I Did This Without the Help of Any Cats, None Whatsoever.

These cats, the very busy cats that live in my house rent free:


None of these guys (Taffy, Cindy, Candy) helped me paint this:


This is a scene I saw on an afternoon in May of 2013, when I was walking the 4 kilometers from the little ville of Vernon (in France) to the littler village Giverny (also in France). Most of you Dear Readers will see that, thanks to my viewfinder, I have located the Squint within this snapshot (above). (For more about my unbearable cute terminology, the link is here.)

Taking full advantage of my artistic license, I drew this landscape as was, except for making the farm houses much, much larger so they would feature more prominently in this Squint:


At the urging of my dear Top Cat to keep it short, I will paint this scene for you while keeping my commentary to a minimum:


I use a bit of rolled-up paper towel to blot up some of the blue paint to make clouds:


I actually use two hands for this blotting operation but since I need my other hand to hold the camera, I’m faking it one-handed. But voila: I Haz Clowds:


To make the wee background foliage I use my brush to dab-dab-dab-dab paint onto the paper. I took this picture to show you that I discovered that this crappy brush had a weird few bristles there at the end that were perfect for this itty-teeny-bitty-tiny dabbing operation — see? Sometimes cheap equipment comes in handy!!!


OK, I promise to cut down on my word count from now on.

I haven’t painted since i turned in the manuscript for my DGB, Gardens of Awe and Folly, last June, so it felt marvelous, and a little like work, to be slathering the pigment again.

Foreground application of real watery paint:



Ah…..my lovely little bleeds (wet-in-wet layering of paint) to make a soggy edge to this stream, which happens to be the Epte River):


Here’s where I switch to my size-00 brush:




Dab dab dab dab dab:


I painted too many blades of weed grass here, and I needed to lighten it up. So when I screw up like this, I break out my trusty white acrylic paint to “white out” my error:



And now I switch paints from my Windsor Newton to my Grumbachers, because I bet the chalkiness will look Goldilocks (“just right”) here:


And now, all is done ‘cept for the shouting:


And this is my view of the stream that runs into the Seine River in Haute Normandie:


I’ve been ever so busy this past week… I also painted another view of my walk from Vernon to Giverny, also as a Squint…


…because I am making a three-Squint page of pictures of the walk from Vernon to Giverny as part of my new book project!!

I would call it the Damn Giverny Book, but we already used DGB for my last book (the Damn Garden Book), so let’s call this one the NDB:

The New Damn Book.


About which we will discuss soon, very soon my Dears.

For now, please enjoy this Not Too Damn Long post and have a wonderful weekend!



16 Comments, RSS

  1. Kirra

    Lovely squints!! Hope you’re enjoying painting again even though it’s work. How exciting another book based in France!?! I’m still hanging out for the DGB to be released, maybe then we should call it by its proper name 😉

  2. Monica

    Beautiful Beautiful. I wouldn’t know how to START painting a scene, but now I might try it.
    Your tutorials are amazing.
    It looks like we can/should all do it.
    YOU have the gift.

    Nap time at your house probably lasts from 9 a.m. to 4–correct? They look so adorably comfy in the sunlight.
    Your next post might be the idea for next Book ; Goodie !

  3. Megan

    Cats doing well what they do! Who’s living rent free? My cat thinks he lets me live in his house. Very pretty view of the river and wispy clouds.

  4. How absolutely lovely on such a dreary winter day to open up your posts and see lush beauty. It’s amazing that you haven’t painted since June or so and yet, just like riding a bike, you’re back on stride.

    Also really appreciate the tips and the showing what you’re doing. It’s ever so helpful.

  5. Tell Top Cat to hush – we love your words as much as your art! Love your squints and the idea of the rolled up paper towel to create clouds is BRILLIANT!!

    I just got an email about my pre-order of GoAaF from Amazon with an expected release date of March 1st. Yippee – just when the winter gloom will be in full force. So excited!!

  6. bunny

    Wowie, you make it look so easy. If you could only teach them kittie cats how to paint, you could be a rich girl, maybe invent something like paint by numbers by cats. I’m quite sure, no one has ever thought about that!
    Your work is exquisite. Your work should be hanging in the Louvre, in the same room as Monet.
    Great post, as usual, I got a nice laugh, and learned even more. One of these days, I’m going to get some paints, and give it a whirl, when I get a round to it.

  7. LadyZena

    Like bunny I was going to urge you to try to teach those kitties a useful skill…but then I looked at the photo again and saw that they are already very, very skilled at snoozing. lucky you!!!

    I love these Giverny squints and hope to hold them in y hands in book form one day soon.

  8. Casey

    I was thinking that it’s a good thing that you paint instead of play the trumpet for your art form. I don’t imagine that painting disturbs a kitty’s dreamtime, which would be a tragedy if those kittens should lose a moments sleep. haha.

    Tell Top Cat that I did not get enough Vivian stuff so I had to roll back to the top and watch you paint this little French landscape all over again. I fantasize how wonderful it would be to be a chat in our house, napping near you with one eye while the other eye watches your paint brush’s every move. Osmosis is the only way I’ll ever learn to watercolor like you.

  9. Deb

    Awaiting my pre-order of your DGB and cannot wait until it arrives. Your Giverny “squints” are just what I needed to perk me up on this gloomy, dismal day. What talent you have.

    Thank you for sharing!!!

  10. Diane from Denver

    Dear L. I. Vivian,
    The more words, the better! Please do not focus on reducing the word count; we see enough of that business online with the (insert blankety-blank language here)
    “Millenials” and their “abbreves.” S’il vous plait, continuez, Madame.
    These paintings are wonderful and as a word person who can’t paint worth un sou,
    I love reading about your process.
    Looking forward to your book’s Spring publication, bien sur!

    Regards from the Chilly West,
    Diane from Garden City
    Now in Denver CO

  11. ann

    You made my day! I loved your “squints.” I never thought about taking artistic license to make the picture more appealing by making the buildings larger. My cats are never that friendly. I think your cats are cold and trying to keep warm. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Once again, thank you for brightening an otherwise Dreary-Blustery-January-In-Michigan-Evening. I respectfully suggest Top Cat hush and allow your words to tumble as they will, for we all find great delight in them. We hunger for your humor, your light-hearted banter, and of course, your wonderful watercolor tutorials (Oh THANK YOU for these, my dear!)
    I LOVE the squint! And, of course, your sweet kitties are the perfect blend of tranquility and hauteur.
    Thanks always for your entertaining and inspiring blogs.

  13. Laura

    A new book! When “Wanderers Resume Wandering”? “Swift on Her Feet”? If a walk from Vernon to Giverny is involved I’ll tag along.

  14. janet b.

    YAY!!! another book from you, where we all can live through it’s birth pangs with you!! i’m so excited ~ especially since you’re focusing on one of my favorite places on the planet! woo hoo!

  15. Giverny? Normandy? You’re talking my language! And I love the squints. This is such a terrific way to look at a fabulous landscape — and anytime Vivian paints, Jeanie is happy! And taking notes!

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