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Tropical Storm

Hi all y’all!

We’ve had a lot of rain here. Even after living in New Orleans for 6 years, I expect the rain to be cold. In California most of the rain happens in the winter. Sometimes, in New Orleans,  I make hot chocolate in my air-conditioned house and don’t realize it is 90 degrees outside.

This is “Tropical Storm”.

I like a tropical storm if I can stay inside. A tropical storm can mean a lot of wind and rain. We bring things inside that might blow around the yard.

The unsettling thing about a tropical storm is that it can turn into a hurricane. I live near a lot of people with Hurricane Katrina PTSD, with good reason.

This makes the tension rise.

I painted this during Tropical Storm Cindy. She did not develop further.

Here is some storm information…

In a tropical depression the winds start to circulate. When the winds exceed 38 mph, it turns into a Tropical Storm. The maximum wind speed in a tropical storm is 73 mph. A hurricane has wind rotation with speeds of 74 mph and above.

Hurricanes are rated 1 through 5.

1 is 74-95 mph

2 is 96-110 mph

3 is 111-129 mph

4 is 130-156 mph

5 is greater than 156 mph

Almost all hurricanes happen during hurricane season. Where I live, the season is from June 1 through November 30. Most hurricanes happen in August and September and rarely in November.

I changed the starry sky in the most recent Swamp Girl painting. Looking at the painting close-up, the sky looked ragged. I smoothed it out and added some tiny dots for stars. Painting some stars blue and leaving some stars silver made some stars look farther away.

So far, so good.

Looking forward to a sunny tomorrow,

Gator Girl

 

 

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Local Girl

Hi all y’all!

I wanted to wait until this painting was finished before I wrote to y’all. I didn’t want to miss another week of blogging.

I saw a photo on Facebook of my friend who works in a Laundromat on Sundays. I loved her Rosie the Riveter bad ass look. She was also wearing the same shirt that I own from Target.

I am going to go in backwards order here. This is my almost finished painting.

almost-done

Half way through, I think her eyes are too large. The counter came to the bottom of the washing machines, so it looked like a floor. I like the blue behind the chandelier, but the wall seemed too fragmented and I thought wallpaper behind the chandelier would be cool.

granite-counter

I tried gold leaf on the chandelier. first I used the gold leaf that you press on and rub. It has a paper back. I think you must need  hard surface for that. The canvas has too much give. Next, I bought ten tiny sheets of gold leaf advertised for use in Buddhist worship. I like the look.

simple-leaf

I watched You Tube videos about making a faux granite counter top. It is basically dabbing wet on wet paint with a sea sponge. I made small sponges from a kitchen sponge and cut some larger holes to resemble a sea sponge. It was funny to make a tiny granite counter.

sponges-for-counterbanana-on-counter

I love the painting except for the counter and the chandelier. They are just not quite right yet.

Thank you for walking through the last 2 weeks with me.

You are very patient and kind.

XOXO,

Gator Girl

 

 

 

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Lulu White, Storyville Madame

Hi all y’all!

I had an idea to paint mug shots of Storyville prostitutes. I painted Lulu White and enjoyed painting her. She was arrested many times for all manner of things to do with her brothel. She was the madame of Mahogany Hall.

Operating an Immoral house

Let me backtrack with the assumption you might not be up on New Orleans history. I am not patient with a lot of details, but I will give it a try.

Storyville was a part of New Orleans, lakeside of Basin Street, between 1897 and 1917 where it was legal to be a prostitute and run a brothel. Prostitution was so legal they had a Blue Book advertising what the different girls offered. Mahogany Hall was an upscale brothel, boasting of Octoroon (1/8th black) prostitutes.

Mahogany Hall is the first building on the right.
Mahogany Hall was the first building on the right.

Lulu seemed like a outgoing, self-made, woman. She was born of two slaves in Alabama, but re-invented herself. She told people she was born in the Caribbean.

Even though I love portraits and I love to paint women, mugshots are a little bit sad. A child born into slavery is also sad.  I am going to paint a prostitute or two from Storyville, because the women are beautiful, but I don’t think my heart can manage more than that. On the other hand, I don’t want these women to be forgotten.

Lulu White

This is Lulu White in 1920. It is a mugshot from one of her many arrests. I painted her with acrylic paint and charcoal pencil on 11 x 14 inch canvas. Her shawl was made with Liquitex Gloss Gel and a stencil. I put the gel on with a pallet knife through the holes in the stencil, lifting off the stencil carefully. Then, I let it dry over night. I painted the shawl with blue, orange and gold. (You can always message me for specific colors or more information in general.)

