Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Moving Forward....

2012 is coming to an end and it has been a wonderful, productive year for me and I am very grateful. I've had the opportunity to paint some beautiful people and furbabies, and I sincerely appreciate getting to "know" the subjects of those paintings.  I made some folks cry, which I guess means I did a good job of capturing their loved ones on canvas.  And now, a new year is rapidly approaching and I am so excited!  I have decided to quit my part-time job and get back to painting and writing full time. I still have a nearly-finished novel simmering in a desk drawer, and all kinds of idea snippets tucked in various places.  I have one major art project in the works--I'll be posting more info about that as I develop it.  So here are the Christmas commissions I have been working on since before Thanksgiving, and I'm happy to say that I finished them all on time--although a couple of them were still wet when delivered! 
     The one at the top of the page is "Emma" -- a 4 x 5 mini painting.   Next left,  is a group of 4 dogs, I call "The Pack."  Then there's "Harley" on the right here, and "Puppy Mask" below left.  And finally, I did a large portrait I'm calling "Anna's Family." 

I loved painting all of these. Some are in acrylics, some in oil, and a couple are a combination of the two. I worked from several photographs which really helped, as did the little stories my clients provided.  I hope the folks receiving these paintings are not disappointed!

I'm hoping I can update this blog more often, now that I'll be home full time, and maybe share some "in process" photographs as well.  So....

Have a blessed and Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Full Speed Ahead--Commissions & the Holidays

Wow, the month of October literally FLEW past for me--I've been busy, busy, busy with commissions and jewelry and trying to squeeze in a few moments for "playing" in the studio.  But I'm nearing crunch time, so I think the playing is going to have to take a back seat for awhile. I have several commissioned portraits in the works and only a week left till Trims & Whims to finish up the jewelry I've been working on.  Yikes!  But I've discovered over the years that I seem to do my best work under pressure--and a deadline!  Reminds me of my college days, when I'd wait until the night before a major paper was due to start writing it.  Guess I enjoy living dangerously!

Back in October, I posted a work-in-progress of 2 beautiful dogs: Prescott and Fallon.  I thought it might be cool to show the progress of this painting.  Here is the initial stage (left) where I just blocked in the shapes and colors on the canvas.
And on the right is the current stage.  I've added in some eye detail, worked on refining the coat on the retriever, and worked in some color on the background.  When I paint, I like to move all over the canvas. It helps tie everything together, plus keeps me from focusing too much on one spot, which can create problems. In the next stage, I will finish up the eyes on both dogs, continue to refine their coats, and finally finish off the background.  I'll post the completed painting next time! 

A couple of weeks ago, I finished the portrait of Kirby(left) for Kitty Key.   This was a birthday gift for her sister. I hope she liked it!

Well, that's it for now. I'll post photos of my new jewelry creations as soon as I can--and of course, the works in progress. I have 2 "people" portraits I'm working on and several more pet portraits coming up.  I love it!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gearing Up for the Holidays!

I can't believe it's October already!  Where did the summer go?  The cooler temps here have driven home the fact that summer is gone and the holidays are fast approaching.  With that in mind, things have shifted into high gear at Wit's End Studio.  I am working on several commissions simultaneously.  The one on the left is a work in progress, as is the one on the right.  On the right are Prescott and Fallon (love the names!!) and to the left is Kirby.  Still lots of work to do on both of these portraits, but I think it's interesting for other artists and non-artists as well to see how the process goes.  Both of these are just the first pass on the canvas, to block in the shapes and get a little color going and they are both in oils.  I know some artists draw first in charcoal or pencil and get everything laid out before they ever touch the canvas with paint.  I like to be more spontaneous--I just dive right in and adjust as I go along.  I think it gives the work a fresh feel.

