Sep 15, 2010

Birth Announcement

5 1/2 x 5 1/2" watercolor

I can see it now. My funeral. I don’t know where it will be, but if there is some memorial service here in Goldsboro (probably some church), a guy named Henry is going to get up and say a few words about me. Something like this,

“She was always painting. She and I made an appointment one night for me to come spray her house [for bugs], so the very next morning I showed up on her porch carrying all my equipment at the time we’d agreed on. She was still in her robe and slippers when she answered the door. And she said, ‘This is not a good time. Can you come back tomorrow? I have a butterfly that just hatched and I’m painting it. I’ll pay you a partial if you’ll come back.’ And I told her I’d be back that Friday and wouldn’t charge her, but that I hoped there’d be no more butterflies. She was always up to something.”

And so, folks, I have never been a mother, and so have never gone through labor, but my guess is, we don’t choose what time a baby decides it’s going to show up. Such was the case with Henry, named after my [roach] exterminator.

Sep 9, 2010

Flying in plein air

13x13" watercolor quintych

Back when I was capturing caterpillars (in watercolor) in my garden, a couple of bees were buzzing around. You know I had to paint them. They move much faster than caterpillars. They don’t fly as fast as F-15 Strike Eagles which I’ve also painted, but they may be even more challenging to capture in a painting. F-15’s fly overhead in a flight pattern, so if you don’t capture one the first time over, you can get the next one. As far as I can tell, bees have no set flight pattern.

So here are my bees. I may not have mentioned to you, but I have a little sumi-e under my not-so-black belt. Sumi-e, which for those who don't know, is Asian brush painting done with ink (sumi). Sumi-e is something I studied at one time so I could learn some of its beautiful strokes and incorporate them into my watercolors. These bees would qualify as sumi-e had they been done in ink rather than watercolor.

Sep 5, 2010

Bearing witness

“Twin Mummies”
5x5" watercolor

Contrary to what you might believe, I am not a frustrated botanical artist. Plus, I really do have other things to do today besides painting chrysalises. But how often does one bear witness to a miracle? A friend called today and as I was talking to her, what was a caterpillar a few days ago turned into a chrysalis right before my eyes! If you Google Black Swallowtail Metamorphosis you too can watch this. I am so impressed. It’s almost as if he was swallowed by his own skin. He’s the top one in the painting above. I don’t know if he’ll become the vivid spring green you see in his sister beneath him. I have no idea why one chrysalis is brownish, and another, green. Nature is amazing. I learn from her all the time.

“Preparing for the Afterlife”

5 x 8 1/2" watercolor

Sep 4, 2010

They’re back!

“Slow-change artist”
5 1/2 x 5 1/2" watercolor

I apologize for the comment I made earlier that having caterpillars on my fennel plant a month ago was proof of global warming. I honestly believe that global warming is real, and is happening. I just happened to use a bad example with which to argue the matter.

So here we go. Right when I have way too much on my plate, the caterpillars are back from another hatching, and of course, like last year, I feel compelled to paint their various stages of development. If you happened to miss my first round of metamorphic watercolor studies, please visit As beauty unfolds on Hot Off the Easel.

So, I’ve been a caterpillar mom now for about a week. I knew my babies were preparing to become chrysalis, because three of their siblings disappeared from their banquet on my fennel plant. I managed to bring the others inside, and am happy to report that all three of them are on their way to becoming winged miracles.

Those who prefer my looser style painting, please visit Mooving on my other blog. Holy cow!

Sep 1, 2010

An aborted attempt

“It’s gone! The bread is gone!” I exclaimed as I checked out the back of his SUV for more loaves of bread. “Do you have any more? It’s all moved!”

The vendor trying to sell bread at the Fearrington Farmers Market thought I was being funny. In fact, he laughed his head off at my remarks. He was trying to sell bread; I was trying to make a painting. We each had our own agenda. It didn’t matter to me that he’d been kind enough to share his big umbrella at the threat of rain.

Here, folks, is an unfinished painting. The base coat, put down very wet and very loose is pretty much what most of my plein air watercolors look like before they receive their calligraphic line treatment. I’m including below a photo of the scene that I’d hoped to capture. I had to lay the painting aside to dry between the base coat and the calligraphy. I may and may not go back into this painting. I’m used to people moving, cars moving, but somehow I wasn’t thinking the bread would move. Fortunately for the bread vendor, I was wrong.

Photo left:
the view from the bread vendor

Painting above: “Unfinished”