Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Patty's Stump

Patty’s request sounded simple.  “Would you paint my stump?”  She had seen a couple of my gnome paintings  and wanted one -- the stump in her back yard with gnomes in it.

Karen and I ventured with our cameras behind her house several times during the ensuing months.  Patty has an eclectic assortment of items arranged around an old spruce or hemlock stump -- a reminder of the old growth forest that once dominated Petersburg’s Hungry Point.  There we found a metal insect “sculpture” -- spoons welded to a large washer.  A fairy princess, blue door, three man-made mushrooms, an overgrown birch bird house, flower pots, a broken wagon wheel all showed Patty dearly loved her old stump.

                                                                The actual stump in Patty's back yard

Still, I just couldn’t get inspired.  Then Patty relieved the pressure.  She didn’t care if everything was to scale or where she had placed them on the stump.  She just wanted one of my gnome paintings.  I could even add things that weren’t there.  It felt as if I could paint a portrait that didn’t have to look like the model. 

With that, and suggestions from Karen, I was off and running -- having a grand time adding whatever struck my fancy.  I had so much fun that in the end I felt Patty had given me a wonderful gift -- the chance to let my imagination run free with a pretty-sure prize at the end.

And so "Patty’s Stump Erupts in Play When She’s Away" was conceived.  As a spin off, when Karen and I set off on future road trips or even on Karen’s almost daily jaunts to the Salvation Army Thrift Store we’re going to be on the lookout for additions to the stump.  Then again, maybe we could even start our own stump.  

Patty's Stump Erupts in Play When She's Away    22 x 28 inches    Alkyd on Canvas.  You can see the two images don't quite match.  I moved the tree to the left of the stump forward.  So much for accurate depictions of real settings.

                                                                              Left side detail

                                                                            Upper right side detail

As you can see there's a lot of action in Patty's back yard when she's at work.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A note of Whimsey

If routines are boring, Karen and I plead guilty.  Most nights we settle down on a green rug in front of our gas fireplace to play a game of Upwords -- somewhat like Scrabble with a vertical element.  We even cheat.  We look up words in a Scrabble dictionary and we lay our tiles face up on the rug so we can help each other.  Still Karen usually wins.  Of course. 

Perhaps less boring are our spiral notebook “score” pads.  You won’t see Don and Karen at the top, not even D and K.  No, Karen precedes most games by manning (should that be womanning?) the pencil and drawing whimsical critters at the top of the page.  When Karen’s on a winning streak the figures are pretty friendly, perhaps some silly chickens losing feathers with lots of hearts.  However, when she’s losing a few games her aggressive side shows up -- perhaps a running watermelon spitting seeds at a fleeing pig.  Yes, Karen has a dark side.

A visit by friends Pastor Carroll and Cynthia Marohl last summer prompted Karen to bring out the latest score “pad.”  Most turns of the page brought out a chuckle (Hopefully from seeing the drawings and not who seemed to come in second so often) until Karen piped up that she’d like to give the Marohl’s a gift -- a painting based on one or more of those drawings.  YES!  And thus, “A Note of Whimsey” was conceived.

                                                 A Note of Whimsey    7 x 10 1/4 inches    Watercolor

For Karen these kinds of paintings come as naturally as eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich does for me.   After all she was a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher before she married me to whisk her away to towns with no need for new teachers.  Back then she excited her students on a daily basis, capitalizing on her sense of play with chalk or other drawing materials.   I wonder how many of her students went on to become artists, or at least enlivened the sense of learning in their own children this way?

It didn’t take long for “A Note of Whimsey” to emerge on a sheet of watercolor paper, an emergence that is bound to delight current as well as future generations of Marohls.  Oh, and me too.

The theme struck a note of interest by another former pastor. too.  "Would you be willing to paint another?"  Karen has a soft spot for any request from friends and thus, "It's Not Who-o-o You Are, but Whose You Are" was conceived.  I hope she paints more in this series.  

                                    It's Not Who-o-o You Are, But Whose You Are    9 x 12 inches    Watercolor

Since not all of you can look at our notebooks today, here are a few samples of Karen's headings on our score sheets:

                              Karen must have lost a game or two due to the level of aggression exhibited in this one.  

          Karen seemed to be on a winning streak here -- until the last game depicts a hint of her "Darth Vader" side.

                                                    Karen must have been on a winning streak on this page.

                                                          Hearts suggest Karen was once again winning. 

                                                          More hearts.  Yep, you guessed the final outcome.

These give you an idea what I've been up against.  In case you're curious about the final scores, the individual (Karen) in the left column usually wins -- sometimes by more than 100 points.  I think I've only won by 100 points once in all of recorded history.