Monday, May 31, 2010

The magic of portraits!

There's just one day to go to enter my contest for a FREE OIL PORTRAIT! Late tomorrow (or perhaps when I get up on Wednesday) I'll draw a name from the pot of people who've signed the guest book at . If you're looking at the webpage and getting a mixed-up image (I think only folks connecting via cell are getting this, and it may only be one kind of cell), go to the bottom of the page and you'll see a yellow button. Or you can go elsewhere on the art section of my site. Every page should have a button for the guest book.

If that doesn't work, hit the "contact me" button and leave your name, email, and mailing address, and I'll add you.

I do portraits from photos. I've done them from life, but they require the subject to sit for long, boring periods. All in all, I think photography works just fine for all involved.

With this blog I wanted to show the possibilities of what I can do with portraits. At the top of the blog you'll see a portrait I painted quite some time ago. Back in 1984, as a matter of fact. I didn't have the portrait with me to do the color corrections on the old photograph I took of the painting, but imagine it with decent colors.

The family was Native American and sat down for me to take a range of photos of them while they were dressed in native costume, or as native as they wanted to go. They chose the poses they liked the best, combining different facial expressions from different shots. Then they furnished me with a picture of a woodland they wanted around them, as well as drawings of traditional tipis that they requested be included.

Put them all together and voila!

Here's another way to change a photo to a painting. Who can get two animals to pose nicely at the same time? The odds are astronomical that you'll wind up with a good shot of both. When I took several pictures of my cats, Bran-Bran and Obiwan, they cooperated more than they normally did, which means: not much. Bran was looking down while Obi looked thoughtful, and then Obi looked down while Bran regarded things to his right.

So I chose two photos, a good one of each, and combined them. I moved Bran in closer to Obi to make for an appealing composition. The background was also changed so the cats would be the stars of the painting (and so you wouldn't see the mess of the bedroom!). Then, because I knew I was going to paint my bedroom something in the goldish family this fall, I changed the color of the bedding as well as the background so it will coordinate well.

So that's my point: I can combine things from different pictures, change colors, add all kinds of things, and make a gorgeous portrait for you that will look great in your home, and generations will be able to admire.

Do enter the contest! If you've missed the deadline, drop by my site, look over examples of what I've done and am doing, and check out the kind of investment you'll make for this artwork.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Slugging Away

Last night I didn't have to pull overtime, and so got home at a more reasonable hour than I have been. Not that I didn't turn off People's Court to get work done.

I didn't use a timer, but rather listened to the last half-hour of PC while I painted. Ooh, so close to getting that painting of Obi and Bran done! I feel certain it'll get done today, with maybe some final changes (there are ALWAYS final changes!) Saturday morning. Unless the rain does something silly like cut the electricity so I don't have good light to paint by.

Got my exercise in last night, if not this morning. I shall concentrate next week on starting the habit of exercising when I get up. I dunno... is before or after breakfast better? I've read that exercise in the morning has something like three times the normal beneficial effect, so I really need to start doing that.

Only went on the computer long enough to send myself a cover mockup for Applesauce and Moonbeams. Dr. Wayne Dyer says that the more you can do to visualize a goal, the better. He puts fake covers on books to motivate himself to complete his wips. For Applesauce I'm hoping to get an agent and/or publisher interested. I'll make a cover for Nothing Personal either tonight or tomorrow...

Because next week is VACATION!!! Absolute priority will be to finish Nothing Personal's first draft, which I've been working on in bits and pieces for... well... an embarrassingly long time. This was supposed to have been my "fast" book. My mistake was that I didn't think through character motivations and failings enough.

Along with the wip (but at lesser priority) will be to work in the yard. I want to prepare it for the patio that (positive thinking!) will be going in the last part of June. I WILL be using a timer for that. (The yard work. I don't care what kind of motivation the cement guys will be using other than my check.) And I'll also be timing the writing, as I can concentrate/write better if I know I only have so many minutes to go before I have to break for something else.

I'll also be cleaning up the studio, which will involve one of my least favorite activities: cutting mats. I have a professional mat cutter and it doesn't help all that much. When I went to UNC-CH, one of the VERY few decent art instructors I had was Marvin Saltzman, a guy who'd take a double-edged blade and HAND cut mats. One cut per fresh side. The cuts were PERFECT. The angle was EXACT. It was amazing.

