Wednesday, June 29, 2011


"Lemon Quintet"
Acrylic on Linen Panel

Sometimes life just throws lemons at you and you have to take the time to make lemonade with them before you can get back to your normal life. Such is the last few months at our house. In March I had surgery and came through that just fine after a few weeks of healing. Then came the first week of May. In the last post I described the heart attack that my husband gratefully survived that week. He was gradually getting back on his feet for the first four weeks when all of a sudden, on a Friday morning, he began suffering stabbing pain in his chest and abdomen. Thinking it was another heart event, we called 911 and got him to the hospital right away. After getting there, the diagnosis was not so clear. The cardio people said it was not a heart problem. The search was on for the cause while he still was suffering terrible pain. First they thought it was a gall bladder attack. Tests proved that to be wrong. Then, on Saturday, after 30 hours of this constant pain, they decided to take a look at his appendix. Sure enough...they decided this was the problem. Preparation was being made to get him into surgery when the appendix ruptured and then the pain, which was bad, became excruciating. This begat a race to the surgery where they first tried the laproscopic procedure and discovered they could not excise the problem that way. So, the surgeon went in with the full cut from his navel to his groin and thereby, did the deed. All well and good, but the repercussions from this made for a miserable week in the hospital and the following week at home was no picnic, either. Finally, here we are with nearly a month gone and he is finally able to drive and start gradually back to work. He lost 15 lbs. and is now back to eating more normally to try to gain some weight back. You can imagine that having a heart attack and an appendicitis attack all within 5 weeks of each other is a bit much for a good man to take.

In the midst of this, my son and his family, who can rarely visit us because he is career Air Force, descended for their pre-planned visit of 10 days, while in transit from Alabama to Washington DC. I hardly count this as a lemon, frankly, but they have four children ages: 6,4,2, and 2 months. They were some help with things around the house, so I am grateful they came and loved seeing them. There is never a bad time to have the opportunity to be with matter how bad things are. This meant, though, that I was managing activities, meals, and beds, besides trying to have some quality time with the children...all the while trying to see to it that my husband was healing and getting enough rest and care from the appendicitis debacle. Throw in a couple of dogs, some furniture moving, non-stop washing of clothes and bedding, reading of stories, a couple of watercolor painting classes with the 6 yr. old, yard work and play, many trips to the grocery, a lot of cooking and dishes, and more. Should I use the word "circus?" It really was wonderful to see them, in spite of the constant activity. They have gone on their way to DC now and the house is quiet once again.

Needless to say, my paints, brushes, and easels have been sitting there neglected with no artist working in my studio. Hardly a thought of a painting has been able to penetrate my cluttered mind this past two months. All I could think of was getting the everyday necessities taken care of with some sort of sense of organization. Chaos is not my choice of status, so keeping calm and collected to some degree was the best I could do.

Here we are...survived so far. Now I'm gathering my thoughts on how to get back to painting. When you haven't picked up a paint brush in over two months, it feels a bit strange. It may take some warming up and fits and starts to get back in a groove. We'll see what happens...

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Heart Attack Season

Cindy Baron with Marsh Landscape - painted with her artist friend Jerry Brown, standing at the right, at the Walls Gallery in Wilmington, NC.

Hi Readers and Friends,
Just a quick note to explain my absence and lack of posting recently. My dear husband woke me up at 4:00 am Sunday morning and calmly suggested I take him to the hospital. First, he is not a complainer, so I knew something was seriously wrong. Inquiring, I found him clammy and he reported pressure and pain in his chest. The classic symptom of the pain starting down his left arm was also present.

We quickly sped off to the ER and were greeted by ready personnel in abundance who immediately did an EKG. After that, the cardiologist appeared and took a look at the report. The next fast step was to the cath lab where they unclogged a major artery that was completely occluded. Long story short, my husband felt immediate relief, but the Dr. informed him that two more arteries are 90% occluded also. Today he is having another catheter procedure to work on those.

My sweetie is a type A personality, but won't admit it. In fact, I think he may give me a heart attack with his quick approaches to situations and his energy level that never seems to slow. I like to take my time and think things over. He shoots from the hip and gets lots more done. He sleeps five to six hours a night. I need eight or more. Anyway, we are definitely in the assessment phase at the moment. The prognosis is good and we hope he'll be back up and running in a few weeks, though hopefully just a little more slowly. Turns out he has a genetic predisposition to this clogged artery, heart problem. His grandfather died of a heart attack and his uncle has had by-pass surgery. Were it not for the terrific advances in heart medical care, my husband would not be here. I have to say his care has been wonderful and the doctor who took this on is stellar!

