Thursday, December 10, 2015

Stranger Danger

All I wanted to do was paint a face.  So I grabbed the Costco magazine off the side table and picked the first picture of a person without a big toothy grin.  Using Costco guy's face for reference, I ended up with Vaguely Sinister Guy:
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
I think he's saying "I'm glad you came to visit me in prison."   It's like Mona Lisa's smile, except more murdery.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Moon verdict

I took a picture of the moon and posted it to Instagram a few weeks ago.  The moon was incredibly bright.  Clouds were encroaching on the moonlight, making eerie misty colors.  The photo and my painting failed to capture the awesome magical feeling.
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
It's been sitting on my easel for a few days.  I thought I was going to make more of it, but I guess I'm not going to.  It is what it is.

Speaking of "it is what it is"...
Sometimes I like to watch Judge Judy.   I like the part at the end of the show, after the trial is over, where they do a quick interview with the plaintiff and defendant out in the hall. I call this the "talk trash" portion of the show. Almost every time, the loser will say "it is what it is".   It sounds like acceptance, but I think they're trying to save face.  

Post painting interview out in the hall: 
"You just finished this moon painting.  What do you think?"
"It is what it is."


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Awesome Autumn

This fall has been fabulous, hasn't it?  Perfect conditions for running, walking the dog, basking in the sun, and loving life.  I did this painting today as an ode to 2015's glorious fall.

12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

Last year by this time, we were already covered in snow. Man, it is such a relief we're not getting a repeat of that nonsense.  Last year was such a struggle.  On top of 5 months of snow, my back decided to crap out.  So I couldn't even run.  Running is one of my key winter coping strategies!  And we weren't able travel anyplace tropical.  It was a dark, bleak, doughy time.

I'm already feeling optimistic that this winter will be much better.  We're planning a tropical trip.  It's still warm and sunny in mid-November.  Running is providing a steady stream of endorphins...  It's the recipe for success.  I'm ready to punch winter in the face.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Leafy Tree Trail

Have I done too many tree and fall paintings yet?  
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
Okay, well how about now?

My friend and I did an 8 mile run on a trail like this just this morning.  We're getting ready for the Hot Chocolate 15k on Sunday.  During the 7th mile, we met a delightful 70 year old runner and talked about some of our favorite races.  Between the beautiful scenery, good company, and good endorphins, it was a fabulous morning.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hockey Drive Sunset

Today's painting was inspired by a picture I took and posted on Instagram last month.
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

For a while, Nate and I were driving into a glorious sunset every week on the way to his hockey game.  I'd be pressing my cellphone to the windshield, taking pics of the sky the whole way.

Now that daylight savings time has started (or ended?  I don't even know the deal)  the hockey drive picture party is over.

Only 138 days until spring!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Wiley Sunrise

Today my painting inspiration was from a friend's instagram. His photo was a great shot of the sunrise peeking through their back woods.
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
The painting turned out pretty well, although it doesn't read the same as the photo.    The way I painted it might have that "paint & drink class" vibe?  Maybe that's okay.  Maybe it's good!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Here's a still life that I started this summer, but then abandoned.
8" x 10" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
Hornitos black barrel tequila with a lowball glass and some limes on the side.  Just like in my peppers still life, I'm not happy with how background turned out. And once I start fussing too much, it just gets worse, so I gave up. I'm happy with how the glass and the limes turned out.

I really want to develop a loose, un-fussy, un-exact style. There's a bunch of artists I'd like to emulate on my "art" board in pinterest.  Impressionists are my favorite. I like the details being reduced down to a few essential ingredients that make something beautiful.  It's like a sum-up of what the artist finds interesting.
Maybe I'm doing bad backgrounds because I'm not finding anything interesting about them.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Old Barn

How about another painting of where I grew up?  We didn't have a farm, but we did have a barn, a tractor, chickens, and a "back 40".

here I am learning to drive
The barn (and the house for that matter) were literally over 100 years old.

the barn may have settled a bit since 1850

So here's what I painted today:  the tail end of a sunset over that old barn and tractor.
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
Oh!  And I finally moved my painting spot upstairs.

