting my daughter ready for school that starts tomorrow.  I'm still trying to reconcile in my head that my girl is learning to drive and has her learner's permit now.  I even let her drive my Beamer while I promptly dug my nails into the leather seats.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Taking the Week Off

CowinFieldShadowed

Hi All!  Just wanted to let you know that I am taking this week off to focus on organizing our home office and getting down to the nitty-gritty of cleaning our home.  It has been straight and somewhat clean, but it really needed the toothbrush treatment if you know what I mean.  And, I really wanted to go through all the papers we have piled in drawers and shoe boxes and organize them in addition to organizing our file cabinets in our home office.  It has been a chore.  My mother is also coming home tomorrow from Florida after a nice visit with my brother Mike and his wife Marcella.  So, I want to make sure that all the sheets are changed in her bedroom and everything is fresh and clean for her when she gets home.  I'll be back to writing on Monday and I have a lot to share.  In the meantime, feel free to mozy around my place here and catch up on any stories or recipes you may have missed. 

Thanks for stopping by and I'll be back on Monday.  I appreciate a little time off.

SusieQSignature

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw © - Drawing Lesson 2

3pears

Today's drawing lesson will be "Three Pears."  Just follow along with me as we draw these three little guys the best we can.  Remember, this isn't about being perfect.  You are not trying to replicate the picture so perfectly that it looks like you traced it or took a picture of it.   Drawing is all about "what you see" and "what you can do."  No matter how advanced you are in your drawing skills, or painting skills for that matter, there will always be others who are better than you and others who are not.  And, who determines who is a better artist?  Well, don't let that voice in your head fool you.  If Picasso and Pollack had listened to what everyone was saying about their work, the art world would not be nearly as exciting or interesting.  Art is subjective.  I must admit, though, that I need to remind myself of this often to keep going myself.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Portraiture is Painful

Portraiture

Monet once said "Painting is painful," and I would have to agree, but as for today, and for me, Portraiture is painful - very painful.  No wonder I've been cussing more in the last week.  Trying desperately to capture Matthew's sweet personality, bright eyes, and rosy cheeks has been a chore - but well worth it.  I am anxious to finish his portrait, let it dry, and varnish it.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm a Brazilian Nut

Brazilian Nut

As you all may know, Beth and I have been friends, uh, forever, and since she hates to type (and glad she isn't a blogger), she has been making 30 second videos and sending them to me daily. They are so funny. So, Beth told me how to use Photobooth on my Mac (we both have Macs) to make these silly video emails. Well, I gotta tell ya, our videos are getting crazier every day. Our conversation this week ...

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2 Crazy Gals and a Photobooth

CrazyGirls

Well, Beth has been sending me video emails and I still can't figure it all out, but I did make this video today (a collection of 3 bad videos with bad mouth and all, and this is the only way I could get the dang thing to Beth - why?  Because my stinkin' email wouldn't send it.  So Beth (and anyone else who is interested) here is a crazy, stupid, video made by 2 50-something ladies that had nothing better to do - well, that isn't entirely true because we were trying to finish the video so we could paint.  We finally got to the studio and I live streamed from my studio but forgot to record it.  I told you I stink at this.  Anyway, here's the stupid video - for Beth...

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The Color of Cancer

Haircolor4

As most of you may know, I stopped coloring my hair years ago.  As difficult as it was for me to accept the gray and whiteness of my natural hair, something innately told me that this was the right thing to do.  I do not regret my decision one bit and I am going to tell you why.  I am certain that hair color causes cancer.  Every time I colored my hair the thought went through my brain "What the hell am I doing!!!"  And I would sit there feeling the color and chemicals penetrate my scalp and the back of my neck with such a fury that all I wanted to do was get the crap off of my hair and off of my skin.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw © - Drawing Lesson 1

Skraw

I've had so many readers ask me if I could give them lessons in drawing that I decided to start something here just for you.  I'm going to call it the "Saturday Morning Skraw" (Sketching and Drawing) and today will be the first lesson.  I'm going to start with the very basics and work up to more advanced techniques over time, but I thought this would be a good start for everyone who is interested.

