Friday, July 30, 2010

When Lightning Strikes--Look Out!

Florida is the lightning capitol of the world. Yes, really! Every year, lightning strikes and kills more than one unwary tourist who pooh poohs the seriousness of the threat. “Just one more shot,” they think as they swing their driver for the last time. Believe you me, when the golf siren sounds, you’d better run for cover.

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. Whoever “they” are is all wet. One man in Florida has been hit by lightning three times and lived to talk about it. We have our own sad tale to tell.

Over the last seven years, we’ve lost two TV sets and one computer to the unpredictable forces of lightning; even though our house is grounded, and we use surge protectors everywhere.

Take last night. There was not a cloud in the sky except off in the east. The sun was shining brightly, and only a few thunderheads rumbled in the distance. Then Zap! Our TV lost its signal. The static roar was deafening! This is our second TV to “bite the dust.”

I unplugged my NEW wireless computer, and hoped for the best. Two years ago, I wasn’t so lucky. My surge protector didn’t protect and my computer died, even though it was turned off. I replaced the hard drive through a friend only to replace it with a new computer earlier this year.

Now you’ll find us scrambling to unplug our appliances at the first hint of storm. But then there are evenings like last night when you simply have no warning at all. As my oldest daughter once said, “no matter where you live, there are trade-offs.”

She’s right. We traded the risk of hurricanes and lightning for idyllic winters in Paradise and year-round seaside swimming and golfing. The downside is having tropical muggy weather in the summer, and having to keep extra money in the bank for “risk” insurance. At any rate, my crystal ball predicts a new TV in our future (the current one is less than five years old).

To keep you up to speed on my latest ventures, I will be showing the first oil paint application on my “With These Hands—Hope” painting next week. You may scroll down and find the original drawing and painting in its preliminary stages.

For the rest of the summer (August and part of September) I am going to concentrate on drawing. I need to add more drawings to my gallery, and I’m getting a little rusty. Drawing is a skill that requires practice, practice, practice!

Have a good weekend everybody!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Featured Painting: “Beach Buddies”

“Beach Buddies” the painting is finished. To refresh your memory, here are two “in progress” shots of the initial acrylic drawing and washes and the first oil paint application. Compare them to the finished painting above.

The scene of the two boys brings back memories. We took our own children to the nearby lakes and beaches whenever we traveled. As a family, we waded, we swam, and we hunted for seashells.

My most favorite beach of all time; although, it may have been BC (before children), was La Jolla Beach north of San Diego. This beach had a great impact on my fantasy rendering of Beach Buddies.

When we still had five children at home, we joined my in-laws at a two-story cabin by Bear Lake in southern Idaho. The upstairs bedrooms had a railing for protection that overlooked a large great-room below. The children thought it was the perfect platform for a stage.

On our first night, they hammed it up by singing: “There’s no Business like Show Business” and performing other songs and stories they knew. Showing off was always the pinnacle of panache.

After the show, Dad and mom took the “spooky” attic bedroom, and we snuggled in for the night. Alas, we spent half the night ducking under our covers to avoid a swooping bat whose sonar zeroed in on our snores, squeals and laughter.

The next day, I sprawled face down on a blanket in the sand and slept while the others gathered sea shells. My mother-in-law was miffed. “Does she always sleep that much?”

Little did she know I had spent the past few nights getting ready for this travelganza: cooking and preparing our food, packing the clothes for the entire family and stressing out about whether I’d forgotten something? In my first marriage, I was a one-woman show; the end-all and be-all of everything that happened, or it didn’t. And then there was that dratted bat, hummmm.

For this tired mom, the best part of summer vacation was a snooze on the beach.

To see other beach and Oceanside paintings, go to Carol’s art gallery at

Friday, July 23, 2010

Unwind with the Comics

When my dad came home after a long day’s work, he sat in his favorite chair and devoured the comic books: “Bugs Bunny,” “Donald Duck,” “Daffy Duck,” “Alley Oop.” Dad was a welder and worked physically hard in addition to driving long distances to and from work each day.

I thought comic books were for kids, and I’m sure I smart-mouthed his actions. My mother in his defense said: “You should read more comic books yourself; it might help your sense of humor.”

I considered both of my parents to be uneducated and unsophisticated. Why didn’t my father read real books like everyone else? Of course, he did, but I either forgot or chose to ignore that.

Even in later years, my mother thought I was far too serious. I felt she didn’t appreciate the stress I was under. At any rate, reading the comics was way down on my list of priorities, and I ignored her advice.

I had far more important things to do. I had responsibilities: my children, my job, my volunteer obligations for my church and for the causes I loved. I was trying to get ahead in life. The last thing I needed was the comics!

