Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

My Christmas card is finished and mailed to everyone on my list, the tree is up, and this year I have colored lights both on the tree and outside on the lamp post. Boxes of ornaments have been taken out of storage, as old friends lovingly wrapped in tissue paper reappear for another holiday season. Handmade ornaments from a craft show, a round frosted ball from a favorite Aunt. Precious memories of family, friends and pets long gone. And each year a few new ornaments find their way onto the tree. A reminder that life goes on, new friends are found, new challenges are met, and we move forward as we enjoy life today.

I will spend this next week or so enjoying my twinkling tree, my early morning coffee and the evening news. In a way it recharges my batteries for whatever lies ahead. Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Home For The Holiday's

The cat that was patiently working his plan with my parents has moved in. He has a favorite chair, mouse toys to play with and he will proudly show you his food dishes. Of course sleeping on the bed is his favorite activity. He looks good, his fur is soft and shiny and he has put on weight! From what they tell me he patrols the yard keeping an eye on everything. I like a happy ending.

My final is next Thursday and than I have a few weeks off till next semester, I did not mean to disappear from my blog but it has been getting harder and this last class just took it out of me. I will be back!!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

One Missing Puppy

Just a quick snapshot of what I’ve done so far. The colors are off because the white balance on the camera was not very accurate. Lots of little Corgi faces & one puppy hasn’t found it’s way home yet, so it’s slow and steady progress on this card, which seems like it’s taking forever, because right now I have so little time to paint! But I expect that will change soon.

When we got our now Corgi ‘Lily’ as a puppy I would describe our early relationship as pretty contentious. Grover, my first Corgi was two when I got him and Maggie our next one, was over 6 months old. I quickly found out that little tiny puppies are cute, fuzzy and adorable for a good reason. They have to be so you’ll forgive them AGAIN and AGAIN because they can also be mischievous and headstrong. After they’ve just torn open your new vinyl kitchen floor, they look up at you with those big puppy dog eyes that melt your heart, and they learn quickly that you’ll forgive them every time (sucker!)

My husband used to call her ‘Atila The LIL’ which he borrowed from Atila The Hun, she was that headstrong, and if she’d been born a human she’d definitely be leader of the free world by now, and Obama would be carrying her doggie bags.

So OK, now it was my job to train her, to be firm and consistent in reinforcing the rules. That took a bit of training for me - a puppy 'newbie' - as I had to learn that it was my actions that would in the end get the results I wanted. There is a hole in our kitchen floor, currently covered by a rug, that reminds me daily of my beginning failures. However, somehow we got thru it, she & I, and now Lily is my loving & best friend. Go figure!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Summer's Last Bouquet

We have quite a few of these small glass vases, mostly in shades of blue and orange. There is one on the kitchen table all Summer and Fall filled with whatever flowers (or flowering weed) is available from the yard. They are small and it does not take a lot of blossoms to fill them. But each small sweet bouquet adds a little warm touch to my home. I love the color and the way the light shines thru. Maybe they’re old fashioned, but that’s OK with me.

Now that the weather has cooled off the Pansies are coming back in full force. I am so pleased these little guys made it and I will have to see how far into late Fall they hang on. They’re right at the bottom of my back steps, mixed in with a patch of Chives that I massacred the other day by cutting them to the ground, chopping up what I had cut, and freezing 7 boxes so I can have Chives all winter. We add them to our scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and egg salad. Most amazing of all is that the Chives in the ground are now a foot tall again after only about a week. I still can’t believe how vigorous they are. I have had them hang on into December in a protected spot, so we’ll have to see how they do - but a most amazing & delightful herb to be sure, and the flowers aren’t bad either.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Special Delivery

It’s getting to be that time of year - kids are back in school, Halloween decorations are out in the stores and I am working on my Corgi Christmas card for this year. Here is the sketch which has already been transferred to a board and the background painted. And here is a little tidbit from life.

I stopped over my parents last night, just as it was getting dark. The porch light was on and there by the kitchen door was a box with a towel placed inside and two dishes neatly arranged in front of it with a very contented looking cat nestled in. My parents have said "no more pets" and held fast to this for several years now. After raising four kids and their assorted cats, dogs and horses they wanted freedom from all the stress and headaches and a chance to travel.

But there he was watching the world from his nest. I went inside and dropped off what I had to leave, than came out to sit on the porch with him. We sat together in the dark, listening to the crickets, the air cool and dry, sounds of a back door slamming and someone calling the dog. The air has a nutty smell this time of year and life gets back to routine after the summer, everyone has their meetings or school. I looked over at him and we both knew that by the time the snow comes he will have moved in with his box by the fireplace.

