Healthy Steps – Weeks 18 & 19

I’m not sure what happened to my post from last week (week 18); I guess I wrote it in my imaginary blog? It was a nice post. I gained 1.2 pounds and it was about how it’s the kick in the pants I need to get back to making changes.

It was obviously a motivational post because this week I lost 3 pounds, bringing my “middle number” into a nice new range that I’ve been admiring all day.

In spite of making some great choices this week, I was a little nervous because I took a fall last night and had some Advil, which sometimes makes me gain (or at least that’s my story.) But I was down, and I’m looking forward to working hard this week too.

  • 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

For this last goal, I had to buy a new FitBit (my third) because the band on my HR came away from the device. My new Charge 2 has bands that can be changed. I also found out FitBit makes waterproof ones, though I didn’t get one. (Don’t tell my mom, but she may find one in her stocking at Christmas.)

Painting with intention (or the opposite)

Several times this week I had thought about sitting down to paint, but there has always been some other job that seemed more pressing. But, I told myself, I’ll do it this weekend. I didn’t have time to paint on Friday. I meant to paint Saturday. And Sunday got off to a slow start, but eventually art supplies did appear.

Sunday morning was too rainy to be inspired, so I decided to some bird watching. I drove out to both Basket Slough and Ankeny, and I was glad I did. I saw several birds I don’t see often, including white-fronted geese (no idea why, but I always miss these), yellow-headed blackbirds, and black-necked stilts.

This was enough to inspire me into my studio where I dithered around about what to paint. It isn’t that I don’t have things to paint, I just had a messy mix of not feeling very talented and not wanting to start something “too big.” Also, a lingering feeling I should continue to work on my homework.

Instead, I poured out a new triad I’m trying (ultramarine blue (same), aurelian or cobalt yellow (same), and rose madder (different).)

Rose madder was suggested as an alternative to the “assertive” reds I have been using. It certainly is NOT assertive. I had to use a lot more pigment in order to create a neutral dark for this (not quite finished) piece.

While I was waiting around for things to dry (I still am, that’s why it’s not finished), I worked on a Yupo ™ piece that has been scrubbed into a neutral background. I tore some tissue paper and added some shapes.

This is back to my “previous” triad.

Last but not least, I worked on finishing (what do you think?) a piece that has been lazing around studio for quite some time.

For those who don’t have a memory like an elephant, this piece has evolved from this…

Arminda’s Poppies

… to this…

… and now, to this…

I’m close to calling it done, but I’m trying to decide. I like the little collage pieces, but do they overwhelm the poppies? I’ll be thinking about it.

Blame it on the weather

At this point, I’m going to blame my continuing vague discontent on the weather. It’s as reasonable as anything else. It’s another Sunday and I’m contemplating my work (quite a bit, actually) with interest in continuing (why does Monday have to follow Sunday?) but no real satisfaction.


Last week I showed off a small 8″x8″ canvas that I had started as a circle exercise I had seen in a magazine or something.

This is an exercise on an 8″x8″ canvas i will turn into the Aritsts in Action fundraiser as the World Beat Festival.

The next stage, I thought, would be adding a contrasting color. I will spare you the details, but this layer didn’t go well. So, I decided to add some “gold leaf.” No bad, but it needed a little bit of something else, so I added some black.

I can’t decide if it’s getting better or worse.

Extra paint

In sparing you the detail of the contrasting color gone wrong, I will tell you that there was A LOT of extra naphthol red paint to be used up. So, I thought I’d see how one of my new aqua board held up. When there was still more paint, I did some Gelli plate printing. I liked those, so I did some collage. And then some “gold leaf” because it was out.

I think I may stick to watercolors.

Grid of Hooves

I had an idea when I was listening to juror Fran Larsen’s lecture on Sunday. I wrote it down, but this is my first attempt at trying it.

It was a good exercise because I can see my inconsistency of paint mixing. I also wasn’t daring enough with my layout.


At work this week, I was talking to a guy and asked about his dog. He showed me some pictures and video he took and I asked him if he would send me one particular picture because I really liked the play of light and dark on it.

Saturday night I just sat down and banged out this 15″x11″ piece. I need some ponder time to make some tweaks. And it was the first painting I’ve done in three colors since starting this latest “process” and I can feel the naphthol red is just too much.

Still, I kind of like it. I can’t decide whether to name it “The Red Hedgehog” or just “Friends”.


Healthy Steps – Week 15-17

No, I haven’t forgotten about this. I just haven’t been home on a Wednesday so I could go to Weight Watchers and get a report!

