Monday, April 28, 2008

Something About April

My Child
What is it about April? Especially the time around the 20th through the 25th.
It should be a time for thoughts of spring, pretty flowers blooming, new life emerging. Thoughts of growth and renewal. April showers and May flowers. A beautiful moon, cool nights, and warm days. Kids playing outside, people gardening and planting, looking forward to summer days and vacations. Heading into the last days of school for the year.
Instead, something always happens, or I am, somehow, reminded of death, while wanting to cling to a loved one. Of wanting to reach down and with all my might, pull the dead from the grave-bring them back to experience life again. You don't ever want to lose that connection to someone, yet they are snatched away and hidden from you, no matter what you do.
It happened long ago. Still, you never want to let go-to stop reaching for them.
And, now, when spring and the end of April is here, more reminders. Another train hit a truck in that same county, killing the truck driver. This time, there were pictures of the truck in the news. It was almost on that same day, but years later.
And now we learn of the death of someone just a bit older than I am. Someone who lived a full life and was a truly good man, dedicated to, not only his family, but to his community. I know that his family will miss him terribly, but the town will, too. His presence and his deeds were truly blessings.
Today, I'm thinking of Wesley, a truck driver who was a stranger, little Otto from so very long ago, and little Marvin, also from many years ago, and Jamey, and Sherril and Bicker. Not all of them on this month, of course, but all of them gone too soon. They are all missed.
I remember watching the late afternoon sun through my window, filtering through the rich green leaves of spring, making lacey patterns that danced in a soft breeze Just like the days have been in the past week. How could something so unreal happen on such a beautiful day.
We can't touch, anymore, but we can remember.
The watercolor above was done on 300# watercolor paper using a limited palette of blue and brown Winsor Newton watercolors.
Next weekend, May 3 & 4, Calvert, Texas will have their 2008 tour of homes, with related events. Click on the link at the top of my page to find more information.
The town truly is a treasure and you should enjoy your visit there.
I have several links to various places around Calvert and Robertson county in my sidebar.
Remember to sign my Guest Book

Thursday, April 24, 2008


The moon was full, the night that it happened, so many years ago. But it seems like just yesterday. Each detail, sensation, smell, and emotion are even more fresh than they were then. Probably, they are more keen because they were blocked by disbelief and unreality, then. It all seems, as it did at the time, like a bad dream that leaves you feeling empty, drained, anxious, questioning, and afraid. I wish that it had been just a nightmare, but time insists that it did happen and is real.
Some life goes on.
In the small watercolor above, I used a limited palette of blue and brown. I used Winsor Newton watercolors on 300# watercolor paper. I like working on the heavier paper best. This is one in a series of seven paintings that I did using this color combination. This is one of my paintings that seems to relate to the work of the German Expressionist, Kathe Kollwitz.
This painting shows a weeping mother, clutching torn clothing and a shoe. One child behind her, out of her sight, tries to hang onto her as life slips away. A second child reaches up to her, wanting to be held.
Stork Update
Mama and Papa stork are well into their rhythm of taking care of the 5 eggs in their nest, according to the web cam for the nest in Przygodzic.
It looks like the web cam for the nest in Ustron is working now. This one is a school project.
You can find more in the sidebar under Stork Sites. The link that says Stork Cams gives a list of stork sites, including the one at Ustron.
I still can't find the one that we watched last year that had sound with it. We could hear music in the background, at times, traffic noises, and even the noises that the storks made with their bills.
If you would like to purchase one of my stork drawings, I will donate a portion of the price to the school project.
Remember to check out the Sketch Crawl website at . The 19th World Wide Sketch Crawl will be June 21. I hope that we can get a good turnout from the Brazos Valley area to participate this time. (Along with the rest of the world!)
Saturday June 21 is also the date of the Texas Reds Festival in downtown Bryan. I have added a link under events.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
Please let me know if you see something of interest to you.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Popcorn and a Movie


9" x 12"


What would Saturday be without a good, ole fashioned "shoot em up" movie, and, of course, popcorn has to go with that. Thank goodness for the old movie and western channels on tv, and things like tapes of those wonderful old shows.

Of course, Tim Holt was, and still is, my favorite. We had some pretty good arguments about who was best, Roy Rogers or Tim Holt, when we were growing up. Tim was right up there, in the movie magazines, with Roy, and sometimes, Gene Autrey was in the top, too.

This past week, I was looking at some things on You Tube and then tried doing a search. I was so thrilled to find some clips from some of the Tim Holt movies! I hope I can figure out how to use the things I saved and can go back and watch them again.

Also found old Gene Autrey and Roy Rogers music and parts of shows. And I went on to find things like clips from "The Pirates of Penzance".

Now if I could just watch the whole movies on my computer! (The sound isn't too good on my bedroom tv, so, if I can get things on the computer, that's a plus.) I could go in the den and watch on the big tv, but my computer is not there.

I'm not happy with what the Western channels are doing-putting old tv programs on instead of the movies. I never did like "Big Valley", "Bat Masterson", or "The Rifleman". And I got really sick of "Gunsmoke", back in those days. Didn't care for most of the tv westerns. Of course, we had to watch because we only got about 2 stations on tv! So people watched whatever was on in the evenings, especially.

Those old 1930s-1950s westerns were the best. They should put those old tv programs on the channels that have the old tv programs, and not the movie channels.

There are a few of the newer westerns that were pretty good, but they still can't beat those old cowboy shows we used to watch at the Eloia. I like the ones with James Garner and Peter Graves. Those have sort of grown on me. I didn't care for them when they first came out, but, now, after seeing them on tv several times, I kind of enjoy them.

I thought that one of those old tv shows stations was going to have the really old shows that I enjoy like "Our Miss Brooks", "Dobie Gillis", "My Little Margie", and those kind of programs. But, it wasn't long before we got the "new" shows, like "Leave It To Beaver", "The Brady Bunch", and "I Love Lucy". Now we get those and even newer shows like "Roseanne" and "George Lopez", and "All In The Family". I guess those are okay, but others just cause my poor thumb to get tired from changing channels with the remote.

I can't think of any particular movie of Tim's that was my favorite. I loved all of his westerns. And he was so cute, I could have just watched those shows, over and over. Still could!

I think that the only movie that I didn't like was "Treasure of the Sierra Madre". The story was good, and I do appreciate it more now than I did when it came out. But I hated that beard on Tim. Hid his pretty face! (Well, I just don't like beards and mustaches on anyone.)

I used to have photo albums full of pictures of movie stars and a special album just of Tim. Also had stacks of movie magazines and comic books that my mother threw out when I went off to college.

It was such a thrill to get those movie star pictures in the mail. We could just write a fan letter, addressed to the star in Hollywood, California, with a 2 cent stamp on it, and, soon, we would get a picture, often autographed, back in the mail. I sent off letters at least every week! Sometimes, stars would send us a picture that we didn't even write for. I remember that I had one of Vera Ellen, with a nice message on it. I had not written to her. And I was so excited to find that, when I jumped off a porch into some wet shrubs, with my photo in hand, that the ink actually smeared. That was "the test" to know if someone actually signed it or if it had just been stamped. I had a similar picture from Nina Fochs, with real ink on it. (I didn't even know who she was, so I knew that I had not written a fan letter to her.) Wish I still had those wonderful albums.

One of my treasures, now, is the biography of Tim Holt. Lots of pictures and stories. I sat down, when that book came, and read it straight through. (Unlike the biography of Robert E. Lee that I have been reading a little bit of at a time for at least 10 years, and I'm only about half way through! I am determined that I am going to finish it, one of these days.)

The Eloia was catty cornered from Grandpa's dry goods store, so I would watch through the big plate glass show windows for time to go across the street to the picture show on Saturday afternoons. I could see the colorful popcorn machine, with its colored lights, reflecting against the white building , rolled out from behind a blonde wooden door for each show. Carl Jr., when he was at home, would pop and sell the popcorn, while his mother, Eloise, took up tickets, and his father, Carl Sr., would sweep and take up tickets. Carl or Carl Jr. would run the projector upstairs. They all took turns walking up and down the aisles during the show to make sure that everyone behaved and didn't leave a mess. They only sold small sacks of popcorn for a nickle. For drinks, we had a chilled water fountain. If you wanted a Coke, you had to wait and go to the drugstore or to a grocery store after the show.

Sometimes, I had to help at the store and couldn't go to the show, and, believe me, I was wanting Grandpa to tell me, "Things are slow. Here's a quarter. Go on to the show."

But, even when things were slow, there were usually jobs to be done, like stringing handkerchiefs or putting pin tickets on merchandise, or just straightening things. Sometimes I would entertain myself by trying on the hats in the three way mirror, or sit by myself in the ladies changing room, dusting or sweeping, and just dream. Or I might sit on the floor at the edge of the show window and watch the people on the street, hoping to see a friend or a cute boy go by. That was the spot where Grandma and the other ladies who worked elected to sit while they strung handkerchiefs or put prices on merchandise. When Toot worked, she would sometimes sit there and write letters, when there were no customers or jobs to do.

The men tended to sit around the center of the store near the stove and the cash register. There were chairs and a bench there. A good place to gossip and swap stories.

If someone felt bad or just got extra sleepy, there were two shoe benches in the shoe department, where people sat to try on shoes.

When I could go to the show, sometimes I made the rounds at the grocery store in back ,and the dry goods store. A nickle from each person would get me into the show and buy me some popcorn, with a nickle left over to go to the drugstore afterward for a Coke or a scoop of ice cream. If I came up a nickle short, tears would usually bring me the extra money I needed.

After I started getting actually paid to work, my 50 cents a day, and later a dollar a day, would take care of my needs for a 12 cent tube of lipstick and picture shows and drugstore for the week.

We didn't always have cowboy shows on Saturday. Sometimes we had things like "The Three Stooges", or "Tarzan" movies. Usually all black and white movies during the week, with the technicolor movies saved for Sunday.

It still doesn't seem like Saturday without a good cowboy show, though.

And, now, I have to add that, Saturday night doesn't seem right without "Last of the Summer Wine" and other British comedies.

"Popcorn", the drawing above, was done with pencil on Canson acid free paper. This is a sketch made as a preliminary work for a challenge issued by Myrna Wacknov.

The challenge is to draw popcorn, then look at it to see what you can see in it. Something like looking at clouds to see what you can find there. The boys made popcorn while they watched a movie, so I borrowed a few kernels to use for my project. I haven't completed the finished work of what I see in the popcorn, however. But I do see lots of shapes and possiblities in what I have drawn.

And, like the homework story, somehow, the dog got my little ziplock bag of popcorn that I had drawn, and tore a big hole in it, leaving me with smashed kernels on the floor. (Good thing I was not using it as a still life!) And, fortunately, I can use my imagination to complete the picture/s.