The piece on the left here is one I started for fun--it began as a pallet knife painting, but I didn't like it so I switched back to brushes, and then I got busy with other things, so it's been sitting for awhile.  I look at it every now and then and each time I see adjustments that need to be made.  The horses need shaping--a couple of them look a little weird, but then they are wild horses!  Once I get the commissions finished, I'll get back to this one....
AND, it's nearly time for Shelbyville's Trims and Whims 2-day event, so I'll be working on some new jewelry pieces in the coming weeks as well, so keep a look-out for those!
Finally, my little "I'm Adopted" poster will be available online or at the Shelby Artists on Main Gallery, starting Monday October 8.  Stop by the gallery  or email me if you'd like to purchase one of these. They are signed and numbered and, because October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month, 25% of the purchase price will be donated to one of the 6 Shelbyville animal shelters/rescues of your choice.  Makes a nice Christmas gift and helps our local shelters as well!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sometimes, You Just Need a Break

Well, it's been quite a while since I posted on here last. I guess I needed a break. After our beautiful Great Dane, Max, died back in August I had some difficulty getting back to painting--especially animals. But I got to thinking about it, and realized the best way to honor him would be to get involved again in animal rescue--and paint.  So that's what I'm doing, and I have several new projects in the works.  The painting on the left is one I started (I hate to say this) a couple of years ago. I don't know why I couldn't finish it, but I have--finally. I also have several new commissions in various stages of completion--pet portraits-- and one very interesting project which will definitely test my imagination as well as my painting skills!  Curious?  Well, you'll have to wait. I need to finish the pet portraits first, and then I'll start "the big one" and post progress reports!  I'm excited about it--and here's a hint:  it involves a dragon!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Portrait Commission WIP

This is my latest commission:  a charcoal portrait of the client's daughter.  It's been awhile since I've done any charcoal drawing--it was a nice change from the paintbox!  Not sure if this is finished--waiting on the client's feedback.

Had to take a break from the Dog Days series to do this--hoping to finish another dog portrait tonight. Will post again when I do!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dog Days of Summer Series #6

I was hoping to be able to paint one dog portrait a day during the Dog Days of Summer, but as usual, life gets in the way.  This is the 6th in the series. I'm hoping to get back on schedule now and produce one a day through August 11th. One can only hope!!

Available for purchase:  8 x 10 acrylic, $80.  Contact me if interested!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dog Days of Summer Series #5

Here is the 5th painting in the Dog Days of Summer series:

8 x 10 Acrylics

Contact me if interested in purchasing this cute little portrait!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dog Days of Summer #3

So far, I'm on a roll....3 "dog days of summer" and 3 completed paintings!  As always, if you're interested in puchasing one of these, send me a message!
Dog Days of Summer Series #3
8 x 10 Acrylic

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dog Days of Summer #2

Dog Days of Summer Series #2
8 x 10, Acrylic

Isn't this puppy adorable?? Contact me if you'd like to purchase!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Project: Dog Days of Summer

I'm sure you've all heard the phrase "dog days of summer", but how many of you actually know what that means?  "Dog Days" are the hottest days of summer--typically in July and August.  The ancient belief was that Sirius, aka Dog Star, being in close proximity to the sun, was responsible for the hot weather. Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky.  The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the Dog Days as July 3 - August 11--and that is the time frame I've selected for my Dog Days of Summer Painting Project.  Beginning today, and hopefully every day through August 11, I will paint a portrait of a dog and post it here on my blog, as well as on my website ( and facebook page. I'm hoping this project will help me get "fast and loose" with my painting and give them a little more spontaneity and freshness.   We'll see...

Anyway, the paintings will be 8 x 10 and available for purchase for $80.  Just contact me if you're interested in purchasing one.  Who knows, someday I might be famous and those little suckers will be worth a fortune....or a few dollars, at least.  So above left is the first one:  a little Cocker Spaniel.  I hope you like it!

The painting on the right here is a mini-painting, 2-1/2 x 3 inches, acrylics.  It comes with its own easel and is available at Shelby Artists on Main, 617 Main St., Shelbyville, KY if you live nearby, or you can contact me if you would like to purchase it. 
I have several other projects in the works, including some new commissions and a poster I've created, from a painting I did as an experiment on YUPO watercolor paper.  It's a mini-poster, about 11 x 14, and is available for $25.  Just send me a message if you'd like one--they will be signed and numbered.
So that's it for tonight. I hope you all have a safe and relaxing 4th of July. Check back tomorrow to see my Dog Days of Summer #2 painting! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Playtime in the Studio

I have been playing with watercolors the last couple of days, and today I decided to try my hand with Yupo paper.  It is definitely a challenge--especially since I haven't painted with watercolors in a long time.  And Yupo paper is not even paper--it's plastic. Not one tree died to make Yupo!  But, this means that the watercolors actually sit on top of the paper, rather than being absorbed into it.  You can get some great effects though, by rolling your paper around and letting the colors drip and slide into each other.  And fixing mistakes is a lot easier, because you can just wipe the area with a tissue or Q-tip, and paint over it without losing the tooth of the paper. 

