Friday, September 26, 2008

Hummingbirds Gone?

I haven't seen any hummers here for the past couple of days. I think the last batch of birds may have left here and started on their long journey. I wish them a safe trip and await their return to me next spring. I will continue to replenish the nectar and maintain several feeders until well into fall. I have gotten travelers come through here as late as Thanksgiving before.This is another photo of one of our birds by Hummer Hound, Nancy Hinds. I love the detail of this bird's feathers in this shot. Thanks Nancy

Staying Quiet Today

Tigger is finally resting more. This picture shows him sleeping in his favorite chair today. After wrestling him to give him his pain meds last night, I decided it wasn't worth hurting him over it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Recovery After Major Surgery Begins

We picked up Tigger yesterday. He was so happy to be home! I guess the pain meds made him forget his troubles. He was very playful and it was hard keeping him quiet. These pictures are of him playing with his favorite toy, less than 24 hours after major surgery. Animals truly are so amazing, uplifting and inspiring!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tigger's Surgery

Hopefully we will be able to bring Tigger home today. As of yesterday evening, the report to us was that the surgery went well and the patient is doing fine.

Monday, September 22, 2008


There's no such thing as a free cat! The acquisition of an animal is BY FAR the least expensive thing about ownership.

I have been a sucker for animals all my life. Now, my husband Jerry, is just as bad. Tigger, the young feral cat who waltzed into our home and hearts in March, is tonight at an animal surgical center an hour form here awaiting a femoral/head neck excision. Tomorrow they will remove the *neck and ball part of Tigger's right femor bone. It is costing around two grand. It is only for one hip and both seem to be going bad. Are we nuts? We do not have that kind of money to throw around, yet Tigger is our fur baby and now we have to try to save him. He is such a special, neat cat and so young. I couldn't bare to think of him living his whole life in pain.

These pictures were taken today, just before we left for the hospital.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Happy Hummers Still Hanging Out

Although things are winding down here in Southern New Jersey and most of my hummingbirds have left on their fall journey, we still have a dozen or so hanging out here. They are probably transients, but several have gotten quite accustomed to me, so I'm sure they have been here for at least a couple of weeks.

We also have some hummingbird enthusiasts, Nancy Hinds and Frank Goff, who have been coming every Saturday to spend time with our little treasures. I call them the Hummer Hounds. It's fun to share my enthusiasm and joy with them. It's Saturday, so I expect their call to say they are coming over soon. This photo was taken by Hummer hound, Nancy Hinds.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Doesn't the "God" in all Life Matter?

Have you ever heard of aerial hunting? It's a brutal practice. Wolves are shot from low-flying aircraft or chased to exhaustion, then killed at point-blank range.

Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for Vice President, promotes this barbaric practice, exploiting a loophole in the Federal Airborne Hunting Act to allow private wolf killers to shoot down wolves using aircraft. To encourage the killing, she even proposed a $150 bounty for the left foreleg of each dead wolf!

We have to get the word out about this! Please watch this powerful new television ad by Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, and then share it with every wildlife lover you know:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

WET - IN - WET / WORKSHOP - Day Three

I really had a great group of artists here for my workshop the past few days! I must say I was impressed by their work ethic. Frustration ran high today as students tackled two wet - in - wet florals. As I demonstrated, they tried to follow along. At times I felt sorry for them. I remember what it's like, but it is all a necessary part of the learning process. I'm fortunate. This is a determined group with an abundance of heart, tenacity and aptitude!

I demoed the top painting in the morning. I wet the paper completely on both sides before starting. We did the bottom painting after lunch. In this one, I wet the back, and front, but left the white flowers dry. I'm showing these clipped to my board, before cropping.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I started today's workshop with a couple of handouts from ROBERT GENN 's : Twice Weekly Letters for Artists. I have subscribed to this inspirational email letter for artists since the beginning. Starting as far back as 1999, I think. I've been praising Bob and his efforts ever since. His readership has grown by leaps and bounds from a mere handful of readers to probably hundreds of thousands world-wide. I highly recommend subscribing! It is a powerful resource, not just for painters, but for anyone with an interest in the arts and philosophy.

In last week's Sept. 9th letter, " Build The Factory " , Bob writes; "During the last while I've been giving my two bits worth to several would-be painters. These folks are young, well educated and talented. They want to talk about the business of making art, the possibility of going to art school, their future in art. They also check my modest brain for what I might think galleries want, price points, popular sizes, that sort of thing.

While this is all very nice, I've glazed over a few times, and frankly told one of them to paint a hundred paintings and give me a call when she does. There was a significant silence on the other end of the phone--as if it was just around the corner that I might coach creativity into her. "Think of yourself as a factory," I said. That was the end of that call.

Not many of us can be convinced that working in a factory is a lot of laughs. Being a factory may be even worse. But there's something to be said for building one and getting into it.

Artist-wannabees need to find a physical place to be. For artists who think big and lofty, an unused loft in a rust-belt town might be the choice. But a factory can also be in a corner under basement stairs, or an easel at the bottom of a garden. Factory is a mental thing.

An art factory is a place where unmarked supports enter on one side, become caressed with the physical manifestation of human imagination, and are subsequently pushed out the other side. Whether these modified supports are commercially destined or not, it's a process that needs to take place.

When the factory gets the steam up and things begin to happen, the worker becomes hooked. Also, as skills are learned, techniques defined and directions found, the place begins to look like a perpetual motion machine.

Theoretical folks don't always understand that the factory itself turns its operator back into a student. The factory becomes a school. If you like the idea of do-it-yourself learning, and you are curious about what you might be able to do, a little private factory is one fine institution. If your factory starts small and gets productive, you'll need a bigger factory."
©Robert Genn  The Painter's Keys

Here is a copy of two days of paintings from my own Sandy Sandy Factory.

In today's handouts, I also included a copy of this addition from yesterday's September 12th Painter's Keys letter, titled; "John Cage - Life is a Workshop"

John Cage's "Rules for Students and Teachers.":

1 Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
2 General duties of a student--pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
3 General duties of a teacher--pull everything out of your students.
4 Consider everything an experiment.
5 Be self-disciplined--this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
6 Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail, there's only make.
7 The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
8 Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.
9 Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It's lighter than you think.
10 Break rules. Even your own rules. Leave plenty of room for X quantities.

John Cage (1912-1992) was a composer, print maker, performance artist, writer, philosopher, editor, teacher, mushroom expert, collaborator and poet. Fact is, John Cage had a lot of fun in his factory. Considered one of the most influential composers of the twentieth century, he produced works with one note, no notes, notes by chance, and a noted organ composition that takes 639 years to play.

Thinking about the life and "happenings" of John Cage, it's not difficult to see that joy, imagination and brilliance flow from factories. "Life," he said, "is a workshop."
©Robert Genn -
The Painter's Keys

After practicing watercolor techniques, students all wanted to stick to tonal studies today. Building on yesterday's lessons, here is the demo I did today.

Friday, September 12, 2008

DAY ONE - Watercolor Workshop

I started today's lessons with a warm up exercise I came up with at the spur of the moment. Holding the pencil like a wand, I encouraged students to use their whole arm and wrist while making various scribbles on their paper. Everyone seemed to agree that this helped them to loosen up for the sketching to follow.

I have some wood bird carvings and decided to use them as models for our two minute gesture sketches. After the allotted time was up, each person turned their bird clockwise a quarter of a turn. Each participant did a dozen sketches, three birds, four views each.

This is a wonderful exercise that I haven't done in a long time. None of the students had ever done a blind contour. This teaches hand eye coordination. You can't look down at your paper while you are drawing. You must only look at the subject while the pencil is moving. This trains you to caress the object with your eyes. After this exercise, students followed along with handouts as we went on to drawing a hummingbird with my Six Steps to Sensational Sketches Demo.

After lunch break, we did a value painting of a lighthouse. I explained WET-IN-WET techniques on painting skies, grass, water and buildings. Here is my demo painting.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ellen Barnett's "Gathering Images" Show

Ellen is displaying a large variety of her paintings and collage work at the Burlington County Library now through October 1st. The library hours are: Monday 9am - 9pm; Tuesday - Friday 10am - 9pm; Saturday 9am - 5pm and Sunday 1pm - 5pm. Stop by and check out her beautiful work.

You can contact Ellen at:

Ellen Barnett poses in front of a collage with brand new owner, Bobbie Zurbach.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Instruction on Sketching

Last week I was contacted by Ralph Serpe; artist, writer, musician and webmaster, about having my "Sensational Sketches In Six Simple Steps" featured on his blog. He writes; "I own and maintain a very popular blog on Art Instruction. My site receives over 20,000 unique visitors each month, and I have a subscriber base of nearly 9,000 artists, all hungry for fresh new content." I checked it out and saw it was of very high caliber. Of course I said YES!

Please visit: and check it out!

See comments about my demo from and more about this sketch on:

See my sketching posts displayed in reverse-chronological order, on:

My sketching posts are presented in chronological order on: