Daddy’s Hands – the hands of an artist.


The man who was my first art teacher passed away on January 5th of this year.  Growing up he was my toughest critic (especially when I drew horses!) but always the biggest supporter when it came to my own work.   He was also my daddy.

One of the wonderful nurses who attended him in the ICU last month was checking and fussing over him  (he was not aware of anything at that point and had come into the hospital that way) and when she got to his right hand, she softly said “this is the hand of a carpenter”.  We were floored at her perception, but told her that she was close, he was a woodworker, an artist.  We showed her pictures of his work and she thanked us for that.

He was a business man by day but an artist at heart; he could draw and paint, make furniture, design additions to our house (he studied architecture for two years), but his gift was clearly sculpture.  Clay, wood, stone and bronze were his media at various time throughout the years.  He didn’t have a degree but if all those hours spent in community college and university classes were added up, he’d probably have a BFA.

He was told by his uncle that he had “natural talent” and that he inherited it from his grandmother Fannie.  Dad would tell how the local ladies would not dare begin a quilting bee until Miss Fannie had been by to discuss color and pattern.  She was also known for designing beautiful arrangements of neighbor’s garden flowers.  I relished this story every time I heard it and tried to channel Great Grandmother Fannie as I made a quilt for my first grandson last spring.

Dad’s motivation to create was diminishing in recent years, but he would always ask me in our telephone conversations about my latest work.  I’d ask him about his, hoping in those declining days a spark had developed.  I was the lucky recipient of one of the last things he created: a walking stick.   No, it was not on par with his earlier work but he’d spent days designing a font and carved my name on it.  I will cherish it forever.

This past summer I spent a while with them while Mom was recuperating from health issues and used the time on two oil pastel drawings.  He seemed to enjoy the work in progress and without prompts from me he would immediately see areas that needed tweaking.  What an eye he had!  Try as I might, I couldn’t get him interested in trying the oil pastels I was using, but I suspect the soft, gooey feel of them was a deterrent.

Last week I was working on a mural with a friend.  I was in charge of drawing the horse that was part of the design.  Yep, the legs were all wrong and I could hear the long-ago admonishments from him.  And I smiled.





Teaching and Doing

“View Through The Old School House Window”             Oil Pastel on Paper          app. 18″ x 24″



I am an artist and an art educator, I hope that doesn’t sound too brazen.  Since I was a little girl I wanted to be an artist but I never even thought about being a teacher until I was in college.  I dropped out of the education program right before taking a speech class, I was just too shy.  Ten years later I did begin teaching and let me tell you, it was not easy. Teaching drawing became my niche, discipline and paper work were not.  Oh, well.

Currently I am teaching two very small groups of adults a right-brain type of drawing class.  This morning one student struggled with a concept and we worked on it, then she had the “A-HA” moment.  Another student got it from the start and her excitement was contagious.  These two very different students left me feeling happy and fulfilled.

As far as my own art goes, productivity is not where I want it to be, but there is art being made.   Perhaps I should add that projects include oil pastels, stage sets for local theater, a vintage yard art venture (more on that later) and planning a bottle top mosaic mural.

The photo and detail is of the latest oil pastel.  It is based on a photo I took at a family reunion a few years ago.

PS – save your bottle caps!



New Works in Oil Pastels

This summer I didn’t sign up for any out-of-state workshops like I usually do (sorry Johnna).  There was, after all, a grand baby coming along.  And he IS grand, but this is an art blog so I’ll stop at that, heehee.

So instead I took a community college art class in another county.  I love being in class, it makes me commit myself to the work, and gets me in a routine (which somehow I am sorely lacking).  The instructor was great and if I’d had thin skin my feelings would have been hurt the first day, but his criticism was constructive and much-needed.  Also, he’s 84 years young!

It seemed that taking oil paintings on the road would be a little cumbersome in my little red car (appropriately named “Lil Red”) so I decided on working in oil pastels.  That and the fact a dear friend commented how much she liked my works in the medium.  Ok, I love working with them but it had been quite a while so her comment jump-started me back into this creamy, malleable medium.

One of these works was “just for fun” (Black-Eyed Susans), one was commissioned (Sisters) by a grandmother, and the single portrait (Going Somewhere) was from a former student’s selfie while working on a make-up business venture.  Remember, I never take or appropriate photos without permission.  Well, hardly ever.  As a matter of fact, I’m really excited about the next two drawings (or paintings, as oil pastel purists call them), photos from friends are the inspiration, but I want to use them as a springboard into more expressive work.  Stay tuned.

“Going Somewhere” is in a competition at the Moore County Arts Council summer show at Campbell House in Southern Pines, NC.

black eyed susan detail
Detail, Black Eyed Susans
black eyed susan
Black-Eyed Susans                  Oil Pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes         200.00
the grand daughters DETAIL
Detail Sisters
the grand daughters
Sisters                 Oil Pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes                         NFS
TM detail eye
Detail – Going Somewhere
TM detail hair
Detail – Going Somewhere
TM 1
Going Somewhere          18″ x 24″   Oil Pastel on Black Canson Mi-Teintes          500.00

The Organization Gene

oil pastel
SISTERS        Oil Pastel      18 x 24″        $600 (framed)

I’ve been doing a lot with oil pastels lately.  Nothing is finished yet so I have zilch to show on the blog,  but there are three pieces  (one commissioned, one experimental floral, one a non-commissioned portrait) on the boards now, another two close behind.  Oil pastel purists call works created with them paintings, but to me it seems like I’m doing a drawing that usually ends up with a painterly quality.  But that’s another topic.  The organization of one of my favorite media is the topic for today.  I have abused mine and in return this has hindered the efficiency of my work because I have to search through the piles of pastels to find the colors I need.  So I decided to really organize them.

Organization is an on-going battle for me.  I didn’t get that gene.  I do work hard sometimes to get things organized and then things just explode (I know, one should REPLACE things after they are used).  And as I write I look at the stacks of books and papers beside the computer, so much to do, so little time!

Anyway, today I went to Harbor Freight with friends and bought me a really cool tool box for what I think was a good price.  It has drawers with dividers and will be easy to carry around.  The pastels are sorted into cool, warm and neutral groups.  The box is labeled.  I was going to have one drawer labeled “for works in progress” but knowing me, that would defeat that whole putting things back idea.

I just have to put the little things back in the compartments.  I can do this.

Now, about that desk…

It’s been a while…

So Christmas came and went and I found myself wrapped up in all the usual activities and enjoying my family immensely!  I did create and print a bunch of linocut cards…was only going to do a couple and then the project just grew.  And grew.  Sold enough to make it worthwhile, and frankly, I just love printing!  I majored in printmaking when I was in college (minored in painting) but now I think of myself as a painter and not the other.

Finally got back into the studio for painting and have posted the results today.  Both of these are mixed media as I am exploring combining oil pastels and tissue paper with oils on canvas.  Don’t know what the deal is with so many trees but will think about that.

The trees in field painting MAY not be finished, but it’s close and then I’ll add my little signature.  A former co-worker and fellow artist is now retired and can be counted on to take photos of sunsets and sunrises (it’s so difficult for me to do that on the way to work while driving up I-95!).  She posted a photo in December that I fell in love with and she’s been gracious enough to let me use it.

DETAIL of “Shirley’s Sunrise”
Oil, oil pastel, tissue paper on canvas. 30" x 40"
Oil, oil pastel, tissue paper on canvas.
30″ x 40″ $1500
DETAIL of Tree 1
tree 1
Tree 1 Oil, oil pastel, tissue paper on Canvas 48″ x 24″ $1500

Comments/observations welcome.