What does drawing mean to me?

As I have mentioned (lol) I spent last Saturday-Monday taking a drawing workshop with Ruth Buchanan at the Oregon Society of Artists. Recently the Artists Network published a GREAT article on this same topic: 10 Approaches to Drawing. My post will focus on my own development; please see the article for the details of the techniques described. Additionally, Ruth published two great articles in The Artist (UK) magazine on drawing horses that I recommend.)

The title of this post is one of the first things Ruth asked the class. I’ll see if I can answer it.

(Note: This is a “PG” post; we did “life drawing” on Monday.)

Saturday – Maquette and Keyline

After some initial introduction, Ruth started us off with the “maquette” technique (some may recognize it from anime or traditional drawing books.)

As you can see, the technique starts off with some basic structure and works outward from there. I have done this method many times, but I liked that Ruth allowed us to use it without lecturing unduly on correct proportion.

Because I am “that person” I worked on some other drawings using this technique in the slow times.

Next we moved to the key line approach. I have heard of this method, but I have never understood it. I understand it more now, but I clearly have some work to do (as you’ll see by my attempts).

I also took advantage of the time to work on my sketchbook. I think a few of these might become something.

Sunday – I can draw without looking at the paper

Sunday dawned and I was excited to get back.

We started out with a surprisingly difficult exercise: drawing the negative. This is something I have heard people talk about. I thought it would be easy. Ah… no.

This exercise made my head hurt. I kept wanting to cheat and draw the interior. And these were just tables!

From here we had a talk on composition, the six-lights approach, and artistic “intention” before moving on to (what I know to be) Ruth’s trademarked trick: impossibly short timed exercises.

From there we worked on our catch-phrase activity of the day: contour drawing a pineapple.

Finally we took all this and drew a very small object VERY large. The instructions were to fill up the paper.

And then we painted some very big flowers very small (these appear much larger than they are.)

The thumbtack was the exercise I asked the class to pose with for the newsletter article I will have to write to thank the Watercolor Society of Oregon for sponsoring Ruth coming over again!

In between all this, I worked on my sketchbook some more, mainly developing an idea for a painting.

Monday – FASTER!

As with all true performances, Monday was the crescendo. We had a model come in during the morning so we could practice these techniques and more. The lovely Gaby did a fabulous job, but if you can tell it’s her from these drawings, I would be SHOCKED!

Ruth started us out with another series of timed poses.

At this point, I lost a little bit of focus on what Ruth was trying to teach us with the effort of just keeping up. The next set of drawings are when we were working on… something (possibly looking at negative space and adding emphasis.)

Then tricky Ruth made us STOP drawing the model and draw around her. In the second, we were told we could draw everything BUT the model.

I can see either one as a painting, but my head still hurts.

Not to let us rest on our laurels, Ruth then had the model “walk through” poses so we could look for movement and line.

The first drawing here is my favorite of the day. I like the way I caught her foot and the hinted-at hands. Ruth pointed out that this method could be used on horses. A light bulb went out for me!

Next, Ruth had us draw tones, not lines.

Finally, devious Ruth made us select five tools and called out to us to change them at timed intervals. And then she made us change paintings with each other!

Final exercise, not all my work.

Ruth finished the day with a wrap up; I was not too tired to do a sketch in my book. Frankly, even after this marathon I was ready to go!

So what does drawing mean to me?

I was hoping I would have an answer to this at the end of the workshop. I was hoping that I would come up with an answer when I finished this post.

But I don’t.

What I got out of this workshop was something that I feel like I needed: Confidence in my own abilities. One of the things I like about Ruth as an instructor is, in her own words, she is not interested in turning the class into “mini me’s”; she is interested in passing on skills to help each of us find a way to express our own art. Doing all these exercises, some that I had done before, some that were new, I realized that I was doing them all well. Not “perfectly”, if such a thing exists, but my own lines and proportional mistakes lent a certain charm that my drawings MINE… and charming for it.

I draw big.

I draw fast.

I draw bold.

I sometimes go off the page.

I don’t catch every detail.

I don’t get it right the first time.

