Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Newspaper format from website

Newspaper format from website

The online source for creating your own newspaper clipping is The Newspaper Clipping Generator




I did not record the attempt to view the art at the gallery mentioned in the newspaper. It dd not say a private showing or Opening. We took the bus going to the address and when we were ready to get off, the driver said we could not enter the grounds. Facing us was an enormous wrought iron gate, locked. It did seem strange that the mention in the one newspaper did not mention that the general public would not be welcomed.

We did pass by Miss Olive’s Guest House. A lady was sweeping the dirt front yard and the house was painted purple.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

from my family to yours.





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The child is the future and hope.

The child is the future and hope.


The theories about successful aging include keeping one’s mind active. This seems especially important to early retirees and elderly seniors. A whole generation of nearly 62 year olds has either stepped off the merry-go-round or been let go from employment.

The flow of life is a series of ups and downs. Who says the postwar 50s were a lull? Now, I feel for the people who have jobs and can no longer count on employment. Recently, a friend said her 10-year-old niece needed to interview someone who had lived in the 30s. Looking around the table, I was IT. I did not do the interview, but it made me think.

What were the adjustments made in my family to the depression? My father had provided a comfortable, even privileged life for us. He employed at least 5 people to keep our house running. He helped his brothers and their children. He played golf! And then, like many others (and fewer African Americans), he lost his money and his health. My stepmother and a friend made handpainted silk ties. They were sold to friends who still had money. This helped but could not support the family for long.

We were sent to live in another state. My aunt and uncle had three children, an ill mother and assorted relatives and friends on hard times. They had come from the South and were qualified teachers. My uncle worked with red-hot ingots for the automotive industry. My aunt worked for the government. [Three of those years were in Washington, DC.]

They fell back on frugal ways learned in an earlier time. He bought land with his army pension. From 1919 to 1936, veterans had waited for a check. We grew food, fished and collected old fields of berries. We worked boxing raspberries @5 cents. We canned and made jellies. A cold cellar kept potatoes. and rhutabagas.  My uncle got unused dough from a bakery to feed a few hogs and a few dozen donuts for us.

Sundays we ate in the diningroom. Each person had the same piece of chicken. Being the youngest and the last I got the drumstick. We went to church on Sunday and pulled the shades when playing a game with cards. The neighbors must not think we were gambling.

The truck took us back and forth the 40 miles to the farm. One child could sit in front with the adults. The rest of us huddled and hung on. I don’t remember a return when a tire did not blow. And then we drove home on the rim.

One year they hired a man to stay at the farm in the winter. He could not read or write but he could count. He knew money. One year he asked to spend Thanksgiving with his family. My brother next to me was told to take his place for the weekend. We had no phones. Over the weekend, the old man died. Snow blanketed the farm. They took some time to find a replacement and to bring my brother home! I know he did not have money. Where could he have spent it? My allowance was only 10 cents. Five cents to tithe and five cents to spend.

The food and wood ran low. The water in the well froze. I cannot imagine the isolation and fear that he experienced: 50 acres more of snow, miles from anyone else! Today, I would say that experience was Character-building.

My aunt got free government pamphlets, many written by George Washington Carver. They told her how to grow vegetables in water. How to conserve waste. How to can. What to eat healthy. We bought or were given a baby chick warmer. We raised white rabbits in the garage but they were pets. We had turkeys at the farm but they were determined to drink rain….a dangerous thing to do. I learned to use a bucket brigade which came in use later.
My cousin and I had hand-me-down clothes. She sewed beautifully. Bolts of material and a few dresses were gifts from another aunt. One pair of shoes a year regardless of need.

For fun? A lot of laughing. A toboggan for all but one in the family. A lot of games with everybody playing. And always, that other world of school. For my brothers and I, we had each other and the expectation of leaving. We had memories that there could be an easier life with hard work, school and luck.

The more I have paid attention to others lives, the more common experiences there are. So many people have suffered things I never dreamed of. And the good and the difficult all create us. We can lie down and stay defeated or we can make our dream and walk in.

Happy Holidays.

