Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Purge Urge

I've been doing a lot of thinking these past few days.  I think most of us do, as the end of the year approaches and the new one begins.  Why is that?  Why are we wired in such a way that we're always looking for a new beginning, a fresh start?  We're always trying to reach some pinnacle of perfection....  Or is it just that the storage containers and bins go on sale and suddenly we're all struck to be "Martha Stewarts" and have our lives perfectly organized and labeled?  Heck, even her life isn't perfection, remember that little jailhouse stint of hers?  But seriously, what is it about the new year that brings on this sudden nesting urge?  Is it the word "new" and therefore we want everything to be shiny and bright?  Or is it the clap-trap trimmings of the holidays have by now lost their luster and excitement and we're getting tired of the tinsel from the tree showing up in every room of the house and stuck on our socks?  It's funny because yesterday our tree and Christmas decorations were perfectly safe.  The thought had even crossed my mind that perhaps we'd leave it up for another week.  Today, I'm planning how tomorrow it all comes down so the tree can be picked up on Tuesday's trash day!  What happened in that 24 hour period that flipped the switch in my brain?

And don't even get me started on my studio!  For those of you that have followed the perils of my studio the past year know that I just put it back together in September after having it torn apart for many months.  Guess what?  I'm ready to tear it apart again!  Not in the same sense, but this time a purging - a new year's purging.  I think it's all part of "the thinking" I've been doing.  You see, yesterday I went out art supplies shopping.  Now as an artist, that's fantastic, right?  I mean, an artist can never have too many art supplies.  Guess what?  Yes, they can.  That little shopping trip made me realize a few things about myself and also the direction I want to go with my art.  It made me decide I really need to focus.  Oh sure, I can do lots of creative things and I paint and I can draw, but I don't think I'm the best I can possibly be at anything in particular and therefore, I need to focus.  So, the first thing I did was say buh-bye to my Two Frogs Studios Facebook page.  I don't do that anymore, haven't done it for some time, so why was I hanging on to it? Stuff... hanging on to "stuff"... time to purge.  I'm tired of hanging on to bits of Frogs' flotsam.  That'll be the first stuff purged from the studio.  Then I'm hitting the bookcases.  I've got to have a real honest conversation with myself on my books....  The rest of the supplies are safe, since they were recently purged.  But no more Mooney B. Finch's eraser stuff (Google "The Magical Drawings of Mooney B. Finch", it's a great kid's book), nah-ah, I'm done.

While my Lizzy is home, I'm doing a "stuff" purge of the house.  I'm going to get my Sarah and Lizzy together to go through Grandma's tea cups and whatnots and decide who wants what because it drives me crazy every time I open a cabinet door in the dining room.  All the "stuff"!  Oh, and my closet - not that I'm a clothes-horse, I tend to buy art supplies before I buy clothes -  but I do hang on to pieces because I like the fabric.  I've got some great batik-like "stuff", but I need to figure out how to re-purpose them. 

Throughout the past year I've done mini-purges here and there, in this closet and in that closet, but Lord have mercy! There's still too much "stuff"!!  I tend to approach things now as, "if I were moving tomorrow, would I take this with me?"  It works pretty good.  You really has to be honest about the question though and that can be hard because justifying why you have decided to keep the hobnail glass slipper with a chip in it, given to you by your Aunt Selma, when you were a little girl many moons ago, that you only ever find when you're moving around "stuff" in the cupboard, looking for other "stuff" just isn't working.  Yeah, that slipper is outta here... right after the Christmas tree comes down. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reality Check

Oh, I don't know... It's been nearly 3 months since I last posted anything on my blog. Of course, I do have some really good excuses.  We went to Spain for 10 days in late October - yeah, I know! Awesome! When we returned, I started working at English Gardens, a garden center during most of the year, okay, ALL of the year - but a Christmas decorations bonanza during the holiday season. I was the Porch Pot Princess - a title I gave myself, although my name badge just read "sales associate"....  My primary job was to create custom seasonal porch pots, which was great because it fed my creativity "jones". Oh, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.  Anyone who is creative has this "itch" they just can't scratch enough - it's our "jones".  Anyway, on top of that, I'd sprained my right wrist with my new "spinner" suitcase, my first day in Spain.  I know... no one is shedding a tear for me.  I get it.  I've been dealing with the wrist situation since late October because I've never given it the time to heal completely (i.e., rest it, ice it, wrap it, whatever) and I'm probably the "worst patient ever" at taking care of myself when it comes to injuries - I've got things to do!  If I can keep going, I do, like a idiot.  And fugeddaboud going to the doctor's.  It's not that I have a fear or anything about doctors, etc.  Heck, I worked in an emergency department for 13 years!  Nothing freaks me out.  I just figure if I can function, it's not broken... it did squash my typing ability, though.  Even now, it twinges a bit.  It's gotta be a ligament.... 

