Thursday, November 24, 2011

Seize the Day

For years I have been fixed on several goals; to paint as I travel the country and accrue paintings for my one woman show--(which happens to be this coming January 7th,2012 thru March at the West Brookfield library on Main Street at the lights. Reception from 11:00 to 2:00) and to write and illustrate my children's book series.
Since October 2011 the manuscripts have been shelved temporarily and serious painting has slowed. I am painting with an interest in small 3 1/2 X 5 1/2 watercolors.  Maybe these will be easily saleable. . My new site on named zsazsa's art studio is a test to see how well they are received. They are quick to paint, (though they are carefully done) come with mat and backing and in a clear sleeve. They are easy and inexpensive to mail and affordable.
Through the ages artists have adapted for the commercial purposes. Starving in an attic studio is romantic and idealistic but survivors cave to reality.  This is  my way of doing what I love without piling up stacks of canvasses creating a storage problem.
Little paintings of birds and wildflowers and sets of 4 little herb pictures are being offered. Also, glass Christmas tree balls with painted birds and mistletoe personalized for the buyer with any name on them. Naturally this is seasonal.
 On the etsy site I go by the name swedishblond.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I can't decide if people understand the occupation of a painter. To the question of 'What do you do" I say 'I paint' (or words to that effect). Then people say " Oh my mother used to paint" or "my six year old loved to draw". Isn't that nice, I say. What does that information mean? Are they saying they understand the frustration of trying to capture the atmospheric color change in pond water at dawn on a cold April morning? Are they commiserating-remembering the hours spent working on one's craft? Maybe they recall mother sitting at the kitchen table after her housework is done dabbing away at the paper or canvas copying a pretty picture and getting Oh's and Ah's from her amazed family that the painting looks just like Aunt Felicity.
Satisfaction and joy is felt by both handwringer and dabber. Her family will treasure mom's painting as will the family of of the agonizer. Perhaps the agonizer will develop her art that will reach more people with it's message.
Or, maybe it is simply a way of people connecting with each other on a human level.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Recording star

When we were in Texas, Larry and I went to a recording studio to take advantage of a special low price they were offering.
We made a CD of

17 songs-solos, duets and 2 of Larry accompanying himself on the guitar. It was a lot of fun. All the songs were done one time, no retakes, which would have added to the price. So I hope our grandchildren will forgive the mistakes. I would love to have a recording of my parents and/ or grandparents-heck- any forbears voices. Larry has a recording of his father singing and playing several instruments. It's great even the mistakes, on amateur recording equipment.
I took the kids today to Walmart to buy toys with the money they had earned and played the CD on the way there and home. They sang along to some of the songs and Boy!, I was quietly tickled pink.


I struggle with greens. No, not kale or Swiss chard. Painting greens. grass, leaves, etc.
Some artists wouldn't think of using greens out of the tube. They make their own from blues and yellows.
I have made charts mixing assorted blues and yellows and charts using tube greens adding white or red. The thing about tube greens such as sap green is it is bright which is good when you want an eye popping fresh green. Using a touch of cadmium red lt. dampens the vivacity yet retains a low-key hum. Somehow I am missing the atmospheric color I am looking for. Suggestions?

Hitchcock Art Group

The Hitchcock Art Group meets one day a week from 9 to 12 at the old Hitchcock Academy in Brimfield, Mass to paint or draw in the company of fellow artists.
Techniques and ideas and light critiquing are exchanged casually. In summer they meet plein aire.
By 10:30 AM someone- usually the same person, says 'Where are we going for lunch?'
It is a tourist area but there aren't many convenient and worthwhile places to eat. I don't get why eating establishments want to offer dull, tasteless, poorly presented food and why do they have repeat customers? Do these customers get worse fare at home? Eating out isn't cheap. Consider the length of time you have to work to pay for the check.
The conversation is interesting. These people have done and been many exotic places. This last time one of the members talked about living on a small Fiji island in the South Pacific for three years painting, fishing and sailing. Ahhhh.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In Search of

The cover and 3 illustrations are done for my children's book -first in a series about my pet and his adventures. I would love to say more but advice from the books I have read on writing says people will take your ideas and publish them first. Boo.
I have sent manuscripts to 3 publishers so far,waiting the recommended 3 months in between time and have heard nothing. So I assume they have chucked it and I will move on to the next likely publisher who fits the bill. That is, who will accept un-agented material. Time is marching on.
Several stories in the series are undercover awaiting their chance in the sun.
Oh, that an agent would read this and seize the opportunity to represent the next hero of children's literature.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Panama City Beach



