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Remembering Connie

On this All Souls Day or Dia de los Muertos, let’s take a moment and remember the life and love of Connie, my friend’s dog. Connie was born to be a service dog and spent several months in training.  She loved being helpful, and was very patient with people, but showed some aggression towards other dogs during the test.  She failed the service dog exam. The people who raised her already had 2 dogs and couldn’t keep her much longer, so one asked his co-worker if she’d like a dog, and when she said yes, Connie was delivered to her house that evening! At first Connie was a bit at odds with their other dog, Zero, but soon they became good buddies. Connie loved a Beanie Baby polar bear.  She also loved to play tug of war with knotted rope. Her favorite treats were carrots and dog biscuits with peanut butter. She was a faithful friend for 16 years and is missed dearly. The 1st step of Connie’s portrait, the underpainting. Adding in the collage to create the full portrait. Previous post, Story Portrait of Wacky October 2019, First Story Portrait September 2019, Adventures in Iceland August 2019, Rottweiler in Process July 2019, June’s Cats June 2019Merry Month of May April 2019, Studio Tour March 2019, Behind the Scenes: Miss Java’s Portrait

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Story Portrait of Wacky

This is Wacky’s story: Wacky was my best friend when I was a little girl in Missoula, Montana.  I don’t remember much of her kittenhood, but she must have been adorable – all cream with dark brown smudges on her ears, nose, paws and tail.  But by the time I was 4, she was my very bestest friend in the whole wide world.  She taught me how to climb trees, waiting patiently on branches while I scrambled up to catch her. She showed me hiding places in the raspberry bushes where we had secret picnics on summer afternoons. She was always patient and loving. Once, I had a great idea. I knew that birds hatched from eggs… and that chickens were birds and that we had chicken eggs in our refrigerator. Birds sat on their eggs to keep them warm so they would hatch. I thought if I just kept the eggs warm, they would hatch! So I got some eggs from the fridge, found Wacky’s secret sleeping spot behind the sofa, and put the eggs under her… so she could keep them warm and they would hatch into baby chickens. She was a little surprised, but she sat on those eggs (most of the time) for at least a month. Alas, there were no baby chickens and the eggs got brittle and cracked and smelled horrible! But Wacky never wavered in her patience and love. She was my confidante when my parents divorced. She snuggled with me after bad days at school. She never scolded or told me I was stupid. But would gaze at me with so much love in those big blue eyes, I couldn’t help but love her. One day she followed me to school. She had never followed me anywhere before and as a 6

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Story Portrait

A new way to celebrate the special love we share with our furry family members I took a mixed media workshop last week and while we were all writing down affirmations to be the hidden background of our pieces, it occurred to me that I could paint portraits that way — with the story of the animal in the background, the way stories are always the underpinnings of our lives.  So, I wrote part of Miss Cali’s story and painted her portrait. Miss Cali was my mother’s cat.  Adopted from the Humane Society when Mom moved into her new home in West Nashville in 2011,  Cali was already 7 years old, up for adoption after her previous owner had passed away.  Cali and my Mom had a good thing going.  They liked to sit on the sofa in the mornings, watching the birds out the window while reading (sitting on) the newspaper and listening to classical music on the radio. Mom was newly retired and Cali was her new best friend.  Then, in November 2014, my mother ended up in the hospital.  Her cancer had returned.  I flew out to hold down the fort and figure out the logistics of treatment and moving Mom into an assisted living facility… but unfortunately, she passed away in December. I knew I couldn’t keep Cali because I had 2 older cats at home in California and they had their own difficulties; bringing another cat into the mix would cause chaos.  But soon after I placed an ad on Craigslist, I found a lump on Cali’s throat… and I knew that was not a good thing.  A biopsy confirmed: Lymphoma.  I could not adopt out a cat with cancer…. so my husband and I agreed to get her treatment and bring her home —