Stork Update

I've added another stork cam under Stork Sites. This one is in Hungary. Click on Hungarian Cam to watch.

The nest in Przygodzic now has 5 eggs in it! Now we must wait patiently for them to hatch. Meanwhile, we can watch Mama and Papa stork as they take turns tending to the eggs.


Be sure to check out the links in my sidebar. From time to time I will add new things there.

Also sign my guest book, at the bottom of the page.

You can subscribe to my blog to get updates easily. Just type your e-mail address where it says "Subscribe" and click on the button beside it. Or, you can click on the link where it says to join my group.

Let me know if you see something of interest to you. Most of the work on my blog is for sale. Barbara says that her work is for sale, too!

Thank you for sharing and for your support.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Vision-Sunday Afternoon Band Concert

Sunday Afternoon Band Concert
7" x 10.5"
It seems like a perfect thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. Go to a band concert in a lovely place. A park is great, as is an auditorium.
My young grandson escorted me to a concert by my favorite band at Rudder auditorium in Rudder Tower on the Texas A&M University campus last month. (Which is also one of my favorite places to go.) Both the symphonic and concert bands were going to present programs during the afternoon.
Having played flute in the Calvert High School band for a few years, I have an appreciation for good band music. The former director of the A&M band, Joe Tom Haney, was also our band director in high school. So we had some excellent training.
As I dressed to go over to campus, I was watching the news on tv and knew that Shep Smith from Fox News was broadcasting from the Flag Room in the MSC, next door to Rudder Tower. I really wanted to go watch him, too, and, hopefully, meet him.
We also heard on tv that Bill Clinton was flying in to make a speech at Reed Arena about the same time as the concert. A busy day here.
As we drove past the airport on our way to campus, Clinton's plane flew over us as it landed. We knew because of all the police cars, waiting and circling around the area.
My daughter let us off by the MSC and we went into the Flag Room to see Shep Smith. I could hear him, and I could make out some people at a table across the room. But I couldn't really see much because of the bright tv lights! I checked out the art gallery door in the Flag Room to see if they were open on Sunday. They were. I thought we could return after the concert and look around there, if Shep was already through broadcasting.
We entered the lobby of Rudder and I almost had a panic attack! I couldn't see much. Dark carpets and low lighting in places. Thank goodnes my grandson was with me and that he is able to read almost anything! There was a sign placed on a stand in the middle of the floor, showing which auditorium the band concert would be in. I couldn't see it until I was just a few feet away. It was printed on maroon cardboard with black letters!
Then there were two flights of stairs to walk up. Carpet was maroon or dark blue in the building. No lights on the actual steps, but the landings were lighted. I was leaning over trying to find each step, and, at the same time, having pain in my knees from my worn out joints! People around me were walking easily while I was complaining, "Why don't they have elevators in this nice building!"
I couldn't help but wonder why, with a big architecture department at the University, this very public building was not made more handicapped friendly. I'm not that bad off, but I'm sure that others who do have more serious handicaps, and didn't have a young person to help them, would not be able to function in the building is, as lovely as it is.
(I have since learned that, there is a number to call to let them know that you are coming, if you have special needs, and they will have someone to assist you or show you where to go to avoid all those stairs.)
And, then there was the restroom situation. We were on the second level, but all the restrooms are on the first floor. That meant that, at intermission, I had to climb the stairs again. And then, I couldn't read the signs to know which was the ladies room. Signs were placed high on the wall, too far for me to read with my poor vision. My grandson escorted me to the area, but he was a little embarassed about going to the area of the ladies room. A man was there, waiting for his daughter to come out, and he showed me which door was the ladies room. I felt really stupid that I couldn't even find the restroom, and I was in a hurry, too!
We entered the auditorium and took the first seats near the door. To go closer to the stage meant climbing down more steep stairs. I noticed a woman on the floor near the stage, in one of those little electric carts. I decided that there must be another entrance somewhere that would allow people to sit close to the stage and not have to climb all those stairs.
My escort was a little gentleman and sat through the concert. A few times, I asked him to read the program to me, and he did. (Some of that was just to discuss the instruments and the music.)
The music was excellent and that should have been enjoyable. But all I could think of is that, one of these days, I may not be able to see the band at all. It was hard to sit there and struggle to make out instruments or what the musicians were doing.
Oddly, I could see the director and his platform fairly well. I could make out the percussion section with men in bright red or orange shirts. I could see one on the left who may have been playing a xylaphone or a kettle drum, just from the way he bent over and moved his arms. Another played rhythm instruments and chimes. Another either played a kettle drum or some kind of drums. He seemed to be using his hand flat.
Other than that, all I could see was a golden halo in the back of the orchestra for the baritones or bass horns, that same golden halo on the left for the trumpets (I think!), and the same halo for the trombones and possibly some other horns on the right.
I could see some knees in front of the trumpets. One set of knees seemed to be covered by a blue and green floral patterned skirt. Next to the skirt, there seemed to be jeans and next to the jeans, there appeared to be another blue and green skirt. But what instruments they played, I have no idea.
A hand with a part of a flute was near the director, toward the center on the right. A yellowish pattern was next to the director, in the first row, on the right. I couldn't tell if this was an instrument case, or some kind of air cast a person might be wearing.
On the left, I could only see a foot wearing a sandal.
There was a light area around the director, I suppose from a spotlight. But that blended into the purple spot that I see , and darkness. Only the few things I have mentioned poked through that darkness. At least that is the way that it looked, through my eyes.
"Will I be able to just sit and relax and enjoy listening, in the future, if it comes to that? Can I enjoy anything without being able to see it correctly?" I couldn't help but wonder as the director put his energies into conducting and the young people in the band worked to give us their best efforts. "Why can't I just sit back, relax, and enjoy being here and listening!"
I thought of the park and the old band stand there and how it should have been used more over the years. It was so wonderful when the Houston Symphony played there one spring. And the big highlight, for me, was when the band from Ft. Hood came during the Sesquicentennial. What a thrill that was . It was even nice when our Trojan band would play in the bandstand.
And I dreaded having to go back down those stairs to the lobby! I felt sort of lost and that I should be showing my grandson things instead of the other way around. I could recognize things and knew generally where to go, but I feel so foolish when I can't find or read signs, or recognize which way I should go.
The concert ended and I walked sideways down the stairs. My grandson and I walked across the fountain area, through a little dust devil, back to the MSC and the Flag Room. TV lights were still on and people were sitting around in the "living room", as they often do. We sat for a few minutes, too, but the tv personalities seemed to be gone. I thought they must have rushed over to Reed Arena to do a story on Clinton being there. Or maybe it was a supper break.
We went through the art exhibit in the gallery and looked at work by, and from the collection of, actor Anthony Quinn.
I've written about that in a previous post, so I won't go over that again.
I'm sure that, now, I have lost my center vision due to wet Macular Degeneration. (The cataracts in both eyes don't help, either.)
But it was a bit odd that I could see the band director so well, and he was in the center of my vision. I guess that it has something to do with the lighting in the auditorium. When the normal lights were on, I could see the band members entering and getting ready to play. And I could see their instruments.
If you would like to read more about my experiences with Macular Degeneration, look for the older posts that are prefaced with the word "Vision". Also, I have listed some of the sites that I have found that deal with AMD in my sidebar under "Eye Sites".
I painted "Sunday Afternoon Band Concert" from a sketch I did after we got home from our visit to A&M. I used Winsor Newton watercolors on 140# Arches watercolor paper.
Please let me know if you see something that you are interested in. Most of the art work on my blog is for sale.
Stork Update
If you are stork watching, or would like to, the nest in Przygodzic now has 4 eggs! Mama stork seems to be sitting on the nest every time I look, but they give the egg count at the bottom of the camera shot. There are now 4 little animated eggs there, so we know that the nest has 4 eggs in it.
You can check out the links under Stork Sites on my sidebar on the right.
If you click on Stork Cams, you can see a list of various places that have web cams or information on the storks.
19th Worldwide Sketch Crawl Announced
Get Ready! Make your plans! Sharpen a pencil. Pull out your sketchbook (or buy a new one!). Dust off your watercolors, markers, crayons, pens, or whatever you like to draw with.
The date for the 19th Worldwide Sketch Crawl has been announced for Saturday June 21. I will be adding more about that on my blog, but I just wanted everyone to be able to plan for this.
You can check out the website at or look on my sidebar under Art Helpers and click on that link.
I hope that we can get a lot more participation from this area this time.
You can read more about the last one in previous posts on my blog. You can also see some of the work that we created that day.
If you are interested, you can register on the Sketch Crawl website, or, if you are in this area, you can register, then post a reply under either Bryan, Texas or College Station, Texas and let us know that you are interested. (You don't have to, but it would be nice to know who all is sketching, and might be fun to get this together as a group.)
You can even post your own reply to get a group together for your area.
Remember that this is open to everyone-all ages, all levels. Beginners, professionals, students, teachers, professionals, families, groups, or individuals. People can work together or solo. The idea is just to draw that day, with people all over the world, working at one time.
I'm excited about it and looking forward to another day of drawing.
More on this later. I just wanted to pass on the announcement of the date.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stork Update/ Color Harmonies