I can choose to work on the things that I think will lead me down the path to the artist I want to become, but I don’t have to “master” anything. Anything I work on becomes a stronger part of my repertoire, but there is no formula you must learn before you are allowed to draw with confidence.

And that’s knowledge worth workshop attendance!

Showing off my state

For the last week I have been a blissful combination of artist and tour guide as I gathered Ruth Buchanan up at the airport and showed off Oregon (in between making her teach a class at the fabulous Oregon Society of Artists (OSA) in Portland.) More about the class tomorrow.

Thursday – Airport pickup, Blicks, and Portland City Grill

I collected Ruth much more smoothly than last year (inside joke there) and took her to downtown Portland to see OSA and then swing by Blicks for workshop supplies, before taking her to a restaurant I have wanted to try for a long time, Portland City Grill.

Portland City Grill is on the 30th floor of the US Bancorp building. The food was good (pricey, not terribly generous, but good), but the views are what people come for.

Even though the fire smoke obscured the best views, you can see what it was like!

Friday – Timberline Lodge and Multnomah Falls

Since reading “Timberline Lodge: The History, Art, and Craft of an American Icon” I have been wanting to go up Mt. Hood to see Timberline, a place I have visited many times as a child, but never as an artist.

I think Ruth liked Timberline, but she had told me from the beginning she wanted to see Multnomah Falls.

Her wish is my command.

Saturday – Monday (workshop)

To pay for all my tour guide services, I forced Ruth to teach a workshop on drawing from Saturday to Monday.

It was AWESOME (I swear, more tomorrow). But after, we were off again.

Tuesday – Basket Slough, Lincoln City, and Yaquina Head

Tuesday was not a day that we moved quickly. I started out with an elaborate plan about going up to Astoria and then driving down to Lincoln City (where we had a place to stay), but common sense prevailed. Instead, we took it slow, got off late, and sort of eased our way west.

We hit Basket Slough where I tried to pique her interest in birding.

As punishment, I am assigned to paint this.

When we hit Lincoln City, though, Ruth started to get into the groove.

We stopped at one of my favorite places, Alder House Glass, and watched a vase being made.

Then we headed to Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Outstanding Natural Area via Cape Foulweather and Devil’s Punchbowl.

We capped off the day with dinner at Tidal Waves before soaking in the best hot tub in town at Hotel Maggie.

Wednesday – No to the whales, but yes to elk

My plan was to take Ruth out to see the whales via Whale Research Eco Excursions, but the picturesque marine layer just turned into dense fog overnight and the boats didn’t go out. We stopped a little in Depoe Bay because Ruth’s partner is a film camera operator and I had shown her the nearby Oregon State Hospital which is featured in the film One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest. Anyone who has seen the movie will know that Depoe Bay is also featured.

From there we travel south through the fog, our goal Cape Perpetua. We stopped at Earthworks Gallery in Yachats to admire the work of Bev Jozwiak, Harold Walkup, and Sarah Bowsama.

Because of the fog, Cape Perpetua was atmospheric but not necessarily farsighted.

Still, the wildlife ended up making up for it. As if to make up for the lack of views, I was able to show off a bald eagle, a pair of barred owl youngsters, and a fairly large herd of cow elk.

We returned to Salem to pack up, make the final arrangements, and do the rest. Ruth boarded the plane this morning to head back to England (via Reno). But we’ve already started to plot what we’re going to do the next time she comes back.


Painting with a pal

Yesterday, my friend Sandra Pearce came down to Salem and we scoped out a spot for her to demo when she does a paint out for the Watercolor Society of Oregon fall convention in October.

We had listed Minto Brown as the site, but we hadn’t yet nailed down the specifics. The specifics needed to include not just a great view, but access to potties, parking, out-of-the-way painting spots, and other important features.

After a little hiking around, we settled a spot and got down to producing a sample for the demo. Well, Sandra produced  a sample, I just painted a spot I had been wanting to paint for a while.

unfinished – “Frolicking Field”

I don’t think this is done. The background trees need a few tweaks and I think the foreground needs some dark touches.

I wish I could show you Sandra’s piece. She painted the same view (literally) but it is SO different. She chose a completely different composition and focus.

