SKETCHES · Southernisms

Homesteading Artist Acceptance

After writing the post Homesteading Artist Problems I was determined to spend more time in my little studio.  C’mon!  How hard can it be to finish one piece of work?  Well that was in July 2017.  The peach preserves were delicious.  I never planted the okra.  August 2017 was just too hot to wage war with  invasive garden insects.  In September I managed to write one last post before Hurricane Irma painted a swath of red through Middle Georgia.  No damages to our home, just the inconvenience of being without power for a few days.

The remainder of the year passed quickly.  The gardens were put to sleep under blankets of pine straw.  Medicinal herbs were dried and made into tinctures and teas to lessen the misery of cold/flu season.  The fireplace was made ready for colder weather.  I turned my attention to crocheting and knitting projects for added layers of warmth.  January 2018 – we got the usual Georgia slip n’ slide of ice and snow on hilly streets.  Now its February 2018.  Freakishly warm today – high was 80.  The weeds are sprouting, the rosemary is blooming like crazy and the yellow trumpet vines are blooming in the woods.

Worse yet, our pear tree is doing its level best to burst open its buds.   If the pear tree blooms too early, a hard freeze – which will surely occur, mean no pears for canning again this year!  And there ain’t a thing I can do about it.

Can’t fight nature.  Can’t put it on hold.

Yellow Climbing Vine_2017-Card
Yellow Trumpet Vine  (pastel on paper)

This homesteading artist has finally accepted that nature will not be made to wait while I make art and write blog posts.  My goal for 2018 is to embrace and adjust to the rhythm of natural laws.

Therefore I am once again changing the blog’s format.  Aiming for simplicity – posting about my art journey at home in the south.

Stick around.  Lets see where this takes us.


Too Hot for Tomatoes

To a southerner, steamy temperatures above 90 isn’t a heat wave.  Its Summer.  Until it gets too hot for tomatoes.


Tomatoes before Summer got stupid

We continue in our summer routines – cutting grass, washing trucks, fighting off blood-sucking insects. We take little notice of the oppressive heat until the tomatoes stop growing.  When its too hot for pollination its time to check on the elderly, drink plenty of fluids, stay inside air-conditioned buildings and thank God that you have a rickety ceiling fan and not a crystal chandelier in your bedroom.


THE INSPIRATION: With daytime temperatures staying above 86, there are no new tomatoes being produced.  I’m just trying to save the ones that are there.

THE CHALLENGE:  Plein-air work in the garden.  At 8:00 in the morning it’s already hot, humid and humming with biting insects!  Insect repellent is a must.  But it doesn’t keep the flies, gnats off your paper, pastels and paint pallet!

THE SKETCH: I did two sketches.  The 5″x 7″ watercolor postcard mailed to my daughter-in-law in sympathy with her gardening struggles.

Tomatoes Postcard
Watercolor on 5 x 7 postcard

Our plants are not thriving.  Just surviving!


Another sketch was done in pastels. This time I focused on what was still good about the plant – the ripening fruit.  Mmm… the glass is looking half-full!

THE TAKEAWAY: Nice imperfections. The smudges and unfinished lines allows the viewer’s eyes to fill in the gaps and form a completed picture in the mind.
I admire the plump, ripening fruit, despite the unforgiving heat!


Tomatoes Pastels
Pastels on a watercolor-wash background







Homesteading Artist Problems

Problem #1: ITS EARLY SPRING.  Prepare the gardens for planting.   Summer squash, tomatoes and vibrant annual flowers.  Trimming back climbing ivy.  More time spent outdoors than indoors.  “Mmm.  I’ll have to do art later.  Then I can post it on my blog.”

Problem #2: ITS LATE SPRING.  Roasting peanuts.  Fighting garden slugs and weeds in the garden.  Lots of rain keeps the grass growing.  First family vacation in 7 years.  Visiting our favorite coastal Georgia island.  “Great!  I’ll do some sketches.  They will make great studies for a finished piece.  Then I can post it on my blog.”

Problem #3: ITS SUMMER.  Finding great mark-downs on produce.  Put away several pints of peach preserves.  Harvest 14 quarts of squash.  Blanched and frozen.  Picking horn worms off tomatoes struggling through neglect and scorching summer heat.  Time for planting okra.  “Ahh!  Maybe the garden will inspire me to make art.  Then I can post it on my blog.”  

I know you are still waiting to see all those sketches.

Me too.

