Mar 27

Inspired vs. not

I am still working on getting caught up in my Vinita Pappas‘ Fall Messy Palette Club classes. I published a post on yellow this week and I’m working on a blue post next. Also we were supposed to do a still life. I do not like still lives. But I am trying. I have one set up. I just need to paint it…

In more inspiring news, I learned that my painting “Scent of Season” got into the Emerald Art Center Spring Exhibition! The reception is May 5 and you are all invited!

Today I went down to Finley National Wildlife Refuge. Even though it was rainy, the texture really inspired me.

If you get squeamish, please look away from this next part. That heron that is resting on the log. Well minutes before he was struggling to eat an ENORMOUS bullfrog. It was pretty cool watching him.

I feel like this might be a painting… “Inspired Against Invasives”?

Mar 24


In the category of better late than never, I am working through Vinita Pappas‘ Fall Messy Palette Club classes. The second week assignment was to create a “yellow” folder.

Like my “Red” post in October, I’m doing this as a photo assignment.

Mar 20

A collage of thoughts

Since starting this blog a little over three years ago, one of the challenges has been creating good blog posts. Data has shown that readers like my art posts, but I’ve had good results with well-written essays about a variety of topics.

Then there are days like today when I have a bunch of tiny little updates. I want to capture them, because I think they are significant; however, they don’t lend themselves to a cohesive theme.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka The Yarn Harlot) calls this kind of blog post “Random”; I’ll use “Collage” for more artist theme.

The Big Thing

Recently I finished The Big Thing: How to Complete Your Creative Project Even if You’re a Lazy, Self-Doubting Procrastinator Like Me. I am not necessarily recommending it, but it does emphasize that a little big of work done regularly adds up over time.

This is something that resonated with me. I have a lot of things in my life, some bigger than others. As friend and fellow painter Margaret Godfrey said to me, “Tara, the last thing you need is ANOTHER hobby.” It’s just that the world is such a big, interesting place. It’s hard not to get distracted.

Still, I am not making progress on two areas of my life that are important: living more healthily (aka losing weight) and painting.

So last week I sat down with a list of all the things I had done the week before and make a schedule to work on each one a little bit so that when Sunday night rolls around, I’m not frantic and stressed.

  • Mon – Clean
  • Tues – Spin (finish current spinning stash, then sell spinning stuff and convert this day to art)
  • Wed – WW & Food
  • Thurs – Knit
  • Fri – Laundry, pay bills
  • Sat – Volunteer work (if any), art
  • Sun – Blog, library run, art

It’s now the first Sunday night after starting this regime and while it feels odd not to be running around, worrying about Monday, it’s also nice to look back on the week and realize it’s all been covered. There are some sacrifices (I am only promising one blog post a week), but I’m hoping the overall quality of life and body of work will increase.


Speaking of art, I’m trying to move forward a little. In the fall I signed up for a “Color” class from Vinita Pappas and never finished it. Additionally, I signed up for her next session on increasing creativity and have not even started it. So today I sat down and finished lesson 2 of the fall color class.

It’s a simple watercolor of some squash I still have (I must eat that…) with ink detail added.

Over the next week I will be trying to catch up by doing a yellow and a blue journal (similar to my red one.) Also, I need to do a still life. i have my assignments!

Cherry Blossom Day

Saturday was Cherry Blossom Day; unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate to encourage big attendance. The cherry trees gave it their best shot, but they just couldn’t break through the cold and rain to come out. (Naturally, Sunday was sunny and gorgeous and the blossoms are out now).

As I mentioned, I painted a parasol for this event, so I was very excited to attend. I braved the rain and wind to go out and see the Taiko Drumming…

… participate in Gyotaku (the traditional Japanese method of printing fish)…

… take a tour up to the upper deck of the capitol building (where the Pioneer Man sits); however, this was cancelled due to the poor weather, so I settled for a tour of the capitol grounds which are actually a State Park (thus the tour was with a State Ranger!)

The end of the day was finalized with more Taiko Drumming on the steps of the capitol building (the weather finally broke long enough.)

Notice the kimonos!


As I occasionally have to remind myself, life is not a book with a beginning, middle, and end that resolves all the plot elements, But my pets have always been important markers in my life–chapters if you will.

My current household contains Bob, a 15.5-year old cat (approximate birthday is July 4, 2001); Finn, a 15.5-year old dog (known birthday is October 14, 2001), and Key, a 4-year-old dog.

