Friday, January 30, 2009

Look! No Pencil Lines!

I am trying new things on an almost daily basis as I really want to grow and become a stronger artist. One of the new things was to try painting without a preliminary sketch. To paint directly on the clean, WHITE paper - aaaaaargh!

These lovely little ballerinas are 5 minute sketches drawn from photos. They're by no means great, but they were fun and quite challenging! First you must psych yourself up to even begin, and then suddenly, you're in the zone (or at least I was). It takes hand - eye coordination and intense concentration/observation of the details. I will definitely be trying it again. Hopefully, with better results.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

You Gotta Wonder

Specky (Short for Speckles)


The two above are our rescue dogs. They both had rough beginnings, but are doing all right now. We've had them both for several years and they're best buds. In the last six months both of the girls have started having some health issues. This is not uncommon in dogs in their later years as well as dogs that may not have had the best of beginnings.

Things got so bad back in the fall that we wondered if Andi would see the new year. Her liver enzymes were so high the machine that reads the blood work could not even tell us how high they were! The vet's diagnosis: liver cancer. (We had already decided not to go for further test if it were cancer because we didn't want to put a dog of Andi's age through that.) Andi was lethargic, wouldn't eat, wouldn't play with her bud or us and just felt BAD. She's normally our wild child, bouncing off walls and the like. We knew something was seriously wrong. The doc gave her a cortisone shot in the hopes it would help slow down the process. We also changed her food (several times) to tempt her into eating. Fast forward to today - Andi's doing great. Her energy is back, she's a play machine, and she woofs her food down.

We took Spec to the vet yesterday. It was time for her yearly and she has been developing hot spots on her skin. She's just about licked/chewed the fur off from both hips. We thought it was from fleas. This is Florida and fleas don't take a break down here, but we were wrong. The vet seems to think it's an allergy, most likely a food allergy. She also received a cortisone shot to help with the itching. Other than the hot spots she checked out fine.

On a whim yesterday, my husband googled the dog food we've been feeding our dogs for years. He got back page after page of complaints about the brand, Nutro Max. It would seem there are lots of consistent symptoms in these complaints: high liver enzymes, eating grass, lethargy, refusing to eat, hot spots - hmmmmm, are we seeing a trend here? Apparently there have been a number of deaths attributed to this particular dog food brand, but there hasn't been anything proven. No toxins or anything bad has been found in the foods that have been tested.

When there is smoke, consistent smoke, over a long period of time, from people all over the nation, well, I think you've got to wonder about common denominators - like dog food. Andi wasn't expected to see the new year. We took her off the Nutro to tempt her to eat. Would she be gone now if we had not? Gotta wonder. The doc seemed pretty sure Spec's hot spots were allergy related. If they clear up once we take her off Nutro I'll wonder if it was the food or the cortisone shot. Either way, I'm taking them off Nutro.

If you are feeding your dog, or cat, any Nutro products, I urge you to google for info about the Nutro complaints and to make your own decision. It may save your dog or cat's life, you untold grief, not to mention extremely costly vet bills.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What is Your Antidote to a Bad Day?

Page from my sketchbook -watercolor on Arches 140 lb.cold press

Despite the best of intentions, sometimes a good day goes bad. Like when you drop your fully-loaded brush in the beautiful piece of artwork you're working on. Once the day starts going downhill it can sometimes be hard to stop. Even listening to the news in the morning can put a serious kink in your day with all the negativity of late. So what's the answer? It's probably as different as we each are, but it pays to think about it and come up with solutions!

On Sunday, I started developing a sinus headache. No big deal, I have medication for them as I get them often. Except this one wouldn't go away. Yesterday, it got worse, and you can only take so much medication. You feel dull, like the edge is off. After trying to paint last night (and failing), I took a long hot shower, and went to bed early hoping that would relieve it. Nope, still here this morning. Tried repainting what I was working on last night only to fail yet again. In addition to my frustrating painting attempts my lovely old inkjet printer started acting up - it won't clean the jets and it's printing in bands - not optimal as I can't print any artwork.