We moved pretty quickly North keeping just ahead of the tornadoes. Insecurity is overnighting it in a motor home during a tornado alert. We did encounter high winds and were deluged with rain on several occasions. In Virginia, one of the most interesting and beautiful states we have visited, we spent two nights in Louisa so we could see what they have done to Madison's Monticello. A few years ago the interior was torn apart to return it to its state during the time Dolley and James lived there. Still not much furniture but the walls were finished and token pieces loaned by Colonial Williamsburg to give dimension to the rooms. They have a good visitors center with a movie giving the history. Madison deserves his share of top billing with our Founding Fathers. Also, he took notes during the secret sessions of discussions while they were writing our constitution. The only notes that were saved! We can see how they arrived at The Document as it stands.
I recommend, while you are in the area, The Hunt Country Deli on the outskirts of Charlottesville. They make great sandwiches and salads. Stop in for a cup of coffee and... sit out on the patio, check out the map of the area painted on the wall and tell Nancy the owner operator that Aunt Susan sent you. The deli,aptly named, it is in the gorgeous rolling hills of the wine and horse farm region with the palatial homes and grazing ponies dotting the meadows and wide angle views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Anyone remember the old song-In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, on the trail of the lonesome pine...?

Florida Panhandle

A friend advised us that a trip to the Pensacola Naval Air Station Museum was a must. Not only is it free but it is excellent. A docent tour filled in and rounded out what the signs said about each plane and its importance in the history of flight. I was very much taken with the old movies of our 'air force' in World War I. Amazing video showing the determination and courage of our Aces in that war. Also heard stories of courage in later wars. If you go, you'll come out of there feeling good about America and the men and women who help preserve our liberty so that we can romp around to our hearts content, free to travel from one state to another with out question. Here is a picture of Larry doing his Patton impression at the museum.
We stopped to see friends in Panama City Beach for a few days and jam with them. The beach is wonderful with its white sugar sand and blue/green water. It was Spring Break week but hardly anyone was on the beach before noon except us.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moving on

We are in Louisiana now and what a change from dry Texas to moist Louisiana! Hair, skin,a good thing, crackers and fried pork skins-good and soggy.We went to Riverside Cafe on Vermilion Bayou and were waited on by a young fellow who included a lot of all y'alls in his speech. Larry and I had a conversation about the bayou as I had noticed the water flowing rapidly toward the Gulf. When our waiter came I asked if the bayou was a tidal river. He said 'Wall I don't know m'am, I'm not from around here.' That begged the question-where are you from? He came closer and said-'Salt Lake City'. I said WOW what's with all the y'alls. He said 'Oh, you have to do that around here- you have to fit in.'
We had a tour of the McIlhenny factory on Avery Island where they make Tabasco sauce. Interesting process, got some doll sized free samples of their new products and shopped at their store. We ate a sausage on a stick which was tasty but made our eyes water and noses run. Maybe I'll included that trip in my next book. Today, a trip to a place called Rip Van Winkle Garden. Built by 19th century actor Joseph Jefferson who was cast as Rip on the stage and made the play famous. Made lots of money doing it. Designed and built a lovely, gracious home overlooking a lake in New Iberia. The trees in the lake are loaded with Roseate Spoonbills. The property was bought by another fellow some years ago and tragically someone drilling for oil nearby drilled thru a salt mound and into a cravass beneath and all the water flowed all at once into the hole and the lake was no more. Well, being Louisiana the lake filled up again in 2 weeks. The area is, after all, 7 ft below sea level. It filled up with salt water.
Down at the Gulf the drilling rigs are cheek by jowl at the dock. The shrimp boats are packed together at the docks like sardines in a can. Drill, Baby, drill. We are paying Brazil to drill in the Gulf. What possible difference can it make to the ecology if Brazil drills or we drill. Hypocrisy is rampant in DC.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Generous land generous spirit