While I’m delighted to report that Key is doing well, the other members of my household seem to be going downhill quickly. These chapters, I fear, will be ending soon.


For the last couple of years, Bob has been looking quite thin. Last summer I took him to the vet and the vet confirmed renal failure (very common among older cats.) We tried do some maintenance measures, but the trauma was so intense and damaging on our relationship that I told the vet I was more comfortable just enjoying him while I had him. The vet agreed and said I could expect anywhere from two months to a year.

It’s been about nine months now and while Bob’s appetite is still (somewhat) there, his coat is looking worse than ever and he seems cold all the time. He’s very cranky and tolerates even less than he used to (which was never much).


Looking at pictures of Finn over the last few years has been hard. I remember him like this.

Finn approximately March 2011

But he now looks like this.

Finn, March 2017 (so gray you can barely see his blaze)

Lately my mom and I have been talking a lot about the end. Just about when I decide it’s time, he has a good day. And then a few days later it’s back to bad days.

For a while now his walks have been very limited, but lately he’s struggling with incontinence. Also, he’s toppled over a few times on walks. Today was the first time i saw it happen; it was like his back legs had a seizure and just stopped working. He’s mostly blind and deaf and suffers from a form of doggie dementia that mimics “Sundowners” — he just paces most of the evening.

The picture above is from today and he was rolling around on the grass enjoying the sunshine. He still enjoys food and he loves the idea of walks.

It’s hard to judge. I’ve been reading a lot of sites about how to know if it’s time to let your pet go lately; many of them offer this quote; “It’s better to be a week too early than a minute too late.”

Mar 13

Other opinions are “Out There”

Last week I met a few deadlines. That, in itself, is cause for celebration. That they were art deadlines was even more significant.

2016 was not a great year for my art; I was deadline with a lot and didn’t paint as much as other years, but also I didn’t do shows or submit to many venues. This was my choice, but it had a tendency to make me feel a lot of rejection pressure.

This year I wanted to “get out there” more. I have joined a local critique group through WSO as well as a local art group (Artists in Action aka. AIA.) I haven’t yet signed up for any shows to sell my art, but I am eyeing at least one local show and I just finished (and sold!) a project for the Cherry Blossom Parasol Event.

Lately I’ve done really nice work that I have really liked, but for one reason or another hasn’t been accepted into my staple entry, WSO shows. I’m no longer in Portland, so the Oregon Society of Artists is no longer an option, and no other local shows have been right for the pieces.

I took a big risk over the winter and joined the Northwest Watercolor Society (NWWS) so I could enter their spring open show and their fall members show. I was not terribly surprised when I did not get into the spring show; because it is an open show with a good amount of prize money the competition is international and fierce.

In one of my favorite blog posts (Rejected Again, Hooray!), local artist and friend Ruth Armitage talks about the inevitability of rejection and why it can be an opportunity to move on with more information. Obviously, this advice is easier said than done, but it’s good advice.

So when the American Academy of Equine Artists announced a (first time) Spring Online Show, I vowed to submit Strategy Session and Chasing Dark.

Strategy Session


Chasing Dark

When the Emerald Art Center announced its Emerald Spring Exhibition 2017 – National Juried Show, I decided to enter Scent of Season and Learning the Ropes.

Scent of Season

Learning the Ropes

And though it’s probably the most extreme long shot, I decided to enter The Turn and Night Racing into the 2017 Artworks Northwest call by Umpqua Valley Arts Association.

The Turn

Night Racing


I’ll feel very lucky if I get into any of these shows. I feel ambivalent about my chances, but I’ve been wanting to update about my progress, so now this information is “out there”. Wish me luck.


Mar 06

High fiber weekend

This weekend was the 2017 Rose City Yarn Crawl. It has been a few years since I really invested in this event, but this year I did the Knit Along in preparation for a long day of yarn shopping.

I invited members of my (not often attended) Salem knitting group and a very nice knitter named Jakay offered to come along for the ride.

So, on Saturday we hit all 13 shops. I had a budget and blew it, but I ended up with a swift, two new shawl pins, the makings of a new sweater, and a few skeins I just couldn’t do without. Pro tip: Yarn shop personnel will NEVER talk you into sticking to your budget.

We left Salem at 8:00am, hit the first store (Wool ‘N Wares) at 9, got our last shop (Northwest Wools) at 5:15, and were home by 6:30.

It was a big day.