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by Bettye W/ Harwell

Women’s Series II

This painting based on Thomas Gainsborough’s Pink Boy is completed. I used the pose to depict a woman poet who was English. She wrote in the early 1900s.

I used acrylic on canvas. In between layers, I added glaze medium. Additional shading was done with a tint of color plus glaze medium.. The gold embellishments were added using a pen. There are many gold pens available and all golds are not the same. I opted not to use any oil-based pens. It was tempting not to use the 18K gold pen!

You will see that my work is similar but not a copy. First, that is because I cannot copy another’s work! The shirt has a bow similar to those worn by the subject in photos. I decided not to overdo the suit with raised patches in order keep the focus on the face. There is a bronze-green color on the shoes but I chose to match them to the suit. Her hair was cut short with a pompador in her teens.

Glazing takes time. You can use a heat gun to help dry each layer. The extra time allows you to observe what needs correcting. Next post, I will use gel medium instead of glazing.

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acrylic on canvas

Charlotte (in progress)

Blog University 16 – Imagination

What do you do if your subject is unattainable? Imagine it.

I am painting a woman who died before I was born. Her story is the subject rather than realism. After reading a great deal about her life and work, I selected two opposing ideas to incorporate:

1. She wore her father’s clothes after his death.
2. “She dressed like a dandy.” This quote was by a contemporary person.

Why not paint her in the style of Thomas Gainsborough? Student artists learn by copying great paintings. The Blue Boy had remained famous during her lifetime.  While researching, I found Pink Boy. It was a better fit for my subject.

By making a sketch, I learned  an amazing structure is under the composition. You can trace a print to find the lines and shapes in the composition. A black/white print may also instruct. Consider making a value study.

My painting is developing slowly ‘in the style of‘ rather than a copy. Each layer corrects the drawing and colors. By glazing and adding texture, the finished work should emerge. I believe attire is like a costume and expresses something about the person. The painting shows something about the artist’s imagination, also.

Image: Charlotte (unfinished) acrylic on canvas


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"Gone Fishin'"Birthday Opportunities

Each year we get two special days to review our lives and to make changes: New Year’s Day and your birthday. My recent celebration reminds me of when Mr. Stockdale asked Why am I here? My question was What have I still to do?

The answer is a long list of things to finish and things to begin. Two years ago on New Year’s Day, I realized my research notes and art works were in no condition to be understood by anyone. Not even my co-researcher daughter who collaborated with me on genealogy. Not even my artist friends. And so I made organization a priority.

Ha, how am I doing? Not as well as I had hoped. I have reasons and excuses. First, my priority changed. Maybe veered. The body took the top of the list. It has taken two full years to get my body in line with my mind. Aging makes the need for balance in both walking and thinking. I am happy to say that I understand what makes me more productive and am fortunate to free up my schedule for work. And for me, work is fun!

My goals post birthday are:
1…to acknowledge what I have accomplished.
My studio work continues to impress and challenge. More subjects for my Women Series are discovered often, and I have started the writing needed. (biographical and marketing).
I am studying and producing work in new (to me) media including encaustic.

2…to finish what I start.
WordPress followers are my daily routine. i have my favorites, but all provide nuggets for a curious mind. I reblog or comment often even if my posts are neglected. And so time has to be set aside for any and all online commitments. I have signed up for a few that I have no idea how they work. And unfortunately the ‘improvements’ often do not work for me. Oh, to have some of the older apps!

3…with each work in process, find a place for it.
Plastic storage helps me see what I am working on.
Clear my workspaces at least at the end of the week. I like to leave the next week’s work laid out with notes. When I come in, I will be ready to start.
Group supplies and tools near the workspace where they will be used.
Make notes on where things are to save hours of searching.

4…personal time is work time.
If you are not healthy and sleep sufficiently, you can not have needed balance. People who work for themselves cannot remember where the time went. When I worked for the Girl Scouts of Chicago, my daily schedule was kept in three blocks. We worked so many nights, in meetings or training, that we tried to leave blocks open to prevent unnecessary overtime. When this was not possible, I had the time for school activities or sick children. I could take time off for vacations or me-time. Now I must remember to give myself permission to work or not. We should not feel guilty about making time for friends and shopping!

