Sunday, June 20, 2010

Where Bloggers Create

Its a studio tour! "My Desert Cottage" blog is having a Where Bloggers Create party here: I thought I would join the fun; a little late, but that is fashionable, right? It is a pity it isn't a "messiest studio" tour, because this is what mine looks like after I have tidied it. I have sort of a mish-mash of furniture that I have picked up here and there. I look at some of the beautiful studios in magazines and drool over them, but my little messy space works for me right now. Maybe someday I will be more glamorous!

Here is my drawing/painting table. I like to do so many things, so I have so many supplies! You can see that my drawers are full to bursting. And all the brushes! Who can bear to throw out an old brush? It might still be good for something!

I bought some organizer cupboards from Michaels this year and assembled them without too much trouble. So I have managed to put my watercolors in order by color, which makes me very happy. No more rooting through a jumble of paints to find the right tube!

I keep my brushes and pencils in old jugs and tins. These are just a few. You can see the edge of my new curtains, made from my very first fabric line!

Here are some antique shelves on top of my paper cutting area, which is the top of an old map chest where I keep papers. Collecting antiquarian books is a weakness of mine, but they are very useful for research purposes! I also have so many still-life props. I only have room to keep a few in the studio. The rest are scattered throughout the house.

Here is a closer view, so you can see the lovely portrait of Ian, painted by Victoria Lisi, author of "Vibrant Children's Portraits". You can see her portrait of Margaret in the background of the top photo.

One of the best things about my studio is that it is here in beautiful Colorado. We spent the day hiking for Father's Day today and now I am pleasantly tired and can't wait to get back to painting tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's studios too!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Motto Ware

I love pottery and I especially love Motto Ware. Motto ware was made in Devon, England for the tourist trade from the 1880's to the 1940's. Each piece had a colloquial phrase on the back (I have turned the teacup so you can see it a little bit). The most common decoration was the cottage scene- each one is slightly different because they were hand painted. However, I really like pieces with a seaside theme, such as the lovely sailboat above. The pretty lady in the photo is Nettie Watts, Mr Right's grandmother.

I have turned all of them around here so you can see the mottos. My favorite phrases are written in the local vernacular, such as the "Don' ee be 'fraid o' it now" jug.

This is the jug that started it all. It was my mother's and she used it all through my childhood for milk or custard. A few years ago she said she was going to give it to Goodwill and I was horrified! I decided it needed to grace my table, so that my children would grow fond of it too.

Last week I saw a lovely motto ware teapot for sale online for a very good price. I was thrilled, as I had been looking for one that I could make my morning tea in. I was so sad when it arrived smashed! As you can see, the handle and spout are broken. There were numerous chips in the rim, and a long crack in the body of the pot. The lid was broken into six pieces.

I got out the Gorilla Glue and started piecing it back together. It will never be useable for tea again, and is best viewed from a distance, but at least it might be a good prop for a painting. A lot of the broken pieces were pulverised, so there are still a lot of chips and gaps. I couldn't find the tip of the spout or all chips that came from the rim, and I had trouble getting the lid to go back together too, as some of the pieces were very small and fiddley. But I managed not to stick my fingers together with the glue, so that's something! I'll just have to start teapot hunting again. It is fun to have something that you are searching for when you go antiquing!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hooray For Art Supplies!

Don't you just love art supplies? Today I have had one of those days where the art just doesn't want to turn out the way I want it to, but at least I have the fun of playing with my "stuff". Oh, fresh, clean, white paper, juicy paints, and nice pointy brushes! So I decided I would periodically tell you about the favorite products I have found over many years, (and many dollars) spent!

My favorite brushes are made by the Silver Brush company. They can be a little hard to find, but I usually order mine from, or directly from the manufacturor. I should mention that I have done demonstrations in the Silver Brush booth at trade shows, but I am not being paid for this endorsement. These really are the best brushes if you want to paint tiny details, like I do. The ones above are the Silver Ultra Mini Golden Natural Designer Rounds. Those very fine lines were painted with the #12 round, so you can see what a tiny point it has. But since it has a big body, you can really load the brush with paint so you don't have to keep dipping it.

This brush is very useful for painting fur. It is a Ruby Satin Filbert Grass Comb. You can see how the bristles are uneven lengths and slightly separated. This means you can paint many hairs with one stroke. I mostly use watercolor, but these brushes are good for acrylic too.

