Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Willem Dafoe

Even though I'm not great at it, I love painting faces.   When I'm messing around with some little detail, something that seems unimportant, suddenly that detail makes the whole face look right.  Getting the eye's centered just right, or a tiny line around the mouth that sets off the whole expression...  I like when it suddenly comes to life.

Today I was inspired by Willem Dafoe.

12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

Love his face.  His cheekbones, his jaw...  very distinctive features.  And it seems like he can go normal / handsome
Dafoe in Mississippi Burning

or odd and scary.
so creepy

Sorry my painting doesn't do him justice.  It ended up looking like a Clint Eastwood / Willem Dafoe mug-shot mashup.

I googled him to find a picture, and ended up finding this interview he did.

I've never heard of The Old Woman.  It's got Dafoe and Mikhail Baryshnikov.  Now I want to see it.

That interview and some of his quotes on IMDB made me like him even more.  Seems like he is creative and good at what he does, but also low-key and grounded.  You go, Willem Dafoe.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Expressing myself with 80's lyrics and movie clips

Yeah.  That's where I'm at.
So I guess we're getting used to not having Bailey around.  Sadly.
On the advice of a friend, I've been trying to write down all her idiosyncrasies and habits before I forget them. Nicknames we had for her, legendary stories, etc.  I think that was a good tip (thanks A.M. <3 )

Hopefully those memories will soon eclipse the memories of her last two days.  Which were like visiting Mordor.  And the first few days without her, which were like this:

Oh, Chicago.  You sage.  You know what's up.
Being without you
Takes a lot of getting used to
Should learn to live with it
I don't want to
Being without you
Is all a big mistake
Instead of getting any easier
It's the hardest thing to take
-Chicago Hard Habit to Break

This new one can be a sunset or a sunrise. Your choice!

8" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

Sunday, July 31, 2016


We put our dog down on Friday.  Our beloved Bailey Lou.  She was 15, a chocolate lab we'd had since she was 2 months old.  Today is 15 years to the day we brought that round little puppy home.

July 31, 2001.  Little 2 month old Bailey

Friday was literally the absolute worst day of our lives.  I knew it would be incredibly sad and painful, but I had no idea. I'm almost embarrassed by how hard I'm taking it.  We were able to have a vet come to our home so that she would not be stressed in her last moments.  It couldn't have gone better.  We believe it was the perfect timing.  Her life had recently crossed over to having more discomfort than joy.   We saw a rainbow.  All signs and experience pointed to it being the right decision on the right day.

But despite all of this, I am hit by grief harder and darker than I've ever known.   Harder than losing my favorite grandpa.  Harder than my parents' divorce.  I'm so sad, I feel like I can't breathe.   There's a constant lump in my throat and knot in my stomach.  All I can do is think about her life and death.  It's similar to when you finish a really engrossing book  - you're not ready to stop reading, but there's no more.  My mind and heart are still living in a story that's over.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison

Yesterday (Saturday) I was walking our other dog, Jodie (a 12 year old Alaskan Malamute) and we passed by a retired couple's home that I talk to frequently.  The woman asked how Jodie was.  I said pretty good, but slowing down with age. The woman unexpectedly said something about how hard it was to let pets go at the end.  I started bawling. Very ugly crying.  When I told them about Bailey, they were so kind and said they thought it was harder to let a dog go than to let people go.

Other friends have said that, too.  A dear friend said it was harder to lose her beloved pet than her dad.  Who, by the way,  was a wonderful man who she loved very very much.  This is really comforting to me because I am so sad, I keep thinking I must be crazy.  But maybe not.  Why is losing a pet, an animal, so so SO hard?

Now my days stretch out ahead of me, and I don't know what to do with myself.  Taking care of Bailey had crept in to be a big part of my daily life.  Only now do I realize how much my routine revolved around being there for her.  I feel pathetic and grieved and lost and relieved.  
Bailey's last day.  A belly full of cheese and beef snacks.

I miss Bailey so much.  I hope I can stop bursting into tears soon.
I guess my mental energy and my time will open back up now. Maybe I'll start painting more again.

10" x 10" x .5" acrylic on canvas

Friday, June 17, 2016

Wispy sunset

Here's another sunset for ya:
8" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
Whenever I try to photograph sunrises or sunsets, they never quite capture it.  So now I guess I'm trying to capture it in paintings?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Little cow

Today's quick painting:
5" x 7" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
A happy cow in the sunshine. Small, round, and fuzzy.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


I painted this off an old instagram picture I took two months ago.
16" x 20" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
It's been sitting on my easel for a while.  Time to admit I'm not going to work on it anymore.  16" x 20" might be too big for my short attention span for paintings.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Painting my favorites

I had an hour to kill, so I painted my old standbys: trees, clouds, and sunrise.

