Cautionary Tale

One of my cats tried to kill me the other night! In all fairness, it was only because he thought I was trying to kill him. It was the middle of the night, very dark, and I didn’t see him sleeping on the bathroom floor. I stepped on him, he was startled, and he went into full-blown attack mode, sinking one of his fangs deep into my ankle.

It was Nelson, my older cat who’s deaf, and he was fine afterwards. I picked him up and he was purring. It all happened so fast that I’m not even sure what I stepped on or if I just kicked him. Here’s a picture of him so that you can see that he’s not suffering. He likes to sleep on the desk next to me while I work on the computer.

Nelson the cat

I, on the other hand, have not fared so well. I didn’t realize that cat bites could be so nasty. The first day I treated it with hydrogen peroxide, cold packs, Epsom salt soaks, and tea tree oil, but it quickly became infected, and it hurt so much that I could barely walk.

That night was my first trip to Urgent Care, and I have been there three times in two days! They have given me two shots of antibiotics and oral antibiotics, and they said they’re doing their best to keep me out of the hospital. Yikes!

I think I’m on the mend. It hurts and I still can’t walk, but the redness has gone down, and no fever today. You can see the purple outline on my leg of how big the infection was last night.

Cat bite on ankle

If you get a cat bite, go to a doctor immediately! They quickly become infected, and are difficult to treat. I’ve had cats all of my life, and I’ve never seen anything like this before. Unbelievable.

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Milkweed Seed Pods

Look at the amazing seed pods on some of my milkweed plants! They’re like big green puffed up balloons. No sign of any Monarch caterpillars yet, but I’ve seen Monarch butterflies flying around the plants. Hopefully soon! Monarchs are losing their native habitats, which is why I planted three types of milkweed for them in the front yard.

Milkweed Seed Pods

Milkweed Seed Pods

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Meet Mark

For many years I have sponsored a sheep at Farm Sanctuary. My adopted sheep was Dante, one of the 200 sheep rescued from Santa Cruz Island under dire circumstances in 1997. Last week I received a letter from Farm Sanctuary explaining that Dante recently passed away, and telling me about his happy life of freedom at the shelter.

I didn’t realize that sheep lived that long, and I wasn’t expecting this letter at all. I figured that Dante had died long ago, and that my sponsorship was generic to all of the animals at the shelter. How sweet that they take the time to track each and every animal there, and keep their adopters up to date.

I now have a new adopted sheep — Mark. He was rescued from auction, and his adoption certificate says that he is social and curious. His favorite food is clover and grass. He looks very cute in his picture, and I hope to visit him in person one of these days. You can read more about Mark and Dante in the letter below.

Mark - sheep Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary Letter

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“Freeze Frame” Paintings Available

I’ve been working on a new series of paintings using leftover house paint, and in the process, I noticed that the plastic underneath the paintings was really beautiful. So I put down canvas as a dropcloth, to soak up the spills and for blotting, and Holy Moly! The dropcloths are gorgeous! How fun is that? I cropped and stretched four of them, and I call them the “Freeze Frame” paintings — a moment frozen in time. Also because they all feature square frames as a design element.

The first four “Freeze Frame” pieces are available with a NEW PRICING STRUCTURE and FREE SHIPPING within the United States. I hope they bring you as much joy as they have brought me creating them!

Freeze Frame Painiting 1“Freeze Frame 1,” 20 x 20 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

Freeze Frame Painiting 2“Freeze Frame 2,” 20 x 20 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

Freeze Frame Painiting 3“Freeze Frame 3,” 24 x 24 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

Freeze Frame Painiting 4“Freeze Frame 4,” 24 x 24 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

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When Do You Buy Art?

I’m curious about why and when we make the decision to buy art. Is it when you get a new sofa and you need art to match? Maybe when you move to a new home or make changes to your current home? Is it when you feel like a new person and want your space to reflect that change? Is art an impulse buy when you see something that you love, or something you carefully consider over time before buying? Do you buy art as a treat for yourself?

And what makes you buy a particular piece of art? Is it because it’s the right colors and size for the space? Or maybe because you love it and have to have it? Does the art need to speak to you or make a statement in some way?

What is your decision-making process when buying art?

Art over Sofa

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Holy Wok

Last week I went to a couple of the thrift stores in town, looking for kitchen tools that I could use to make patterns in my art. I was hoping for a squiggly potato masher, which I didn’t find, but I did comes across some other interesting things.

I don’t even know what this is. Is it some kind of colander? But then why the long handle and the nonstick finish? Somehow used for deep fat frying? I don’t know, but the holes in it are fun.

