Mar 22

Healthy Steps – Week 12

I gained weight this week. In a perverse way, I am relieved. While I didn’t go off the rails like I did last week, I certainly didn’t snap back into shape.

But it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and frankly for the last two weeks, I’m still down a little. I’m feeling like my perspective is improving and I’m ready to look ahead a little.

When I entered my gain into my Weight Watcher’s app, it gave a suggestion: trying tacking 4 days this week. I think that’s a good start to this week’s goals.

  • Tracking (4 of 7 days)
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

I’m still on the basics. And I haven’t quit.

Mar 20

Behind the art

I didn’t get a chance to do my weekly artistic post on Sunday because by the time I got done with all the things I had to do, I didn’t have time to edit photos and write.

With that said, I have no new art to show, though I spent a thoroughly artist weekend.

Critique group

I took a few of my recent series of paintings to critique group. They were encouraging, including encouraging me not to wimp out. I heard about various artist workshops where the artist had encourage of series of at least 100 paintings. I’ve done seven.

Reference photos

From there I went to the Cherry Blossom festival here in town, which is a celebration of all things cherry ad well as Salem’s sister city in Japan. Kawagoe. It’s a great opportunity for gathering reference photos.

Additionally, the Salem Capital Building allows tours to the upper deck to get a view of Salem and admire our golden pioneer.

Ordering paper

Sunday I spent my artist time ordering frame and placing a big order for watercolor paper. While not exactly visually interesting, both things are an important part of the artist process.

So, my apologies about not having new things to show you, but sometimes you have to conduct a little business first.

Mar 15

Healthy Steps – Week 11

Folks, I went off the rails this week. A combination of hormones, doctors, work stress, pet drama, and heaven only knows what else just go to me. There was pie. There was Easter Candy. There were multiple pizzas. And the Frappachinos are back.

When I got on the scale today, I was braced for the worst; imagine my shock when I was down 3.4 pounds. All I can say is that next week I’m sure I will pay.

I think this sums up what went wrong.

I got mentally tired and when the triggers came along, it was an explosion.

On that note, last week I made the daring decision to take one item off my to do list and work on another. I’m feeling like that was a step I wasn’t ready for, so I’m going back to my original four.

  • Tracking (6 of 7 days)
  • No Frappachinos
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

Tracking and Frappachinos are the ones that got away.

Luckily the WW topic this week was the perennial favorite, “Bounce Back! Setback happen to all of us. Here’s how to get back on track.”

Boy, do I need it!

Mar 14

Response to “failure”

With Ruth’s permission, I give you some of her feedback to my failure post on Sunday.

Regarding color options

“Interesting that the other workshop gave you the Brown Madder/Cobalt Blue colour scheme. I use a BM/Ultramarine mix often in painting (using CB if I want cooler), but also a rose madder/ultramarine or rose madder/manganese blue (manganese granulates more than cerulean). Using those as colour choices for this exercise is smart. Another, more way out, mix to try is Quin Gold/cobalt violet deep or mineral violet, and a John Singer Sargent standard is Alizarin Crimson/Viridian. He also used raw or burnt sienna with cobalt blue.”

Regarding edges

“For the edges issue try a value sketch first. A VERY quick sketch simplifying shapes (KISS) and then use only THREE tones: white (paper), mid and dark. It helps to draw 3 boxes at the side of the sketch and leave one white, lightly shade the second = midtown, then heavier shade the 3rd = dark. Map out your midtones (you can also use the midtone over the dark areas) and shade over the whole area without reference to the form of the subject, then add the darks in the same way. Look at the design of the piece rather than the subject – subject in this case being the horse’s legs. Look for movements of linked tones over the whole piece.

You can also try the pears exercise (where we divided the image into 3 parts) that we did on day one of the painting workshop on this more complicated image.

REMEMBER PROCESS NOT PRODUCT. An exercises shows its value in the resultant effect on your work, not in the exercise itself.”

Regarding underpainting and fuller painting

“Take a look at the demo piece I did as underpainting on Saturday. It is underpainting rather than limited palette so the ultramarine/rose madder is used as a varying mix rather than as two colours, but it was used to demonstrate looking for those design elements and lost edges.

For application to a fuller painting take a closer look at ‘Oil On Water‘. it is one of your favourites and this is probably why. Look at the handler’s feet and how they merge with the grass. Look at how the ‘line’ between horse and handler is suggested, then lost, then suggested again at his quarter and how the edge between her jeans and the bag is lost altogether. Those are design elements that add atmosphere and reduce clutter thereby helping focus the viewer on the important parts of the painting.”

