Repair Finished

Impossible to fill all the cracks but I kind of like it that way. I let a little of the wood show through on the cranes because it matches the mud they put on themselves for camouflage. I will need to varnish it in a couple of days then back to Montana!

Garden Sign

One of the people to whom I sold a garden sign a couple of years ago sent it back. She had hung it in a place that made it very vulnerable to the elements (elements being sun and sprinklers). I try hard to paint my garden signs so they’ll withstand a LOT, but that sign got in a vortex of evil. I asked her to send it back so I could fix it. It’s a somewhat complicated painting on exterior plywood, more painting than sign. It was painted with good paint on high-quality exterior primer, but that didn’t save it.

The painting had peeled (tiny peels) in an interesting pattern with the wood grain that I kind of liked. All I could do was sand it to get the loose paint off and hope I didn’t lose the painting. It got more interesting as I sanded.

After sanding…

This is what I started with when I began the repair work. I was happy my sanding didn’t remove everything because I wanted to keep the image as much as possible. If I had to paint it again, I thought I’d just use a panel or a canvas. She going to hang it inside now anyway, so… but I thought that would lose something, especially the back which has a message between us about the day I finished. It was the day Biden’s election was certified.

As I worked, I felt a small connection to those heroes of song and story — painting restorers — a tenuous connection, but still.

I decided to work my way backward toward the mountains and use the acrylics I inherited last year. The colors in the photos are not right; shifted to red a bit because of the hanging over the window… Especially in the featured photo which is how I left the sign at the end of the day. The foreground, middle hills, mountains and sky are more-or-less finished. I no longer have the same paint I used originally for the sky but I think that’s OK.

The comparatively rougher wood grain adds a challenge to this that didn’t exist when I painted it the first time. There are small cracks. If I were painting a new painting on the panel as it is now, It might be less detailed or I’d take the belt sander to the wood.

Today I hope to paint the cranes.

Rainbow Girls in Wheatland Wyoming, 1957, Sketch 4 — Got It

A little difficult to see — pencil on newsprint but here’s the little girl. Very rough, my goal was getting her proportions right, the gas station in the right place (and those proportions right). I like this angle because it lets me show her wonderment which is really the story here.

The “Graces” will not be the ones I’ve drawn already because the angle is different, but I’m making them into notecards since people like them so much. Anyway, the layout as I envision it will be something like this.

Kind of but not really…

I still don’t know if it will be a horizontal or vertical painting. I’m suspecting horizontal. It’s going to be really fun painting the neon clock.

Rainbow Girls in Wheatland Wyoming, 1957, Sketch 3

My big puzzle for today was where to put the Three Graces and I think I got that.

Light is going to be a quandary. The scene is at night. The graces will have light on them (which I tried to imagine using the pastels) and the little girl will be standing under a light — light will connect them. This is something I’ve never attempted. My paintings are pretty flat in terms of dramatic light and shadow — I don’t know how to do it and I don’t do it. And, since I paint this place most of the time, there isn’t a lot of that to represent. At this altitude, this close to the sun, things are what they are. Plus, I don’t paint “urban” scapes. Though Wheatland WY isn’t particularly urban, it is a gas station.

It’s cool to have this technology, though, to be able to shrink and print a drawing it to get a feeling of proportions and distance like this. If you notice how the little girl is standing? Are you having a deja vu? 🤣

Wet Summer walk with Teddy Bear T. Dog – Quotidian Update

Couldn’t resist it. Headed out again yesterday with Teddy to investigate the Big Empty. Bear refused to be “caught” even though she’d been asking me all morning, “Are we going? It’s a cool, rainy day, Martha, are we going?”

OH well. Teddy and I had a pleasant walk. The Yellow Rail is still out there, apparently. One of the Wildlife Refuge guys passed us in his official truck and stopped at Parking Spot of the Yellow Rail. I learned recently HOW all those birders share information. Look at this. Apparently “my” refuge is a birder’s “hotspot” and from the looks of this list, sighting birds is kind of (kind of?) competitive. I got a little irked yesterday finding cigarette butts and a plastic Tiparillo tip on “my” road.

A small screenshot of a very long list…


Everything is blooming out there and the air is sweet with clover. The Chamisa (foreground in featured photo) is beginning to bloom and wide swaths of it it the distance made the land yellow. We were not plagued too badly by either mosquitoes or deer flies. I don’t understand my reluctance to covering myself in bug repellant, but I don’t do it. I dunno… Deer flies appear to be territorial. I have encountered them ONLY in a couple spots on our walks. What determines their choice? But, knowing where to expect them is good and knowing where there are more of them is even better. And, they DO like blue. That’s mysterious, but true. What do they see when they see blue?

