Spring Creeps in on Little Cat Feet, and Other Creeps.

Yes, this is still ab boring watercolor blog so for deep artistic reasons, we will be rescuing this watercolor illustration this week . . .

. . . but only after a bit of digression [cats].

I looked out of my upstairs bathroom window a few days ago and I saw this:

That’s Taffy and his arch enemy, Bibs, napping together in the crevice that forms where the roof of the garage meets the back wall of our shed. This crevice traps a lot of dead leaves that blow out of that little woods behind our house and I guess they make a nice cushion to sleep on. I haven’t seen Taffy up there for years — but his mother, Candy, used to take him up there with his two brothers when they were kittens, and spend the day in hiding (from the big mean people who wanted to love them too much, that is, ME).

As you can see, nothing interesting is going on in the little woods behind our house, but the end of our street is pretty happening:

Spring is over-rated. I think blooming trees look trashy, and the weather is always, always a disappointment. So it was sunny for a day. Big fucking whoop.

Rather than moon about the buds and green things shooting out of the earth, I am becoming obsessed with the last pile of snow on the north shore of Long Island, which looked like this when we got back from New Orleans last week:

On Tuesday it looked like this:

And today, Thursday morning, it looks like this (car shown for size reference):

In another sign of the times, our front yard cat, Steve, has moved out of his Winter headquarters under the holly tree on the side of our stoop and settled into his Spring pied-à-terre behind the other holly tree on the other side of the porch:

His new spot catches wonderful morning sun (which Steve adores) now that the earth has done its seasonal tilt on its axis. I leaned an old storm window against the house so that, if it rains, the storm window keeps Steve and his straw nest nice and dry:

You all know that I am a life-long Cat Lady, but lately I have been thinking, and thinking hard, about getting another DoG. So naturally, this book came my way (Thank you, Universe):

This is a delightful book of essays by Delia Ephron about a handful of topics including the four listed in the title. The short essays are entertaining, but the long ones are magnificent. If you want to write, you owe it to yourself to read this book because the way she captures her distinct voice is masterful.

The long essay titled Why I Can’t Write About My Mother shows what I mean when I say she captures her singular voice so expertly. Read this essay closely and you will understand that Delia Ephron has an exquisite understanding of the way her mind works, and she has the supreme skill to get her thought process — and no, she does not transcribe it — on the page. She writes good, solid, short sentences that still whack you over the head with style and emotion. And watch how her paragraphs seem to wander away from their starting points, and how they widen the scope of the subject, all while never really straying all that far from the true heart of the matter. Talk about control!

Delia Ephron wrote movies and a play with her sister, Nora, and she really loves her DoG, Honey, who is as cute as all get-out:

When I was googling the interwebs for an image of the Sister Mother Husband Dog book cover, I came across this:

Proof that I have the best damn readers in bookdom: you, Dear Readers, can write rings around this lady and yOU DO, every week. XXOO.

This is a terrible thing to tell an author — that you “passed around” one book among several people. That is like telling an office worker she is only going to be paid one hour out of every four that she works. Well, that’s an imperfect comparison, but you get my drift:  An author wants to hear that you bought her book to give to the several people you wanted to share it with. Jeeze. Christy Childers is the name of the woman who posts her crappy postcards on the inter webs. I am not a fan.

But that’s just me, hating my life as a writer this week. It’s been eight days since my agent emailed me to say that she got my manuscript and it looked beautiful, but she would read it more carefully that night and get back to me.

Eight days.

It feels like eight weeks. Each day that I don’t hear from her, I am convinced she hates my manuscript more than she did the day before and that she hates me more and more each day and that I should retire from writing and go get useful job in a donut shop. And then I spiral downwards and sock away a third vodka on the rocks.

Last week I read something about how much damage plastic straws do to the environment, so I started to re-use my straws. The one that is currently in the lowball glass on the kitchen windowsill that awaits tonight’s pour has been in use since Sunday. (You’re welcome, Earth.)

OK, let’s get to the real reason you all have gathered here this Friday. Let’s rescue a watercolor!

