Early Season Garden Update

Okee-dokee!  I have the garden in and it is growing.  I tilled the soil at least eight times before planting.  It was heavily grown over with weeds, which made it difficult getting it ready for planting, but it also meant that it was fertile.  There are lots of earthworms, which is always a good sign.

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In past years, I always started my own seeds, but this year I bought almost all of the plants.  Plants include:  yellow squash, marigolds, tomatoes, lettuce, snapdragons, kale, kohlrabi, and sunflowers.  Seeds include:  green beans, zucchini, and radishes.  I have to hoe every day, because weed seeds are vigorously sprouting and growing with great glee.

I have them in raised beds, because our clay soil is very slow draining and, in past years, the boggy conditions have been very discouraging and I have given up.  I don't want to give up, this time.  I have planted almost all of it on raised beds and plan to put on my wellies, if necessary, to weed the garden.

The fence is an electrified fence, with a battery, to try to keep out raccoons and rabbits.  We have deer problems, also, but there is not much I can do about that.  One year, I planted a beautiful leaf lettuce mix.  It grow beautifully, but it never got high enough to cut some.  I kept watering, weeding, and wondering when it was going to grow.  Then I finally realized that the deer were keeping it mowed.  I never got a salad from the garden, that year.  LOL!  The deer can easily hop over the fence and wipe out the garden, however, if they would just touch the fence with their noses, I'm sure they would go elsewhere...

I will take more pictures as it grows.  I must attend to spring cleaning now.  It's hard.  I hate cleaning.  If only I could make my first million and hire someone to keep up with my messes.  I much prefer to make the mess!  LOL!  It is chilly and rainy, now, so it is a great time to stay inside and putter.  

Taking a Break

It is spring and time for spring cleaning and gardening.  So, I am going to take a break for a little while.  I don't know how long.  I have a lot of work to do and artwork and posting on the various places on the internet take a LOT of time.  It is surprising how much...

Here are some pictures from past gardens:  (By the way, I can't figure out how to make the font in the photo captions larger.  Sorry!)

 Our doggy, India, in our garden in Deltona, Florida, in the late 1990's.  Notice her ball?  She never was without it.

Our doggy, India, in our garden in Deltona, Florida, in the late 1990's.  Notice her ball?  She never was without it.

 In Florida, we had our garden completely planted by March 1.  Here in Ohio, often I don't have it planted until June 1.  What a difference!  LOL!

In Florida, we had our garden completely planted by March 1.  Here in Ohio, often I don't have it planted until June 1.  What a difference!  LOL!

 Sunflowers in our Ohio garden.

Sunflowers in our Ohio garden.

 Mr. Beloved harvesting beans while I am canning them as fast as I can.

Mr. Beloved harvesting beans while I am canning them as fast as I can.

 A good year in the garden...

A good year in the garden...

 Our first wheat crop.  

Our first wheat crop.  

 Our second wheat crop.  We planted about 75% of the garden, that year, in wheat.  That was very nifty!

Our second wheat crop.  We planted about 75% of the garden, that year, in wheat.  That was very nifty!

I will see if I can give you garden updates every once in a while.

Do any of you plant vegetable gardens?

Spring Flowers and a WIP

Okay, who watched Loving Vincent?  Please comment below and let me know.

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I took some photos, today.  I was trying to get some of my own reference photos, but I don't know that I got anything I can actually use.  They are pretty, though, so enjoy.  The one, above, is the chicken coop, which is not being used by chickens, right now.  It is scheduled for some renovations, this summer.  Also, I will be tilling and planting the chicken yard with good things for chickens to eat.  It won't last long, once chickens are using it, but they will have something for a little while, at least.  For the plants to last any time in the chicken yard, there must be very few chickens.  Like, maybe six, but we usually have at least a dozen, so it turns to bare dirt, soon.

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Spring Beauties.

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These wild violets are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to grass!

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Ants lovin' on Peonies.

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My favorite Redbud tree, in front of our lovely River Birch.  I tried to capture the bees that are swarming the redbud tree, but was not successful.  I do like the pictures that I did get.

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I started another portrait.  I found a nifty photo of a Donkey Herder from Greece.  I love faces with character.  I hope I get it...

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Book and Movie Reviews

I have had three very intense migraines this week, among other health issues, and have not done any arting the last couple of days, so I thought I would give a couple of reviews.