We left the park we were living at for the past 6 months with hugs from our friends and promises to keep in touch and advice from those who know about what to see on our way East. I have put away my paints and canvasses for a little while as I will earnestly work on my illustrations of my latest children's book. I sent out the manuscript and 2 copies of illust. to a publisher with hopes they they will at least read it.
I am charmed with Texas. The trees are starting to leaf out and wildflowers are strewn about. Even in a drought things are turning green. The views are expansive if not vast and in the Edwards Plateau hill country and east the scenery is so different from the Panhandle and the Gulf edge. The Texans are friendly and generous of spirit. We went to the 11th St. Cowboy Bar in Bandera Wed. night and it was such fun seeing all ages dancing in their clean, even ironed, jeans and boots and hats. Some women wore dresses with bling belts or bling tees and jeans. Texas women wear make up often and have nice hairdos. I can definitely say that women that work in retail look spectacular. They are warm and courteous, will be helpful if needed and stay back if you are 'just looking'. You do always say thank you when you exit a store esp if you haven't bought anything.
At my fav fabric store, Creations, they are beyond helpful, they are sincerely interested. I am making a jacket as a reward for losing weight,wait, I don't get to wear it til I'm done, but the clerk made sure I was choosing the right fabric and the right size and had me try on a sample they had in the store with out being a nudge. The day before we were leaving L. said to me 'what are going to do with all thee rocks, you don't even know where they came from". Oh yes I do sez I, I had written on them in ink just like an artifact museum. He had to agree to take them.
I shall be sorry to leave Texas but maybe I will bring some of that spirit with me.
I learned this week that my one woman show I have been working toward has been postponed as the building is being renovated. Well, it will give me time to paint more.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Here's a 'did you know'. El Paso,Texas is closer to the Pacific Ocean then it is to Houston! Not only is Texas big, everything about it seems to be big. The concept of ranch size is boggling. Larry and I recorded some music at Gazelle, a studio in Kerrville, TX, last week and Louie, at the studio, told me his grandfather or maybe great grandfather in the 1850s came out here and claimed land, I am sketchy here, with a Mr Shreiner. Shreiner said he'd take everything north of the Guadalupe River and Mr Real took everything south of it. That was something like 12 million acres for Mr. Real. In the ensuing years much of it got sold but they still retain 6-7000 acres that they ranch raising horses and prize lambs and have a hunting lodge. See Real Ranch.
My Massachusetts mentality says Wow! Actually, my national view has expanded since I have been on 'the road'. Seeing The Great Plains-farming takes on a whole new meaning. But-my farm in Massachusetts is lush and fragrant in the summer and it is intimate like a draperied living room. One can see the details like an early 19th century French painting. The trees, leaves, veins on leaves, caterpillars on leaves and the eyes on the caterpillar. Mid West farms are Cecil B. De Mille productions in Cinemascope. A painting with great washes of green or ochre depending on which end of the summer season, and a broad brush of ultramarine/cobalt blue sky with perhaps a pale Naples yellow ribbon of a road. Too expansive for small details.
Last night we had a campfire and sang songs and ate popcorn. It had gotten cold so I had a blanket around me. Looking over the treetops by the Guadalupe at the pale moon I was reminded of Rousseau's Carnival Evening. Very atmospheric.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Artist's Model

Artists can get all the pictures they want of a subject on the internet but there is nothing like the real thing. I've been working on a story about a cat and I have had a hard time finding the poses I need. For Valentines Day Larry took me on a surprise ride to the animal rescue here in Kerrville and I was invited to go in and choose my Valentine kitty. It is a very good place. Rooms of cats all having a good time, well cared for and clean. Plenty of levels to jump around on and a screened in porch for each room. I had a hard time choosing but finally settled on the one that climbed up on Larry's head. Tex is a small gray and white Domestic Shorthair male. A very affectionate boy probably 10 months old. He has settled in to our RV well, is box trained and learns fast. Larry built him a scratch post and bungee corded it to the leg of the table and he uses it instead of my oriental rug. I kid about artists model as I love cats but he will make a good model for my next book, a children's story, which I have ready to send to a publisher. Working on the all important cover letter now.

Monday, January 24, 2011

new granddaughter

Under the heading..a time for every purpose, I have suddenly (considering the span of my life)developed a passion for knitting. Given the opportunity in the past to learn from my sister in law who was an accomplished knitter I had declared it was too boring to sit an do a repetitive project like that. 30 years later I see the charm of it. But no sister in law to guide me. She passed away too soon in life. There are fab web sites now with instructive videos. Actually a sister in law on my husband's side encouraged me to tackle a complicated sweater pattern for my daughter last July and I finally finished it for Christmas. I feel good about the accomplishment but it doesn't look like the picture. My daughter is politely appreciative. So then, when I heard about a pending granddaughter I hunted and found a neat, looks complicated but isn't, baby sweater called a five hour baby sweater,qv. online. knitted all one piece looks like a gerrymandered map of Massachusetts. So now Little Granddaughter has arrived and the sweater will rest quietly for 6 months for her to grow in to it. Blessings upon thee small one.
If you have time on you hands while waiting in a Drs' office, an airport, on a plane, consider is calming on the nerves, you have a sense of accomplishment and you actually don't get aggravated at delays. So beguiled by beautiful yarns made from a variety of materials and combinations like alpaca/acrylic and a paintbox of colors I am thinking of my next project and the victim on the receiving end. I even knit a dishcloth yesterday to test if it will perform better than store bought. Onward and upward.