Stork Update:
There are now two eggs in the nest! I finally figured out what the little white things are at the bottom of the picture, and those are little animated eggs hatching. They show the number of eggs in the nest. There had been just one. Now there are two little cartoon eggs.

Also, I added another link under Stork Sites that you might like to check out. Links #4 and 5 in my list don't seem to be working. They worked last year. I'm not sure what one says, so it could be that they have taken the site down. I thought that the other was working, but, apparently that is not the case. Maybe it will work later.

Funds might have been a problem. That's why I'm offering to donate part of the money from sales of my stork pictures to the project. So if you would like a lovely stork picture, or if you would just like to contribute to the fund, let me know. We can arrange for a picture, or I can put you in touch with those who are working with the project, or the lady who has been collecting to help them out.

I don't see that the Black Stork nest web cam in Germany is showing anything live, either. I enjoyed watching that one last year too. However, I have left it there because there is some interesting information on stork migration and their adventures in the sidebar. Hopefully, the camera will be back operating again soon.

Calvert Sign:
There has been a movie on tv about the life of Johnny Cash the past few days. My daughter pointed out to me that, at some time, maybe about 1957, Johnny and his crew were in Calvert. At least, according to the tv movie. I watched a bit of it and, sure enough, they make a stop at a little town as they are traveling from Austin toward East Texas. As the men are standing around, doing goodness-knows-what (since they start a small fire in a tree!), there is the big Calvert sign behind them. Of course, that sign was not really there in 1957. As I recall, there was only the city limit sign, and a concrete block sign that was put up by or for the FFA and several organizations like the Lions Club had additions on that sign. It had some flowers planted around it and was a nice, simple welcome to town.
Now, I wonder about the sign in the movie. It was a nice backdrop and a bit of advertisement, I guess.
I do know that they also showed neon lights from a motel in the background, near the sign. Calvert never had one of those! (Reminds me of the movies about Houston and the movie makers will have to throw in some big mountains in the background. I'm always sure that those movie makers have never been to Houston, or Texas!)
My daughter told me that it was the sign that advertises Calvert as the Antique Center of Texas. I didn't see that part. I thought the men were in front of it, but I did see Calvert on it and the sort of odd shape that it has.
If you get to see the movie, watch for the sign and let me know what you think. If you have actual information about why it was in the movie, I would like to know that too. Not complaining or anything like that. Just wondering.

Dream Tree Slide Show
I added a slide show (below) of some of the watercolors that I have done of the "Dream Tree" that I have talked about previously.
This was a tree that I saw in a dream and I woke up saying that I just had to go back and paint that tree. I think it was supposed to be in Franklin. Nothing I have actually seen, except in that dream.
Myrna Wacknov, on her Creativity Journey blog, issued a challenge a while back to write down all of the colors on your palette on little slips of paper. Put those in something, then draw out 3 colors. Use those colors to do a painting. Repeat as many times as you like.
I used my light table to trace several small versions of my "Dream Tree" on watercolor paper that ranged in size from 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" to 7" x 10".
The first color combination that I drew was Winsor Violet, Yellow (Pale), and Indigo Blue. I really liked the results I got with that so I did another one. The sky in the second one was much darker than the first, but it is still nice.
Then I did one in more realistic colors, thinking of the golds and colors of winter grass around here.
Next, I tried one, beginning with a color that I like-Cobalt Violet, and decided to make a violet tree. I added in other colors of yellow and green to complete the painting.
A monochromatic painting using all blue was my next choice.
Finally, I drew 3 more colors to use. This time, I limited my palette to Alizaron Crimson, Sepia, and Lemon Yellow. I have to confess that I had to cheat a little bit. I ran out of Sepia so I added in some Burnt Sienna just to complete the painting.
I could do many more! I do have one more drawn on a larger sheet of paper that needs to be painted still.
I thought that I would really get tired of doing one thing over and over. But, each one was different enough that I still had a challenge to figure out how to approach each area. Just thinking of how to use the limited number of colors was a challenge in itself.

I'm staying up, watching the tvweather news from Temple. There is a big line of storms headed this way and they have had a tornado warning for Temple and Milam county. For a short while, there were big, black dots in scattered all along that line of red and orange. Wish I knew what that meant! Kind of scarey, especially since there was a tornado at Breckenridge earlier as this front moved through.
I guess it is safe here, right now. I'm watching my weather forecasting cat as much as I am watching the tv weather! So far, she is just walking around, looking at things.
If she starts flattening out to the floor and just creeps along or stops dead in her tracks, I will know to unplug the computer and hide her under her favorite blanket. All we need is a bit of rain in the area, and Bitsy goes into action, looking scared stiff. When she comes out of hiding, we know it is safe and the rain or storm has passed. Sometimes the weather people miss the forecast, but Bitsy never does!

Art Notes:
Check out Virginia Vaughan's blog from the link under Artists and Authors on my sidebar. "Texas Country Reporter" is going to film her for their program while she paints 24 paintings in 24 hours. These will be done on the farm where she and her family recently moved from.
"Extracurricular" will be on display at the P. David Romei Art Center in College Staion. If you are here, be sure to go by and see some of the work by area art teachers.
I've been reading about Houston Interior Designer, Bill Stubbs. He is starting a new series on Houston PBS tv. There are a lot of very interesting things online about him. I'll have to check out his book, "I Hate Red! You're Fired!".
Thanks for reading and sharing. Please sign my Guest Book at the bottom of this page.
You can also join my group by filling out the little subscribe box at the top of the page, or you can click on the link that leads you to my group.
And do let me know if you would like one of the stork pictures.
Hope those storms weaken and just leave us with some nice, gentle rain, and only where it is needed so badly.

Check out my Slide Show!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Congratulations, Mama and Papa Stork!

It's spring and the storks are arriving back in Poland!

Last night, (in the wee hours of the morning, actually), I was checking out the web cams for the various stork sites that I listed in my sidebar under Stork Sites . In one nest, Mama and Papa stork looked like they were settling in really well, just snuggling down, flapping wings, and twisting around as those beautiful birds will do.

Lo and behold, as they stood up, I noticed a white spot in the nest. An egg! The first one that I have seen this year. Looks like the season for eggs and new babies is upon us.

I was going to get my pencil and sketchbook out and draw, but decided that I probably should try to go to bed. (The tomcats had other ideas, though. They have figured out how to make me get up, just about the time my eyes close and I drift off to sleep!) I may as well have stayed up and sketched the storks!

You can click on the links on the right under Stork Sites to see the various sites I have found to share. Some are in Poland, some are in Germany. Some have English, and some do not. But, you can usually figure out what is going. Or what I do is to ask someone who can advise me!

Debbie Greenlee has been very kind to keep us informed and has given me permission to share information with you.