I’ve researched the fascinating little bastards in some detail and I’ve adjusted my “wardrobe” to keep the sons-o-bitches off my face and head. I wear blue jeans and light colored shirts. So far the test has worked and the little fuckers land on my legs more often than my chest. I want them where I can see them (as much as possible). This article — “The Trolling Deer Fly Trap” — is pretty good and the pictures are great. One suggestion is to wrap a plastic cup in sticky blue tape and put it on one’s blue hat.

Humidity is rare here, but yesterday I got to rediscover the difference between 16C in dry weather and wet weather. The difference is a sweaty cotton t-shirt. I’m one of those people who runs hot, so… In Colorado a cotton t-shirt is usually an air conditioner. Often, in CA, it wasn’t. It rained lightly most of the time. Very rare, very pleasant. The last wet summer we had was 2019 which is not very long ago, but still eons ago in terms of human events.

One thing I notice by its absence — that I usually notice by its presence — is Monarch butterflies. I might be anticipating them earlier than I should or I’m affected by the news that they’ve been labeled “endangered.”‘

The hip improves steadily for which I’m grateful. The next step in the painting is cars. I thought a ’55 Ford, but in photos it doesn’t look right, so… I still haven’t figured out point of view. If I leave out the little girl who sees the Rainbow Girls, the picture loses the story, so somehow she has to be there so it can’t be from her point of view. Someone commented yesterday? That they didn’t know I drew/painted people. Yep. It used to be the main thing I did and more abstract than the work I do now. The top three are from my 1981 show in Denver. The others were done in the past 10 years or so…

But living here which doesn’t have a lot of people and has a lot of landscape? Then thinking about why I paint — I mainly paint to learn how to paint. I don’t know if any painter actually KNOWS how to paint since every painting is a teacher.

Rainbow Girls in Wheatland Wyoming, 1957, Sketch 1

You might remember a long time ago I mentioned a painting I wanted to try of three Rainbow Girls I saw in the dark, lit up a bit by the lights of a gas station, when I was little kid. We — my mom, bro and Uncle Hank were on our way to Billings MT from Denver to go to my dad’s dad’s funeral. My dad had left on the ONE plane out of Denver that morning and Uncle Hank arrived on that very same plane. Airports were so different in 1957. More like catching a bus. My dad parked, got out of the car, walked across the runway to the plane and waited with his suitcase. Stairs were wheeled to the door, the door opened, people came out. Not many; planes were small. This was a twin engine prop, DC-3. As it flew along the front range of the Rockies, it was a flying rollercoaster.

Hank came out, shook hands with my dad (it was the 50s), and Dad pointed to me, mom and Kirk — and the car. Uncle Hank didn’t have a suitcase because we were leaving within a couple hours. Mom didn’t drive so it would have been difficult to get home without a driver — Uncle Hank. Dad put his suitcase on the baggage cart and got in the plane (where he would give his ticket to the stewardess at the door or from his seat, I don’t know which) and Hank came over, said “Hi” to everyone, roughed up my brother’s hair and hugged me.

My Uncle Hank was my first crush. It was kind of mutual.

We went home. Mom made Uncle Hank breakfast and asked about “the folks” — a lot of our family was up there. He took a little rest and we headed to Billings, more or less 12 hours. The car was a 55 Ford. Green — cars back then were mostly green or black. Some were blue. A couple years later, they got more colorful, but in early days, naw. Uncle Hank would drive “straight through” which meant we would only stop for gas. We had a little potty in the car for us to use by the side of the road. US Hwy 87, no Interstate, no rest stops, no McDonalds. Just Wyoming, the dark, the road, random pronghorns and deer (Yikes!).

We stopped in Wheatland for gas, I believe at a Texaco station. I got out of the car to “help” Uncle Hank. There, running across a field to the side of the gas station, came three teenaged girls in beautiful (especially in the eyes of a five year old) dresses. “Rainbow Girls,” said my mom. “Your Aunt Dickie was a Rainbow Girl.” (So was I a decade or so later…)

When we arrived in Billings, it was midnight or so. Grandma put my bro and me in her bed. Uncle Hank brought me a dish of my favorite ice cream — White House, cherry/vanilla. We went to sleep.

It is (obviously) an unforgettable and beautiful image. I’m intrigued by those old fashioned narrative paintings and a while ago I got the idea to try to paint this story. Once upon a time I painted and drew people far more often than landscapes, but it’s been a while. I decided today that the best way to fight this ennui and keep standing up for the well-being of my hip would be to give this painting a try. It will require a lot of drawing. As an artist, painting from my imagination, I “see” things better if I “see” them with my hand. I decided this afternoon to tackle the hardest part — the girls. I wasn’t expecting much so I got out my newsprint pad. Now I regret that I didn’t use better paper. But that’s the start, up there in the featured photo.

Here’s a photo of fun-filled, scenic Wheatland, WY I’d guess from the cars in the late 60s. It looks not very different from fun-filled, scenic Monte Vista, CO around that time.