I told Sandra she only had an hour to paint, because I would want lunch. So we dashed through our paintings and headed to Konditorei (my go-to restaurant).

Next we headed out to Red Hawk Winery for the day’s Paint the Town event.

Wow, what a view. There were so many possibilities. You could even see a bend in the river. I initially was interested in the gathering clouds on the horizon.

unfinished – “Gathering Clouds”

I LOVE the way the sky turned out, but the lower area needs some work.

I couldn’t go any further on site with this, so I tried another painting, though I kept it as simple as possible because were were running out of time (the winery was closing).

unfinished – “Haying Trails”

I hope you can tell what interested me here. I still have some values to work on.

The rest of my weekend was all about prepping for the upcoming workshop with Ruth Buchanan (1 more spot left…) She had a great article in “Artists Network” this week that even mentions our workshop! I’m really excited about the workshop, but as she is also staying with me, I’ve done a lot of house cleaning to get read (can’t let anyone know I’m a slob).

Only four more days!

A nose work tale

As I told you back in January, I have been training Key in the noble game of K9 Nose Work®. In January, Key successfully navigated his Odor Recognition Trial (ORT) and a few weeks later, a little bit by accident, we picked up a Nosework 1 title (NW1).

“NW1, NW2 and NW3 titles are granted by successfully passing (receiving a score of 100 points) each element at the same trial.”

A few months later we entered an “element” trial and got a leg (but no title) in Vehicles and Exteriors. The fault was entirely mine. On the vehicles, I let a very large motor home freak me out and forgot to have Key search once side, then compounded the problem by not believing him when he didn’t find scent (moral of the story: Tara is a dork.) On the exterior, I just called it too soon; I recognized Key was “in odor” but I didn’t wait long enough for him to find the source (moral of the story: Tara is a dork.)

Frankly it was a humbling trial.

A few weeks ago, Key and I were set to go down to Grants Pass for another element trial, but at the last minute I had an emotional breakdown best not described. I decided to take it easy and not drive around the state to stressful things.

My car, decked out with a shade cloth and Key in a crate with my folding chair and lots of water nearby.

Last weekend, we were able to just drive 45 minutes (not 4 hours) down to Corvallis to compete another element trial, this time Containers and Interiors. It was REALLY hot, which I worried about, but Key couldn’t have cared less. If he had a motto, it would have been “SHOW ME THE SCENT!” Key picked up a L1C and L1E title like it was nothing.

“Element Specialty Titles may be achieved by either achieving a perfect score in one trial, or by achieving two qualifying scores at the same level and element at two different Element Specialty trials.”

Key looks so happy, doesn’t he. I had cheese. That’s the real secret to happiness.

My instructor, Dana Stillinger of Best Friends Obedience and Agility School, Inc. and Doggy Daycare said she wanted to hear about my experiences in the trial, so I thought I’d write this little blog post so she (and everyone else!) could hear all about it!

Day 1 – Container Searches

Key has always like containers, so I wasn’t too worried about this one. What I didn’t count on was floors; Key HATES slick floors so the first search of the day was pretty tough. Key’s little feet were splayed SO wide. But I let him go slow, he settled down, and when we came to the correct box, he said “alert.” The rest of the searches were on other surfaces, so he was quick as can be.

  • Tara Choate – Key – Other: American Shelter Dog – 0:22.57 – placement 23
  • Tara Choate – Key – Other: American Shelter Dog – 0:15.70 – placement 16
  • Tara Choate – Key – Other: American Shelter Dog – 0:06.78 – placement 2
  • Tara Choate – Key – Other: American Shelter Dog – 0:11.78 – placement 13

Overall placement – 8th

The only other item of note was that I kept Key on a 6′ leash instead of a long line. I wanted to be able to control where he would go in case there was a lot of boxes. I ended up being surprised that most of the tests had less than 10 boxes. One only had 5 (but the boxes were up on chairs.)

Day 2 – Interior Searches

I was a little more apprehensive about the interior searches because they have never seemed to be Key’s favorite. Little did I know!

