Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Studio Muses, part two

A few weeks ago, I posted about famous artists in history and their studio muses (Studio Muses, part one).  The post received some aMUSEing feedback, and to try to keep the fun-ball rolling, I asked several modern day artists in my circle (which is continuing to widen because of the Great and Powerful Magic of social media!) if they, too, had companions of the non-human sort.

Thank you to all the Artists who responded!  This has totally been my favorite post so far...and, of course, it is Toby's too.  

I not only wanted to have a little fun with these photos, but hoped to introduce you to some of my favorite Artists.  I know that you, Dear Readers, are all Art Supporters because this is an ART BLOG and hundreds of you tune in every month to read crazy posts about matte medium and my current favorite shade of orange.  So, please, click on the links below the photos and show these Artists some love: check out their websites, listen to their music, like their Facebook pages, follow their blogs and buy some ART.  

 Get Ready! 
Your senses are about to be assaulted with AWESOME!

Creator of fantastic and whimsical pieces of art and custom pet portraits,
 Remembrance Eston Jennings and Dolly
Her Art makes me happy.
Diggin' Dolly's

Chattanooga clay artist,
Denise Shropshire and Cookie
Denise makes super cool, one-of-a-kind art...
You can feel the love in each piece.
for real.

Every piece of her bold and colorful Art tells
a story and holds a little bit of magic,
Jeanne Bessette and Bodhi
(yes, this is the Artist Whisperer,
now you know what she looks like.  sorta.)

Creative Designer and Blogger,
 Jono Ramey and Eva
He makes tortillas from scratch, presses a mean cup of coffee
 and shaves with a single-edged blade.
You can follow his entertaining and thought provoking blog at:

Linocut and Mixed Media Artist,
Laurel Martin and her beloved Basel
The colorful, joyful worlds that Laurel creates in her pieces
make you wish that you could step into them and stay for a while.
and she totally BUILT her OWN PRINTING PRESS !

Artist of too Many Things to list and owner of Hello Sunshine,
Tracey Sunshine Dumont and Scout
on a leisurely walk through the streets of the city.
Like her Facebook page for the smiles it will bring you.

Singer, Songwriter, and Artist,
Kat Lewis with Florence
Unique and beautiful music erupts out of this woman...
She is going to Rock the world...

Artist, Writer, and Chemist (seriously, how cool is that?!)
Robin Kalinich with Emma
Robin not only creates but also inspires and
 encourages other artists through networking and social media.
She has been a great encourager to me.

I call him the coolest artist I know.
 Started as a contemporary street artist in NYC and
 is now keeping the dream alive from St. Augustine, FL,
David Hartzel with Fiona

the Happiest Artist in the World and owner of Farrago Studios,
 Corinne Galla with Smartypants
Corinne coaxed me into having my first solo show
and even provided the venue.
She wins the award for most difficult selfie with a pet.

I would not be creating Art today if not for meeting this Artist
long, long ago in a town far, far away.
Artist, Teacher, and Imaginary T-shirt Designer,
Karen Fullerton with Grizzly
(and, yes, I have been a victim of that tongue)

"How it is that animals understand things I do not know, 
but it is certain that they do understand.  
Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words 
and everything in the world understands it.  
Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, 
without even making a sound, 
to another soul."
Frances Hodgson Burnett, A little Princess

Friday, April 11, 2014


Today, I was reminded of something very important, but when I try to put the story into words, it doesn't sound as powerful as it really was.

You know how when you are washing out your paint brushes in the sink, and there is a shelf that has been hung a little too low and placed directly over the sink because the previous owners never really used that sink (and I know this because the sink was gleaming white when we moved in and now it is the color of rainbows.  dirty rainbows).  You are intently focusing on scrubbing because you totally forgot that you used matte medium on this brush and then stuck it back in the brush holder thinking it was clean, and it dried completely stiff. You are scrubbing so hard that you forget there is a shelf above you, and then you lift your head to see why Toby is barking and smack into the corner of the shelf right in the mushy part of your temple and it knocks you silly for a moment, and you worry that you have caused yourself permanent short-term memory loss,  and then you see sparkly fairies flying around because you are about to pass out just like the time your 3-year old son* busted you in the head with a rock that his great-grandma thought would be a really nice thing for him to keep in his room because it came from Michigan?  It was like that ... only without the fairies.

I was working at Bridging the Gap today getting ready for our food distribution tomorrow.  Someone who is trying to get the Grandpa of the Year award (and he totally should) donated 50 boxes of Girl Scouts cookies that he purchased from his granddaughter, and I was helping carry them over to the warehouse.

Two homeless men were sitting on the warehouse dock outside the door.  They were there to get dinner for the night.  I know these men;  I see them often.  They live down the railroad tracks behind the warehouse and have a makeshift kitchen with a cooler as a refrigerator and a charcoal grill as their stove.

One of men also spoke Spanish and I tried out my Portuguese on him, which was a total fail because under pressure I can only remember the words for 'blue' and 'green'.  And Portuguese really isn't Spanish, but we did have a sorta conversation about the color of the sky and the grass...

I was kneeling in front of them,  so I could be eye-level while we spoke, and a thought popped into my head about the Art Program I am wanting to start and they would be exactly the people I was hoping would come.  When we finished talking about food, I said, "Hey, when the Art Program gets started..." and then the man who I wasn't practicing Portuguese on quickly interrupted and said, "Yes, we will move off the dock."

I was so confused.

And then it smacked me...like that shelf.

He was thinking that I had an Art class starting in a few minutes and I didn't want them around when 'decent' people showed up.

"No!! I was asking you if you'd like to come to the Art Class!  We already have had lots of art supplies donated and I'm hoping that soon we will be able to start.... " and my words started tumbling all over themselves.  And once he figured out I was saying,  his face lit up and he talked about how he used to draw and the man who spoke Spanish was smiling and nodding.  And I got them a few things for dinner and they went on their way.

and then I cried.

Nothing brings down walls like acceptance. 
Deepak Chopra (totally sounds like a rapper name, but it isn't)

*just so you know, my youngest son did not grow up to be a serial killer.  If you want proof, you can follow his very cool blog here:  Considering the Stone

Monday, April 7, 2014

This is your brain:

This is my brain on Art:
Exit Through the Keyhole
mixed media on canvas
36 x 36

If only we could pull out our brain 
and use only our eyes.  
Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Art and the Science of Happiness

If I had to do it all over again, I would become an Art Therapist. I know people always say it's never too late to go for your dream, but the part where you have to become a doctor first makes me fairly certain this one isn't gonna happen. If an Art Counselor Certificate is ever created, I'll go for that because I'm pretty sure it will take way less time and I won't have to do math.

Throughout the years, I have created Art alongside many different types of people from teenagers to grandmas  (well, older people - people older than me - dang,  I'M a grandma!), and, almost always, the hurts or happinesses of the heart spill out while the hands are busy painting.  

This is one of the main reasons I keep chattering about starting an ArtProject that brings Art to those who are not able to afford Art Supplies.  I want to give people, no matter what their financial circumstances, a chance to paint and experience the power of art and maybe share their stories while they are doing it. 

The ArtProject is still in the works, I'm just waiting for Life to give me the green light.  Until then, I give Life dirty looks,  follow Art Therapy's blog and collect a lot of their pins on my Community Art Pinterest Board. Today they posted this video and I want to share it with you.  It has the feeling of one of those Dove commercials that tries to make you feel better about your looks after you see how a sketch artist draws your description of yourself compared to someone else's, but it is still pretty good.  

The Science of Happiness:  Art Therapy

"Art - it is good for the soul. "
the truth 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

You Can't Go Back

This tiny mixed media piece emerged from the studio a couple of months ago.  I am really pleased with the composition and minimal aspects...

Make Art, Not War
6 x 6 (inches)

Knowing I need to paint bigger  (insert hand furiously shooing the Artist Whisperer away from ear here), I used Make Art as inspiration for this larger piece just listed in my Etsy shop.  The vintage paper reading "B back" was the starting thought for the title.  

You Can't Go Back
mixed media on canvas
24 x 24

You can't go back, oh, but sometimes how I wish I could. 

"How do you pick up the threads of an old life?
How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, 
there is no going back.  
There are some things that time cannot mend. 
Some hurts that go too deep...that have taken hold. "
J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I'm typing this from underneath a blanket.  

This morning the thermometer read 34 degrees. The sky is gray and it is gloomy, once again. Two days ago, I stood in 75 degree weather in the SUNSHINE with my arms spread wide, my face to the sky, and rotated 10 degrees every 5 seconds like a giant chicken on an over-sized rotisserie, soaking up all the Vitamin D my exposed flesh could absorb.... and I was at the EXACT SAME COORDINATES ON THE MAP AS I AM RIGHT NOW!

So not funny, Mother Nature.  Winter can be over now, thank you.

My name is Kim and I have S.A.D. 

Herbert the garden gnome suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, too.  

Growing up in Florida, I didn't suffer from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder, caused from lack of sunbeams) (Google it - it is real!). I didn't have to - we had Sunshine!  In Orlando, back in the day, residents would receive a free newspaper if they experienced a whole day without the sun shining.  Guess how many free papers my family received?  NONE!!

If you have been experiencing: 
  • anxiety and depression (more than usual)
  • extreme sarcasm (...more than usual)
  • hibernation
  • inability to blog
  • difficulty painting because your arms feel like lead
  • a change in your favorite color from orange to black...or worse, beige
  • bribing the dog with cheese so you don't have to take him for a walk outside
  • conversations where the dog agrees to this
  • evenings spent sitting under a pile of pillows eating chips for dinner 
Then you may have S.A.D, too!

Suggested treatments for S.A.D. include Talk Therapy (seriously.), a move to Miami or Key West, and/or building yourself a light box to live in.  yep.  

We are only 16 days away from Spring.  (click here for the link to the countdown if you want to bookmark it like I have) 

Until then, you can find me in the studio taking a nap under my OTT light.

"Good Morning, Miss Lemon. 
 I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you.  I've got Winter Madness."
Kenneth from 30 Rock

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Studio Muse

It could be because of empty nest syndrome.  
It could be because digital technology makes it so darn easy.
It could be that I am just experimenting with another art form. 
It could be that he is just too stinkin' cute.

Whatever the reason, I realize I take way too many photos of my dog. 

He's my studio companion - always there, curled up on his comfy bed or lying right outside the door.  When I take a break from painting, he looks up with his big, brown eyes and I see that ginormous nose and, well, I can't stop myself!  I grab the camera or my iPhone (and often, a few costume pieces) ... and then I post the shots to Instagram (check out #toboldhornblower if you need a chortle) or Facebook (Toby gets way more likes than my paintings do) or text them to my grown sons so they will feel badly that they got married and moved away and left me to take photos of the dog (they don't.  they are thankful.)  

Anyway, this compulsion got me thinking ... 
Did famous artists in history own/love/obsess over their dogs, too?!  

And look at what I found:

Georgia O'Keeffe with her Chow 

Frida Kahlo with her Xoloitzcuintli (spellcheck says that is not a word)

Pablo Picasso with his dachshund 

Norman Rockwell with his dog Pitter

Tasha Tudor with her Corgis

David Hockney with his dachshund x 1,000,000

Andy Warhol with his dachshund

What's up with all the dachshunds? 
I guess Golden Doodles hadn't been invented yet. 

Toby and his artist.  He's the one in the hat.  no, the other hat.

"If you don't have a dog -- at least one -- there is not 
necessarily anything wrong with you,
but there may be something wrong with your life."
Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, February 10, 2014

Such a Curious Dream

Sleep has been weird lately and full of dreams. 

Last night I dreamed there was a rat in my upper cupboard eating my favorite bolt of twine (admit it, you guys have a favorite bolt of twine, too). In my dream, I was very afraid but still pulled up a stool to climb up to see the rat. When I was eye level with the cupboard and could see in,  the rat was really just two very fat, moon-eyed cats playing with string.  They blinked at me with their saucer eyes and then started talking to me in a friendly, yawning kind of way. Very Cheshire Cat-ish.  I wish I could remember what they told me; it probably would have changed my life!   For now, I'm going to interpret that dream as: Don't be afraid to face your fear. If you look it in the eye, it may actually just be big friendly cats. (right this minute I can actually see my kids rolling their eyes at that last sentence)

I'm still trying to figure out the meaning of the other dream from last night: I was in a strange house and was being forced to apologize to someone (someone that in waking life I don't like very much) because I made a sarcastic remark about her bad choice of eyeshadow.  I'm going to interpret this dream as:  I really, really don't like that person....

my subconscious is having some issues.

I have been painting A LOT lately.  Many of my friends are battling with matters  that are above and beyond the normal everyday struggles of life and, as you already know, painting is my best form of therapy while I ponder life and all its heartaches.  

This painting was finished last night - my first male angel. 

I thought we'd have more time
mixed media on board 
 38x16 w/frame

I dream my paintings, then I paint my dreams. 
Vincent van Gogh

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rolling Along....

Last March, after spending time at Bessette Studios,  I remodeled my studio.  I use the word "I" liberally.  Immediately upon my arrival home,  I announced, "I want to cover the wall with plywood to make a ginormous easel so I can work on several large pieces of art at the same time. I think I'm going to try to do it myself!" and my husband quickly replied,  "ummm, let me help you with that." And he proceeded to do it for me.  To my credit, I did help hold the plywood and hand him some screws....

I can't tell you how much this has improved my painting life.  Since the initial remodel, (you can read about it here) I have painted the plywood blue because the wood grain was distracting me. 

the studio with the blue plywood wall easel

Another thing I learned last March was that I was creating self-imposed barriers when I painted.  The seriously wonderful drop-leaf table that I scored from an antique store in town for $80 (you can see it in the photo above) was large enough, but the way I used it, cluttered with paints and supplies with only a small space left for a palette, was not helping me to paint freely, loosely, or fluently. 

To give myself more room, I initially used a card table covered with plastic for a palette.  Although the size was FANTASTIC, I had to walk back and forth to the paint if I was working on the far side of the wall easel.

Stealing an idea from Jeanne Bessette, I went in search of a rolling cart to use as my palette holder.  The Husky 2-tray steel cart was the least expensive one I could find ($49.98). I ordered it online from Home Depot and it was deposited on my doorstep in three days with no shipping fees!  I LOVE the internet (see earlier post about Modern Day Living).   

Here's what a Huskey 2-tray steel utility cart looks like new (click on the caption if you want one too):

Husky 2-tray Steel Cart 

Here's what mine looks like: 

I use parchment paper inside the upper tray for a palette

Last week, I pimped out my cart by adding four wire spice racks from Ikea to the sides ($2.99 each) for paint storage because I was still limiting my palette space by piling up the cart with bottles of paint and brushes leaving just a small space to squirt in! Seriously, I have boundary issues.  I used electrical ties to hold the spice racks in place because they like to rock back and forth if they are not secured.  

close up of spice rack hanging on cart.  note purple electrical ties. 

I heart my cart and affectionately call him Buddy; he follows me everywhere.

One thing I am learning about my art process is to do whatever it takes, if possible and affordable, to make my process easier.  If I have to stop to find a supply or take time to make more room to squirt paint, then I run the risk of losing my focu...oh, look, a rabbit!

In the studio, painting with my best nine-year old friend.  
Buddy worked for us both.  

"Hello, this is Buddy.  What's your favorite color?"
Buddy the elf

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Have you seen the latest AT&T commercial with the man sitting at an elementary school library table with a bunch of adorable children interviewing them about which is better, Bigger or Smaller?  

Here's the scenario:  Two friends invite you to come swim in their pool. One kid has a big pool with fancy dinosaurs and things; the other kid just has a small pool. Which friend's pool will you choose? The 'obvious' answer is the kids would choose the friend with the big-jurAssic pool.


How about these questions, funny guy: 

  • Which friend would dig through their backpack for a #2 pencil if you forgot yours on test day? 
  • Which one wouldn't act like they do not know you when you smack into that pole while looking over your shoulder? 
  • Which one would run to find a Hello Kitty bandaid for that skinned knee/face?  
  • Which one would totally understand and have conversation with you about the huge difference between the Yellow Green Crayon and the Green Yellow Crayon?
AND, maybe the most important question of all:  which of these two friends won't laugh at you in your Sponge Bob bathing suit?!  duh, that's whose pool I'm choosing! 


I'm hoping the same thing is true with these latest paintings. After working on large canvases for several months, these small paintings were challenging but I like the results.

make art not war
mixed media on canvas
6" x 6"

Do Not Forward
mixed media on canvas
12" x 12"

mixed media on canvas
8" x 8"

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.
mixed media on canvas
8" x 8"

It has long been an axiom of mine that 
the little things are infinitely the most important.
Arthur Conan Doyle, speaking as Sherlock Holmes*

*for those lovable geeks in my life who are eagerly awaiting the return of Sherlock on PBS's Masterpiece.