But that's all neither here nor there.  That's just where I've physically been.  And now, my birthday is less than 12 hours away and the start of the new year is less than 36 hours away.  I realized today that this birthday and year's end mark an interesting place on my life's time-line.  It will mark the beginning of the end of the fifth decade I have spent on the face of this earth. What will I do this final year of my fifth decade?   I have lots of ideas of where I'd like to be.  What I have to do is figure out what I truly want and how to go about getting there and that's a toughie.  I have this general idea, but I've never put together a real game plan.  Why?  Because, truth be told, I don't know how exactly.  And, quite honestly, I've not put in the needed time and effort.  Part of that last statement is because I'm at a loss as to what exactly I should be doing and I tend to allow other things - such as "life and it's distractions" get in the way of my creative progression.   I guess having been a daughter/caretaker, wife, mom for so many years knocked "artist" off it's track and I'm still having trouble getting back on the rails.  One would think it would be so simple to jump back on track, but when the "train" has been derailed for so many years, so many times, it isn't that easy.  The train has forgotten it's schedule and not sure where the destinations are anymore.  But it's time for no more excuses, no more hesitation, time to re-write that train schedule and get back on the track, right?  I'm sure once that happens, the destinations will become much more clear. 

We always have such high hopes for a new year.  The trick is to turn those hopes into realities...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Alright Already!

Okay... okay... I know...!  Some of you have been asking... Yep, I'm finally back in my studio (everybody do a little happy dance - you won't have to listen to me bitch and moan about no studio anymore!) There's still a closet to build and I have to figure out what I want to do about a baseboard and ceiling, but I'm back in and settled. Just gotta bring the fish in from the pond for the winter :) Some of you asked me for photos of the space, so here ya go.  It's not the fanciest studio or the biggest or the prettiest, but it's all mine and I can do as I please in it. Heck, Bailey even came down yesterday - twice! - and hung out with me.

Remember? this was my office area... Everything piled it.
 Here are a couple of old photos to refresh your memory.
And this was the lovely paint wall area, before the waterproofers came in.

Ugh! It was awful... couldn't function at all in it.

Now, here's the "new, improved" space:
This is the drafting table area.

This is the larger painting area. There used to be a loveseat here.

Willy and friends aquarium awaits their arrival from the pond...

My robots hang-out...

My bookcases behind my desk, which create a divider between the office and paint area

The easel area

The paint wall. Note, in the left back corner is where a tall storage closet will be built.
And that's pretty much it.  The old studio upstairs is now a sewing/craft/art journaling room. No pictures just yet.

Alright, gotta get back to work... doin' a little happy dance....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


It's been a month now since the studio wall was waterproofed.  It's been a month of s-l-o-w forward progress to rebuilding the wall, i.e. figuring out how to frame out the walls with studs, without damaging the thermal barrier or the drain under the floor; the actual construction of that frame; reattaching the luan panels; filling the seams; endless sanding; more filling; more sanding.... I did have plans to put in a new baseboard, since the other one was destroyed during "demo day" and I did plan to finish the edge of the carpet where I cut it away to create a larger painting and work area, but somehow today those things just don't seem important anymore. Oh sure, it would be nice, it would look more polished and complete, but would it make me paint any better? I don't think so.

Maybe someday, if I'm feeling ahead of the game and want to tackle those additional finishing details, I'll do them. But I've absolutely lost any and all patience with it all today. I want to put my studio back in place. I want to be able to get up in the morning, grab a cup o' joe and go to work in the studio - with paintbrushes and pencils, not hammers and nails, not spackle and sandpaper. So, you're probably wondering why the heck I'm sitting here, instead of putting everything back together in the studio. Well, I'm waiting for spackle to dry.  That's right, one more round of sanding. I'd already done the filling before I "hit the wall" of patience. Waiting... something that I'm so tired of... waiting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Day After Yesterday

Funny how I actually feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel now....

Yesterday, my good friend and fellow artist/sculptress, Ann Smith came over to my house and helped me think through the rebuild of the studio wall.  After a fun trip to Home Depot's lumber aisles (yes, it was fun... we both agreed we'd rather be there than at a mall.) and the obligatory Starbuck's Drive-Thru order of two venti coffee frappacchinos, with a shot of espresso, we were armed and dangerous - literally!  Upon the advice of a tool maven at HD, I bought a hammer gun :) I know! Oooo- ooo...!  But it turned out after reading the directions, I suddenly realized we might be puncturing the new WaterGuard drain, if we used it.  I called the company and sure enough, the answer was "No, do not use it. If you puncture the drainage system, the warranty will be null and void." Whew! Man, am I glad I called.  So, that changed our tactic a bit.  We couldn't use the hammer gun, but we still had Ann's chop saw! And my power drill... and my circular saw...  Haha! Power tools and espresso... love 'em.

