Trying to be selfish–Oil Paint Lessons continued

Daily Prompt: Blogger With a Cause
If your day to responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be?

My girls have always said that I would be the busiest stay at home mom if that had been a possibilities.  And they didn’t mean doing housework.  Probably true since I am always throwing myself into new causes and new projects.  So this year, I have been trying to be selfish and only focus on my artwork.  Well, not quite true.  I am also learning to sail, running a craft club at work, holding down a full time job, and enjoying the selfish lovely joy of Bob treating me like a queen.  And I just started a competition with a friend at work to write five pages of our respective novels every week.  By the end of the year, I should have a good solid draft of “Dragon Cat Lives” finished.

So as you can see, there is no time for causes.  No time to take up the offers of teaching electronics to artists.  All my energy is going into being SELFISH and LEARNING.  As discussed in a post a couple days ago on “catching up on oil painting“.  Those paintings were not very good–student quality work. But great learning exercises.  Then I started in on a difficult painting, spending weeks on a work called “Portrait of Kate’s Hands” based on the photo from the kate show.  What I like is how these photos illustrate the process of getting a picture correct. In the beginning, the proportions were not correct.  And the colors needed work.  After getting the cup looking good, I worked on the table, book, and hands.  Finally had to work on the knife and fork — removing them since I am not yet skilled enough to include them in the picture.

Because these photos demonstrate my progress in oil painting, I am working to remain selfish and spend this year learning new art skills.  NO, NO, NO–I don’t want any new causes.  I want time to be a student.

First Session — Laying in the basic elements

First DayHands

Second Session–Refining the table and shadows

Second Day Hands

Third day–working on correcting shapes and proportions

Third Day Hands

Fourth Session — A new blue in an effort to get the colors better balanced

4th Day Hands

Fifth Session — Finally getting the cup into more appropriate proportions  

Firfth Day Hands

Session 6 — Adding detail –hands and book

6th Day Hands

Last Session — removing the fork and knife



Exhuberant Dogs at Pismo Beach





Life has been really hectic recently so I’ve not yet told you about the dogs.  Pismo Beach is a dog paradise.  My mom swears all dogs on this beach have smiles.  Mine certainly did.  At the north end, there is this small hotel, the Sea Gypsy.  We had a patio that overlooked the beach.  There is a pathway from the hotel through a small lawn onto the beach.  Once there, you have this huge dog park.  Roughly a mile of sandy beach; it is bounded on two sides by large cliffs.  On the third side is the pier.  And on the fourth side is the ocean.  The beach slopes into the water such that there is at least 25 feet of water under a foot deep.  And there are hundreds or thousands of birds.  I think these are plovers and sand pipers.

The best part is that most of the dog owners ignore the leash laws, letting the dogs run free.  Since it was a cold winter weekend, there were not too many people or dogs on the beach.  So we did the same and let Elly off her leash.  Although it quickly felt like a mistake, watching her run was one of the most beautiful sites I’ve seen.  Such exuberance and joy in life.  She raced up and down that beach for an hour, probably running 6 or 7 miles.  Racing in the water, leaping in the water, racing out of the water, chasing birds, and totally out of control.  And then totally wet, racing out to the sand and rolling.  In a good sense, everyone watching enjoyed her exuberance.  I disparaged ever catching her again.  I even told Bob he was right about not letting her off leash. But eventually she did get tired and let us catch her.  That was one wet, dirty dog.

The next day we repeated the process.  This time, my brother Scott and his family joined us.  They brought two dogs, Liliquoi and Bean.  Liliquoi is a smaller couch potato, literally.  She loves nothing more than sleeping on a couch.  The only exceptions are getting up to eat and occasionally go outside.  So Liliquoi was a well behaved dog that didn’t run around too much on the beach.  Bean however was a totally different story.

Bean is a large dog, about the size of Elly.  He loves to run and mopes when he can’t get enough exercise.  Elly loves to play with other dogs.  She loves to run.  And she decided at this meeting, she like Bean.   So the two of them wrestled, raced, and generally had an out of control exciting adventure.  Again, the dogs showed so much exuberance, that after we caught Elly, my parents and strangers were telling us to let her go again.  Of course, they weren’t the ones who had to catch her.  And we did have to bath her before leaving Pismo Beach.

Elle slept for close to 28 hours straight.  Well, not all the time, that is an exaggeration.  But she slept soundly all the way home.  Went to bed with no fuss.  And the next day, slept most of the day.  Unlike Bean, she did not mope at coming home.  This dog of ours is a city dog; she likes seeing people and going around to different places.  But I’m sure she would love another vacation in Pismo Beach.

I don’t have any pictures of the dogs running on the beach.  It was too hard. I was racing up and down the beach after the dog.  And even if I wasn’t; handling a large excited sandy wet dog is not good for camera health.  So instead I’ll share couple pictures of the sunset one night.  You can get a sense of the beauty of this beach.

Monarch Butterflies in Pismo

On Saturday, we visited the monarch butterfly grove. A small grove of about 40 eucalyptus trees hosts thousands of monarch butterflies in the winter. I’m not sure how many show up at the peak, the volunteers were estimating 20,000 butterflies were there last weekend. Cold weather meant (about 50 degrees F) so the butterflies were not flying, so we saw them massed in a tree. So looking at the dark green mass in the middle of the picture — it’s not the tree, that’s thousands of butterflies. You can’t see the brilliant colors because they are huddled into a mass and there may be cocoons up there as well. So below the photo is a picture of one butterfly trying to learn how to fly.



My folks came with us and I actually got some good pictures of them. Here they are with their dog Sadie and one of the volunteers. On Friday night, Sadie decided to pull rank on our dog Elly. We had come to their hotel room to visit. Elly had brought a bone which she sort of abandoned in the excitement of seeing Sadie again. So Sadie grabbed to bone and made it very clear that she was keeping the bone. Given she weighs more, is bigger, and is older, she won. Our dog was bereft although we had a good supply in our bedroom. The funny thing is that Sadie never ate rawhide bones before this trip. Don’t worry about Elly being deprived, she had a wonderful doggy vacation. I’ll tell you more about it later. Got some really nice pictures with the IPAD, will share them below.

Feb 2nd is Imbolc, Brigid’s feast aka Candlemas; a traditional celtic celebration of the half way point between the solstice and the equinox. Tradition has it that if the weather is nice, the spring will be cold and hard. Well we had cold, dreary weather that day, so it should be a beautiful spring. Other traditions including having big feasts, and we did. In the evening, we went out with Mom and Dad for a fantastic seafood dinner. The restaurant looked like a dive because it was old and not fancy from the outside. But the reality was clean with everything in good repair, and the food was excellent. This was where the locals eat, we had clams, fish, chowder, and seafood stew. Way too much food. Best of all, it was walking distance from our hotel room. And since our dog was sleeping after many fantastic doggy adventures, we did not worry about meandering back.

From the Pismo Beach pier, we saw the most amazing thing. A half moon was out. There were few extra lights, so you could see the stars and the moon shining on the water. There on the beach, 1000’s of plovers huddled into a large tightly packed mass. Standing the surfline, they moved back and forth with the water. Don’t know what they were doing. I can’t believe there was enough food for that many birds in such a tight packed mass. And they could not have been sleeping because they kept running back and forth, in and out, of the water. Someone came over and shined a flashlight at the mass, the birds flew into the sky, went down the beach about 50 feet, and huddled back into a pack. Felt lucky to see the sight.