After two weeks and SO much traveling, I was very nervous about today’s weight in. While I had made a concerted effort not to eat my way around Oregon in the calorie-free car zone, I can’t claim I’ve been at the top of my form.

  • I haven’t tracked.
  • I’m on 2 Frappachinos per day (and could have done more, but this is where I restrained myself).
  • I’ve eaten my prepared food when I could and tried to eat a salad (occasionally) when I went into restraunts.
  • I hit 10,000 steps about 65% of the time.

I am THRILLED to report I not only didn’t gain weight, I am down 1.8 pounds!

But, now it’s time to get back to work. And I’m starting over (again.) Luckily, as a former Weight Watcher leader told me: There is no limit on the number of do-overs you get when loosing weight.

Basic goals… we’re gonna focus on you this week.

  • 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


Vaguely frustrated

It’s Sunday night. After a three-day weekend spend attempting to reassemble my life from the chaos of the last couple of week, I have a clean house, a tired dog, and a vaguely frustrated state of mind.

A few days ago, I was doing something and I realized that I felt good. There was no looming depression or anxiety clouds on my horizon; my new medications and the last adjustment seems to have been the ticket. I’m enjoying the sunshine, and whether it’s the iron tablets or extra vitamin D, I’m feeling less achy. While my weight loss has been stalled the last couple of weeks because of well–everything– my knee is feeling better and my clothes are just on the borderline of too big.

So, why am I feeling dissatisfied?

The answer is that I’m terrible at balance. I feel bad for a while, so I drop activities. Then I get feeling better, so I start to pick them up again. Then I have too much to do, I get overwhelmed, and things go downhill. If all this coincides with a medication issue, I can be in real trouble. But right now, I’m just a little out of sorts.

5-4-9 – Doctors and Cleaning

For years, my mom worked a 5-4-9 schedule; she would work 9 hour days every Mon-Thurs, one Friday she would work 8 hours and other she would get off. My workplace has a different name for it, but in January I switched to this schedule.

You would think that with an “extra” day off, I would do something interesting. No. Almost every one has been spent on doctors appointments or on some other errand or chore. Admittedly, this means that I don’t have to spend my sick leave time and my real weekends (in theory) should have less drudgery. But it’s not nearly as relaxing as it sounds.

This Friday I had a chiropractor appointment (I really needed it after all that driving) and an allergy shot, in additional to some other tasks. But the end of the day I was wiped out.

A non-speaking entity to find something you cannot see

Saturday I went up to Portland to attend a nose work seminar. Key and I have been enjoying this new game and have even attended some trials. However, his skill set far outpaces mine.

I attend the seminar in hopes of filling in some of my skill gaps. I did learn some things, but mainly, the instructor emphasized the need for PRACTICE. Sure. In all my spare time.

Waiting and Wishing and Painting

Today was spent around the house waiting for a delivery, cleaning (more… always…), and painting (but not much).

Right now, painting is another thing that doesn’t feel easy. I’m working on my value / two color homework, and that’s good, but I have to confess that it doesn’t make me run into the studio. In hopes of getting my artistic juices flowing, I watched a Jean Haines video Friday night, but I have to admit it didn’t turn on any brilliance or even a little excitement.

Fortunately, I had some time to wait for a delivery, and there comes a point when you have to admit you aren’t willing to be the kind of procrastinator who turns on the TV. So, I did do some work, cleaning my studio and playing with some ongoing projects.

I can feel summer and the pressure of various shows pressing down on me, but I feel like I need to stay my course.

Of course, it would be easier to do that if I didn’t keep putting obstacles in my path.

Please, don’t let me volunteer for anything else!

A very (very) big state

Last week I went south and west to visit the coast. This week I headed south and east to visit Klamath Falls, Burns, and Ontario.

Part of my job is doing training around the state; a couple of times a year I go on a bit of a “tour” to areas where new employees have come on and need a bit of guidance around billing out their grants (which I then pay after review.)

I enjoy this, but I almost always come back with this same reaction: Oregon is a HECK of a big state.

Tuesday, I drove from Salem down to Klamath Falls. I didn’t grab any pictures, but I did see an American Dipper, Mountain Chickadee, and a White-headed woodpecker at a rest stop.

Wednesday, after the training, I turned east, driving first through the Klamath Marsh and then through the high desert / sagebrush steppes of Christmas Valley to arrive in Burns where spring was just a theory.