It will be interesting to see how this holds up.  The photo above shows my very first painting on Yupo.  Since the paper lends itself to loose painting, I decided to just go with that and not worry so much about getting tight and detailed.  The expression on the dog's face, I think, fits perfectly with the looseness of the whole piece.  I may go back in later and darken up the background some. And I need to decide whether or not to use a fixative once the paint is dried.  I'm not sure how well Yupo holds up over time, especially under glass.  Since the paint doesn't really sink into the paper, I imagine exposure to moisture would cause problems.  Still, I'm having fun and plan to continue playing with it.
I've also been painting some ATC's--again, just for fun. It's a good way for me to get back to watercolors without getting frustrated -- I don't feel guilty tossing out a teeny piece of paper!  To the left and right are a couple I've completed.  I'm all about having fun this week!

I am still working on a couple of commissions, but sometimes you just have to take a break.  Thus the watercolors....
Don't forget May is National Pet Month. I'm still offering a 10% discount on any commissioned pet portrait, so be sure to contact me if you're interested. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pet Portrait Special!!!

May is National Pet Month in the US, and in honor of that, I am running a special on Pet Portraits. Commission a portrait of your pet, any size, through the month of May and receive a 10% discount.  In addition, I will donate 10% of the proceeds from the commission to the Shelby County No-Kill Mission.  I hope you'll take advantage of this special and let me create a beautiful, lasting memory of your beloved pet.  Contact me at for more information.

Above is the finished portrait I started last week. This is an 8x10 acrylic painting, framed, and is available for purchase through my website (  I managed to complete another painting this weekend, as well--one that I have been working on for quite awhile.  It's a cottage in Bunratty Village, Ireland.  This is a 16 x 20 acrylic, also available through my website.
Started another pet portrait commission yesterday, this one of a cat named Samson.  This is the first pass of color. I'll be adding more details and fine-tuning it this week, so check back later to see the progress. 
I have lots of plans in the works for my pet portraits, including a calendar. I'll be posting the details later. I'm really excited and I hope you all will be too!

Now...on to my mini-poems and photos-a-day:  Obviously, I have been way, way behind on both of these endeavors, but I'm working my way back into it. I did manage to write a little micro-poem last night. Here it is: 

Like the slow and steady turtle
Thunder lumbers east
unphased by Lightning's razzle-dazzle.
Tonight's goal:  a personal best.

So that's it for tonight! Be kind to your pets--their love for you is unconditional!  Paws up!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Portraits, Portraits, Portraits! in progress
Mom & Pop
Can't believe it's been over 2 months since I updated this blog. It's not that I've had nothing to blog about...but don't worry, I'm not going to bore you all by trying to catch up.  I've been painting, painting, painting, and loving every minute of it. I finally finished the portrait of "Mom & Pop"(right) and the client is very happy, which makes me happy. So now I'm moving on to my next project:  another pet portrait, this time a cat. I'll post photos of that soon. Meanwhile, above left, is a painting I'm working on for fun.  I'm nearly finished, just need to add a few little details.  I'm also back to work on a portrait of my Cavalier, Charlie--a larger piece that I set aside for awhile so I could work on commissions. 

And speaking of commissions, check back in a week or so as I will be running a special on Pet Portraits!This will be your chance to get a custom-painted portrait of your favorite furry friend! I have several other ideas brewing for pet portraits that I'm really excited about--so keep an eye out for details.

