Cats in Heaven

The screened-in porch is finally done, and for the first time in nearly a year, the cats are able to go outside. They love it!

Cats on deck

Here’s the perpetually handsome Nelson lounging on the deck. He’s the biggest fan of being outside, day and night.

Nelson cat on deck

Luci enjoying the warm evening breeze.

Luci cat on deck

Alex catching the last of the sunlight.

Alex cat on deck

Cat is camera shy, and hiding behind the catnip.

Cat on deck

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Moving In

Egads! I liked my new art studio a lot better when it was empty. Over the weekend I moved in all of my art supplies, and now I can barely move in there. Part of the probem is that I don’t yet have shelves, and the other part of the problem is that I have too much stuff. I thought I had pared down before I moved, but it looks like I may need to make more drastic cuts. This will not do!

Tondro Art Studio Ventura

Tondro Art Studio Ventura

Tondro Art Studio Ventura

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Hot Mess

One of the challenges I face as an artist is change and growth. Once I’ve developed a style, the tendency is to stick with it, because I’ve got it down and I know I can do it well. But after a while it becomes too predictable, and I have to shake things up a bit. I have to be willing to let go of expectations and make a hot mess!

Those “aha” moments only come from extensive experimentation, and for every “aha” there are hundreds of hot messes. I thought I’d share some of my recent messes with you.

Each experiment begins with “I wonder what would happen . . .” This first hot mess started with “I wonder what would happen if I used a checkerboard background,” and that wasn’t particularly pleasing, so I continued with “I wonder what would happen if I splatted some paint on it.” That still wasn’t enough, and I finished with “I wonder what would happen if I press it against another wet painting.” The result? A hot mess! But sort of interesting in its messiness.

Tondro Painting Hot Mess

Most of my tools and supplies are still in boxes in the garage, which can be a good thing, as it forces me to be inventive with what I have available. The one tool I had was my fingers, and other than paint, I only had brush cleaner and water. So this next painting was predicated on “I wonder what would happen if I dipped my finger in the brush cleaner and ran it through the paint.” Pretty much another hot mess.

Tondro Painting Hot Mess

Each time I make a mess I’m learning something about what works and what doesn’t work, which led to this final piece that I kind of like. “I wonder what would happen if I sprinkle brush cleaner on the surface of a wet painting and then press another canvas on top of it.” I’m not sure how I would replicate this, but I can see it on top of a subtle salmon checkerboard background.

Tondro Painting Hot Mess

And so it goes, day after day, looking for the gems in the messiness. It’s a process of making a mess and then resolving the mess with the questions, “How can I make this hot mess into something beautiful, and how can I then use the new technique to create something interesting and meaningful?”

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First Finished Painting from New Studio

Here’s my first finished painting from my new art studio. It’s 24″ x 12″, and I’m looking for a title. Your ideas are always more inventive than mine!

New Painting Tondro

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First Day Painting in New Studio

Today was my first day painting in my new art studio, and it was not a particularly auspicious day! Since it was my first time painting in over a year, I’m a little out of practice. I may need to cut myself some slack.

And the paint was not cooperating. Two of the colors were too thin and breaking up. A little breaking up is OK, but this was too much. The truth is that painting doesn’t always go well, and my paintings aren’t always good.

The new studio, however, is fabulous! The light is excellent, the air circulation is great, the floor is level, the temperature stays comfortable, and I have lots of space.

Here are some pictures of today’s efforts. The paintings will look different when they’re dry, but this will give you an idea of how they turned out.

This first picture is the paint poured onto plastic on the floor, straight out of the cans. It looked great at this point.

Tondro art studio Ventura

I like the way this piece turned out. This is my favorite painting of the day. It’s 24″ x 12″.

Tondro art studio Ventura

These two are also nice — 10″ x 10″ each.

Tondro art studio Ventura

I would be happier if this painting had larger areas of color. There’s too much paint breaking up into busy details. I know it looks rectangular in this picture because of the angle, but it’s actually a square, — 24″ x 24″. We’ll see how it looks when it’s dry.

Tondro art studio Ventura

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Painting in New Studio This Weekend!

Guess what I’m doing this weekend? Creating my first paintings in my new art studio! The studio isn’t quite finished yet, but I have a commission I want to get done, so I moved some of my stuff in early. Now that I’m in there, I’m not leaving!

It feels so good to be able to paint again. It has been a very long haul, getting through the move and building the new studio – more than a year. I’m so grateful to be able to get back to my art, and to have this fabulous new space for it.

The boxes around the perimeter are boxes of paint. I left it in boxes, because it’s going to have to be moved again, when they seal the floor.

Here we go! I feel like I should christen the space with some special ritual. I would burn sage, but I’m afraid it might set off the fire sprinklers!

Tondro new art studio

Tondro new art studio

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Studio Nearing Completion

The interior of my new art studio is almost finished! There’s a bit more painting to do, and the bathroom needs some work. Then they’ll clean and seal the concrete floor, install a utility sink, and build shelves, and I can start to move all of my stuff in!

Tondro Art Studio

Tondro Art Studio

Tondro Art Studio

I took Nelson and Luci out to the studio on a field trip today. Nelson was intrigued and explored every nook and cranny, but Luci was scared and only wanted to find a way out. It’s funny how different their personalities are.

Tondro Art Studio

Tondro Art Studio

There’s still a lot of work to be done on the yard, the driveway and the house. It’s not like I’ll be saying goodbye to the contractor any time soon!

Tondro Art Studio

Tondro art studio

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Peeling Off the Layers

They’re power-washing the house in preparation for new stucco, and it’s fascinating to see the layers of color underneath the yellow. It looks like this house started off with a bronze color, then it was painted a deep blue-green, then white, and finally yellow. It’s only been painted four times in 85 years? That’s kind of surprising.

Stucco paint layers

Stucco paint layers

Stucco paint layers

I’m thinking of olive green for its next incarnation!

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Field Trip to Farm Sanctuary

Guess where I was today!  Farm Sanctuary — one of my very favorite nonprofit organizations. They have a small shelter near here in Acton, CA, where they rescue abused farm animals and rehabilitate them. These lucky animals then become the ambassadors for all of the other farm animals through Farm Sanctuary‘s education and advocacy programs.

I’ve been a long-time supporter of Farm Sanctuary since their inception in 1986, but I had never been to any of their shelters before. The Acton shelter is relatively new and smaller than their other two shelters in Watkins Glen, NY and Orland, CA.

It was delightful to see and spend some time with these gentle animals. I’ve been around cows before, but I’ve never seen cows this big.  The black and white Holstein is the height of a large horse.

Farm Sanctuary cows

Farm Sanctuary cows

The pigs like belly rubs!

Farm Sanctuary pigs

And the goats like to be scratched under their chin.

Farm Sanctuary goats

Farm Sanctuary goats

The Farm Sanctuary presentation exposes the cruelties of factory farm practices and the myth of so-called “happy meat.” I highly recommend that you check them out and consider your choices about what you eat for health, environmental and ethical reasons.

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Caterpillar Munchies

Look who I found on one of the manzanitas, and they’re not even planted in the ground yet! I love his colors.

Caterpillar

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