Painting 101 (just for the fun of it)

It doesn’t matter if you think you are a good artist or not.  Art is subjective.  What might affect my emotions in a painting may not be the same as what style someone else is attracted to.  I have stood adoring many a painting in museums and in homes and I am in love with southwest oil realism.  Or anything from the sixteenth century.  My friend has a painting in his dining room of blue brush strokes that he no doubt paid hundreds for.  See, none of that matters.  We are painting because it is fun.  Creating and using your right brain helps your brain function better, breaks up the daily schedule, and helps us be like children again.

First grab a canvas, acrylic paints, and a set of brushes.  These things are found easily and inexpensively at Walmart.  Acrylic is easy to clean up.  I adore oil but I do not love the fumes or clean up.  Watercolors are also nice.  I have carried watercolors with me with a small canning jar of water in my purse before for a stint, capturing moments in coffee shops and parks.

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Find a photograph that you love or something out of a magazine.  In your mind, imagine a cross through the photo evenly splitting the photo into four blocks.  Now do the same on your canvas and use that as your scale.  Use pencil.  Here is a great trick that my seventh grade teacher taught me and I will use it forever: if you get stuck, turn the photograph or picture upside down.  That’s right, turn it upside down.  You will start drawing it as you see it not as your mind sees it.  Big difference.  You will be astounded by your accuracy!

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Use an egg carton as a palette.  It’s easy clean up and you can blend twelve to eighteen colors at a time!  Start with the background.  You are building from the back to the front, otherwise it will look confusing to the onlooker.

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Have some fun with it!  There are no rules with art.  These koi fish could have been purple and blue and maybe would have looked even better!  Look for sparkle paint to highlight pieces of your painting; the scales, or a sunset, or fireflies.

My paintings take about two hours.  If I have to create them over months, they will end up in the pile of unfinished knitting and other projects.  Remember that your painting will never look like you imagine.  Art has a mind of its own- even for the great artists of the world- and art looks like it darn well wants.  You cannot manipulate it.  Just go along for the journey and see what creates itself.

Spray with a protective spray for paintings, sign, and hang on the wall!  Be proud of your work.  We are all artists!

Rock in the Rough (the little farm that possibly could)

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“It’s a rock in the rough,” Dennis said while we were looking at it.  Not diamond, rock.  It’s special, folks, and so long as one can look past the piles of belongings, the thick, dark drapes, and if one has watched Martha Stewart for decades and if one has been a subscriber of Country Living Magazine since one was twelve, then that one just may have the imagination and the thrill of the decorator ready to turn this place into a gem!

My store
My store
Not haunted despite its appearance!
Not haunted despite its appearance!
Do you think they would leave this?
Do you think they would leave this?

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As I followed our friends and Doug while we tried not to trip over the neon blue shag carpet that has bunched up in places I continually cooed, “Oh look, if we did this…oh look, if we did that, oh look, a sewing room!…”  They were smitten too and the house holds onto her good bones, block and stucco walls, and built for nuclear disaster frame of the nineteen fifties.  She just needs some paint and wood floors and a pretty dress and that girl will be ready to host her first farm party.

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The house I told you about the other day was great and ready for a storefront right away but it was also not zoned to live in, not designed for living spaces, and the taxes were four times higher than the above fifties girl who needs a party dress.  We drove down the street that same day and peeked through her darkened windows and torn curtains and walked the third of an acre, looked at the distance from the main road and went to town to ask questions.  And for the first time, they all came back positive!

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Apothecary entrance

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The art shed
The art shed
chicken coop
chicken coop

We can live there.  The outside porch can be rebuilt and made into an apothecary.  There is an art studio and a chicken coop.  Even though I can have a small storefront, the property is zoned residential and so are the taxes.  Everything is aesthetic and can be easily beautified and secured to make this our new farm.

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Last night I thumbed through fifteen years of magazine clippings that I have cut out showing rooms and design ideas that I love.  And I was amazed at how many of them were very similar and how many fit this house.

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Now, we just need to make an offer!

Store Fronts and Upside Down Paintings

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Right now is a waiting game (ugh, my favorite…) while we wait to see about the auction on our old house in Kiowa, the second interview for Doug, and what the universe has in store for us.  This morning we go see a house in Elizabeth that is zoned commercial.  If we can get it rezoned to mixed use (another waiting game!) it could be full of possibility.  It is a darling home from 1883.  The front of the house is set up like a store and the back has a kitchen and two other rooms and upstairs there are two quaint bedrooms under the eaves.  No shower and I do not know how hard it would be to convince the town to change the zoning but my imagination goes wild upon entering the grounds.  There is a large yard.  I mean large, Friends.  We could have a heck of an urban garden right on highway 86 in town!

