The Painting Blog

Started as a daily painting blog but this is easier to live with-
the once-in-a-while blog of a painter who also writes.

Friday, August 16, 2019

More Chicken and Cranes

     As things often do, the Chicken Whistle and Cranes have taken on a life of their own. As the series has developed, it has come to represent much more than a mother hen and her cranes. In some ways, it seems to make no sense at all. But, in a very 2019 way, nonsense speaks the truth, when you look a little more deeply. No, that's nonsense! The messages may be a little more clear when viewed in order and right now that is only possible on Facebook. Go to Writer/Artist, Nancy Leasman and scroll down. And be sure to "Like" the page.
   

Friday, August 9, 2019

Chicken and Cranes

     Among my collection of chickens is a sweet little water whistle. Son # 1 and his wife brought it back from their travels. It found a home on the ledge overlooking the kitchen sink.
     Daughter # 3 has had a long time fascination with making paper cranes. Seven of them joined the water whistle chicken. To me, this little vignette represents my kids and if you take it a little further, I suppose I'm the mother hen.
     The chicken and cranes are featured in this week's work. There are currently five in the Chicken and Cranes series though that count may go up to six or seven today.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mini vases of flowers

     I remember a floral designer objecting to putting a single flower in a vase. She said it looked like a cork in a bottle. Nothing like a comment like that to inspire a painter! Hence my recent painting of little vases with single flowers.
     I was working on about the fifth painting in the Little Vases series when Independence Day rolled around. It seemed fitting to put a flag in the background. The vase is a tiny pouring vessel my daughter the potter (Bel Pots) made. The daisy is from my flower garden.
     I like painting flags and intend to do more. I shared note cards of the image (left) with my coffee shop friends on July 4th.

The Sheep

     Many people have wondered how the sheep came to inhabit scenes in the design collection.
     Along about 18 years ago I painted a whimsical scene of a rural church. The foreground had a very horizontal layout and needed something to lead the viewer into the scene. Somehow, a few sheep seemed the perfect solution. Not long after that, I was painting another rural church that had a fence in the foreground. It needed a few sheep, too, but I had already painted in the fence. I put in a few sheep but blackened them in to effectively put them in front of the fence. Somehow black sheep and churches seemed good companions.
     Since the first sheep there have been many more, as well as a few horses, pigs, squirrels, swans (see the Swanville set), and even a ferret.
     I also add the curvy pine trees as compositional elements though I do try to use them only when there are already some conifers in the landscape (the exception is in Christmas scenes where I can haul in a Christmas tree anywhere I want).
     The heart balloons are a recent development. They're a nice way to add visual interest and color though I don't expect that you'll see them floating above random houses.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Wonderful Wadena


I grew up in the Wadena area, shopped there, graduated from high school there.
Wadena held my first sense of the world. I hovered over small purchases at the Woolworth’s store and Ben Franklin. I still have a 49 cent Christmas ornament made from a real egg shell that came from one of those stores.
Both J C Penney and Sears were catalog stores. You could order from their 2-inch thick catalogs and pick up the items at the stores or have them delivered. It may have taken 6 weeks to arrive but that only built anticipation. Their Christmas catalogs were delights to the eyes and if you were the type to sniff new books, catalogs were sniffable, too.
The jewelry stores were great for window shopping and they probably had to regularly wipe down the nose prints.
I followed my dad into the hardware and feed stores and went with him to pick up the cream check at the creamery.
I was a regular visitor at Rex McDonald photography studio since my mom worked there. I worked there, too, when I was in high school.
One place I never ventured into was the old hotel. Curiosity wasn’t a good enough reason and it was a little spooky before it was restored. I suppose the train depot was open back then but like the hotel, I couldn’t conjure up a reason to sneak in.
Kerfoot’s bookstore was a little spooky, too, and I never ventured inside until my brothers and I were old enough to go in on our own. We didn’t look for books. There were fascinating and mysterious items which included magic tricks and oddities. The proprietor was an old man who probably cultivated a little fear in young visitors just to keep his collection from disappearing.
The Cozy Theatre was a little smaller back then but what a memorable experience it was to go through the doors into another world. One of my earliest memories is of a scene of a beautiful woman floating down a river on a raft and another much scarier memory of a small boy being chased by a huge spider. The Saturday Christmas matinees were exciting and ended with the gift of a bag of peanuts from Santa.
Creating a set of Wadena images sparked lots of memories. These images are on note cards and more recently in “A Little Art” portfolios. Ask Lina at the Wadena Museum and Bookstore and she’ll show you the current supply of "Wonderful Wadena."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Holmes City