Lulu’s necklace is made to resemble clear glass beads, popular in the 1920’s.

I think she looks sad and annoyed.

Mahogany Hall Stomp for you, Miss Lulu.

Until next time,

Adoringly,

Gator Girl

 

 

 

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Candle or Mirror?

Hi all y’all!

I am inspired today by a poem I found on-line. I decided to name my most recent painting after one of the lines. The poem is, “Be Strong. Be Confident. Be You.”~ Copyright: Tia Sparkles Singh, 2011. You can read it here. The line I borrowed is, “Stronger than you know.”

She was originally called, Born Hip".
She was originally called, “Born Hip”.
Maybe a third of the way finished here. It is a large canvas. 24 x 36
She is, maybe, a third of the way finished here. It is a large canvas. 24 x 36
Strength
Stronger Than You Know

I don’t think I used any cool painting techniques that I haven’t written about before. This is the first time I painted a border on the canvas. I knew what I was painting when my hands touched the canvas, but not before. She wanted to wear all red, and not have any red elsewhere on the painting.

The background was red inside the border in the beginning, then I added white with a roller, then the teal with a brush.

I used Caran D’Ache water-soluble crayons for fun and for the crayony look. To make the crayons permanent, I used Golden spray varnish when I was completely done.

“Strength” was the only title I could hear.

The next painting is, “In The Garden”.

In The Garden
In The Garden

I am showing part of the easel so you can tell she is in progress. I was going to paint her with an “Oh my!” mouth, but Maggie said she is just giving her friend a ride on her head because her hands are full. I liked that better. I love chickens.

 

Raffi is beginning his 3 year old painting.
Raffi is beginning his 3-year-old painting.

His favorite color is blue. His next favorite is orange. His third favorite color is blue and orange.

Gator Agent, JanMy newest Gator Agent. This photo makes me laugh, because when she was teaching kindergarten, she dressed like this one day (without the mustache) and her students didn’t recognize her. I am thinking she is still incognito.

The King Gator  original has sold. I think he sold to his soul mate.

King Gator Says Wager it All!
King Gator Says, “Wager it All!”

There are two ways of spreading light. To be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton.

With loving abundance and sparkly light (reflected or not),

Gator Girl

 

 

 

 

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Let it begin with me.

Hi all y’all! It’s Friday in September.

My mind is on a theme that is creating power within me. I want to paint about change. My reoccurring thought is… Why can’t things be better? Why should anybody go to bed hungry? Why do innocent people die in the  name of war every day? Why don’t we stand up for health care and be our own advocates for our own bodies?

I am working on a new painting. I tried sketching out what I wanted to paint instead of diving right in, but I had just as many start-overs (3). This painting is a fair-skinned woman with ginger hair. Weirdly, I had a lot of trouble yesterday thinking of  white women as soulful and wise. I shouldn’t even say this, but women of color come easier for me. So… I started listing in my mind the 100’s of soulful and wise women I know. I chose one strong and intelligent woman I admire to loosely model my painting after. Now I am over-the-top in love with the process.

I need to remember, and you might find this helpful… the time that seems wasted and unproductive is not ours to judge. I think the down time leading up to something is the time we need to process and see the signs, feel the intuition, and even wait for the materials to show up.

Stand Up in progress

The words say, “The time I used to spend worrying about my image, I now spend in revolution. Stand up.” I don’t ever like red and blue, except to make purple, but it is what it wants to be.

I am painting over my original words in total, so they will be only there in spirit later on. The words that I am going to put on the painting I read in another blog called, “The Diary of Kitty Cavalier”. This is the link to Kitty’s website. The words are as follows:

When a woman chooses to source her truth from within her very bones, rather than looking to a set of rules outside of herself, she is truly wise. When she can stand up and speak a truth that is boiling up inside her no matter how big a risk it is to speak it, she is claiming her wild soul, perfect and untamed.  When 5,000 years of conditioning is telling her that her way is wrong, but she decides right then and there that her way is right, and in fact, always has been, she is finally free.

Let it begin with me. is done. I like the muted look of the bee’s wax around the woman. I glazed her with varnish 3 times to make her shine and be safe from the dangers of the world.

Let it begin with me. You can’t see the very bottom of the painting, but there is a little slip of paper that has the title.