It took me many years of growing and maturing before I realized how wise my parents really were. Today, I follow my mother’s advice. I’ve discovered that on my most stressful days—reading the comics is as good as taking a tranquilizer. After a few guffaws, snickers, and heehaws, I’m ready to tackle the hard tasks ahead.

Dad had it right. What a way to unwind after a hard day’s work! Mom had a point. I was far too serious! Today I’m more laid back; not quite as stuffy and rigid as before. And now more than ever, I appreciate the artistic skills and the humor of professional cartoonists.

You can view some of Carol’s humorous drawings and illustrations on her gallery at

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Featured Painting -- "Blending In"

Since I was on the road this week and unable to create something new, I thought you might enjoy reading one of my first blogs. I hope you will enjoy!

Redwing Sighting
The air smelled heavy and earthy. The sun melted the last wisps of morning fog and warmed my back as I stood in the wet grass. A few yards away, a pair of male redwing blackbirds sparred in the underbrush, rising and falling like miniature conquistadors sporting shiny black satin and flashy red epaulets.

They lunged at each other, lifting exultant wings. Their talons poised and threatening. Between lusty bouts, they perched on low-lying branches until the urge returned and they faced off again with aggressive thrusts and retreating pirouettes.

From the corner of my eye, a brown streaked bird with a long broad tail flapped into view. Was this plain, undistinguishable female the reason for this extravagant display of testosterone? She hovered over them casting her spell, flapping her wings like a butterfly on steroids.

First she tried to distract them by darting from side to side. Then she swooped near, pretending to protest their dual of love. When this didn’t work, she trailed after them as they whirled from bush to bush; a visual reminder of her stake in the outcome.

I left before their contest was over. I never witnessed the losing male’s defeat nor the triumphant coming together of the welded pair. What I took away was an impression that later became a painting and brought back memories of Minnesota my second home.

The redwing blackbird is a year-round resident of both Florida and Minnesota. Their red shoulders and ebony black feathers make a striking contrast against the rolling sunflower fields of the upper Midwest where they flock in great numbers.

The male exposes red epaulets during the mating season and can become quite aggressive, even attacking passing hawks, crows or people who invade their territory.

Redwing, Minnesota’s sandstone cliffs are a favorite gathering place for many of these migrating birds, attracting hundreds of tourists each summer to this normally quiet city. In October, the changing leaves along the Mississippi river and the quaint antique shops lure additional visitors to Redwing, one of my favorite cities.

In my 12x16 acrylic painting, the wings and feathers of the redwing replicate the petals of the sunflowers and inspired my title: “Blending in.”For this and other bird art go to

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hand Crafted Greeting Cards

With such a large family and many friends, I had to forgo gift giving long ago. There were just too many people! So I started making greeting cards. By the time I put my time into them and paid for the color ink cartridges, they were almost as much as the cards on sale in department stores, but they were personal, and made by me.

It means a lot to people when you remember not only their birthdays, but other special or traumatic events in their lives. Here are a few examples.


Birthday parties or celebrations offer another opportunity to be creative. When my children were young, we had some fun birthday parties; simple by today’s standards. A blanket hung over a doorway made a great fish pond. For some reason, prizes were more cherished if the kids had to fish for them rather than just being handed a surprise. It must have been fun. They wanted to fish several times, and I purchased extra prizes for this purpose. Sounds a tad old-fashioned, but it was a hit back then.

On holiday birthdays, I made simple costumes for the kids to wear. A Thanksgiving party turned the party-goers into pilgrims with construction paper hats, buckles on their shoes, and aprons for the girls. A turkey birthday cake delighted everyone. Sometimes simple is better and a lot more fun.

Carol’s cards may be purchased at or just click on the Etsy button in the right hand column. Cards are also available on my art gallery of original oil paintings at this link:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

NEW: "With These Hands--Hope"

For this "work in progress," I sketched a simple drawing on a 16x20 canvas. The figures in the background are faint, and will become almost blurred images in the final painting.

 I have always enjoyed the energy of athletic paintings. It's a challenge creating movement and motion on canvas and making it look real and believable.

When the drawing was complete, I used acrylic paint to set the drawing and fill in the figures and plains with acrylic washes. The next step will be a thin coat of linseed oil and turpenoid wiped over the acrylic so it will accept the oil paint for the final coats. Below is the acrylic drawing.

Thanks to all my devoted fans who stuck by me while I've been learning the ropes of blogging and my transition to a new computer, etc. I'm happy to announce that people can now purchase prints, giclees, greeting cards, etc. directly from Facebook which now has a direct link to my online gallery.

The painting featured today is the third in my children's series: "With These Hands." The young basketball player is trying to shoot a basket before her opponent gets the ball. I dubbed this painting: "Hope."