Kitchen Tools for Art

You can paint the bottom of it and get this type of design:

Kitchen Tools for Art

Or you can push paint through the holes from the top and get this:

Kitchen Tools for Art

It’s probably more useful for art than whatever it was originally intended to be! Which might be why it was in the thrift store.

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Healing Qualities of Jacaranda

I’ve been thinking about the healing qualities of the plants that I use for my ecoprints. There are several ways of using plants to heal. The physical plant itself can be used, and we call that herbs. Herbs are the leaves, branches, bark, or roots of the plant, ground up, crushed, or made into a tea, extract or ointment. Herbs treat disease on the physical level.

The flowers of the plant can be made into a flower essence which is usually considered to be healing on an emotional and spiritual level, but has recently also been found to heal on a physical level.

The plant can be made into a homeopathic remedy, which is a powerful energetic remedy. Homeopathy heals on all levels — physical, emotional and spiritual.

And finally oils can be extracted from the plant and be made into an essential oil. Essential oils are strong, and are usually used topically.

Here’s what I found for Jacaranda, a lovely tree with brilliant purple flowers that grows here but is native to tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America.

Jacaranda tree Santa Monica

First the flower essence, from Nature’s Flowers of Life: “Just like the scattered clusters of flowers on the tree, the Jacaranda essence is for people whose energies are scattered. They are generally creative people who have many ideas that they wish to bring to fruition, and so they tend to have many unfinished projects underway at one time. They begin new projects with great enthusiasm, only to lose interest along the way.”  Other flower essence manufacturers are in agreement with this assessment, including Australian Bush Flower Essences and South African Flower Essences.

Jacaranda leaves can also be used as an herb, and there is a homeopathic Jacaranda remedy, both mostly used to treat venereal diseases and rheumatism.

Here is one of my ecoprints using the lovely fern-like leaves of the Jacaranda tree:

Jacaranda tree ecoprint

You can see this ecoprint on my website by clicking here and read more about the ecoprint process here. It’s unusual to get these green colors in an ecoprint, and I love the clarity of the individual leaves.

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Artists of the 805 — John Robertson

I had an opportunity to visit my friend John Robertson at his Ventura art studio this morning. John and I knew each other when we both lived in the Los Angeles area. He and his wife Lynn Hanson, who is also an artist, moved to Ventura before me.

John has a large and spacious studio in an industrial area of midtown, and there are quite a few other working artists in the complex. He creates large-scale paintings on unstretched canvas using repurposed house paint and painting with a trowel.

He’s done a number of big commissions for sports stadiums and also sells work to private collectors. Images of his studio and some of his current work are shown below. Keep in mind that these paintings are huge — 4′ x 8′ and larger. It’s really amazing work!

Artist John Robertson studio

Artist John Robertson studio

Artist John Robertson studio

Artist John Robertson studio

Artist John Robertson studio

The Ventura County Fair starts tomorrow. John and Lynn go to the fair every day for it’s 12-day run, and take pictures that they use as source material for their paintings.

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Exploring the Unexpected

I learned something big today about art. As soon as I’ve figured out how to do something well, it’s dead. It’s too predictable, and it’s not interesting looking anymore.

This is both exciting and frustrating. It’s exciting because it means that every piece is an experiment, and I can’t do anything wrong. I just have to keep working the piece until I have something that I like.

But it’s also frustrating because it takes a totally open mind and a lot of time — a LOT of time. It can take weeks or months to finish a painting. Sometimes I have to set a piece aside and look at it for many days before I know what to do next. For that reason I usually have quite a few paintings in process at once.

Here are my two new favorites pieces. They’re the canvas drop cloths that I use underneath my paintings to blot and catch the drips. I’m seriously thinking of stretching these. They’re better than my “real” work!

Tondro new work

Tondro new work

You’ve seen my studio when it was neat, clean and brand new. Here’s how it looks when I’m working.

Tondro studio Ventura

I have something like fifteen paintings that I’m working on right now!

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Walnut Find

Look what I found! I think these are walnuts. The trees are about half a mile from my house, and appear to be part of an abandonned orchard. They border the U.C. Hansen Trust property on Saticoy Avenue which was sold last March to be developed into houses and condos. It will be sad to see these lovely old trees go.

If these are walnuts, the outer husks should give a deep brown color — almost black. I brought a bag of them home and I’m going to boil them up and see what I get.

Walnut trees Ventura

Walnut trees Ventura

Walnut trees Ventura

Walnut trees Ventura

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