Since we weren't going to be shooting fasteners into the cement floor, we changed the 2 x 4's to be vertical instead of horizontal on the floor.  We didn't get terribly far with construction, but we got enough going on that our thought process is complete now for the rest of the construction.  It's a little unorthodox, but then the house was built in 1926, so nothing is put together in a fashion that would be used today or that you might see on HGTV's home improvement shows.  Besides, when we get done, it'll be way better than anything that had been done previously!  Also, it's not like we are building a real wall, just a wall to support the luan plywood that I staple my canvas to when I'm doing a large painting or mural.

Yep, it's amazing what a day and a good friend can do to lift one's spirit.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Forever and a Day

It seems as though it's been forever - forever and a day to be exact. The pain of not having a proper studio for three months now has definitely taken it's toll on my psyche.  I have felt, not necessarily lost, but in limbo.  It's like I'm in a waiting room, a never ending waiting room, where I have all my "stuff", piled along side me... waiting....  The seeds of paintings waiting to be sown, all smooshed into a compartment in my brain, where I'm afraid cobwebs are trying to take hold.  I've tried to stay optimistic.  I've tried to stay "engaged", giving myself pep talks and pats on the shoulder saying, "You can do it... not much longer... they'll (the waterproofing company) be here soon...".  Meanwhile, emails, this blog and on-line artist groups have been pushed aside, rarely ventured into because my main computer is in my studio and only recently have I gotten this one, of which I'm still trying to get totally comfortable with the way it's set up.  It's been an incredibly frustrating spring/summer for me.  So when the waterproofers came last week and did their work, I was feeling pretty happy, knowing that the studio would soon be up and running again.

Whoa...! Not so fast, lady! First, there's waiting for the cement to dry - which it is not, in the pantry down there still and that means delay on getting that put back together, so I still have our wine in the workroom, hoping no one kicks over the bottles on the floor, as they reach for the light cord.  Why isn't it on the workbench? Because that's all covered with supplies and whatnot from my studio, along with 90% of the floor as well.  Then in the laundry area, that's where the real pantry fun is!  You see, my husband unloaded the pantry shelves without me, so I have no idea what is in what box.  They're stacked, unlabeled - and that's where they'll stay until the pantry's ready to reassemble.  I'm not touching them.

As for the studio area, OMG... it looks like a baked potato, the wall is covered in a foil thermal barrier.  I decided today I would start reassembling the studio area, but I have to figure out how to frame out the wall so I can attach the paneling to it, first.  Okay...that brought me to tears - literally.  I know how to frame out a wall, but our house was built in 1926.  We don't have "pretty ceiling lines".  There are 2 x 4's nailed to floor joists in one area, that creates a grid on the ceiling where there used to be ceiling tiles, but part of the ceiling doesn't have that.  It's a whole different ball game.  It's covered with something that I assume is attached to the floor joists, but I can't see them.  And I'm NOT tearing that all down.  Besides, even if I wanted to, I couldn't, because more of my studio furniture and supplies are all stacked in the way.  I can't do anything down there until I get the wall sorted out, because I have all the paneling stacked against my drawing table and bookcases.  I can't sort out the floor - where I'm removing carpeting and painting the floor, etc. - because all the paneling is on top of the carpeting.  So once I realized all this, I had a "good" long cry.  That realization broke this camel's back.

After I got that out of my system, I went back to this blog - why, I don't know... looking for a distraction, I suppose.  I noticed in my last post, I had posted pictures of the chaos in the studio and lo and behold - there are photos showing that the old wall was attached directly to the wall's 1 x 3's, no framework.  So, that's what I'm going to do - tomorrow.  I've waited forever for this studio to "come back".  I guess I'll wait one more day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Queen of Chaos and Her Realm

I laughed yesterday as I looked around our house - chaos everywhere!  I told the story of my studio in the basement and how it's all torn up due to water seeping in and how we're evaluating waterproofing companies.  Finally met with the last one last night.  Let me just say, hahahahahahahahahaha...yeah, right... um, no.  At least now we can move forward on the project.  BUT, that's just one room.  Oh, honey, I've got it goin' on everywhere! 

