My Chat with Carol

My blogging friend, Carol on the opposite side of the country cares for her dear husband who suffers from Alzheimer's. She has a very helpful blog with many good links and book reviews as well as vignettes from their lives.  We share a love for Jesus and she too, is being strengthened by Him.

Recently she interviewed me for her blog.  If you care to read her questions and my answers click here 






Watercolor Journal - Vineyard Celebrations

I was recently commissioned to paint a monogram.  The couple was celebrating a 35th wedding anniversary at a beautiful vineyard location.  That's a longtime love. 

Painting grape leaves made me think of the Tokay (sp) grapes we had growing at our former home.  At least that's what someone told me they were.  They rambled along an arbor to a chain link fence and behind our old garage where they climbed up and over the wall to the neighbor's back yard.  She appreciated the grapes, so that was a good thing.  The arbor was replaced with a patio, but the vines kept growing, each year with the fruit moving down along the fence, and getting further and further from our yard.  It's kind of funny how we did the watering, but our neighbor ended up with the results.  But that was toward the end of our time at that house, and we didn't mind, because the vines themselves were pretty on the fence. 

We were in that home for 30+ years and during that time there were countless jars of grape jelly.  It was beautiful too.  So pink!  So I'd like to make a jelly "toast" (not jelly ON toast, although that sounds yummy) to the "A's" to congratulate them for 35 years of fruitful love. 

Our grape jelly!

Watercolor Journal - "Miss Liz"


My daughter commissioned me to create this "thank you" gift for a very special lady.  Lizanne Blake is the very talented speech therapist who helped my grandson learn to speak.  To our family it's simply "Miss Liz".

One to two times a week for several years a highlight of the week was the visit to her office.   On one of our visits, I got to go along.  Not only did she have the coolest toys to play with, but she would get down on the floor in the midst of the boys and toys to play with them.  I enjoyed seeing how she used the playtime to draw out and emphasize certain sounds needed for speech.  "Good Talking, Micah!"  "He's making all the right sounds, April" she would encourage.  Then eventually the words came, and today, he is speaking fine.  When I Skype the boys, to read them their weekly story, our once "speech delayed" boy, will tell his stories to me.  That's music to my ears!  He doesn't need to go to Miss Liz anymore, but he misses her.  I'm happy I could have a part in this gift, because I want to say a big grandma THANK YOU to Liz Blake.
"We love to go to see Miss Liz!" 
The painting was approx. 10" X 20" and here's a close up of the background for those of you who like to see the details:


Watercolor Journals - Psalm 103


Recently a friend asked me to paint a portrait of their home for an anniversary gift for her husband.   Don't you just LOVE their house?  I really enjoyed this assignment. Especially the white porch railing and the red door.  The reference photos they sent me showed rocking chairs on the porch.  What a great spot for a glass of iced tea and a good book. 




My favorite part of this project, though, was thinking about their family and how they have given of themselves to others, using their home as a gift from God to be used for His wonderful purposes.
"Bless the LORD oh my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name!"






It was not possible to include in the painting, but there is a Bible verse written just above the door on that very welcoming porch. That's what got me thinking...




How am I stirring up my deepest self to magnify God's character?  Am I using all the resources I've been given to "show off God"?  Am I yielding up to God the secret areas of my life that I like to control so that I better reflect Him?   Charles Spurgeon said it better than me when he commented on Psalms 103:1

"Soul music is the very soul of music.  The Psalmist strikes the best key-note when he begins with stirring up his inmost self to magnify the Lord.  He soliloquizes, holds self-communion and exhorts himself, as though he felt that dulness would all too soon steal over his faculties, as, indeed, it will over us all, unless we are diligently on the watch.  Jehovah is worthy to be praised by us in that highest style of adoration which is intended by the term bless...Many are our faculties, emotions, and capacities, but God has given them all to us, and they ought all to join in chorus to his praise.  Half-hearted, ill-conceived, unintelligent praises are not such as we should render to our loving Lord.  If the law of justice demanded all our heart and soul and mind for the Creator, much more may the law of gratitude put in a comprehensive claim for the homage of our whole being to the God of grace." (from Treasury of David)


Karen has kindly written about my painting on her blog if you care to check it out.  Karen's blog post



Watercolor Journals - Two Lambs

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
He leadeth me beside the still waters
He restoreth my soul. 
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
 

Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
Thou annointest my head with oil,
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Amen." 
David's 23rd Psalm

I'm just a stupid sheep, in desperate need of a shepherd.  Hungry. Thirsty.  Lost.  Fearful.  Hurting.  Empty.   So needy.  BUT my Shepherd, so kind, brave, and good, bought me for His very own, in spite of my condition, and now with David I can say goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life!

My Jesus is ALSO called a sheep, but He is not at all like me. 

"...you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold... but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." (1 Peter 1) 

Like a precious lamb, pure, and without blemish, but not helpless, He willingly went to the cross to pay the penalty of death for sin, for me, as worthless as I was.  

That's what I'm most joyful about.

  


You know what they say about rabbits...

Yep, bunnies multiply like crazy in the Spring.  That's especially true here in Friendly Valley.  In fact, they're all over the lawns, come Summer.  I've already seen some footprints near our front yard.  Well, my little Boochie Bunny, has been reproducing too.  I am excited to be able to share my latest painting with you all, in the form of note cards.

Spring Bunny Note Card
He's available at my Etsy store as an individual card:  Spring Bunny Note Card
Or in sets: Spring Bunny Note Card Set of 4

Spring Garden Note Cards
I had fun choosing 3 more Spring-Themed paintings to join Mr. Bunny in the Spring Garden Set: 
Spring Garden Note Card Set of 4

I've been looking forward to creating these note cards for several months, and am so pleased that they are finally ready.  My wheels are turning and there will be more to come.  Many thanks to our good friends Steve and Denise for the idea, and their encouragement in this direction. 

"Boochie" Bunny

“Boochie”

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More about my plans for this bunny painting in another post.

In case you were wondering, my latest watercolor is "boochie."  This little bunny is "boochie" according to my granddaughter.   She has coined this word which is defined as follows:

Boochie is an adjective that describes a person or animal.  They must be small with chubby cheeks, and have a cute face.  So, some babies are boochie, as are some small animals.  Many baby animals qualify as well, such as baby skunks, raccoons, chipmunks, penguins, seals, and of course, bunnies.  Boochie, does not necessarily mean "soft", and in fact may even be prickly, as a hedgehog or porcupine.  (as long as it's cute)

The first time she used the term was when she first saw her little cousin.

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 He takes after his mother, who was also boochie.

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April (one year old)

Last week, when she was beating me at the Mother & Baby Animal Memory Game, she "schooled" me on which ones were boochie as well.

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All babies, except the mama bunny who is also boochie.

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Beating Grandma at Bob the Builder Memory Game (Why do I keep these humiliating games around?)

And just because I couldn't resist...here's some more of my boochie grandson!

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Happy Springtime everyone!  

"This is the day that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it!" 

Psalms 118:24

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Watercolor Journals - Sand


 I can almost taste the salt in the air, as the persistent wind blows the sand around.  Along the fence, the little seeds have a chance to settle, and grasses grow in its shelter.  Even though raised in Southern California, our vacations were usually in the mountains, not the beach. (Something about the sand getting tracked into the car…at least that’s what my little girl’s mind remembers.) There was one camping trip to an Oregon beach though. It still stands out as so different than the other camping trips.  I just loved running down the sand dunes with my brother, and being surprised at how the sands overtook pine trees, and mounded up at the sea, only to be rearranged later, to a new location.  Even as a young girl, my senses were impressed.  I will never forget how it felt between my toes, warm in the sun, cool underneath, and how I felt slightly out of control joyously running down the dune.  I’m so glad my parents chose at least one beachy experience for our memory banks.


This monogram was commissioned as a gift for the "Hills" who live in South Florida a short distance from the Atlantic.  May their "beach" days be sweet as well!

