Pet Portraits

Zippity doo-dah, zippy yay, my o my, what a wonderful non-Trump day.

Who else is still celebrating? Are we all still walking around in a happy daze, with a song in our heart and a spring in our step and a brain full of light and joy? OMG, how good does it feel to say to yourself, “Trump is done, over, out“? It’s an instant high every time I remind myself that  America is, officially, and finally, Trump-free. 

Now that things are approaching normal once again, and we don’t have to harden ourselves to do mental battle with the every-day CRAZY that we’ve been assaulted with for the past four years, we have to spend more time doing the things that bring beauty and pleasure to our lives.

As for me, it’s sunny and cold today here on the north shore of Long Island, so I’m going to go ice skating.  Later, I plan to read some poetry (poetry!). I like making complicated paper snowflakes and I’ve “pinned” instructions from Pinterest that I’m eager to try out. I’m ready to learn how to make pizza dough from scratch. I might even start being nice to people, but don’t count on it. 

Today, on the second day of the Joe Biden presidency, is a good day to paint a cat.

Meet Mehitabel, from Portland Oregon, courtesy of our Dear Reader Vicki:

 I had the pleasure to meet Mehitabel a few  years ago when I was doing a book tour for one of my books and Vicki graciously showed me the sights of The Rose City (the city is packed full of public parks beautifully landscaped with roses, my favorite flower).

As you can see, Mehitabel was not a cuddle bug. She kept her distance and did not like having her photo taken, but Vicki managed to get this picture that captures her personality. She’s looking a bit miffed, and I swear her lips are pursed and she’s about to go “Tsk tsk tsk” at this invasion of her privacy. My challenge will be to get that glance and that attitude in her portrait.

The other challenge is that the photo is a  little blurry, and small, and I’ve already tried to paint her once before (it turned out bad, very bad), but I’m going to dive in and give it another shot. 

To begin, I’m going to give Mehitabel a wash of white paint…”prepping” the canvas, kind of.

The most important detail of Mehitabel’s face is her mouth; that’s where her entire expression is contained. So I’m going to start there, hoping that I can get that right.

She’s a gray cat, which is fun for me because I really enjoy mixing my own gray colors:

Gray is a rich and expressive color — I love it.

Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea 1871 James Abbott McNeill Whistler 1834-1903 Bequeathed by Miss Rachel and Miss Jean Alexander 1972 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01571

 

James Mcneill Whistler, “Arrangement in Grey and Black”, 1871, in the Musee d’Orsay, Paris. This picture is, in the words of Wikipedia, “the most important work of American art outside the US.”

Even though she’s only a pencil outline, I can see Mehitabel glaring at me:

Let’s make her glare in full color:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s almost done. . . 

I have to fix the divot under her left ear and add some highlight to her eyes.

 

DONE:

 

I hope that all the energy I used to spend every day loathing Trump will be turned into something productive, like organizing my bookshelves, or clearing out the basement, or folding last week’s laundry, or learning Korean. (I just found out that there are 48 ways to conjugate a Korean verb, and so far, I only know 17 and to tell you the truth, I barely know all 17, so I have hours and hours of studying ahead…)

Of course there’s still the 2022 congressional elections to fret about, and there’s plenty of crazy and evil Republicans to keep track of, but let’s get to that next week.

For now, for this week, let’s all take a deep breath of pure, clean, non-Trump air, and congratulate ourselves for having made it to this moment, to the return of science and sanity and service to the White House.

I wonder if there are any memes for that. . . 

 

 

 

 

 

This was dated January 19, 2021:

 

When Pence tried to brag about his “accomplishments” as Vice President:

Counting down the hours until Joe Biden was sworn in:

Moving day at Trump’s White House:

 

Speaking of the Trump legacy. . . 

 

 

At the Washington Monument, the president-elect and the vice president-elect paid tribute to the400,000 Americans who have died from Covid:

 

And then, finally, The Day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the New York Times on the past three Thursdays:

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. It’s the first Trump-free Friday night in four years!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh sweet Jesus, it’s been an insane week. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

The big news in here in Casa Kitty  is that I have replaced our 16-year old cheese grater with a spiffy new model from Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s bright and shiny and twice as big as the runty model we’ve been using since we got married, and Top Cat and I are are both very pleased with this upgrade. Top Cat grated some lemon zest on it and pronounced it “really nice!” and I am eagerly awaiting my turn at it when I get to use it to shred mozzarella for our Friday Pizza & Netflix Night.