Okay, I finished my brick project for the Scarab Club's Garden Party auction last Saturday, so I was able to remove all the gilding supplies and paint from the dining room table and take them back to the abyss in the basement.  I quickly replaced the detritus with a lamp, the TV, and other assorted knick-knack nonsense from the TV room WHICH is being recarpeted BUT the installer could only lay the tack strip yesterday and the padding (long story, never mind...) so he's coming back today to complete the install.  So therefore, ALL the furniture is in the living room from the TV room. Yeah, it looks like a warehouse, pretty much.  Oh, and of course, I decided to change the wall color and treatment in that room as well, once he's done with the install.  I managed to get the base color on the walls and ceiling yesterday.  Today the "pretty" happens.  Just sittin' here in my "happy pants", waitin' to get in there.

But that's not all, folks.  If you step out of the back door, you'll be amidst the restoration of the breezeway, which consists of burning all the old paint off (house is c.1926 so it's has many layers of paint that have now "alligatored" down to the original wood.)  In order to have a new and proper paint job, we have to remove the old paint. We had hired it out for the exterior portion of the house.  It was a two year job and way expensive because it intailed restoration of the orignal wood windows and wood storm windows and glazing of over 500 panes of glass.  I got to help out as much as I could because the painter is a dear friend of mine.  He taught me to glaze windows and restore the frames when needed.  I then did faux touch-ups on the brick where painters over 84 years had dripped and where the English ivy had left "footprints" on the brick.  The exterior looks like a million bucks!  And I loved working on it. But then again, I'm "twisted" that way.  We're about 2/3 done with the burning and then I get to repair the old clapboard where needed, sand, caulk and paint.  Steve (my husband) isn't a painter, but he has proven to be pretty darn good with a heat gun! Okay, so anything that we keep in the breezeway is piled into the screened-in porch (which also has to have the paint burned off...) on one side so I can still sit on the wicker settee on Sunday mornings and plan my attack on the gardens after breakfast.  Normally, the cushions for the patio chairs aren't on my settee...

The second floor is pretty "safe".  The only chaos up there is in my old studio, which I have to "set up shop" in while I wait for the basement to be fixed.  But that should be pretty easy to organize quickly.  The third floor is fine.  That's Lizzy's old room and I haven't been up there.  So I guess what I'm saying here is "chaos" follows me?  Haha!  No, not really.  I just like to stay busy and this house certainly provides the oppotunity to do so!  Just call  me the Queen of Chaos!  My sceptors are a paint brush in one hand and a heat gun in the other.  My crown is my respirator.

And poor Steve... not Mr. Handyman, is glad when the weekends are over so he can escape the clutches of the Queen! Haha!

Friday, June 17, 2011

When Will It All End?

I'm just checking in with a short post because I'm still in chaos and mess in my studio.  I'm waiting for company two to come out and tell us how they're going to fix the basement wall.  Nothing has changed - except no water in the studio anymore, but it's a long way from being usable.  I've managed to complete "Sarah and Annie" by taking the minimal amount of supplies and a field easel up to my old studio.  Bailey, my wheaten terrier,  likes me better up there - at least he'll come and visit me - and it doesn't require food!  But I'm feeling "homeless".  I have another project going on the dining room table.  Gold leaf is drifting around the table... *sigh*  It's just not comfortable. 

So anyway, here's the completed "Sarah and Annie" and I guess I'll go back upstairs and try to "corral the kittens" of gold leaf fluttering about.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Just When I Thought I Had It Made...

"Sarah and Annie" WIP
What a difference a week can make, huh?  A week ago, Monday, I was feeling pretty good about my "artist life".  My studio was humming along - I had three projects underway: one on the "paint wall", one on the floor easel and another "Stuffed" piece on the table easel.  I even managed to get a plein air piece done in my garden. And then it happened... I discovered water seeping under my interlocking floor tiles.  I thought it was another situation where the outside drainpipe had gotten dislodged and the rain water was running down the foundation wall.  It had happened before, no big deal, all I had to do was put the drainpipe back on, right?  Oh no... that would have been easy....  We discovered water was in the pantry as well and it wasn't coming from the notorious corner culprit.  It wasn't coming from the drains because the drain in the laundry room was dry and that's the first drain that would overflow.  Where the heck was it coming from?  Ugh... behind the "paint wall"... and there's only one way to find out what's going on behind it - demo the wall.  So, that's what my husband, Steve, and I did today.

