And now for a painting with a much shorter and simpler title. Personally I feel that Polly is actually a shy girl who has a tendency to overcompensate for her shyness by wearing bold dresses and walking wild animals.
Mademoiselle Mink is here to even the score. She is the counterpart to Miss Moon and she’s not your average cat lady- but more on that another time. I realized that I haven’t been giving cats a fair shake and dogs seem to steal the spotlight with my animal themed work. In fairness, I find painting cats difficult. They always look like puffy fuzzballs with messed up ‘crazy killer’ eyes. Not in real life of course, just how I seem to depict them. Although, Persian cats in particular do look a little demonic no matter how well they are painted. I had a Persian cat named Brie (yes, just like the cheese), but she died a few years ago when she was sixteen years old. Although I didn’t name her, it turned out that the name ‘Brie’ suited her because she kind of smelled like bad brie. She also snorted, snored and spat on a regular basis, and her eyes leaked a viscous fluid. John was frightened of her when he first met her (he called her a goblin cat) but he quickly got used to her and they formed a loving friendship. Although, sometimes late at night- usually during a bad thunderstorm John’s fear of her is resurrected when sees a shadow and becomes convinced that Brie has returned from the beyond grave.
An Aspiring Actress Arrives In Hollywood. Pictured Here In 1948 Holding Her Good Luck Charm. Oil on canvas, 10″x12″. Sold.
I didn’t exactly do much research on the time period for this particular painting and I’m fairly certain that her hair and blouse may be completely wrong for 1948, but it’s all about ‘make believe’ and I was being lazy. She also looks like a hybrid between Scarlett Johansson and Katherine Heigl and I have no explanation for this- although this pleases John a great deal. I actually saw him sneaking into my studio on a few occasions to take a look at the painting in progress. As he did this, he rubbed his hands together. Not quite creepy villainous hand rubbing- more like what you do on a really cold day. Actually I stand corrected… because no matter how you describe it, unless it is a really cold day, hand rubbing is very creepy.
Beatrice In The Garden On Her Sixth Birthday, oil on canvas, 10″x12″. Sold.
And that’s where I’m heading right now. Except I’m not bringing Finnegan with me. He digs at things, then eats sticks, then has digestive issues.
I should also mention that I really haven’t ventured into my garden beyond the safe zone since last summer. The safe zone is an arm’s length away from plants and trees. There was an incident last year when I tried to start an herb garden. I have a little old white park bench in the garden (very shabby chic) and I put all sorts of pots of herbs on it. It looked very pretty, and I loved going outside to pick fresh basil for my tomato sauce. That was until one day when I went to cut some fresh chives, and my fingers grazed something that at first glance looked like a tiny spaceship. But when I examined it closer, I discovered possibly the ugliest bug that one could ever dream of. It had all these ridges and wings and parts that seemed like they were made out of steel. I tremble just thinking about it now. I haven’t seen it since, so I’m hoping that the coast is now clear. I’m sure the winter killed it off.
I tried really hard to put the acute accent on the ‘e’ in Chicoree, but my keyboard won’t let me. Stupid keyboard.
Someone recently told me that I seem ‘stand-off-ish’ with my posts. Do I seem stand-off-ish? or aloof perhaps? Truth is, I’ve just been painting and painting, and working on the book. My brain is switched off social mode and I’ve become a crabby little hermit. John screamed (high pitched variety) and spilled his coffee when he saw me the other morning- I forgot to comb my hair. That happens in hermit mode.
Miss Moon Was A Dog Governess. Lesson Six: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark. The Creatures Of The Night Are More Afraid Of You Than You Should Be Of Them. 14″x18″, oil on canvas. Sold.
I attempted to paint more ‘scary’ dogs this time but not sure if that really comes across. I think they just look like gentle giants. Although the German Shepherd is based on a dog that bit me when I was younger and he looks rather nasty. His name was ‘Shamus’ (never will forget that terrible name) and he terrorized me for at least a year. He was our neighbors’ dog and for some reason they took to chaining him up in their garage with the door open just around the time that I would return home from school every afternoon. I’m not sure what his problem was exactly- maybe the chain, or maybe it was simply me, but he was one angry dog. Every afternoon I tried to tiptoe by his house, desperately hoping not to be noticed by him, but he always spotted me and always went mental. Finally the day came when the chain broke and he tore after me. Somehow I managed to get to my house and got the garage door open just as he lunged at me and bit the back of my leg. After that, Shamus was confined to the backyard and I rarely ever saw him again, but his memory haunts me sometimes. He will always be the scariest dog in the world to me. He seems to like Miss Moon though, and I think he’s turned from a boy to a girl judging by his pink sleep mask- or maybe he has mellowed a little and acquired an affection for pink.
Tallulah Shaw Rehearses Before Her Final Show. 1959. Oil on canvas, 16″x20″. Sold.