Just a few days prior to this incident we drove to Wilmington, NC to visit with some friends. The husband there, who is older than we are, has just gone through heart surgery recently and had a pace maker put in place just ten days before we arrived. Happy to report he is doing pretty well, thankfully. But...his wife, my friend, had procured tickets to an artist demo at the Walls Gallery while we were there. This turned out to be a great lot of fun for me!

The art demo was done by two artists, Cindy Baron and Jerry Brown..both of whom are plein air landscape artists. The painting above is their demo painting which they accomplished in just an hour and forty-five minutes. Amazing. They are good friends to each other and actually painted this landscape together on the same canvas while answering questions from the audience. They were very entertaining in their approach to the piece. The most amazing thing to me was that they only brought pencil sketches with them and neither of them had any color reference to the scene as they painted. I honestly don't think I could ever do that in a million years. It was well worth the time to watch them both and I have to say, their paintings displayed at the gallery were very very good! And I thank my friend for arranging to see that demo.

So I came back inspired, but covered up with what has been chaos around here lately. The exterior of the house is finally painted. Spring is requiring yard and garden work. Moths attacked my pantry which needed painting, also, so just before the heart attack crisis I had started that project. So now I've spent several days in between visits to the hospital taking everything out of there, cleaning and moth proofing the whole thing, painting the interior of that. Not quite through, but getting there. I'm headed back up to the hospital in a little while for this next procedure of unclogging arteries.

So now you know some of what has been going on around here. I hope my studio time will be restored sometime soon. Crazy heart attack days.....!! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MODERN VS CLASSICAL ART - Serrano or Sargent?

Taking a couple of minutes here because of the recent news story of Serrano's "Piss Christ" piece being attacked, slashed, possibly destroyed last week. I'm hardly crying over this event, but I do find the discussion interesting. I came across a great article on the subject at American Thinker

Reading the comments section of the article I found a few gems. One of them is as follows:
"Let's see these "brave artists" put an image of Mohammed in a jar of urine and see what happens. Christ taught to turn the other cheek and in the broad sense, that's what Christians have done with the Serranos of the world. But Christ also tore up the merchant's stands in the temple (around the time we're celebrating right now in fact) in a rage when he saw what they were doing to the great temple, the house of God/G-d. The Catholics in France took that as an example when this vulgar joke Serrano calls "art" was finally destroyed. I don't condone destroying private property but enough's enough. Come on Mr Seranno..make a really brave statement...put Mohammed in a jar of urine."

Let me say, right here, that I agree that Seranno's "Piss Christ" is not art. It is a religious and political statement denigrating Christianity..or at least Christians. I think he has the right to say what he thinks, but I don't believe it is what I would call art. Even if you do call it "art," it is so offensive that using Christians' tax dollars to pay for its display and a slap in the face of honest brokerage of art.

Another I especially like is here:
"I don't believe art is defined by beauty per se. I think art is craft performed so well that it evokes emotion by its presentation regardless of the subject being presented. That might be beauty presented so perfectly that it gives you pleasure. It could be ugliness presented so starkly that it makes you wretch. It could be treachery presented so forcefully that it makes you angry. It could be tragedy presented so mournfully that it makes you cry. But the art is in the presentation not the subject. It is the quality of the craft not the nature of the subject that makes it art. That is where the slip occurs. The Piss Christ and other modern abominations and obscenity evoke emotion by audacity and insult not by craft."

Is art craft? I think you could argue it is, however not in the mundane usual definition of the word craft. It is craft taken to a higher level. I very much like what the gentleman above says on that subject.

And a thoughtful view here:
"People don't fight over chocolate versus vanilla ice cream precisely because they can choose either or neither in a free society. Suppose a financial crisis allows Congress to slip into the resulting recovery package a rule that henceforth only one flavor of ice cream will be sold and determined by Congress. Imagine the lobby dollars spent to sway the decision. Imagine the fights that would break out between advocates for one flavor against those supporting another. In a collectivist society everything is political even the flavor of ice cream produced. We recently brought medical services into this morass. Ice cream won't be far behind. Now, I think someone should be free to produce offensive art and try to make a living selling it in a free society. Once we decide to collectively fund it, the choice of what to fund becomes political and the choices made are those with current political power instead of free individuals."
The author added this:
"There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong." -- James Madison

I've had house painters at my house for a week (four experimental colors before the exact color was achieved) and too many distractions to describe. House maintenance projects are piling up. The powder room is in progress with wallpaper and paint that yours truly is supposed to apply. It's spring so the garden needs me. The dog is covered in pollen each time he visits the yard and brings it all back into the house. I also have some family obligations, a trip to the coast coming up, and a new grandchild to visit in May. Hence, my little gnome painting is sitting still without paint at the moment. But I will get to it as soon as I can.