I had to get going. Backing the truck down the driveway I glanced back for a minute. So Norman Rockwell - a doorway decorated with a Fall wreath, porch light on, and a cat working his plan and soon a new home.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sparkle & Velvet

Because of our cool weather I have been able to have Pansies in my garden all summer. I love the dark purple in the center of these flowers. So, I have been working on this painting for a bit. Trying to show the contrast between the smooth glass surface, as opposed to the soft velvet petals. What I like is the rich sparkle of the yellow glass pitcher, letting the light thru. There are some very rich reds in there that I am trying hard to capture. And it amazes me when you start to look closely just how many different colors you really find. My hope is to finish this by the end of the upcoming weekend - lets see if I do.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

One Lonely Blossom

I cannot believe that summer is starting to wind down. There are back to school ads on TV (sorry kids) and this weekend is our first heat wave of the season, in mid August, and that kind of tells you what kind of summer we have had here - if you live in the US - enjoyable!!

I finally started some pastels again, and in order to get back up to speed I am working on a few studies. This sketch is done using some blue paper as the background which seems to make the oranges, peaches and aqua pop out at you. Pastels force color on me and my palette tends to be more subdued when using this medium. Colors I would never have considered start to work their way in which is one of the reasons I like pastels. My main concern was to have the vase show its reflective quality, not in a tight realistic approach but a more painterly style that allows the color to speak. Sometimes this can be a fight until I have been working with pastels for a while and learn to loosen up and let go.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lazy Summer Afternoon

I have been working on a project recently and this is one of the images from the series. The pieces are small - about 2"x 4"- which means a fairly small brush and reading glasses (Ha Ha!), but the images have been fun to create. Seems like I have been painting a lot of birds lately, and this is an English House Sparrow.

We left one bird feeder up this summer and have been getting a family of Tufted (Titmouses? Titmice? Anyone know the answer?), some Chickadees with a few Goldfinch & Cardinals mixed in to keep it interesting. They only come early in the morning and than about 5 in the afternoon. Boy! what a racket these Tufted (Titmice?) make when they’re happy. Nothing like the feeding frenzy during the winter months but enough activity to interest the cat for a few seconds between naps.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Inspiration & Motivation

Saturday I had the pleasure of going on a house and garden tour in historic Litchfield, Connecticut, that benefitted a local charity. One of the stately homes belonged to Oliver Wolcott Sr., an original signer of our Declaration of Independence. All of the gardens were breathtaking, with mounds of well tended flowers in full bloom, in remarkable settings with huge backyards that seemed to ramble on forever. There were clever little pocket gardens tucked up against the homes insuring privacy and intimacy. If you wanted to paint flowers, you could spend most of the summer there. But even my small garden is full of inspiration, especially this time of year when everything is blooming faster than I can keep up, now that time is in short supply.

These sketches serve two purposes - a way to draw and record daily - and to keep myself motivated. By seeing a body of work growing quickly there becomes a drive to add a new image each day thus creating a goal. For the summer while I am taking courses, this is one way to keep going. What inspires me, are my flowers - what motivates me, is that internal urge to create.

Maybe I will not be able to complete an oil painting this week, but I can spend a half hour here and there drawing. And at the end of the week, I can look back at something that I’ve accomplished. This is how I paint also. I try to work most of my free evenings, but if I do not finish quickly, then in about a week I generally have a completed piece. What motivates me is that I believe the next piece will be better still, and I just keep building on that as my continuing source of inspiration.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Recharging My Batteries

Sometimes you hit the wall and nothing will come out. This is how I jump start myself - by sketching. It is instant gratification (in about 45 minutes). A small pen and ink allows to me to sketch and than commit to paper. No fussy work just general lines, thick and thin, a hint or suggestion which gives you freedom. I like the end result and I have something tangible, so I feel that the time was well spent. I work on 100 lb Bristol paper, smooth or textured, do a quick light sketch and than using a Crow Quill pen and India ink go back in and draw. Doing this once a day or as I can fit it in seems to get ideas flowing again.

These are just some Black-Eyed Susans that were knocked over in the 35 days of rain we’ve had, along with some weeds from the yard. Weeds can be pretty too!!

Monday, June 22, 2009


I had walked down to the pharmacy from home the other day and noticed all the different windows on the houses along the way. There are a lot of older homes in my neighborhood and their windows are like large expressive eyes looking out at the world. This little painting began to evolve like a story line. Was there a cat behind one of the windows, sitting in the sun, watching for movement in the garden.

