Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

My Charlie Brown Christmas Tree


This year we decided that we would put some of my husband's dead trees from work to good use.  We have a business outside Carlisle.  The township requires us to plant white pine trees around our lot.  We hire a landscaper but for whatever reason, these trees do not thrive.  The poor guy is always coming to dig the dead trees up and plant new ones.  Recently while talking about what to do for a Christmas tree, Mark said, "Hey, lets do a Charlie Brown tree!"  To be honest, I don't know what a CB tree looks like, but I had some ideas about what to do with his dead tree that gave him the idea to start with.  

We both agreed that it should be spray painted.  My boys suggested black.  That was quickly vetoed.  Mark thought white or silver or gold (which I agreed to with some reservation with the gold), so we decided that these 3 colors would be tried.  

What I was not counting on was how much paint the tree would absorb.  I went thru 3 cans of spray paint very quickly, which is not good for the environment or my lungs.  By the way, we tried gold on a few branches, too.  I didn't care for this color because it ended up looking yellow, which was what I was afraid of happening.  Yellow is a no no for a christmas tree-I really, really do not do yellow.  However, now that the tree is finished, I believe that black would have looked really cool, too.  

How to do this: 

1.  Spray, spray, spray, preferably in the direction with the wind.  Don't wear glasses or you will find overspray on your glasses.  Don't ask me how I know this. 

2.  The tree needs to be really really dry and free of rain water.  

3.  Don't cut the tree down until after it is sprayed and dried.  

4.  When you  transport your free tree, don't use a bungey cord because guess what happens?  The bark will come off of your dead tree.  If this does happen some how, get your paint brush out and match the color because your tree won't look...healthy... with the bark gone.  

5.  Be careful with the branches, wear your glasses, because you will poke your eye out.  Don't ask me how I know this.  

6.  Use plenty of lights and hang your ornaments on the inner branches for the most effect.  I chose some of my "Kolene Spicher" paper ornaments (12 Days of Christmas and Polka Dotted Christmas stockings) from Ballard Design and also some very light weight huge silver balls. The Santa stocking was made by myself 20 years ago out of paper mache'.  Don't ask me how I did this as I HAVE NO IDEA.   ALSO, check out the goose's necklaces, these were purchased from Goodwill's grab bag section for $5 a bag.  I have another idea, too, for these necklaces.  If I have time, I will try my idea and post it! 

Finally, the best thing about my CB tree is that I don't have to water it.  Also, there are no messy needles to clean up.  I took a piece of fake green pine rope and wrapped it around the tree stand to give it the illusion of LIFE.  I think in some ways, a CB tree is the best choice.  It is bringing life to something that no one REALLY values.  I am being green by doing this, BTW.  

Merry Christmas!   

Thursday, December 13, 2012

THE WHALERS-They were in REAL danger.

THE WHALERS-They were in REAL danger

Ha!  I don't know where that REAL stuff comes from, maybe it's Pennsylvania dutch!   (I like to add 'real' or 'really' to a lot of my sentences.)  This was one of those paintings that I really did too large, really.  Every customer who wanted it had an issue with the size.  It was too large for their fireplace, too large for their den, too large for the wall.  The area was too small for the large scale.  You name it. 

The painting is 4'x5' but It's not too large for me.  So I have it in what I call MY SEASHELL ROOM.  This is off of my living room and beside my studio.  It gets the morning sun.  By afternoon, it's nice a toasty in there.  I have a large mirror in that room, so when I decide to sit down and take a break,  I recline on this soft blue chair and look at my painting in the reflection of a REALLY large mirror. By this time, it's nearing 3 and I'm really ready to take a nap. 

A lot of the details of this piece sort of disappear from a distance, but that is the beauty of my paintings. I like to add little details that come to life only when you interact with the painting up close.  This piece has things hidden beneath the water, written in the waves, and can truly be appreciated up close and back far.  

I like the soft puffy clouds and transparent irregular blues that are mixed with warm grey and green in the water.  The painting is full of action and the water has a suggestion of shallowness that enables you to see the silhouettes of the whales that swim beneath the water near the boat.  I don't figure that whales hung out back then by the mother ship, but it was fun to pretend that they did (for the sake of my painting).   These sweet looking black blobs in the water were in REAL danger! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Whaling School

A School of Whales

I don't know about all of you, but I have yet to go on a whale watch that ever looked like this.  Recently, while in Alaska, I went on my first whale watch.  Can you believe it?  Twenty plus years of painting whales and nautical scenes, and I have NEVER seen an actual sperm whale in person.  The whales in Alaska were different.  We couldn't get up and close...something about protecting the whales, as if they wouldn't swim out of the way.  I was disappointed.  

In my painting, I show a large grouping of them with the water very softly painted over each whale and just the tip of them exposed.  This was a long a narrow painting in an antique frame and it was shipped to Nantucket Country!  

Hope you all get to go on a whale watch where you can actually see the whales!  I fell asleep on mine, I am serious.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Moby Dick

My version of Moby Dick

I love to paint whales.  Moby Dick is no exception.  Because I am in love with Nantucket (and because people LOVE the whole Moby Dick story line), I find myself frequently painting whaling scenes that contain WHITE whales.  

I learned early on that nobody likes to see a dead whale, so in my make-believe painting, the whale always wins.  Don't get me wrong, I've painted them the other way, too, because it's historically accurate to do so, but I get objections. 

"Oh, this is so violent!"  "Oh my, why would you kill a whale?" 