Before we could start the demo, we had to move the love seat out of the studio.  I had moved every possible thing I could out of the way and the love seat was simply taking up too much real estate. It was never meant to stay in the studio anyway.  We removed anything that could impede the path of the love seat on it's way up the stairs.  The idea was to take it to my old studio space, off the second floor master bedroom. Ha! Hahahahaha! Yeah.... that didn't work out.  We got half way up the basement stairs and that baby got wedged.  Steve, at the top end, kept trying to pull and I could see, from my end, that the feet were not going a-n-y-where.  Ladies, you know how that goes, don't ya?  I made the decision we should smash it apart with a sledgehammer and take it out in pieces. After all, I said, it really wasn't worth saving.  Our Lizzy had wanted us to save it for her, but her memories of  it's condition didn't match its reality.  I think Steve thought I'd lost my mind.  It took a bit of convincing, but I won out and went and got the sledgehammer.  BAM! BAM! BAM!  Okay... forget that.  Let's saw this baby in half!  And that's what we (mostly he) did..  So much easier to get it up the stairs!

Behind the "paint wall" - YIKES!

Now for that wall demo... Living in a house built in 1926, with a number of renovations in the basement, over the years, led to a hap-hazard mish-mash of paneling, mouldings and 2 x 4's.   We managed to get enough off the foundation wall to see an old wall, damp footing in spots, but nothing that was obviously the problem.  So, now it's time to call in the professionals.  I've placed the call, I'm awaiting a callback. 

Needless to say, studio work is not happening right now.  I guess I'll do some more plein air work in the garden and maybe start a new anatomy and figure drawing notebook.  I'll think of something...

Monday, May 23, 2011


Just as I promised... "Jack".  I started "him" en plein air, but the sky clouded over and thunder started rumbling and rolling, so I figured I'd better get my butt out of the metal chair I was sitting on, grab Bailey and get back inside!  Fortunately, most of the painting had been completed.  I just had to "smoosh" around the background a bit.

Spring Plein Air in the Garden

I've started a new routine for the studio today.  I have to be in the studio working by 7 A.M.... I always wake up before 5:30 A.M. anyway.  It's a time that has been hard-wired into my brain due to my wheaten, Bailey, who gets up around then, to go out and then have his breakfast.  First peep of a bird's chirp and he's at my bedside, flapping his ears - that's how he wakes me up... seriously.  (Maybe I should have named him, Dumbo.) Thank goodness there's no roosters in the area!  Anyway, during the winter, I tend to let him out and then tell him to go lay down while I snuggle under an afghan on the sofa for another hour.  I mean, after all, it's dark out, it's cold, why bother getting up?  But now?   IT'S SPRING!  The garden is filling out, the weeds are sprouting, the pond needs cleaning, I'm creating a new garden and revamping the back of yard.  There's too much to do to be just a weekend warrior in the garden, so... I've got to revise my schedule to accommodate my gardening addiction.

As I was working in the yard yesterday, I was noticing that there's not a "bad" view of the shade/water garden side.  This is exciting news because it will allow for lots of time spent in the garden doing plein air painting in my own yard.  Since I don't have lovely mountains, rushing rivers or expansive vistas nearby, my own Eden oasis will do just fine!

 I was even able to get the "ladies" outside.  Isn't she magnificent? Twelve blossoms open! Three still buds!!

Behind her is the orchid that produces "Laughing Cheetahs".  You don't believe me?  Check out the next photo...

See?! Look at those centers.  I think they're smirking at me...

I know I said I'm not doing any photographs of my flowers this year - only capturing them in paint.  But I wanted to give you a sneak peak of the beginnings in the garden.  And I am keeping my word.  There's a Jack-in-the-Pulpit hiding under the Azalea bush I'm going to try to paint en plein air. So, I'm off to hang with Buddha while I peek under the azalea to capture "Jack".

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Let's Hear It For The Boy...

"Nick", oil on canvas, 34" x 64", Lois Primeau, artist, copyright 2011
I've been "sitting" on this news a while.  I didn't want to "jinx" it, you know what I mean? I know... silly, but I always hate uttering the words before an event happens.  As if some little gremlin of back luck is going to sprinkle poo-poo dust on my good fortune and make it disappear! 

A while back, Alyson B. Stanford, Art Biz Coach and phenomenal "cheerleader" for artists, commented on my post "Amongst The Heroes" and asked about the back story on "Nick".  I answered her privately for a couple reasons, one being, at that time, the whisper of a sale had been expressed and I still wasn't comfortable with the idea of the bad luck gremlin possibly overhearing what was afoot.  So, before I continue with the good news, I'd like to tell the story behind the creation of "Nick".

When the Scarab Club announced their Call for Entries for their exhibit: Working Class Heroes: A Tribute, I knew what I wanted to do - I wanted to do a portrait of my son-in-law, Nick Scarmeas.  Nick is an electrician - a union electrician.  As a matter of fact, he is his employer's union steward. He is a very strong supporter of the unions and comes by this staunch support through his love and admiration for his maternal grandfather, who was also a union man.  The Call for Entries had gone out before the turmoil started in Wisconsin.