Sometimes the internet (see above) makes you take a long hard look at yourself. I used to be the girl who hitch hiked across state lines to California on weekends so I could hang out with my high school friend’s sister’s Hells Angel boyfriend in Oakland, who always had access to new and exotic kinds of drugs. Thank you, Lynelle’s’s sister’s boyfriend for that Purple Haze that kept me high for two days when I saw Led Zeppelin at Golden Gate Park in 1973.

Now, 47 years later, I get my thrills from a new cheese grater. I did not see this coming.

The  other exciting thing that happened recently was I crossed a new frontier in Pet Portrait painting. It’s all explained below.

I got a request for a Pet Portrait from someone who is rather special to Top Cat and me, so of course I said, “Sure!”

Then I got the photo:

Oh, shit.  It’s a white dog.

I’m OK doing black dogs:

The darling Sophie!

But a WHITE dog?

How do you paint a WHITE dog? On WHITE paper?

That, Dear Readers, is the question.

I always plot my paintings before I dip a brush into paint, so I studied this image of Piper (the subject)  and, since she doesn’t have any distinguishing markings (she’s ALL WHITE) I decided to start with the black smudges that give her face some personality, and make her nose so boopable. Getting that right was going to be crucial to getting her expression right:

 

 

The shape of her pupils, and the direction of her gaze, was the other key to getting her face right. I re-drew them carefully:

Although Piper is a rather pink little girl (go ahead, you can check the reference photo), I prefer to use blue to make shadows here:

 

Her eyes are very dark brown. . . 

. . . and  her pupils are very large and very black:

I had no choice but to use my white acrylic paint to brush in some furry bits around her eyes and nose:

And I had to pencil in some of her furry texture:

 

Since Piper is a WHITE dog, and I’m not using up a whole lot of paint to do her, I thought I’d step up my game and give her a body for this portrait. I went to my handy Dog Encyclopedia and looked up Bichon Frise, but all the Bichons in there were adorable fluffy, and our Piper is not. 

So I found a French Bulldog whose body looked to be similar, and practiced doing paws. . .

. . .  and drew a behind behind Piper’s punim:

Shading with blue:

Next, I layered on the acrylic paint (because I want it to look like I worked hard on this):

Making little spikes for fur — acrylic paint is fun because you can add texture like this:

 

DONE.

The whole time I painted Piper, I got to concentrate on cute little doggos and shades of blue that weren’t too blue and making sure I cleaned all the acrylic paint our of my favorite brushes…

…I did not give Fuck Face (you know who) a single passing thought. 

But comes a time you have to leave your bubble and cope with the madness that is Donald Trump, so let’s get into it, shall we?

 

 

 

We really should have seen it coming. Trump’s whines about the 2020 election being “rigged” is classic Donald Trump.

In 2012, he whined about Scotland and the Scottish:

In 2015, he whined about the entertainment industry:

In 2016, he whined about the Republican primaries:

Trump’s whines would be amusing if he didn’t have the power of being president. This week, he’s using his power to urge Republicans to commit treason:

 

 

 

The final stop on the Trump Crazy Train has always been the Supreme Court. Trump seems to think that all he has to do is ask SCOTUS, stacked with three on his nominees, to void the election results in states that he lost and bippity-bobbity-boo, he’s president for four ore years.

There are two SCOTUS cases that he’s riled up his wing-nut chicken-shit allies into submitting to the court. The first, filed by a Republican State Senator from Pennsylvania (Mike Kelly) to nullify the election returns in PA. This is how that went:

 

Here is the one-sentence dismissal:

The reason that Justice Alito (who is a prick) wrote the dismissal is because he’s the SCOTUS justice in charge of emergency matters coming from Pennsylvania. 

I KNOW!! Me neither! I did not know that SCOTUS divvies up the United States like that!  If I had gone to law school, maybe I would have understood the inner working of SCOTUS better, but I’m not a lawyer, so I need someone to interpret Alito’s terse dismissal:

Since Trump and his moron followers are whining about Fox TV being too liberal, they now gather around a social network app called Parler to discuss the latest fashions in tin foil hats, and this is how they are reacting to this defeat:

*Sigh*

The second lawsuit before the Supreme Court comes from the attorney general of Texas, a sleaze ball by the name of Ken Paxton:

 

The Supreme Court has not agreed to hear the case; on Dec. 8, the court merely ordered Pennsylvania and the other states named in the Texas suit — Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia — to respond by Dec. 10. As I am typing this on the morning of Dec. 11, there has not been any news regarding how definitively SCOTUS is going to ram this pile of shit up Ken Paxton’s ass.