Who is Tallulah Shaw? I’ll give it a whirl. I suspect she was a well brought up young lady that became bored with the limitations put upon her from an early age. In her early twenties she opted not to marry and instead she ran off and joined a circus, or some sort of traveling side show. The equestrian classes that she took as a young woman came in handy when she decided to move beyond her position as a magician’s assistant and become a star herself. Unprecedented success followed and she wisely decided to retire from her career while at the peak of her stardom and move down south to raise rare long-legged birds. That is my best guess.
Miss Moon Was A Dog Governess. Lesson Five: Master Your Survival Skills Even When You Know You Will Never Need Them. Oil on canvas, 12″x24″. Sold.
If you want to view the detail in this painting, I recommend clicking on the etsy link below to view the different close-ups. I don’t have a lot to say about this piece….it speaks for itself, although I should mention that I decided to finish it suddenly once I couldn’t get the idea that the second Russian Borzoi (blue hat) was really beginning to look like Edith from Downton Abbey. Either my brain is fried, or I’ve been watching that show way too much. Not to say that Edith looks like a dog, in fact, I think she’s looking really good this season with the sassy hairdo and pretty outfits, but I think most people have their dog counterparts. Ever think what yours may be?
Side fact: I must say ‘I want a Borzoi‘ at least once a day. John always follows this statement with a resounding ‘No’. I’ll work on him. To quote my favourite line from ‘No Country For Old Men’- the same line I used when I decided to get Finnegan: You Can’t Stop What’s Coming.
I should also mention that I do have some non-Miss Moon material coming up. I’ve been working on some figurative pieces, one of which is fairly large. Fingers crossed that it works out.
Miss Moon Was A Dog Governess. Lesson Four: A Well-Mannered Dog Is A Well-Bred Dog, oil on canvas, 10″x12″. Sold.
A very important lesson indeed. It appears that all but one is paying attention to Miss Moon -sorry beagle lovers, but he needs a little more training. I feel that Mr. Bitters (far left) is taking this lesson very seriously. Mr. Bitters? Yes, well to me, he looks like an old timey bartender because of the mustache, which made me think of the ‘Old Fashioned’ cocktail, which made me think of bitters, which is where his name came from. See the logic? In fact, they all have names, but I won’t get into that now- another time perhaps after a cocktail or two I could bore everyone to death with the peculiar names that I’ve given all of them.
This painting took a ridiculous amount of time. I had a difficult time trying to tone down the wallpaper so that it wasn’t competing too much with the flowers- those poor birds kept coming and going until I was almost mad with frustration. It’s one of those pieces that I need to distance myself from for a while.
And for those of you gearing up for tonight’s episode of Downton Abbey, I thought I would share this which might help you get in the Downton spirit. I was researching possible English estates for Miss Moon and came across Amanda Brooks’ blog which is chock full of beauties.
Poor Gordon. I feel that he yearns for a life of adventure. Days spent chasing foxes and squirrels and frolicking with his fellow dog friends. Unfortunately for the time being, he will have to settle for living vicariously through his friends stuck in the wallpaper.
It’s The Thought That Counts, 8″x10″, oil on canvas. Sold.
For those of you who like to get into the Christmas mood a little early, here is one for you. I feel a little sorry for these guys. I think they were expecting toys or treats or something fun but instead they get socks, scarves, earmuffs and hats. Do they really need them? The dogs seem a little confused but the cat is clearly angry. Oh and since I tend to paint only purebred dogs (how snooty am I?) I decided to try and include a Cocker Spaniel/ Corgi mix….not sure if that came across?
I won’t be doing Christmas cards this year- I know, not very festive. The main issue is that our printer gets really temperamental with card stock. I’m not sure why- I think the ends curl up and drag some of the ink along. It usually results in more waste than anything and I figure my patience and sanity is running a little low these days so why push it.
I was in the mood to paint a still life as I haven’t done one in a while. That’s about it. There’s nothing really more to this story except that I ate an unusually large amount of black licorice while painting this piece. I discovered Australian black licorice when I went to the grocery store to get the roses for the painting and it has been one sided love affair ever since. But that is likely of little importance or interest to anyone but me.
Danielle And The Devil, oil on canvas board, 8″x10″. Sold.
It occurred to me the other day that I’ve never really painted a Halloween themed piece. How crazy is that? Especially when you consider that I take Halloween pretty darn seriously – we’re talking full out Halloween decorated house. I’m trying to keep it classy though and collect vintage Halloween pieces- the old die-cut witches and cats and such- but there are rubber bats and maybe a glowing jack-o-lantern head. Yes, I don’t have kids which makes it particularly weird, I know. I’ve even started making certain Halloween themed meals- like ‘Goulish Goulash’ and on occasion Finnegan wears devil horns or something which he seems to like with exception of the the wizard costume which he pouted in (not a Harry Potter fan I suspect).
Over breakfast this morning John announced that he felt that people should be allowed to take their dogs trick-or-treating. We do have an annual Halloween Dog Parade in town, but I don’t think the dogs get to actually trick-or-treat. Needless to say, John and I aren’t the only weirdos around. I think I may have mentioned it before but Stratford is kind of like Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls) blended with Twin Peaks. It keeps things interesting.