There is nothing wrong with this picture (of Claude Monet’s lily pond in his famous water garden in Giverny, France) except that it has four corners. You know how I am trying to bust out of the four-cornered illustration? So I was looking at this rectangular picture and I thought it needed this:

Of course you can’t understand what those scribbles mean because , well, look at that mess; but you can see that I want to add something to that upper left hand area and add two extra corners, which I begin comme ça:

Imagine my surprise. I got the tone of the blues, greens, and yellow correct on the first try. So I continue to blob in the background foliage:

I am a huuuuuuge fan of letting the watercolor bleed into interesting splotches, so this is how I got the “pond” area soaking wet (but not too wet) and dropped in some contrasting color, and then I waited for it all to dry:

YES!!! I love that big bleed! And it works well with the already existing bleed. Yay. The hardest part is done. The rest of this rescue should be nothing but fun fun fun.

If you look closely, however, you can see that part of this beautiful bleed abuts abruptly and noticeably against a darker bit of splotch, which I will have to rectify:

I have to paint in a matching splotch:

And because the water lily pads did not exactly match up, I painted and cut out teeny little pads that I glued in, to act like sutures to the two parts of this illustration:

Cropped and ready for its close-up — and yes, you can see the “scar” between the original painting and the addition:

This will magically disappear when the printer scans it and cleans it up, much like I have done (see below) using the app that comes with iPhoto:

But we are not there yet — remember my sketch?

That scribble was all about a weeping willow tree that I wanted to introduce to the left hand side of the illustration. But I’m not totally committed to that idea, so to test it I paint and cut out a tree trunk and place it appropriately:

You might recall that I did a whole thing about the weeping willows in the Square du Vert-Galant garden on the tip of the Ile de la Cité in the middle of the Seine River in Paris in my book Gardens of Awe and Folly:

So I do know my way around a willow tree. But for Monet’s garden, I looked at Monet’s own use of the tree as a foreground device:

Here’s how I try out an idea on a finished painting: I slip the painting inside a clear plastic sheet protector and I paint on the plastic surface. In this case, I painted in the willow tree wisps in white acrylic paint (because water color does not apply to a plastic surface) and let dry. Then I painted over the white acrylic with my watercolors:

So now I got an idea of how my willow tree idea will go over:

I’m undecided. I don’t want this picture to look too busy. But I kind of like having that tree in the view. Whether the willow tree stays or not, I am cropping the illustration like this:

I might be too much in love with those bleeds to hide them with willow leaves, which might not be the best thing for this picture. Maybe it does need that foreground tree. I will dither over this indefinitely. I would appreciate your opinions.

As I type this, der Drumpf has spent the morning on Fox TV, admitting that he lied about his knowledge of the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, although he claimed that Michael Cohen only represented him in a tiny fraction of his business dealings. Oh, you have to love an imbecile such as Drumpf:

The problem with Trump’s claim that Cohen only dealt with a small part of his legal work is that it dramatically complicates his lawyers’ efforts to shield documents seized in FBI raids under the guise of “attorney-client privilege.” And it proves that he lied about the pay-off when he stated, on Air Force One ON TAPE that he knew nothing about it.

He also admitted that he didn’t get Melania a gift for her birthday today, but he did get her a really nice card. Well…that’s what you get when you marry for money, honey.

Here is another quote from der Drumpf’s bloviation on Fox TV:

“I’m fighting a battle against a horrible group of deep-seated people, drain the swamp, that are coming up with all sorts of phony charges against me, and they’re not bringing up real charges against the other side.”

The way Dumpf drops in that slogan — drain the swamp — out of nowhere . . . that is hilarious, and classic Drumpfery. Equally enjoyable was seeing the terrified looks on the faces of the sycophants of his Fox & Friends as they realized that letting Drumpf prattle on and on was not a good idea after all.

Another unhinged quote, this time about Mr. Meuller’s investigation at the FBI:

 “If you take a look, they’re so conflicted, the people that are doing the investigation, you have 13 people that are Democrats, you have Hillary Clinton people, you have people that worked on Hillary Clinton’s foundation. I don’t mean Democrats, I mean, like, the real deal.”

Like, I hope Fox & Friends invites him back real soon. It makes me happy when the world gets to hear Drumpf  doing Drumpf.

It makes me this happy:

Have a happy weekend, everyone. Re-use the plastic straws in your tipple; tune in to the Today Show on Monday morning, April 30, to feast your eyes on a pair of Brit vegans who going to show us all how to cook delicious vegetable-based food and save the world; and please go find your patch of dirt in the sun and have a good roll.


