Christmas Past

This year’s  Christmas card is one requested by my Uncle Jim.  The farmhouse where he and his 5 siblings grew up is no longer there to go back and visit.   But the memories remain so strong with me, that I know they are so much stronger for them.  Wish I could go back in time to Christmas times spent there.  Would look closely at the faces, take in the smells, and listen to voices and laughter.  I was so close to doing that as I was painting from one of the few photos we have.

                                        Christmas is the day that holds all time together.                                                                                                 Alexander Smith

 

 

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’51 Chevy and Dogs

This painting was done for  neighborhood friends whose ’51 Chevy is spectacularly restored.  I had previously painted their dogs and when they asked me to do this painting I was excited to do what I thought would be a great composition.  That said, I have to admit it was so much more of a struggle than I thought it would be.  I had shots of their beloved dogs, but had trouble with positioning them in the truck and painting them with such small features.  I also struggled with the background as the photo was taken in front of a garage and I wanted to do something different………should have stuck to the garage.  This is too green and perspective is off, somehow.  Hoping matting and framing will help!

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Jane’s Handsome Guy

My sister raises goats.  I love the idea of doing that, but the milking and care of them morning and night  would be too much for this suburban lightweight.  In the photo this guy seemed to be saying, “Take my picture!!!”   This photo just makes me laugh.    It was done on watercolor canvas for her birthday this last September….one painting I’d like to try again on paper to get it right.  But I’d really rather just be hanging out with my sister on the farm this spring laughing at the goats.  Thinking they’d have their own humorous thoughts about me 🙂 

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Michigan Dairy Farm

My son-in-law’s memories of growing up helping his grandpa run the family dairy formed a  big part of his character….resulting  in his work ethic and love of family.  He describes huge meals prepared by his grandma for the large family, and even the whole football team, that were legendary.  They reminded me of the meals I had at my grandparents…….they weren’t just about appreciating the fried chicken that had been laying eggs earlier that morning.  There were the stories and the laughter, and more stories long after the food was eaten.  Nobody left the table to check phones or turn on the television.  That just didn’t happen.  The euchre games did roll around eventually, but that just involved more laughter and stories.

So anyway, when my daughter and son-in-law asked me to paint the milking parlor and barn that  were on the farm, I loved the idea.  The buildings on a family farm hold so many memories……..hard to explain to someone who didn’t grow up this way.  But the love of the land, of hard work, and for family were so entwined.  Hoping there are still children today who will have these memories.

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Red Mitten Memory

This year’s Christmas card included a red mitten which was a throw back to another card I had painted  with a red mitten lying in the snow surrounded by Utah aspen trees.  Had a few requests to bring the mitten back, so this last December I kind of infused it into an “imagined memory” of getting a Christmas tree with my dad.  I do have a memory of trudging through the Indiana snow to cut a tree, and this really is an image of dad that I had in a photograph of him walking a snow covered path………but the setting and idea for this painting is purely sentimental.  I was missing dad the day I painted it.  So it did feel real.

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Palm Frond Fish

I was attracted to the rich mahogany look of palm fronds that I noticed lying on the ground two years ago when we went to see our friends Ron and Barb in Florida.  The fronds I brought back had been in my art room closet for that long.  Last week we got to visit them again so I wanted to see what I could do with them.  I did the redfish and rainbow trout one morning before we left using acrylics and spraying with a matt finish.  Fun project!  I hope they like them hung in their “Florida” porch overlooking their little oasis of tropical plants, waterfall, and Barb’s Hemingway cats roaming around!  IMG_1353IMG_1357

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Wedding Reception Fun!

My friend’s beautiful daughter, Christina,  asked me to do an Atlanta skyline for her guests to sign at the reception.  She also wanted watercolor sketches of Atlanta landmarks which would be framed to go on the tables of the beautiful downtown venue.  I was so honored to be asked and had so much fun doing them.  These are a sampling of the 15 sketches.  I would have loved to have done a better job on the lettering as I know there are beautiful watercolor techniques for this. But my lettering was not significant in the magic of this wonderful wedding reception!

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Toby

TobyToby was not in great shape at all when my friend rescued him as a puppy.  It really was a case of “who saved who”, though, and today he is still a great comfort in her life.  I wanted to do this larger (approximately 28″ x 15″) on watercolor canvas.  The white background was a first, and I kind of like this look for a change.  The reference photo is below…………was able to use mostly blues and purples, no black.  Was a fun one!!

P1010400

 

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Coastal Birds

Alyson's bird 1 Alyson's bird 2I had some fun with acrylics trying to do some bird art for my friend’s newly remodeled bathroom. The attempt on the left is from studying  a print by a Rosemary Beach artist who I would love to take lessons from.

