Friday, December 9, 2011

New kitties! and update on drawings done

Previously I wrote about the death of our Thunder cat. It was sad but it created an opportunity for a new home for other cats. The day after we got back, Don check the classified ads online and found two cats needing a home just down the street. A young couple just had a baby and realized they couldn't afford a baby and two cats. She wanted them adopted together, the male cat was very shy and adjusted very poorly to change; having his companion would help him. The problem was that potential adopters wanted the personable young female and rejected the shy male. We wanted two cats that got along together and understand the need for patience in having a cat adjust to a new home.

Along with the cats we got two large ceramic food bowls, cat food, cat litter, a carrier and a cat toy. The cats had been neutered, the male was declawed, and current on their shots. As soon as they were released from their carriers, they went and hid in separate areas of the house. After only a few hours the young gray & white female, Lily, came out and made friends with me. It was days when the yellow & white male, Louie, was seen. We knew he moved about the house while we where sleeping. After 3 days of not seeing him, we had to take action in getting Louie to accept us. I bought a kennel, set it up in the studio with a litter pan, food and water. I also set in a sleeping shelf. Then we cornered Louie in the bedroom and nabbed him. He hated that and struggled. I still bear the marks. Into the kennel he went. I spend most of my day in the studio. He became accustomed to me and let me pet him through the cage. Eventually I would let him out in just the studio and put him back in when I left the room. After about three days of this he was comfortable with me, though not with Don.

The kennel saw further use when the female cat was declawed and she was kept in there to restrict movement while convalescing.

We decided the names Louie and Lily sounded too much alike so Lily became Millie and Louie was shortened to Lou. Though sometimes I call him Louper (Lou + leaper) since in playing chase the string he would take great leaps into the air or Lanky Lou since he had proportionaly longer legs and tail than Millie. Lou, once he trusted, is an affectionate, cuddly cat.

I could on further about these cats, maybe in another post!

I did two more oil pastels after coming home. Then it was time to put them away and do leaf drawings in colored pencil.

Marsh in Flood, 18" x 24", oil pastel

Floating Leaf, 16" x 20", oil pastel

Maple Leaves on Pebbled Concrete, 7" x 10.5", colored pencil on gray paper

This drawing is an entry in the Prismacolor colored pencil contest, please go to

and vote!

Backlit Oak Leaf, 7" x 10.5", colored pencil on gray paper

In progress, Red Oak Leaf, 12" x 18", colored pencil on grit primed paper.

This drawing was a tryout for a set of 12 Creatacolor Soho Urban Artist colored pencils. I bought them on sale some time ago, put them away and just rediscovered them. I took a printout of a Tang pottery horse from my "do it someday" file and did a drawing on my homemade grit paper. The colors came out more brilliant than the dull colors in the source photo.
Unglazed Tang Pottery Horse, 10" x 12", colored pencils on homemade grit primer applied to coldpressed watercolor paper.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A change in our household

It has been three months since my last post! We spent three weeks in September on a 7,000 mile trip out West. We went to Ogden, UT (the Great Salt Lake) Crater Lake, Lava Beds National Monument, Lassen Volcanic National Park, drove through San Francisco, drove on the Pacific Coast Highway, toured Hearst Castle, stopped to visit my aunt in Fresno, Yosetime National Park, drove the pass over the Sierra Nevada, saw Mono Lake, went to Death Valley, Las Vegas, Pipe Springs National Historic site, went shopping in Gallup, NM and Taos. It was quite a trip.

We started this trip on a sad note: just before leaving we put down our old black cat Thunder. She had been taking medicine for hyperthyroidism for about two years. She had little interest in eating. We would tempt her with different varieties of canned food and put the medicine in. She would like something then didn't want it anymore and we would try a different variety. She has been deaf for several years and her primary interest was lying on our laps and napping. She got very skinny and stopped grooming herself and sometimes her hind legs would give out.

For our trip last year we had someone come in to feed and give her the medicine everyday. This year she was worse and there was a fear that she would die while we were gone. So the morning we left we went to the vet, said our goodbyes and watched her as she died.

Thunder came to us at our previous house. The summer of 1992 was a wet one. One day Don discovered a black stray kitten sheltering in the van engine compartment. She knew soft touches. We fed her and after a short while agreed to adopt her. But before taking her inside to meet our other cat at the time (Blitzen), took her to the vet for a check up. This little kitty had worms, an eye infection and was pregnant. All of that was eventually taken care of. She came to us with a kinked tail and a fang bent out of place. So she had quite a time in her short life before coming to us!