Feb 28

How to Paint a Parasol (Key Gotcha-versary edition)

For some reason, the momma said we couldn’t do a video blog. Something about “a voice that pierced the ears.” I don’t understand. I just have a lot to say!

Well, it’s been a year since I met the momma. I like her. She can be a little weird about tickling my feet, but everyone is a little weird.

I do like this set up. The momma feeds me twice a day and gives good treats. We go for walks and I have a big box of stuffies to kill.

Recently, however, I’ve been a little concerned about her. Now, she’s always been a little odd. She spends hours on the computer and goes into a room that has funny smells and paper and doesn’t seem pleased when I take a bite. So, that’s not my favorite room.

But the other day she brought home this.

Just an umbrella.

But then, she spent hours making marks on it.

She showed me this, but it means nothing to me.

A few weeks ago, though, she really went off the deep end. She took it into the kitchen and set it up like this…

I tried to express my concern and suggested we just go for a nice long walk. As usual, she ignored my suggestion (she can be a little slow, this momma.)

The she got out the squirt bottle (I hate that, it comes out when I have too many opinions) and started squirting away. I left then.

For a couple of days this was left in the kitchen, then it went into the smelly room. And I lost interest…

Editor takes back the blog

Well, in the year I’ve had Key, he has certainly learned a lot… including how to type apparently!

Well, Key may be a smart dog, but his reading skills are still a little low. For example, he rarely reads blogs, even those as wonderful as Margaret Godfrey’s. When I signed up through Artists in Action to “Paint a Parasol” for Salem’s Cherry Blossom Festival, I remembered this blog post from Margaret and decided to do my own version of her idea. All these birds are species I have seen on the Salem Capitol grounds! My working title is “Cherry Blossom Habitat.”

To continue the process from above, once I had applied the background stage above, I worked on painting the various birds I had sketched.

The parasol is covered in rice paper, which is not just delicate, but also the slickest paper I’ve ever worked on. Like Yupo, the paint doesn’t really stick on, it sort of slides around. There has been a lot of waiting between layers.

When I got to where I was comfortable with the values, I used some acrylic to outline the birds and to define some cherry blossoms (check out the Festival’s Facebook page!)

This evening I added the final touches as well as printing the names of the birds.

My parasol will be hanging at Dolce Mama’s for the month of March. It will be for sale for $50 if anyone is interested, but I mostly just hope you will make plans to come see the festival and enjoy some ice cream at Dolce Mama’s!

I hope to see you in town March 18!

Feb 27

Why my “why” has said good-bye

The Weight Watcher’s theme this week is “What’s Your ‘Why’: Hold your motivation close-it can be a weight-loss anchor.

I have known for some time that I have lost my “why” along this weight-loss journey. Possibly worse, I am actively afraid to try again.

To recap, In April 2014 a lot of things came together and I began Weight Watchers for the fourth time in my life. I had won a new activity monitor and when I told a friend about it, she invited me to come to Weight Watchers with her. Suddently, for no really good reason except I was following the program, I began to loose weight. Over the course of the next year (until April of 2015) I lost 80 pounds.

Then life sort of crept back. A lot of things happened, the most significant of which is that I changed jobs. I lost some of my support systems; I lost a great salad bar across the street from my job; I gained a lot of stress. As you can see by the chart, I gained back weight pretty quickly, then more slowly after I moved into my current house and settled more fully into my new life.

As I approach two years in this job, and three years on the “journey”, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the last few weeks trying to figure out how to get back on track.

Issue one seems to be that I’m scared. I’m scared to try again.

Issue two seems to be that I’m still struggling with loneliness and (as my counselor points out) food is a friend.

Issue three is that I’m still struggling with a little bit of depression, which could be acerbated by numbers 1 and 2 or could be contributing to it.

Issue four is that I don’t feel great. I have a hurt foot and by breathing isn’t great. Both of which would improve, obviously, but they are still not helpful.

The Weight Watchers exercise for the week was as follows:

Some repeats in my art life

At the end of last week, I was pretty worn down, so I decided to “take it easy” this weekend. I did some painting, knitting, and movie watching. I also made an attempt to get to the bottom of my in-box.

One of the blogs (Donna Zagota) I follow posted about setting art goals for the new year (this is how far behind I am…)

This year I changed up the questions I asked myself for the sake of more clarity and to achieve a deeper, more authentic intentionality in my paintings. If you would like to do a yearly review and set some goals for 2017, here are those questions. Enjoy!

