Monday, July 29, 2013


20x20" oil on linen

Meet Zhen-Zhen! She's a Chinese Crested and a donation portrait. This is my first dance with this breed and did I have a field day with her flowing locks! And the bi-colored eyes! Shades of David Bowie! I thought I'd have trouble with her but a pooch is a pooch and I dearly love all pooches so once I got going I had a great time. I hope her pet parents are pleased.

Also, I thought I'd post a scale example of the as yet unfinished "Sparrow's Ass" or the asparagus as they are identified by most normal folk. I found that the paints don't last more than a month and a half in the freezer so when I get back on this I'll have to remix, which might be a good thing, we'll see.

Okay, I'll admit that I can't think of a clever way to segue into a Tim tale so I'll just dive right in if you don't mind.

A few months ago I received an email from a friend of Tim's who is a member of the band "Blow Up Hollywood." They're on Wikipedia! Anyway, Steve, Tim's friend was so very caring when Tim first left and called to check up on me periodically to see how I was doing which I really appreciated.

The email offered band merchandise and an opportunity to support them in their efforts. He was really kind and explained that if I wasn't interested he would certainly understand. I made a mental note (not a good idea for me) to indeed log on and make a donation but, unfortunately, all but forgot about it until...

About 2 weeks later I was sitting in the back yard and suddenly the email popped into my head and I felt compelled to go to the computer and do as I'd promised. I found the email, clicked on the link and took the appropriate steps.

Later that day I received an email from Steve thanking me for my donation and asking how I was doing. He then went on to say that something strange had occurred and he had no idea what to make of it.

He went on to explain that the night before he had been dreaming about something completely unrelated when suddenly Tim appeared out of nowhere in his dream! He said it was vivid and Tim looked great and was happy and they had a nice chat but avoided any reference to his passing. When he woke up and remembered seeing Tim he was surprised as he hadn't thought about his friend in a while but didn't think anything of it until...

he logged on and saw a donation had been made in Tim Berry's name! A coincidence? I think not! You can imagine how good this "sighting" and coinciding donation made me feel. You are too cool Berry!

Thanks so much for dropping by, I so appreciate your comments, thoughts and support. Happy creating!

Monday, July 15, 2013


"Seeing Double"
48x36" oil on heavyweight canvas

Well this month's challenge subject should be fairly obvious at this point. I love painting eggs. In the shell, out of the shell, cooked, raw...there's just so much going on at any given time with eggs, vibrant colors, the googlies, almost as if half of the sun was (should that be were or was?) encased in clear liquid.

There's this great gourmet market a bit up the road that I just haunt. Amazing collection of treats, both savory and sweet. They carry eggs with double yolks and when I discovered Vicki's choice for this month, those yummy double yolks popped right into my mind. I set up a photo shoot and snapped over 50 shots so there will definitely be some protein-laden canvases in my future. And, for some reason, I feel as though I need to paint everything on large supports here lately!

I decided not to rush into the painting and did some thinking and even with that I had to begin over again having started working on a lighter cotton canvas with far too much play in the surface. A very unique thing happened during this process. It dawned on me that far larger brushes might be a big help and they were! Who knew? I went to Home Depot and purchased the regular brushes one would use to paint the wall and they worked perfectly.

I would normally start by looking at my reference and try to capture the deep reddish orange and nearly white highlights in one session but since the previous few paintings have fared well with layering I thought it best not to futz with the streak.

I painted the predominate color with lots of Liquin so the next day I could paint the next layer and so on for three days. I actually finished on time!

Also, a dear friend, Brenda Ferguson (I love her work) suggested that I include a snap showing the scale of the canvas in real life. Thanks Bren, great idea!

There's a feeling of fullness, of working on 3 different challenges, commissions, mentoring and donation work all at the same time. My head hits the pillow and I'm feeling satisfied because there are paintings waiting for me when I get up the next day. Tim you were so right. Working really, really helps. Repeating myself, I know. And speaking of himself, what would a post be without including Tim?

Sitting out reading a book last week before it got oppressively hot, I saw a rather large crow perched on a branch nearby. He was incredibly loud, cawing and cawing, when suddenly he began making this soothing clucking sound. He stayed there for the duration of my reading session making that soothing sound. Once or twice I looked up, laughed out loud and asked him if he was Tim. He was there when I went back inside, having stayed on that branch cooing sweetly for an hour and a half! The next morning when I took the boys out into the back for their morning toilette, I found a big black feather right in front of the door. Now me being me, it was validation that Tim did indeed join me while I read. A more rational person would pronounce the crow annoying and ignore the feather, however, clearly, I'm not rational and for that I am so grateful.

That said, please enjoy the Egg Specials of the day:

Original drawing on paper
Approx. 7.5 x 9"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

"Dusk Flip"
12 x 16" pastel
©V.N. Ross

Monday, July 8, 2013


14x14" oil on heavyweight canvas

Well I did it and since I approached it as an adult it worked out okay! Besides, it's just a face. That it happens to be mine makes it difficult to see it that way however, no matter how grown up I try to be.

