musings

A Passion for Detail by Charlotte Moss

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Last week as I was recovering from a bad cold, I read the book A Passion for Detail by the talented interior designer, Charlotte Moss. This book is outside the usual topics I pick up when I need some comfort reading (just like comfort food, I also rely on comfort reading to feel better :)), and it turned out to be just what I needed to get inspired for the coming week.

This book was a wonderful joy visually, but also in that it opened my eyes to understand more of why I am an artist and why I love creating still-life paintings.

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Charlotte Moss believes that our lives are expressed in the little details.

The pocket handkerchief, the colored paperclip, and the silver compact – all are telling gestures that proclaim who we are… you look at these details and a world unfolds…

This is how I feel when I paint a still-life painting, as if the details of the objects unfold, sharing with me the spirit and enthusasim of life.

With each new painting I get to focus on the nuances and the combination of details and textures that bring these objects to life. With paint I am expressing the intangible feelings that are aroused in me when objects are grouped, trying to evoke a sense of mood, and creating an atmosphere of calm and beauty to mentally wonder into.

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My favorite chapter of the book is Undecorating: the Attention to Detail.

Objects give a house character. We accumulate things over time. We cherish them and display them prominently. They are assimilated into our daily routine. A paperweight. A brass change box. A bud vase.

This process, which some call decoration, is really what I call “living.” It is a progression, not a single event.

Forget the rules, arouse the senses, is the primary thrust of advice in this chapter, and in thinking about how engaging the senses makes for a more appealing and inviting home, I realize this also applies to creating art.

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{click on image to enlarge}

The pieces that heighten my experience of life are always the ones that make a lasting impression. Still-lifes by Chardin do this for me, in that they celebrate the beauty found in the simple objects of life and this really resonates with me.

{Basket of Peaches, with Walnuts, Knife and Glass of Wine by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin}

So going forward, I will try to think about how I can arouse the senses in my work. How to make a painting visually exciting while also stimulating the senses of touch, smell, and sound. Also thinking about what will evoke memories and sensations?

My hope is that if I think about this while painting, these ideas will be conveyed...

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I was introduced to Charlotte Moss by the amazing ladies that host the “Skirted Round Table” podcasts, Megan Arquette of Beach Bungalow 8, Linda Merrill of ::Surroundings::, and Joni Webb of Cote De Texas, who have interviewed her twice. Here is the first interview, and here is the second interview. And I owe them a world of thanks for their interviews and broadening my world.

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Images are photos of her book, A Passion for Detail, click on them to enlarge them and see the details in each vignette.

a Magpie's Fancy & creative inspiration

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It seems to me that the magic of blogging comes from the connections you make, the accidental stumbling upon another’s treasure trove of words and images. And one of my favorite diversions is following links, with just a sense of curiosity and in the process making a new discovery.

As an artist, who focuses mainly on still-life paintings, and being someone who fully embraces the beauty of objects, I am more inspired by words than by images. Words, especially prose, allow my mind to soar and describe thoughts and feelings I have, and I am happy to find that others also have similar experiences.

I am sharing this with you today, because I want to share the blog of a very creative person, a Magpie’s Fancy by Gigi Thibodeau. I happened upon her blog this summer and have been so delighted to read and follow along, and also to get to know her some. Gigi is a writer, talented at sharing her thoughts and feelings, and her words *speak* to me. When I read her posts, I feel as if we are friends meeting over a warm cup and using these moments to share observations and comment on how much they enrich our lives.

Blogging enables a cross pollination of ideas from different areas of interest and focus. Gigi writes about the writer’s life, its process, and does this with a love of words. She also illustrates these thoughts with her beautiful photography.

If you get a chance today, I encourage you to stop by her blog, as she has a special opportunity that is the fruit of this cross pollination of ideas and inspiration, a small giveaway of a painting of mine.

And if you have extra time, check out this post on “writing life”, one of my favorites.

Thank you for following this mental wandering. And I am curious, from what and where do you find inspiration? Please share, as I love knowing how others gather and get the spark that enflames their creativity.