To refresh your memory, I have added two small images of the first two paintings in the "With These Hands" series: "Love" and "Wonder." Both are available at

I am planning on doing three more in the "Hands" series, but these paintings will feature older adults.

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Painting—“Beach Buddies”

Beaches are creative and colorful: the marvelous sunsets; the sparkle of sunlight on tropical waters; the irresistible froth of waves flapping onto shifting sands. And besides, beaches are fun to paint.

I had intended to paint this photo; and I may yet. It’s a picture of my husband’s granddaughter and her little brother. I loved the glow of sunlight on the water. The figures are almost silhouette like; the colors mostly gray. Instead, I decided to use a photo submitted by one of my contest winners. The figures were actually sitting on the grass rather than on a sandy beach, but I loved the affection they shared.

I first laid in my drawing with burnt umber acrylic on a 16x20 canvas, and then added a few acrylic washes to suggest plains, spaces, and color. When the paint was dry, I wiped a thin linseed oil and turpenoid coat over the top, and then wiped it again with a dry paper towel.

The prep work made the canvas ready to accept my oil paint topcoat. This first layer of oil paint further defined my drawing and added some color; though, some of it may be covered up by subsequent layers.

With oils, it is the layering process that gives the painting depth, shape and form. As I’ve told you before, it is a refining process; working from beneath to the foreground, until I’m satisfied with the details and the overall feeling and statement of the painting. At this point, the colors are too bright, too flat.

In my next blog, I’ll introduce the next “painting in progress:” part of my “With These Hands” series. The painting will feature a young black girl as she prepares to shoot a basketball. The painting will be titled: “With These Hands—Hope.”

To see other paintings in my “With These Hands” series, please go to my online gallery:

Monday, July 5, 2010

“Americana” The Farm that Carol Built—Completed!

I grew up around farms like the one depicted in my 16x20 acrylic painting: “Americana.” Farms where chickens, hollyhocks and morning glories were allowed to run wild, and gates and front doors were left wide open to welcome neighbors and friends. America’s prairies were dotted with family farms like these, and with hard-working farmers bent on eking out a living and feeding America’s burgeoning population.

Today these farms have been replaced by co-ops and corporate farmers with vast wealth and acres of crops; mostly corn, wheat, sugar beets, sorghum, cotton and soybeans. Down home friendliness and hospitality have been replaced by electric fences or security guards.

“We’ve come a long way, baby, but where are we going? Foods from all around the world are on American tables. The few family hold-outs sell produce at local farmers markets and at roadside stalls.

If you’ve never tasted home-grown tomatoes, radishes and beans you’re missing out. The sweetness of sun-ripened fruits and vegetables is unequaled. If you want to see a miracle—plant a seed (or a seedling). Watch your seedling grow and ripen before your eyes. Pluck it at its peak of perfection. Sink your teeth into succulent heaven! Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the gifts of God. Experience pride and a sense of accomplishment; grow something beautiful or edible—yes, you can!

When or if financial hardship comes knocking, you’ll know how to take care of your own needs. You’ll be able to feed your family. You won’t have to depend on Uncle Sam or anyone else to put food on your table. Now is the time to practice the art. Yes, growing healthy beautiful food is an art, and a skill we may all need to acquire if we’re going to survive the rough years ahead!

God’s creatures use their survival skills every day. Here is another 16x20 acrylic painting inspired by my sighting of three raccoons taking a last drink at sunrise before curling up for their daytime sleep.

“Raccoons at Sunrise” and “Americana” are available on my gallery at

Friday, July 2, 2010

Celebrating July 4th – America’s Independence!

I didn’t get my new painting photographed for this blog (sorry). I’m still grappling with old software and printer. I’ll have it ready for next week – I promise!

Pretty Baby!

I thought I’d share some favorite “patriotic” family photos with you. I remember my third child (second son) was born on July 6th. The fireworks had been delayed because of when the 4th fell that week; something about accommodating the business world, etc.

I went into labor as we watched the red, white, and blue fireworks burst into flame. My son was a ten pound baby, three weeks overdue. What a celebration!

Tomorrow my husband and I are attending a minor league baseball game (the “Miracles”). After the game, we’ll watch some fantastic fireworks (if it’s anything like last year). We’re turning this event into an annual tradition. Is there anything more “Americana” than watching a baseball game while chomping on hotdogs with mustard, relish, and onions, followed by a spectacular fireworks display?

I’m proud of my son-in-law who is still serving in Iraq. He has sacrificed many years of his life in the military. He’s been in Iraq twice. His family has also sacrificed for this country.

Little Angel

When I say “God Bless America,” I do it with gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy here, and for the sacrifices made by our troops and our veterans.

Having fun at Stone Mountain.

Getting ready to feast on watermelon.

Cute salute to the holiday on the link below—enjoy!