Again, I decided to keep Key on  6′ leash instead of a long line (or off leash) because I wanted to be able to control him a little more in a confined space.

The hardest part about this set of tests was trusting my dog. In disconcertingly short amount of time (notice 4-5 seconds for the first three searches) Key would run over to some random object and say “Here.” It was SO short that I had to stop myself from double checking him. But he’s never shown ANY interest in music stands before I would tell myself.

  • Tara Choate – Key – Other: American Shelter Dog – 0:05.88 – placement 4
  • Tara Choate – Key – Other: American Shelter Dog – 0:05.71 – placement 4
  • Tara Choate – Key – Other: American Shelter Dog – 0:04.70 – placement 3
  • Tara Choate – Key – Other: American Shelter Dog – 0:46.33 – placement 20

Overall placement – 4th

The last search of the day, though, that was the one that I would LOVE to have a video of. I was SO proud of Key, and I even want to give myself a pat on the back because I think I handled it well.

It was a little room (the whole thing was in a church) that people used to sit or prayer in (they called it the prayer room). Key raced in and quickly made a search of the perimeter. There was one spot that I thought he might be in scent, but he didn’t alert, and as I said above, it’s not my job to double check him (it’s my job to read my dog, in case you were wondering). So on the second round, Key was sniffing and suddenly he caught the scent. And you could see (and hear his deep sniffing) him working the scent. “Okay, it’s here… but stronger there… but it’s up here… but no… but around… but… UNDER!” And he gave a clear alert.

All this time I kept thinking about Dana hollering at me: “Keep the leash out of his way. Don’t just stand there, move your feet! Give him space! Read your dog!”

He was AWESOME. And I wasn’t too bad either.

Healthy Steps – Week 30

Another 1.2 pounds GONE! I had a really good week and made some excellent decisions. I’m also starting to notice the results. My feet are hurting A LOT less, my knees are good, and my arms feel like they poke out less.

But there is lots of room for improvement. Frappuccinos right now seem particularly hard. I know that it’s because of the heat, but I need to somehow transition to water earlier in the day.

On that note, I’m putting out there I’m sticking to my basics for this week.

  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk
  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 2 Frappuccinos per day

And next week when I post, I’m going to have a plan on how I will handle the first of two vacations in the next month!

Mid year check in on 2018 goals

I got to thinking about goals, so I decided to check in on my 2018 goals. Green is doing well or accomplished, black is no progress, pink is… I have an excuse.


  • Keep painting
  • Finish the commission that is taking FOREVER
  • Do RB homework
  • Write at least once a week (goal on Sunday) about your art
  • Attend critique group
  • Enter both WSO shows
  • Enter the Equine Art Show (Emerald Downs)
  • Submit to the AAEA Show
  • Submit to both NWWS Shows (new goal for 2018)
  • Submit to Emerald Art Center show
  • Organize and attend Ruth Buchanan workshop (2018 drawing)
  • Participate in local art group Artists in Action
    • Participate in Paint the Town
    • Fall Studio Sale with Artists in Action (N/A)


  • Go to Weight Watchers regularly
    • Eat more vegetables
    • Eat less sugar
    • Eat more fiber
    • Drink water
  • Participate in walking challenges (particularly with the dog)
  • Find a source for yoga and/or meditation and go to it
  • Go to physical therapy; improve knee and foot
  • Write at least once a week (goal on Wednesday) about your weight loss
  • Get 8 hours sleep (this means going to bed early)


  • Goodreads 2018 Book Challenge: 104 books
  • 2017 goal – 86 of 104
  • 2016 goal = 100 of 100
  • 2015 Goal = 100 of 100
  • 2014 Goal = 80 of 90
  • 2013 Goal = 118 of 125
  • 2012 Goal = 111 of 200
  • 2011 = 56 of 50


  • Edit and finalize the book I “finished” during the 2017 NaNoWriMo
  • Participate in the 2018 NaNoWriMo


  • Do a walk after work, hike on the weekends
  • Get Key Odor Recognition Trial (ORT) certified
  • Participate in 4 trials (including ORT)
  • No more cats if Bob dies