Liz

*** all photos in this post were taken by Gigi Thibodeau.***

How blogging helped me see myself as an artist...

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{studio wall with misc daily paintings}

Hello,

Tonight I am going to share with you how this blog of mine helped me accomplish the biggest, most secret dream I had for most of my young adult life.

The dream was to become a full-time artist.

First before getting into how blogging made this dream possible, here is a bit of background. I had been practicing architecture for about four years and was just turning 30 when I realized it really was not for me, I wanted a career that FED my soul. So after a lot of soul searching, I realized I wanted to become an artist. But at the rate I was going, I would never get there. I would try to set a schedule to work on art but often my plans would stall along the way until I stumbled upon the online community of artists who blogged.

{some favorite art books}

This was the summer of 2007, and it was a whole new experience for me to read about artists of all different skill levels creating, posting, and interacting online. I knew I wanted to be a part of this. So during the first week of September 2007, I started my blog, Elizabeth Floyd Studio, and IT. CHANGED. MY. LIFE.

First and foremost, blogging helped me see myself as an artist and to introduce my art to the world. This was new for me, because I had always thought of being an artist as something not achievable, not realistic, and not reasonable. But now, I was telling the world I was an artist and that I would be posting paintings I created.

{my palette}

Secondly, blogging made me accountable to show up and paint. This shifted my focus from being a hobbyist to a professional, because I took my career goals {to leave architecture and become a full-time artist} in hand, and dedicated the time and effort to achieving them. No more excuses were permitted. Putting off painting on a free weekend afternoon was no longer an option.

Blogging was also how I posted the results of growth. As my painting skills improved, I was able to monitor the progress from the first daily painting created to today.

{Most recent daily painting created}

Before having a blog, being an artist was really only a dream, once I established this blog, I got on a schedule, and I made a point to paint regularly so I would have something new to share. Within two and a half years from my first blog post I left my previous career and became the full-time artist I had always dreamed about. And I equate it to the positive experience of having this blog.

Thank you for all those who have followed this long and winding path. I am glad you stop by and still check in once in a while.  Your support and encouragement is so important to me.

Liz

{some still-life objects in my studio}
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Thank you for taking the time today to read my story, this is the first time I have shared it in such a public arena. I was inspired to share it with you today because I am participating a Story Crafting Practicum hosted by: Brigitte Lyons on Unfettered Ink.

Several other creative souls are also sharing their own stories and here is a list of participants: July 10: Stacie, Soul to Substance July 11: Jess, Epheriell Designs July 12: Sarah, Red Line Design July 13: Megan, Everlasting Present July 14: Jane, The Mindful Drawer July 15: Phoebe, ElSage Designs July 16: Laura C. George July 17: Lisa, Creative Goddess July 18: Inna Aizenshtein July 19: Kelly, Perched to Fly July 20: Hilary, Dean Street Society July 21: Skylar, Brising Beads July 22: Elizabeth Floyd July 23: Virginia, Harriet’s Hidden Blog July 24: Nata, And the beat goes on… July 25: Jessi, Better Late than Never July 26: Monica, Show & Tell July 27: Traveling with the Jones July 28: Laurie, Yarns for a Better World July 29: Jami, My Edible Eden July 30: Michael, Me and the Boss July 31: Alicia Cowan, Social Media Consultant

Please stop by and take a look around at the different stories.

Friday Inspiration: Resolutions for 2012

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Happy New Year!

It is that time of year when the urge to make annual resolutions occurs. This year I sought out some quotes to help me find some direction in setting my goals this year. These two quotes are my favorite of the many I read online...

. The most important thing about motivation is goal setting. You should always have a goal. --Francie Larrieu Smith

. The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get. --Jim Rohn

So I think over the weekend I will work to outline some specific goals this year that can be monitored and assessed periodically.

What kind of goals are you planning to set this year?