I'd been trying to get Nick to come over and pose for me for a couple of weeks.  I knew I'd be working from photographs because there was no way I'd get him to stand still and pose!  As the weeks passed, I was starting to get nervous because the deadline for the CFE was looming.  (I can't remember the exact date, but I didn't get Nick over to the studio until Feb 22 and I had the portrait finished by March 10 because it was executed in oil, it had to have time to dry, just in case it got accepted into the exhibit.  The exhibit opened on March 29.)

In the meantime, Wisconsin was "happening" and the unions were "under attack".  The day Nick showed up, he came directly from work and on his hard hat were the words "GOV WALKER = RAT".  He apologized to me and said, "all of us wrote that on our hard hats today with Sharpies... You don't have to paint it."  I said, "Are you kidding?!  It's perfect!" (I even traced his writing directly from an enlargement of the words so it would be in his writing, in the painting.) As I took the photos of Nick, I still wasn't sure what exactly I was going to do.  I took over 30 photos, in various poses, I knew the expression I was looking for and I knew I'd eventually get it.  He did a variety of poses for me and as he got more comfortable, it started to crystallize in my brain.  I wanted a man, an honest man without bravado or machismo.  No frills, no pomp... I wanted to capture that in his stance.  To show a man who knew his job and was proud of the work he does - and yet knows that when he goes home at night he still has to "take the trash out". I wanted to see a man who was confident in himself, sure and steadfast in his beliefs, one who believed in the brotherhood of the unions and believed the union stood behind him.  This is the true description of my son-in-law.  I knew I had to portray that on canvas.

And that's exactly what I did. When I finished "Nick" I knew I'd accomplished what I'd set out to do and I hoped that others would see that, as well.  What I wasn't expecting was the reaction and emotion that "Nick" evokes.  I had no idea whether it would be juried into the show since I have very little experience with showing my work.  So, I waited on "pins and needles" to see what would happen.

First, "Nick" was accepted and I was told by the gallery director, Treena Ericson, that the juror, Jerome Ferretti, was really moved by it.  Second, Treena asked if they could use it for their postcard for the show!  Third, I got another call, from Treena, telling me I'd won first prize!!  All this was wonderful news to me, considering I hadn't entered anything, in any juried show in about six or seven years because I haven't been operating as a "fine artist".  The night of the opening, I was told by Treena that she was having people come up to her, some with tears in their eyes and telling her how much "Nick" moved them.  As the night progressed, I had people come up to me and tell me the same.  I had one older gentleman shake my hand and hold it in his and tell me, with tears in his eyes what that portrait meant to him.  It was really quite humbling for me to have touched these people so deeply with "Nick".  (Unfortunately, Nick was unable to attend the opening because he was working.  Although he did attend the following week's blues and poetry reading and was "recognized " and applauded by the attendees and emcee.)

Shortly after the exhibit's opening, I got an email from Treena, telling me that the former president of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) had been in to see the exhibit and was deeply moved by "Nick" and was interested in having the union buy it.  The woman wanted to talk to me, so I gave her a call.  We had a very good conversation.  I told her the back story and she told me how she wanted the painting to travel to the upcoming International Conference in Vancouver and to six district meetings. We discussed how "Nick" is really a public piece, not one to be unseen in someone's home, but shared by the public because it has such emotional power and touches people so deeply. She told me how much it touched her and I told her it was my honor to have been able to paint this tribute.  She ended by saying she'd have to hang up now or she'd start crying...

I have since been down to the Scarab Club and Treena has told me how she will walk into the gallery and find people just standing silently in front of "Nick", looking at the painting with their hands folded...

I had no idea "Nick" would be so powerful, but "he" is a piece that is a statement of the times.

"Nick", award and red dot!
Oh! What's my news, you ask?  "Nick" has been sold!  Through the efforts of the former president, Elaine Crawford, of Local 58, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, "Nick" will be where "he" belongs - with Local 58.  "His" first stop is in Indianapolis, a week from Tuesday.

I will miss "Nick"... I painted him so quickly that I barely had time to get to "know him"If you are an artist, I think you'll understand what I mean. I visited "Nick" in the quiet of the Scarab Club's gallery Thursday evening, as I took a break from the life drawing session downstairs.  To see "him" hanging there evokes a peace within me, not as a sense of pride, but a "knowing" that "Nick"gives others comfort and pride in themselves somehow.  I didn't paint "Nick" for me.  I painted it for them.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Separated by Birth"

I've been working on a couple of gouache ink resist pieces this week.  The first go-around was a disaster.  I don't know why, but the India ink would not wash off in some areas even though you could tell there was gouache underneath!  The final blow was the watercolor paper started to slough apart from rubbing.  Whoops!  That's the beauty of the technique, it's not really that big of a deal to start over.  Annoying, yes.  Difficult, no.