Home and Garden

  • Water my new front yard to ensure the plants don’t die
  • Put in my Little Free Library area
  • Improve kitchen table area


  • Continue 2013 goal of not taking plastic bags at the store
    • Use reusable bags
  • Continue 2014 goal of using coffee cups at coffee place
  • Continue 2015 goal of picking up after the dogs every time
  • Continue 2016 goal of not consuming palm oil
  • Improve on 2017 goal of scaling back on car use
    • Bike to work at least 3 of 5 days per week
  • 2018 goal: energy audit my house


  • Finish four projects
  • Investigate a knitting group


  • Let’s just put it out there that I can improve…
  • Donate to charity


  • Church – website and tech team
  • WSO – website and fall convention
  • State Food Drive planning
  • Decide on a volunteer project (either Food Bank or Fostering Dogs) and do it!


  • Remain employed
  • Say hello in the morning


  • Go camping at least once
  • Explore the local art museum (Ford)
  • Visit the Salem carousel
  • See 150 species of birds (note: ebirds says I am at 188 for year)
  • Remember that alone time is an important part of my mental health

Healthy Steps – Week 29

I have to admit, I think I have lost a week somewhere in June or July. But I am calling weight in on July 25 as week 29 and I guess if it’s not, the counting police can come get me.

When I weighed in on Wednesday i was not expecting big things; it had been a week of good decisions with more than a few bad decisions thrown in there.  Therefore, I was thrilled to have removed another 1.6 pounds for a total loss of 40.2 pounds. Forty just really sounds like an accomplishment, doesn’t it.

When we are working in the WW books they break things down into 4 week segments. I was thrilled to notice that I had beat my four week goal and was only a few pounds away from my summer goal (by Labor Day I have a weight in mind.)

Fearlessly, I decided to put a goal EVEN LOWER than my summer goal for the next four week, which means that I could be EVEN LOWER than my summer goal weight on labor day. I guess I’ll take that as my last day to wear my skinny bikini.

It’s summer time, which has benefits as far as fruits and vegetables being available. The downside is that you have to be in a hot kitchen just to prepare them. The other benefit of summer is that when it’s 100 degrees out, I don’t really feel hungry. The downside is that I do eventually get hungry and eat EVERYTHING.

Does this mean I have a new an exciting daily goal? No. Frankly, just my four basic goals is so challenging right now that I can’t even imagine changing it up.

So I’m still tweaking my habits toward the basic.

  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk
  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 2 Frappuccinos per day

I just hope I don’t melt. I hate hot weather.

The Little Workshop that Could

A little over a year ago, I took a workshop with English equestrian artist Ruth Buchanan that I cannot say enough nice things about. After a few weeks had passed and I had recovered my composure (it’s hard work learning new things and having an idol come to stay with you), I asked if Ruth might be interested in coming back to do a second workshop.

Ledove sketch by Ruth Buchanan

Now, honestly, I was thinking she might come back in a couple of years. But she told me that she would be coming back to the states next summer for a family wedding and that she wanted to do a workshop about drawing because so many people had asked her about it.

Sketches by Ruth Buchanan

After polling the participants of the last workshop, 60% of whom said they were in, Ruth and I worked up a plan. The first workshop had been in the Salem/Keiser area, which is a populated area, but not as populated at Portland. So I contacted the Oregon Society of Artists (Portland, Oregon) and they were excited about the possibility of having Ruth come.

“Cobalt Greys” by Ruth Buchanan

As I said, we thought a drawing workshop would be well received. And Ruth had just published an article in The Artist magazine entitled “10  Approaches to Drawing”. Additionally, Ruth had just done a series of workshops in the UK with this title, so we felt like this would work out great.

How to turn a sketch into a painting by Ruth Buchanan

We settled on a date (August 11-13, 2018), settled on a price ($295), created the flyers… and waited.

Sketch and sketch with color added by Ruth Buchanan

A few registrations came in, but the workshop wasn’t filling up the way we had hoped it would.

We promoted some more. And waited.