As for the daily photos and mini-poems, I'm so far behind, I decided to not even attempt to post them. I'll just add a few here and there in the next week or so. Spring came early this year, which means lots and lots of yard work in between my day job and painting--and that has left little time for anything else. But I'm not giving up!

Have a good evening!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sometimes It's Good to Stay in Your Jammies

Sooner or later it happens to all artists:  you just can't seem to come up with anything new.  Nothing to write about, nothing to paint.  Just blank pages, a blank canvas.  I can't say I'm suffering from writer's block, or painter's block:  I've just run out of energy.  Been working on several commissions, and I have more coming up.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I guess I'm EXplaining.  The idea of taking a photo a day, and writing a mini-poem a day, seemed easy enough in the beginning.  But a month into this project, I hit a wall.  The view from the back porch looked the same, every day.  Even the drive to and from work:  the same.  I'd write a few lines, snap a few pictures, but nothing really clicked for me. And then I thought, well, isn't that the way life is?  You can't expect every word to be worthy of a Pulitzer, or take  a National Geographic photo, or paint a masterpiece.  The whole point of this project was to record, for myself, a photographic and written journal of a year in my life. And sometimes my life is pretty darn boring.  And sometimes I am not very creative, and just want to stay in my jammies!

So I took a little time and did just that.  I watched TV (specifically Whitney Houston's funeral), which made me realize how precious life is, and not to take for granted the special gifts we're all given.  I slept late. I ate junk food and spent an entire day in pajamas.   And then I woke up this morning and said, SNAP OUT OF IT! Grabbed my camera, and my notebook, and got busy. 

I'm not going to post all the pictures I took because most are pretty crappy.  And I didn't write anything at all until today.  I took the photo above from my back porch--and yes, I was in my pj's.  I don't know if this is the same blue jay, but last summer there was a blue jay who decided the yard was his--and he would follow me from birdfeeder to birdfeeder, squawking at me or scolding me for slacking on the peanuts.

And here's the mini-poem, or micro-thought for the day:

High in the oak, wrens chatter greetings
as Morning elbows past Night.
Cow silhouettes trudge single file 
toward breakfast and another day
of grazing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I love moonlight. No matter what time of year, if there's a full moon, you can usually find me staring up at it.  I even braved near-zero temps and a couple of feet of snow once in upstate New York, just to photograph a winter moon.  Yeah, that was back when I was young and didn't worry about things like catching a cold, stray dogs, coyotes...or neighbors calling the cops about the crazy lady outside in the middle of the night, in her jammies, dragging a tripod and a camera all over the place. Tonight I was lazy--skipped the tripod, so this photo is not very sharp, but it does capture the general mood.  Too bad I had to work this morning because the moon was right over our pond and I would have loved to spend some quality time photographing it. Ah well.

Here's the poem for today: 

The moon casts her pale light
across the pond, spotlights
the heron and the wood duck
who exit
stage left.

Here's another work in progress:  a commissioned portrait.  Very early stages--I've just blocked in basic colors and am working on composition.  Will post more photos soon. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yep, I Only Watch the Super Bowl for the Commercials

I'm not particularly interested in football, but I do enjoy the commercials during Super Bowl. And being from New York, I am sort of in favor of the Giants....but mostly, I'm interested in painting, and today I actually got back into the studio and managed to work on a painting I started months ago.  This is Woody, one of the many beautiful animals housed at the Shelby County Animal Shelter. Thanks to Sheila Collins for use of her photo--this painting, when it is finished, will be donated to the Shelby County Animal Shelter.  This is part of an on-going project of mine. The paintings can either be given to the person who adopts the animal from the shelter, or used in advertising, or auctioned off at one of the many fundraisers held to benefit the shelter.  I also have a couple of paintings of cats that I will be delivering to the shelter soon.  This is one way I can put my talent to good use. By the way, if you live in the area, buy a ticket to the Monarchs, Mutts and Meows event on February 11.  There will be a silent auction  with a lot of great items (including a pet portrait painted by me!), as well as a wonderful dinner at Claudia Sanders and fantastic music featuring the Monarchs.   

And here's the mini-poem for today:

A pair of geese signal their approach,
circle low, then skid in for a splash

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's Not That Easy!