Thursday morning I wok up to an inch of snow over ice. Thankfully, the hotel was only a short distance from the training site.

By the afternoon, it has warmed up enough the snow and ice had melted. My trainees suggested a slight detour just outside of town and I was able to drive by part of the Malheur River and a wastewater treatment area. The Burns area is one of the best birding areas in the world, and I was able to add Ross’s geese, American Avocet, Long-billed Curlew, Willet, and Franklin’s Gull to my life list, as well as admire several sandhill cranes.

Once out of Burns, it was “just” a 2.5 hour drive to Ontario, Oregon’s gateway to Idaho. This leg of the journey was, again, all about the sky.

And a few pronghorn antelope.

And the occasional juniper, raptor, or interesting canyon.

Today I did a brief, individualized training, then headed back west to home. 420 miles and just over 7 hours of driving, today alone. In real world terms,  this week I went through three books on tape.

It’s a very big state.

Let the edges move

Warning: This is a PG13 post.

This weekend I went to the Watercolor Society of Oregon‘s Spring Convention in Florence, Oregon. I was lucky enough that my painting “Should the turkey cross the road?” was selected for inclusion in the show by esteemed juror  Fran Larsen, but I usually try to go the the conventions, regardless of whether I get in or not, because it’s an opportunity to be around other artists and get exposed to new ideas and techniques.

My family has always had property around Lincoln City, so I have never explored other parts of the Oregon Coast. Florence is in the southern-most part of the “Central Coast” (if that makes sense) and sits on the mouth of the Siulsaw River. The area is most famous for the massive sand dunes and truly gorgeous.

I was lucky enough to be able to arrive in town Thursday evening. My friend, Sandra Pearce, and I had rented a little condo in downtown and she joined me Friday for some downtown exploring and sketching.

Sandra and I admire the flowering apple trees while strolling along the Friday night gallery walk.

As with any good story, there were a few adventures. Friday, before Sandra arrived, I went down the Siuslaw to do a little birding. While stopping here…

… I forgot that my car battery wasn’t in great shape and left my lights on while I admired a golden-crowned kinglet. AAA was called and I had to swing by Les Schwab for a new battery.

Also, while Thursday and Friday had gorgeous weather, Saturday’s weather can best be summed up with this photo.

I hadn’t signed up for any paint-outs, but Sandra wasn’t so lucky.

So, what did I sign up for?

Two Nudes with Tattoos by Alexandra Eyer and Pat Renner

A few years ago I took a figure painting class with Alexandra and Pat and I enjoyed it immensely. I have been looking for a chance to paint with them again, so I signed up for this class, though (to be frank) this is the first time I’ve ever done true “life drawing” (i.e. drawing and painting nudes.)

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t a big deal. I was more worried about getting proportions right and capturing the mood.

It was disappointing to only have and hour and a half in this class, because there was SO much more I wanted to explore. The models requested no photographs, so I’ll have to use these to go back to the topic. The model I worked on had a really  lovely golden skin tone that was a lot of fun to work on. She also had interesting lips and the best habit of tilting her head and showing the underside of her chin (not captured).

Bold Colors, Bold Shapes with Sally Bills Bailey

I had also previously taken a class with Sally, but haven’t had a chance to do anything with the ideas. I’ll admit I didn’t listen as hard as the first time, but I really worked on her ideas: using paint in an opaque manner, simplifying shapes, and not getting stuck into a particular color scheme but using color to  describe.

About this time, I should mention the the tricky vendors at the convention MADE me buy this, which I used throughout the day, but particularly on the last painting.

Watercolor markers

iPhone 101 for Artists with Elizabeth Zimmerman

My next class was with talented fellow equine artist Elizabeth Zimmerman. This class was pretty technical and involved playing with my cell phone, which isn’t great for producing interesting pictures to put in a blog.

Juror’s Afternoon Critique with Fran Larsen

I always try to  put in an image in the critique; I figure if I don’t try to find out what people thing, I’ll never learn anything. While I tell myself I’m braced for anything, the truth is critiques can be a pretty intense experience (see this former post.)

I submitted this image which still has a couple of tweaks I think it needs.

But what I was really interested in was if it was “enough.” I left out a lot of detail, which is a real stretch for me. I feel like I got what was important, but was it enough? I should also mention, this painting was not selected (i.e. rejected) for the Emerald Art Center Exhibition next month.