27 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan

    Oh you made my day with all the Taffy photos, was there a third cat on the roof with Taffy and Bibs? Oh my der Drumpf what can I say, it would be funny if it wasn’t so terrifying. I like you gave up straws years ago, vile things. However you can get very nice paper ones nowadays not like the waxed paper straws of my childhood though… they were fine but the new ones are stiff card and very durable. A cocktail seems like a fine thing and hopefully it will relax you while you wait for your publisher, you know deep down that she will really love your new book. You need to try to not be so hard on yourself. I have my fingers and toes crossed for a good outcome. Nice to see Steve so happy too, he seems a bit shocked about the paparazzi!

    • Vivian

      Nope, there were only two cats on the roof, spooning each other.

      I will look for new paper straws. Truth to tell, I inhale my V&Ts so quickly that they needn’t be terribly durable, but I do want to get multiple uses out of them.

  2. Casey

    I like the willow tree in the corner.

    Taffy! After he does his dirt roll does he want lap time? And Steve looks jolly in his glass house. Does Taffy share his dirt with the other cats? I’ve never done a dirt roll but I have napped in the sun so I want to be Steve’s best friend and Taffy’s fun date.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. And your books are what I give to every hostess, friend, sister, and coworker (the ones that I like). They are timeless and perfect for any occasion.

    Trump. (Slapping forehead, trying to wake from this nightmare.) Yes please let him talk on Fox TV every morning. He’s an idiot with diarrhea of the mouth and he is bound to keep incriminating himself if we just let him TALK.

    • Vivian

      XXXX Casey. And how lucky are we, that we now ave Skeletor/Guiliani to incriminate der Drumpf? Man, he has got the dumbest lawyers in all the land.

  3. Adrienne

    I would say no to the big willow tree on the left – it overshadows the rest of the painting and covers up the sky etc on the left, which is absolutely beautiful!!! What I would suggest is to trim the teenyist bit off the left side, so you lose the edge of the oval shapes in the water. (But hey, what do I know…)

    • Vivian

      Yes! I think you are right! I should cut out a little bit of that duplicate oval shape in the bleeds. Great idea — merci mucho.

  4. I prefer sans tree. The painting already has a foreground, middle ground, and background, and when the tree is added, there is a second foreground. It’s not clear what this second foreground’s relationship is to the first foreground, which adds a bit of confusion. The bleeds are beautiful and should shine out freely.

    OF COURSE YOU NEED A DoG!!! Truman and Pippin the Long-haired Dachshunds *insist* upon it!

    • Vivian

      Oh my, I would hate to see what my cats would make of a long haired dachshund. I think there would be a lot of jealousy and competition as to who would be the fairest of them all.

    • Vivian

      Ooo….now you’ve made me re-think me decision. I like your idea of intimacy in the view.

      Taffy is a big dusty ball of filth and sunshine.

  5. Kirra

    Cats in the sun! Nice to see. Also fascinating to see the final patch of snow slowly melting.

    With the painting I think it’s more dense with the tree and lovely and open without. So maybe do the one that portrays the real life garden the most???

    None of what Trump says makes any sense at all! What an idiot. Those TV presenters faces are great.

    I’m sure your agent is just busy or has some life things to sort out but I really don’t like it when people say they’ll get back to you tomorrow and then you don’t hear from them for a week or more. People should just say they’ll get back to you in a few weeks.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I also love sending postcards (generally to people I know) but I don’t post them on the internet, that’s not really the point of sending something in the mail.

    If you get a dog will it unbalance the cat ecosystem? I love Steve’s new window, you’re very considerate.

    • Vivian

      In MOnet’s actual garden, there is indeed a willow tree leaning over that side of the pond, in the foreground. Or I should say that there USED to be a willow there — I have heard that it was cut down recently, since willow trees only have a life span of 50-70 years and this one was long in the tooth.

      But artists 00 ahem, speaking with my pretentious artist voice, are allowed to edit views to suit them. Well, they can’t put in plants that flower in June in it’s a view of the garden in May, but they can eliminate a willow pretty easily. And I think I will remove this willow from view — thanks to everyone for their opinions!

  6. Susan

    I vote, no willow tree. For me, it takes away from other perfect details in the painting. Maybe a different anchor or nothing at all. The kitties seem very happy with the sunshine. Steve’s new warm weather abode looks perfect. Sun exposure, yet no rain exposure. What an idiot move to choose, no B-day present. So true… That’s what you get when you marry money. There are many dogs looking for loving homes. Can you get a dog that likes cats? My neighbor, and cat lover, says when all his cats and dogs are in the house, they all respect each other and/or give each other some space. With 8 cats and 3 dogs it is lovely how they all co-exist.