Meanwhile, the discussion above is something with which artists sometimes grapple. Is it art? Is it a political statement? Is it a fad? Is it a classical theme? Is what we do really art? Are we half-heartedly perfecting a mediocre attempt at a craft? Or are we reaching for that higher level where craft meets art? Is public money the attainment of that higher level? Or is public money corrupting the process of artists? I think the latter. The artist who strives to get grants based on politically correct art is corrupting himself or herself for the sake of what? Collectivism? Using some other person's labor and money to support their own personal decision to become an artist? Strange and opposite bedfellows if you ask me. Is modern art the antithesis of classical art? What does modern art say about our culture? Is there a benchmark for distinction regarding art? Can you honestly say that current art critics and the NEA have promoted excellence in artistic achievement over the last several decades? I think the standards need raising and the NEA needs to be abolished. Just my opinion.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reading Gnome WIP

"The Reading Gnome" WIP Pre-lim Sketch
Oil on linen panel

Here is the beginning sketch of "The Reading Gnome." I know it looks really dirty in this real life it is not. This picture is much darker than the actual sketch..I darkened it in photoshop so it would show up better here. The sketch itself is 50% lighter at least. I try to get enough of a visual with the sketch, but not so much graphite pencil that the graphite will interfere with the paint. In fact, I will probably erase some of it as I dive in with paint and brushes.

About the subject: I can't help it. Gnomes make me laugh. I like the Roaming Gnome commercials. I have a friend who has two, rather large, garden gnomes. Recently I watched a great French movie called Amelie which had a gnome in the plot. (It's a great movie by the way. It came out maybe four or five years ago. I ordered it from Netflix. I liked it so much that I think I may buy it so I can watch it over again a few times.) So one day I came across this photograph of a reading gnome. It's someone else's photograph and I don't know whose it is. Otherwise I would give credit to the photographer for this gnome painting I am about to do. There are lots of gnomes out there with different themes, gardening gnomes, policeman gnomes, sunbathing gnomes, beach themed gnomes, and the like. This one is an older, possibly antique gnome figure. I just love the idea of a reading gnome...maybe because I love reading and do so much of it. Frankly, I just thought he was really cute.

As I think about this painting, I've been thinking of my grandchildren. (duh...I think about them often anyway.) They are happily being home-schooled by a brilliant mother and father. So a "reading gnome." when I think of it, seems like a mascot for their school room...a study buddy, so to speak. Any child's room or over their desk would be a good place to place this fellow. I just hope he turns out the way I want him. We'll see..

Stay tuned!

Friday, April 01, 2011


Oil on Linen Panel

Click on image to enlarge the view.

So Hobson is finished and I am hoping my friend and collector, Bonnie, will like this rendition of him. I may have explained before that Hobson is no longer with us, so this painting was done from older photos taken of him. The photos cut off one of his paws, so I had to be really creative and pretend I knew what his left paw looked like. He is so cute...and I'm glad to have preserved him for my "Bonnie" friend!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hobson WIP II

"Hobson" WIP
Oil on Linen Panel

Click on image to enlarge the view.

Since I am still recovering from surgery, I have been slow at this one. He is too dark and too brown at the moment. Lots of light and more reddish tones to add. It is always just difficult when working from photographs where you have to add and subtract elements and fictionalize too much. But I'm not giving up....will post again on this one..
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hobson WIP I

"Hobson" WIP
Oil on Linen Panel

I've been down for a bit, had surgery last week and was not doing great before that. Now I am on the mend and slowly (emphasize the word "slowly") getting back on my feet. I am anxious to get going again, but having to pace myself. I'm not allowed to drive for 2 weeks and not allowed to lift much more than my tea cup..and of course a paint brush. Oh, the frustration.

Hobson has been waiting in queue while I finished up entries for the show at the end of February. He is a sweet fellow who is no longer with us, but his owner is wanting an oil painting to have him with her, at least on the wall, forever. I think he is darling. He was also a rescue and was a good companion all the way 'round. You can tell by his face what a good fellow he was.

So I'm back to the easel...just going ever like a snail. Will post as I go along.
Thanks for stopping by...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Red and White Pansies - Garden Painting

"Red and White Pansies
Oil on Linen Panel

Click on image to enlarge the view.

