Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Last day for art/nail polish giveaway

The giveaway at PaintedLadyFingers with a prize of an original witch painting that I did, and a rare bottle of Essie nail polish, ends Oct. 1, in case anyone wants to get in a last minute entry!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The owls are not what they seem

Maybe they are witches in disguise? Well anyway this painting of witch owl I just did provided an excuse to make a Twin Peaks reference, and I am going nuts with wanting to re-watch that series lately! I might have to get the DVDs this year, finally, since the dusty old video tapes I made in 1990-1991 have probably not held up very well.

I could probably build a small house out of all of the video tapes I've collected over the years, even though we started buying DVDs almost 10 years ago I still keep them around. Right before DVDs took over, I had started to buy up a lot of rare movies on video, from eBay and other sources. For instance, this incredible film. I can't remember where I found a copy of the poster for it, online, but it is a Czech film from...1972? Juraj Herz. Here is a brief video clip on YouTube to see a little of the amazing visuals. Look at those HATS! Those Victorian DRESSES! PARASOLS!

I wish I could provide more information about it, but there is very little online that I can find. It does not appear to have been released on any format. The lead actress plays two roles -- sisters -- in a truly Gothic tale of poisoning, inheritance and fabulous dresses. There are a few "unofficial" releases of the film in various formats which can be found with a little internet sleuthing. I just have a VHS tape I got from a fellow collector on eBay a long time ago. But it's a beautiful, undiscovered film that deserves to be seen by more people who love garish visuals in the Hammer style.

Monday, September 28, 2009

real and illusory mushrooms

It's getting cooler out, but the summer of endless mushrooms continues. The mud is getting darker and thicker, the trees downed by lightning strikes in the summer are now covered with heavy fungus growth.

This strange procession of mushrooms up the trunk of a downed tree, were particularly striking. Again, I'm limited by the fact that photography is not my main pursuit in life so it's just dumb luck when I can get a picture in focus.

Then of course there are the illusory mushrooms. I was looking at my Indian bedspread with my glasses off, and I would have sworn that the patterns formed these strange spotted mushrooms. I liked that idea so I jotting it down before I lost the image. The owl and the hedgehog are purely gratuitous! But walking around with my glasses off might be a good way to come up with ideas for things to paint, now that I think about it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Signs of autumn

Going to the roadside pumpkin and mum stands in late September is one of my fondest rituals every year.  I didn't bring a camera with me today but I took these photos with my phone, just because it was hard to resist.  The weird twisted shapes of the colorful, inedible gourds, and the odd ghostly whiteness of the pumpkins is so tempting.  I would love to just pile these everywhere, but really it's probably best if I just take pictures!

Serious fall is seriously here!  I keep thinking about things I'd like to attend, like a Princeton Ghost Walk, or the Zombie Walk in Asbury Park next week, or a screening of an old horror movie somewhere, but for the moment I'm just watching Dark Shadows at home, planning to make something with the first acorn squash of the season, and wondering where my knitting things have gone, since cooler weather makes me want to knit.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Octopus with a ray gun

It's a bit of a change of pace from the autumnal/Halloween theme, but I started this awhile ago and finished it while watching Doctor Who (The Androids of Tara). I didn't really have a good idea of what an old fashioned diving bell should look like, but as luck would have it I bought some old juvenalia adventure books this summer from the 1930s or 1940s and in one of them -- "Don Sturdy in the Land of Volcanoes" -- there is a frontispiece with a variety of strange pulp adventure novel drawings: a blimp, a volcano, a shark and a diving bell, and I was able to get a quick idea of what a suit might look like.

Of course, once you have an underwater volcano and are fraught with danger at every turn, such as a giant octopus, you need something to battle it, like a trident. Imagine our hero's surprise then when the octopus reveals that it wields an underwater raygun! Well I think I have all my adventure novel cliches covered with this one. I also included a turtle, as a tribute to the two turtles that we have as adopted pets.

For more about juvenalia from the early 20th century I recommend the Violet Books web site. Although the site no longer sells books, there are lots of essays and images that I've found to be a valuable resource for something like 10 years now. When there was a catalog listed I would print it out and use it as a wish list when I went to used book stores.

Gathering at the Death Bed - gothic art

Last week I said I would post a followup to this painting (The Clock Watcher) which was inspired by a scene in an antique shop in a bad werewolf movie I was enjoying. As I mentioned then, I found some of the visuals in that film (which was actually from 1979, as it turns out, and called Wolfman) very interesting and they stuck with me. The opening scene in particular I thought was just visually a lot of fun and I wanted to put it on canvas in some form.

