Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

The cards are mailed out, the shopping is done and Mother Nature has provided a beautiful winter wonderland in my back yard. Dan and I went for a quick walk when I got home from work on the 22nd to see all the ice on the trees. I love living up in the hills. It was raining on my way home, but I knew when I hit a certain elevation (about 2 miles from home) it would be snowing. Now on the 24th a light dusting of snow has covered all the ice on the trees.

Most of the presents are wrapped too, but we had a little problem this year. We did some rearranging of the livingroom furniture which meant the tree had to go in a place where we cannot barricade it from the animals. This is a problem because the cats like to eat the ribbons and the dog likes to unwrap and eat the presents. So I bought a little tree at Michaels and put it on a table in the studio. We've been able, so far, to keep everything safe in there. The cats can still get in there if they try hard enough, but they've been more interested in all the empty boxes lying around the house from Amazon deliveries.

I've done a few paintings, but I have to wait till after Christmas to post them!
I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2010 Christmas Card

For the past several years I've been making the Christmas card that we send out to friends and family. Every year I do it a bit differently and every year, I get the a few people that ask "how did you do this?". So, here you go. The making of the 2010 Christmas Card....
Step one is coming up with an idea. This is the worst- absolute WORST- part of the process for me. Every year I say I'm going to do this in August and every year I'm starting to panic around Thanksgiving. It usually only takes me a few days to a week to decide what I want to do, but it's painful. Since 2001 I have been featuring the pets in the card so I've tried to stick with that tradition which makes it harder to keep things new. There are only so many different ways to depict the naughtiness of these critters at Christmas time. This year, I decided to base the design on the Demotivational posters from LOVE these. I wasn't sure how many people were familiar with these posters, but once I sketched out this idea, I had to run with it.
The next step is sketching. I do several rough sketches of my idea and then decide on one or two for reference shots. My models are very cooperative when there is food involved, so Dan and I had a pretty good time with this photo shoot.

After gathering photo reference, I start refining the sketch. In this case, I actually pieced together a sketch in Photoshop using the actual images I'd collected. Then I draw it out in the size I will be using for the final piece.

Here, Engine has ventured into the room and peace in the studio will be short lived. He's pretending he's more interested in the birds, but I know I have a matter of minutes, (seconds, maybe) before the drawing process becomes severely impeded.

Here I have created a sketch I am happy with and I'm transferring it to a piece of illustration board. I don't want to draw it again, so I just color the back with graphite and trace it onto the board. I hope it doesn't move at this stage. As you can see, this is not easy. Still not as hard as coming up with the idea in the first place, though.

The beginning of the final piece. It's hard to see the lines after the transfer so I go over everything one more time with pencil before starting the painting process.

After the pencil lines are drawn in, I paint an outline around everything.

Then we do a little color check...

and start painting. This is my favorite part.

When I'm happy with the finished painting, I scan it and bring it into Photoshop for some final touch-ups. The lights are airbrushed to create a glow and other details are adjusted.

I add the background and the text and save it as a JPEG file on a thumb drive. I bring it over to the local drugstore, print out 4x6 satin finish photos that are then glued onto blank cards, and there you have it! And I'm finished early this year! I'm REALLY happy with this year's design and I'm looking forward to having a little extra time before Christmas to do some more painting that doesn't revolve around a deadline. I will have prints available on my Etsy shop if you are interested!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


November 2010 is having trouble deciding what kind of autumn it wants to portray. We had some snow last week and some frost early this morning, but Dan and I had lunch on the front porch in shorts and t-shirts this afternoon. I have no complaints. I love both types of weather. And I certainly can't criticize November- I can't seem to sit down and focus on one kind of art. I really want to do more painting, but last week I was spending all my time in the studio making jewelry. It's less scary than painting (for me). And certainly less scary than posting my paintings on the net. But I finally started working on this:

It's a house I saw on a walk Dan and I took last November. I've been thinking about painting it for a while. I have a ways to go, but I'm happy that I actually sat down and picked up a brush today. Bandit seemed very content to spend his morning under my table keeping my slippers warm.
And if November could settle down and start acting like late autumn, perhaps I could start spending more time in the studio.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy New Year!

So I guess it's finally over. I don't know how summer disappears so fast. To me, tonight is like a second New Year's Eve. Except I don't have the next day off, it's just the beginning of a new year. All my handmade calendars start in September- I start teaching again tomorrow. I'm excited, but it's never easy to let go of summer. I'm not going to bother saying much more about that since I know that no one wants to hear the whinings of someone who has just finished up a two month long vacation. So I'll leave you with the image above which I hope to have up for sale in print form in my Etsy shop soon, as well as a few images from summer 2010...

Dan and I got really into hunting for old furniture to paint for the bedroom. More posts on that soon (I think we went a little overboard), but these are a few treasures we brought back from the Madison-Bouckville weekend. We ended up finding more goodies at sales along the way than at the actual antique show. You can see what the weather was like through the glass door. It did that ALL DAY. It was a great day to come home, put on sweatshirts and make homemade granola while drinking hot tea!

And also, I have completely lost control of my vegetable garden. Again. But I grew red peppers this year which I am very proud of. Usually the peppers rot before they turn red. I used them tonight to make this recipe which was delicious! BUT, instead of Mancini fried peppers, I used my own peppers fried in a little canola oil with salt and pepper.

