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Over the past 2 days I led a workshop in Abstract Painting, twelve excellent painters and me. We explored 3 different ways to approach a blank canvas, with no representative subject or imagery in sight, and begin a painting with confidence. Several of our artists were familiar with watercolor but not acrylics. Others were well acquainted with painting realistic subjects but not abstract. All went home with at least one finished non-representation abstract acrylic painting and others, if not finished, well in progress.
Meanwhile, I came away with the knowledge that teaching abstract painting can be fun, and I have a complete 2-to 3-day program plan for future workshops. I also discovered a new color palette that I plan to use in future works.
As a bonus in our workshop this month at the Brazos Valley Art League, we’ll start each day with a small warm-up painting.
I’m often amazed at what can be accomplished when we limit the size of the canvas – these are 8×10″ – and our time to work on it.
Excluding drying time, each of these was done in about half an hour, and it’s a great way to warm up before starting on a larger piece.
So, in addition to our two main canvases, we’ll go home with 2 small gems.
Abstract Painting 2-Day Workshop
March 23-24, 2017 – 9am to 4pm at The Arts Center of Brazos Valley, 2275 Dartmouth, College Station, TX 77840
$125 includes lunch both days
In the workshop, Abstract Painting: Method v Madness, we’ll study 2 diverse styles of putting paint on canvas and creating visually dramatic pieces of art. “Yellow-Orange Composition” is an example of the “method” style. This next picture is a detail from “Water Spirit,” a “madness” style painting.
As a BONUS, we’ll do a 30-minute warm-up painting each day, such as this:
March 23-24, 9 AM-4 PM
The Arts Center of Brazos Valley, 2275 Dartmouth, College Station, TX 77840
$125 – includes lunch both days
For more information, email Workshop Director Iva Banik firstname.lastname@example.org
Cruising toward home on U.S. 59, Dixie turned on the windshield defroster and counted the days until court would reconvene next Monday, January fourth. Today was Tuesday, her second full day back in town, and she hadn’t picked up a crumb of information linking the accidents that killed Betsy and Courtney Keyes. A squeamish part of her mind hoped she was barking up the wrong tree this time.
The Paynes had not seemed particularly distraught over the loss of their daughters. But then, Betsy’s death had taken place in May, Courtney’s swimming accident in August. This was December. Even after such tragedies, life goes on.
Dixie turned down the defroster’s blast of hot air and turned the radio to a news station. “Colder,” the weatherman predicted cheerily, “with possible freezing rain.” (more…)
Dixie was glad to see the word Garden separating Payne from Cafe. Regardless of the spelling, she couldn’t get past the image of hot soup in the lap or ground glass in the burgers — a restaurant dispensing pain as the house specialty. Payne Garden Cafe was a little easier to take.
Parked across the street in the Mustang, she studied the Garden Cafe and Payne Hardware, pondering what she might accomplish by going inside. She wanted to know Betsy Keyes, wanted to know her family, their routines and how those routines might have differed on the day the girl died. She wanted to know Courtney, as well. Dixie wasn’t sure how it would help her determine whether the deaths were accidental, but she needed to fill in the picture.
That Rebacca Payne was creative, she deduced from viewing the cafe’s exterior. Nestled among service stations, dry cleaners, and convenience stores, the Garden Cafe contributed a dash of vibrancy to an otherwise commonplace neighborhood street.
A glassed-in sun porch spread across the front. A terraced bed of herbs and flowers flanked the weathered boardwalk leading to the entry. Among chives, dill and other green edibles, which Dixie recognized by their hand-painted pixie signs, potted poinsettias raised red topknots to the midday sun. In one corner, a stack of flat clay pots and a box of daffodil bulbs bearing a fluorescent PLANT NOW sticker hinted at the yellow blossoms that would spring up in coming months. Dixie liked it.
Homicide Division had moved some years ago from the maze of offices in downtown Houston to the Southeast Service Center on Mykawa Road. The idea was to spread out, thereby easing the tension that surfaces under crowded working conditions. Dixie had known Benjamin Rashly as an overworked homicide sergeant sharing a desk and chewing Tums as if he owned stock in the company. Now, as a lieutenant of Accident Division, he didn’t belong in his old office, but he hadn’t broken the habit of dropping by.
When she popped in at eight o’clock Monday morning, he sat scowling down at an arrest report in a thick folder.
“Hey, Rash. Got time to talk?”
He held up a hand for silence.
Now that she was no longer with the DA’s office, getting Rashly to part with information on a police case was like trying to sweet-talk water from a well. On the drive over, she’d racked her brain for something she could trade for a look at the Keyes file. Official reports were public record. What she wanted were the bits and pieces that never made it to the official reports.
Rashly’s white hair was thinning on top, revealing a pink spot about the size of a silver dollar. He’d gained a few lines in his square face over the years and some extra padding around his middle. Not bad at all, though, for his age, which she guessed at mid to late fifties, same as Carla Jean’s. What a world of difference between this vital, active man and her wasted mother. (more…)
Sunday morning came and went in a blur. After pounding the pillow until well past ten, Dixie took Dann to breakfast and then to the grocery. They bought a carload of food, things like ginger root, which she couldn’t imagine eating, and parsley, which she thought was used only as plate clutter.
By afternoon, the smells from the kitchen convinced her Dann knew what he was doing — pasta with shrimp, coffee made from freshly ground beans, and homemade pecan pie. He’d found her pecan stash in the pantry, the fifty-pound bag she saved out of each year’s crop, and had spent the morning shelling pecans while she slept. She didn’t have the heart to tell him about the automatic sheller in the barn.
“So,” he said over coffee. “We get started first thing tomorrow?”
He had shaved, and she was still getting used to his new face. He looked younger, friendlier, less sinister. (more…)
At half past midnight, after depositing Dann and Mud at her home in Richmond, Dixie turned the Mustang into an alley behind a four-story abandoned brick building at the edge of Downtown Houston. The night was still, clear and unnervingly quiet. No sign of the snow that had thrilled Ryan on Christmas Day.
She slipped the car into a niche between two buildings, then trod gingerly among broken bottles and other trash to a back entrance, where a rusted padlock sealed the door. The lock hadn’t been opened in years. Fingering a small black button at the bottom edge of the brick, Dixie watched a double bay door slide silently upward. The room inside was as dark as an oil slick on a moonless night.
Visiting the Gypsy Filchers’ headquarters was like visiting another planet. They were only available between midnight and dawn. With first light, they’d be as gone as smoke in the wind. And no matter where they set up shop, the place took on an otherworldliness similar to nothing Dixie had ever experienced. Their short-circuited youth seemed to heighten their imagination and resourcefulness, like the lost boys from Peter Pan. (more…)
It takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow. Within ever family and every great friendship, rain happens, and if we hang in there the sun peeks out again. This is a day to celebrate the love we have for life, country, and for one another. Let’s do it.
December 27, Houston, Texas
Ellie waited until her mother’s bedroom door clicked shut, then switched her nightlight back on. she didn’t like sleeping in the dark anymore.
Shivering even under the extra blanket Mama had brought, she pushed the covers around Raggedy Ann’s chin and hugged her close. She wished she could go back to camp and find the lucky penny. Maybe if she hadn’t lost it, the bad thing wouldn’t have happened to Courtney.
She missed Courtney.
She missed Betsy, too.
Scrunching a corner of the pillowcase, she wiped her nose and eyes. Mama said the aspirin would make her feel better. Ellie wished it would hurry. Her tummy hurt and her head made pounding noises in her ears. (more…)