The details of the plot escape me, but all that matters for the purpose of the painting were that it had a background of dark green wallpaper, and an oval mirror. A dark-haired couple stood in the flickering candlelight, which reflected green on their dark hair. That image seemed like a classic old-fashioned, gothic horror movie image to me. A Victorian house, with candelabras and antique furniture, large mirrors and portraits; ornate wallpaper or wood-paneled corridors. Perhaps there were some taxidermy specimens there as well. And everyone always looking ominously at everything.

I would love to live in a house like that. I live in a town right now with a strange mixture of houses -- many of them are in fact large and roughly Victorian era. There's one I gaze at longingly every day, with the windows boarded over, and the paint peeling. It looks like a great place to live but I know that realistically it probably needs new plumbing or something dreary like that. But if it was haunted, it would totally be worth all the hassle!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A torch lit her way into the crypt

As promised in this post, here is my other recent mostly-monochrome ghost painting, inspired by my recent readings. Although I always read Victorian horror/ghost/mystery stories, in the fall I amp it up a little! My favorite thing is to go to nearby forests, like Clayton Park in Monmouth County, NJ, or Rancocas Nature Center, in Burlington County, NJ, and intersperse walking with sitting on a log and reading. I can easily point out, for instance, the log where I sat and read "The Haunted Hotel" by Wilkie Collins, one October.

The setting that may have subconsciously crept into this little piece in part, though, was the basement of the Collins house in Dark Shadows where Barnabas' coffin lies. Last year I started rewatching them, on DVD, and this year I was able to score a large number of the box sets thanks to the used section of a favorite record store, where they tend to undervalue DVDs. Right now I'm watching the batch where they're in the 18th century but I plan to get through a couple hundred episodes this fall/winter! Whether I intend to or not, I'm sure that will influence my themes a little when I'm painting, since I usually paint and watch stuff at the same time. I can't just sit still, I have to do something!

Reminder and thank you!

Just a reminder that there is a contest running at Painted Lady Fingers for a bottle of rare Essie nail polish and a painting by moi -- details are on her blog, and you can see the painting below on my post here as well!

A big thanks to Scrangie for mentioning this on her blog as well, her nails are a work of art!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In an etsy treasury!

I'm in an Etsy treasury this week, the first one to my knowledge that I'm included in. Take a look, it's got some great autumn items in it! My owl picture above is the item included.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New art, and a message in the woods

I am reading the ghost stories of AC Benson and RH Benson right now. I'm more of a fan of EF Benson but it's nice to be able to sit down and read them all in depth and get a better idea of the style of each. My favorites by AC Benson turn out to be the ones that were not originally even published, like "Basil Netherby" and "The Uttermost Farthing," which I'm reading right now. How amazing that three brothers should all become ghost story writers. At any rate, I dashed off a couple of almost-abstract, simple ghost paintings as a result and here is the first. The other needs a little more work as it is actually too's nice when I'm looking at it under a lamp but it needs some more highlights, before I scan and post it. This one is for sale on Etsy now, and I also listed another new painting. I'll write about that separately in the upcoming days.

When I'm walking through the woods I like to leave messages sometimes by arranging pinecones or leaves. I took this picture with my phone today after I was sitting under a tree reading my ghost stories. It's been a rough year but I am trying to stay optimistic. Hopefully someone will come across this message in the woods and be pleasantly surprised. If not, well, it did make me feel better to write it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More prints; matte are here!

I got my first few matte prints from and I am quite happy with them. I am going to get some done of artwork to have them in stock, while I work on trying to recover my old files with my original art scans from 8+ years ago from an old computer. I have several glossy Halloween art prints, several glossy mushrooms, and four matte mushroom prints up now only for $5 or $6 on Etsy, unframed. They are all 5 x 7 inch prints. When I offer larger prints I will have them for higher prices, but this is sort of my introductory offer since I have been trying out different ways to make prints.

Anyway it's a start! I took more pictures today, but I'm hoping next year I will be able to have a better camera for low light macro photography, as I believe mushroom photography will be my one and only specialty when it comes to taking pictures. Maybe insects and flowers, depending on what kind of camera I wind up with. But that is really just something to do while I'm out on my walks -- painting is my main focus, and I have a lot of paintings I want to make prints from! I hope that people are interested in them since I know an original painting is not something people necessarily invest in on a whim.