The nest with the egg is on the Bociany Przygodzic site at . If you look below the web cam to the big words, "Froum Galeria" and click another window opens for a bulletin board. On that new page, click on he second message topic, "Kadry...z przmruz.eniem oka ;)2008". A new page comes up. Scroll down the photos and click on "PODZIWIA". Scroll down until you get the enlarged photo and you can see that it is an egg that she is tending to. Apparently, this egg was made on April 5, according to the other photo on that last page.
Here is another website for watching storks. Look at
This is a school project that is very interesting. At this site, there is a diary of how the project started. It doesn't have an English page, but it is still of interest.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the words, "Zobacz film. An 18 minute film will show you what was involved in this project. Although everything is in Polish, you can get a feel for the language by listening. You probably will be able to understand what is going on without understanding Polish. At the end, there is a champagne and ribbon cutting event.
Monika, who is the leader of the Ustron~stork project, has invited people to post a message on the project's website.
Here are two threads where you can guess the arrival of Beskidek and Czantorek, although Beskidek has already arrived.
Monika advises that you can write in English on the forum. She expressed wishes for a happy year for the storks.
There is a page on their site called "Przyjaciele", which means friends. This will include names of people who are helping to support the project.
Ustron ~ is in Beilsko-Bial~a (southern Poland) near Katowice.
The storks in this nest are named "Beskidek (father/ojciec) and Czantorke (mother/matka).
Beskidek meanst "little Beskid", referring to the Beskid mounton range in which Ustron~is located. It's similar to Americans living near the Rocky Mountains, such as in Denver, and calling an eagle there "Rocky".
Czantorka comes from Mount Czantoria Wielka which is a prominent peak in the Beskids, and it is in Ustron~.
The organizers of the online stork project are Monika Kosinska (director) and Marek Radziszewski of "SNEP Kol~o 15 w Ustroniu", Association of Elementary School Teachers, Circle 15 (read this as Chapter 15) in Ustron, a teachers organization in Poland. Their website is
They held a symposium (for kids) about storks on June 5, 2007. See more about this event with cute pictures of the kids with their storks at
Debbie has been very nice in trying to collect funds to help with the expenses of the stork project. So, if you are interested in contributing, let me know and I'll tell Debbie.
Also, if you would like to purchase one of my pencil drawings of the storks, let me know. I will contribute a portion of sales toward the stork project.
The above sketch was done last year, after I discovered the stork web cams. I really liked the way that this stork was stretching out those wings toward the camera. So powerful! I used a #314 Draughting pencil to draw the storks.
If you are as fascinated as I am with the storks, you might want to make yourself a little chart that shows what time it is in Poland, as compared to where you are. I did this last year. They are interesting even during their night time hours, but it is also helpful to watch during daylight in order to appreciate the colors and surroundings even more.
Enjoy watching those amazing birds! I hope that they have a wonderful year with many healthy babies!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tartan Day

Ashton's Weaving

Today, my lads and lasses, is officially Tartan Day in America. President Bush issued a proclamation to that effect. You can see the official proclamation at
This came from the president of the Council of Scottish Clans & Associations (COSCA) by way of the Texas Scottish Festival group.

I hope that you are wearing your tartan today.

Don't have one? Not to worry! Just look what I whipped up today, using my trusty loom. (That's a joke! I can weave, but I don't. I can also sew, but my temper doesn't allow it! ) The above tartan designs were created by me in just a few minutes using an online tartan design site. I just selected some colors that I like, then put them in order, selected a thread count, then the computer instantly wove my tartan design. (Love that purple that is almost like a Cobalt Violet!)

You can also look up your Scottish, and Irish, surnames and find if they have a tartan, if you don't know already. You can have your design woven and made into kilts, scarves, or whatever. Or just save it to your computer, if you like the way it turns out.

These days, there are tartans for states, including the Bluebonnet design for Texas (which is very pretty), for the military, and other groups.

If you already have a tartan, and items made from it, I hope that you are proudly wearing them today.
There are various activities going on today to recognize Tartan Day. There are events in Austin at the Capitol, and celebrations in places like Houston, that I have heard of.

I put some links in my sidebar under Art Helpers for sites that you can use to find out more about your tartan and create your own. It is kind of fun and much easier on the blood pressure, if you are at all like me! You can just make another one really easily. No angst over tangled threads, crooked lines, threads that are too loose or too tight, or out of order, or something that comes unraveled, or that you just plain wish would hurry up and get finished! (For me, with about the second tangled thread or mistake, the sewing machine and the object I was working on, go stratight out to the garbage can!) Maybe I can print off a bunch of my tartan designs and tape them together to wear, or, better still, just paint something on paper to wear! (Items with the actual tartan, woven, are a bit more than I can afford!)

I haven't found tartans for my Scottish ancestors, yet. I think that the Arnetts could have been Arnot, which isn't a clan anymore because they have no chief. But, they became a sept of something else after the last chief died. The Vanns said that they wear the Munroe tartan. Robertson would also be Scottish, but I haven't done much research on them. (I sure would like to find out more about Mourning Robertson! I guess it is her name that is fascinating to me.)
My closest family was Prussian, Swedish, Bavarian, and English. The Scottish and Irish were several generations back and I haven't gotten that far in my research. Miles was English, Davis was Irish. There are many, many more families and individuals to find out about, still.

My grandson did actually do a weaving, with threads, in his art class. It took them a long time to finish since skill and craftsmanship, along with creativity, was important to the project. I'm adding a scan of his weaving. At first glance, it seemed to remind me of a mask. But, as I examined it a little closer, I am amazed at his patience with all the evenly spaced threads and even tiny little knots.

If you haven't been able to celebrate today, maybe you can take a little time to look up your tartan, or create your own, for future reference. There are times when there are other Scottish and Irish events throughout the year when you could use your tartan, your kilt and other attire.