In the second attempt I changed the images slightly by cropping in closer.  Sometimes I wonder if my artwork has a mind of it's own and knows what's best, hence, the mess-up in the first try producing a better image in the second.  This time everything worked just as I'd hoped.  I titled the piece, "Separated by Birth" since they are really meant to be hung together but, when I posted them on Facebook, individually, it bothered me that each one didn't have a name on it's own.  So, as I was driving down Woodward Avenue (it seems to be a place where I get good ideas - that's where I got the idea for "Winston".  Check the archives...) it occurred to me that the wire one should be named, "Moses" and the real one should be named, "Ramses"!  You can probably tell what I watched on television last night!

"Moses" on the left, "Ramses" on the right, unframed, Lois Primeau, artist, copyright 2011

In case you don't know the story of Cecil B. DeMille's, The Ten Commandments, Moses was a Hebrew that had been raised as an Egyptian prince, in line to the throne of the Pharaoh.  Ramses was the prince of the Pharaoh's true blood-line.  It worked for Hollywood and it works for my peacocks!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm Mr. Lonely... woo, woo - woo - woo...

It's the beginning of a new week in the studio, one that should be filled with lots of flying paint and brushes, making up for time lost during last week's "sicky-ickies".  It's still feeling a little "lonely" down here without "Nick" hanging on the paint wall, but lo and behold! Check who's come to hang out "wit da mom" - it's my Boo! Bailey!  Of course, you may also note that if he were any closer to the stairs he'd be half way up them.  hee hee...

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, my Bailey will only come downstairs into the studio if there is potential food involved.  He has also proven he will come downstairs if there is company in the studio.  Like any child - I call him my furry four year-old even though he's almost ten - he likes to prove his "mother" wrong.

I guess he got used to my company upstairs last week and now he's feeling lonely.  Aw, poor Boo... c'mere, let Mom scratch your ears...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Amongst the Heroes

"Nick" amongst some other heroes
Explaining to Nick's parents, Bill and Jackie, how I designed "Nick"
"Nick", oil on canvas, 34" x 64", Lois Primeau. artist. Copyright 2011
It's been a few days since the Artist's Reception at the Scarab Club, in Detroit, MI, for the Working Class Heroes: A Tribute exhibition.  I've been waiting for the photos from my daughter, Sarah - Nick's wife, since I didn't bring a camera.  I knew she'd bring hers, she's a shutterbug.

It was a wonderful evening, seeing friends, meeting new people and other artists, talking about "Nick" and of course, the artwork... all the wonderful pieces paying tribute to the working class.

I am blessed and honored to have been able to paint "Nick" first of all and to be able to portray him exactly how I wanted to, so that the viewer could look at the painting and see this man for who he is, what he stands for and understand him immediately.  No frills, just a hard working, forthright, honest man who has the IBEW union supporting him as he supports the brotherhood of the unions.

An interesting side note is the day Nick came to pose for me, his hard hat actually had that writing on it.  It was something all the electrical workers on the job had done that day, written with a Sharpie, "Gov Walker = Rat" on their hard hats.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Was I Supposed to Do...?

How many lists of goals and "to dos" have you ever made and then not followed?  Or have forgotten all about and then had an, "Oh, yeah!" moment when you found the list, again?  Too many? More than you can even remember - or will admit to?  Yeah, me, too...

In the beginning of the year I made lists of goals for the year: daily, weekly, monthly, and for the year.  I figured what I had written down was fairly doable and I wouldn't be sabotaging myself by making lofty goals that end up being "pie in the sky" type goals.  Overall I think I've done pretty well.  I did miss a couple of exhibits that I wanted to enter, because I simply wasn't ready with anything, but that's okay.  There are plenty more this year and I did enter a new one at The Scarab Club, which I have been accepted into, so that's all good.  The goals though that are making me nutty are the daily goals.  They've actually become laughable because if I manage to remember to do one in a week's time, I'm rockin' the list! LOL

The one daily goal that really bothers me though, is the "Do at least one pencil sketch per day."  I really wish I could remember that one...

Sometimes I write things on my left hand with a permanent marker, if it's something I simply cannot forget to do that day or the next.  Did anyone see the movie, "Memento"?  I'd been using this method for years!  It works great because all day long, it's right smack dab in front of my face!  I've also had people "remind" me throughout the day with the comment, "What's that on your hand?"  I just tell them, "It's my day planner."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning Trouble

I kept my promise to myself and Trouble... a petting and sketching session was in order, since last week was devoted to "Nick" and replacing ANOTHER rear truck window - the second in five weeks time - but that's different story of trouble.  My Monday this week was devoted to a furry kitty Trouble.  Once again, she greeted me in the kitchen, purring and rubbing her head against the spokes of the chair.  She's got the routine figured out now: Human with black bag and small black book has come to rub my head and talk to me! Purr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r... twirl... purr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r... rub... twirl... purr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r...