1. What do I most want to achieve in my art in 2017?

2. What habits or personality traits might trip me up?

3. What actions will I take to overcome them so that I can achieve my goals?

4.  What two or three specific areas would I really like too improve in my art in 2017?

5.  What action steps will I take to manifest those improvements?

As you can see, there is a striking similarity to what Weight Watchers recommends.

The fact of the matter is that I don’t have a lot of focus.

But that isn’t true

Even as I wrote that last statement, I realized is really isn’t true. I have focus: keeping my job, taking care of my dogs, making an attempt at fitting into normal society. The problem is, but the time those three things are done, adding more is really hard.

It sounds trite to talk about weight loss as a journey, but the fact of the matter, it is. I know that.

It’s also a cliche but true that weight loss has to be a lifestyle change. When it’s working for you, it’s like you’re in a groove and it almost feels depressingly easy, because you’ve made all your choices ahead of time, and all you have to do is follow along.

I’m not writing this to come up with a solution. I’m more putting this out there to help myself understand where I am at.

Now, give me some time to ponder that.

Feb 26

Why I cannot be left alone with extra paint

Once again I have gotten myself into deadline crunch with painting. There is solid evidence that it is the only way I get things done.

However, I cannot show it to you yet (reveal on Monday).

Sufficient to say that at the end of today’s endeavors I was left with extra acrylic paint. Obviously, that is a problem. So I went looking for something to use it on.

This ice painting start was selected.

Now, this might not look like a good ice painting. In fact, it was one of the ones from the day it was too warm.

But I sort of like the texture at the left edge. I decided that was the bottom.

I drew a horizon (mentally) and went to work.

Now, foolishly, I did not take a picture of my first step where I added the original left over paint, which was pink. But after I got going, I decided I liked what it was doing. And then I got another idea. So I went to blue. And then this happened…

It kind of started to marble…

Now it’s drying and I’m hoping all the effect stays. Because if it does, I think I have a landscape. I’m going to name it “Seven Possibilities”.

Here’s a very rough sketch.

If you can’t figure out where the seven part of the title comes from, I’ll give you a hint: Trappist-1.

Feb 15

Scent of Season

Just for a change, I thought I’d do an art post tonight. Quelle surprise!

Many moons ago, you may remember that I did a little ice painting. I showed you the start of a piece I called “Elk.”

Now it’s title is “Scent of Season” and it might need a couple more tweaks, but it’s essentially finished.

Step 1 – Mask white areas

Step 2 – Pour paint and let “dry” in the ice

Step 3 – Use color to fill in elk

Step 4 – Remove resist (reveal white)

Step 5 – Add more darks, scrub antlers for correct look

Step 6 – Add more darks, take to critique group

Feb 13

The navigator got distracted

As always, I am behind on so many things it hardly seems time efficient to list them all. So, I’m going to gloss over them all in the hopes the waving something shiny in front of what’s left of my loyal blog readers will cause you all to forget my appalling lack of new blog posts.

2017 is off to a rocky start in more ways than just my blog, and this weekend I went down to see my mom to take care of her after a knee surgery. Now, for her, this knee surgery was much anticipated, but this is just the kind of thing I hate.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think I’m not a perfect daughter, but as she was mostly sleeping, I asked her if I could sneak out and attend the February 11 Audubon Society of Lincoln City Birder’s Walk.

The weather has lightened up (so many places are flooded right now… but that’s another story) and I think all of us were dazzled by a big warm thing up in the sky that allowed me to do my birding in jeans and a T-shirt.

Herring gull

We started at the Mo’s dock (seen above) and then moved to the new Siletz Bay pull out (not even open to the public yet!) It’s a small little area, just off Highway 101, with about 10 parking spots. Plans for a kayak put-in were obvious, but we walked a well-graveled and flat trail around some alders to another kayak spot. The entire trail was about 1 mile. With so many birders, most birds did stay away, but we saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk, both kinds of kinglets, and ravens.

I look forward to making this trek again with a quieter, smaller group!

From there we went to the Salishan Nature Trail (this is actually a frequent stop for me when I’m visiting Mom.) But it disappoint. We say many Bufflehead, but also a Hermit Thrush, Horned Grebe, and a lovely displaying male hummingbird.

It was almost low tide and a seal put in a bit of a show before pausing to say hello.

The bay was like glass (a rare site) and I enjoyed a towering display of cloud. Future painting? I can only hope…

Total birds seen this year: 66!


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