Have fun playing around with the tartan designers. Here are some that I found, and added to my sidebar.

House of Tartans

Dezine Design

Tartan Designer

Scottish Tartans Authority

There are more, and a lot of places, even here in Texas, that carry Scottish products and make things like kilts. There is also a group on Yahoo called Texas Scottish Festival that is active and involved in things Scottish. Oh, and for food and other items, there is a place called Caledonian Kitchens online that you should enjoy.

Now, can you hear the pipers playing and the drums drumming, bringing dreams of Scotland.

Happy Tartan Day!

Please sign my Guest Book at the bottom of the page, if you haven't already. And consider joining my group. You can subscribe to my blog to get the latest updates, too.
Thank you for reading. Let me know if you see something of interest to you.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

More Drawings From Sketch Crawl Bryan

I've only been struggling to put these picture in one post for a week.
You can see these below as a slideshow, and I am sending them to the Sketch Crawl website, now that I finally have them posted.
Barbara's Saturday started in Calvert, waiting for the Zamycal Kolache Shop to open. She sketched the highway while she waited. Later, I did a watercolor of my cherry kolache.
She picked Ashton and me up in Bryan and drove us downtown. There we checked in with Greta Watkins at the Frame Gallery. Then we picked a spot between the old Queen and Palace theatres to work that morning. Ashton and I sat by the Palace while Barbara got a good view from the center of the street. She had her plein aire painting things with her, so she worked in oils.
I had my travel watercolors and pens, but chose to use pencil. Barbara had to leave by noon, so our time was short. Ashton was prepared, too, with his sketchbook. But he was hungry for a ham and cheese kolache from the doughnut shop and his mind was on "Star Wars" and light sabres. So, he drew a nice light sabre.
A young man with a cell phone came whizzing back and forth on his skateboard. A good subject for gesture drawings.
Traffic in and out of the barber shop was interesting, too.
Several people stopped to look at Barbara painting.
We enjoyed the peacefulness of downtown Bryan with the sound of Mourning Doves, pigeons cruising above, tiny birds playing on the sidewalk near us, and the chimes from nearby churches.
While the day started out cool and foggy, following thunderstorms on Friday night, that just added a bit of interest to our work. It wasn't long before enough sun came out to create stronger shadows among the buildings.
I intended to work on a scene of the wide street, but, with limited time, I sketched parts of the buildings that are well known here. The Howell building, the LaSalle and Charles Hotels, an old bank building with a flag on top, the Queen, and the barbershop. I added a mother and daughter from Robertson county who were also sketching, and another woman who seemed to be drawing, Barbara, Ashton, and, of course, the skateboarder.
We checked in at the Frame Gallery to share what we had done and discuss future sketch crawls. There, Ashton fell in love with the gorgeous resident dog. I think the feeling was mutual.
Back at home, I intended to do some more sketching, but I was very sleepy after the storms kept the cats and me up all night! So, I darkened some of my drawings, scanned some, then took a nice nap!
During the week, I have been trying to post my pictures on my blog in a way that will work for the sketch crawl. Hopefully, now that this seems to be working again, I can get these added today.
Now we are anxious to know when the next Sketch Crawl will be! I'll let you know when I hear something. We want to try to get the word out early for the next one so that we can have good representation from the Brazos Valley.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Where We Drew
Bryan, Texas
18th Sketch Crawl
March 29th
I'm posting some individual pictures of our first Sketch Crawl experience. This was last Saturday in downtown Bryan, Texas.
I need to do this in order to add our pictures to the Sketch Crawl Forum.
You can see some more pictures from Rockport, Texas, sent by a reader who took part in the Sketch Crawl there. These are at the bottom of my page on my Guest Book. Really nice watercolors from the coast!
You can see our pictures as a slide show in a previous post.
I have also added a couple more pictures to that slide show, if you like to watch them as a slide show.
My sister actually started out north of here in Calvert and I've already posted her sketch from the kolache shop on Main Street. She traveled to Bryan and took my grandson and me to start out at The Frame Gallery in Bryan. From there, we picked out spot between the old Queen Theatre and the Palace Theatre and the barber shop next door. Coffee was available at the LaSalle Hotel. As we left about noon, and drove near a carpet store, we saw other artists, possibly from Robertson County, at work.
We passed an oil well with lots of Indian Paintbrushes in bloom nearby as my sister brought us home. She had to leave, but I intended to draw more. I worked a little more on darkening up what I had sketched, and started scanning pictures. But I just had to take a nap. Thunderstorms on Friday night kept me, and the cats, up most of the night and I just had to sleep a while.
I've had trouble getting my pictures to post. I'm still only able to post one at a time, it seems. Others seem to be having the same problem. But I was able to make the slideshow work. Instead of writing, I intended to add my individual pictures all in one post, but that isn't working.
We had thunderstorms move through again this morning. So the computer was unplugged again. The news said that there was golf ball and soft ball size hail to the east of us. Whew! The storms seem to get worse as they move closer to the Gulf of Mexico or to the east.
Get ready to have a great weekend!
Thanks for your comments and for signing my Guest Book! I do appreciate you!
Let me know if you see something of interest.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bryan Street Scene