Better light and a better view.  And in the same room as the bar.  I like it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bonta Bridge

While digging through photos, looking for paint-spiration, I dug up some old New York photos.

I grew up in a van house down by the river.  Seneca River - in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
our backyard was just around the bend  
Seneca river creeping on our backyard

The Finger Lakes region is really beautiful.  I totally took it for granted growing up.  Winter was brutal, but summers at the lake were awesome.  Our neighbors had a boat, and sometimes we'd cruise around Cross Lake. 
sailing in the dinghy

We lived near Bonta Bridge. It's this super old little one lane truss bridge.  (The kind that is criss-crossed metal beams where you can see through down to the river.)  If two cars met halfway, one of you was going to have to go in reverse all the way back.
photo credit:

I must have gone over that bridge at least ten thousand times.  I can still hear the hum the car would make going over the metal beams.
I dug out an old picture and did a quick painting:
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Salt Fork Lodge

Oh, hi!  Is anyone still reading?  I guess I got busy this summer.  Running, gardening, turning 40...  the usual.

So Nate's parents were up for a week and this time I joined them out at their cabin.  Although Nate and I stayed at the Salt Fork Lodge instead of camping.  The weather was absolutely perfect and we took lots of hikes.  The leaves are just starting to turn.  So beautiful!  Did you see any of my Instagram pictures?

If you're looking for an overnight getaway, the Salt Fork Lodge is a good pick.  Very pretty views out of the lake side rooms, a good little restaurant, pools, tennis, campfire, and lots of cozy nooks with fireplaces and rocking chairs.   After Labor Day is a good downtime to visit.

And I actually painted something off of our hiking pictures!  Fast and free - just the way I like it.

12"  x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

My "studio" is still down in the basement, but I think I need to move it upstairs.  I've decided part of my painting hiatus is due to the fact that I don't want to be in the basement.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


8" x 10" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

I got impatient on this one, and now I'm not happy with it.  Should have nailed down the background more before I started in on the peppers.  But the peppers were the fun part, so I jumped the gun. And then trying to paint around them to make something of the background wasn't happening.  I even cropped out the top of the painting because it's just more brown confusion.   Maybe I'll fix it up later. Or I'll just title it "Peppers with poorly defined bowl and brown void".  It's a shame - I think this painting would be decent had I spent 5 more minutes pre-pepper.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Kitchen still life

12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
I'm a little excited about how this one turned out.  We've got a pitcher with some nice shadow effects, we've got a shiny clean mason jar, we've got some bananas that are starting to turn, and it's all reflecting ever so slightly on the glossy wooden countertop.  

Yesterday's still life turned out pretty good, so I was motivated to try another one.  I staged this scene and then tried to be careful and methodical instead of my beloved fast frenzy style.  I actually waited between layers to let things dry.  

It's weird, I'll have a little stretch where I think I can't paint anymore because everything turns out terrible.  And then all of a sudden I'll have some good ones.  Hopefully I'm learning or developing some skills.  

Here's some tips for myself:
Not muddling all my colors together actually makes things look brighter.  Oh!  
Shadows and shading really take a painting from flat to "good".  Huh!  
If I give a little effort, instead of throwing paint around like a cat batting at a yarn ball - I like my paintings better.  Hmm.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Front porch still life

12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
Here we have a nice big glass of pinot grigio and a container of begonias.    It's a common scene at our house on a hot summer evening.  A balmy night with some jasmine wafting in the breeze, a cold drink, and some katydid sounds...   that's the good stuff.
It could be better,  but I'm done with it.   The more I look at it, the more I like it.  I think I'll do some more still lifes.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hoover Reservoir

12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
And now for a break from the animal paintings.  A landscape!  I can't say I'm super excited about this painting I just did of Hoover Reservoir.   After two hours, I just got bored with it, so it is what it is.  Good enough.  I figure if I just keep painting, even when I'm not "feeling it", there's bound to be a good one every so often.  Maybe I'll love the next one.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Flamingo flamboyance

12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

Last night we were hanging out with some friends and somehow we got to talking about what different groups of animals are called.  You know,  like,  school of fish, pride of lions, flock of birds...

