Friday, July 31, 2009

They were never alone ... they had each other

Bill and Garth
soft pastel on 6.25x9.5 gray bugra

This is a quick, sentimental piece I did of two wonderful Chihuahua's that lived and loved with me. But their story, sentimental, is far from quick. They came into my life in January 1993. The first pet I kept, as an adult, from day one as a tiny puppy to death in my arms, was Paco, a 3 pound Chihuahua. I loved him so much that as I held his lifeless body, I said I would get a relative of his - AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

Paco passed away on a Sunday. On the following Saturday, my Mother and I drove home from Atlanta with 2 new babies, I only went for one, but what can I say! They were supposed to be relatives of Paco, but I doubt if they really were.

The kennel I got them from was deplorable. I couldn't tell you how many dogs this woman had, but I can tell you that in addition to the dozen or so that were in the room with us, a goat wandered in and out as well! There were 3 room sized rugs piled upon one another and the dogs would walk in a line and all take turns 'marking their spot' on, well, everything. I am not exaggerating, our eyes burned and watered with the ammonia level in that room! On the way home, we stopped at a fast food spot and Mom waited in the car with our new boys. When I returned and opened the door, I couldn't believe the - er - aroma! I had not intended to bath them on day one, but as we walked in the door of their new home, the water was warming and the towels were laid out! The breeder had given them a small blanket to carry the scent of their old home! I guess you already know that never comforted them in their transition either!

Bill was the youngest and the first thing my Mother said was, don't get this one, there is something wrong with his eyes. He was about 5 weeks old and as you can see, he had split brown and white splashes across his face. Before we left, Mom had fallen in love with him. She said she had been watching him and he had a wonderful, un-intimidated personality. For such a young puppy, he already knew who he was, sure of himself.

The other one, the black one, was apparently terribly shy, they called him Timmy as he was so timid. But he was a jealous fellow and because of all the attention the others were getting, the next thing I knew was he was sitting on my shoulder! Really! She told us he was 6 months old and had his adult hair and teeth. He weighed less than 2 pounds. I was delighted as I wanted a really tiny Chihuahua. Well he grew, he topped out at over 8 pounds and I often lovingly called him "gargantu-dog". At the suggestion of our Vet, I reassigned his birthday making him only about 6 weeks older than Bill.

Now, about Bill. Before we left this woman's house, I knew Bill was going to be - yes, I really did this, Bill Clinton! It was January, 1993, and the inauguration of President Clinton. I often remarked that I would get a new dog every time we got a new President, but in real life, that just doesn't happen. It did make a good story and a lot of good time planning it!

Bill lived up to his name. I don't know how I picked their names so appropriately, but Billy was the - um - how do I say this - the horny one! My standard joke was "I can go out into the back yard, shake my finger at him and say 'Bill Clinton, you horny little bastard' and be politically correct at the same time"!

He was sweet, loving, aloof and stoic. He was a one-of-a-kind, special! When he was only about 8 months old, my daughter called me at work and said he couldn't walk, something was terribly wrong. I was devastated, he was so special and I had just lost my beloved Paco and was still grieving over the loss of my husband. On the way home, I cried the cry of the deep soul pain. I tried to cry in between where I thought other drivers would see me, but as I was trying to be invisible, another driver started honking at me and motioning for me to roll down my window. This I really did not want to do as I was sure he was going to cuss me out and tell be to get off the road, that I had no business driving in that condition. Not knowing what else to do, I rolled down the window and this stranger, this man said to me with the deepest of compassion, "Lady, it will be alright"! Those are the moments that later in life you wish you could tell that stranger just how much they meant to you, that you will never forget them. I'm sure everyone, sometime in their lives, reaches someone else and never knows it. So for all of the people I could not tell, I now say with the deepest compassion, Thank You!

We ended up taking Bill to the Veterinarian Hospital in Gainesville, FL. As they walked him, they determined his back leg was paralyzed, he could not tell if his foot was up or down and his front leg was lame - another problem altogether. They were going to do the most elaborate tests to see if he had a tumor or other neurological problem. The cost would be staggering and then we could be facing surgery. Or, he could have a spinal cord stroke and after a month or two of bed rest his collateral muscles would take over the damaged area and he would return to nearly normal. My co-worker said to me "Beckie, when are you going to stop?" I didn't know how to put the limits on by myself, but with her support, I called Gainesville and told them I'd be over to pick him up.