At this point I was becoming seriously aggravated. Of course, this wasn't helping the headache any either. It was only 10:15 in the morning! I didn't want to spend the day seriously annoyed. What was I going to do? My solution was exercise. I find that when I'm seriously annoyed, angry, or aggravated that exercising is a great activity for me because I use the negative emotion as fuel. I burn it off. I fondly call my piece of exercise equipment "The Beast" because some days (most days) that's exactly what it is.

Exercising is not my favorite activity. I'm not sure it ever will be, but the benefits are outstanding. You see, some days the Beast wins and some days I win. Either way, it's my body that's getting the butt-kicking workout, and that's a good thing! It's hard to stay mad if you pour your anger/aggravation into your workout. It's also getting rid of all those toxins (stress) that build up and cause you more grief (high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol). Don't underestimate stress - it is the gateway for ALL of those other ailments and many others!

Some days I don't have the energy to exercise like a demon, so I go out for a walk around the neighborhood. It never fails to inspire me in some way - a sound, a color, birds flying, clouds in the sky, light hitting the water - because I can't focus internally (on my problems) and externally at the same time. Once balance is restored, I'm usually on my way to a better day. For today, I've managed to put my day back on track and I even have a new painting started. Not all is right in my world as my printer is still sick and I still have the blasted headache, but I'm okay for now.

What do you do to right a day gone wrong? How do you keep from sliding deeper into the negativity when that's all you hear on the news, and the radio, and the web? Since it appears this economy is here to stay for a while and the bad news is going to keep coming, what are your solutions for turning around a bad day?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Virtual Sketch Date

Decided to take a stab at the clementine used for the Virtual Sketch Date,  I got this great idea at about 8:30 tonight after seeing some of the other great pieces of art. I gave myself a little over an hour to complete it. 
Ta da! Here she is:
It was fun! Much, much looser than how I normally paint and that's a good thing. There are parts I like and parts I really don't like, as usual! Hope your weekend is going well!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Woohoo! An Etsy Store too!

A new blog and a new Etsy store! You can find the new store at! I do hope that you'll come by and visit!

I am so excited to finally be able to announce that the store is open! It's off to a very modest start with only four ACEOs - so far. It will soon be growing in leaps and bounds with all kinds of fun new things! (It's taking me longer than I'd like to learn all the in's and out's of this new-to-me technology. I was able to get the little mini-Etsy gadget to show up in the sidebar today - yay! There is another gadget that rotates photos of items in your shop that I want to update to once I've filled the store. 

It is odd to me how one step (out of many) can make you feel like a businesswoman, but with the listing of that first item, well, it's like it became official. I'm really (finally) in the business of selling my art (like I've said I was going to do for years). Mind you, I've been in business doing design work and the like for more than ten years, but this is different. This is a milestone!

No doubt, there will be struggles along the way. There already have been. I also think it's going to be fun, rewarding, challenging, frustrating, and a whole lot of other -ing words I can't think of at the moment. It's a step forward. Onward. Upward. Towards a new career. Or maybe a new way of life. I can't wait to see where it all goes. A new year full of things that have never been before! Did I mention I was excited?!?!!

I leave you with this quote that I just love:

"You are who you choose to be."
-Hogarth Hughes, from The Iron Giant

Who do you choose to be?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Moving Day is Finally Here!

It had to happen. I had to move the blog. I am moving Painted Thoughts blog off from my web site and on to an independent site. I am disappointed to do that, but sometimes circumstances dictate the need for change and this is the case. I figure it's easier to do it early in the game rather than months or years down the road.

You see, going forward, I believe that my blog is going to be very important to my business or at least that's what my business plan says. The program that I use for my web site is great. It's just that the blog portion is EXTREMELY limited in capabilities. As in there are no capabilities other than to post. I can't add blogs I follow. It doesn't provide tags or labels or any other bells and whistles. 

The moving trucks are gone. The boxes have been emptied. Everything has been put away. So, welcome to our new home! I do hope that you'll stop by often to see what's new. And please, please, please leave me a comment - it gets lonely over here all by myself!!