I enjoy drawing in the morning right after I wake up.  I keep my sketchbook on my night table with my pencils and eraser.  It's a fun way to start the day.  You'll need a sketchbook or some white paper, a kneaded eraser, and preferably some drawing pencils (I like Staedtler or Reeves), but if you don't have them, just use a handy #2 pencil.  Let's get started!

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Friday, August 07, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees - A Conversation

SecretBees

I am an avid reader - if you haven't figured that out yet.  I love to read.  It takes me away to faraway places, to another time and place, to a place in my brain where I feel like I've curled up with a blanket in the comfiest chair I can find.  Well, I found the perfect book to take me away this summer - The Secret Life of Bees. 

Yes, I saw the movie with Dakota Fanning, but the book - oh, the book - it is gripping and will keep you hooked from the first page to the last.  It is the story of a little girl, Lily Owens, who breaks her black "stand in mother" out of jail (for insulting 3 of the most racist men in in town) and runs away from home.  She lost her mother when she was four and thought that she was responsible for her death.  Her father was abusive, yet I was led to believe that he was afraid and alone and just didn't know how to raise a daughter, so he took his frustrations out on Lily.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Daughter and a Driver's License

Daughters

This was the summer that my baby girl took driver's education.  Every day for several weeks we drove her back and forth from her school to classes.  My fears have started to set in.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

1990 Was A Crazy Year

BethwithHarley

You all know my friend Beth, right?  Singingirl?  The cooking queen contributor here on Raisin Toast?  Well, yesterday she sent me some of the craziest pictures of both of us from 1990, and we both had a good laugh.  This one is of Beth standing behind my Harley Sportster.  "You really wanted to ride it didn't you Beth?"

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Mini-Me Muffins For Your Sunday Morning

Muffins

It's like a little Mini-Me Muffin! Nothing better to do with my Sunday morning after working late last night than get up and start making muffins!!?? It's just for the thrill of the outcome kids. These are in the book "Singingirl Cooks" together with a 100 more of my favorite, delicious recipes. Our newest member of the Singingirl Cooks' team is Joe Scott and Joe Mal, who now own their very own book.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Random Sketches

RandomSketchescropped

Take a stroll through my sketchbook...

Below are my random 5 minute sketches.  Well, some of them may have taken me 10 minutes.  They are quick sketches - in other words, I wasn't all that concerned with accuracy as much as I was about just having fun.  They are rough, quick, and part of my sketchbook that I thought you might enjoy glancing through. 

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Angel Making Deviled Eggs

MatthewandEggs

Yes, he is an Angel.  Yes, he is my son.  No, he is not a "Mama's boy."  Yes, I dote over him like crazy.  No, he doesn't say "aw, Mom" when I hug him and kiss him and pinch his cheeks and rub his ear lobes.  Yes, he is definitely a cutie pie.  No, he doesn't like math.  Yes, he does like helping Big Dad in the kitchen. And, Yes, he is going to be a heart-breaker some day - but when he does get married, he is going to make one young lady a very lucky gal - why?  Well, one reason is that he likes to cook.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Matthew's Portrait in Progress

InMyStudioBanner

No laughing at this video, okay?  I can't help it if my mind goes blank staring at and talking to a camera.  I would never have survived as a broadcast journalist - or an actor.  Forget it.  Me and camera's don't really mix.  Anyway, today, I was working on Matthew's portrait and in this video you see me hangin' out in my overalls trying not to totally screw things up like I did with his last portrait.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Jalapeno and Sundried Tomato Twice Baked Potatoes

Jalapeno

For a nice, not so heavy, vegetarian, summer dinner, Beth whipped up a delicious jalapeno and sundried tomato twice baked potatoes, and now you can too!

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How to Stretch Your Own Canvas

InMyStudioBanner

Live from my UStream Show today, learn how to stretch your own canvas...

I'll be back on at 5pm EST today showing everyone how I sand and prime my canvas before I start the sketch.  Hope you'll stop by!

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/in-my-studio

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Live Streaming on UStream from Inside My Studio!

InMyStudioBanner

What fun!  I think.  I am live broadcasting on UStream from inside my art studio!  If you would like to stop by and see what I am painting and doing in my studio, then stop by, hang out with me, look over my shoulder at all my mistakes, listen to my music...

No commenting on my gray hair.  Ya hear me Beth?  Ya out there?  I'm not coloring my hair.

My online show is called "In My Studio" with Artist Susan Vaughn.  That's me.  Duh.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Drawing Lesson by Jon Gnagy - Snow Scene

JohnGnagyArtist2cropped

Just what we need - a snow scene to cool us off from this summer heat.  I took a break today from my laundry and was snooping around the web for information on Children's book illustrators when I came across this video of Jon Gnagy.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I used to sit in front of the television and watch him draw - mesmerized by his perfection and ease of hand.  "I want to do that!" I'd yell to my Mother"Mommy! I want to draw like that!" 

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friends & Photoshop Actions

SarahandAlison

Before we moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, we lived in Woodbine, Maryland on 3 acres in a community of only 15 homes all on about 3 acres each.  It was a nice community and one of the best things about it was our neighbor Lisa and her 2 children, Alison and Conner.  Lisa and I became fast friends and so did Sarah and Alison.  Moving didn't make a difference that much except that we didn't see each other as often.  We've putted our way up and down the interstate to Maryland and back a number of times to see them and they've come to North Carolina to hang out with us too.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life for a Struggling Creative

Creative

I have a confession to make, and deep down, I know that what I am feeling is something that most artists and creative souls experience - a deep struggle with creative satisfaction, a feeling that I will never reach my full potential if I don't let myself experience the process fully.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

A Walk Through the Wetlands

Wetlands

No, this is not North Carolina.  No, I am not soaking up the sun and sand in Florida ... But Beth is!  Well, sorta.  Beth lives in Delray Beach, Florida and she has a high school reunion in the near future, so she wants to look hot.  Of course, that isn't going to be difficult for Beth because Beth has always been hot - and not because she lives in Florida either.  In my opinion, Beth turned 39 and never aged a day after. Lucky gal.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Is This All There Is?

Italy12

What is that song?  That old one that goes "Is this all there is?"  I think I'm having one of those days where I've had too much time to reflect on my life, smile at some of the risky behavior of years past, and mope about opportunities lost that will probably never be.  Yep, it's one of those days.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

How to Make Your Own Shower Curtains

SewingRoom

See this bolt of fabric?  I bought it 3 years ago to make a shower curtain for the children's bathroom.  I'm the Queen of Procrastination.  It's one of my personality defects.  But today, I got off my tuff and decided to do something about it.  So, I set up my sewing table and pulled out my sewing machine and set up shop in our sunroom.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Charlotte Symphony, Spoons, and Lots of Smiles

July4thCelebration

It was Friday night, July 3rd, and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra was having a free concert in Southpark and there was going to be a wonderful fireworks display too.  So, other than the cost of gas, we decided it was well worth the fun to take the children to hear the orchestra and enjoy the fireworks.  We were also hoping it would not be as crowded as if it were on the 4th.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Summertime Craft & Cooking Fun with Kids!

CraftingandCooking

Now that the kids are home and out of school for the summer, around here we are always looking for something fun to do with our kids.  I, personally, do not like them sitting in front of the computer, playing the Wii, or X-Box, all day long.  It is bad for their eyes and bad for their brain.  So, we limit their use of electronics and encourage our children to read and do other things that are better for them - like crafts, cooking, painting, playing outside, riding their bicycles and scooters, playing board games, and reading.  There is so much that they can do that does not require an electronic device or a computer, and I recently found 2 books that have encouraged my children to try something new and fun.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Baked Bird's Nest for a Summer Morning Breakfast

BakedBirdsNest

This has got to be the most interesting breakfast I've seen yet, and of course, that's because Beth's culinary skills have no limitations. Talk about delicious, nutritious, and a perfect way to start your summer morning.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Artists' Specials Series

ArtistSpecialcropped

When I find something educational and entertaining, I'll be the first to share it with you here.  After yesterday's post, I had several readers ask about a Winslow Homer movie after a reply I had made to my friend Beth in the comments.  We have a set of movies called The Artists' Specials Series that we have enjoyed time and time again.  Whenever I want inspiration, I pull out one or two of the movies.  I originally saw these specials on HBO about 4 years ago and immediately went online to purchase the movies.  They were that good.  Here are the movies that are in the Artists' Specials Series ... 