We were lucky, it did turn out to be the spinal cord stroke and he did recover. He could not jump up on the furniture and was just a little gimpy. I did extraordinary things to support him. When I built an addition onto the upper level of our home where I lived, I boxed in the stairs so Bill wouldn't fall through. We had 2 sets of dog doors, all tile floors, special car seats, you name it and Bill got it.

Now about Garth. He was so loving and needy and yet timid of new people at the same time. Bill would go to everyone so Garth needed to go their too! One of my favorite memories of Garth's early time with us was when my brother Bruce came to meet them. Bruce was 6'4" tall and had really long legs. He was holding Bill and Garth was sitting at the end of Bruce's leg on his knees, leaning out away but he still had to be a part of the action. He eventually eased into our family and our lives and was comfortable with his life.

Here is how Garth got his name. On the ride home in that odoriferous car, I finally decided upon the name of Garth Brooks. Little did I know our Garth would turn out to be a singer! Oh, how he loved to sing and all our family loved to make him sing. He would through back his head like a coyote and howl through the perfectly round aperture of his mouth. He was adorable.

And no one had ever needed each other more than those two needed each other. Especially Garth, he went crazy if for some reason Bill was not with him. Once I took Bill out for a bike ride. I had all kinds of baskets and harnesses and clips to take them both, but it was just so much trouble, this time I took only Bill. When I returned, my Mother said "Don't ever leave Garth with me like that again, he was desperate".

Both Bill and Garth, also like our Paco, had congenital heart problems that shortened all of their lives. We would comment that Garth needed to be the first to pass, that he would be miserable if Bill passed first. Of course, that was not the way it turned out. Bill deteriorated over the last 6 months of his life. He lost all kinds of weight, looked like a puppy again. His hair quite growing and you just knew his time was near. Finally one evening, he filled with fluid and hung on with what power I don't know. Mom and I held him and cried off and on for several hours. I had given him extra lasix and he eventually rallied. I took him to the Vet the next day. They worked on him but we all knew his time had come. I never wanted him to go through another bout like he had the night before. I had him put to sleep. I brought him home and laid him upon a little blanket. By this time, we also had Erin and Annie, but they paid this process absolutely no attention. We brought Garth to Bill and let him sit and be with him. After awhile, I got a shoe box and placed Bill in a 'chili-pepper' dinner napkin inside the box. Mom and Garth and I went together into our yard and I dug Bill's grave. Garth sat with us, the thee of us forming a live triangle, and participated in the whole burial. We opened the box one last time, to make sure Garth knew that Bill was in it, and then buried him.

Amazingly, Garth really understood and never seemed to look for Bill. Garth was so smart. They were bonded as only soul-mates can be. They loved each other far more than they loved any human, and they DID love our family with all their hearts.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

Garth died in my arms, 2 months later. He was buried next to Bill in the matching "chili-pepper" dinner napkin, but in a much larger box! This time, it was my Brother Bruce that dug the grave and said the words with my Mother and me. They both passed away 3 months later.

To this day, I couldn't tell you which I loved best, probably Garth, but I don't know. They were one to us, Billy and Garthie, our boys, our bubbies. How can you love your dogs so much? More than just about every person you've ever know. Tears flow, the true sense of weeping. The love never goes away. The memories keep them in our hearts forever.

Garth Brooks, the dog
October 7, 1992 - February 18, 2004

Bill Clinton, the dog
November 28, 1992 - December 9, 2003

Thank you for sharing our story!

Monday, July 27, 2009

She started as a Kentucky Weather-Girl

acrylic on 8x10 canvas board
available $52 including shipping
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I'm brave today. I tried an acrylic portrait of my sister and it is in my burn pile! I guess it was inevitable I'd try it again, as I do love portraits and enjoy doing them in soft pastels. My problem is, I enjoy working with acrylics about 1000 times more!

I've got another painting in the works today, don't yet know if it will work out or not. I'll have to let you know! It is getting ready to storm buckets, just a few miles inland. Isn't it wonderful that we live in houses with doors and windows! Where do the birds go?

Did you know, this beautiful woman will be 65 in December?
Good Evening

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Virtual Paintout - July Challenge - Barcelona

116 Carretera d'Horta a Cerdanyola, Barcelona
acrylic on 12" by 16" canvas board
Available $175 including shipping

This is the 6th Challenge for The Virtual Paintout. The city is Barcelona and I have to say, of all the cities we've visited so far, I really liked this one best. It was clean, spacious and had beautiful countryside. If I ever happen to leave the country, I would certainly consider Barcelona!