 But the whale didn't always win.  Whaling was a tough career, and not for the faint hearted.  Frequently, the little boats, containing the seamen, would get violently hit by the whale or drug out to sea by their harpoon line that was connected to a very angry large fish.    

Because the pay was decent,  it attracted  the educated and talented alike.  We have some beautifully illustrated whaling journals indicating that it also attracted people from the arts, as well.  These little treasures are a valuable part of our history and can be seen at many whaling museums.  

This particular piece is for sale at my gallery that I exhibit thru on Nantucket.  Some day very soon, I am going to write a detailed little paragraph with information about Nantucket Country. She has antiques and quilts and little hard-to-find accessories and one-of-a-kind nautical pieces.  Her walls are covered with my prints, and the back of the store has a very large wall that is filled with original artwork.  If you ever get to Nantucket, it's well worth a stop.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baby Girl with Toy Horse

Baby Girl with Toy Horse

Children were frequently painted holding their favorite toy.  This little child was painted to look sweet  and innocent. It is actually one that I kept because I just loved how naively it was painted.  Twenty-one years ago I started my painting career with portraiture (and Fraktur).  I never promised to achieve an exact likeness but I sure tried.  This particular painting was finished about 15 years ago.  I have it featured in a lemon gold antique frame with old wavy glass.  I love the little yellow chair that is simply decorated and the simple little horse that she carefully holds.  I call her a "she" but "SHE" may actually be a "HE" based on the part of the hair.  Frequently the girls parted their hair in the middle, while the boy's hair was parted on the side.  I don't care, it's a girl.  

My Pet Bird

 My Pet Bird

Another painting going to Nantucket Country!  This particular piece was inspired by the many sheep that called Nantucket their home back in the 1700-1800's.  Because Nantucket was an island, there were virtually no natural predators making it a perfect place for shepherding sheep. 

 Nantucket was one of the largest whaling capitals in the world in the 1700's and early 1800's.  Large number of settlers that came to the island brought sheep.  By 1845 it was estimated that there were over 15,000 sheep grazing on the island.  The sheep overgrazed trees and shrubs, allowing low-growing heathland  and grassland plants to develop without competition for sunlight and nutrients.  

Although this painting is "make believe," it represents a time in history that actually existed. The little bird in the left tree is what the painting is actually about.  The lady in the picture is holding an empty birdcage.  There is a small amount of script above the left tree that says, "My Pet Bird." 

 I like to decorate with antiques and work reproductions into my home decorating.   

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nantucket Mass! Maxie's Pond!

Maxie's Pond 

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Have you ever wondered how a mermaid dresses when it's snowing?  Well, I have. I picture them with white flowing capes that turn them into sweet innocent angels. Ha!  They lured men from the past, and they lure us today.  Many artists have depicted them, some serious and some playful, some topless.   I go for the whimsical in between look, myself.  I decided that they have to have tops on, too, because I'm a good conservative from Pennsylvania and it just seemed that it had to be that way.  

There is a pond on Nantucket that the locals like to ice-skate on (or so I have been told).  It seemed fitting to name this painting after that very pond.  This particular piece went to Nantucket Country, Nantucket, Massachusetts.  The mermaids that are around the fire are warming their tails.  There is a light snow falling and the muted colors against the bright blue sky remind us that winter is not very far away.

Reproduction Portraits in A Modern Frame

A Joseph Davis' Style Painting with Modern Day Portraits

This painting was a lot of fun.  I had a customer that wanted an anniversary piece, customized with their faces.  She wanted it to look like an old family heirloom antique  but with my style of painting.  I wish now that I had taken pictures of the different steps that were taken to achieve the finished product. I started with the highly decorated rug and worked my way up.    

The customer had a lot of beautiful pastels mixed with antiques and fun patterns.  Incorporating these colors into the painting was important to achieve a final piece that blended well with her home.  After the rug, I painted the man and then the woman.  The table and its contents were also quite deliberate, as we wanted the painting to be about what each of them enjoyed.  Because her husband's daily ritual included reading several newspapers,  I chose to have him holding a newspaper rather than a book.  The fine lady is holding a needlepoint.   Her dog was painted in after I was certain I could place her somewhere that she would stand out.  If you have a chance, google "Joseph Davis."  He painted in another time and for what it's worth, he was a left-handed painter.  He even includes this little fact on many of his paintings.  

Where I have written information about the sitter, Joseph Davis would have included the left-handed painter info. 
The frame was carefully selected by the customer and it is new.    Although, I mostly try to use antique frames, This newer frame really works because the bed is a repurposed antique with brand spanking new white paint and a lovely contemporary fabric.  My customer felt that having an old frame on this piece would make it too serious and "heavy."  I think she is right! 

A house on Hussey Street, Nantucket, Mass

A House on Hussey Street 


I was recently in Nantucket and acquired this lovely frame from shop owner, Cam Dutton, of Nantucket Country.  I regularly paint for her shop/gallery.   We wanted to somehow incorporate the name "Hussey" into the piece so it is carefully written across the bottom of the painting.  I painted this in the watercolor technique using acrylic paints that are thinned down.  I love the bright orange walkways with the brilliant blue sky.  The trees are painted in a whimsical style that really sets the mood and time of the painting back into the 1850s, which is my favorite time.  I wish I could live back then but with air conditioning and internet and running water.  This painting is fitted with antique glass to match the style and in keeping with the frame.