Found this short video about artist Clare Carver of Big Table Farm in Gaston, Oregon.   Carver’s work on the farm is what inspires her creations.  Great idea.  Now if I can set aside some time for art…

View more of Carver’s work at

Featured Image credit: Barski

The Cat

THE INSPIRATION: I recently posted Claire the Cat’s somewhat apologetic letter to a little girl.  If you are new to this blog, you may want to read Claire’s backstory: Claire the Cat .  Want to read more posts about her?  Type “cats” in the search bar.


THE CHALLENGE:  Animals move.  Cats move a lot.   Unless they are taking one of their daily 12 1/2 naps.  So one would think that would be the best time to sketch a cat.  Not for this artist’s model!  Evidently the scratching sound of charcoal on paper was enough to awaken and annoy Claire the Cat.  Who promptly walked away to find respite in her favorite human arms.

I followed.  Tried sketching again.  To no avail.  And had to resort to photography.  Claire the Cat was not pleased – as evident in finished piece.  Oh the paparazzi!

THE SKETCH: A tiny 5 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ ACEO piece.  Pastels and watercolor wash.

THE TAKEAWAY: The artist’s eye can see sense emotion better than any camera!  I’m going to try again when Claire is in a happier mood – perhaps a more wakeful moment.




Pastel Tips Tutorial

The term “Pastel  Painting” is a popular oxymoron used by the art world.  I often wondered “How can a pastel drawing also painting?”

I got my answer from the video 10 Pastel Tips posted by the Virtual Art Instructor.  The application of the pastels – the process of layering and mixing colors –  is considered painting with pastels.   The painting is in the process not the materials used. Got it!

If you have about 8 minutes, watch this tutorial of 10 helpful tips to improve your “painting” with pastels.


  • CONSIDER THE SURFACE:  I haven’t purchased pastel paper yet.  Using some leftover watercolor paper for a more textured surface.  Love the amount of layers I can apply.

Wilmars picnic_2017 - Card

  • BLEND AND UNBLEND:  OMG! I can be a blending fool – smoothing out every mark. I experimented with this tip in this picnic scene.  I’ve blended sky, flowers and cloth. But left the layered marks on the basket and grass unblended.
  • STAY LOOSE AND WORK QUICKLY:  This tip helped me to start loose at the beginning of the drawing just to get the  the color on the paper.
  • BE PATIENT:  It is OK just not to rush to try to finish in one sitting, just let the art develop.  I can always return to it later.
  • FIXATIVE IS OPTIONAL: I’m now spraying fixative midway in the process before adding details.  Afterwards I don’t feel compelled to spray a final coat.  OK, maybe a spritz or two just to be safe.



Artistic Collaboration: Luke Buffenmyer and Megan McNaught

It has often been said that Art Curators are simply frustrated artists.  Been there.  Felt that.  Got the t-shirt, coffee mug and tote bag!  Danielle Krysa of The Jealous Curator blog would agree.  On the other hand, Megan McNaught might not.

McNaught is the Curator of The Gallery at Macon Arts Alliance (Macon, Georgia). She has access to a list of more than 200 regional artists for exhibitions.  And submissions keep pouring in.  A prolific artist in her own right, McNaught has no cause for ‘jealousy’ or frustration.’ Rather she welcomes other artists to collaborate with her in the creative process.

She writes in her artist statement: “Collaborating for me has been a…creative springboard to new and exciting work.  Starting an image and handing it off to be finished, or being given an image to finish is intimidating, daunting and requires brave actions…expanding a creative process beyond oneself.”

A wonderful juxtaposition of artistic styles occur when McNaught collaborates with artist Luke Buffenmyer. Whereas McNaught work is a deliberate use of restrictions and rules, Buffenmyer’s allegorical images are a collection of memories and emotions.

Want to see more of their work?

Or visit the Emerging Artists group exhibition (Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia) through May 7, 2017.



Painting: Michael Ross

“Hey!  This one looks like its in 3-D.”  This comment by a fellow museum visitor piqued my curiosity while viewing Emerging Artists (Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia). Optical art was not among the contemporary work.  Missing were strategically placed lighting effects.  Yet Michael Ross’ canvases were aglow with activity, color and light.

Ross notes in his artist’s statement:

‘The figures in my paintings are on the move.  They exist in transient flux but have a sense of mission: a decision is looming, an obstacle lies ahead that will leave them changed…Like a film director, I want to create  worlds [that] must feel real and lived, if heightened and cinematic. ‘

Waxwing in a New Forest.  Image from Emerging Artists exhibit Museum of Arts and Sciences (Macon, Georgia)

Despite all this drama, it was Ross’s quiet lush landscapes that kept me captivated at the exhibition.  His oil painting Waxwing in a New Forest simmers with the thick humidity of the South.  The transplanted Marylander has embraced his new home “with all its beauty and tragedy.”

 Want to see more of Michael Ross work?