Where does inspiration come from? Do you find it in everyday objects or your daily routine? Do you set aside time for a walk, or to go out photographing, or just take a ride in the country? I am interested in how each artist finds and develops their subject matter. What I found for myself is that I often have several ideas going at any given time, yet sometimes I focus on one particular theme. For example, I grew up next door to my grandparent’s farm which for years became the subject of my paintings. There was endless subject matter to work off of from the barns, to the fields and orchards, and I painted everything in all seasons. The farm is gone now and so I must find my inspiration in other places.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Today we are launching our new website that can be found at - autumnriverdesigns.com - which includes the photography of my husband and also my paintings & illustrations. This website will grow quickly since much of our finished work is not there yet. As you will see, Autumn River Designs is a joint venture - two artists, husband and wife - working separately in their own mediums, but also collaborating intimately on most projects. My husband Frank's second love is photography (he says I'm #1) capturing both nature and machinery and I am happiest with a brush in my hand. So whether working on a still life or a Christmas card, I know this is how my life is supposed to be, and I am either painting something new or planning the next one.

Please check out our 'About Us' page on the new site to read more of why we do what we do, and I hope you enjoy this new adventure along with us.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Balancing Act #1

I will be painting a version of this still life arrangement again. After photographing from several different angles, I came up with a couple of views that I just have to do. The colors in the white pitcher were amazing. I picked up green, blue, pink and purple. I want to try this in Pastel to see how it will work. The pitcher came from Manchester, Vermont. We got it (actually we have two) on our honeymoon, at a cooking store who's name escapes me. One now has a chip but I still use them for my half and half in my coffee. An ordinary everyday object, yet also a little reminder of Manchester and North Hero, Vermont & many years of pleasant memories.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Quiet Please

Quiet Please - Here is the full size completed painting of Pewter, after beating on his brothers, sound asleep resting up for another round. This is an 8" x 10" oil painting. Pewter is painted fairly tightly, however I kept the cushions loose, you can see the brush work. Since the subject was the cat I wanted to keep the focus there. By leaving the background loose, without as much detail, the eye is directed towards the more finished object.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Red Gerber Daisy Complete

Here is the Red Gerber Daisy painting completed. I am happy with this piece, it feels like I am making progress towards one of my goals. I even finished up the painting of Pewter yesterday. Nice to have more completed pieces than half started ones.

This is my week off before taking a short class, most of the "gotta do's" are done, so this morning I am going over my reference photo's looking for possible subjects for new work. Thanks for all your positive comments, I took them to heart. I follow a blog, Contemporary Textile Art by Lisa Call, I don't know that much about textile or fiber art. She has written about her journey as she sold her home in the suburbs, downsized, remodeled both her home and her life so that she could work as an artist (and she has a day job). It's been the ups and downs along the way, but she has accomplished her goals. So here we go, another chapter, should be interesting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Life Happens and Painting Update

First, I want to apologize to anyone who posted a comment on the previous post of this painting. Yesterday by accident it was deleted and I found out it cannot be retrieved. I want to thank Elizabeth and Carol for the awards given, they were appreciated.

The past few weeks have been a blur, I was laid off from the small manufacturing company that I worked for. It did not totally suprise me, since Christmas the backlog of orders had been steadily dwindling. I have worked in manufacturing most of my adult life, starting as a Mechanical Draftsperson but I've also done Inspection, Inside Sales and Estimating to name a few. The company I worked for came from our previous employer, when the company was sold and moved out of state three of the guys started their own business. There were eight of us total and it was hard physical work but an interesting experience. But it is time to make some major life changes, I am taking a certification class and than maybe go back to school. Right now I am leaning towards going back to school which is a little daunting at this age. I have been out getting a physical and running around with paperwork, you know how it goes. So life is a little up in the air and after yesterdays accident with the post I think I need to take a step back for a bit. But I am asking you to hang in there with me while I go through this transition period. I love meeting all the new people and seeing the art created. I look forward to everyones new posts and am going to try to hang on to this. Art is my passion and anyone who knows me can tell you I love it!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Red Gerber Daisy & Strawberries

One of the perks of painting flowers are all the pretty bouquets you get to have around the house. This red Gerber Daisy was part of a glorious bunch that sat on my kitchen for the better part of a week. I love red and these large blooms just caught my eye.

I worked out a preliminary sketch than transfered it to the board. You can see some of the petals I roughed in. I paint in a direct manor, but I never can get all the detail in one pass. As it drys I can go back adding color, lightening and darkening as needed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Early Morning Light

Here is the finished painting of Early Morning Light (formerly titled Thaw - In Progress). If you go back to the original post you can see that I worked on the color considerably. My goal was to capture the warm sunlight falling across the cool snow. A painting like this is more of a study for a larger piece.