My response

Thanks, Ruth! I will try not to whine about more value sketches. 😉

Mar 12

Failure is the first step

No one will ever accuse me of being a focused painter. Case in point: I was given homework in mid-July 2017 and I’m just now getting around to doing it.

When Ruth Buchanan came to give a workshop last summer, she left me with homework.

“You told me on the first day that you get distracted by color. I want you do do a week of painting in two colors, and then add three colors. Send me a timeline of your work and we’ll go over it.”

I’ve been thinking about this ever since, but have not committed.

Almost immediately, I had an idea for the topic of this potential body of work. A couple of years ago, I did this painting, which has remained one of my favorites.

Shoes & Shadows -$200

I loved the rhythm and the contrast of the white shoes and black shadows. I’ve been making noises ever since about doing more.

When I did the Francesco Fontana workshop in the fall of 2016, I several small hooves paintings, culminating in this piece which I was very happy with.

First Turn

I think it’s a good topic. Edward Degas (and many others, obviously) did a series of racehorses and the lines of the horses legs have always intrigued me (though Degas, who was a misognist jerk, is not among my favorite artistic characters in history.)

Race Horses c. 1893, Edward Degas

Last fall there was a Winsor & Newton demo at the WSO Fall Convention; they put Brown Madder and Cobalt Blue together and had people play with them. The colors wash and granulate beautifully, creating a lot of great effects.

I didn’t want to do a bunch of big paintings, so the largest painting I determined would be 1/4 sheet (15″x11″). I wanted to push myself and say I would only draw the base layer, but with time being a crunch, I have cheated on that part.

To be frank, I’m really not very excited about showing off these paintings. They just…. aren’t what I was hoping for.


#1 (color arrangement based on FF workshop)

#2 (same reference, trying different color arrangements)

#3 (have lost the simplicity and just given up)

#4 (messed up the drawing, lost the leg placement… and just… ugg)

#5 (before changed background)

#5 (changed background)

$6 (trying hard to loose edges)

#7 (drawn, not traced)

Other subjects

Gretchen’s cat Simon (still need to fix tail line)

“Focus” (love ducks, dog needs more work)

I feel like I am onto something. This is a great exercise, and when I sit down and paint, I am enjoying it. But when I walk away I start picking it to pieces.

  • “I need to draw more.”
  • “I’m using too many brushstrokes.”
  • “Everything looks purple. I’m not using the full range of colors.””
  • “I’m not loosing enough edges.”

This project is not destined for a show. The point is to strengthen my value and color understanding.

I also think however, this is turning into an experiment with style change. I’ve been painting since 2006 (about 12 years) and I’ve had a couple of very good years, getting into shows and even winning some awards. But like all artists, I want to get better, and that means trying new things.

One of my favorite artists, Lynda Hoffman-Snodgrass, is an abstract artist of some note. I heard her say she started out as a botanical illustrator (it might have been just “very detailed” so don’t quote me.) Think of all the changes she must have gone through to become the award-winning abstract artist she is today.

It makes my current struggles look very paltry indeed.

Mar 08

Healthy Steps – Week 10

Drum roll please! This week I  lost 4.6 pounds, bringing my total to 23.4 pounds removed!!!

Second drum roll… I’ve also been off Frappachinos for 3 days. Feeling shaky, but I’m trying.

I wish all this meant I was thriving, but honestly, both of my feet hurt now (I’m concerned I’m developing plantar fascitiis in the other foot) and I’ve been struggling with just feeling generally sore.  I recently went to the doctor who told me (as usual) I was slightly anemic. That can cause general soreness, so I’m going to take her recommendation and get some special vitamins and eat a steak. Also, Vitamin D deficiency is on the list of possible culprits, and it is winter in Oregon.

All this is to explain that while I’m  having a small cheat evening, I’m going to keep going tomorrow.

Weekly goals

  • Tracking (6 of 7 days)
  • No Frappachinos
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk
  • Work on my self talk

As I am sure you can see, I am changing my goals slightly. I am doing well on the exercise (so much so that my feet are bothering me). So, I’m going to keep doing that, but take it off my focus list.

Instead, I’m going to work on an area that I realized today is holding me back.

I have a tendency to get frustrated, particularly if I don’t feel I’m being listened to. But, rationally, I do think I’m being listened to. I think that I think I’m not heard. So I’m going to work on slowing down and hearing myself.


Tara (in my head): “Person A never does things right. It’s so frustrating. They just don’t care about doing it right and don’t hear me when I tell them the correct way.”

New talk: “Person A does things the best they can and is very nice when you tell them what they need to fix. They probably do care about doing things right, but their job is not to care to the extent that you care. The fact they don’t change is not a reflection on you or your lack of power. It’s not a reflection on your ability to explain things. It’s not a reflection on anything. It’s just a mistake. You have a choice about whether to fix it or let them know. You’ll be believed either way.”