Liz

Friday Inspiration: Theodore Rousseau


{Les Chenes d'Apremont by Theodore Rousseau}

"Theodore Rousseau was able, in the painting of a single tree, to impress us with the greatness of nature -- with her very soul, if one my use the expression. In looking at his tree we are not disturbed by wondering whether it is an Oak or an Ash or botanically correct. We are content to look at it and come away, feeling that we have seen something grand and without a wish to analyse it" Rex Vicat Cole from "The Artistic Anatomy of Trees" pg. 29

Work in Progress: Echinacea Still Life

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{WIP Still Life - 24" x 18" (61 x 45.7 cm)}

Hello,

It has been a long time my friends and I have missed sharing thoughts about art and new work with you. Now that Naomi is seven weeks old and I am starting to get the swing of this "motherhood" thing, I am hopeful that I will be able to stop by more often.

Today I want to share the progress of a still life I began a few weeks before Naomi was born. In fact I worked on it the day before I went into the hospital...

When setting up this composition I was enamored with the flowers, the bird's nest and the symbolic meaning of the robin's egg, and how I was holding onto my own little one while painting. I worked furiously to complete this painting before my little girl would arrive but fate dictated something different, and it turns out it also gave me the breathing time I needed to get away from this painting and to come back to it with new eyes.

A few weeks after Naomi was born a good friend sent me a beautiful card with an image of one of Mary Cassatt's mother and baby pastels. I fell in love with this image and soon decided I wanted to incorporate it into the still life I had been working on, and so that is what happened.

Over the past week I have been re-working the painting to include this image as if it were a poster I had pinned up on the wall behind the still life setup of the echinacea and the bird's nest. I still need to work on getting the flowers to pop more forward and to then go back into the bird's nest and repaint it where I took it out to change the background.

Because of how this painting has progressed and evolved the tentative title is "Contemplating Motherhood". What do you think? Is this a good title or should it be simple like "Still life with Echinacea, Robin's Egg, and Print"? Please share with me what you think, I am waivering about what to name would work best.

It is nice being back.
Thanks for reading and stopping by.

Liz

PS. Here are a few photos of my seven week old :)


{Naomi in her supergirl pose}


{Naomi's baby smiles make me so happy}

So far I have been lucky in being able to grab a few hours here and there to paint. I am hopeful that as time goes by Naomi and I will get into a nice pattern of caring for her needs while also feeding my creative desire to get some time in the studio. Keep your fingers crossed that this is able to work out!

John Ruskin: Lectures on Landscape

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{Tree study by John Ruskin, 1845}

This week I have been listening to John Ruskin's Lectures on Landscape and the ideas and thoughts presented have been particularly inspiring to me. Here is a expert from the first lecture I thought you may like to know about:

"But though the virtue of all painting (and similarly of sculpture and every other art) is in passion, I must not have you begin by working passionately. The discipline of youth, in all its work, is in cooling and curbing itself, as the discipline of age is in warming and urging itself; you know the Bacchic chorus of old men in Plato's Laws. To the end of life, indeed, the strength of a man's finest nature is shown in due continence; but that is because the finest natures remain young to the death: and for you the first thing you have to do in art (as in life) is to be quiet and firm—quiet, above everything; and modest, with this most essential modesty, that you must like the landscape you are going to draw better than you expect to like your drawing of it, however well it may succeed. If you would not rather have the real thing than your sketch of it, you are not in a right state of mind for sketching at all. If you only think of the scene, "what a nice sketch this will make!" be assured you will never make a nice sketch of it. You may think you have produced a beautiful work; nay, perhaps the public and many fair judges will agree with you; but I tell you positively, there will be no enduring value in what you have thus done. Whereas if you think of the scene, "Ah, if I could only get some shadow or scrawl of this to carry away with me, how glad I should be!"—then whatever you do will be, according to your strength, good and progressive: it may be feeble, or much faultful, but it will be vital and essentially precious." (paragraph 13, pg. 8)

This passage about the virtue of painting and how spirit must be infused in the work you create is more than just limited to painting landscapes, but really is about all creative endeavors.