Do you have any favorite brushes for painting details? I would like to try the Winsor and Newton designer rounds one of these days, to see how they compare. Designer rounds have longer bristles than regular round brushes. and I feel like they give my strokes a better flow.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Favorite Things

It is Teacup Tuesday again! The days sure do fly by. This teacup isn't antique and I don't have a special story about it, except to say that I think it is so very pretty! I drink a lot of tea, and I especially like all the accoutrements that go along with it: Teaspoons, pots, and strainers, sugar tongs and basins, and above all, milk jugs!
Today I decided to photograph just the blue and white ones, as I have the most of those. I'm very fond of these, and I love to include them in my paintings. As you can see, I use them for more than just milk too! Am I the only one who takes milk in her tea, or do any of you do that too?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Yes, We Have No Tomatoes

Well, I had a minor disaster over the weekend. I decided I would try to dye some of the gray out of my hair (oh, what price vanity!). I bought a box of nice, warm brown dye with a picture of a very pretty lady on the front. Well, somehow, either the wrong dye was put in the box, or they left out some ingredients, or the lady on the box just wandered randomly into the shot, because my hair ended up RED. Tomato red, ketchup red, radioactive Cadmium red. As I tried to rinse it out, the shower looked like that scene in Psycho where the blood is running down the drain.
Hubby comes home later, and manages not to say anything, although he might have been tipped off by my covering my head with my hands and screaming "Don't look at me!" So I need to go to the grocery store to buy some dark brown dye to try and cover it up. #1 Son decides to accompany me and convinces me to stop at a car dealership, since he is shopping for his very first car. I was so embarrassed! Especially because the radioactive red had only covered some of my hair, so I had gray patches showing through.
The dark brown now covers most of the red, although it still shows through. I feel like one of those 90 year old ladies who should have white hair, but dye their hair as dark as they can and think that nobody notices. Mum says maybe its a sign that I should just give in to the gray!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Typical Day

One of the art chat rooms I belong to is having a discussion about an artist's typical day. It has been interesting to read about how my day is similar to other art/moms, and so nice to feel like there are other people like me out there! So I thought I would write about a typical day for me and see if it struck any chords with any of you.

6:00 A.M. Time to rise and shine. I thump on my teenager's door on my way downstairs to make sure he gets up and is ready on time for the carpool to school. (There are no school buses to the schools we go to, as we are kind of in a no-man's land between two towns). I read my e-mails while I eat breakfast.

6:30 Drag preteen out of bed (sometimes literally) to get her ready so we can be ready for me to drive her to school at 7:15. Get home at around 7:30. At 7:35 get call from preteen that she has left her flute/mathbook/homework behind and I need to go back and deliver it.

8:00 Start work. Get computer stuff done first, like research, business correspondence, blog,etc. If it is going to be a hot day, I'll usually take a walk about now, while it is still cool. When I get back I turn to the BBC radio on the computer so I can listen to comedy and radio drama while I work. American radio doesn't seem to have those sort of shows, and I do enjoy them. There is usually an Agatha Christie mystery, or an episode of Dr Who, and there are lots of comedy shows.

9:00 Start painting. I usually bop back and forth between the drawing table and the computer. While a layer of paint is drying I can be Photoshopping on something else, or scanning in finished pieces. I have been so very busy lately that I have to use every minute! I could really use an assistant, but I don't earn enough to pay one!

10:00 Time for a cup of tea (and usually a cookie (or two), which is why I don't lose any weight!)
Check e-mails again, then back to the drawing board.

11:30 Lunch and a shower. Brief conversation with Mr Right (he is an editor and works at home too)

12:30 Start painting faster as I'll need to stop soon!

1:30 Leave the house so I can get grocery shopping or other errands done quickly before driving the afternoon carpool. I have to go to two different schools, so we don't get home until 3:30. I'll try to get a little more work done, unless kids have activities or appointments that they need to be driven to. It will make my life a lot easier when the senior offspring gets his driving license!

5:00 start dinner, 6:00 eat dinner, 7:00 help with homework.

8:00 Before I quit for the day I will start sending any high res files to clients. I have to do this overnight, as it bogs my computer down too much to do it during the day.

Even on the weekends though, the art is never far from my mind. It drives my kids nuts the way I have to take reference photos whenever we go anywhere! Now it is summer, so the schedule will change a bit. I'm trying to get up earlier so I can get more work in before the kids get up and need to be driven to their activities and stuff. Somehow though, I still manage to squeeze in a painting a week. I know a lot of people who are faster, but my work is very detailed and takes a while. What are your days like? I wonder how Blogger will re-arrange everything I have written this time? I keep trying to lay it out properly, but whenever I click "post" it just rearranges itself.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Teacup Tuesday

It is time for Teacup Tuesday again! This time I have decided to go into full sentimentality mode. I have a lot of Blue Willow china. Way back when I was getting ready to go to college, the grocery stores were still doing things like giving away free place settings when you did your weekly shopping. So Mum gathered a full set of Blue Willow for me to take to my first apartment (which was a tiny little beach shack which was later condemned, but that's another story). I still use those plates as my everyday china, a couple of decades later. Mum and Dad thought it was fun when they were antiquing to look for blue willow bits and pieces for me, so I have lots of fun serving pieces and these nice teacups. Lo and behold, the gold rimmed plate behind ended up belonging to both my Grandmothers before it was handed down to me. My dad's mother had them first, and when she died they were given to my mother's parents.

For the photo I decided to place them on a doily that my aunt made for me and put the whole lot on the carved African chest that Mr Right had made for me as a wedding present. Isn't it fun to use such pretty things! If you want to see more teacup Tuesday offerings, head over to Martha's Favorites Blog at: