Monday, December 17, 2018

Johnstone's Junonia

Just in case you don't know, this is Alabama's state shell. 
It officially received it's designation in 1990 as the official state shell.
It is named after Kethleen Yerger Johnstone, an amateur  conchologist from Mobile. 
It is a large sea snail from deep waters. You usually don't find these washed up on shore unless there is a big storm. It was also named after the Roman Goddess  Juno. 
It can reach a maximum length of  4.9 inches!
I can only imagine finding one!

Today found us both working hard to get things done around here. Christmas presents, farmhouse table, Extra Canvas cut for trip to India, Gypsy Gal's shower and name painting,  all got our attention today. I worked in the wagon, getting the shower situation fixed to my liking now. Our bath in the Gypsy Gal is about 2 x 6 feet and half of that is shower. (It also has a chemical toilet, faucets to wash our hands, and brush teeth at night.) I did not want a wet bath, so we modified a concrete mixing tub from Home Depot to make our shower pan. I put up 3 shower curtains to protect the wood sides of the trailer as the bath will not fit a standard shower surround, primarily because of the beautifully bowed roofline. Unfortunately this bow caused the curtains to lay really funny. (not in a good way) I have cup hooks holding the curtains in place and I was concerned about the excess plastic on the floor and us stepping on it. So, I removed it all, reconfigured the curtains and trimmed one down. I then put them together using double sided sticky tape and rehung them in place. I then trimmed the bottom edge after stapling the wonky creases down. I also altered the outer privacy curtain, adding length to it. All in all after cleaning the pan and non slip rug, I am very happy with my project. Chris even moved one of the hooks that our towels hang on. (we had an issue with the towel swinging out of the door when we tried to close it after showering.)

That project done, I moved on to the next task at hand. When we first built the trailer, it was a beautiful black with wood trim. Unfortunately, the VERY expensive paint I bought at Lowes was failing miserably within a few months. Chris decided to repaint the exterior wood surfaces a beautiful deep sky blue. Unfortunately, this meant the Gypsy Gal name that I had painted around the door window was covered up. 
I repainted the name today, along with an established year. It is gold with a black outline and looks really nice. I like the wagon having a name again!
I finished out my day's work on the wagon with vacuuming out the sawdust (man glitter!)
 and wood chips created by my woodchuck named Chris. He created quite the mess while rebuilding the closet refrigerator cabinet. We also collaborated on how to carry the bikes. We will open the bed up, put down moving blankets, and lay them on their sides to transport. (I love it when we think together!) We contemplated adding a hitch and carrier to the back of the wagon, but I have memories of an almost collapsed bike carrier during our first trip to the Florida Keys. It was beautifully welded back together by a gentleman at John Pennenkamp Park in the Keys. He would not take any money for helping us, and we were so grateful. 
Camping areas and camping people are usually like that, ready to lend a hand, help with a repair, share a story, or share a meal together. It's several of the reasons we love to camp!

Johnstone's Junonia, Acrylic on canvas, 6 x6
Day 11 of the 100 days~100 paintings Spring 2019

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Olive shell

What a day!
So many things to do, so few totally accomplished.
Still a good day!

We started out by going to church and enjoying the production and service. So much hard work by several people made for an enjoyable morning hearing God's word.
I managed to get the curtain from the gypsy wagon taken apart last night so I could adjust it's length. Today I put it back together and Chris got the pole back in to hang it up in the closet. 
Chris altered the wagon slightly this week in the refrigerator cabinet area. The refrigerator used to be on the floor, making it difficult to get things out for cooking. That is, unless you are standing outside and reach into the  camper. (Yes she's small, but we LOVE her so!)
The fridge is now located on top of the closet, screwed in place and we now have a proper hanging area. The trip to Florida is almost two weeks, and two shows, so we bring a lot of clothes. (At least I do!) I am planning to bring along the outfits I made for the spring travel to Florida that are wonderfully comfortable shorts made from a 1940's pattern! High waist, button closure, only missing pockets! I get lots of compliments when wearing them and I don't have to worry about my caboose hanging out for all to see. 

I also worked hard to get the rest of the shadowbox canvases stretched.
The shadowbox canvases are  my most popular series to date, with the exception of the Sepia series started 10 years ago. The shadowboxes are custom made wood frames built by Chris, I then hand stretch canvas in 3 separate pieces to cover the frame, I then paint them white with acrylic paint to make the sepias show better and add a backer board to protect the frame where there is a single piece of canvas. They were a commercially available product from Michaels a few years ago, but we started building them ourselves after they stopped carrying them. They were brought back briefly for a few months afterward, but were discontinued again. 
I needed to get them done so I could use the remaining canvas for my flat pieces to take to India and paint while there. The afternoon flew by with the stretching, cooking our evening meal, then back to the studio to apply white paint to all 12 of them. 5 yards canvas, 1500 staples, and two sore hands later I have a total of 19 shadowbox canvases ready to be drawn and painted. 
(I stretched 7 16 x 16's earlier this week)

Christopher's project on the farmhouse table is really going well in the 'barn'.
He's in his studio, I'm in mine! I love it, and so does he!
We both get lots of fun things done while apart, so we can do other fun things together!

Meanwhile, I am toying with the idea of trying to fit two full sized bicycles into the Gypsy wagon so we can ride while in Florida! This will be a trick, since the bikes are longer than the floor is in the wagon. They may have to go in sideways, traveling inside Gypsy Gal with extra artworks for shows on top of our compressed bed! (And after we load in all our other clothing, camp kitchen equipment, bathroom stuff, and some food stuffs) Whew there is a LOT that goes into a trip of this magnitude. We are counting the days.......I am furiously, nervously painting! 

These are the things that wake me up at night.
That and painting ideas, packing lists, and  somewhere in there, Christmas!

Olive shell, Acrylic on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
Day 10 of the 100 days~100 paintings Spring 2019

Saturday, December 15, 2018


Today's piece is one of my favorites to paint! 
Today was also an eventful day at the Raccoon Retreat studio.
Our morning started with our usual morning coffee and my bible readings. I love to start my day this way and it has become a habit every morning, to sit and have some time with God's word. Sometimes I get revelations, other times I just enjoy the readings for that day. This way I have been through the bible almost 7 time from cover to cover. 
How do you read a book as large and wisdom filled as the Bible?
Same way you eat an elephant, one bite at a time!

Anyway, the morning started as usual. I then told Chris there was a sale at our local Goodwill of 50% off the entire store! There happened to be a set of furniture there I saw earlier in the week, and if it was still there it would be mine. Well, at least my grandson's. His furniture was almost totally destroyed in their move from Helena, Al earlier this year. He wants a loft bed again and we want to put a desk and dresser combination under it at the new house. Our son called as well and we went to breakfast before going to the store. Fortunately for us, it was still there. I will have to paint and clean it up, but they're a good base for the loft and play area underneath. There was only one problem, the shop behind our house is in a major state of flux right now! Chris's woodworking area is his domain, but the main portion of the shop is where the big stuff happens. I do large scale mural pieces out there, furniture rehabs and store all of my show equipment. Speaking of furniture rehabs, the shop has 2 bookcases the adult children bought for Sean's study in the new home, and an entertainment center I purchased earlier this week for Jessica's studio space that was an absolute steal. Now, I've added the  long dresser, headboard, mirror, and two nightstands for Archer into the mix. On top of all this, Chris built shadowbox frames for me this week and is currently making a farmhouse table for the Pastor's family to enjoy in their new home. 
NEVER a dull moment around here!

Chris and our son, Jere picked up the items for Archers room and we put them to the side in the shop. Somehow, someway I have to make time to paint this furniture for Archers room. Possibly paint the entertainment center for the studio space and the bookcases for Sean. 
None of this certainly will happen before we leave on our trip to Florida.
After Florida, we have one week here together before I leave for India for 3 weeks.
There is a lot of packing and planning for that trip as I will be painting and blogging again from there!
I guess there will be a LOT happening around here for the next couple of months!

In the meantime, I make lists of things to do before we leave.
I have a dozen new shadowbox canvases to stretch and paint white.
I have to pack clothes, Kitchen items, food stuffs, bicycles, Artworks, extra artworks, 2 tents and all the other equipment for the journey to Florida in the truck and Gypsy Gal.
I also have an alteration to the Gypsy Gal I want to complete before we leave.
Our shower area is a little claustrophobic and I need to alter the curtain for our hanging clothes after Chris reworked the refrigerator closet combination.
Added to the list...

In the meantime, I paint!

Starfish, Acrylic on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
Day 9 of the 100 days~100 paintings Spring 2019

Friday, December 14, 2018

Lacy Murex

Today's offering is a neat little painting that turned out beautifully. I really enjoy painting texture and murex shells are full of nooks and crannies. They are also quite colorful in a muted way. I know my parents shell collection from the Phillipines  has a couple of gorgeous  murex's.  One of these has deep brown edges and is very tiny.

Anyway, I hope you're not tired of shells yet as I am creating more to take into the Florida shows. We are getting excited about our upcoming trip, making plans for our time together.

Packing, painting, planning.
Showtime in less than two weeks.

Lacy Murex, Acrylic on canvas, 6 x 6
Day 8 of the 100 days 100 paintings Spring 2019

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bay Scallop

I've always called these Queen Scallops. I have now discovered I was incorrect and may still be!
I think these are what we call Bay scallops. They are a member of the mollusk family as well.
I have collected dozens of them while at Sanibel Island.
They are edible and one of my favorites to eat. 
They can develop both male and female organs making them able to fertilize their own eggs. Even though they spawn millions of eggs, only ONE survives to adulthood out of 12 million!
Spawning takes a lot out of these little guys too, once they've spawned, they become weak and vulnerable. 
The REALLY neat thing about them is they have 60 bright blue eyes!
Fascinating to me.
Hopefully for you too!

Bay Scallop, Acrylic on canvas, 6 x 6
Day 7 of the 100 days~100 paintings Spring 2019

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Turkey Wing shell

Today's entry is commonly called a turkey wing.
So called because you can almost see a turkey wing when they are together.
I love these shells and have actually found some on the beach. The beaches at Sanibel island are the best shelling in the United States and I found lots of Turkey wings and Queen Scallops as well. Their name, is really Arca Zebra and they are a bivalve as well as a mollusk. 
They have up to 50 teeth at their connection point, but it is rare to find them together.  Interestingly enough, they are eaten in both Bermuda and Venezuela.
I imagine they are tough, a lot like Conch!

Turkey Wing, Acrylic on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
Day 6 of the 100 days~100 paintings Spring 2019

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Horsehead Conch

Horsehead Conch indeed!
This gastropod is not even a member of the conch family.
It is however, the largest gastropod in American waters. It is also the largest in the world.
The shell can reach 24 inches! It lives at or near 20 feet of water.
It feeds on other gastropods including the tulip shell, lightning whelk, Queen Conch and some murex. They have also exhibited cannibalistic behaviour, eating others smaller than themselves. 
They have also been observed eating hermit crabs!
The creature inside is a bright orange, probably to scare off predators. 
Generally bright colored things in the ocean are poisonous.

Interestingly, when I "goggled" horsehead conch, the first 3 photos were of paintings I have done in previous years! I guess no one else paints them!

Horsehead Conch, Acrylic on canvas, 6 x 6
Day5 of the 100 days~100 paintings Spring 2019