Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Half-Price Chocolate Day

It's the day after Valentine's day, and that means major sales on chocolate! Not that I'm buying any, but I AM going to go hunt stuffed animals with my son later this afternoon (it's likely HE will be the one scoping out the chocolate.)

My husband and I went to Walmart on Sunday, and I have to say that I have never, in all my life, seen that much stuff in one place for Valentine's Day. Maybe it's a bigger deal here in North Carolina than in Vermont?

They had these red bins of stuffed animals as far as the eye could see. I'm not kidding, they were set up two-deep in front of every register like you see in the photo I snapped, but also down every larger walkway, and in the back of the store. Never have I wanted to take a running leap more than I did when I first caught sight of all these giant red bins. Forget ball-pits, I want a pit of stuffed animals!

That wasn't even the tip of the iceberg though! There were so many aisles full of candy and decorations and crafts... good grief! Balloons everywhere! Pink baked stuff on every corner. Flowers shoved into huge shelves that bracketed the doors... Actually, that is something I'm going back to see if I can snag a few of. I don't like getting flowers, unless they're potted. I always feel bad when the cut ones die, because they were so expensive. If they're gonna die, let it be me that accidentally killed them instead of paying an arm and a leg for ones guaranteed to die in a vase.

Now, you might be thinking I'm a grown woman with stuffed animals all over her house after my obvious fixation on them in the store, but that's actually not true. I was that kid who collected (far too many) stuffed animals, but I did eventually get rid of them as an adult. Probably because I had children, and I got to live vicariously through their stuffed animal collections. Now, both of my kids don't really have many anymore, but they still like getting one at Christmas.

I have a few small stuffies, all given to me by my children throughout the years sitting in my studio, and a new one this Valentine's day from my husband (a small purple unicorn. He also gave me a Reese's heart, but I haven't gotten into it. I really am trying to lose weight! I just visit it, and tell it I love it, but I leave it in its box. I can't even smell it like that. I know. I have issues.) Likely, I'll go and just stand there in Walmart and imagine how great it would be to buy a giant bear for 65% off, but not actually do it. A sort of vicarious discount experience. I'll probably do the same with the chocolate.

In order to stay out of the chocolates, I decided my fast painting for Valentine's day would actually BE chocolates. That might sound like I was torturing myself, but it was kinda neat. It turns out chocolates are a lot more complicated than you would think. Instead of spending only 20 minutes on it like I am supposed to, I went the better part of an hour. I was frustrated it wasn't moving faster and I was determined to finish it. I do like the results though:

Chocolates, 4x6 acrylic on loose canvas
A lot of people have complimented it and say it looks like a photo. This is flattering, but also interesting to me. The reason being is that I think I have finally learned, I mean really let it click for once, that even when you don't paint it perfectly that the viewer's brain will correct or even fill in the details to make it look the way it's "supposed" to in real life. As long as you're not too far off, the viewer's brain will do the rest.

If you get close up to this painting, there are mistakes. There are areas where it's so very clearly painted, and maybe even wrong. I've been working with my nose so close to the canvas and being mad I can't get it perfect on all my bigger paintings, but the truth is... it doesn't need to be. This might help me speed up my bigger painting projects and hopefully improve them overall. All a part of my growth. Working on it!

I also finished a little daily 20-minute last week, the last of my Betta's for that week:
4.5x6, oil on loose canvas
I'm working on some larger paintings at the moment, but the in-progress shots would be a mess to show! But at least I'm working! It's forward progress for where I want to go with my studio, I just need to create enough space between assignments and deadlines to start changing things for myself and growing. It's hard to push back, but I'm trying.

A lot of it is my own fault, too though. Tripping all over myself, boxing myself in. It's that way in all areas of my life that have problems, I think. Whether it's my studio, or my weight, or what have you... why am I always in my own way? Oh well, a thought for another day.

For now, paint, and later... hunting unicorns!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Awww, Come ON!

I have a cold.

Actually, to be more precise, I have my husband's cold. I had it settling in yesterday morning, and it was coming on strong last night. I didn't sleep well, because I had horrible nightmares, like my in-laws suddenly moved in with us and the only thing coming out the taps was mud, that I somehow caused by using those toilet-drop-in tablets. (Yeah, I dunno what's wrong with me either.)

The one upside to nightmares is that you are so relieved that it wasn't real, you can pretty much face anything else that's coming that day! And what was coming was... *gasp* a mammogram.

OK, I just cannot get over that word. I feel like it should be a ripped guy in very little clothing, cowboy hat, with balloons, showing up to sing something. They need a new word, because in my head it always looks like "Ma'am *wink* o-gram" and then I start giggling like a 12-year-old. Because I'm mature like that.

Speaking of maturity, I think they should have wine at mammogram places. It would really liven things up! I walked in to the windowless waiting room of gonna-get-squished doom, and they basically had an assembly line going of women who were all miserable to be there, and avoiding eye contact. That's no fun at all. I mean, we already know what's coming and there's no way to make that part fun, so why not liven up the waiting room?