So now we have Red states (Republican), Blue states (Democratic), and Brown states (Republican and full of shit — BTW, Texas should be Brown on this map, but I guess the intent is to show the Red states that are piling on with Texas in this ludicrous lawsuit. 

Here’s a mother map of America that Canada won’t like (sorry, Canada), but it gives me comfort:

Anyhoo, here is my refund up on the current status of Texas’s act of sedition:

Maryland’s Democratic Attorney General is Brian Frosh, and this is how he told Ken Paxton to fuck off:

This is from the Republican governor and the Republican governor-elect from Arizona:

And from Idaho, the most Republican state in the union (84% of its elected officials are GOP), there’s this:

And then this happened, of course:

Before we leave the Supreme Court today, let’s ponder this:

If you can stand more crazy, stay tuned.

If you are ready to bail, skip down to the Covid section:

 

 

 

Let’s now catch up on how we’re doing, pandemic-wise:

 

 

 

This obituary was written by Marvin J. Farr’s son:

In case you’re wondering about Marvin J. Farr’s home state of Kansas:

Under an executive order issued by Gov. Laura Kelly in July and reissued in November, Kansans over the age of 5 must wear masks in indoor public settings and outdoors when unable to stay 6 feet apart from people from other households. A state law passed in June allows counties to opt out of the mandate.

 

This is so true. I love Mexican food so much that I keep  a photograph of my favorite cheese enchiladas from my favorite Mexican restaurant, Little Mexico, on my desktop so that when I am down in the dumps I call pull it up and think happy thoughts upon it.

 

 

 

Except, by this week there was a new statistic:

To be exact, 3,053 people died of Covid last week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. Stay safe! Next week is my annual ChrisHanuKwanSolstice post, wherein we get all druidical and pagan and ritualistic and dress up in our best witching gear and compare cheese graters. 

You might want to cast a few spells, make some good trouble. You have my permission. 

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I found this (above) on the inter webs this week and it cheered me up. I never had the legs or the blonde hair or the English accent (isn’t that a Morris Minor?) but I used to have those shoes! I was cool! I AM cool!

Kids born in the 1990s have an inkling that life was funner in the olden days, which is obvious in my Summer of 2020 song which is the Gen Z version of Kool and the Gang and it’s ridiculously cute and it makes me wish I could give a party just so I could get everyone drunk and happy and dancing. Watch the video for no other reason than to see if bell bottoms still look cute on 24-year olds.

However, here we are, at another Friday in the Age of COVID:

 

 

 

 

I’ve never felt this way in August, but I am so over 2020, so ready for this year to be over, and I’m sure that everyone feels the same way. All we can do in the meantime is to keep sane and busy with projects that feed the soul. You all know that my project to get me through the end of Summer is digging out the old watercolors and painting some adorable pets, an activity that I highly recommend as a way to concentrate on pure love in such a time of hate.

If you have any questions about techniques or materials, just ask!

In case you didn’t read my blog on Wednesday, I painted our Dear Reader Sophie for her human, Susie in Wisconsin:

Today I will be painting Dudley . . .

. . . and Gypsy. . .

. . . the best doggos in the world who belong to Rachel and Don in the soon-to-be blue state of Texas.

This will be a double portrait,which raises the stakes. I like to live dangerously.**

**No, I absolutely do not.

As usual, I start with the eyes.

Sorry this is so dark. I wanted to show you the pencil lines I put in for the doggo, but they don’t show much here. They are very light, and give me the general shape of the doggo’s head and nose. I don’t need a whole lot of detail.

I am going to use bleeds for this portrait because I LOVE bleeds, and these pups have the right kind of coloring to let the paper and the paint do all the work, instead of having me PAINT everything.

I mixed the paint for Dudley’s fawn-colored fur using two shades of brown, Payne’s Gray, a tiny bit of black, yellow ochre, all mixed into a thick base of a base of a peachy-tinted paint from my Grumbacher Deluxe Opaque Watercolor set (24 pans).

The color I’m talking about is the one that’s half-hidden there (see above), on the right under the purple pan. I don’t have the name of the color, but it’s my favorite base because it’s very chalky and I love what it does on paper, and I love how it interacts with other paint.

