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…

Zentangles as Visual Journals

Zentangles are a great art project for everybody (including those who say they can’t draw).  Yes, they are glorified doodles but the “zen” part is not a joke,  drawing them tends to put people in a quiet, meditative state.  It has been my “first day of class lesson” for a few years now.  More info here.

A few years ago my dear husband had episodes of indigestion (cucumbers?) and long-story-short ended up in Duke University Hospital where he underwent quintuple heart bypass surgery.  Serious enough, but he also managed to have almost every complication a person could have (and he was not in poor health before) so our stress levels were high.

I decided to spend the long hours waiting for the surgery to be completed by doing a journal.   Only, as you may already know, writing is not my forte so I made it a visual journal.  I used a six-inch square sketchbook marketed for “Zentangles”.

These little drawings were highly personal to me, and I didn’t show these drawings to anyone for a year or two (except Duncan, see below).  Eventually I began sharing them with other people.

So here they are beginning with the simply labeled sketchbook.

zen 1 cover

This is from the long day of waiting for the surgery to be completed.  I realized afterwards that my anxiety really showed.

zen 2

The surgery was successful and our family took a collective breath of relief:

zen 3

Not much going on during this time:

zen 4

Poor baby with his heart pillow:

zen 5

But things started getting tense, maybe I had too high expectations concerning his care?  No, I didn’t and believe me, I was keeping an eye on everything!  BTW, the bottom quadrant were the designs in his bed covers, I think the left hand side was the tile floor.

zen 6

This day started out pretty well but began unraveling (I think it’s the day the staff rushed in with a crash cart and we didn’t know that his heart rate was dropping).

zen 7

A-fib does weird things with your heart rate, numbers were all over the place, but things were getting in control.

zen 8

Did I mention our son was getting married in December?  This day we went to a shower for them in Raeford.  Yes, it was a relief to know he was ok for me to leave.

zen 9

We went home and I showed Duncan my journal and tried to teach him how to Zentangle.  Think the drugs were too strong, lol!

zen 10

There were still complications upon returning home but we were keeping a positive attitude!  (this piece is obviously unfinished)

zen 11

This says it all:

zen 12



The Art of Pimento Cheese

PC 9
9. Taste on a cracker

In the south, we make and devour Pimento Cheese.  The store-bought stuff is an abomination and would never grace the shelves of our refrigerator!  My dear husband is a purist when it comes to making it, and does so in the time-honored method used by his wonderful mother (who I called Granny).  She grated the cheese onto a plate, put in some diced pimentos and “mashed” them together with a fork.  The necessary mayonnaise and black pepper was then added.

Our son (who lives way up north in the big city of Boston) has recently developed a taste for what some people call “Carolina Caviar” and wanted to mix up a batch but the family recipe was a little too vague (add a pinch of this and a handful of this).  Since I was making some tonight I told him I’d document it and try to keep track of the ingredients.

I am a rebel and don’t use a plate but a (gasp!) food processor.  Hey, I’m a busy lady!  I also break with tradition and add other ingredients.  Many people do, just not my purist husband.  Wait, actually, he has added a pinch of horseradish, so he’s making strides.

Not the usual media and subject matter I write about here, but since Young Son encourages me to blog (even if it’s not about my own artwork) and he needed a recipe, I combined the tasks.

It’s good on crackers, celery, but the best is toasted on sandwich bread, IMHO!

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One-day paintings?

rose still life WIProses detail1

Roses – Beginning and End         Oil pastel and acrylic on canvas      30″x 20″         $500

I’ve been reading a little on what I guess is a trend for artists: One-day Paintings.  Part of the idea is to keep the creative juices flowing and get in a routine.  I need some routine so thought I’d try my hand at it.  Let me say right off the bat: it didn’t work.  Most people who do this paint really small pieces, I don’t do small.  Some people admitted that the quality was not up to par because of the time limit.

So I thought I’d paint a still life from observation (as opposed to taking a photo) and use acrylics for the quick drying time.  My canvas is 30″ x 20″, not tiny by any means, but not too big either.  Before the first layer of acrylic dried I had sketched details in the wet paint which led to eventually bringing out the oil pastels.  Purist (of the oil pastel variety) don’t call their work drawings but paintings.  I’m on the fence about that (but I AM a snob when it comes to oil pastels and love my Senneliers!).

Long story short:  it wasn’t a One-Day Painting, more like four days, although I didn’t spend hours at a time most days.  It’s mixed media, somewhere between a painting and a drawing.

As always, comments and criticism welcome!