I would like to thank Dean of Deano’s Den for including me in a group of artists receiving a blog award “A Passion for Painting”. Dean has a great blog and is a very talented artist. There is a sense of community about his blog, he responds to everyone who leaves a comment with a very personal & friendly touch.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Out Of My Comfort Zone

I finished the painting that I posted last week. That was out of my comfort zone and I feel like I fought for every stroke. It's a good thing to stretch and paint beyond what you are comfortable with. Right now it is drying, and I am back working on some new flowers. I did add two images to my other blog this week. One of my favorites, Country Brunch above. You can click here to see the card. And Santa's New Elves, click here.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Thaw - In Progress

Thaw - 5"x 7" oil on board

This is the current small painting I have been working on this past week. The day after I started this it snowed, now we have temperatures in the 60's and the snow is basicly gone except for the mud. And that is all I am going to say about the weather. Nose to the grind stone and see if I can finish and repost.

The inspiration came from the brief period of time in the morning when the light first peaks over the horizon. In the summer you have that special slice of time, before the rest of the world stirs, to see what has opened up in the garden or just to sit on the back porch with a cup of coffee and listen to the birds. In the winter it is a little quieter - but you still get those few moments when the sun rises and sets of pastel beauty.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Still Life completed

Here is the completed oil painting that I was working on in my last post. You may note that I did not have the the light and shadows on the rock as well defined before. It was that strip of light at the bottom of the rock that caught my eye and made the composition. I also darkened the background, I wanted the leaves to pop a little more.

I was very sorry to learn this week ( and I may have been the last person to find out) that Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion is no longer being published. This month would have been the artist studio edition which I totally enjoyed. This was one of those treats you allow yourself, curl up with a cup of tea and get lost in all the creativity. I still go thru old copies and find something new. I guess there were a few more magazines that fell victim to the economy. Unfortunately, I liked many of the ones that did not make it. Look on the bright side, I will be saving some money.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Still Life with Nasturtium

This is the oil painting I worked on this week. Some more glass and another Nasturtium. This piece was setup outside last summer, I found the shadows cast on the rock by the flower and leaves interesting. I hope you all had a nice Valentines day. My family is getting together tonight for a family Valentines dinner, just a nice home cooked meal and some conversation.

Once again when I am finished I'll scan it and post the finished piece.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Amber Glass Update

This is the scanned version of the painting I posted about two weeks ago. At that time I just could not get the photo to come out. I am still having a few issues that will have to be ironed out but I'm glad I tackled it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Basking in the Light

Basking in the Light - today was anything but, we had the full compliment of snow, sleet and now freezing rain. Cats are bored, they go out to sit on the back porch and end up crouching under the chairs watching the birds feed in the feeders. So far they have not wanted to venture out into the elements and pester the birds.

I did finish the painting I posted last week with the red glass but I cannot get a good photo today. So I'll let it dry and scan it in a few days. Above is a pastel of Ember on the bed, taking a little cat nap.

I work from photos that either I or my husband take. He kindly lets me use some of his, especially any cat photos he has. I have a Sony Cybershot that I can slip into my pocketbook and keep with me at all times. At least this was the plan, I am going to work harder at taking more photos, I don't know how many times I have seen a great painting as I am riding around or out for a walk. It's not like I don't have the camera, it's getting into the habit.!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Renewal - A New President

Today is a day for renewal, a new president and for me a celebration of hope for my country. Tonight I am going to work on my painting and watch TV, I have been listening to the speech and peoples reactions all the way home from work. So now, I will settle in for the evening and join the rest of the country to watch a piece of history that was made today.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Working on a snowbound weekend

We had an extremely cold and snowy weekend - so I went into hibernation, stayed home and painted. This is an oil on a 5" x 7" board and as you can see I am still plugging along. I have learned alot working on this piece, most important, simplify the reflections that you see in the glass. At first I tried to paint every single detail that I saw and became lost. After a while I would stand back or leave the room for a while and do something else. I noticed when I returned the detail that I was fussing over was not even important and that the general shapes seem to work better at conveying glass. I am going to work on this again tonight and will keep you posted.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!! I had a great Christmas and a snowy and frigid New Year. It's been a little tough to get back in the saddle again after all the festivity of the season but it is time to get back to work. I will say that I truly enjoyed the holiday this year, I splurged on our tree and even though it has to be small to fit the space that we have it was beautiful and I spent many evenings on the couch watching movies and enjoying it. I have not made any New Years resolutions, I am simply going to work hard, stay open to learning as much as possible and try to keep a balance between working with oils and pastels. I am going to try to finish more pieces this year which will mean working in a smaller format ( 5 x 7). hmmm - did I say no resolutions?
The above detail is from a larger oil painting from a few years ago. Well, here is to a fresh start, a new year, glad to see the last one go.