Thunder tore up the old house pretty good with her claws and had an independent attitude. Unlike Blitzen who didn't seem to get enough human contact (she was a stray too). When we moved to our current home, Thunder got declawed and she also had less of an independent attitude and Don's lap was her place. She outlived three other cats: Blitzen, Brillion and Gracie.

All of our cats were special in their own ways and all had their stories. Thunder's finally came to an end.

Thunder, 1992-2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Oil Pastel Mania!

The weather has certainly turned very pleasant. Temperatures are in the 60s to low 80s degree fahrenheit. I got my Auto PAP machine but getting the benefit from it has been not easy; I still wake up in the night and feel tired in the morning. I went to a help forum and found out that is a common situation; it can take awhile to get used to the mask and everything else.

Here are more of the Oil pastels I have done this summer. They are all 18" x 24".
Rocky Hill

Squash Blossom

Calm Evening Sky

Root River Bottom Land

Tree On Cliff

Foggy Pasture

Pickwick Mill, in progress

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Working on a new Me!

Two months again have passed before an update. This summer has been different for me. In May my left knee got very bad and painful, cortisone shots weren't helping. Finally I got X-rays done of that knee. It was become worse with bone spurs all around and being uneven. This was enough to recommend an off-loading brace. Despite being a bit larger than the largest ready-made brace, the PT opened up the top frame enough to fit my thigh. With better mobility I can move around more and combined with calorie counting I am losing weight.
This past week I also had a sleep study to check for sleep Apnea. Sunday night I was wired up with lots of sensors and was in bed by 10:40 PM and woken up at 6:30 AM. I had to get up in the night to use the restroom, which required the technician coming in to unhook me so I could get out of bed! That day at home I was very tired and went to bed in the middle of the day for three hours.
The doctor's consultation recommended a second test using the CPAP since the test showed two incidents of mild apnea. Fortunately, I could get in the next night. I used the nose mask, was in bed just after 10 PM and got up at 5:30 PM because I was awake and bored. Using the CPAP was a success! I got the very important prescription, went home and was active all day, doing extra activities, like cleaning, which I don't normally do.
Don had researched online for a travel sized Auto CPAP and we ordered it along with the mask, heated reservoir and some other accessories last night. I am looking forward to being more alert and active all day.
Because of the severe knee pain this summer, I did only the bare minimum of gardening and yard work. After the knee brace I was catching up with yard work and then the major hot and humid spell hit! It was really too dangerous for someone in my physical condition to do much work in that weather and the brace was uncomfortable in the excess humidity. After what seemed to be weeks of this the hot spell broke. Finally I partially drained the watergarden and fixed the leaks were the old and new liners joined. The water does drop slightly but that could be from evaporation or leakage from the water features.
Next post I will show more of the oil pastels I have been doing this summer.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oil Pastel Mania!

I have been neglecting my blog this past 2 months, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy!
I started a series of oil pastel drawings, most of them 18" x 24" to make it easier to frame them. So far most of them have cooperated and were willing to be that format. The business next door has finished its remodeling and is now an upscale restaurant (Pogreba Restaurant). Don and I went over to have our complimentary meal for being good neighbors. The construction crew have been well fed since they were given the opportunity to try out the chef's creations.

There was a tornado in the southside of La Crosse last month. It tore up a few blocks pretty good.
Wisconsin Landscape II, 13" x 26", oil pastel

Yellow Asian Lily, 18"x 24", oil pastel

Marsh Footpath, 18" x 24", oil pastel

Marsh Foot bridge, 18" x 24", oil pastel

Two Wild Roses, 18" x 24", oil pastel

Goldfish & Waterlily, 18" x 24", oil pastel, in progress.

