The Making of Trio

Another in the series of how one of my paintings came to fruition.

I’ve done several of these pieces in which I share how a particular piece of artwork came into being.  This is one of the paintings I created as part of a series (Caprine Colors) from photographs I had taken of some of my goats which I raised for eight years.

There aren’t as many photographs of the process because once I began painting I didn’t think about taking interim pictures.  This was one of those paintings that flowed and was finished within a day.

Below are the photograph source, the sketch, and the completed painting.

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365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Forty-eight January 10, 2018

Today I am thankful for my impulsive decision to visit southern California when I was twenty-one.

I didn’t have the money to spend but I had a ride back across country so I took my first ever plane trip alone – all the way across the country.  From Greensboro to Atlanta to LA on a night flight.  I almost don’t recognize the girl who had the courage to do that with no companion and no experience flying.

I did the tourist things – Hollywood, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Knotts Berry Farm.  I also took my one, and to date only, sail boat ride at Newport Beach and almost drowned when I decided to swim back to the shore.  Having never been swimming in the ocean I found my strength as a swimmer tested to its limits. I still don’t swim in the ocean because of the impact that had on me.

I spent some time seeing sights not so much on the “tourist trail” – Big Bear Mountain, Dana Point Lookout, and Long Beach.  The drive down the coast and seeing the red tile roofs of the houses along the way to San Diego and La Jolla (and eventually Tijuana) was mesmerizing to this east coast girl.

While I would pick a very different companion if I had it to do over, the trip was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


The author in La Jolla, California 

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(Life catches up with us and mine is crazy busy right now so this series will be on hold for a while.  I can’t find the time to write every day as I intended when I began this in November.  Thankful to have been able to do this much.)

365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Forty-seven January 9, 2018

I am thankful that, for a reason I will never understand, I was allowed to travel to Canada when I was fourteen.  For a girl who couldn’t spend the night at a friend’s house unless her parents knew mine being allowed to go on such a trip was a dream.

From age thirteen to seventeen I worked on a farm near my parent’s house.  I’d start with picking strawberries after school and on Saturdays in the spring and work through the fall bagging of tobacco to take to market.  The farm was primarily a tobacco farm but the owner and his wife also raised produce that they sold to a local grocery store in nearby Winston-Salem.  So I learned to plant sweet potato plants (using an old, hand-held tobacco planter), dig potatoes, pull and shuck corn, pick green beans, tomatoes and october beans in addition to all the work involved with the tobacco crop.

But my fourteenth summer heralded a long drought that meant there was little to be done on the farm.  When the couple invited me, and another girl who worked for them, to accompany them on a trip to visit relatives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada I just knew my father would say ‘no’.  But my parents bought produce from the family I worked for and liked them.

I was allowed to go and since our trip started in the early hours of the morning I spent the night at their house the night before our departure.  My bed was the glider on their florida porch – at least that’s what we called it.  The concrete floor, brick walls topped by roll-out windows was the coolest place on the hot July night.  I couldn’t sleep and walked the dirt roads around the farm feeling a freedom I’d never known.

We drove from North Carolina to Canada, with a couple of stops along the way – the Natural Bridge in Virginia is one that comes to mind.  In Canada we stayed with the brother and his family of the man for whom I worked.

I was fascinated by the Thousand Islands Bridge and the photo below is a scan from a post card I kept of it from my visit.  I learned to water ski on Lake Ontario, suffering with the worst ear ache ever because the lake temperature was still so cold despite it being late July.  We visited Ottawa and the parliament buildings, the St. Lawrence Seaway and Niagara Falls.

A couple of the things struck me while I was there.  One was how litter-free the streets were.  Back home in the states a campaign was being waged to keep people from throwing their trash out the windows of their cars.  It was enchanting to see the pristine streets and parks.  The other was how many people rode bicycles and how the streets were designed to encourage them to do so.

We drove through Toronto and into Windsor where we spent the night before driving back into the United States.  I remember thinking what a huge difference there was between the lovely little town (at least the way I remember it) and the city of Detroit across the river.   It was my first time experiencing my country from a different point of view and it is etched in my mind.

I still have a lovely ‘Eskimo’ doll I purchased in a store in Canada.  The cost at the time was $20.00  and I was scolded when I returned home for buying such an expensive doll at my ‘age’.

But I still have that doll and a great deal of fond memories from that trip.

Thousand Islands Postcard 1


365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Forty-six January 8, 2018

I’m thankful I grew up listening to 1950’s music.

My favorite ever performer from that era would have had a birthday today.

From the official website his music…..


365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Forty-five January 7, 2018

Today I am thankful for the places I have seen.

I have not been a “world traveler”.  In fact the only other countries I’ve ever visited are Canada and Mexico (and only into Tijuana in Mexico).  But I have visited most of the states in the United States.  As I age I realize my days of any significant traveling are likely over but I’m glad I was able to go somewhere besides places within a day or two’s drive of home.

I need to clean up some old photographs and files so I think I may be doing a state-by-state review in the coming days. Thankful for the times I’ve been able to spend hiking, camping, visiting, and working in different areas of the country.

365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Forty-three January 5, 2018

Today I am thankful for being able to organize and sort and pack.

I’ve moved nine times in my life.  Of course three of those were just from home to college and college to rentals when I had no furniture and very little in personal belongings.  With each move I’ve learned more – especially about the importance of keeping lists of boxes and what’s in them and their location.