I sold my sister…again!

sassy julie
“Sassy Julie”  Oil on canvas

Years ago a dear friend and patron saw this painting and just HAD to have it.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to sell it because it is, after all, a painting of my sister.  Almost all of my paintings have a sentimental attachment but this one was a little more than usual.  But, it reminded my friend of her childhood and the many pairs of gloves she had.  She was so enchanted with it and was such a dear person, how could I refuse?  And I am a big believer in buying art that you love and connect with, so there.

I forgot to mention that my mother and sister gave me hell for selling it!  “How could you sell your sister???”

Sadly, that friend passed away all too soon.  Through a chain of events I managed to once again be in possession of this work and decided I’d never sell it.  Probably.

So, last  month I was asked to be part of a Women’s History Month exhibition at the Multicultural Center at the local university and my Alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  I listed this work and another (my grandmother Mama Pate!) as not for sale.  Then the call came.  Another child of the Sixties fell in love with it, this time because of the gloves and the glasses.  This person has a very high position with the university system so my work (and UNC-P?) would get a lot of exposure.  That’s a good business move, right?

So, I sold my sister.   Again.

Just for the record, Mama Pate and a few other family portraits will NEVER be sold.  Most likely.


Shirley's Sunrise
Robeson County Sunrise

Landscapes were something I avoided in the past.  In graduate classes I was in awe of a fellow student’s landscapes and her soft touch of the brush.  She told me recently that at her graduate show she sold ALL of her paintings to one person.  No surprise there.

Anyway,  something happened with me and all of a sudden there were these paintings and drawings in my body of work.  Some were small (9″x 12″), a couple are large (3′ x 5′), most in oils or oils and mixed media (tissue paper, oil sticks).

Most of these are fairly new, but they are not exactly in chronological order.

This weekend I am to participate in an En plein air event in Lumberton, NC.  There’s always a first time!  For me painting on site, lol!  Come by and enjoy the art and music on Elm Street.  I will also have an oil pastel drawing in the silent auction.12671866_1896899523870025_5399643207838885665_o


Acrylic on Canvas – SOLD

magical morning



Oil Pastel on Paper – SOLD
The Niece’s Wedding      Acrylic on Canvas      SOLD
Shirley's Sunrise
Robeson County Sunrise    Mixed Media on Canvas     –  $1000
Shirley's Sunrise detail
DETAIL – Robeson County Sunrise
december morning
December Morning      Acrylic on Canvas      –     $600
shirley's robeson county sunrise
Shirley’s Sunrise     Mixed Media on Canvas    –    $800
The Wonderful Mr. V     Oil and Oil Stick on Canvas    –     $500
detail shirley's sunrise
DETAIL – Shirley’s Sunrise
tree 1
Tree 1 – mixed media on canvas  –  $500
tree 1 detail
Sunset on Sunset Beach Oil on Canvas 16″ x 24″ (?) $400
A Moment on the TV Oil and Oil Pastel on Canvas 18″ x 24″ $600
View From The Chelsea   –  Oil on Canvas     –   $400
cherry grove sunrise
Cherry Grove Sunrise    Oil on Canvas   3’x 5′    SOLD
The Dream
Oil Pastel on Paper 18″ x 24″ $300


Works in Progress – Daffodils

I like to work from photos, especially when I’m working with one of my favorite subject matter: flowers.  They just don’t last long enough!  So photographs keep my subjects fresh and just as importantly, allow me to see mistakes and progress.  These photos are from my cell and not the “good camera”.

I had gotten away from flowers and had worked on a series of landscapes (which has never been a fav of mine) in which I actually experimented a bit on, that whole thinking outside the box thing.  I despise that expression, but it’s appropriate in this case, and to me it means being brave.

Have I mentioned that the process of writing is also an act of bravery for me?  Another time…

Anyway, I took photos of daffodils in my front yard and even borrowed one from a FB friend (Hal from my hometown, thanks!!).  Decided to venture back to flowers (perhaps it was too many “Georgia O’Keefe!” comments that made me run from them) and add something from my new bag of tricks.  I showed the earlier stages of the pieces in an earlier post and thought they were at a good stage to show again.

Warts and all.  That THING in the vertical canvas is a bloom in the background, not sure it should be there.  Or, maybe it’s just not evolved to the state it needs to be in.  Time will tell.

Media: oil and oil sticks on canvas

daffodil 1 wip
Work in Progress
daffodils wip
WIP – beginning of a series?
WIP vert daf cropped
WIP vertical daffodils
WIP sq daffodil cropped
WIP – square daffodil
WIP vert daf detail
detail – vertical daffodil