Hope you all have a wonderful 2010-2011 school year!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


This is my submission for Illustration Friday's theme "caged". The rabbits almost completely destroyed this one kind of annual I had planted in the garden this year. So when I found this wire object at a garage sale, I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew just what to do with it. Of course, I was only able to save one flower, but at least it's a start.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I was looking forward to relaxing for a day after coming home from vacation. The garden had made other plans. I spent all morning hunched over rows of green beans and then most of the afternoon making salsa and blanching and freezing. We've got a good crop this year!

Monday, August 9, 2010


I love NY, but every year I have a fling (or two) with Massachusetts. We just returned from our third annual Plymouth trip. Happy to be home, but I always miss it.

It's so easy to unwind when you can wake up in the morning and just step into the ocean. Not that I need any more, but I always find beautiful rocks and shells to bring home. We brought Bandit along this year, and he seemed to really like wading and walking on the beach. He tried to drink the water once, but he learned quickly.

We really enjoy Plymouth, but one of the real perks is its proximity to the Cape. Our two favorite towns are Sandwich and Chatham. We love to bike the CCRT from Dennis into Chatham which we did on Monday and Friday (when it was about 90 outside- yuck!). We found a nice place for lunch where Dan was able to create his own sandwich. When the waiter brought it to our table, he asked to watch Dan take the first bite because he'd "never seen anything like that before". Being vegetarian has brought out his inner artist- he's very creative with food. This sandwich is made up of hummus, cranberry chipotle relish, provolone cheese, sprouts, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and Granny Smith apples. Fortunately, it was better than it sounds. I have a rule when we go out to eat- he has to order first. I sometimes like to steal his ideas. But not this time.

I stuck with something right off the menu- grilled portobello mushroom and sundried tomato sandwich.

Then we headed out to the Chatham Fish market where we could watch the harbor seals from the pier.

We try to do something new each time we visit the Cape. This time we decided to try out a boat tour in Hyannis. It had been raining that day, and there was no one in line for anything but the Pirate Adventure which was mostly parents with little kids. We ended up getting a private tour on a big catamaran out to a lighthouse and the Kennedy compound! I highly recommend the Bay Spirit Tours- lots of fun and the father and son that run the tours were great to talk to. And apparently, even if you're the only people in line, they'll take you out anyway!
So, like I said, we brought the dog with us this time. This was my biggest concern about the trip this year. I can't bring myself to board him while we're away and understandably, it's not easy to find people that want to spend a week of their summer living at someone else's house. But here is where I have to say, hats off to you, Massachusetts. You really know how it's done. You may have some serious traffic problems getting on and off the Cape, and yes, you had a few sharks on the beaches this year. But you have towns connected by bike trails with little cafes and ice cream shops along the way! Your cars stop for pedestrians! You let dogs into your stores! But MOST of all... you had a pet resort where I could leave my dog from 8-6 for $14.50 per day where he stayed in air conditioned comfort or under shaded tents in the play yard. The groomers did the best grooming job on him that I have ever seen, and he now insists on being referred to as MR. Bandit.

Usually when we ask if he wants to go home, Mr. Bandit will jump around, barking happily. This was not the case on Sunday morning. Maybe he was just tired, or maybe he was too hot, but now when I see those paws wiggling away when he dreams, I'm pretty sure he's running on the beach behind closed eyes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What do you love?

Junebug... he's just begging to be painted, don't you think?

The end of the longest day of the year

This picture probably needs no explanation

Inspired by Penelope (once again!), here is what I love right now:

The anticipation of summer on the way
The longest day of the year
A husband who loves animals
Yoga classes with Mom
Fat cats sunbathing on hardwood floors

And what I love most right now (ok, BESIDES the husband) is Firefly Walks. We've been taking a walk around the yard almost every night to see the fireflies. I think they are one of the most amazing creatures... and seeing them is such massive numbers in the meadow this time of year is incredible. There are so many that they bump into us every once in a while during our walk. I think I will have to start another firefly painting soon. Especially since I can't seem to photograph them.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

More garden tours

After touring the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, we visited the Secrest Arboretum at Ohio State University. The timing was perfect because all of the crabapple trees were in bloom. I came away with lots of ideas for the gardens at home. And that's just what we need at home- more stuff to do!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cleveland Botanical Gardens

Over the weekend we traveled to Ohio for a friends wedding. Before our trip, I did a quick Google search of places to visit in north eastern Ohio and found the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Garden consists of ten acres of different outdoor gardens, as well as the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glass House, two indoor rooms that replicate the environments of the rainforests of Costa Rica and the spiny desert of Madagascar.
Inside the "Cloud Forest" they did an incredible job of making it feel like you were really walking around outside. There were also bridges up above the trees that gave us a bird's eye view of the forest below.

These leafcutter ants are really doing a number on the plant in the left corner of the photo. If you look closely, you can see them carrying their leaf pieces across the vine in the next picture.

The Cloud Forest was filled with beautiful butterflies...

This tiny bird lives in the Madagascar section of the Glass House,

along with a VERY slow chameleon

and a Mossy Tailed Leaf Gecko.

Outside, the spring flowers were in bloom. The hostas are coming up and getting ready to cover the tulips after their blooms fade.

The Japanese Garden was beautiful... I have new plans for my hill garden at home!