Me, I use my mat cutter and am not pleased with the results. It's probably because I don't use it enough.

But I'll be timing that activity as well, as well as adding a LOT of relaxation stuff in there. (Do I count reading all the non-fiction books I've bought for the Kindle as "relaxation"? It's all very deep: scientific near-death studies, the Bataan Death March, The Rise and Fall of Alexandria, The Narcissism Epidemic, etc.) Guess I'll take one and break it up into 15- or 30-minute segments.

Like I need to do with that Netflix movie that's been sitting on my entertainment center for [insert curse word here].

To work! To success!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The efficient slug

Another way to get things done when you don't have a timer with you, is to multitask. So yesterday after work I did so.

I've been meaning to check out historic Ayr Mount, though I've lived near Hillsborough for decades. It's an old mumble-mumble Federalist style mumble with extensive grounds, plus a "poet's walk" that I'd heard was very pretty. Would it be a good site for plein air? And could I get in some exercise while exploring it?

The answer to both was yes, though the plein air bit would probably be best left for Autumn, as right now everything's green on green. There's a couple of huge, well-manicured meadows on long hills, surrounded by forest. There's a very artificial-looking pond. The riverwalk doesn't have great overlooks, and the sun can't get in the best position for river views. But imagine the maples and such in full color, and it should be gorgeous. I'll be back.

The walk was also most (pant pant) invigorating. I even brought a stranger back with me: a tick. Hope it was just the one I found and killed. Dead! Dead! Dead!

Back at the house I did laundry while watching the Daily Show I'd missed the other week. I love Jon Stewart; don't you? Petted and medicated cats, then buried myself in that new Julia Quinn book, which is SOOOO delicious!

I should have gotten a fairly good guilt trip over not painting, and then gone on to guiltifying over not writing, but I figure I'll finish that painting tonight or tomorrow latest, and my goals for VACATION NEXT WEEK will be to finish that first draft! (As well as do some other things, but writing will be my ABSOLUTE TOP priority.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Slug-a-Bug, day 3

What can I say? The system fell through last night on account of aliens kidnapping me.

Well, that's my excuse. I don't recall much of what happened last night. Knew this would be an "off" week for me because of the amount of work I had to get through at my day job. This was why I thought the timer thing would help me get up and about after work. (I was supposed to have taken 3 days off, and people had promised they'd accommodate me. They lied. Good thing my class fell through!) Yesterday I had to work late, but not much. I missed Judge Judy and some of Judge Milian.

Did something outside for a while. I think. Both cats got a long petting session apiece and went outside to enjoy our first dry evening in quite some time. I did some business on the computer, but didn't stay overlong there. Then I prepared Obi's fluids, warming them, putting on a new needle and making sure the cover to that was loose so that when the crunch came I could just flick it and the cover would come off.

But no matter how I called and called, Obi didn't appear. I always get worried when the cats don't act like they normally do, and when I can't find them. But Obi's been going out a lot lately, so instead I loaded the new Julia Quinn book (and another one I bought yesterday) onto my Kindle and started in.

The Quinn book is delightful so far! She writes so peculiarly, in short sentences and sometimes one-sentence paragraphs. In a "peculiar" way she reminds me of another favorite writer, Jennifer Crusie, who writes in compound paragraphs that have dozens of people speaking at the same time. Crusie's style makes me go back and re-read to figure out what's going on. Quinn's style leaves me smiling, thinking that the hesitancy shows the characters' basic honesty and uncertainty. It's very humanizing.

Anyway about the time I was going to turn in, Obi appears to get his bedtime rub. It was too late to re-warm his fluids and put him through all that, so he just got his heart pill and treats, and Bran also got his treats.

My wonderful neighbors, the ones who mistreat their dogs, had some kind of teen party going last night. The family is real religious so the boys wait to get out on the porch that's near my bedroom window to yell at each other, utilizing the "f" word in as many permutations as they can. I recalled that last year about this time they also had 2 parties, the second of which was a birthday party. The morning after that one, the birthday boy walked to my fence, leaned over, and puked into my yard. Lovely.

The party finally broke up and I could fall asleep.