One of my favorite flowers in our garden is Pansies. Mostly because they don't fail me...except for the squirrels trying to dig them up all of the time. There is a garden supply company close to us who sells an antique variety that I particularly love, so that is what these are. Now that we are having a warm spell, the pansies are starting to perk up. If we are lucky we will have them through April before they take a nose dive. I usually plant them in October, but they don't look happy until spring.

Anyway, I took my camera out to the garden, which actually is in pitiful shape right now. But there they are, doing their best to come along and make us happy!

Hope you like them.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Off to the Pond

"Off to the Pond"
Oil on Canvas
On Hold

Click on image to enlarge the view.

Finished late this afternoon. I'm holding this one back to consider it for a show entry. The only trick with that is all that white paint may not dry in time, but I'm hoping it will. Thick layers of white paint always seem slow to least for me. I did add some galkyd in hopes to quicken the process. The show entries are due in under two weeks now.

On to the next one...stay tuned!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Off to the Pond -WIP

"To the Pond"
Oil on Canvas
©Cheryl A. Pass

Still painting options for the coming show. I've worked on this for several hour each day for the last 4 days.  The trick here is going to be the details on the ducks, their feathers, their personalities.  The upper background is finished for the most part.  When my husband and I went to Blowing Rock a couple of years ago, I took several photos of ducks around the lake in town.  This is a composite of photos from the inspiration of that trip.  The plucky walk and the determined looks on their faces always make me smile.

Still working....will post when it is finished.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Landing In Honeysuckle - Bluebird Painting

"Landing In Honeysuckle"
Oil on Linen Panel
©Cheryl A. Pass

Click on image to enlarge the view.

One of the sweet surprises of living in the south is the wildflower, Honeysuckle. There's a fat bunch of it just down the street from my house and when I walk in the summertime the yummy smell of it wafts over to me as I walk by. It can get out of hand if it grows in your yard, but for obvious reasons, the bluebirds love it.

This painting turned out somehow different than I expected it to....or maybe that I chose a color scheme that is not my usual choice. The background gave me fits...I had to grey it down twice to make it fade back away from the Honeysuckle and the Bluebird which I wanted to pop. I put a few brush strokes in the background just to give it more of a feeling of movement, as if the leaves are shaking a bit from the recent landing. I had every blue tube of paint out of my paint box, from Manganese to Ultramarine to Cobalt. It is hard to capture the vivid blue of this gorgeous bird. We are lucky to have some of them living in our neighborhood. As it turns out, I think it has sort of a Victorian feel to it.

Once again, another attempt for the Nature Show. Not sure if I will put this one in. I'm going to keep painting from now until then to try to come up with what I would think is my best work.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Carolina Wren II - Sweet Tweet

"Carolina Wren II
Oil on Linen Panel
©Cheryl A. Pass

Click on image to enlarge the view.

The local, annual, Nature Show is coming up in one month at the Schiele Museum of Natural History. It's never hard to come up with subject matter for this show, especially if you love the natural world around us as I do. I painted a Carolina Wren last year and loved painting it. Happily, it was bought immediately. I had taken lots of pictures of these little darlings since they hop about out back feeders and bushes all year round. I also went looking for other reference photos to help me figure out a background for this one.

I'm having to back-track on the paragraph below....Donna emailed me immediately to say she wanted this painting, so I am just going to have to come up with something else for the Schiele Show and put this one aside for her. She's a very sweet collector of my work, and had asked me for a Carolina Wren last it is her's! Now I'll have to speed up and get one done for the show!

There is a lady who wished me to do one for Donna, if you are reading this, I have not forgotten you. I need something to put in this show for now, but if it doesn't sell from there, you will have first dibs on it. If it does sell, I promise I will do another one just for you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bosley in the Hallway

"Bosley in the Hallway"
Oil on Gessoed Board

Click on image to enlarge the view.

Here is the little rascal who distracts me with those eyes. He also is just like the "Doggie in the Window" because he is the "one with the waggily tail." This is actually a warm up for another dog portrait I am just beginning to work on. I hadn't painted for a couple of weeks, so I felt I needed to feel the paint again before I work on a commission. Maybe I should explain the odd angle. I was once again trying to catch Bosley for a photo, when he decided to be camera shy. He headed into the hallway and I called him back. He reluctantly turned around, but his desire was still to go the other way. I barely caught the photo and it is really a blurr. So this is the best I could do with it. Little rascal.
Thanks for stopping by....