Ferns and Hydro-Therapy

This painting was ordered as a gift for a beloved mother who has a green thumb and has kept many ferns which were passed down in the family over many years.  Designing the painting was particularly fun for me because of my own memories of the multiple types of ferns I was surrounded by  for 30 years.

In Gary's garden he had a series of outdoor "rooms."  Each area was a different theme.  The back yard was tropical, with a koi pond, palms, and a cabana, and the front yard had woodland plants.  When you walk through the front gate, underneath a large buckeye tree, planters with ferns and azaleas were at your feet.  Because there are ferns that live in forests AND the tropics Gary used ferns as a transition from the woodland to the tropical areas.  


On the wall of our house he grew a "staghorn fern" along with "maidenhair" ferns.  These flourished with the "drip system" which was activated with the sprinkler timer.  On a typical day when he arrived home from work he grabbed the hose in the front yard and watered to "unwind" from the day.  No wonder the ferns were so lush there.  Our friends, Greg and Diane, called it his "hydro-therapy"! 

Watercolor Journals - Reflections


I found it interesting that the process for creating a scene with water in the foreground had a few parallels to life.  I really get time to daydream and think when painting, because I choose a time when the house is quiet.  When I finished all but the water, I decided to "ripple" the water a bit, because I didn't want the exact "mirror image" reflected in the photograph I was using.  "Too perfect" sometimes is not even believable.  You know, like some vivid sunsets; the kind you photograph and say "It doesn't even look real!"  So, while painting these reflections, I was thinking that when something disturbs the surface of my life, I can still reflect the peace and joy that's really there, deep within.  (Of course my analogy breaks down, because in reality, it's often the storms of life that reveal the depth of character in a person, not the perfect sunny days.)  But anyway, the point is, when you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see?  What does your life reflect?

I confess that I often let the cares and troubles of this world crowd out the beautiful image of my Savior who resides within me.  It's not the "trials" of life that "break up" the reflection, it's my sin.  This side of Heaven, my "reflecting ability" is limited.  Thankfully, Christians are being conformed into the image of Christ, so there's hope for us.  As we remember the birth of the sinless Son of God on earth today and tomorrow, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas!  "He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn (premiere one) of all creation." Colossians 1:15.

Plan Twice...Paint Once

Some friends were recently asking me about the process of painting with watercolors, compared to other media.  We were comparing them to oils and acrylics, which I've had little experience with, but I thought I'd use my most recent painting to point out some things if you're interested in that sort of thing.  The main thing that makes watercolors difficult is that they are transparent, so you can't put light over dark.  That means you have to leave all the white spaces  and paint around them.  You can use masking liquid, or masking tape (my fav) to "mask" the light areas off, and then paint the dark colors that are next to them.  There were 4 areas in this composition that needed to be reserved as white.
    1. The house.  It is mostly a shadowy white.  It did not require masking because it is a big mass and doesn't extend into any "darker" areas.  
    2. The chimneys.  In order to paint the blue sky and gray clouds with fluid strokes, and not stroking "around" the chimneys, but "across" them, I blocked them out with little chimney shaped pieces of masking tape. 
    3. The little white window dividers.  These delicate lines are not done with white paint, but are white paper left exposed. In this case I freehanded the dark window glass rectangle areas, leaving the white lines within the windows.  I didn't want a perfectly straight line from masking tape so they would have more character. 
    4. The clouds.   Skies are tricky, quick, and fun.  In this scene, I wanted to give the sky lots of clouds, so that means less blue than clouds (white with gray).  In order to paint the sky, and not have it look like "color by number," the white parts of the clouds must be "saved" and not covered, but using masking tape makes too "hard" of an edge.  No cloud has a "crisp" edge.  They are fluffy, or whispy, or feathery, or you get the idea.  So I had to work lightly and quickly to "feather in" the blue, across the sky and in between the clouds, but not "hanging out" too long in any one area.  Even this takes careful planning, with some light pencil lines, showing where the clouds will be placed.  Later I went back with the grays of the clouds and gave them shape.  
    I love the process of thinking through the composition, lighting, colors, and mood of these home portraits. The paints and brush are the frosting on the cake!