We found a website that lists a ton of them.  Some of the obscure ones are really cute.  Like, a prickle of porcupines.  Or army of caterpillars.  Parliament of owls.  (owls got the funk)  Honestly, I think someone made some of them up.  A shrewdness of apes?  Come on now, no one's gonna say that.  I'm making up "cuddle of cats".  I think that sounds better than glorying (?? weird).

For flamingos, it's a flamboyance.  Or a stand.  I don't have a whole flamboyance painted, but please to enjoy this solitary flamingo.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

I made another attempt at a horse.  Last time I tried painting horses, I ended up with an owl.  The proportions got a little wonky again on this one, and I'm still not sure about the eyes.  But the colors are pretty and I'm calling it done.   

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Eagle revisited

8" x 10" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
Here's one of those paintings I previously abandoned.  It's a leftover from my animal series.  To try and "finish" it, I jazzed up the eagle's body with some color, and now I think it made him look like a chicken.  Woops.  I'm pretty happy with his head, though.  Maybe he's dressed up for Mardi Gras.   OR...  it's a chicken with an eagle mask.    
As I look at this photo and yesterday's photo, I'm thinking that pulling out the real camera and better lighting might be worth the effort.  Taking photos with my phone is so easy, though.  I can crop it and send it to Blogger in about 10 seconds.  The trade off is so-so photos.  This eagle one definitely looks better to me "live". 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Storm field

12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas 
I haven't been great about finishing paintings lately.  Not sure if I'll finish any of them, or if I'll just end up painting over them.  But this guy is finito.  Dark stormy clouds rolling over field.  Little beams of sunshine are coming through where the clouds break up on the horizon.  

Spring is really unleashing a lot of awesome flowers right now.  I can't stop taking pictures in our yard and when I walk the dog.   If you wanna see my random snaps, I'm putting some of the prettier ones on Instagram now.    There's also a sample of my recent instagrams over on the right.  I'm just about over Facebook, so maybe I'll tip-toe away and just read blogs and look at pictures on Insta.  Maybe.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Final destination: sunset cheese

Last night, I noticed an orange glow out the window and said to Nate "Ooh,  I think there's a good sunset brewing. I'll go check." So I opened our front door to see this glorious sunset.  
as seen from our front porch last night

I yelled back to him "oh yeah!", inadvertently sounding like the kool-aide man.   

Pretty soon Nate came out, repeating my "oh yeah!"  And he had a plate of cheeses - a nice little selection of fancy-ish ones.

Then a thunderstorm started gearing up.  So we sat there on the porch eating cheese and saying "oh yeah! " for good lightning & thunder.   Suddenly, one flashed right overhead really loud and scared us. 

Susan: oh that was scary
Nate: yeah, I thought that was it!
Susan: it?  Like we were getting struck dead by lightning?
Nate: yeah!
Susan: Ha!  How perfect would that be if we went out like that: struck by lightning while yelling "oh yeah" and eating cheese on our front porch? 
Nate & Susan: lolol! Nom nom nom (mmm cheese)

Our obit would be like "The couple was found on their front porch with a plate of melted cheese.  They are survived by 4 elderly pets.  Considering the pet situation and the consequently dire state of their carpet,  authorities are considering it a public service that the house was struck down by God.  In lieu of flowers,  please treat yo'self to some fancy cheese and a cocktail of your choice."

Hmm, I don't really have a painting tie in to this story.   Here is an old sunset painting of mine.  I wish this was our porch view.
12" x 12" x 0.75" acrylic on canvas

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


10" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

Red foxes are so adorable.  We had a couple of them scampering around our neighborhood last spring.  So so cute.

I googled around to find some fox fun facts, and found some good ones here.  It says that foxes use the earth's magnetic field to hunt (!!) and that they "see the earth's magnetic field as a 'ring of shadow' on it's eyes".   What the...  I didn't know that!