Honestly, neither is the best speech, but I  hope you can see where I am going. I think I need to work on talking to myself and hearing myself instead of looking to others to hear me.

If this is a little out there, forgive me. It’s a new thought.

Mar 05

Too tired for a real post

I have been working hard. I know, you have no reason to believe me, but it’s true. The caveat, however, is I don’t want to show you what I’ve been working on yet. So, I’m going to do a random post and get some things off my list.

Red Harness

I’m either done or at a stopping point on this painting, started in November. This is a different style for me and I’m struggling with how much else is needed (if anything). Detail withdrawal is a terrible thing.

My 15 minutes of fame

As part of my show at the Canby Library, there has been a couple of articles in local papers about me and my art. Excitement!

Distaff Divas sold!

Speaking of the Canby show, I got an email on Friday that told me that my painting, Distaff Divas sold.

“Distaff Divas” – 2014

One painting down, 15 more to go!

Out of the stealth project pile

I’ve been waiting for things to happen, but it looks like it’s not going to happen, so I am going to go ahead and post a stealth project for your enjoyment.

About 18 months ago, a gal I knew asked me to paint a small commission of a cute little Haflinger for a hostess gift.

I completed the commission and turned in the painting, but haven’t heard anymore about it. I’m tired of waiting, so I’ve decided to post it

With this post, I only have one “stealth project” left in my life. Of course, it’s been in my life for three years, so you may never see it!

Mar 02

Healthy Steps – Week 9

I’m a day late in posting this. I sat down at my computer last night and did lots of stuff, but not this.

It could be I was procrastinating. I gained 2.2 pounds last week. It wasn’t a shocker. I tracked 2 of 7 days and went to see my mom (I think we bring out the worst in each other, eating-wise).

But, it was a good reminder that I can’t work this 2 days out of 7 and get results. So today, I finally took the plunge and didn’t buy that Frappuchino. I was able to eat my dinner without going over points. It’s a feeling.

Goals this week:

  • Tracking (6 of 7 days)
  • No Frappachinos
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

And so I dance on…


Feb 26

All The Gear, No Idea (ATGNI)

From Photography Slang:

ATGNI: All The Gear, No Idea refers to a person who has bought lots of camera gear and doesn’t know how it all works.

My dad started my love affair with cameras. Since starting this blog in 2014 I’ve actually had two cameras. I started out with a Canon “point-and-shoot” that I had taken everywhere (including on my trip to England) and I loved it. And then, one day, it just died and not even the factory could repair it again. So, I “borrowed” a present my mom had purchased for herself but wasn’t using. It was a big Nikon Camera with a big 300mm lens. This piece of equipment has not been without its challenges; its big, it’s heavy, and for a “big” lens, I’m always wishing for more zoom.

Friday I was intending to go down to visit my mom, but the car went to a store in Dallas called Focal Point Photography. My reason (and this is my story) was that I was hoping to find a used spotting scope. No luck, but a new Canon “point-and-shoot” decided to come home with me.

I did make my way down to the beach to visit my mom after this detour. Friday I hit Basket Slough, the elk herd in Milo, Salishan Nature Walk, Yaquina Head, Newport jetty, and the Coronodo Shore beach. Then Saturday, Mom and I drove up the Three Capes scenic by-way. Sunday I came home with another excursion to Basket Slough.

I’m telling you all this because that is the end of my narration; this trip was all about playing with my new toy!


Feb 22

Healthy Steps – Week 8

This was a challenging week for me; a three-day weekend, a trip, several stressful meetings, and a slow period at work. Any one of these can and did trigger my desire to eat EVERYTHING.

I didn’t eat EVERYTHING, but I certainly did eat plenty. Thus, is was a pleasant surprise when I was down .4 pounds for a total of a nice, even 21 pounds.

It’s not about being perfect, it’s about little steps.

The next big milestone is 10% lost: 17.1 pounds to go.

So, it’s with renewed focus this week that I’m going to work on my goals.

  • Tracking
  • No Frappachinos (didn’t buy them this week, so if I can just avoid the store…)
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

I’m also continuing to thing about tackling the weekends. The WW topic this week is scheduling your  meals, something that struck me as a novel idea as regards to weekends. I tend to treat weekends as a free form meal experience. Adding some discipline to the days might be just the first step I need.

As a last note, speaking of small steps, today I came home and walked the dog 1.5 miles. When I started this my dog walks were averaging about .8 miles. My knee is getting better (I’m occasionally forgetting to wear my brace) and while my feet still hurt, I’m hopeful that with enough small steps that will improve.

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