That's all for now!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Finished illustration

Last week I posted a sketch of a piece I had been working on for my book illustration project.  I am illustrating a children's book that is still in the works but coming together very quickly!  I've done three paintings so far for it and there will probably be another dozen pieces for it.  I'm working on the fourth right now.  I don't want to go too much into the plot of the book as they are still finalizing it, but this is one of the main characters, and jack o'lanterns will obviously play a big part in it because it is about Halloween.

Now that it is really starting to feel and look like fall I need to get out and hang out by the pumpkin stands and inhale the scent of chrysanthemums! 

The Clock Watcher

Sometimes I'll start a painting and not finish it for a year or two. Or 20. I found some canvases at my mother's house that I had started in high school and never finished. (I graduded in 1991). And then I finished them, all these years later. Then there are paintings like the one shown above, which I started this evening while I was watching a movie. The movie was Wolfman, from 1982. It starts off with one of the most striking visuals I've seen in anything outside a Dario Argento film, and is peppered with other wonderful visual moments.

For the record, I watch movies almost exclusively for visuals -- the more garish and lurid and striking, the better. My favorite films are always interesting to look at. So even if it's not a great piece of cinema I get a lot of out of them. Anyway, this movie had at least three scenes in it that inspired sketches and this is the first painting. It has NOTHING to do with anything in the movie. There's just a moment in the film where a dark haired woman is standing in an antique store by a wall of clocks. I put a similar woman in a dark green, malachite hued dress, and gave her a knife, for this painting. I wanted her to be a little unsettling, but is she the threatener, or the threatened? At any rate I think she will be able to handle whatever lurks outside of the frame. Just imagine the cacophony of all of that ticking.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


My friend at the Painted Lady Fingers nail polish blog is running a contest...details are on her blog so check it out! The winner will receive a bottle of a beautiful pale green nail polish, Essie St. Martin Mint, and this original 6 x 8 acrylic painting that I did to celebrate the joy with which we approach nail painting!  It is great for a Halloween decoration or just as a memento for anyone who likes nail polish, witches, Halloween, owls, or any of that good stuff!  She details the many ways that a person can enter, but they include following her blog or my blog, so let her know if you are a reader or subscriber here and she will enter you!  Thanks, Painted Lady Fingers! :)

The first few prints...

I have a couple of prints up for sale now, displayed nicely in these not-included frames...on Etsy.

Yesterday I put up some mushroom photos as prints.  I'm just listing them all at $5 for right now since this is my first time making prints and I am using my home printer, and just kind of learning how to do things.  I am already out of ink so I won't be making any more for awhile but I'm trying out a variety of things --, and also looking at ways to share resources with friends who do this professionally.  But for the moment I have a box of high quality paper so I wanted to make some for myself, for friends and a few for sale as well!  

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Of badgers and mushrooms

I was going to paint a badger and mushrooms anyway, so adding the snake in was gratuitous, I realize. But it did make me happy. :) Now on Etsy!

The little guy needs some views, I guess no one is searching on badger Halloween art today?? I can't imagine why! ;p

If you notice the trees in the background, the "one tree" and "three trees" are the symbols on my camera you push if you want to zoom in or out from a landscape. Speaking of which I took more pictures today, some really cool ones (well I can't tell yet because I haven't uploaded them...they looked good on the viewfinder though!) and I should have matte prints of a couple of my mushrooms in a couple of days. I am out of printer ink and couldn't afford both printer ink AND paper so I decided to just order a couple of prints from to see what they look like, and decide from there how what kind of paper they look good on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

a shortcut to mushrooms

Just some more mushrooms!  Every time I go to this particular forest there is something new and exciting growing.  I don't have a very good camera -- in fact it didn't work at all until today something rattled loose and it sort of started to work sometimes, again.  I'm not really a photographer, though my father was a professional and my mom is also a photographer and takes really nice nature pictures.  I just specialize in mushrooms, because they sit still!!  I also took a picture of a tiny tiny toad but it was a little blurry.  I try to creep up on critters but I am very clumsy.  They seem to wait and pose for a minute but when I can't get a decent shot after a few tries they give up.  Sorry lady, you had your chance!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

items on artfire

I have just a couple of items on artfire right now, because i'm trying to figure out how to use the site.  But I'm a bit more focused right now on trying to figure out why I already forget how to make watermarks, when I was doing it just fine earlier today!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

new scan of an older painting

This surreal dream rabbit is actually from a couple of years ago but when I first did it I was limited by my painfully old scanner and computer at the time and couldn't get a good image of it. I've had him in my home for awhile but I thought it was a good time to bring him out for another romp. I don't know why exactly he has parrot wings, but I called him "Rabbot" because he's...well, a combination of a rabbit and a parrot.