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unabridged electronic version of Lectures on Landscape
unabridged audio version
additional electronic books by John Ruskin

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{paint brushes in the studio}

Hello,

With the weekend coming to a close I thought I would stop in and say hi :) Also I want to thank everyone who commented and emailed me about finishing the Vase of Flowers copy, I really appreciate your support and encouragement.

Painting wise this weekend {particularly today} has been a bit of a dud because of being under the weather and not wanting to push it. So instead, I have been surfing the net, knitting some, and reading this bookabout dutch still life.

Here are a few highlights found over the weekend:

.a lovely photo, welcoming spring {a start from wild goose chase's photostream on flickr}

.a new to me art materials forum with expert moderators that provide unbiased and thorough answers to questions posed by artists. Some of my favorite posts: 1. on panel priming, 2. on documenting my art work, and 3. attaching painting to a panel. There are many more topics, so please stop by and check it out some.

Tulips and Apple

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Still Life with Tulips and Apple - SOLD
{8" x 10" (20.3 x 25.4 cm) – Oil on Canvas}

Last year after being part of the Non-member Salmagundi Club Juried Exhibition, I was invited to become a member of the Salmagundi Club. I was honored by the invitation and applied, after waiting for several months I received notice that I had been voted in! This painting is my first submission to be included into one of the many member shows held at the club, the 2nd Annual Sylvia Glesmann Floral Exhibition. The show will be open until March 30th, gallery is open to the public daily from 1pm to 5pm (Sun-Sat) and is located at Forty-Seven Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003.

And this painting is part of the Spring Auctions held to support the Salmagundi Club.
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Still Life with Peaches and Bowl - SOLD
{8" x 10" (20.3 x 25.4 cm) – Oil on Canvas}

For more information about the auction, please click here.

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Another bit of news I have been sitting on is personal...

Lately I have also been a bit distracted searching out items like these...

baby girl slippers...

baby bibs...

cute baby shoes...

This is because I am expecting a little girl in late summer!

My plan is to keep painting and creating everyday, however some aspects of my schedule may change and adapt as the pregnancy moves forward.

Tulip {a new painting} & 2011 Resolutions

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Tulip - SOLD
{8" x 6" (20.3 x 15.2 cm) – oil canvas panel}

In April 2010 I attended the Portrait Society of America annual conference in Reston, VA, which was a stimulating four days learning from established artists of all ages. Rose Frantzen won the Face-Off portrait event and on Saturday morning when she gave her presentation she shared with the audience that she had completed (12) 1-1/2 hour practice sessions to get ready for the conference. This impressed me and made me realize that no matter how established or accomplished you may be in your profession, practicing is a good way to prepare and prosper in most situations.

With this experience in mind, and the positive results of having "words" embody my 2010 professional goals, I have decided to select two new words for 2011.

They are: PRACTICE and INVESTIGATE

Maintaining a consistent level of my craft while also striving for a greater depth of understanding of the techniques and ideas I encounter in my art career is my goal and why I chose these two words.

This first painting of the year is an example of both these words, in that I am interested in growing as an artist by beginning to apply the skills I've been gaining from copying Jan Davidsz de Heem's Vase of Flowers at the NGA. It is my intent to begin applying the experience learned from this to my own compositions.

Inspiration from Friends and Books

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of catching up with one of my facebook friends over lunch. Margaret and I met more than two years ago in Mexico, she was managing the small hotel we stayed at while attending a wedding. That was when I was still practicing architecture and was only dreaming of someday, maybe someday, I would be able to be a full time artist. It turns out that she was also dreaming of someday dedicating her life to being a full time writer.

It is wonderful to reflect that two years later we are following our dreams and each have a creative career. She pursuing her love of writing in the form of an extended road trip around the US with her dog Rennie {her blog flitflitter chronicles her meanderings}.