You can see what I mean in these bleeds here, the way the black paints has such an interesting capiallry action when it meets this chalky Dudley-hue:

You might know that boxers have “frown lines” on their faces. I’m not going to paint them, but I will suggest their presence with a wisp of paint  here  and  there.

The pup needs some blue to highlight his nose:

And now we do the cheekies:

The wet paper shines a bit. No? Yes? Can you see?

I was hoping you would see, in this photo (above) how wet I am making the paper before I drop in some paint for more bleeds:

While I am working on Dudley, I have covered the Gypsy part of the painting with a clear plastic sheet-protector because if I didn’t, sure as shit I would splatter paint or drop a loaded paintbrush and all would be ruined. So, safe-guard your work!

Boxer have droopy eyes, which I saved until the end. The shape  of their  droop  is what gives  boxers  thier  expressions:

Now it’s Gypsy’s turn:

 

I was almost DONE when I looked at the completed faces, but I didn’t like just having two floating heads together. So I’m drawing in Dudely’s collar:

OK, now we are DONE.

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Have a great weekend, everyone. Lord knows that we all deserve a break from the constant bad news, so please take a few hours and find a place to feel safe and warm (or cool, if you’re in California) and pretend that it’s 2004 — my favorite year because I married Top Cat, but feel free to use your own annus mirabiles, and tell us about it in the Comments. We like to live vicariously.

I probably won’t be here on Wednesday because very few people (thank you to those precious few!) read the Wednesday posts anymore, but I’ll be back here next Friday with another Pet Portrait (spoiler: it’s a cat) and more stuff from the internet that renews your faith in humanity, one meme at a time.

And, oh yeah. . .

. . . Fuck Trump.

 

This guy is also a member of the NRA and voted for Trump in 2016. Let’s hope he represents millions more 2016 Trump voters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, I’m still laughing at how 2020 never gets any better. Because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right?

So today’s Super Cute Pup is Sophie:

Sophie helped her human, Susie in Wisconsin, show The Stromness Rock the delights of The Badger State, and for that we (and The Rock) are thankful.

Sophie is Super Cute from a human point of view, but from a watercolor painter’s POV, Sophie is a fucking nightmare. She’s a black dog, and she’s a black dog with texture. I’m supposed to paint those luscious curls? ON AN ALL BLACK DOG??

How can I not make her look like a bowl of blobby ink?

Well, the answer is, I cheat. The trick to painting her is to exaggerate the subtle colors that dear Sophie has in her adorable shaggy fur. I see: blue, brown, and grey in her black fur. So I’m going to go with that, and see if I get away with it.

I only need a few guiding pencil lines:

Eyes first, to make sure that they don’t go wonky and wall-eyed and that they are staring at the viewer with doggy luv:

I have to confess that I did a trial run on Sophie, experimenting with brushes and bleeds to see how far I could go with NOT painting her all black, so I’ve already made all my mistakes in painting a BLACK dog, and this is what I’ve learned: Go Easy. Don’t use a lot of paint.

So, this is me, dabbing in some highlights:

Now I hit the BLACK:

Luckily, the paint was wet enough that I could pick up the excess black (see below), and let it dry, and then start to layer in the serious black stuff:

Notice that I’m painting OVER the lighter stuff, that is, painting in the BACKGROUND over the FOREGROUNd. It goes against the natural order, but this is what you have to do when you plot out where your darks and lights have to go, and how it’s feasible to do it in watercolor.

 

This is where I add wisps of fur to give Sophie her signature “fluffiness”:

OK, now we are going to go in and make those soulful eyes:

Blue paint for the nose:

I must let you all know that I bought a book about dog breeds because it has a very good chapter on various dog noses, with close up photographs, because I needed a reference on exactly how dog noses were constructed so I could paint them correctly. Believe me, I know dog noses, and here is me doing Sophie’s hooter:

Oh, right: while the paint was drying on her nose, I added more fluff to her little chin, thusly:

 

I added expression lines to her forehead, knowing that when the paint dries the lines will be softer.  This is why you have to use the same paints and the same paper religiously, because that’s the only way you will know what your paint and what your paper will do, as in this case, where it looks like I am painting too darkly but I know that this is OK with these paints and this paper:

DONE:

OK, I’m sorry that these pix are so dark, but this is The Girl Sophie and my painting of her:

Here on the north shore of Long Island the mornings are getting darker. Wait. that’s wrong. The mornings are just as bright as they’ve always been, it’s just that they are starting later. What used to be daybreak (the time that I would set out for my 6-mile run) at 5:17 a month ago is now 5:44. August. Catch it while you can.