I can't wait to see where we go next month!

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, July 24, 2009

NZ Art Guild Challenge #6 - Memory

Memory of a Rose
acrylic on 8" by 10" canvas board
Available $45 including shipping
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The other day, I received an invitation on Facebook to become friends with Sharlene Schmidt. We did not have any friends in common, so I visited her website and found out she was an artist in New Zealand and I liked her work. She had found me through a link we both have on out Blogs, Widgetbox Network.

While I was looking at her Blog, I ran across a Challenge that I had not heard of. I asked her about it and she invited me to join through Facebook. Their Web Site is NZ Art Guild and members submit their work there. However, I am affiliated through Facebook on their Fan Site and it is open to all. Sharlene asked me to invite my friends, too!

Now here's where it gets fun! You all know how I enjoy the Challenges. This one is completely different from any other I've found. Every 2 weeks the theme changes and so do all the rules. Here are the rules for Challenge #6:

The Theme: MEMORY
Use a limited colour palette of 2 colours plus black and white (e.g. Orange plus Blue)
You may use any shade or tone of the colours you choose (e.g light blue through to dark blue) and since grey is a tonal variation of black and white you may also use that as well.

My Palette: Baltic Green, Neutral Grays 4, 6 & 8, Soft White, Light Portrait Pink, Cadmium Red Medium, Sap Green Permanent

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.
~J.M. Barrie, 1922

I hope to participate in this Challenge often and as I do, you will see how the rules change.

AND FINALLY, I have not entered nearly as many painting as I would liked during the month of July. I don't even have a really good excuse! It seems like I stay busy, I have all kinds of projects laid out. But, I do have to tell you, sometimes I just don't feel like I have anything to paint. Maybe it's painters block - not really. I am in a period of time where I am doubting myself, my ability to paint anything of interest. I am working to get over this 'hump' and know it is perfectly normal. Thank you for your continued interest in my Blog and my work. I hope I haven't let you down and I am trying to get back on the 'productive' road again.

Good morning to you all

Friday, July 17, 2009

Laughter, Caring Deeds, Wonderful Stories & Love

Thank You... For Building a Path
acrylic on 8" by 10" by .75" stretched canvas
SOLD to Dottie
This is a little house in Fort Worth, Texas. A Grandmother and Grandfather lived in this house and used to entertain their grandchildren on summer vacations. They have been gone for many years but the memory of the good times remains.

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.
~Alex Haley

I never felt so special or so happy as I did with my Grandparents. They were always happy and kind and generous and loving. They were always glad for my presence.

Grandparents always made you feel they had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day would be complete.
~Marcy DeMaree

They traveled every year to see us in the winter and we traveled every year to see them in the summer.

A garden of Love grows in a Grandparent's heart.
~Helen Thomson

Their homes were roomy and always the same. They had a fragrance of their own that made them special and comfy.

I loved their home. Everything smelled older, worn but safe; the food aroma had baked itself into the furniture.
~Susan Strasberg

I wonder, if I could go back, how would it feel? How would it smell? Would I cry? Would I leave with the awareness that they are always with me.

"...I want to stay here" I whispered.
"No, we want you to take us with you."
"How do I do that?" I mumbled.
"Put us in your heart. Know your connection"

~Judith Fraser, MA, MFT

NOTE: As I was researching this post, I ran across the most wonderful story. The above quote by Judith Fraser, is a tiny excerpt from the story. Please follow this link and read this beautiful story about returning to the home of her Grandparents. You won't be sorry!

Dottie, this is for you!
Good Night

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art Challenge #13: The Patriot

acrylic on 9" by 12" by .75" stretched canvas
available $60 including shipping
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I learn something with every challenge. For instance, I had no idea what the word "suffrage" meant. The definition simply is: the right or privilege of voting.

This challenge for The Artist's Challenge is The Patriot. The definition of patriot is: one who loves and defends his or her country. Wikipedia gives so many definitions that my head was spinning! I did know that I wanted to paint something about the women of the early 20th century that fought for the right to vote, suffragettes. I looked up photos on Google and found this one.
I have to say, the idea of creating my own colors from a B&W photo was also very intriguing. I was not disappointed!

I found a few quotes that really impressed me, therefore, I'm including more than one today!