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Vacation Memories

These were commissioned and painted from a friend’s family vacation photographs.

The blues in this painting really were this brilliant in the photo taken in St. Thomas.  Once again………. I would rather paint on-site!!:)

(Seriously, take me with you….you won’t know I’m there.)

St. Thomas

This was from a photo taken of the dunes at Watercolor, Florida.  The photo had a turtle probably protecting it’s eggs, but I wasn’t brave enough to try to capture that image!

Watercolor dunes

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New Venture!

moose crest 1entwined s and rMoose Crest 2s & rJake’s friend, Sarai, is getting married in Park City, Utah this spring.  She asked me to design a crest which would be at the top of her invitation.  I was very excited and honored to try.  We’ve had a few ice days here in Georgia, so I have holed up with my music and paints in my art room…..and loved the challenge.  Thank you, Sarai,  for the chance to try something new!

inviteHere is the final invitation design used by Sarai.  So happy I could be involved in the fun and planning of this special event!!

 

 

 

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Advice From a Tree

P1000778This window was from a stack  in an old smokehouse next to the Tennessee farmhouse which I previously posted a painting of.  I wanted to do something for the house with it’s tall ceilings, fireplaces, and massive wall space.  I also wanted it to reflect the setting of the farm with it’s tree covered hills.  Looked for a Thoreau or Muir quote, then came across “Advice from a Tree” which I decided to use featuring some of the tree leaves found on the acreage.  I’m new to glass painting, but used enamel acrylics, a glass paint pen for words, and liquid leading.  A fun project!

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North Pole Auditions

christmas card 13This is my 2013 Christmas card.  Hoping the new year will be a good one for all who see this.  Love, Karen

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Bear at the Coast

BearIn her song “Coast” Eliza Gilkyson sings, “Think I’ll go down to the coast for a while………….”.  I always think of this song when I think about our friend’s coast house outside of Tallahassee.  I wanted to paint this picture of Bear in the water in front of the house where the family has been going for generations now.  This has got to be his favorite place to romp and get muddy .  I wanted to try his reflection, but what I loved was his gaze out at the water.  You can almost feel his sigh.

(Just added “Coast” to my Music page.)

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Kate’s Maine Lighthouse

Kate's LighthouseMy friend Kate turned 60 in September……..3 months ahead of me.  I like the term “aged” rather than “old”, but I think we are both struggling with this one.  They say it’s only a number, but I don’t like this number!  I don’t feel wiser, in fact I feel like throwing a little tantrum and acting very immature about it.  I will work on my resolve instead, and add this to my list of places to see.  I painted it for Kate as it was one of the places she had been to on the northeastern coast where she grew up.  One thing I do know is that friends and laughter help keep you healthy and feeling young.  There is a little 60 year old wisdom for you!

“and if you’re further up the road, can you show me what I still can’t see”       John Mayer

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Corona Day at the Beach

Corona Day at the BeachThere is something about a cold beer with lime at the beach, especially at the moment you first plant your feet in sand and begin to relax.  This is an i-phone pic taken by the girlfriend of my friend Lissa’s son on their family trip this summer. Liss wanted me to paint it for her to send to her new job location in New York.

I hope it captures that moment for her and helps her summon up the warmth after a wintery day in NYC.

It was done on watercolor canvas, but I went back into the sky with acrylic because I wasn’t happy with it.  I could call it mixed media, but I was really just fixing my watercolor goof!

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Going to the Beach!

  Hi, y’all.  I’ve been without a car for a couple of days, so look what I got done!   This should happen more often.  I have also been online booking a trip to the beach with Sarah Jo and Randy who needed a break from the Utah winter……………so I have beach on the mind!  These were all done in acrylic which is so freeing after watercolor and I’ve had the music on painting away, losing all track of time.  (Here is where I feel guilty if any of my tired hard-working teacher friends read this!)  These are all adapted from images on-line, but I’m hoping to get some  of my own shots in June!

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Brothers

I had found an old Polaroid of Tom and his brother, Dave, from one of their fishing trips to Canada with their dad.  I know these are treasured memories, so I wanted to try to reproduce it for them.  The reflections would be a good practice and I had hoped the sentiment would make it special.  The disclaimer is that I don’t do people!  There is not a lot of going back in to “fix” watercolor, but I am going to try to work on those faces.