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My friend, Traci, gave this book to me a while ago and I started it, but it was slow going in the beginning.  However, it picked up and then I couldn't put it down.  It is called "A Portrait of Emily Price" and it is about Emily, an artist and art restorer, who is having personal issues and has traveled to spend some time on a job in Atlanta.  She meets an Italian chef, they fall in love, get married, and move to Italy, where there are issues, too.  The book is filled with the beauty of humanity, art, Italy, and I cried over that beauty quite a bit.  She was able to articulate what I feel when I am making a portrait and, yes, I cried over that, too.  LOL!  Thanks, Traci, for thinking of me and giving me the book.

You can find a copy of the book here.  I try to avoid Amazon, if I can.

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Now, for the movie!  Oh!  What a wonderful movie!  It was amazing!  It was "Loving Vincent".  I'm sure you have heard of it, perhaps even watched it.  If not, please do.  It takes place about a year after Vincent died and a friend talks to those who were around when it happened.  There are flashbacks and I don't know if the story is totally accurate, but I don't know that anyone will ever truly know.  The best part of the whole thing is that it is an animation done with original oil paintings in Van Gogh's style.  Some of them are based on his own works.  It is truly amazing and wonderfully beautiful!  I almost could not follow along with the story for looking at the brushwork.  I did not cry until the end and while the credits were rolling a lovely voice sang the song, "Vincent:  Starry Starry Night" by Don McLean.  So, I sobbed.

I watched the movie on hoopla, a free library site that you can sign up for, if you have a local library card.  Here is a trailer.

Have you read A Portrait of Emily Price?  Have you seen Loving Vincent?  If so, please tell me what you thought.  Do you plan on giving them a try?  Please comment below.

Two Mugs and a Bottle

I thought I would do a little graphite still life.  It was just practice, but I think it came out okay.  I need to work on folds of cloth.  Boy, is that hard to make look real!  LOL!

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Glass and shiny stuff is so much easier...

This was done on smooth toned paper with graphite and white charcoal.  Usually, I use a rough paper with tooth, but this one has no texture whatsoever.  I think it makes it a little more difficult to blend.  Or maybe I am just not used to it.  Well, I like the picture, anyway.

David!

Oh, what a relief!  LOL!  I knew the Lord was giving it to me from the first, when I got the eyes.  After that, it was easy.  I jiggled it when I scanned it, but I think it looks okay.  It is graphite and white charcoal on 12x16 Canson Mi-Tientes pastel paper.  It took about 10-12 hours, I didn't keep perfect track of my time.  I believe that listening to the painfully beautiful music of Bach helped an awful lot...

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Now, it is time to till the garden.  Yes!  I have decided to have a garden this year, after about four or five years of not having one.  Toby and I went out this morning and pulled wild mustard plants.  He loves to jump for them when I throw them and eat a bite of each one.  He will have to stay inside while I till.  He is going to hate that!

It is a beautiful, sunny, warm day and I hope you all have the same.  Enjoy!

Work in Progress: David, again...

Okay, first I just want to say that I have decided not to do anymore posts on commissions, because I just can't think of a thing to say about it, other than is already said on my commission page.  If you have any questions, please ask me, otherwise I can't think of anything new and exciting to say.  LOL!

You all saw my attempt at a pastel portrait of my nephew, David, and what a flop it was.  Since then, I have tried to do an acrylic portrait of him.  No go!  What a mess that was!  LOL!  I had determined, when I started this online art journey, that I would share all my failures, but I won't share the acrylic attempt at David.  I want to spare him the pain.

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So, Mr. Beloved suggested I go back to graphite and I have.  This morning, it took me about two hours to get the sketch down.  Now, to work!  You don't know how much I want this one to work out.  It drives me nuts when I can't get it.  Especially the eyes, my favorite part.

The Edge of the World

This poor little feller looks like he has reached the edge of his known world and is wondering what to do now.  LOL!

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This painting took three days and when I was finished I couldn't see it.  You know, it is a strange phenomenon that when you paint a picture, you can't see it, but when you walk away and give your eyes a rest you can come back and suddenly see it.  Every single time, I despair that I have made a mess and every single time, after my eyes have rested from it, it is so much better.  (Sometimes, yes, it is a mess, but it is a much better mess after I rest my eyes.)  This is acrylics on canvas.  It is 8x10.

I thank the Lord for giving me the ability and desire to paint and draw.

Have you ever eaten snails?  I have not and have no plans in that direction.  LOL!

Fire Island Light

I love lighthouses, but I have seen few up close and personal.  Photos will do, though.  I loved this stone house attached to the light.  Lighthouses remind me of one of my favorite books:  Anne's House of Dreams, the fifth book in the Anne of Green Gables series.  Captain Jim is the lightkeeper and he is such a character.  If you have not read it, please do, you will love it.