When I first came up with the idea of writing a poem a day and taking a photo a day, I thought: how hard can that be?  Well, I didn't take into consideration the fact that life gets in the way.  A lot! Hard to believe another week has passed and once again I am posting more than one photo and poem in order to catch up. And that's just online.  I haven't printed any photos since mid-January, so the actual scrapbook I've been making is on the couch, gathering dust for the moment.  But since it's raining today, and tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, I am taking advantage of both so I can get back into the studio, write and organize photos!  But, as someone once said (maybe John Lennon?):  If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!
     The photos today were taken in my gardens this past week.  I am not a great gardener, but I love getting my hands dirty, digging around in the soil, and hoping that something beautiful will grow from my efforts. Doesn't always happen, but the little successes I have had make it worth the trouble.  Even better, the wildlife that hang out in the gardens don't seem to mind whether or not I've kept up with the weeding and trimming! 

And on to the mini-poems:

January 31
Daffodils stretch
toward the sun.  
Or blind faith?

February 1
A garbage truck rudely awakens
slumbering sparrows, sends the geese skyward,
and the old heron catches his breath
high on a tree limb.

February 2
Someone left a light on
in my neighbor's house. 
She's not there.
Gone for good.
But the light reminds me--
we promised to look out
for each other. 
One of us failed.

February 3
Morning echoes Pollard
spilling alizarin and aquamarine
across her canvas.

February 4
When I grow tired of humans
I step out to the pond 
where the geese sail quietly,
disturbed only by their leader
as he circles, pushing them
into flight formation.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Gang of Five and More....

 Once more I find that I am playing catch-up.  Weekends get busy around here, and this past one was no exception. I did take some photographs, and write some mini-poems--but I also spent a lot of time getting re-acquainted with my camera, and digging out some of my favorite poetry books.  I finished reading Mary Oliver's "Why I Wake Early" and went back to reading the poetry of  Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I am also working on some illustrations for a small book a friend of mine puts together each year for his friends.  The pictures I'm including here were taken over the weekend--we had a lovely weekend weatherwise--a little windy, but sunny. 
All of these photos were taken around my home, Wit's End.  Above left is one of our cats:  Eddie, whose real name is Oedipuss.  Eddie follows me around the yard like a puppy!  He's a real hoot when I'm trying to work in the garden--he likes to climb on my lap, or curl up in front of me--makes yanking up weeds a little tricky, and there's nothing like having a furry cat on your lap in 90 degree temps!

The next picture, left, is our pond.  This view is near the dam.  Every spring we have baby ducks and geese on the pond, and a great blue heron stops by every now and then.  On the right is one of my favorite spots to sit and relax--the porch of our barn. From here I can see the pond, and a couple of my gardens, and both sunrise and sunset. A good place to sit and think, write, or sometimes even nap! (Cats and dogs enjoy it too!)
The last photo I took as sort of a visual for one of the mini-poems I wrote. I didn't have my telephoto lens, so it's a little hard to tell, but those little black dots are birds--I call them "The Gang of Five."  They hang out in that tree every day.
And here are the mini-poems:

Friday, January 27

High up in the oak
the gang of five--
survey their hood--
the empty feeders,
a moldy, cracked birdbath.

Not even the mockingbird scares them. 
They watch squirrels and chipmunks,
look the other way at a fly-by
slaying of a rabbit,
maintain stony silence
when the cat approaches,
then harass a red-tailed hawk
who ventures too close
to their crib.

Saturday, January 28:

I nearly missed it:
coyote on the run,
under the fence,
into the woods.

Safe now.
But who is more frightened?
Tonight, I walk faster,
carry a big stick.

Sunday, January 29

The stray cat, unhappy
to share his meal with the raccoon,
waits impatiently behind the holly,
frowns at me as I watch through the window.

Sorry, little kitty.
Tonight, it's first come,
first served.

Monday, January 30:

January tricks the daffodils
into waking early. Fools the tulips
and forsythia, too.