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Clawson Estate

I was so happy to paint this wonderful house for my cousin Greg and his wife, Jane.  They have put hours and hours into preserving and nurturing the elegance of this hundred plus year old house in Indiana.  I am so impressed with all they have done, and with their enthusiasm for keeping the furnishings and feel of the place in the era in which it belongs.  I wouldn’t want to be up against Greg at an estate auction!………..He knows what he wants and they both have an eye for treasures others might overlook. I’m looking forward to going with them one day and they know I want to sit on that porch with a glass of tea and  take in the feel of Indiana.  (transplanted Hoosiers know what I mean) 

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Georgia Peaches

This is an old painting that I haven’t ever posted.  It remains one of my favorites which are hanging in my laundry room.  Peaches are one of a watercolor artist’s fun objects to paint……and the reflection also added to the challenge.

Can’t wait to hit the roadside stands  for some this July!!

 

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Carolina Coast

I went on a “girls weekend” to Beaufort, South Carolina where we stayed in a cool loft apartment on Bay Street.  There was a great waterfront park lined with  restaurants.  The town had several gallerys which featured artists who painted the coastal marsh land.  Most of the paintings had little detail, but captured the beauty and mystique of this part of the east coast.  True artists can accomplish this……….much harder than it looks. I don’t know if I’ll ever break away from trying to be too literal.  This was done on watercolor canvas which scolds me when I try for much detail.   I want to go back and try to paint on location!!  (My dad would have loved the birds.)

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Fountain County Courthouse Ram Statue

    For my friends and readers who are not from small towns :  The county courthouses in Indiana are usually located in the “square” and are the grandest buildings in the town.  The courthouse in Covington is surrounded by antique stores, diners, the lawyer, the two bars,and the one grocery in the town.  I miss the smells of the old Faust and Frey Hardware, the old bank, and of course the Lyric theatre where I saw my first big screen movies.  These are gone, but the one place that has survived through the changes is the heart of the town………my Uncle Dale’s barber shop!  For any readers who remember him as a math teacher and principal….you know that we are talking about a man who loves to tell stories and loves to laugh.  So the shop is where you come to laugh, to rehash the basketball games,  share jokes, and hear the latest town news (I won’t call it gossip).   You may or may not get an eight dollar haircut, but you get to relax and entertain, or be entertained by Dale.  The “Dale haircut” hasn’t changed for all the years the shop has been there, and we used to love when Jake would get one with the big white cloth  covering him.                                                                                                                       A friend once said Covington sounds like a Norman Rockwell painting.  I know it is easy to romanticize small town living when you have moved to city suburbs.  But I still think it is a special place with beauty and comforts that a lot of small towns don’t afford. 

As far as the painting……..I took this picture of one of the ram/pegasus statues around the courthouse a few years back and thought it would be a good one to practice shading and values.  I would love to know the history behind it. 

 

 

 

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Doin What We Do

 I had been noticing these cows on the route I take on my road bike.  They were always under two huge oak trees each morning.  So I decided to take my camera to get some shots. I had to hide my bike, cross over a ditch, and step over poison ivy plants to get to the barbed wire.  I didn’t want to cross over in fear of spooking them. ( I had done that once with my grandpa’s cows which resulted in uncles running and broken fences.  I remember the relief when grandpa thought it was funny and the teasing I got.)

Cows act so nonchalantly indifferent to the world. Every one of them were aware of my presence, but were not about to let me know they saw me.  All except for the calf…I loved how he was looking at me with outright surprise and curiosity.

So I did this for me, for fun, because I loved those cows. It was done on watercolor canvas which doesn’t allow much detail and helps me try to have a looser style.   Not the best painting, but Sarah Jo has already claimed it. . . . just wish she had the memories to go with it.

 

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Portland Arch

Portland Arch Nature Preserve is located near my hometown of Covington, Indiana.  It features this opening in the sandstone  walls which was formed by Bear Creek.  The creek flows through a deep ravine with high rock walls.

My dad, Sam Miller, was the volunteer steward for the preserve for more than 30 years. He led nature talks through the preserve, maintained the trails, and identified the plants and wildflowers.  He worked with the Indiana Nature Conservancy to do what he could to make sure others could experience it.

I think that I can speak for my family in that the preserve is where we feel the closest to being with him again.  As you pass the visitor sign-in and walk down the rocky path to the Arch it feels to me as if I am entering into a cathedral-like quality of quiet and peacefulness. It’s like dad is walking with you and nodding at the features that catch your eye. Knowing this unchanging beauty is always there is a calming image even with the many miles that keep us  from  experiencing it firsthand.