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"As the dusk deepened, the great beacon cut swathes of light through it, sweeping in a circle over the fields and the harbor, the sandbar and the gulf.  'I feel as if it might catch me and whisk me leagues out to sea,' said Anne, as one drenched them with radiance; and she felt rather relieved when they got so near the Point that they were inside the range of those dazzling, recurrent flashes."

Have you visited many lighthouses?  Do you have a favorite?  Do you like the Anne books?  Do you have a favorite of those?  Anne's House of Dreams is my favorite, but I love them all.

Genesis 1:16

 "And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars."  

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I have had this in my head for a while and I just love it.  The sun is a big hot glorious mess and the moon is a cold dead rock, but they are both beautiful and necessary.  And they and their companions, the stars, glorify God every moment of their existence!  Hallelujah!

This is three canvases: the middle one is 8x17, the sun and moon are 5.5x5.5 each.  It is acrylics and the canvases are 1.5 inches thick.

Do you like to walk at night and look at the stars?  I do and I have the opportunity almost every night, when I let Toby out before bed.  Sometimes the beauty is overwhelming and makes my heart sing with praise to the Lord!  I wish I could capture it properly.

Barn Party!

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Today's art:  Barn Party!  This barn owl is having a party.  I have never actually seen a barn owl, have you?  They sure are strange looking!  But, beautiful!  LOL!

So, because I painted one, can I mark it off in my bird watching book?

Evening Campfire

Well, after a few failures, I thought I would break out the acrylic paints and find some food for my soul.  LOL!  This is soul food in two ways:  painting with Jane, which is always relaxing, and a lonely campfire in the woods, which I can only dream about.

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I did enjoy doing this and I got lots of paint on my hands, which is always satisfying.

We did a lot of camping when I was growing up.  I enjoyed it and I have lots of nifty memories, but I don't think I will do it, now, unless we have a big RV with all the bells and whistles.  LOL!  Do you have nifty camping memories?  Do you go camping now?  Please leave a comment below.

David

I have been wanting to do a portrait of David for a long time and never could find the right photo.  Well, I found a picture that I really love, but it is small and dark and I can't enlarge it and get any detail.  I tried drawing it, but I got frustrated and started whining about losing my mojo.  LOL!  It always seems to happen that when I make a piece that I really love and am excited about (the tiger), the next few pieces are such that weigh my spirit down until I despair of ever making another piece worth the time and trouble to make it.  Such was Sunrise in Hobbiton and such is David.  However, after scanning it and posting it, somehow my mind changed and I like it.  I could not make it look like him, and the eyes are horrible, but the overall picture is pretty nifty and I think I will repent and like it.  But, I am still in pursuit of the perfect picture of David...

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He is my nephew and he was on a visit to a farm over in Vietnam, where he and his family live, right now.  That is a bamboo bean trellis on the banks of a pond, I believe.  The photo is really nifty.  I wish it was bigger, though.

The picture was done with only pastel pencils on 8x10 sanded paper.

Sunrise in Hobbiton

Well, I chose my own reference photo for the landscape class that I took.  I loved the naked tree.  It turned out a little bit weird, to me, so that is why I named it Sunrise in Hobbiton.  LOL!  I used a new paper and, of course, I don't like it.  I never seem to like anything new.  I am trying to recognize that and overcome it.  With patience, I usually can learn to like almost anything, so I need to keep reminding myself of that and slog on.  I have 20 sheets of this paper, so I better learn to use it.  It is Hahnemuhle Ingres paper and it is thin and doesn't appear to hold very much pastel.  I am willing to take a class on it and learn how to use it like I learned how to use the velour paper, if I can find one...

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I am working on part three of the Portrait Commission series.  My next project just happens to be a portrait, also.

Have you read The Hobbit or seen the movie?  I remember reading it when I was a kid and wanting, so desperately, to live in a hobbit hole.  I still do...  LOL!  And the movie is great, although we all know the book is better!

Eye of the Tiger

I have been wanting to do a tiger picture for a while, but everyone has done it.  I guess it was time for me to do it.  I don't really like doing the same thing everyone else is doing.  LOL!

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This was done on velour paper with mostly soft pastels, but touching up with hard pastels and pencils.  I had decided a while back to never use velour paper, again.  But, I am enrolled in a new art school and have taken a class on how to use velour paper and I must say that knowing how to use it does make a difference.  And WHEN to use it.  Apparently, it is not good for some things and great for others, like fur.  I love how it turned out.