Large Tree by River, 18" x 24", oil pastel

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring! Maybe

This month just can't make up its mind. Nice weather, then snow. On April 19 there were at least two inches of snow here at the house, other places in the region got more! Maybe it will settle down and leave like a lamb. Currently there is one of those April showers that bring May flowers.
I did get some yard work done: cleaned up the flower bed near were the large tree was taken out last fall, picked up and sift the white rocks that where on the path through that flower bed (the new tree will be put where path was), cleaned out more flower beds and remulched. Still more, always more! I wish the window installers at the catering business would finish. Their scaffolding is over my rose bushes.
I needed change from all the tree drawings that I have been doing, they were starting to look alike. In my "will do someday" files is a photograph of a yellow rose "Topaz Jewel". We have two bushes of this variety and they have spines like cat claws. Though not quite seasonal, it is a nice change of pace.
Topaz Jewel, 18" x 24", oil pastel
Stage 1, I gridded the white primed colorfix paper and did the basic drawing with yellow and green pastel pencils. and blocked in the background with blue-violet.

Stage 2: I finished blocking in the background and leaves with my cheaper, harder oil pastels and just starting with the petals.

The finished drawing: this is when the nice, expensive Sennelier Oil pastels are used. The colors are toned down from the garish under painting. To reduce the brightness the leaves were gone over with a complementary red-violet color.

As relief from the large, demanding flower oil pastel drawing, I did a smaller, quicker drawing in a medium I rarely use: Conte crayon. The subject is my late Gracie cat. She had to be put down last fall. She was a faithfull companion in the studio. For this drawing I used a tan background to stand in for the bits of light brown fur mixed in with the gray and white tabby stripes. Gracie was what is know as a grey or dilute tortieshell cat. A regular tortie has black, dark brown and red fur with much more dramatic contrast. I did this drawing with out gridding first.

For even a further change of pace I did two drawings just in graphite pencil. The dead tree is from an old slide I took many years ago at my parents. The barn was a color photograph with little contrast. I did a lot of "pruning" on the foreground trees to the barn could be seen better.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring has sprung!

March has been doing a lot of transitioning from winter to spring. On March 23 there was heavy snowfall here in La Crosse. Here is the view from my studio window. Then it warmed up, melted off then snow again on April 1st! The temperatures are very nice now; up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday. Last weekend a major thunderstorm system went through spawning tornados and hail, fortunately not in La Crosse itself. The weather warning siren went off, prompting us to turn on to the Weather Channel and finding this area the center of attention with at least five tornados sighted on the ground in the three state area (Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin). I finished Coulee Pine Tree and posted it on Wet Canvas for critique. It was suggested that the tree was too dark for the scene and the forground grasses where unnecessary. So I erased back the green on the tree, lightly went over it with a dull red colored pencil and erased back the yellow sky in the upper left corner and put in light pink. Redoing the foreground was a major undertaking. I removed as much color as possible with tape and poster putty, then erased with a soft white eraser and picked up the crumbs. The erased area got two light coatings of white opaque watercolor. Then I colored in with blue and white colored pencils, dissolved them with Odorless paint thinner and smoothed the layers out with a piece of wool felt. If you look very carefully at the actually drawing, some of the original grasses faintly show through. I also wasn't careful enough in layering the white watercolor and had some hard edges that showed up when colored over. This has been a learning experience and an idea what to do next time major changes are needed.

For a change I did a drawing in Derwent Tinted Charcoal. The subject is an old apple tree at my parents. The source photos where taken the previous March. Old Apple Tree, 16" x 20", tinted charcoal on gray charcoal paper.

The remodeling at the catering business next door isn't done yet! The original windows that where covered up when it was resided about 25 years ago are now opened up with new windows. I was concerned for our privacy and the window installers said there will be stained glass inside. That should be beautiful at night. I will have pictures of that later this summer.

Gardening is coming along, I had covered a bed to warm it up faster and last week planted kale, spinach, bok choi, chard, red onion sets, radishes and carrots. The radishes have sprouted. I still have all the white onions from last year and will harvest them before the rest of the seeds are planted.

The watergarden has a leak and will need to be drained and the join between the old and new sections redone. That won't happen until next month.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Winter Almost Over! Getting those winter themed drawings done.

This March so far has been a typical March: Snow, then melting, maybe more snow, rain instead. Just waiting for that last gasp snow storm.
Don and I went for a drive one Sunday and surprised a bald eagle feeding on roadkill. He wasn't too shy, just flew up into a nearby tree and waited for us to move on. I took some photographs and used one as a basis for a drawing.
Eagle in Tree, Derwent Drawing pencils on gray Stonehenge paper, 15" x 12".