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Abandoned Truck

Lonley Dell Ranch is a historic site located in Lee’s Ferry, Arizona north of the Colorado River.  We stumbled upon it while exploring the Glen Canyon on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon.  It was built by John Lee in 1873 whose family operated Lee’s Ferry across the Colorado.  One of his 17 wives (!) gave it the name “Lonely Dell” as it was such an isolated location.  Lee built an irrigation system from the Paria River and there is still an old peach orchard  which was a treat to discover during our exploration.  I love old trucks and this one which had been abandoned at the ranch really was a work of art.  The door propped against it had become a canvas painted by the sun and arid climate.  I was disappointed in the stuggle to recreate it.  Watercolorists would say it was “overworked”, as I tried to get the feel of it.  But in this case I was competing with nature’s paintbrush, huger talent than even Wyeth himself….so I give myself a little break 🙂

Postscript: I am reading Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer about the fundamentalist Mormon faith.  Turns out Brigham Young sent John Lee to this remote area after excommunicating him because he feared John would tell the secrets of the violence and polygamous practices of the church. Only two of his wives actually stayed with him at the desolate outpost! (7/30/12)

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The Narrows at Zion

Tom and our friend Chan went to Park City in Sept. of ’10 to stay with Jake and hike the area.  This is Jake’s favorite hike of all he has done in the west.  You walk through the narrow winding stream  with the walls of the canyon rising around you.  I loved the blues and ochre/sienna colors of the rocks. The computer screen lights up some of the watercolor luminosity that I lost.  This is for you Jake, I hope you like it!

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Vegetables and Pans

This was another reflection assignment in my class taught by Marylou.  We ended up giving the original to some friends who were opening a very cool restaurant in an old building with brick walls (one of my favorite criteria 🙂 ).  I’ve decided I need to work on my creativity in naming my pieces, but for now Vegetables and Pans it is.

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Kelly’s Venice

The perspective on this painting is a little off, but it is one of the more challenging of my paintings.  I did it for my niece from one of the pictures portraying her travels while her dad and mom were in the UK.  Hoping she can return one day soon!

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Yellowstone

Jake worked one summer in Yellowstone doing trail work and manning the ranger stations.  He set us up in this cabin used by park workers in a secluded location where we were completely by ourselves.  We had to be careful of the thermal elements of the streams while hiking, and kept a sharp eye and ear out for signs of bears!  The shooting stars were numerous that night. 

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Remington

Remy doing her intense duty of scrutinizing our back yard for squirrels, birds, or any other signs of movement.

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This is a rice paper textured watercolor done for my daughter of her dog.  Rem always finds any sliver of sunlight to lie in ………the most spoiled bird dog ever.

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Christmas Cards

                                                                                 

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wine and wood…reflections of relaxation

A still life painted for Tom……probably one of my favorites.

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Conasauga River

This was from a shot when standing in the middle of the river during a hiking trip where my son and daughter were able to meet up with us.  It was a perfect trip and hope to return to this site with them one day.

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Almost Home

This was an art class assignment to do a high horizon painting.  I was happy that I didn’t “muddy” up the colors as I always struggle with this.  The name “Almost Home” was because it takes me back to my Indiana childhood home even though the setting is not quite the same.

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Belize

I painted this as a thank you for the owners of this house on the island of San Pedro off of Belize.  We had use of a golf cart which we took into the tiny town after getting on a hand-pulled ferry.  I loved the children who would get a ride with us on the cart and were so eager to help us find our way around.  Crabs which darted around the house were snatched up by the local women to be taken home for meals.  Great snorkeling, taking the water taxi to restaurants, and the huge lizards that posed like statues were highlights.

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Grandpa’s Choice

My grandpa would go up into the hills behind the farm to get the scruffiest Christmas trees ever.  This one doesn’t do justice to how bad they were, but it does acknowledge an endearing memory of him.

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Summer Stilllife

This was my first attempt with watercolor canvas.  The sun and bright colors made this a fun painting.

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Tennesee Farm

I love this old farmhouse in the rolling hills of Tennessee.   Spending time there has provided a relief from the “burbs” where we are able to appreciate our friend’s respect for the land and the memories that his family homestead provides.

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Out in the Barn

Out in the Barn     December 2008

Growing up when we were looking for dad my mom would always say he was “out in the barn”.  So when I was trying to think of a name for this Christmas card Tom suggested just that.  The barn smells and the vision of dust beams coming through the hayloft windows can be conjured up in an instant when I think of the barn where we spent so much of our childhood days.  Dad was always out there tinkering while the barn swallows added accompaniment to the country tunes on his radio.

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Sonning Bridge

Sonning, England – We stayed with my brother Bill in London one summer during his five year stay.  This old bridge in Sonning was his favorite of all the “old bridges” he had discovered.  I wanted to paint this for him first out of all the great shots acquired while we were there.

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