And because I haven't posted any photos in this blog yet that I can recall, one of my main hobbies in life -- this summer, at any rate -- is photographing mushrooms in the woods. I've always gone for woods walks on pretty much every day of the year that the weather allows, fitting them in after work before I go home if I can, on weekdays. This year the tremendous amounts of rain have meant just a ton of mushrooms. Everywhere. So I've taken several hundred photos of them. I'm not really a photographer though and my cheap camera recently broke, but I think mushroom season is almost over. I found a lot today though...some orange jellies...many delightful and beautiful things are in the soil.


One of the projects I have going right now is illustrating a children's book.  Details on publication are still in the works but I've completed two paintings for it and am working on a painting for this image, this weekend.  I think there will be at least a dozen paintings in total for the book, maybe 15.  Initially we were looking at finishing it by the spring but we might complete it earlier now that things are moving along.  I should have this one finished this weekend.

It really feels like fall now.  There's a chill in the air, I heard Canadian geese tonight and I swear I can always catch a hint of distant smoke in the air.  Maybe the Pine Barrens are on fire again, I'm not sure!  It will warm up a bit again this week but I have to admit that I'm soon not going to be able to be out in the woods for two hours a day, every day, quite like I've gotten used to since May.  It is sad but being indoors can be fun too.  Last year I spent all fall knitting a Doctor Who scarf and watching Dark Shadows DVDs.  Right now I'm reading Ulysses.  Being inside, drinking tea and working on introverted things is very fulfilling, though I know I'll start to have dreams about the woods again before the end of the year.  I'll still be IN the woods, but I will have to go home by 5 p.m. and wear a hat. :P

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rescanning older art...

I did this painting several years ago and depending on my mood I call it variations of things involving the words Crow, Tower, Poe and Raven. Sometimes Skull. This time it's Poe's Tower. I think. At any rate, when I first did this I was going through a phase with my scanner where it kind of bleached everything out and made everything look bad. Ahh yes that year. The year or two when technology despised me! It still despises me but I made enough sacrifices to it that things behave a little better now. So there! creepy stuff. The technology gods are content.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Owl and the Pussycat went to tea...

Another new Etsy listing -- 6 x 8, horizontal and I'm kind of hoping to be able to work out a way to make prints from this one in the near future. I was thinking how nice it would be to be able to make or offer things like prints or cards, but it's hard to find time to do all that stuff when you are also working a full time job and like to spend your free time creating new stuff rather than doing customer service. Do any artists who do offer a lot of prints, cards, merchandise, etc. ever feel like you are just fulfilling orders in a print factory? I always enjoyed packaging and shipping orders from eBay, but I only have about one evening a week to do those things now.

I'm also trying to decide whether prints, or cards, or some other format would be most appealing to people... with the limitation in mind that I don't have the time or resources to devote to a large scale project.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Psychedelic Slug

I was going to try to tie this in with the season, but honestly, I just wanted to paint a slug on a mushroom. All summer I've been watching slugs feast happily on the many-colored mushrooms that are growing everywhere they's been a great year for slugs! So to celebrate, here's just a cute little woodland scene. I love secondary colors -- green, purple and orange. I'll pretty much use any excuse to indulge them. Today, in walking through a wildflower preserve, I saw even more mushrooms and the slime trails of the friendly neighborhood slugs. I love critters!

This guy is on Etsy now, btw.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Painting on wood

I haven't put this lady up for sale yet because I'm working out how to photograph her (the fact that my camera stopped working the other day, except to take video, 'night' and 'action' shots doesn't help) -- but I thought I'd share the scanned image anyway.

I usually paint on canvas but this is on a piece of wood, from the craft store -- I always look at these plaques and am overwhelmed with ideas for what to put on them.  So overwhelmed that I almost never use them!  The possibilities are endless, for things to glue to them or adorn them with.  But really they just seem to cry out for an oval portrait. 

Since I'm well into the time of year where I just read endless volumes of ghost stories (most recently a collection of Marjorie Bowen; now I am reading AC Benson and RH Benson) I thought I would do a haunted portrait of a ghostly lady.  I'm not sure what her story is, yet -- she has a poppy-like flower at her throat.  Perhaps hers is a sad tale of opium dreams and tragic death at a young age.  Perhaps she hung above a fireplace in an abandoned manor, obscuring an inscription on the wall that holds the key to an ancestral secret and a lost inheritance.  Perhaps not.  But while I sort all that out, here is her pale ghostly portrait.