The one little thing I regret from a summer jaunt through western Minnesota is that I didn’t follow my nose to the scent that pervaded the weekly outdoor market we visited. I have a strong suspicion that it was bug spray; but not a toxic scent that repels humans as well as mosquitoes. This was a lovely scent that could have easily been sweetly perfumed homemade soap. Since aromas are memory triggers, whatever this one was will take me back to Holmes City when I smell it again.
            Holmes City is an unincorporated community, which means, in part, that there’s no sign announcing how many residents live there. Their signage, however, was very welcoming announcing both the weekly market and the weekly community breakfast.
            Lack of signage on the part of another small community’s Saturday event is what determined where we landed that day. I had heard about the ongoing restoration of another small town in Pope County. Their Saturday event was to include art shows in two locations, a tractor show and a potluck dinner. We thought we’d check it out and arrived at the advertised starting time of 10:00 a.m. We took about five minutes (it’s a small town) to drive all the streets looking for signs and/or a gathering of people. We didn’t see anyone on foot and just two people in a pick-up who had apparently unloaded a tractor. No signs for the art show. An electric drill resting on the door sill of one of the venues made it look like something was happening within but to me it said they weren’t ready for company just yet. The main venue had one car parked out front but no sign of artists.
So, we did a pass through on this one and headed back toward franchised coffee. But when we saw the Holmes City Farmer’s Market sign, we turned right into an unincorporated community with a strong sense of self.
We looked over the vendor’s offerings first: wooden items, quilts, jams and jellies, barbed wire sculptures, baked goods, and produce. What caught my eye, if not my nose, was the three air-pots of coffee next to a display of bags of whole coffee beans. Bryce, the young man behind the display, explained he is a home-based coffee roaster and invited us to try three of his varieties. We were on a quest for good coffee, after all, so we tried all three. He explained the blends he had devised and the attributes of each. We bought the sales pitch as well as a 12 ounce bag of his “Bryce’s Beans Original.”
By then my travel companion was sensing that first breakfast had worn off and maybe it was time for second breakfast.  The church and hall adjacent to the parking lot, and its members who put on the weekly event throughout the summer, host and serve.  Judging by the new blue steel roof on the building, their efforts have been well rewarded and put back into the church community.  We put in our free-will offering and loaded up on baked eggs, French toast, fresh fruit and sausage. Oh, and see-through-to-the-bottom-of-the-cup Lutheran coffee. I was glad the taste of Bryce’s Beans still lingered on my tongue. We spooned special toppings onto our French toast and I was half-way through before I remembered to take a photo. One of the toppings was a lovely seasonal sauce of rhubarb and strawberries. The other had a gourmet flair. “It’s bananas foster,” explained the man who refilled our coffee cups. “It’s usually served on ice cream,” he added. But oh what a marvelous addition to breakfast! It may be that the brown sugar, butter, bananas and cinnamon had not been enhanced by a conflagration of rum, but it was a delicious surprise.
We rolled back out into the parking lot and chatted with the mushroom forager whom we had missed on the first run through. His baskets of oyster and sulfur shelf mushrooms and hard-to-find  chanterelles were a mushroom lover’s dream. He explained that he only wild-crafts mushrooms, as well as the spring offerings of ramps and fiddleheads. The farm to table restaurant in the neighboring town puts his hard-found fungi on their menu. He described that amount of time and effort he put in on the treasure hunt to bring these decidedly Minnesota offerings to this weekly market. “I spend five hours of windshield time just going to the places where I can find them,” he said, of course not revealing exactly where he finds the chanterelles or the 60 pounds of morels he amassed last spring. He didn’t say anything about the amount of mosquito repellent he goes through.
My second regret of the day is that we didn’t buy a quarter pound of chanterelles to try along with the lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms my travel companion is growing on specially inoculated logs at home.
Next time I’ll follow my nose and leave with no regrets.

The egg bake was as light and fluffy as I’ve ever tasted. The kitchen ladies happily shared the recipe. I’m sharing it with you exactly as it was written. You’ll have to figure out for yourself how to make a quantity that suits your own appetite. And you might have to stop in at a weekend coming up if you need to know the size of the pans and if the 12 eggs and 2 cups of milk are used for each pan. (The recipe page also showed biscuits and gravy and bread pudding so it must be that the menu changes from week to week.)
                           
                                 Holmes City Egg Bake
“I line each pan with parchment paper and start by cutting up bread that loosely fills the pan. I usually make 18-20 pans. I buy 2 large stalks of celery, 5 pounds of onions and grind them in the food processor. I put them in separate bowls and split each ingredient between all the pans before adding the bread. Then I use the mixer to beat 12 eggs, 2 cups of milk, salt and pepper to taste and pour that into the pan filled with bread and stir. It should be a little juicy. Then add chopped up sausage or ham bits and put that on top. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and put into the refrigerator until Saturday. Start baking at 6 a.m.—you can get 6 pans in each oven but you have to watch them carefully, switching them around occasionally. At 350 they can take about an hour since they are cold going in.”

Visit whimsyhomedesigns.homestead.com to see the art of NPL.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

To Begin Again



To begin, again, let’s take a moment or two to explain the absence of several years of blog entries.
To be creative takes a tremendous amount of brain power, as well as discipline, and time. Living in our modern society doesn’t give a hoot if you have much of any of that short list to apply to inspired pursuits. Of course, it preaches that creativity is primary but when it comes down to it, most jobs require that you show up and do the task list of the day. And, you have to have a job unless you want to pay out of pocket for health insurance. Sure, if you’re truly a starving artist, you can, at least in the state where I live, get by with a state sponsored health plan. But I’m one of the fortunate ones whose husband retired with an income that provided enough for the costs of daily living. However, it didn’t really bargain for paying a thousand dollars a month for my health insurance.
That means for the last decade, I’ve either worked to pay for health insurance or worked in a job that provided health insurance. I’ve learned a lot in those jobs and am thankful to have been able to work in capacities that challenged my mental faculties, i.e. learned a half dozen different computer programs. But, boy, was my head tired when I got home each day. I didn’t have much left to put into studio time. BUT, and it’s a really big BUT, by virtue of reaching an age of wisdom and seeming decrepitude, I have been able to set aside the 9-5:00, 8-4:00, 7-5:00, 3-11:00 and all the other daily work schedules and go back to creative time. That’s like standard time, daylight savings time, and the gold standard all rolled into one!
I’ve taken stock. I’ve accumulated a huge work portfolio from when I could follow the creative urges over the last 50+ years! And it’s time to get on with it!