Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Few Last Words Before 2016 Ends last blog post before I officially withdraw until after the first of the year. My surgery is over and it has been weird and complicated (mostly weird) but it isn't cancer so that is good. I am spending a lot of time on the couch, foot propped up on pillows, surrounded by books: sketchbooks, fiction & reference books, puzzle books. There's a watercolor palette (or two,) drawing supplies, paintbrushes, and more remotes than are necessary floating around my couch nest as well. Two cats helpfully hold it all down in case a sudden, vicious breeze should threaten to blow it all away.

I think it is safe to say that 2016 has been a pretty awful year. Goodbye and good riddance to a year riddled with tragedy and terrible politics. However, here at Lost Coast Post, it is the first year in many that I haven't thought about closing up shop as the year winds down. I felt like comments here took an upswing and that has definitely helped as reader feedback always makes me feel as if what I write and post is being received somewhere by someone. Everyone was very generous to my tip jar as well and that is so deeply appreciated. It spurs me onward to keep creating content-rich posts that hopefully have information and inspiration to take away into your own artistic journeys.

As I sit here on the couch, I am jotting ideas for my very own online class (a series of classes actually.) I know the theme, techniques, and title but all will have to remain secret until I figure out and execute the logistical side of things, a substantial task. I don't want to announce anything specific and then not be able to deliver so I am just taking things slow. I can't even walk right now so "slow" is my mandatory mantra. I am very excited though because I think I can put together a class that no one else is offering. My audience might be small since I won't be following leading trends but I see that as a giant advantage.

Anyway, enough teasing. I sincerely hope that the remainder of 2016 is filled with joy and peace for all of you. I am so grateful for your readership, your comments, your donations, your enthusiasm, support, and patience. I am more in love with this space than I've ever been and all of you are responsible for that. I'll be back in 2017 and hope that you'll join me. Take care of you and yours...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Peace at Lost Coast Post

This is Tuscany, Queen of Extreme Grump...

This is Marley Bear, King of Constant Cuddles...

For the last seven years, these two never occupied the same space at the same time for fear of a tear in the space-time continuum. In the very least, even temporary moments of amicability ended in snarls and scratches, both bodies rolling across the floor in an angry ball of claw and tooth. 

And then, in the past week, this began happening.

No prior warning, no formal declaration of peace: just two fluffy bodies curled together, snoring and dreaming, all animosity dissolved for the sake of warmth & companionship.
I can't help but take pictures of this astonishing turn of events. I tiptoe to my camera and hope that the flash doesn't disturb the sleeping couple. 
Maybe there is hope for world peace after all...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Big Blooms

This painting is my first attempt at painting a vase of flowers as inspired by Lynn Whipple's Big Bold Bloom Wild Painting class. I've been eyeballing this class ever since it debuted but it cost a bit more than I could afford. So I decided to save up all the donations to my tip jar and proceeds from online purchases of my art. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Gretchen, Ryusho, Stacey, Mareen, Loulou, Lou Anne and Ellie! These sweet and generous souls made it possible for me to take this class and I've had so much fun!

I'm very, very selective about the online classes I take; I want to be challenged and I want to learn techniques that are open to my own interpretation. Big Bold Blooms interested me for a number of reasons. Lynn Whipple seemed a fountain of joy and enthusiasm in her promo video and I was not disappointed after signing up. The videos make me smile; Lynn is absolutely irrepressible and her happiness is contagious. Secondly, I really liked the idea of painting in a looser, more impressionistic style. That's just about the polar opposite of how I usually work but as my Parkinson's progresses, I've found that I want to start exploring less precise techniques and materials. In addition, I was intrigued by the subject matter: I've done a few flower pieces over the years (most notably in the Scraps journal) but flowers aren't a regular part of my artistic lexicon. The class also meant exploring a new-to-me medium - chalk pastels - so I knew the materials and subject matter would challenge me.
This first painting has some issues. It is still very tight and a bit too realistic. It will take time and practice to relax on the canvas. I also chose a too-small canvas and the composition is simply too crowded. However, I was surprised to find that I actually loved working with pastels. I've avoided them in the past because of the dust and need for fixative spray. Those aspects of pastels still annoy me but I think the effects you can achieve with pastels are worth that annoyance.

Lynn uses huge, extravagant arrangements as her subject matter in the class videos (which I can't afford) so I went to my local florist and handpicked a few hardy blooms in a variety of shapes and colors. Most of the flowers lasted about three weeks with diligent water changes so I had a lot of time to get familiar with my chosen flowers. It was more difficult to paint a lush, overflowing scene but I found I could make it work. Photographic images helped fill in the gaps.

Georgia O'Keefe said "When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment." I found this to be completely true. It was easy to get lost in the petals, stamens, leaves, colors, shapes, and scents of my bouquet. Time and worries slipped away. I will most definitely be exploring blooms more regularly from this moment forward.
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