But the face comes with a story. I painted myself as joyful because joy is my daily goal and how I've decided to tell my story. I saw all sorts of images in my head given the portrait assignment for the group Artists Growing Together was to convey how we perceive ourselves and what our life experience has been. And, I would like to say that choosing a smiling pose was due completely to my new outlook on life, but sadly, no. The shots taken with sadness and loss etched on my features really showed my age. (Hmmm...vain much Suz?) That said I'd like to offer a tip to aging hippies and baby boomers out there. Smile. A lot!

It doesn't read in the photo of the painting, but there's a bright light over my right shoulder, and I'm sure I don't have to tell you who it represents. Himself is present and accounted for! Tim is with me, always. I know this because I can't fake feeling good.

I originally saw myself standing in front of a window, the light falling on my features showing a reflective, distant gaze painted in strong dark hues and bold strokes. But that's not what I feel, how I look or how I paint. I thought it would be cooler than just a smiling face but I don't want my story to be tragic, sad or difficult. I read that we don't live the life we deserve, we live the life we think we deserve and I think I deserve to be joyful.  And I know Tim wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


"Us Three"
11x14" oil on heavyweight canvas


 About two months ago, I received a very complimentary and eloquent email from a young artist named Melissa Adams. She was very sweet and asked me if I would be interested in mentoring her. My initial reactions was the usual "aw shucks...who me?" shuffle but she added a thought to her email that I found very intriguing. She said, and I'm paraphrasing..."I believe that we can both learn from the experience."

Hmmm. I'd been thinking that I wanted to branch out and get involved in things online and here was the perfect opportunity. The problem is I'm not a huge fan of critiquing! We are just in the first blush of mentor/mentoree interaction so time will tell how it works out, but so far, I'm pumped and enjoying our chats very much. I'm thinking and working more and that can't be a bad thing!

The painting above is our first project/challenge together. I decided to actually paint in layers. I put down the basic colors and built up my layers over three days. Plus I premix the colors and put them in the freezer (thank you for that tip), so when I'm ready to start, everything is right there and ready.

Melissa also asked if I would like to join a group of artists in a joint blog entitled..."Artists Growing Together". I did, and I'm feelin the love. Our first challenge is the dreaded self-portrait. Arrrrrrghhhh! However, in the spirit of being a grown up and doing grown up things, I decided to stop being silly and relate to my face as if it were....well...a face!

Recently, I got all tarted up for dinner out with friends and I thought since I cleaned up, did the hair etc. it might be nice to see how the aging process is going so I took some iPad snaps.

The aging isn't going as well as I'd hoped but the snaps were tolerable. I chose one and begin it tomorrow. It's due on the 7th. We'll see.

Oh, yeah, I've been meaning to share a little situation that I experienced a few months ago. Losing my wallet is a hot button issue for me. I'm sure no one likes to lose their wallet, but for me it's instant panic city. I freak out! During our first few years together, Tim went from understanding, patient, and supportive to "Dude, you're on your own!" Admittedly, my reaction to the missing possession was over the top. Really. Over. The. Top.

So when I'd gone to my favorite market and driven home listening to some great tunes, all calm and looking forward to relaxing with a good book and a glass of wine, it was quite distressing to slide my hand in my pocket to put my wallet away and find it empty!

Panic ensued. I phoned the store I'd just left to see if anyone turned it in. I combed the car, the grocery bags, the garage floor and every pocket I had. Nothing! I hopped in the car and drove up to the market like a madwoman, hugging the rear end of the car in front of me. See, like I said...over the top. Of course when I arrived and retraced my steps there was no wallet to be found. I went into the market and inquired again, but it wasn't turned in.

At that point I began hearing echos of Tim's common sense filter through my panic and fear....everything can be replaced, it's fine...and I began to calm down. My stomach dropped when I remembered I kept emergency money in there and thought...oh well, I hope whoever found it needs it more than I do. I decided to go straight to my bank, cancel my debit card and get a new one.

Luckily they know me there so replacing my card without a license was possible but took some time. When the teller handed me my shiny new debit card, I was coming back to feeling normal and I felt Tim would be proud of me for not getting depressed and heavy sighing all day. Back in the car I heaved a sigh..but of relief and laughed to myself...dude, you survived losing Tim...this is just a wallet!

As I pulled into the drive I noticed the mat on the front porch was raised up and thought, oh goody, the books I ordered from Amazon arrived. I put the car in the garage and came in through the studio and went straight to the front door to see what had come. When I lifted the mat up there was my wallet with all the money and everything still in it!!! It felt like a dream! Sweet relief! I was astounded!

The gentleman who returned it called later that day to make sure I'd found it and to see if I was indeed the owner of said wallet. I thanked him profusely and was so very grateful.

There are some really wonderful people in the world. Still.

Also, thank you SO VERY MUCH for all of the wonderful comments on the Sparrows Ass (asparagus)!There's nothing like getting a great response to a painting in progress you're not sure works! My thank-yous are on their way!