Finally, we got our heads together and talked about how to rebrand the workshop without changing the focus. The focus of the workshop had always been improving an artists drawing with the idea of taking those drawings on to become paintings. So, we thought, we needed to focus on that. Thus, we changed the workshop title to “Strong Drawings, Dramatic Paintings.”

Value painting in one color by Ruth Buchanan

That seemed to do the trick because registrations started to come in. But it’s been slower than I hoped.

Sketch to painting “Gathering” by Ruth Buchanan

Now we’re two weeks away and we’ve met our minimum, but we still have a few spots left. Two, to be precise.

I’d really like those spots to fill. Ruth is an amazing artist and her techniques are universal, horses just happen to be her subject.

Here is a description of her class, straight from Ruth. I’ve also attached her planned daily schedule. As I’ve said, I’d really like to get a couple more registrations.

Let me know if you are interested and feel free to share this post!

“In the Wings” by Ruth Buchanan

“Strong Drawings, Dramatic Paintings: 10 Approaches to Drawing” by Ruth Buchanan

Strong Drawings, Dramatic Paintings

A three-day course on drawing/sketching techniques, drawing approaches and drawing to support and strengthen painting taught by professional artist Ruth Buchanan. The workshop includes demonstrations and drawing exercises with supported free working sessions where artists may bring reference photos and painting supplies.

Working with ten approaches/techniques to drawing a subject, the workshop expands on Ruth’s article in ‘The Artist’ Magazine on drawing Horses (UK January 2018), which in turn was based on a Ruth’s drawing workshop. The aim is to strengthen your natural drawing style and confidence through considering other approaches to looking at and rendering various subjects. During the three days we will also consider drawing as a preparation towards making your paintings have more impact by looking at values, composition and focus.

Ruth Buchanan has worked as a professional artist for 17 years. Whilst best known for her equestrian paintings, Ruth paints a variety of subjects and has many years experience in Life Drawing. The workshop will include some equine and animal drawing alongside drawing other subjects. The skills and techniques are applicable to all drawing regardless of subject.

Previous to her current profession, Ruth worked as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator where she specialized in watercolors of architecture and still life for lifestyle publications. She also taught Print based Media (design) and Film Studies at A level and Diploma level in the intervening five years.

Materials required:

  • Sketchbook – A4 (8.5” x 11”) minimum please. Ideally A3 (11”x14”) (Note: This is different than a notebook or journal)
    • Paper for 10 exercises. You may want to bring some toned/tinted paper and something strong enough to work on in charcoal and/or ink.
  • A board and clips or tape if you wish to work at an easel (recommended)
  • A notebook or journal
  • Graphite Pencils
  • Eraser
  • Some sort of sharpening device
  • Charcoal
  • White or pale blue pastel or chalk
  • A couple of colored pencils
  • A biro (ballpoint pen) and/or dip pen and ink
  • Optional: Reference to work from in the supported free work time
  • An open mind and a willingness to have a go!

Whilst this is a drawing workshop but there will be some supported free work time so you are welcome to bring paints as well.

Brief timetable outline

Day 1 – 9.30 to 3.30

  • Three of the approaches – demonstration, ‘draw along’ and exercises.
  • Ruth’s sketchbooks – what sketchbooks mean to Ruth and a chance to have a flick through!
  • Shading with attention to light source. Identifying lights in a composition
  • Supported free working time with a discussion on working from life and working from photographs.

Day 2 – 9.30 to 3.30

  • Three more approaches – demonstration, ‘draw along’ and exercises
  • Tool holds and how this can influence your work
  • Working in a more immediate way
  • Drawing and painting from memory
  • Shading – mapping and simplifying tones for key impact
  • Composition – strengthening your drawing and your painting
  • Supported plein air drawing

Day 3 – 9.30 to 3.30

  • Working from a model: exercises on previous approaches and the other approaches not so far covered
  • Drawing in other media and with other tools
  • Mark making in drawing and painting
  • Review of all work
  • Feedback and critique

Goodbye, Bob

Today I said goodbye to my cat, Bob.

Bob, 2002

I got Bob from the Oregon Humane Society in the fall of 2001 as a shop cat for my business, Pawsitively Clean (a self serve pet wash in Portland, Oregon.) He was about 6 months old and had been adopted once and returned for “digestive issues.” I never figured out what that meant and never had a problem with him in that way.