During lunch we spoke about a lot of things, what we had been doing for the past few years, where she was headed next, and how to hold onto the creative process in a culture that is so product oriented. We both are dedicated to producing work, however I know I find it elusive sometimes, especially when I have been working on a specific piece for a bit and realize that I just need to scrap it and start over again. The willingness to scrape down and start over enables exploration and the chance that an idea may work out with wonderful results. However for all the times when the idea does not work out can be discouraging and sometimes scary. Rationally I know that the additional experience gained while exploring the unknown feeds future endeavors and reinforces that those failed attempts were not wasted time and effort, but instead just part of the process, though at times it can be tough. It was especially heartening to learn the Margaret sometimes faces this dilemma as well, reinforcing that this is an important characteristic of leading a creative career.

After lunch we stopped by a nearby used bookstore. She picked up one of my favorite Alain de Botton books and I got a book of essays and one on still life.

Here are some photos from the still life book that I find particularly interesting. I love how styles in still life change from time to time, however fundamental elements remain the same. Like the love of pairing like objects to create pattern and rhythm.

Dutch Still Life from the Met

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{Still Life with Two Lemons by Pieter Claesz, Dutch, 1596/97–1660}

A few months ago while visiting NYC for a show I made time to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today while going through some photos from the visit and while thinking about new directions in painting I would like to take I was particularly struck by the beauty and simplicity of this painting by Pieter Claesz.


{detail}

The reflections of the lemon and knife on the pewter plate are so beautiful while the color palette is restrained and the value contrasts are varied.


{another detail}

Happy Halloween!

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11 2008 gourd - daily painting
{a fall gourd from two years ago..}

The weekend went too fast, before I knew it Sunday evening had arrived and children dressed in costumes were knocking on the door saying "Trick or Treat!"

We had a few princesses, a Buzz Lightyear, a gypsy, and then those too cool for a real costume so they only wore a mask...

Happy Halloween! Liz

Pausing for breath...

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at dusk
{at dusk driving home}

Hello :) The past three weeks were really busy and they got away from me, but now, happily I am able to pause and take stock. Over the next few days I will catch up and share with you some new paintings, news, and last week's time spent at the NGA.
Until then, here are a two photos from recent trips to New York.
Have a wonderful evening, and good night, Liz
railing detail
{metal detail}
NY street
{a neighborhood street in Greenwich Village}

Danni's Treasures {now finished}

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20100706 Dannis Treasures
Danni’s Treasures – 12" x 16" (30.5 x 40.6 cm) – oil on linen
Last week I was lucky enough to finish this painting. It was completed in Danni Dawson’s studio in Arlington, where she gave me access to her studio and home while she was away teaching in Italy. Working in Danni’s studio was amazing, the quality of light is magnificent, she has a large northern window to provide the overall ambient light then there are smaller windows on the east and south wall, which allows for subtle light quality differences. This painting was set up near the east window, so the light was best in the mid to late afternoon, eastern light is also a little warmer in temperature than true northern light.

To date this is my most detail oriented painting, I was constantly trying to balance the detail of the rug pattern in the background and foreground while always making the cup the most important feature of the painting. The cup is a French antique with the most wonderful modulated glaze with the delicate blue pattern.

Working away from home for the past three weeks has been exhilarating in that it was like a mini artist residency, when I would take breaks I would read through various art books and think about what to paint next. Ideas are floating around in my head and I am starting a new project this week.

See you soon! Thanks for stopping by and reading,

Liz

Weekend Windup

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I tend to use weekends as catch alls for all the loose ends that were not completed during the week. This weekend in particular went by fast. I spent some time preparing a talk/slide show on the art of Gustave Courbet. I so admire his individual spirit.
Then a lot of time was spent in my vegetable garden. Removing my peas to make way for something else and harvesting a basket full of string beans and admiring the growing lima bean pods. Two of my squash plants have become victims of the squash vine borer, so I pulled them out and re-seeded to make up for the loss. This is my first summer with a vegetable patch, it has been fun and I am learning a lot, though it does require a good amount of time as well.