Bryan Street Scene
Barbara e-mailed this to me today. This is an oil painting on canvas panel that she did during our Sketch Crawl last Saturday morning in downtown Bryan. She set up between the old Queen Theatre and the barber shop and Palace Theatre across the street.
I've had several people ask me when the next one will be. The Sketch Crawl website says that they have one every two or three months. The last one was in January. So the next one might be about June. Or it could be in May. I'll let you know, or you can sign up on their website to keep up to date. We'll try to let everyone know ahead of time. Greta Watkins at the Frame Gallery in downtown Bryan has agreed to be a contact, too.
I'm going to post more of my pictures that I have added to the slideshow individually so that I can post them on the Sketch Crawl forum.
It is very interesting to look at what people from other places in the world did that day. Next time, we have to remember to take some photos! To see some from Rockport, you can look at my Guest Book. You can also see them on the Forum on the Sketch Crawl site under the 18th Sketch Crawl. Just click on where it says Results.
Be sure to go by and see "Extracurricular" at the P. David Romei Art Center in College Station. I hope that, if you are local, you got to go by the reception for the artists this afternoon.
Famed Texas artist, Dalhart Windberg, is showing at the Rockport Art Center. He is giving a talk on Saturday. His work is just gorgeous! And it is so interesting to hear him talk about his process.
I first met him when he was just getting started in Victoria. And was able to hear him speak at Bryan High School some years later. Some of his originals were on display and they just glowed. People were wondering, "How does he do that!?!" And we were amazed when he told some of his "secrets".
His moonlight and foggy scenes, especially, are just breathtaking.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools Day

Second Grade Program
Calvert High School
Calvert, Texas
I wonder if these children played April Fools pranks
Didn't you just hate to go to school on April Fools Day? There was always some kid who would have to tell you that there was a bug on your back, or that someone liked you who really didn't.

My grandfather liked to joke around as much as anyone, no matter how old he was! One of his favorite things to do was to put his hand on someone's shoulder blade and say, "Guess whose back!" Some people would guess and guess, with no luck. He would finally tell them, "You! Isn't that your back!" And he would have a big chuckle while the poor victim would still be trying to figure out who was back.
So April Fools Day was right up his alley.

We would be concerned about what someone was going to come up with at school and then had to go to town after school and wonder what Grandpa had in store for us. There was the usual bug on the back and your shoes are untied and great fun for Grandpa with us- and the customers.

Daddy also tried with his little jokes, but we didn't fall for them, and he moved on to things he was more interested in.

Grandpa always had some little something to say. I wish that I could remember them all.
When we would measure out material for customers in Conitz Dry Goods Store, on the counter with the tape measure scotch taped to it, he would tell us, (before we cut with the big silver scissors), "Give her a good Methodist measure, now." Meaning to cut off a bit extra for the customer.
That was easy for me! My cuts were so crooked, usually giving the customer a lot more than they asked for, in a big triangular shape! Eventually, I got better at cutting a reasonably straight line. But, I sure did hate for anyone to see those pieces that I cut so crooked. Especially Grandpa! But I had the excuse that I was giving them a "good old Methodist measure"!

As a teacher, I was always glad when April Fools Day came on a weekend! I was so relieved when I could go home where I knew I was safe from any jokes. The kids always managed to work it in, although we tried to keep things pretty tight and busy on that day to keep everyone out of trouble. I just tried to be serious and act like I was not amused the whole day.

I had to laugh at Paul Hutchison's website today. He really pulled a good one! Usually, he posts small paintings of everyday objects like burned matches. Yesterday, he posted a photo of himself in his studio with a huge painting that he said he was thinking about going to rather than the small ones. And he asked people what they thought. He got a good response to that as the painting was really striking (can I say that about a painting of a huge burned match!).
Today he said that it was an April Fools joke. The painting was actually small, but, with the help of his computer, he made it look like it was a large painting in his studio.

I can never think of clever things or jokes. And, sadly, I can't remember but a few of the things that Grandpa used to say and do.

Hope that you had a good chuckle or two today, not at someone else's expense of course.

The old movie station has been showing old movies with the word Fool in them. I liked "My Foolish Heart" with Susan Hayward and Dana Andrews. They had some really old ones from the 1930s that were good, but, when they had silent movies, I just had to turn those off. I can't read what they say unless I sit right in front of the tv. That makes it too hard to keep up with from across the room.
If you are in this area, be sure to go by the P. David Romei Art Center in College Station to see the art show, "Extracurricular". These are works by area art teachers. There are outstanding artists in this group. The show runs through the month of April.
The reception is Thursday April 3 at 5:30 p.m. Hope to see you there!
I only know one person, for sure, in the photo above. So, if you recognize the others, or if you have a copy that is labeled, I certainly would appreciate knowing who the rest of the members of this class are. This was probably in the 1930s.
To see the results of the local 18th World Wide Sketch Crawl last Saturday, scroll down to my Sunday posts and read upward through Monday. I finally was able to get some of our pictures on through a slide show. You can see more of what people did worldwide by going to the Sketch Crawl website. Look under Forums, and click on 18th Sketch Crawl. Look at each post and click where it says results to see what was done. There is some really interesting work on there. Lots of humor too!
I'm anxious to know when the next one will be!
Thanks for your comments and for sharing. Don't forget to sign my Guest Book at the bottom of the page and join my group, if you haven't already.
Wow! I'm so excited! I see by the counter in my sidebar that over 5,000 people around the world have now viewed my blog!
Thanks, everyone, for reading and sharing!
I'm really thrilled that so many people have looked at my art and writing. It is nice to know that someone out there looks at what I am doing.
Hope that you enjoy what you see and will come back,
and share this with others.