I have 3 questions for you.

I might add another layer to the background to make the painting more uniform. What do you think?

Also, I am deciding if I want to sell prints and Giclee’s any more. I like the energy and the textures in the original paintings. What is driving me to continue selling reproductions is that I want people to have something affordable. Any thoughts? Do you think my Etsy prints are affordable?

Last, but not least, wise words from a 4 year old, “Nena, you might want to spend a long time on your paintings, but mine is done!” Wise beyond her years, she is already listening to her heart.

Wow. I feel like I can hardly breathe with excitement. Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

All of my love,

Gator Girl

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Imagine it and you can have it… in the tangible.

Good Morning all y’all!

Either my husband is so sweet or I am risking my marriage to write to you. Time will tell. It is our 28th anniversary today and he helped me to nail on the trim to a dresser that I am reclaiming and now I am blogging about the process.

About 2 weeks ago, I was looking for a dresser on Craig’s List and found the perfect one for $20 in Mid City. I didn’t have a car that day to pick it up. By the time David got home with the car, the dresser was gone. I thought, maybe I will find one closer and less expensive. I didn’t quite believe it. Then… last weekend, our neighbors moved out and put a cheap dresser on the curb. This dresser didn’t have the same quality as the one I saw on-line. But it made me happier, like getting a dog at a shelter happier. This dresser was going straight to a landfill. Besides being cheaply made, it was missing a drawer and the front of a drawer. To me this was perfect. I needed a flat place to store my prints instead of on the top of everything And I always need more general storage.

I painted the top, framed the open drawer with molding from the neighbor’s trash, bought two baskets at Target (exactly 17 inches deep) for a grand total of $30. This total does not include painting with Golden Acrylic paints. I couldn’t wait long enough to buy less expensive paint.

Aerial View of Dresser

I saw the idea for putting baskets in place of the drawers on Pinterest.

Let it be me. In progress.

I am  not quite done with Let it be me. I am going to try something new (to me). I am going to paint melted bees-wax around the woman to soften the background. I tried painting something small with bee’s wax before, but not one of my paintings. Wish me luck. I really operate on a combination of luck and divine intervention.

This painting is representing the moment of surrender. The giving up of self to the greater power. Big step.

I am hoping to heal the world with painting. What are you hoping today?

Sincerely,

With all my heart,

Gator Girl

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Art is 99% Heart

Good morning all y’all!

Rain is dripping off the tin roof outside my window. I love that. I heard recently that if you say out loud something you love about someone, something, or some situation thoughout the day, your life will change dramatically for the better. It makes sense to me. Which brings to mind that I love all y’all reading my blog. It warms my heart.

I wish I could share my completed process of my painting, but I think I am 60% done.

Beginning Intention

The words say: making amends for the brutality of the human race, sending love, praying for a brighter future for all people. She is painted on a thin canvas nailed to the top half of a door with square nails repurposed from old shutters.

The woman is young, holding her baby in front of the house she lives in. Her baby is wrapped like a cocoon. She is either working for no or little money. Her hope is for her baby’s future. This woman is of African decent living in America. The painting is for all people in this situation in all the world.

60ish Percent Complete

The woman and the story that the painting is telling unfolded for me. I feel like if I went back in time, and ran into this woman, I would know her. The painting is a little unusual, because it is divided completely in half, with the young mother standing on the line. I painted the woman and waited for what was going to be in her arms. The baby showed up in a cocoon wrap.

I didn’t know what was going to be in the upper right corner and Miss Maggie said that sunflowers need sun. I painted the hot, African, or maybe Louisiana sun. The dots represent souls. Maybe they are supporting her journey, maybe they are waiting to be born, maybe both.

Mags wasn’t happy with the darkness of the cotton field and repeatedly suggested pink flowers and butterflies to lighten it up. I stopped and explained that not to long ago, as crazy as it may seem, the people with darker skin, right here in America had to work for free for the people with lighter skin. My painting is telling that story. She said, “Oh, just like the Pharaoh!” then she broke into a song… let my people go… no, no, no. She got it.

Next week, I will post the completed piece.

One of the interesting things that happened while painting…the words making amends could not be covered with 10 coats of all colors of paint. Maybe this is the name of the painting?

For the exciting update on our park project, please visit nolagroundswell.org.

We have a Facebook page called, Friends of Samuel Square Park. Please “like” it.

Keep doing what you love,

and remember to pour your heart into it.

With unreasonable love,

Gator Girl