Juror critiques can be something of a mixed bag as far as getting anything useful. I’ve had juror’s say things as simple as “I like it” (not helpful) and move on to making fun of everything but my parentage (also unhelpful as well as rude.) Most jurors go out of their way to be encouraging and find something positive to say; this can be an ego boost, but sometimes you go home without an idea of what to do next.

Ms. Larsen was one of the most blunt jurors I’ve had. While she did not rip people’s paintings apart, she was very direct in saying things like, “You  need to do a better job applying paint consistently” and “It’s monumentally boring.” She was very clear that she expected the artists to push themselves out of the realism box and into the arena of making art. I know she hurt at least one person’s feelings because the artist was sitting in back of me and she was outraged. I’m not sure I would have done better.

So when my turn came up, I thought I was prepared. I asked Sandra to help me listen. Imagine my shock on hearing this: “This painter has guts. The horse incarnate.” Ms. Larsen paused. “You might want to talk a little more about the tack, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. Maybe another painting. Think about going big.”


So, here’s the moral of the story: One juror rejects, another compliments.

In the words of my favorite song, “You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.”

I skipped the banquet (I’m an antisocial, cranky human. I have accepted this and I’m not doing the banquet anymore) and went back to the condo to decompress.

Juror Fran Larsen’s Lecture Demo

Sunday morning was the WSO business meeting followed by Ms. Larsen’s Lecture. Most jurors do a demo, but my impression is that Ms. Larsen is getting a little older and that would have been too much.

Her lecture was a take on an art history lecture, focusing on modern art (late 19th century to the 1950’s) and how as artists we have an obligation to push beyond photo realism and into something that is unique to the artist. It was a good lecture, but perhaps not great. It did leave me something to think about as well as some ideas to explore.

It was a good weekend and I’m excited to get back to the studio. I’m going to frame this quote I picked up from Ms. Larsen: “Let the edges sing.”

Health Steps – Week 14

I need to make this short tonight. I am packing to head out for a few days for work and then the WSO convention. The big challenge this week (and next) will be to keep to my basic simple goals while being “out”. No schedule, no prepared food. Gulp.

  • Tracking (4 of 7 days, especially when “out”)
  • 1 Frappachino per day (maybe I should change this to only 2 per day)
  • Eating my prepared food (changing for this week to eat better in restraunts)
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walkOh… and I gained .2 pounds this week. It was a challenging week and to not have it really hit me gives me hope that if I just moderate, I’ll be okay.

Explore and return

Today I drove up to Canby to take down my show at the Canby Library. While one painting sold (YES!), the others had to return home. They have not yet found their place in the world.

On the way up, I decided to do something I have wanted to do for a long time; I explored Champoeg State Park. I have driver by Champoeg hundreds, if not thousands, of times as I have driven around, but I’ve never taken the time to stop and explore.

Today, I did.

Healthy Steps – Week 13

I lost (a frankly amazing) five pounds this week.

While I am thrilled about this, I have to admit to being surprised. While I made some good choices, there were a lot of extremely questionable choices in there.

This got me to thinking that a theme that keeps coming up is that weight removal is not about being perfect; weight removal is about working to make choices that will be reflected in the long term. So, yes, I went out to eat and had a great big salad with bacon and avocados; I didn’t have potato chips. I went out dinner and had a yummy grilled chicken with mayo; I didn’t have the hamburger with cheese.

I know that perfection is one of those themes that keeps coming up for me in my life. Obviously, it’s impossible to be perfect. And every time I don’t hit that mark, I feel it down to my pancreas.

I went to see my therapist last week and she gave me the (somewhat standard) speech about treating myself well. The handouts and words vary, but it’s the same message. I always walk away from this speech vaguely frustrated; I treat myself fine, darn it!

The fact is I’m not perfect and it haunts me. Maybe it’s time to really think about actually taking my therapist’s advice and celebrating the great things about myself and not beating myself up for those things (like my quick temper, over-reactive tendencies, and impatience) that tend to put me in conflict with the world at large.

Obviously, that’s a lot to ask and not always within the scope of weight removal. But it’s something to consider as I move forward.

I am very much still on basics this week; last week was about 50/50 (if that).

  • Tracking (4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day (I did 2 each day last week in spite of stating I was going for 1 because it was all just too much)
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

On a last note, with today’s weight removal, I’m within eight pounds of a big goal: 10% of my body weight removed. At the front of each Weight Watcher’s booklet, you are supposed to state your goal for the 16 weeks that booklet covers. My goal for this booklet was to remove 10% by the end of it. I have 8 weeks to go and I’m starting to believe I might just do it!

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