In one move in 1997 the house being built wasn’t ready yet so everything was moved into the completed garage and the basement of my then in-laws.  From November to February home was a 5th wheel camper parked behind the home under construction.  After settling into the house a box of vinyl albums were found missing.  Almost twenty years later they were found in my ex-in-laws’ basement where they had been tucked away all of that time.

As we prepare to move again, hopefully this year, I am trying to be more organized in both in putting lists of contents on boxes and in a spreadsheet that also notes their location – storage unit or home knee-wall space.  It’s still a hassle to do but hopefully that will make it easier to settle into a new space down the road.

Now if I could just figure out how to eliminate the back aches from the preparations, packing and moving especially with all of our books!



365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Forty-two January 4, 2018

Today I am thankful I’m not a type of waterfowl.

Yesterday I watched three male mallard ducks on the river moving fast through the cold waters.  I wondered if paddling faster keeps them warmer.  The temperatures we’ve been having must be tough to endure.

The Great Blue Heron was back yesterday as well.  He flew over and landed on the ice that continues to thicken along the river’s edge.  For a wading bird that fishes in more shallow waters finding a meal seems challenging – even overwhelming.  It’s not as if they had the benefit of backyard bird feeders to supplement their winter diet.

Since the Canadian Geese, the Herons, and the Mallards stay here year-round their down feathers must provide a layer of insulation that allows them to survive such cold spells.

Even so, I would not want to be one of them this time of year.



365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Forty-one January 3, 2018

Today I am thankful for someone willing to take a chance on me.

I have a shop that wants to take twelve of my pieces of art on commission.  It’s not a local shop – just one my husband and sister-in-law stumbled on over Thanksgiving.  They didn’t know me at all but I left my card and they’ve looked at my work in my shop and here and wanted a dozen pieces – to start.

I hope it will be a positive experience for both myself and the shop.  Sometimes my chatty nature pays off.


365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Thirty-nine January 1, 2018

Today I am thankful for a fresh new year.

The year begins open and unmarked like a blank chalkboard or unpainted canvas.  It waits for us to make choices and take actions.  It waits for us to make the mark upon its slate or apply the paint that fills in the picture of our next year.

That paint may be thin at times but as the year moves ahead the strokes and dots of paint will complete the landscape of 2018.  My hope is that the colors of the coming year will be brighter, the shapes more interesting, and the composition pleasing.

Happy new year.

En Plein Air Little White Top_Watermarked

En Plein Air


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365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Thirty-eight December 31, 2017

Today I am thankful that this year is coming to a close.

The past year has been a year of trials and hardships.  No year is free of loss and fear but this past year was one of the most difficult in my life.

So as we look over the ticking hands into the coming year I am thankful to leave 2017 behind.



365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Thirty-seven December 30, 2017

Today I am thankful for people who listen.

It’s taken me all day to come up with my one thing for which I am thankful today.  I can’t elaborate without risking hurting the feelings of a person for whom I care.  What I see happening more in our world of ‘me first’ is the lack of ability to communicate.  A large part of meaningful communication is listening.

When I was training as a supervisor, manager and learning & development coordinator in my corporate job I took a large number of communications courses.  A lot of the courses discussed writing but most of them were based in inter-personal communication.   In order to run a productive meeting, to interact as a team member in a project, or to develop the skills of team members for whom you are responsible you have to listen to people.

Listening can be as valuable in communication as talking.  In my experience, it is often more important.




365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Thirty-five December 28, 2017

Today I am thankful for seeing the Great Blue Heron braving the cold waters of the riverside.

They are not uncommon here and periodically settle on the river in front of our house as their choice for meals.  Most of the time we see them in the evenings but this morning one was gingerly stalking along the far side of the river.  With thin ice flowing I wondered how he could stand so still at times in the frigid water.  But he has down feathers, like ducks and geese, to keep him warm.

His stillness in such an adverse environment reminds me to be still in my mind during times of adversity.  That’s a much harder task than his fishing in winter waters.


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365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Thirty-four December 28, 2017

Today I am thankful for blankets and quilts.

I have a couple of which I am particularly fond.

The first is one I purchased in Tijuana, Mexico in 1983.  It is one of the warmest blankets I have ever had and even has a nickname.  After haggling with a street vendor over the price of a brightly colored serape, the blanket I thought I wanted, I wandered into a building full of vendor stalls.  The serape’s price was $15 and I had been trying to get it down to $10 but the vendor kept saying, “Es loco” (loosely translated in English “that’s crazy”).  In one of the stalls I found a lovely, and larger, blanket for the $10 I was able to spend.  So I call it Es Loco.

The other is a quilt purchased from my paternal grandmother by my parents as a gift for me for Christmas in 1979 or 1980.  She made quilts of all designs but this one is a simple patchwork quilt with a yellow backing.  She also made summer short sets for my sisters and myself when we were growing up.  This quilt has two patches of material left over from two of my short sets.  It’s not as elaborate as some of her quilts (like the one shown in the photo above) and doesn’t have as much batting but it tells a story that warms my heart as much as my body.

These blankets have warmed me for over thirty years and their stories are part of my story.


365 Days of Thankfulness

Day Thirty-three December 27, 2017

Today I am thankful for sunlight.

As we move into the cold days of winter I am thankful for sunlight more than during the summer.  But I am not just thankful for its warmth.

I like the way its rays enhance colors and highlight shadows.  The prisms they create in the clouds and through glass are often seen in waterfalls.   And occasionally when it gets cold enough for ice to form on the river, and the rays hit it at just the right angle, they create color in the cold.



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