Piecing It Together.

Grab your tea cups and fluff up the kitties: oh, yes, we will paint today:

But first, you know what happens when the 24-hour news shows are frantic with dire warnings about a frightful Winter bomb hitting the northeast from Washington, D.C. to Boston, burying us in a thousand inches of snow and thunder and frozen hell fire: We Get Out The Champagne-O-Meter!

For most of Wednesday morning my bottle of champagne sat in the back yard minding its own business, rolling its eyes at the smattering of rain that caused every school and my gym Long Island to shut down for the day. But shortly after noon, big fat flakes of wet snow began to fall:

The snow stuck like glue:

It was the worst kind of snow, too — weighty, sloppy, slushy, and did I say heavy?

I left the house at 3:30 so I could drive to the railroad station to pick up Top Cat, who was coming home early as most of Manhattan was shutting down and citizens were urged to Stay Off The Roads. I drove 20 miles per hour through five inches of icy slush while big fat heavy snow flakes kept obscuring the windshield in spite of the wipers swishing at top speed.

On the way home from the Long Island Rail Road station, Top Cat insisted on driving out to our favorite deli so he could get a cucumber. I insisted on staying with him in the car so I could continue to remind him that it was crazy to drive in this weather just to get a cucumber (Top Cat loves his dinner salad). We made it to the deli in one piece, but the deli was closed, of course. So we turned around and came home and Top Cat put extra olives in his salad to make up for not having a cucumber.

Thursday morning, the Champagne-O-Meter was slick with a thin layer of ice, just how I like it:

In between slogging out into the slushy snow every hour or so to take a photo of the Champagne-O-Meter, I kept myself busy on this slushy, snowy day doing my thing, which these days is all about Watercolor Rescue. Today’s Fixer Upper is this view of Claude Monet’s Japanese bridge over the lily pond in his famous garden in Giverny, France:

You might remember that a few weeks back I did a little study of Monet’s water lily painting technique by copying a panel from his huge murals that hang in the Orangerie of the Tuileries in Paris:

I happened to notice that the study could almost fit into my little Fixer Upper:

Hmmmmm. . . the reeds and the pinky colors of the reflections in the water could work in this view if only they could be re-painted, right? And thus, a RESCUE was born:

That (above) is the new bottom half of the picture — here it is in place:

Sorry about the way this stuff photographs. It looks wonky, but I assure you, it is a true square. After applying  masking fluid over the bits that I want to reserve, I paint along the cut edge of the new bottom half of the picture:

I wash in the pink and blue bleeds, trying to avoid getting them too mushy (I don’t want them to blend into purple):

Here’s them reeds:

I remove the masking fluid:

I paint in the reflection of the willow leaves, which I wish I had thought out more carefully before I put down the masking fluid. Maybe, just maybe, I could have skipped masking fluid here, and painted in the fronds over the wash — but, it’s too late now:

Step back and assess how we’re doing:

The reference that I am using for these lily pads is Monet’s own painting, which uses yellows and dark green and lots of light magenta to give those lily pads some oomph:

So that’s what I do. I add some oomph:

Oomphage achieved, or not:

and here is where I had to stop painting because of a kitty emergency. Coco, who is 17 years old, has suddenly stopped eating NINE DAYS AGO and of course I took her to the vet after day three, and there’s nothing obviously wrong with her…so I’ve been trying all various sorts of baby food, gruel, formula, syringe feeding, cheese…nothing has tempted her.

This afternoon, after trying so special adult cat Anorexic Diet, I decided that we had to take drastic measures. Even though she’s an old cat with a heart murmur, I told the vet that we had to sedate her and fix her teeth — because in my vast experience with cats, it’s always the teeth. I told the vet that if we lose her, we lose her; I’m already LOSING her and I can’t watch her starve herself to death.

So I’ve taken Coco to the vet and she is not at all happy. She will be sedated and the vet will be able to get a good look at her teeth.

I’m sure you all know what it’s like to have a very sick kitty in the house. The psychic misery is almost unbearable.

UPDATE: Coco has had three teeth removed and had her other teefers cleaned and repaired — she had cavities and some root damage. She was coming out of sedation when the vet called, so it looks like her heart didn’t give out after all! She’s got a heating pad and her favorite blue fleece with her, and she’ll stay at the vet’s over night so she can be given pain meds and the vet can watch her blood pressure.

So Coco isn’t dead, and I will be painting again tomorrow, and I plan on doing something “fun” with this picture. I am bored with just making look-alike illustrations…I want to do something playful and unexpected.

Playful and Unexpected.

And you can be sure that I’ll show it all to you next Friday.

Have a great weekend, everyone. And if you have a bottle of champagne in your backyard, try adding a dash of vanilla vodka to your flute. Let’s call it “Sun set in Giverny.”


18 Comments, RSS

  1. First of all, I hope by now Coco is back home and doing well — hungry as all get out. I hope they gave her some IV food while she was out to build her back up. That’s a long time. I remember those days with Gypsy — it’s constant worry. Fingers crossed she’s doing well today.

    And glad you survived the storm, even cucumber-less. Sacrifice is hard. I hate driving in that stuff so bravery recognized!