Carry out the republican principle of universal suffrage, or strike it from your banners
and substitute 'Freedom and Power to one half of society, and Submission and Slavery to the other.
~Ernestine Rose

Proof that they do not understand the republic is that in their fine promises for universal suffrage, they forgot women.
~Delphine de Girardin

Suffrage is a common right of citizenship. Women have the right of suffrage. Logically it cannot be escaped.
~Victoria Woodhull

Suffrage is the pivotal right.
~Susan B. Anthony

Can you imagine what these women went through to stand up and fight for their beliefs? They must have endured great opposition and hostility and yet they prevailed.

Wikipedia defines suffrage as: Suffragette is a term originally coined by the Daily Mail newspaper as a derogatory label for the more radical and militant members of the late-19th and early-20th century movement for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, in particular members of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). However, after former and then active members of the movement began to reclaim the word, the term became a label without negative connotations.

I think I would have the courage to fight for my beliefs, but I'm not sure. There are so many important issues today, and I'm not on the line for them, so it does make me wonder?

Well, enough of the history lesson. I hope someone found it interesting and someone learned something as I did!

The challenge debuts tomorrow, July 18th. I couldn't wait to post all my new found information one more day!

Good Morning dear ones

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

FTM Following the Masters Challenge #4

The Century after Maxfield Parrish
acrylic on 12" by 16" canvas board
available $75 including shipping
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This is my first entry in the Following the Masters Challenge hosted by Michelle Burnett. It is the forth challenge and the subject is art of Maxfield Parrish. It was hard for me to find something of his I felt I could paint. His style is very detailed and 'old-world' in style. I am much more contemporary in my art and in my taste. When I buy art, if it has a computer, piercing or tattoo, all the better! Mr. Parrish did not paint those things!

But it was a wonderful learning experience. Maxfield Parrish was a very gifted artist and I had never heard of him! He was famous for his androgynous nudes, like the one I did. He was also famous for the dazzlingly luminous colors that marked much of his artwork; the shade "Parrish blue" was coined in acknowledgement. He could not be categorized and developed a truly original style of his own. There is so much available about Mr. Parrish on Google. Look him up to see his unique art.

I hope you are having a lovely week.
A very early Good morning!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This bicycle QUOTE is not to be missed!

Bicycling in Amsterdam
acrylic on 6" by 8" canvas board
available $35 including shipping
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This painting was inspired by a photo by Michiel Poodt.  Since Amsterdam is known for bicycling, I enjoyed painting this picture.  It is a bit abstract at first glance.

I'm still getting my house and studio back together.  I think everything is just about back to normal.  It is early Sunday morning.  Wonder what the day will bring?

The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.
~Ann Strong

Have a beautiful Sabbath

Friday, July 10, 2009

No spring nor summer beauty

Three Graces, 1986
acrylic on 20" by 24" canvas board
nfs, my personal collection

When I first started painting in 1983, there were few resources to see art.  I subscribed to several art magazines and in one on them was an article about painting shadows.  The author/artist used a similar painting to demonstrate the discussion.  I have not been able to determine who that person was, but this is the painting I did from that article.  

It has hung in my home ever since.  At one time, I gave it to my Mother, but as we lived together, it floated its way back to me!  However, the most significant thing about the my painting is the resemblance of the first Grace dressed in blue to my Grandmother, Noma Saar.  You can read about Grammam in my post Happy Mother's Day Grammam.  I think the resemblance will be evident with only that one photo.

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.
~John Donne

On a personal note - I have, like almost everyone, been looking for way to augment my income.  I have a very large home that 2 families can easily live in.  I am looking for a housemate and to free-up the ground floor of my home, I have moved my studio from a downstairs Florida room to my upstairs great room.  My new studio - funny to call it new as the old one was only five months old - has turned out quit nice.  I will take a photo soon to show you the new layout.  But, doing this move has taken a huge portion of my time this week and I have not posted as much as I intended.  That means I have not painted as much either.  I will make every effort to be more timely for the rest of July.  It is time I put some miles on this ol' blog!

Goodnight, friend

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

You were not made from a common mold

Babar Sher Crimson
acrylic on 10" by 10" by 1.5" gallery canvas
available $60 + $8 shipping
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This is the 3rd of four lions I started a couple of weeks ago. I still have one more and I'm sorry to say, it has taken me a little longer than I had hoped.