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Summertime and Edward Potthast

PotthastCropped

I don't know what it is about summertime, but every summer, I get all wrapped up in the paintings of Edward Henry Potthast.  I love his work.  I can't stop looking at it and studying his brushstrokes.  My own work has been greatly influenced by this artist.  His paintings make me happy.  There is a brightness and joy that can be felt from his paintings. Although my favorite artists were the impressionists - Renoir, Monet, Manet, Cassatt, Degas - it is the work of this American Impressionist, Edward Potthast, that I believe has had one of the greatest impacts on my own body of work.  And so, I would like to tell you a bit about this artist whom I love ...

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Phantom is Mesmerizing

Phantom1

For over 20 years I have wanted to see "The Phantom of the Opera" at the theatre.  And Sarah was just as anxious to see the play after seeing the movie and falling in love with the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.  So, a couple of months ago, we purchased 3 tickets for an afternoon at the Belks Blumenthal Performing Arts Theatre in Charlotte, and Sarah, Matthew, and I spent several hours being completely mesmerized by the performance.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Take A Look At Yourself
And Then Make A Change

MichaelJackson

AN UNPRECEDENTED PHENOMENON HAS OCCURRED ACROSS AMERICA!!! Apparently thousands of 40-60 year olds have been admitted to hospitals from coast to coast in Cardiac Arrest due to a night long dance tribute to Michael Jackson. 

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

We Need Fathers to Step Up

Fathers

By President Barack Obama

(And a tribute to my own father at the end)

As the father of two young girls who have shown such poise, humor, and patience in the unconventional life into which they have been thrust, I mark this Father’s Day—our first in the White House—with a deep sense of gratitude. One of the greatest benefits of being President is that I now live right above the office. I see my girls off to school nearly every morning and have dinner with them nearly every night. It is a welcome change after so many years out on the campaign trail and commuting between Chicago and Capitol Hill.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Rusting Away" 11x14 Oil on Canvas

RustingAwayCropped

"Rusting Away" 11x14 Oil on Canvas.

$320.00 (unframed)

I took a little more time on this little fella and I enjoyed working on the detail.  I also mixed my own greens rather than use them right out of the tube.  I mixed Ivory Black with Lemon Yellow in different variations to achieve the different green hues.  I think in this painting, the dulled-out greens look more natural in this barn setting. 

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Peek Into My Studio

Studiopic

I did not paint today.  I did not do laundry today either (although I probably should have).  I didn't take a nap either (and I usually do that!).  Instead, I cleaned and organized my studio, cleaned my brushes, and looked through my reference material to prepare for my next painting. 

After I finished, I thought I would give you a tour of my studio.  It's nothing fancy.  This would normally be the living room of our home, but we believe that each room should be useful.  No "pretty" rooms in our house.  We use them all, and fortunately, our home has the space we need for all of our activities.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Quiet Morning Walk

MorningWalk

I don't know what got into me this morning.  I actually got up at 6:15 and decided to take a walk with Adolf.  I rarely ever go for a walk, and I realize that I desperately need to change my ways.  I am not getting enough exercise.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Delicious Vanilla French Toast

FrenchToast

Yeah baby!  This is what I call "breakfast" and thanks to my friend, Beth, I've got the recipe to share with you.  Woohoo! 

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Cow in Field" 8x16 Oil on Panel

CowinFieldCropped

Today's new artwork:

"Cow in Field" 8x16 Oil on Panel.

$250.00 (unframed)

Here is a close up of our friendly cow ...

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Church Steeples in Oil - A Tutorial

ChurchSteepleCropped

I enjoy painting different subjects.  Still, I have some favorites - Barns, landscapes, horses, cityscapes, and churches.  There is something about these subjects that draw me into the painting process.  Today, I decided to paint at least 1 small oil painting, and thought it would be a good opportunity to teach those of you who are interested, how I go about preparing a canvas from sketch to completed painting.  In this case, it was a very small painting - 5x7 inches, and it took me 2 hours from start to finish. Well, almost finished anyway.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Click click Here, Click click There

LizatParty

This is my good friend, Liz.  Her hair is a bit of a mess, but she drove to Atlanta and back to Charlotte on Sunday and by the time she got to our house she was tired.  Still beautiful, but tired.  She didn't want me taking her picture.  She smiled for this one though.

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