Soon the next day for evaluation will come and I will see how I am doing. The next few months will give you time for assessing what you need in your life for happiness.

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Where am I?

That was the question I woke up with this morning. Of course, it covers a range of possibilities. The first was opening my eyes at first light. The room looked familiar and strange at the same time. A few blinks and the reality focused: I was in the guest room of my daughter’s home. And why? She will receive an award for community service, and I will witness yet another of her achievements.

A flight of under three hours may seem the usual until you overhear a cellphone conversation. A couple settled down to phone their son. “Had a nice visit. First time ever flying, and gone well. Hoping return would go as well. Yes, they had figured out the wheelchair service. See you again soon.”

These travellers were senior citizens. And yet they had never flown on an airplane. I wondered how tech-savy they are. Does having a cellphone imply having a computer? An iPad? Blog or twitter account? We have our feet planted in the past and future by living in houses years old, modern stainless steel kitchen appliances, drive cars that talk back to us.

And yet there are still people who have not or will not fly. Children who may never ride a horse, milk a cow or ride a train. Our grandchildren ask what it was like in the olden days.

Friday Specials
My aunt was 82 in 1982. I remember asking how she had handled the changes from walking, horse and buggy to air and highspeed rail. How she had stayed optimistic after wars and little peace. I had bought her a tape recorder to tell her stories. For her youth, she said it was too painful to revisit. She lived in the present. She braved surgery to correct surgery that had blinded her. She taught herself to write again. She was introduced to color television’s beauty and read the New York Times again.

The tape recorder was never turned on.

Where does all that knowledge go if not passed on? Piecing toether from online clues, she was
..born in Meridian, MS to former slaves
..her father was in the USCT army at Vicksburg
..he was a railway mail carrier and may have died in a train wreck
..she lived a few years in a boarding school in VA where her mother worked as a domestic
..she lived with a brother and finished high school in Chicago
..she was among the few Black Yeomanettes working for the Navy in DC during WW I
which gave her veteran benefits for life
..she was a life-time member of the NAACP and women’s groups
..she put her age up and race aside to work for the State of NY for 35 years
..she had no children but helped educate her nieces, nephews and grands.
..she travelled widely and enjoyed many interests.

Who knew?
So where am I? also means, where am I in a long line of achievers? And where are we all?

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Nell Irvin Painter

Nell Irvin Painter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Women of Ideas

Shout out to bloggers I have learned from on WordPress and other sites.

Sue Healy is an accomplished writer who shares her successes and disapointments. Recently she wrote about ideas that come from news items. It made me think about the sources of inspiration that remain on my List(s) Of Things To Do. Those ideas get moved from list to list. Lists serve as reminders and guilty feelings.

Sue suggests ways to alter news information to make it your own. Visual artists can use photographs etc. as source material.  Always respect copyrights, real or implied. Make your own vision and style.

This post made me think that ideas are just a start. The writer who does not write produces thoughts. He or she (me) must do the work to bring thoughts to life. You may not wish to fail. But who will know your vision? I tell myself, “Don’t count yourself out.” Publishing, exhibiting or sales are not the only judgements of worth. It is the doing that should satisfy.

A woman blogger, booksbyjudith, is working many angles to produce and share her talent. She writes books in series. This trend is based on an idea that if you read one, you are likely to read others. Like television series: you make time for the characters if you like them.

What nuggets started me on various Women Series? The large women started using square canvases. The idea: What poses do women use in their work? Can you fill the canvas with the image.

The Women Who helped Desegregate Transportation came from Sojourner, by Nell Painter. In it she describes scenes of conflict Sojourner Truth had on trolleys in D.C. I was reminded of similar experiences.

The current series Women Who Dressed as Men may never be completed. Each month research suggests more interesting subjects. The idea began when online searches turned up Deborah Sampson as a subject to paint. In 10 years in MA, I had never heard of her!

Try not to get lost in idea-farming if you want to write, paint, photograph etc. Balance thought with completed works. When you have done your best, date, sign and share. Start a new project knowing that you are continuing to learn. In time your body of work will stand on its own, and may inspire others.

Who knew?

The greatest compliment may be, “My child can do better than that.”

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