Bob, 2005

Bob was a superlative shop cat, if a bit of an instigator. He would greet people and seemed to know instinctively which dogs he could approach and which dogs he should stay away from; the later he would torment by walking near when they were safely hooked up in the wash and unable to get to him.

When I sold the store in 2008, I took Bob with me to live as a civilian cat.

Bob, 2010

While I think he missed the excitement of the store a little, he relaxed into a routine of luxury, willingly sharing home with my other cats (who have since passed on.)

A few years ago, about the time I moved to Salem, I noticed Bob was losing some weight and when I took him in to see the vet, they confirmed that he had gone from a svelte 13 pounds to about 9 pounds. After running some tests, the dreaded words came up… kidney disease.

Bob, 2015

Kidney disease in older cats is very common (both Lola and Bella died from it), but it is not swift killer and a lot can be done to manage the issues (weight loss, dehydration, etc.) Bob has never been a cuddly cat, or a cat who tolerated a lot of interference; I always called him “a very cat-y cat”. So “emergecy” treatments like fluids, pills, and pain killers have never been on the menu.

A few months ago, when I took him to the vet, the term “hospice care” was used. Bob had gone from 9 pounds down to 7.4. The vet told me that when he went into the next “valley” it might be time to say goodbye.

The heat wave that took over the area a few weeks ago has been hard on Bob. It’s hard on many animals, but particularly older animals.

Bob, 2018

He wasn’t eating regularly, and because he wasn’t eating he was getting dehydrated. He wouldn’t purr. He wouldn’t come see me.

No pet owner wants the last day to be the worst day, so today… I said goodbye.

Just do something different

This has been a weekend that turned out nothing like I expected it to. First, my plans for Saturday fell through not once but three times! Second, my small cold of last week has morphed into a sinus infection that is just not friendly. And third, I painted. A lot.

Probably because I have been doing a lot of realistic painting, something with lots of texture and color was calling my name. When I reorganized the studio a couple of week ago, I was able to put some paintings where I could actually look at them and ponder them. Yesterday they called my name and I decided to stop pussy-footing around and DO SOMETHING!

Teal Horse

Have you ever felt like you just needed a teal horse? After looking at this painting for the last two weeks, I decided teal was the only appropriate solution.

Now, this painting has been hanging around since 2016. In fact, it had ice painting applied to it (unsuccessfully) in late 2016.

Since then, I have had no ideas about what to do with it. I just kept thinking that I wished I could add some teal. So, on Saturday, I decided to use “gesso juice” (2 parts gesso, 1 part matte medium, 1 part water) to add some texture and white that I could then work on.

Well, at least it’s not the same. So, today I added a wash of teal to the dried gesso juice.

As I said… at least it’s not the same.

What are moons?

Again, harkening back to 2016, I got in a mood and started an abstract background. I didn’t manage to get a very good picture of this start.

Forgive the shadow…

At some point I drew a series of circles, intending to create moons and painted them with white gouache. I don’t have a picture of this step (add another painting to my unfinished total (I said 31, but it’s actually 33)), but the planets were not distinct enough, so I decided to use the leftover gesso juice to pop out those planets.

On NPR sometime in the last week, there was a story about how they had discovered 12 new moons on Juniper. Therefore, these are now moons, not planets.

The color was added with a combination of watercolor and acrylic with Gelli plate printing and also salt. I’m still not done, but I’m kind of digging it. And it’s different than it was.


Once again, I have done a terrible job of keeping track of progress. This painting started out with ice painting in 2016.

After my Ruth Ellen Hoag workshop, I know I drew and painted this on it.

I really like this, but I’ve been pondering (occasionally) how to get that lead horse to really pop out.

As we know, I can’t be left along with any sort of extra paint, so I decided to use the last of the gesso juice and see what happened.

Again… now it’s different. Some color might help.

I admit, I lost some streaks that I found appealing. But I’m not sure that this won’t work with some tweaking.

At least it’s different.

Load more