This morning I hit the snooze alarm just once, then got up, warmed the fluids, and when Obi had settled in for his post-breakfast nap, I picked him up and did the fluid bit. When I pulled the needle out, I put the cover loosely on it and set it to the side. As I was lifting Obi out of the restraining box, the tube shifted, the needle cover fell off, and the needle hit the middle toe on my left foot. Ow. If I start meowing or foaming at the mouth, someone call the doctor, please.

It was too late to get me any breakfast, so I left home a tad early, hit Biscuitville, and got to work in time to enjoy the greasy and somewhat tasteless repast before my shift began.

Tonight I'll be back on the timer again!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Slugfest, Day 2

Okay, I got up a half-hour early this morning as well, and once again didn't get in my mile of walking. There must be a solution to this other than get up 45 minutes early. That ain't gonna happen.

But the 15-minute blitz did fairly well yesterday after work. Okay, so I sat and watched Judge Judy and People's Court while I ate my magnificent spaghetti. I was feeling a little guilty for not getting up during PC, but Judge Milian had a real kook at the stand. It's not often that she counsels people to see a therapist, but this violent lady made me nervous just watching her. And afterwards, when she said she'd do it all again? Shudder!

BUT I managed 15 minutes of working in the yard: got some dead rose branches out of the south garden, finally found my bird bath brush and got the worst of things out there (it'll take another cleaning), and fed the birds.

Got a load of laundry done: less than 15 minutes to lock n load.

Obi wanted petting. Didn't set the timer, but apparently his was working because after 15 minutes he climbed down and toodled off in his Obi way.

Decided that painting was my absolute priority, so I began Evening Prime Time on that. Hit 15 minutes and, as I'd supposed, opted for 15 more. That painting is driving me crazy; it's so close to being done, but there are still little bits and pieces here and there to do. I figure it needs an hour more. It'll get there.

I got in 15 minutes of living-room walking: 1 mile.

Then since my sister had sent me pictures of two portraits I'd done for her long, long ago, I decided to finish up the ancient portraits gallery on my site ( , bottom of the page). Figured that four paintings would take me one hour to format. It only took 30 minutes, yay! (I also decided not to ask Karen to rephotograph them so as to include the entire painting. It was nice enough of her to do this much.)

Feeling good, I decided to get my Kindle and let it load Julia Quinn's latest, which I'd pre-ordered. Sat the Kindle in the south window and almost immediately got 4 bars. FOUR BARS! At my house! Sometimes I have to take the Kindle into town to get reception. I waited patiently, then went up front to change the laundry from washing machine to dryer. When I returned—nothing.

Oops. Ten Things I Love About You comes out today, not yesterday. Well, I recharged ye Kindle overnight so it's ready.

That's not that bad for what I wanted to get done. I hit the high points, got a little of everything. Maybe this could work?

Today I'll try to add 3 5-minute bouts of walking during work. It'll not only add to the exercise total, but will keep me alert.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Slugging it out!

I've been slug-like lately. Not sluggish. Slug-like.

Which is a bad thing when I've got so many plates to keep whirling in the air. Oh heck, you're probably too young to recall the Ed Sullivan Show. He had these guys on all the time who spun plates on top of long rods to snappy music. It was amazingly watchable. For a while.

There are times when it's great to be slug-like. All work and no play, etc. But one mustn't overdo it or one becomes... a slug.

So I'm doing an experiment this week. In preparation for next week's vacation, I want to get some major projects done or at least progressed satisfactorily. To accommodate my ADD (what a lovely excuse those self-diagnosed initials are!), I'm going to tackle things in 15- and 30-minute intervals. I'll use a timer.

Eh... Not so great a start on the project so far. I got up 30 minutes early in order to do 15 minutes of walking (I fully realize those 30 minutes will turn out to be 15, which is why I added the extra), but never quite got it in.

Fall off the wagon, pick self up, get back on. No self-flagellation allowed. Hey, I made a vat of spaghetti sauce yesterday, so there'll be no need to fight to get dinners made! Place one point in the "yeah!" column.

I'll keep you posted how things turn out. (Are the Daily Show and Colbert Report new this week? Darn, that's an hour. Maybe I can tape them to watch during a long dinner?)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Frank Frazetta

I hope that "Ain't It Cool News" won't object, but I'd like to share this YouTube video with others who might not see it otherwise. (And darn this narrow column. For a fix, see below.) Frank Frazetta, one of the greatest illustrators of all time, has died. Glory in his life work!

You can see more Frazetta videos and a great tribute at .