I warned them not to believe her,
even as I tossed aside my coat,
and turned my face to the sun.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I love cardinals. We have a lot of them hanging out in our yard.  Last year, a pair of them built a nest in the lilac tree right outside the porch window.  The nest was hidden from the outside, but I could clearly see the nest and, eventually, the babies, from inside.  I tried to photograph them, but Mama would get upset every time she saw me coming near the window, and since I didn't want to cause problems for the babies, I decided to leave them alone.  And then one day I peeked through the window:  the birds were gone, the nest abandoned.  Ah well...such is life.  So today's photo is of a mini-painting I did a few weeks ago.
And the poem for today: 

The red-tailed hawk dives from his perch
a kamikaze pilot on a mission.
I can't see his prey--only the rustle of weeds

near the pond's edge.  High in the oak
a group of sparrows huddle
their shoulders hunched against the rain
like bystanders who watch an assault and do

And now it's off to bed....


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why I Wake Early

That's the title of a book of poetry by Mary Oliver--one of my favorite poets.  So I decided to take that and see what I could come up with for today's mini-poem. I do like to wake early, sit on the back porch and watch the morning unfold.  I like staying up late for the same reason. There's a peacefulness in both. 

Today's photo was taken on my way home. I pulled off the road, but the little zoom lens on my camera is pretty limited, so the picture is slightly out of focus.  I like the way the three silos stood beside each other, in the same area as the lone tree I photographed last week.  I got a little creative too, and played with the color. To me it gives the photo an "old" feel.  Might make a decent painting too.

And here's my mini-poem:

I wake early, step outside
eyes shrouded with sleep.
The Big Dipper hangs low
and another line of planes

head toward Cinci or St. Louis.
Three cows in silhouette
lumber toward the barn. A heron

screeches overhead, angry
at my intrusion.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Mouse in the House

Today's photo is of another 4-legged member of our family:  Charlie.  Yep, I'm a sucker for those big brown eyes!  (Bet you thought I was gonna say a mouse--I'll get to that later....)

I spent the weekend painting, working on a portrait commission. It's not finished yet, but here's a pic of the work in progress.  Still need to make adjustments to the eyes, etc. But it's coming along....

And here's the min-poem for today:

There's a mouse on the porch.
He drops clues on the bar--
a trail that leads to his favorite spots.
I should set a trap.
Catch the little thief--
make him pay for his crime.
The death penalty:
harsh sentence for petty theft.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Into the mist...

Once again, I'm having to catch up with the photos and mini-poems. I guess that is a good thing, as it indicates that I'm busy, right? Or lazy. I have to admit, it's been a lazy weekend. Misty, cold, gloomy--good days to stay in bed or curl up with a good book. I have, however, been busy--painting, mostly, trying to finish a commissioned portrait.  Even though I haven't been posting them, I have taken a photo each day and managed to write a few lines that may or may not one day become a longer poem.  So the photo on the right is today's photo--my neighbor's barn, surrounded by the morning's mist.  And the poem for today: 
Mist slinks over the hill
wraps around the magnolia and pin oaks,
a thin shawl against the morning chill.


 The next photo on the left is a work-in-progress.  A mini painting of two little corgi pups.  Not the best photograph, and obviously the painting isn't finished.  I'm hoping to finish it today.  This is Saturday's photo and below is the poem for Saturday: 

Cows low in the distance
Chorus for the train whistle--
Midnight to Georgia
or Hank Williams' restless ghost.

Friday's photograph is of the latest addition to our family: Gracie.  Gracie was a little kitten born on the grounds of the correctional facility where I work.  Her mom disappeared, and Gracie started hanging out at the warehouse.  We fed her, as did the inmates that worked there. For a long time she wouldn't come near anyone, but we managed to coax her into a crate one day, and I brought her home.  She's now my studio cat, along with Eddie and another stray, Casper.  And here's Friday's poem:

She escaped from prison
an inside job
no one objected
no parole or probation
only freedom.

And finally, the photo for Thursday (below) is of my art student with her self-portrait.  It took awhile, but she finally finished it and I'm so proud of her!  And to shamelessly promote myself, the paintings on the wall behind her are mine. 

And here's the poem for Thursday: 

A mockingbird in the flower pot
gives me a nasty look,
as if I have intruded on a private moment--
or caught him up to no good.