Archive for the ‘Enough Winter!’ Category

It’s that time again—when it’s all about flowers and most anything green. Spinach salads, trips to the local garden center to find more INDOOR PLANTS, dreaming of the outdoor gardens while the temperature beyond our doors and windows hovers below freezing, and frequently below zero.

The end of our lane contains a pristine white mountain, where the plow has heaped snowfall after snowfall so that we in our condo community can get out of our garages. This is Wisconsin, USA, and that snow mountain may be with us for several more weeks. But all I can think is FLOWERS.

The above allusion to flowers has seen many mutations since its beginning in late January. Several times it almost got pitched in the recycle bin, but with each frustrating session I came back with renewed vigor and determination. I simply had to have something to show for the New Year!

This painting is 16″ x 20″, and is now framed in a lovely antique wood frame, on the wall beside my piano. I like the rendering, but up until a couple of days ago I definitely did not! Here is why: It started out with a photo realism approach—something that normally doesn’t work for me! The flowers were a dark magenta, with blobs of yellow here and there and something that was supposed to represent sky—in overly predictable blue.

The magenta was overpowering. My well educated husband walked by my art table and preempted my thoughts by commenting, “It needs some white.”

So I attacked the magenta flowers with white gouache (always my friend in coverups.) But somehow the white took over. More yellow. More magenta. Then some alizarin crimson to deflect the winey magenta.

Then more yellow to light it up even more, more blue to anchor the piece to the table—but this time aqua blue, always a winner. This all sounds fast and frenzied, but it took weeks punctuated with days for drying (I tend to gob the paint on thickly), excursions to our local medical clinic where our body parts are kept in running order, and time out to eat and be sociable. And sometimes I slept.

Finally the paper was so clotted with layers of watercolor and gouache IMPASTO style, that I had a fleeting sense of nausea. “You are going to have a bath,” I almost shouted at the paper which was actually curling up on its edges from the barrage of paint.

A bath indeed. Not a shower, but a soaking in our kitchen sink. I brought the dripping mess back to my table and plunked it down thinking I would attack it once again, as it began to dry. But then the magic appeared.

The gross top layers of paint were gone. Somehow much of the yellow had turned to a soft green when blending into the aqua. The magenta/crimson combo had turned a light lavender when confronted with shades of blue. While the paper was still damp, I covered it with plastic food wrap and squished the wrap with my fingers to create creases.

When I removed the plastic the next day, I felt like apologizing to what I found—a lovely bit of art for which I could hardly take credit. As is so often the case, the paint knows best! ūüôā

Margaret L. Been — March 2nd, 2019

Read Full Post »

NIght Blooming 2

. . . is SPRING!¬† That is enough to spring most anyone out of bed in the morning!!!¬† When daylight saving starts in a few days, I’ll think I am home free—bounding into my favorite half of our Wisconsin year.¬†

I have a goal in mind.¬† I love to walk;¬†my desire is to carry a sketch book, and¬†sketch along the way.¬† Also, I want to take more photos in my gardens—catching new spring buds, mature flowers, and later in the season those beautiful seedpods.

Suddenly flowers are dominating the art corner in our bedroom.¬† I’m extra-inspired to do flowers thanks to Ann Blockley’s exciting book, EXPERIMENTAL FLOWERS IN WATERCOLOUR.¬†¬†For breathtaking views of Ann Blockley’s art, you can GOOGLE “UK Artist Ann Blockley”.¬†¬†Her blog can be accessed through the website, as well—and it’s delightful to¬†read.¬†

Along with a focus on flowers, Ann has inspired me to sketch and photograph¬†subjects for painting—landscapes as well as close-ups.¬† I’ve read¬†the same¬†protocol from other artists, but finally the idea is beginning to make sense to me.¬† I’m also beginning to keep a log with each painting, listing the colors I use plus¬†additional mediums such as acrylic ink, acrylic paints,¬†water-soluble colored pencils, etc.¬†¬†You can detect¬†a desire for more discipline in my approach to painting.¬† Access to galleries has motivated me to make more art more efficiently, while growing and learning.

As for the sketching, I know that I can’t get any worse than I am now at it—so some improvement is bound to follow.¬† The strolling will be a joy in itself.¬† And I already have a lot of garden shots to pore over for inspiration.