I have been wanting to do a self-portrait for a while now.  I don't have the exact photograph that I want to use.  Every once in a while I coerce Mr. Beloved into taking some photos of me, and they are okay, but none of them have screamed out to me that they will be my self-portrait.  So, in the meantime, I think I will try a landscape with one of my new classes.

Do you think I ought to do a self-portrait?  Please comment below.  Thanks!

Highland Cow

Today's art is a pastel drawing of a Highland Cow sitting on a little hill with most of it's body out of view.  I thought it was an unusual pose, that's why I liked it.  It was a rather dark shot.  It appeared to me to be during the gloaming.  If you know what the gloaming is, please tell me in the comment section, below.

 For some reason, my scanner did not get the whole thing, so it cut off my signature.  I added a digital signature.  I will have it scanned at the print shop for making prints, though, so the whole thing will be included.

For some reason, my scanner did not get the whole thing, so it cut off my signature.  I added a digital signature.  I will have it scanned at the print shop for making prints, though, so the whole thing will be included.

This picture was very fun to do.  I also got to use some of my new soft pastels that I just got.  A few months ago, I got rid of the soft pastels that I had, because they were cheapos that made life very difficult for me.  Now, I still don't have the best, but I got some Blick brand soft pastels.  They will do until I make my first million and can buy those fancy french pastels that cost about 20,000 Euros.  Actually, I don't ever see myself buying those even if I DO become a millionaire.  I will settle for Schminke or Unison or some such lesser fancy pastels.  LOL!

I am already working on my next project.  A close up of a tiger face with soft pastels on velour paper.  Yay!  

Book Review and New Project

Someone asked me to do book reviews on my blog, so I finally have one.  "Art and the Bible" by Francis A. Schaeffer.  My copy is published by Intervarsity Press in their IVP Classics line.  The original book was written in 1973, but this paperback copy was copyrighted in 2006.  It is only 94 pages, but he packs a lot in a small book.  There is a forward by Michael Card and, if you don't usually read forwards, read this one.  I was profoundly touched by the entire book and it is difficult to pick out particular quotes, so I will type out what is on the back of the book:

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"The Lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts," writes Francis Schaeffer.  "A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God."  Many Christians, wary of creating graven images, have steered clear of artistic creativity.  But the Bible offers a robust affirmation of the arts.  The human impulse to create reflects our being created in the image of a creator God.  Art and the Bible has been a foundational work for generations of Christians in the arts.  In this book's classic essays, Francis Schaeffer first examines the scriptural record of the use of various art forms, and then establishes a Christian perspective on art.  With clarity and vigor, Schaeffer explains why "the Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars."

The scriptural record of the use of various art forms is, in large part, in the design and building of the tabernacle and the temple.  I can only imagine how glorious those beautiful structures were!  And they were only a shadow of the real thing, which, also, is nothing compared to the glory and beauty of the Creator!  The arts in this book, include visual arts, poetry, music, drama, and dance.  The scriptures, themselves, are filled with poetry, drama, and references to music and singing.

Francis Schaeffer is a great help to me to allow me to relax into my art and enjoy it while attempting to glorify God in it.  As far as a Christian perspective on art, I leave you with the following:

All of us are engaged daily with works of art, even if we are neither professional or amateur artists.  We read books, we listen to music, we look at posters, we admire flower arrangements.  Art, as I am using the word, does not include just "high art", that is painting, sculpture, poetry, classical music, but also the more popular expressions -- the novel, the theater, the cinema, popular music, and rock.  In fact, there is a very real sense in which the Christian life itself should be our greatest work of art.  Even for the great artist, the most crucial work of art is his life.

Even if I never paint a chapel ceiling that is famous all over the world for centuries, I need to remember that everything I do is a reflection on the Supreme Artist, whom I love and want to glorify in all that I do.  This book is a great reminder of that and great help in how to do it.

My new project is a Highland Cow.  I love Highland Cows!  I love how they look and I love that they are from The Highlands.  Now, I know there are highlands all over the world, but The Highlands is, as everyone knows, in Scotland.  Scotland is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh and I love that place, although I have never stepped foot there and probably never will, in this life.  But, I have started a pastel drawing of one:

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Trust me, he gets better.  LOL!

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I hope he will get even better!  I will have him finished by my next post.