Anyway, I survived. I feel like I chest-planted into cinder blocks, but I survived. WHILE I have a cold, mind you.

I bring this up, because my husband came down with this cold on Sunday and proceeded to basically... well, act like he's dying. He got the dreaded MAN-cold. I think I read somewhere that the man-cold is a real phenomenon and that they get sicker or feel worse than women do. I dunno. I kinda want to dispute that, but ok. Whatever.

The real kicker isn't that anyway, it's that apparently with this cold comes a whole bunch of water weight. It BETTER be water weight. Unless I'm sleep-donut-eating, it can't be real (and we don't have any donuts anyway... wait, maybe that's WHY we don't have any?!) But it's demoralizing just the same. Stupid scale. Stupid cold.

Ok, there's a slight chance I'm a wee bit grumpy. A small possibility.

On to brighter news! Yesterday, I didn't feel up to my daily painting, but I did do this one today:

4x6 oil on loose canvas. I decided to focus more on his face, so there was a focal point. I really think it makes a big difference in the painting.
I also managed to finish this little 5x7:
5x7 inches, oil on cradled wood panel. 
That one had been kicking around for a while, so it was good to get it done. I also finally photographed these three ultra-mini paintings:

2x2 inch, oil on stretched canvas

2x2 inch, oil on stretched canvas

2x4 inch, oil on stretched canvas
It's kind of nice to get a few done, and then processed (have to take pictures, post them for sale in my shop, etc. It's more work than you would think!) Now I have deadlines to focus on, and stop procrastinating by doing other work... is it procrastinating if you're still working? Seems like a gray area to me. Just sayin'.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Well, it's February. It's going to be about 75 degrees today, and I plan on opening the windows. Were this the weather in April, this would be excellent. But it's February. I want snow! On Friday it's supposed to be in the 40's. I'm going to shut all the blinds, pretend it's snowing outside, and bake cookies.

Speaking of cookies, or not eating them, I'm down 10 lbs since January 1st. Granted, some of that is water weight, but a chunk of that *IS* real weight loss! So, yay!

With that loss, I'm about 18 lbs from not being overweight by the BMI charts for my height, and another 10lbs beyond that from my final goal weight. Well, final as long as I get there and feel decent. But I'll decide once I am there. When I was younger and at that weight, I felt good and people actually called me thin. But your body changes when you're older so... we will see. I will say the bonus to being tall is gaining 10 lbs and there being very little difference in appearance or the way your clothes fit. The downside to being tall is that you work hard to lose 10 lbs and there's NO freaking difference!!! Good for holidays, bad for the ego I guess. *pout*

Anyway, my goal is to lose 6 lbs a month, and by summer I'll be at goal. I may not quite be able to pull that off for February given my stupidity with the super bowl party we had, and my birthday at the end of the month, but we shall see what I can pull off! I really want this weight off.

In other progress news, I have started daily exercise paintings for days I am in my studio (preferably five times a week.) I get roughly 20 minutes for the painting, and then I need to walk away. It's all about laying down values, and seeing what it is you're painting. I've been allowing myself some leeway, up to 30 minutes, because sometimes it just isn't even close to ok. I think it's working though. It's teaching me to lay down basic values without obsessing over details, and learning how to walk away.

The walking away part is what kills me. It's not right! I must fix it! GAH! But I'm doing it. What's more is that I'm listing the paintings for cheap ($20) and most of them are being snapped up right away. It pays for my practice session supplies, the canvas and the paint, so I literally have nothing to lose. No excuse not to get busy and start working.

So, I started with landscapes last year with this exercise, and then dropped it. Now that I have picked it up, I'm doing beta fish this week. I'm getting a little bored of them, but it's only one week. All paintings are 4x6 inches on loose canvas, and so far all oil. Here's how it's gone so far this week (I started a day early):

Beta Fish #1, I like his face the best
Beta Fish #2, Whites were hard on this one. I feel like I learned a bit, but struggled far too much. A big part of this is because the canvases on this and the last started as white.

Beta Fish #3. Now, this time I got smarter and gessoed the canvas black FIRST. SOOOOO much better, and I almost hit the time for 20 minutes, until I realized I hadn't painted in the black and that looked odd to me. I actually made a time lapse video, so you can see where I changed my mind.
I can't figure out how to post the video here, so I'll link directly to it on my instagram: You will be able to see it whether you have an account or not, and it's only about 30 seconds long.

I have figured out I am in love with black gesso. I think it's just more me. I like working from a darker ground. Although, I have some other things I'm going to be practicing with (not for these, more involved) and they have various toned grounds. Maybe I'll fall in love with another color too. I just feel like white doesn't work as well for me anymore.

Anyway, these practice paintings do loosen me up and get me ready to face more in the studio. I'm hoping it'll yield other results as I carry on with it. I'm thinking about doing desserts next week (hey, they're calorie-free when they're just paintings!)

I have finished a few small paintings too, but I'll post those next time!