Oh, and if you want to know what the fox says, it says this:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Great Horned Owl

10" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

I started out painting some horses in my fast frenzy style.  But the frenzy got away from me and there was no redeeming those horses.  So I covered the whole thing over with this owl. 

Do you know how bad ass the great horned owl is?  I've been a fan ever since we saw some at the state fair several years ago.  The other owls on display had fun facts like "hunts mice and snakes", "makes sweet little hoot-hoot sounds", and "can do a 360 with it's head"  (or something like that).  And then we got to the great horned owl, who was staring us down just like in my painting, and his fun facts were pretty much "will not hesitate to attack you or your pathetic household pets."    Okay, I don't exactly remember.  But for real, here are some tidbits from Wikipedia:

call:  "'solemn' and 'terrifying'
prey"One instance of an owl taking a bobcat... as prey was also reportedly observed
"large snakes, ...about equal in mass to the owls, have used their muscular coils to twist around the owl ... sometimes the owl is still able to overpower and kill the snake or inflict enough injury to win the exhausting contest or both combatants die
enemies: "[The golden] eagle is the only regular predator of the owl, ...  A single instance of an golden eagle hunting a great horned owl during the day has been known to be observed. However, the eagle was scarcely able to survive the attack as the owl was able to trade blows to defend itself before succumbing to the eagle." 
this owl takes on the mantle of avian apex predator.[4]  (also known as an alpha predatorsuper predatortop predator or top-level predator)

Basically, the great horned owl is a total boss.  And they're beautiful and can fly.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Elephant frenzy

10" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
To keep the animal theme going, I did an elephant painting this afternoon.  It's got it's issues, but it was a fast frenzy of paint, which is what I like.  The faster I paint, the less hung up I get on details, which makes it more fun.  Fast messy painting also helps me to go with my first impressions - "here's a shadow",  "I like how this surface goes", "blob of  stuff I don't care about"...     and I don't worry about how it will come together.  I use mostly one brush and don't wash it off often.  Which is probably bad painting form.

I've heard writers say that's the way to go about writing.  Just write what comes to mind without self-editing to keep the flow going.  And then later go back to edit.  

What else is like that?  I like doing things that way.  If I try to plan too much, I get bored and I'm not sure how things will go anyway.  So just jump in, have fun,  and see what happens.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hungry like the wolf

I guess I'm following up my February failure series with a March animal series.   Painted this wolf just now:
8" x 10" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
Fast, a little messy, with some puffy clouds.  I'm happy with it.

I didn't mean to do a painting of our dog, Jodie, but it looks a little like her.  She's an Alaskan Malamute.  We like to call her wolfie.

I guess when there is a wolf in a movie, they will often use an Alaskan Malamute.   Jed the Movie Dog, who was in a lot of movies (White Fang, The Thing, The Journey of Natty Gann...), was part wolf and part Alaskan Malamute.

Malamutes are pretty smart.  It makes them difficult to train and they get bored easily, but it is a positive trait that they think for themselves.  If they're at work leading your dog sled team, and you direct them towards what they know is bad ice, they will not listen and take a safe route.   (I forget where I read this.)

Jodie also is a soulful pup.  On Wednesdays at noon, when they test the tornado sirens, Jodie likes to howl along.  Here is a sample of her beautiful singing voice.

She's a sweetie.
p.s. That thing on the deck is a heated hut for our cat.    Spoiled animals abound! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Parrot painting

No rhyme or reason - I painted this parrot today.
8" x 10" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
I didn't bother to do a background or provide any context.   Or legs.      Art!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

In like a lion

I finally did a painting today:
10" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
I painted this so fast and sloppily - it was super satisfying.    I am sooooo ready to kick off the winter funk and leap into some warm weather good times.   For the past couple weeks, staying under an electric blanket and reading has been more attractive then heading down to the basement and painting.   Hopefully the "in like a lion" part of March is over!

Friday, February 20, 2015


Here is a vineyard full of juicy grapes and warm sunshine.

10" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

The winery up the street from us has a tiny vineyard.    I like to head up there for their "hump day happy hour" or for their painting events.  
photo credit:

They were also the sister winery of the place where we had our wedding reception (many years ago).
our reception at Wm. Graystone
Wm. Graystone Winery is in the Brewery District in German Village.   (Oh, I just checked, and now it's called Graystone Wine Cellar.)
I loved our cake.  real grapes!

I like going to winerys and tastings and finding new favorites.  That Blindfold wine we got for Valentines day might be my new favorite white blend.   It had a buttery finish (like I know what I'm talking about).  Better wine seems to have an awesome after-taste.  I guess that's what they mean when they describe the "finish"?  I love all their descriptions, like, "Leather notes with an oaky finish".  Ooh!

Which reminds me, if you haven't already, you gotta read about the pranksters who replaced a store's wine descriptions with really off-the-wall ones:

So funny.  Check it out.

Do you have a favorite wine?  Do you like sweet or dry?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Far, far away

Here is a tranquil place, far far away:

8" x 10" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
You know, when I'm already drudging through winter, the world news is particularly hard to take.  What the sam hill is going on?  Buncha evil crazy crap.

I stumbled upon another blogger / blogspot blog, and the post on her front page was like gold.  I love it so much, I just need to quote it:

evil is finite. 
Think about it. 
Evil is the antithesis to creative power.  It is in opposition to life, to love.  It destroys.  It doesn't build up.  It implodes and extinguishes itself when it can no longer survive parasitically on life, on truth.  When reality can no longer be denied then evil perishes in the flames of its own lies.
(Anna Valerious) 

She goes on to say

Celebrate life.  We celebrate life by living it.  We can only be said to be living life if we are living in reality.  Reality and truth are synonymous.  Yes, sometimes reality sucks, but to live in lies never ends well.  Choose truth over lies even when truth is painful.  Because truth is eternal.  Lies are finite. 
I can't stop re-reading those words.  Awesome.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Stop and smell the roses

Roses roses roses!  Today is all about roses.

today's roses from my valentine.  they smell amazing

Here is a delightful clip of Gene Kelley:

"Moses supposes his toeses are roses.  But Moses supposes erroneously."

And here are some swirly roses that I gave up on:
8"  10" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
They are a part of my February failure series, so just deal with them.  I'm still looking through pictures of our flowers from last summer.  And still not happy with my attempts at abstractified paintings.

one of our roses from last summer.  they also smell amazing.
We planted knockout roses and regular roses a couple of summers ago.  I wanted the sweet smell of the "real" roses, but also wanted to hedge my bets with the easy care knockouts.  Ironically, the knockout roses died, but the regular rose bush is still going strong.

It's crazy blustery outside today.  We're gonna crack open this Blindfold wine and dig into the chocolates.  Hope you are having a happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

February failure phase

I'm going through a phase where everything I paint looks like utter crap to me.  And I still haven't tried my new oil paints because...   I guess it's easier to do what's familiar?  I blame February for sucking the life force out of me.  As Nate reassured me, "It's hard to be fabulous in winter in Ohio."

So here's one I just did that I'm not super jazzed about:
10" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

A fluffy bumblebee on a coneflower.   For inspiration, I was looking through some old pictures I took last summer.

Man, I miss summer.

I struggle to find my own style or viewpoint or whatever.  I want to do an impatient, messy, impressionist type thing.  But then I get caught up in the details,  and then bored and unsatisfied.  I need a big red "Abstractify" button, kind of like the Staples "Easy" button.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mono no aware

 Still longing for spring, so I painted some cherry blossoms last night.

10" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
For painting inspiration, I looked at some old photos Nate took in Washington D.C.:

Wikipedia says that
In Japan, cherry blossoms also symbolize clouds due to their nature of blooming en masse, besides being an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life...

I can dig that.  It goes on to say that this concept is"mono no aware"
Mono no aware (物の哀れ?), literally "the pathos of things", and also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō?), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.

Ain't that the truth.  Take in the clouds and blossoms of life while they last.