The color and the motion make me happy.  I think going fast helped me to not over-think and over-work it.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Just paint

If I want to get better at painting, I need to paint more.  Today I did a quick "no think, just do" tree scene.
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
There.  Now I need to keep the ball rolling.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tufted Titmouse

Our birdfeeder has been getting a lot of business this spring.  The Tufted Titmouse is a repeat customer.  He's so round and cute.

10" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

I painted over an old painting, which made it turn out kind of lumpy.    Could be better, but I got bored fast, so I'm moving on.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dollar Store Landscape

I love the dollar store.   The Dollar Tree keeps me stocked with dog poop bags, candles, and cute notepads.  Last fall I got a bunch of sweet calendars, including a "Landscapes" one.  Today I painted August's landscape.

10" x 8" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

Dollar store calendars do not provide photo credits or locations.   Could be California, or France...
I pretended I was Monet painting the Manneporte near Etretat. Too bad it's not as good.

Edited to update!...
I think I painted the Durdle Door in England.  That is a fabulous name and now I love it even more.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Somewhere on I-90

I started painting another face.  It was bad.  So I painted over it with a landscape.
8" x 10" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
The photo I went off of was an old one I took out the car window on some road trip.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Now that winter is in full swing, I'm trying to appreciate the beauty and make the best of it.  I'm really happy with how this painting turned out today.  I think it's all about the sunlight.  

The trees catching the gold sunshine, finding the beauty in winter - is it kind of kintsugi?

"...kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect.... 
Kintsugi can relate to the Japanese philosophy of "no mind"(無心 mushin?) which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life. " (Wikipedia)

Winter seems like a dead, broken time of year to me.  But even on the snowiest days, if there's some sunshine, I can deal.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Jolie laide

"Jolie laide" is a french term that refers to an unconventionally beautiful woman.  Like someone with a prominent nose or unusual feature that makes them uniquely striking.  (laide = ugly, jolie = pretty)
Wikipedia has a good description that goes on to say: also recognizes that behind the visceral image lies an internal life.[1] As the literary critic Daphne Merkin put it, jolie laide is "a triumph of personality over physiognomy, the imposition of substance over surface."
I like the same idea applied to art and life.  Especially the idea that it takes more than a passing glance to appreciate this kind of beauty.  There's interest and depth and maybe it challenges your ideas.

I would like to work towards creating things with more interest and depth.  This wrinkled face was partly inspired by the Native Americans from The Revenent, and partly an attempt at something a little more jolie laide.
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
After I took this picture, I added more color.  I thought it would look better with natural colors - not just yellow, black and blue.  But I think I like it less now.  I lost some of the expression and the gnarly wrinkles.  The first version was more ghostly.
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas
Eh.  Neither one is going to the Louvre, so it's all good.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Revenant

Can we talk about this movie for a second?  I saw it last week and I can't stop thinking about it.  It took me completely off guard because I was expecting just an action movie, not a work of art.

Leonardo DiCaprio absolutely deserves an Oscar for portraying incredible pain, anger, and sorrow with little dialog.  The movie highlighted many of his difficult moments with beautiful and brutal imagery from nature.  It created interesting connections by deliberately placing certain images and scenes together.

I keep dwelling on it and trying to piece the subtext together.   It's either great art, or I'm reading entirely too much into it.  Which is very possible.

Throughout the movie, DiCaprio's character keeps remembering something his wife said:

When there is a storm, and you stand in front of a tree, if you look at it's branches, you swear it will fall, But if you watch the trunk, you will see it's stability.

So here is my dinky little tree painting with a tidal wave storm cloud.  I slapped it together really fast whilst thinking about the movie.

12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

Monday, January 25, 2016

Not quite right

Painting "Stranger Danger" was so much fun, I was emboldened to try painting another face.  And this time, just make it up.  That was probably overreaching.  I've been messing with this face for a while, and I finally give up.
12" x 12" x 0.5" acrylic on canvas

It ended up slightly wonky.  The hair is weird.  Maybe she's hunched over at the  computer.  On a positive note, my cell phone did the face-recognition circle when I took the picture.

Trees and landscapes are a lot more forgiving than faces.