This week I decided I was going to try to get some full body sketches.  HA! Ever try to sketch an entire cat in less than 7 seconds?  I managed to get a number of them done, miracle of miracles!

First up, Purring and Twirling - she always looks like Batman's kitty with her black mask...

Front view, still purring and twirling

Okay, she's been presenting me with her rear for weeks now...

Tough one, all bunched up in a purring ball. She's in constant motion.

Sweet face kitty

And finally, she got annoyed with me and turned her back to me, but her ears kept turning around.

Friday, March 18, 2011


How does one define a "working class hero"?  For me, the definition is embodied in my son-in-law, Nick... honest, hard-working, a man of principles, willing to stand beside his fellow workers and fight for what he believes in.  A man of integrity, Nick.

My portrait of him has been accepted into the upcoming "Working Class Hero" exhibit at the Scarab Club, in Detroit, Michigan, March 30 - May 15.

"Nick", oil,  34" x 64"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've Returned to Trouble!

Have you missed a little Trouble lately? Yeah, me, too... I've been feeling guilty about the amount of time since I last saw Trouble. It's been over two weeks, I think. Damn snow... kept me away from Trouble and then other days I'd think, " Man, I've got to make sure I see some Trouble today!" And the next thing you know, I'd get to painting in the studio and totally forget about Trouble. But, not today! I decided I would get my fill of Trouble in the morning BEFORE I started in the studio. And I did...

It had been a while and I was a little "rusty". I captured her hind feet first. Her profile, that leads this post, was done second. I like the way she tucks her head into her chest.

A couple minutes after I arrived, Trouble stopped her usual twirling and butting my hand and looked toward the back door. I looked outside and saw that another friend, John, had arrived. Oh, man! Trouble was going to be in heaven! TWO cat petters! Hot diggitty dang! Trouble was happy as a cat in a patch of catnip! She paced between the two of us as we chatted and I sketched. If one person stopped petting her, she walked over to the other one - purr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r... one happy kitty :)

I realized as I was sketching I hadn't brought a sharpener and my 3B pencil was dull and my 4B was MIA. Hm-m-m... digging around in my pencil bag, I came across my water soluable graphite pencils! And a traveling watercolor brush AND even better - a wet sponge in a small bottle! Cool! I've only used them one other time. Now I can "play" with them again. I used them for more "Purring Toes". She was facing me this time, but it was hard to catch her form because she would alternate feet so quickly! What I found amusing is that on the paw, on the left, that's raised, one of the toes looks like a thumb, like she's giving a "thumb's up'!

One thing I did notice with the water soluable pencils is that I can get a little shadow in here and there. In this last sketch, she had her head down, lower than her shoulders, which I show as the lighter graphite wash.

John had left by now and I spent a little more time with Trouble until I figured I'd better wipe down my coat and hands and head on over to the allergist and get my weekly shot. Ha, ha!

Don't worry, Trouble... I won't stay away so long next time. Promise.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sharing My Studio Space

I've spent the whole day cleaning and reorganizing my office area in the studio. Since I've occupied this space now for about 5 months, I'm finally figuring out what I really need and what needs to to go away because it's just filling space and not of any purpose. I've gotten my phone/fax machine finally up and running after wrestling with the coils and "snakes" of power cords behind the desk. I reconfigured the desktop a bit, got rid of a couple items to make room to actually be able to work on the desktop, if I want. Wow! What a concept!

I bought and assembled a small, two-shelf bookcase to tuck back in what used to be "junk corner". You know, that corner of your office where your desk ends and the wall is still a little bit away, so you pile "stuff" in there. Now that corner will house all the notebooks filled with art related articles I download (yeah, I'm "old school"... I like the printed word as opposed to always looking up file on the computer.)

What I'm actually getting around to with this post is, as I was putting the finishing touches on the desk and surrounding area, I picked up the little, blue photo album that has the photo of my mother that I used in my last post. As I started to close the cover, I looked at her standing there, all dressed up, with her artwork, looking pleased and I felt like she was looking at me. Like she was pleased with me, for putting together the life she wished she could have led. So, I guess instead of tucking her away in a drawer upstairs with the other photo albums, I'll buy her a little frame and she can share my studio with me. After all, two of her best paintings hang on the walls down here.

"Transparent Boxes", acrylic, 20" x 24",
by Gertrude Scott