    Love the rescue — always learn from you. Here’s a question, though. A paint-color question. I am so in love with that bright green you are using. I’m seeing it in the tall reeds on the right, the lily pads before the oomphage and I think in the upper trees, center. Is that one you are mixing or is it a color I can buy? And if it IS a color I can buy, what type/color/name/number/whatever is it? I have a blob of a similar color someone put in my palette that I love but it’s almost gone and who can tell from online color charts? Any ideas on a bright, springy, green — brighter than sap, a happy green. Fairy tale dragon green. Ideas please?!

    Oh, and maybe I missed this in earlier posts, but what kind of glue do you use for attach your rescues? Glue stick? Matte medium? Elmers? Thanks!

    • Vivian

      Hi Jeanie — The bright green paint comes from my cheap set of Grumbacher watercolors. I use it straight from the pan. I’ll showcase it in next Friday’s post for you. And yes, I use Elmer’s glue, the best damn glue in all the world.

  2. I’m glad to hear that Coco appears to be recovering! I’m sure tooth pain is unpleasant for any animal and is bound to make her stop eating. Good on you for recognizing that as the problem.

    I’m not sure I would have been so dedicated in pursuit of a cucumber, a vegetable that I find purely optional under the best of circumstances!

    • Vivian

      I loathe cucumbers. I can’t stand the smell or the texture of all those seeds. But my sweet husband is devoted to them, so, yeah, he’ll even drive in the middle of a blizzard for one. I was surprised that he thought there would be a green grocer crazy enough to stay open in a storm n order to sell a lousy cucumber or two.

  3. Casey

    Poor kitty. I hope that modern dentistry has come to Coco’s rescue, as it has for us humans. Toothaches are the worst, so I hope all her painful teeth are gone and she is lapping up the Friskie’s soon.

    Well, maybe Top Cat’s cucumber is as essential to his snow day as your Champagne-O-Meter is to you? To each his own. I bet the champagne was nice and slushy, too, like a slightly melted snow cone. Yum.

    I do enjoy your rescues. That cut out of the bottom half is hilarious when seen in its nakedness. One day I hope to pant a picture that is good enough to rescue, and then I want to be good enough to rescue it.

    • Vivian

      Casey, the rescues are fun! I wouldn’t want you to deny yourself the pleasure of piddling around on a rescue mission just because you say you’re not “good enough”. GO FOR IT!

  4. I am just so very glad that your kitties have such a smart mom and that your intuition is strong. May Coco have a quick recovery and soon be home, snuggled in her favorite blue fleece and eating some of the new temptations.

    The rescue is amazing and beautiful.

    Makes my heart happy to see that you received ample snow and ice for a decent Champagne-O-Meter. I appreciate your sacrifice in boots and mufflers while you photographed the progress.

    Here in the PNW, I just mixed Italian blood orange soda, champagne, and St. Germaine. Sipping this is a figurative *f-bomb* to a ridiculous work week. Know what you get when you cross a rube and corporate HR? Oh, yes, you do.

    Stay well and remember to send good vibes to America’s current favorite special counsel (this may be an oxymoron). Hope does spring eternal.

    • Vivian

      oooooh, that cocktail sounds like the best antidote to corporate assholes. I had to look up St. Germaine, and now I’m impressed that you keep something fancy like that on hand!

    • Vivian

      It wears on your soul. I know they don’t blame me, but I feel responsible any way. Cats are so good, they do’t deserve tooth aches.

  5. Becky

    We know our pets so well. Good thing you knew that Coco’s problem was her teeth. Your a good mom!
    Your painting saves amaze me. I love how you are able to piece it all together. The pink and blue bleeds are beautiful.
    The ice cold champagne sounds delicious 😊

    • Vivian

      The thing about rescues that make them exciting is tat you learn more tricks than if you had gotten it right the first time around.

  6. Kirra

    I do hope Coco is feeling better and eating some food. I would never have thought that you could rescue the painting in that way – good job! The amazing thing for me is seeing this champagne-o-meter, it really shows how you go from no snow to some quite horrible looking sleety snow in a day. Very interesting for me who lives in a no snow climate! I hope you are all warm over the weekend and top cat got his cucumber in the end!

    • Vivian

      Kirra — Have you never seen snow fall? That is awesome! I once chaperoned a bus load of kids newly arrived from South Africa around New York City, and when it started to snow they went crazy. I will never forget their astonishment that snow was COLD, and that it melted into watery slush, and that when it piled up it was heavy and COLD. All those years of childhood, they had read Christmas stories from England, but never experienced Winter and they thought that snow was like soap bubbles, fluffy and picturesque. It was charming.

  7. Deborah Hatt

    I am thankful your Coco is doing better. Our kitties are precious and deserving of all we can do in their behalf. I am also thankful for your painting demonstration. Enjoyable and informative. Thanks, Vivian.

    Happy Trails as you seek signs of beautiful, much anticipated, SPRING. And no more driving out into blizzards for cucumbers, Top Cat. I love my salads, and enjoy cucumbers to the max, but my goodness …!

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