For a change I did a couple of oil pastels on primed paper. Over the Hill, oil pastel, 13" x 26" was also based on photographs taken during a recent drive. The format is and unusual 1 : 2. While cropping the source photo the picture just didn't seem right in a more conventional format.

Late Afternoon Glow, Oil pastel, 18" x 24", is more conventional in dimensions but just as colorful. Oil pastel is an opportunity to use subjects with little detail but lots of color. It also uses more larger arm muscles than the fine finger muscles used in controlling color pencils.

My current work in progress is done with oil-based color pencils on primed paper. I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of drawings done in oil color pencil. Coulee Pine Tree, oil color pencil, 11.75" x 18"

The melting snow has revealed the garden beds and I am wondering when the plastic sheeting should be put on to pre-warm the soil for early planting. The catering business next door has been doing remodeling all winter with reshingling, and an addition put on in back. The roofers had to come into our back yard to work on the south side. I pruned back the rose bushes radically last fall in anticipation of this and looking forward to lots of new growth. The watergarden has a leak and we will have to reseal the liner joining between the old and new watergarden sections. Hopefully that won't be too much a bother! (Knock on wood!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back to the drawing board

3 Trees at Quarry Hill is done and on the wall for evaluation. So far I am pleased with it. I added more dead leaves on the right side tree to balance the compostion some and left the woods in the background more open than the source photo showed. Let's hope I feel the same way in six months after I take it out of storage for review!

As a break from my larger, more elaborate drawings I did a series on 12" x 9" black Canson Mi-Tients. The first two shown here are done in Derwent White charcoal. Searching is based on an orginal photo of a nineteenth century marble sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Chinese Metal Horse

White Chinese Horse is done with a silver colored pencil. It looks white in the photo, in person by moving the paper around the silver gleams.

Painted Han Horse is done in Derwent Drawing pencils. They are quite opaque and cover the black paper well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Winter Work

This past month I haven't been doing much drawing. I have a large watercolor and color pencil drawing in progress. I have also been doing matting and framing of my work, making a great effort in getting caught up with that. I have a dozen done so far, then ran out of matboard. While waiting for more matboard I worked on my drawing.
As is usual for my WC and CP drawings, the background washes simplify doing the sky and snow and the colors help set the mood: a clear, cold winter evening when the deer come out to feed. Three Trees at Quarry Hill, 17.75" x 24" Water color and Prismacolor and Faber-castell Polychromos color pencils on watercolor paper.
I forgot to post this drawing last time. This drawing spent quite some time in the planning stages. The inspiration was a herd of horses spending their winter in a bare yard and large shed for shelter. This pinto horse standing in front of the open shed door basking in the winter sunshine caught my eye. There were a lot of adjustments done around him to improve the composition. The window was moved and the foreground hay feeder was from another part of the yard. I also experimented with a tractor tire feeder that was there too, but decided I needed something in the foreground that could overlap the background. Pinto, 11" x 16" Derwent Drawing on tan Canson Mi-tientes.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm back, with some changes for the new year and more drawings

The past month has been busy for me, with Christmas, other personal activities and drawing. I resigned from VIVA Gallery this month. Sales are very poor there for me and the monthly fee and long drive every month aren't worth it any more. Last weekend, Don and I drove to Viroqua and removed everything. To try something different I opened an Etsy shop to sell the matted reproductions, marbled paper prints and digital art cards. Later this year I will be checking out some galleries in SE Minnesota as a place to sell my original art. I am still at Gallery La Crosse and there personally every month for the First Friday receptions from 6 to 8 PM.
Another change! Today, we drove over to Kasson, MN (14 miles west of Rochester, MN) and taped a session for

The topic was Paper for Colored Pencil. The taping when smoothly and easily. I did need help with appying makeup to reduce shine. I general avoid using makeup, it is just a complication I never wanted or needed. I don't know when my presentation will be available. We might do more. Just keep checking!

Here are some of the drawings I have finished in the past month:
Bronze Han Horse, Derwent Drawing pencils on oyster Canson Mi-Tientes, 15" x 12"
Leaves in Gutter, Prismacolor pencils on gray Canson Mi-Tientes, 11.5" x 16"
Grounded Oak Leaf, Derwent Drawing pencils on brown Canson Mi-Tientes paper. 11" x 16"
Icy Oaks, Prismacolor pencils on light gray Stonehenge paper. 11.5" x 16"

May you all have a happy and successful 2011!