Warming up.

I believe my left hand IS like a musical instrument; it needs to be warmed up each day in order to hit the notes in the way that looks specific to me.  If I’ve been away from the studio, it can take me two weeks before my eye/hand coordination is back. So I’m always looking for ways to warm up my hand.

Pets: Ellie, Ted, and Petey have been my warm-up subjects over the years.

Ellie, was a beautiful black princess, dressed in Laborador mix clothes.  She was a stray that ASPCA came across in downtown Madison, Wi, at the end of a college term.  Pregnant, starving.


Then, Ted, a miniature poodle.  He was my good buddy and studio companion for nearly fifteen years.  I painted the last piece shortly after  he passed away.  That was where he rested quietly while I worked.  When I painted the large Arboretum Walk show, I laid the paper canvases across my studio floor with six inch pathways.  Ted walked the pathways as deftly as a cat.

And now, Petey, a Havanese.  Americans pronounce this name as if it were “PD.”  That’s Petey’s real name.  History.  For 48 years, we lived north of Hwy PD; now in our retirement we live south of PD.  Petey’s forefathers came over from Cuba in 1959-the year I was there for my senior year in high school.  His AKC name is Spanish for “prairie dog” (Perro De las Praderas)

There were the times when pets had enough of my requests to sit still.  No problem.

In the early nineteen eighties, I had been saving a large box of soft dolls and toys that our children had grown out of.  (That is, I was saving them to give to our four when they became parents.   I was thinking grandkids would enjoy knowing what toys their parents had when they were children.)  So these toys and our pets were two sorts of warm up subject matter when my husband was out of town.   I could fill a huge venue of warm-up portraits of Dave and then fill it up all over again with portraits of myself.  (I won’t be doing that.)

Some of the warm-up drawings became paintings, but the real goal was “warm-up!” LAMB evolved into an acrylic painting from several Ebony pencil studies.  I can’t remember all of their names and maybe some didn’t have names.  Can’t remember.  Long ago.

I didn’t work in a linear way.  Some days I browsed sketches of toys and got out my acrylics or watercolors for more finished portraits.