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My paintings are hanging at Grumpy’s coffee shop and I notice they are getting a little slim.  One sold before I could get it hung up!  I would like to paint and I have always wanted an art gallery.  I have a new idea for an apothecary.  Not one that has perfectly labeled bottles and exact ingredients and an online store but jars and spigots of single extracts where I can mix things for folks as they come in and offer teas and blends plus some fun creams and salves.  Folks know me in town well enough now that I don’t have to have the perfect store front for herbal remedies; they can just come on in and get a custom blend for the ailment they have.  I could also resume my homesteading classes, my herbal classes, and any other idea I come up with!  I can sell my books as well.  All while not leaving my home and farm.  Makes the mind wander with possibility, doesn’t it?

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Well before I start dreaming too much before my third cup of coffee, we better go see the inside first.  I have been in there before visiting prior businesses but not with an eye for staying there.  Who knows what is planned for us but in the meantime I wish I had a place to paint.

I have a fun tip for all of you to try your hand at drawing or painting that I learned in middle school.  Turn a page out of a magazine or a photograph or anything you want to paint upside down and draw it.  You will be amazed at how it turns out!  When your mind stops telling you how it should look and you draw it how it actually looks your work will turn out brilliantly.  This works great for photographs of people where your mind really wants to step in and boss your paint brushes around but once you flip that photo your hand has to draw it exactly as it is.

Well, my world is certainly upside down and my mind is still trying to tell me how it should look!  Let’s see what the universe paints for me….

The hanging sign in front might read-

Farmgirl

School-Art-Farm-Books-Herbal Remedies

On Pumpkin Hollow Farm….

Lost Hobbies…what is yours?

Our living room with Sister Mary Francis

What was your hobby when you were a kid? What did you want to be when you grew up? What is something you are really good at? Your lost art?

When the kids started being gone more and I had to figure out what to do if I weren’t bossing people around and working, I started thinking of all the things I loved to do before I had kids.  I loved to dance (reopened my dance company), I loved to write (I am definitely writing more!), and I loved to paint.  So, a few years ago I gathered up supplies and started painting again.  How different my paintings are now then when I was in high school!  Landscapes and still lifes, fashion design and drawings of cats made way for paintings of farms and farm animals, of praying nuns and villages.  Looking at a painting one can see the artist’s soul, their utmost desires and needs, their joys and sadness, their inspirations.

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When we moved last March, everything was put up and I haven’t done many paintings of late.  How easy it is for us to get lost in our world of working, errands, play, children, spouses, to-do lists and lose the essence of our expression.

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My paintings will be shown at the coffee shop in Elizabeth next month.  I would love to have some new paintings out to show.  One can tell that I am not putting as much energy into painting as I could as I sell roughly one painting a year.  I can’t do art shows near our town because everyone only knows me as the herbalist.  Last year I did my first art show since school.  I kid you not, every single person came up and said, “Where are your tinctures?”  “Do you have any Allergy medicine?”  “No?  How about Stress and Blues?”  “Oh, who’s the artist?”  I would deter everyone to the shop.  Doug had a stellar day; I did nothing!  Then things got busy and the paints got put up.

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People are often intrigued by the paintings of the nuns.  Baffled and interested at the same time.  I paint nuns because I had every intention of becoming one.  After watching Haley Mills in “Trouble with Angels” I decided that is what I wanted to be.  I already made my way by myself to mass often.  I loved the peace and serenity one can find in prayer and the beauty of the Catholic church simply amplifies that.  I love helping people and it just all seemed to be a good fit.  Apparently being pregnant is frowned upon when becoming a nun, however!  And of course I realized my true path in life is as a mother and wife.  I cannot imagine anything better.  But my desire for peace and tranquility, for serenity and prayer comes through that set of paintings.

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The farm animals, the New Mexican paintings all speak of what I really want.  I have more paintings in my mind, one of my son Andrew, Maryjane needs to be immortalized in acrylic (though I could never do her justice), a table of brightly colored chilies, a barn, a child praying…..no pastels, only vivid colors.

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What hobbies do you hope to start up again?