Steve, the real cat who lives on our front stoop, is on one of his walkabouts and we haven’t seen him for the past three days, but last evening there was a new cat on the front steps. He’s a brown tabby, stocky, and not at all shy, so I got a glass of wine and my iPod and I sat on the stoop listening to my K-pop playlist, throwing Temptations kitty treats to a strange cat until it got so dark that I couldn’t see him in the nightfall. It was an oddly pleasant way to spend a half hour of August.

Let’s check in with the culture and see if there’s anything to give us hope and joy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the round up for today, Dear Readers. I’ll be back on Friday with MORE PET PORTRAITS and, oh yeah…

…Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

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I don’t know if the situation on Long Island is still news to anyone who doesn’t live on Long Island, but we are still cleaning up from last week’s tropical storm Isaias. The last 4,000 homes without power were restored yesterday, and all the trees that fell into roadways and onto houses are cleared, but all this means that there are enormous piles of firewood stacked up at every curb, and even bigger tree trunks decorating front yards:

I’ve seen utility workers from Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and New Brunswick Canada working in our area. They are so cute: they travel in convoys of 4-5 huge trucks, like flocks of duckies, following the leader because god forbid they lose their way in the wilds on the Isle of Long. And by the way, what with the 24-hour generators, the power line crews that start at 7am, the landscapers with their chain saws who start cutting at 8am…the noise level around here has been deafening.

But I want to thank everyone of these guys for coming to our aid. And one day, I hope to have internet access for more than 30 minutes at a time.

So while the ol’ computer is juiced up, let’s take a look at our Project For The Week:

This handsome fella is a long-haired dachshund named Pippen. Pippin, along with our Dear Reader Alexandra, hosted The Stromness Rock in the great state of Washington and for that, we are going to immortalize him in watercolor.

The first thing I do is I study the photo reference. I look for where I will be leaving the blank whiteness of the paper to show, where I will need to bleed, and figure out what layers of colors will go on top of each other from light to dark. I can’t stress how important it is to have a plan before you start to paint.

Then I make a few light pencil lines on my favorite 90-lb. Carson paper:

I start with the eyes because in the past, I’ve gotten a portrait almost completed when I went in for the windows of the soul and loused it up so that I had to throw away hours of work. So, lesson learned; start with the eyes.

I tested a blend of yellows and browns and burnt umber (up there in the corner)before I had a correct shade:

So I got the eye pointing in the right direction…whew.

This handsome fella has a complicated coat of many colors, so I’m going to start with the lightest colors first:

I love my 90-lb. Carson paper because I’ve been using it for over 15 years and I know what this paper will do. So here, I’m going to let the paper and some very watery paint do a light bleed:

I have to work fast because I want to work “wet’ here, and then I want to let it dry for a few seconds so I can drop in some very deep black without letting it run:

 

I was telling Top Cat about Pippin, here, and I mentioned that Pippen has a brother, another handsome long-haired dachshund named…named…and I couldn’t remember.

“But I know it has something to do with Douglas MacArthur.” I said.

Top Cat started guessing, “Doug? Dougie? Mac?”

I suddenly remembered.

Truman!” I shouted, feeling very pleased with myself for filing his name (the dog’s) in a place (under “American General, Korean War, fired by”) where I could access it.

Pippen has very expressive eyebrows, so here (below) I am adding some black to re-shape his eye socket into more of a raised-eyebrow kind of “look”:

I also widened the pupil. See what I mean? It’s subtle, but necessary:

I am adding light gray here, because even though it’s a shadow (of sorts), it’s not a dark shadow:

Ears next. Ears, oh ears…they are hard. These ears are long and silky and quite glamorous.

Let’s try to mix the colors with less water this time:

And now I can go to town with the excellent black paint I have (Winsor Newton):

Lay in an undercoat of gray:

And let’s compare:

These are the smooches next in line for portraiture: Kitty, Gypsy, Dudley, and Sophie.

Each of them has their own challenges — I mean, Sophie is mostly shades of black and dark gray and how in the world am I supposed to do that — so it should be interesting. For me, any way. I hope you’ll enjoy watching the paint dry.

In the meantime, various Trumps and all the Republicans have been working hard this past week to make sure life in America really, really sucks, so let’s review:

 

And others were also outraged:

 

 

And then Joe Biden announced his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris:

In case you forgot who Eric Trump is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay sane until next Friday, Dear Readers.

In the meantime…

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

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