Below is a favorite one, and someday I hope to be able to paint this little fellow:

Little Treasure

He must have been just out of the nest, with absolutely no fears in his head.  I stroked his back; his fur was like silk.  He sat docilely, as if he enjoyed the stroking.  Then I ran indoors to fetch my camera.  When I returned to the garden he was still there waiting to be stroked again.

Our neighborhood prairie preserve:

My Prairie

And a character who came calling one Sunday afternoon when we lived up north:


I didn’t try to pet that guy.¬† I took his picture while sheltered by our living room window.

Anyway, if I choose to render any of the above on my Arches or Saunders Waterford paper, the subjects won’t look anything like they¬†did to begin with!¬† ūüôā¬† So why not just dive in?!

Margaret L. Been, March 2015

Read Full Post »

Shades of Seurat

Spring is taking its own sweet time, here in Wisconsin.¬† We recently spent 10 days at our Northern home—280 miles North of our Southern home, and were surrounded by mountains of snow where a friend had plowed our driveway all winter.¬† While up North, we had another 2 inches of snow.¬† It was so beautiful that I actually ran out and photographed the tree tops, as if I’d never seen snow before.¬† Meanwhile, I confess I was thinking “Who needs this?”

We left to come “home South” on a Wednesday, and the next day 8 more inches landed in the North.¬† It was a real “WHEW” to get back down here where all but a few patches of white remained on the ground.¬† But it is still COLD/COLD/COLD.¬† So I just dream and paint—flowers, budding trees, and¬†our summer patio with¬†a lounge chair and the ubiquitous pitcher of iced tea.

And waterfalls!  The above rendering is my recollection of a spring waterfall that charges downhill on our Northern property.  Every year, as winter melts into spring, water rushes down over large boulders.  In heavy snow years, the deluge is audible even behind closed windows and doors.  This year, when the snow finally begins to budge, the waterfall will be spectacular.

This blog has at least one Northern Wisconsin reader, Diana.  So, Diana, is it actually beginning to happen up there?  When it does, springtime in the far North is something unforgettable.  As I recall, the longer we had to wait the more wonderful it was!

Concerning the above painting on YUPO¬ģ paper:¬† I have called it “Shades of Seurat”, because the salt which I sprinkled on wet paint¬†reminds me of pointillism.¬† (See the rocks, mainly on the right side.)¬† That just happened.¬† I had no idea what I was doing—just happily salting the rocks, like I will be salting that leg of lamb which presently resides in our freezer.

But the lamb will also get white pepper, garlic, and curry.  Who knows what painted rocks would look like with that combination?  And why not try it?  At least the painting would smell great!  This is how we play!

Margaret L. Been, April 2014

Read Full Post »

Eternally Snowing--Winter 2014--2

The salt trick is too much fun!¬† ‚ÜĎ Here is “Eternally Snowing — Winter, 2014”,¬†sprinkled with¬†very coarse salt.¬† Our Wisconsin world!

But every year about now I begin dreaming, and my dreams morph into paintings.¬† Voil√† “Windy Summer Day” ‚Üď .¬† This one was embellished with Kosher salt.

Windy Summer Day

After¬†the painting¬†dries the salt is scraped off, leaving textural marks plus a bit of “shine”.¬† The coarser the salt, the more of a job it is to remove.¬† A credit card works well for scraping, but hopefully not the¬†card which is¬†currently being used.¬† ūüôā

Margaret L. Been, February 2014

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was the first day out of seven, that I didn’t have a fever which reached over 100 even though I kept beefing up with aspirin.¬† After lugging a cement sinus head around and feeling like something a cat might have barfed up, you can imagine the thrill of an outing!

We¬†went for breakfast at a local restaurant—one of those owned by Greeks who know how to serve huge platters of food¬†for a good price.¬† Joe and I always¬†split a meal at these places.¬† Otherwise we’d leave feeling like we were going to blow up and we just might!