This lion is painted in almost all iridescent golds, copper & bronze. There are touches of 4 other colors, I'm sure you can see black and white! Also, there is a touch of pink on his nose and a touch of yellow orange azo under his wiskers. For me, very minimalistic!

The background is so yummy because the sides of the gallery wrap canvas are slightly contrasted to the front background. The background is Qunacridone Magenta and the sides are Hibiscus. OOOww, this is a pretty combination!

I know you can't wait - ha! ha! - but I'll give you a hint, the next - the last - lion will be on a green/gold background. Maybe this lion will be green, too!

I thank God for the way he made you, distinct, special and unique. You were not made from a common mold.
~ Erwin W. Lutzer

I WILL see you tomorrow!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Self Portrait Global Love In Challenge

Self Portrait No.5, Cherry Chin
acrylic on 6" by 8" canvas board
nfs, my personal collection

There is a lot of story to tell. I started Daily Painting in February. During that month, I read on a painting board on WetCanvas about one new artist that challenged himself to paint a self portrait everyday for one month. I thought what a good exercise!

I had my daughter Mary Ellen come over and I used several wigs to create various looks. We took over 100 shots and about 10 of them were really good. Another 20 or 30 were very useful in painting self portraits.
In this image, I was wearing a waist-length "vamp" wig. The over-all look of this wig was not useful for painting self portraits, it just doesn't look natural enough and besides that, it is a ridiculous wig! But this photo, I thought was, was fun.

After painting my version, A Greener Jimmy, of Jimmy Wright's Self Portrait with Green Hand, I wondered what I'd look like done in vibrant colors. Well, I'm glad to say I really liked it and it has become one of my signature pieces.

Then in May, I found David Lobenberg's Self Portrait Global Love In which I wrote about in my May 22 post Art Challenges. I love self portraits so I jumped right in and contacted Mr. Lobenberg. I sent mine in on June 1st, I was so excited. I received a confirmation and when the challenge was posted, mine was not included. I wasn't sure if it was an oversite or if there was going to be additional postings over a period of time. I knew Mr. Lobenberg had spent a great amount of time working on this project and it had turned out to be very popular with over 50 entries. But I needed to know if something had been wrong with mine. Here are the wonderful words he wrote on the Blog about my inquiry.

"(...) I even missed posting (to date) two portraits...nuts?? (...) Also, I missed posting Beckie Saar Leone's wonderfully colorful and expressive SP. She emailed me wanting to know if there was something wrong with hers...hell no!"

I don't know what Mr. Lobenberg's plans are for continuing this challenge in the future, but I hope it is an ongoing project. It was very successful and a lot of fun.

I can't leave the subject of Self Portraits without including a site artist Fred Bell told us about on Facebook, the 5th Annual National Self-Portrait Exhibition. There are some incredible self portraits there, a must see if you also love self portraits.

And finally, a note about "Cherry Chin". As my daughter and I were growing up together, we frequently noted how different we look from each other. She is a beautiful female version of her father! Somehow, we developed the nicknames for each other "Cherry Chin" and "Shovel Chin". I'll leave those images with you!

Say goodnight, Cherry Chin

Thursday, July 2, 2009

BooHoo - I missed the June Challenge

Via Incontri, Florence, Italia
acrylic on 18" by 18" by 3/4" gallery wrapped canvas
available $75 plus $8 shipping
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If I had completed this on time, it would have been my entry for The Virtual Paintout June Challenge, Florence. I had selected my image from Google City Streets, selected my canvas, prepped & sanded it, acrylic base coat and sketched. Just didn't get around to adding the paint! Oh well, I still proud of myself for doing it anyway. As I've said previously, it is for the challenge to myself!

This is the largest canvas I've painted on since beginning my daily painting in February. It wasn't difficult at all.

In fact, I've noticed I'm gravitating to 9x12's, 11x14's and 12x16's.

I still like the SFA (small format art) that I started out with. I prefer 6x8, 7x9 & 8x10's when I do smaller pieces and 5x7 & 6x6 are OK. But I do not enjoy 4x6 and smaller.

I used to use mostly 16x20's & 20x30's and the largest piece I did was 30x30. I'll have to get around to posting some more of my older work soon.

This is my first nooner post!
Can't say Goodnight!
UPDATE: I couldn't resist reworking the foreground from the original post. On 7/3 I replaced the first posting with the updated painting. Thank you Karen for you kind comment! I hope you like this one even better!