Tomorrow I will be back to the paintings from last week... Before going, here is a new website I found, I particularly like this video about Symbolist, Fernand Khnopff.

Thanks for reading :)
Liz

Some Cloud Scapes

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20100522 Skies wk2-4
{12 x 16 inch oil on linen}
In addition to taking three figure/portrait classes this term I signed up for Deborah Paris's online The Painted Sky class. We are in the third week and so far it has been an amazing exerience {these are all the other paintings completed so far} . Becoming more proficient with landscape painting is a goal of mine, so occasionally I will head outside to get some painting in.
"Be guided by feelings alone... Before any site and any object, abandon yourself to your first impression. If you have really been touched, you will convey to others the sincerity of your emotion." Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot
This is my goal with landscapes, to work with the impression and share the joy in it with others.
Thanks for reading. Liz

Almost Complete & Some Good News...

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{Almost finished ~ Pitcher and Apples ~ 18x24 inches}
Hello,

Here is the entire painting of the detail I shared last week. I am planning on fiddling with it a little more, refining a few areas and to wait for a really sunny afternoon so I can really observe and capture the fascinating highlights that reflect the studio window. Today has been a luxury in that I have stayed home working on this painting and planning future ones. The weeks have been flying by since April as I am enrolled in three different figure/portrait painting classes and one online landscape class. I have been just trying to keep afloat with attending classes and completing the homework. Oh well, you never you’re your limits until you reach beyond them… For the summer term my schedule will not be so full!

In the midst of all this I have also been sending in submissions to various juried exhibitions and competitions and this month three of my paintings have been accepted into two different shows. In June two of my paintings, Figs and Pomegranate on a Wooden Crate will be exhibited at the Rawls Museum Arts, and in July Three Apples on a Wooden Crate will be part of the Salmagundi Club Annual Non-Member Painting and Sculpture Exhibition in New York City. I am pretty excited about both shows as I have been entering a lot of them this year and have had on and off success. So my thoughts are to keep entering shows and make the most of all opportunities available, as you never know when a painting will capture the eye of a juror, the Three Apples painting has been turned down from other shows only be selected for the Salmagundi Club show.

I will see you tomorrow to share some of the recent work from my figure painting class.

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Slim perched in the morning sunbeam
{Slim perched on my chinese sewing basket}
Hello,
The weekend has passed swiftly, as did last week. Spring term at the Art League has started and I have decided to jump in over my head and take several classes this term. I will post some photos of work soon, I just need to take better photos of the paintings.
Until then, here is a lovely picture of my precious girl, Slim.
Good night, Liz

Getting through...

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ink sketches of arms
{ink sketches from Bridgeman's book}

Hello,

Have you ever felt at times that the best thing to do is just to get through? Today was about getting through a list of painting and drawing objectives that were put on hold to get through the weekend...

Some of the craziness was from Saturday...

Where S. and I were up early to rent a "billy goat" lawn vacuum to tackle the several years accumulation of sugar gum balls that pepper our half-acre yard. We decided to try this out after spending most of the previous Saturday raking up these pesky balls and only getting through a quarter of the yard, we thought there had to be a machine that would make the task faster and easier... well, it turns out good old elbow grease is the way to go, because I ended up having to rake in front of the "billy goat" being pushed by S. This fancy machine just helped us from having to lean over and bag the sugar gum balls and used up gas to boot...

Today was full of art tasks, everything that was put on hold over the weekend. Including drawing with a steel quill pen, like the sketches above, and working on a 16x20 painting that was started in late February. This current painting needs a little more work in areas, and maybe a glaze or two... though I am hopeful that it is nearing completion...

WIP - detail of a painting
{here is a detail of the painting}

Lingering painting projects weigh me down some, I always look forward to completing a painting and starting a new project, so as a painting begins to be more complete the more eager I am to finish it. Today was a long day in the studio and tomorrow will be also, though hopefully I will have something new to share with you soon.
Until then, thanks for spending time with me and have a wonderful evening!
Liz