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Adventures in Iceland

In mid-August, my husband and I went to Iceland.  He went for a conference… and I went as moral support… If you’ve never been, you should put it on your list!  It’s a beautiful place and the people are warm, generous and have a great sense of humor. Everyone in Reykjavik spoke excellent English (and other languages as well!). This was not a cheap vacation — a simple bagel with cream cheese and veggies cost $10!! But the quality was outstanding and we had a fabulous time. (The conference was productive, too…) The Strokkur Geysir erupts every 8-10 minutes. We took a tour to the bottom of a dormant volcano! The colors were amazing!! Gulfoss Waterfall is like a double-decker Niagara Falls! We went on an ice cave tour with Katlatrak. Since it was mid-summer, there was a lot of melting. Inside the glacier. This glacier is near Katla Volcano which erupts every 5-7 years. You can see the layers of ash in between the ice. This ash makes the caves “stable” year-round. The town has a lovely lake in the center. Hallgrimskirkja, the church that is the centerpiece of Reykjavik. It’s modern architecture pays hommage to Iceland’s volcanic origins. A downtown street in Reykjavik. There were murals on most buildings. Lots of street art everywhere. I found the Kattakaffihusid, or Cat Cafe and spent a few mornings there enjoying excellent lattes and feline company. Lexi liked to sit on that chair at the Kattakaffihusid. I glued down bits from a tour guidebook and sketched Lexi on top in my journal. Watercolor on travel brochure of a cat I saw in a store window. Watercolor sketch of Klukka, a cat at the Kattakaffihusid In mid-August it didn’t get dark until 11pm! This shot of the Reykjavik harbor was taken at

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Just Finished! A Rottweiler

This has been a busy month for things other than art.  My “day job” as a henna artist is in its busiest time of year so I’ve had to get very deliberate about scheduling time to make collages.  I started this rottweiler puppy early in the month and just finished it today! It starts with a sketch and a quick painting The underpainting is done and the color scheme has been set. Various paper is gathered and collected to be printed, stenciled and decorated, using the colors from the underpainting as a guide. Even leaves from the neighborhood plants are fair game for using to decorate the paper. I collected various fibers to make custom paper: shredded cardboard, dryer lint, old paper, and dog fur! After soaking everything in water overnight, I whirred it in the blender to create a pulp. I made a short video of the actual paper-pulling process.  This tub yielded 16 5×7 sheets of dog-fur paper. Paper made from dog fur. The handmade paper after printing and stencilling…ready to add into the portrait. Added in the background and started on the paws… Working on the face… And now he’s done! And ready for adoption once the varnish dries. Previous Post, June’s Cats June 2019Merry Month of May April 2019, Studio Tour March 2019, Behind the Scenes: Miss Java’s Portrait

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A busy June culminating in Cats!

June just whizzed by!  I was mostly focused on getting ready for CatCon which was held June 29 and 30 in the Pasadena Convention Center.  But I managed to find time for some fun at the San Diego County fair. I spent 2 days doing demos of my collage process at the fair. It was a lot of fun and I was able to introduce the artform to lots of people who weren’t aware of collage. It wasn’t all work at the Fair…. I was able to check out lots of exhibits, artwork and see the animals.  I also enjoyed this fabulous “Mexican Churro funnel cake”!! (I did share it with my husband…) I finished the lion a few days after I did the demo.  All in all, it took more than 23 hours to complete the entire collage. But he was well worth the effort!  16 x 16, $1800. He is currently available. CatCon 2019! Going to CatCon was the culmination of more than 6 months of preparation — painting, collaging, making prints, cards, jewelry, marketing materials.  It all came together in one purr-tacular week-end. I had the thrill of meeting so many enthusiastic cat lovers and sharing my art with them. I sold prints, cards, totebags and jewelry and nearly ran out of mousepads!  I raffled off a totebag and a puzzle — which were won by Maria Blumberg of San Marino, CA.  Although it was very busy, I did manage to sneak away from the booth to check out the other vendors.  So many cool booths!!!  I met some new friends and also learned the proper way to do a cat-eye if you have mature, hooded eyes like mine (Thanks to the talented artists at the Kat von D booth!) How did she know what Miss Cali

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