Then we went to THERAPYVILLE—that’s what I call one of my favorite stores:¬† the BEN FRANKLIN store in Oconomowoc.¬† This place is incredible for craft supplies, decorating stuff, creative gifts for all ages, you name it.¬† There I found:¬†¬†YES! paste for all those collages I want to create; a set of goauche paints—new to me and wonderfully creamy¬†to use; a funky mop brush for applying a wash on paper (the brush has a clear plastic handle with a pretty pink stripe); an¬†angle shader—3/4″; and a set of wooden puzzles for our great-granddaughter,¬†Brynn, who will be¬†three years old¬†in a few weeks.¬† (Brynn is passionate about puzzles.)

What a joy it was to get out!¬†¬†Looking back, I recall many¬†happy outings in the wake of sick spells.¬† One memory especially surfaces:¬† a 1962¬†recollection of going downtown in Milwaukee to the Shrine Circus with our¬†first five children, after being incarcerated for ten days with what was then called the “Asian flu”.¬† I can close my eyes, and hear/see/smell that circus!¬† (And I can still taste the pop corn, even though we always brought our own to the circus.)

There are branches of THERAPYVILLE all around our home:¬† colorful coffee bistros, resale shops, used book stores, STEIN’S GARDEN CENTER—and charming antique shops in our villages and¬†up our country lanes.¬† How delightful to come home with bounty.¬† The therapy lasts and serves¬†me well, even when stuck indoors with a fever!

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

NOTE:¬† See that green stuff outside the window on the above photo?¬† It’s GRASS!¬† Coming soon!¬† ūüôā

Read Full Post »

We have huge mountains of snow piled all around our building, created by the ever faithful plowers and their machinery.¬†¬†The gentle hill leading to the park outside our front door is heaped high, and it looms like a wall of white in our patio door view.¬† Joe calls the hill “The Matterhorn”.¬† Dylan loves to run up The Matterhorn on his long retractable leash.¬† Then he lies down and¬†rolls his cylindrical little body back down.¬† He does this several times each day, with a look of sheer¬†euphoria on his¬†face.

Dylan’s currently favorite pastime notwithstanding, I am thinking “enough’s enough”!¬† I’m ready to move on to the next items on the agenda–thawing winds and mucky March, eventually leading to warm breezes and vistas of GREEN!

Except for the pretty Valentines I received,¬†all¬†decorative¬†vestiges of winter have been packed away.¬†¬†Most of my¬†red glassware has been stowed in a china cabinet–having been supplanted on tables and¬†open shelves by Vasoline glass, clear crystal,¬†pressed glass,¬†and Depression era glassware in delicate shades of aqua, lemon yellow, and pink.¬†

I’m buying¬†a live house plant¬†every¬†time we shop.¬† Even WALMART (called “WALLY WORLD” by our son, Eric) has live house¬†plants.¬† Joe thinks we don’t have room for more plants, but I keep finding extra space by stacking the pots on footstools and extra tables in our windows, and hanging them from cute little wrought iron hangers–courtesy of HOME DEPOT.¬†

Then there are fake flowers–actually quite lovely.¬† Yellow “tulips” grace a wall planter¬†fashioned by a friend who is a potter.¬† The phony posies¬†have even made it outdoors to our garden.¬† A farmer’s antique milk can filled with pink “roses” hangs on a trellis, along with a garland of “forsythia”.¬† The riot of pink and yellow warms our view, otherwise dominated by the snowy Matterhorn!

My choice of apparel goes into¬†a state of denial¬†this time each year.¬†¬†When I was little (a few centuries ago) I tried to quit wearing¬†long cotton stockings in February–while begging my mother to let me wear knee socks or ankle socks instead.¬† I can recall¬†Mother folding her arms and staunchly refusing my requests.¬† She always said, “You are rushing the season“!

Now I can wear whatever I want, and I’m still rushing the season–albeit with caution.¬† I refuse to wear brown, grey, or black skirts again¬†until next fall.¬†¬†But it’s¬†easy to pull¬†a¬†poufy, flamboyant¬†gypsy skirt¬†over my WINTER SILK long johns.¬†¬†Sheer, romantic style¬†blouses can be¬†draped over a cashmere sweater in a springy hue.¬† Strands of colored beads never fail to complete the picture of a funky woman who refuses to brook any more winter in her life–at least for a few months!

Meanwhile, I keep checking online for our zip code’s 10 day forecast.¬† It’s WINTER TIMES 10!¬† Oh well, I’m having a lot of fun–in my deluded¬†state of DENIAL!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

Read Full Post »