So, are you interested in the above book?  Do you like to read books by Francis or Edith Schaeffer?  Do you like Highland cows?  Do you like Scotland?  Please let me know in the comment section below.  Thanks!

Toby on a Snowy Day

Today, it is snowing heavily, but it is not sticking.  The birds are singing and going about their nest-building, because they have to, you know.  LOL!

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Well, Toby is finished and I must say that I love it!  Mr. Beloved does, too, and declared that this was to be framed and hung.  Toby is bored with it and doesn't even look at it.  He just doesn't understand.  I love the mess that I make when I am creating, also.  I don't know why.  Must be the colors.

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So, what do you think?

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Work In Progress: Toby

Well, it was a busy couple of days and I didn't get much work done on Toby, but this morning I was able to get a couple of hours at the drawing table.  He is coming along.

 This is not the greatest photo, it was taken with my kindle.  When it is finished, I will scan the picture.  

This is not the greatest photo, it was taken with my kindle.  When it is finished, I will scan the picture.  

I have also joined another online art school and will be taking some short classes and some courses.  I love to learn and I love to learn about art!  I believe I will begin to narrow my focus to portraits, either acrylics, pastels, or graphite.

What is your favorite artwork on my site?  Why do you like that particular one?  What kind of art do you like?  Please let me know in the comment section, below.  Thanks!

Portrait Commissions, Part Two -- How

I have begun a portrait of Toby!  He is so excited!  Not!  He doesn't care, he just wants to go on walkies and play and eat.  LOL!  He is willing to eat the burglars along with his chow.

 Toby of the Mile Long Tongue.  LOL!

Toby of the Mile Long Tongue.  LOL!

Okay, about how to commission artwork:  If I am taking commissions (and I am) then potential clients will find my commission guidelines on my website.  They must be read carefully and before contacting me by email, letting me know very specifically what is wanted, including any photos necessary.  There will probably be quite a bit of discussion, usually by email, but maybe by messenger or phone.  Sometimes it is relatively straightforward, though, and there is little discussion, just the client telling me what they want and me sending the quote/contract.

When the client receives it, they need to read it carefully and make sure it includes all that was discussed.  When he/she is happy with it, they print it out, sign it, and return it to me by snail mail.  After the signed quote has been sent to me, then the non-refundable 50% deposit must be made.  Why in the world would someone make a non-refundable deposit of 50% of the fee?!  Well, art is work and the work has to be done before it can be approved by the client.  If someone is serious about wanting this, they will have done their research, discussed it until they are satisfied, signed the quote/contract which provides protection for both parties, and are trusting me to make good art.  To make the art takes not only my time and effort, but supplies and overhead.  When someone pays an artist to do a job, they are paying not only for a specific product, but for the education, knowledge, style, personality, and experience of the person, like any other business that involves a person providing a product or service.  In my particular case, I am not a well-known artist and not as skilled as some, so my prices reflect that.  If you were to commission someone like Norman Rockwell, you would pay accordingly.  (Actually, you probably would not pay accordingly.  You, or I, would probably not be able to afford him.  LOL!)  The payment will usually be through my website, by credit card, and it is processed by Stripe through secure means.

 Sample of a quote/contract.

Sample of a quote/contract.

After I receive the signed quote/contract and the payment, I will begin work on it.  During the discussion and in the contract, there will be a date and time by which I have promised to have the project completed.  It is important to plan projects well ahead of time, especially if it is for a birthday surprise or for a holiday.  A few months ahead is always good.  Last minute rushes cause quality of work to go down.  Plus, there are always things that can go wrong, so it is good to have plenty of time to fix those.  Of course, there may be times when there is truly a necessary rush, but it will add to the cost.

 This is one happy customer.  LOL!  Actually, this was a class assignment...

This is one happy customer.  LOL!  Actually, this was a class assignment...

Remember, though, that I may not accept a particular commission for many reasons, mostly because I don’t think I will be able to get it done in the time stipulated or the project is unreasonable to me.  Also, the client may decide that they do not want to work with me, usually because of price.  I totally understand, so please don’t hesitate to make a proposal, even if you have to withdraw it later.  If I cannot do it, I will not send a quote.  If you cannot do it, you will let me know during the initial discussions, before you sign and send the quote and make your deposit.  But, we have to have the discussion to find out.  You have to dip your toe in the water to see how it is, before you decide to dive in.

If you have any questions about my commission process, please ask in the comments below so that others can see the discussion.  I am not an experienced business tycoon, just a struggling artist working from my basement trying to do it right.  LOL!  Thanks for reading this whole thing!