  7. Yes! That Trump appearance on Fox and Friends was surely a backfire. Of course, who knows how his supporters will take it. They’re so blinded by their allegiance to him that they seem ready to excuse almost anything.

    I like the perspective of the willow tree — it’s interesting — but I could go either way on including it. Definitely include those little red ferns at the bottom of the image. I like those!

    Glad to see the cats all looking happy and healthy. That is an incredibly persistent pile of snow!

    • Vivian

      That’s all I can think of now: The Incredibly Persistent Pile of Snow. Those red things were much discussed here in vivianBlogWorld and it turns out that they are a flower that blooms in one, which sets this view smack dab in the middle of Summer.

  8. The Saga of Steve just gets better. It is wonderful that he made it through his rugged winter choices (thanks to his benevolent resident innkeeper. Now, he sort of looks like an early arriving snowbird sunbather. I adore the look he gave you during his photography session!

    I am taking lessons from Taffy about how to do a meditative happy dance. Best performed in spring on the warmest day.

    The happiest part of the Fox and Friends show was when the co-host Brian Kilmeade tried to get The Dumpster to stop raging about the FBI and Mueller by talking over him, saying, “O.K.We’d talk to you all day but it looks like you have a million things to do,” But of course, such subtlety was lost on The Dumpster,

    What fun to have the insider view of rescuing watercolors (and cats!). I like it with the willow (maybe shorter hanging branches through) and without the willow. I guess your artistic sense will need to wrangle with this some more. I really enjoy how you are exploring with different shapes for your paintings!

    • I forgot to say how delighted I was to see your book recommendation. I adored Nora Ephron, so it was fun to see this book from her talented sister. They were a great screenwriting pair!

      Oh and DoGs. Of course. There is one waiting somewhere who is just right for you.

      • Vivian

        I hope you enjoy Sister Mother Husband Dog. I’ve watched her interviews on YouTube and sDelia is a great talker, too.

    • Vivian

      I know!! Steve just stretched and blinked at me, knowing how damn cute he was and how untouchable he will always be.

  9. Becky

    I love your books and have given quite a few as gifts to friends. It is a special gift to a friend to share a read you like.
    Oh drumpfy….you have such a feeble mind. Keep spouting off incoherent nonsense on fox and friends. maybe your followers will see the light.
    It is really how he conducts all his interviews. Rambling nonsense that is full of lies.
    At first I liked the willow, but I have gone back and looked several times and I think it is too overpowering. I like the technique and the colors, but in my opinion I think it overwhelms the rest of the painting. That being said I think you do need something in the corner.
    Your cats have the life. They have the look of complete contentment. The pictures made me smile. That aloof Steve is quite the cutie.
    I am a dog lover so I think a dog would be a wonderful addition to your home. Some dogs get along quite well with cats. However, how will your crew think of a “foreign” cat in their midst?

    • Vivian

      XXXX, dear Becky. I agree, after sleeping on it. That willow is too busy. But since Adrienne had the great idea to crop it a bit on that side, I think that might work very well. (and of course, I’d have to crop it on the other side as well.)

      Steve is dapper and demanding and delicious.

  10. Your watercolors
    thoughts ofdogs
    and flowers make me happy.
    The nameless one doesn’t…..

    Two years this month since dear Buster died….

    Time we got together….

    I’m thinking we need to buy those paper straws that fall apart…

    • Vivian

      Let’s take a moment to remember Buster, a dear heart whose time on Earth was too short.

      I;ll call you soon to set up a rendezvous.

  11. Wow! My mind is jumping all around now. Oh yes, I always totally agree with you on that guy as president right now. Love the cats soaking up the sun and the snow melting. And Monet’s garden always delights. Love your progress on the painting.

  12. I like the tree in the foreground A LOT. It draws the eye into the center of the pond, framing it, and doesn’t cover up so much of the bleeds that you lose them. The extension is good. (But I think I lost the willow vote, having just gone back to read the comments. Still, I stand by it!)

    Love me my Taffy and Steve pix. Big smiles. And why do editors say “tonight” when they really mean “after I look at the ten other things on my desk, feed the animals, go running, hit the store and whatever else is more important than you.” Why don’t they just say “I’ve got a stack and I’ll be with you as soon as I can. Go have a life for a few weeks.” Ugh.

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