Sunday, April 30, 2006

She's nearly finished. If I do anything more to her, it will be small changes and not very noticeable. There's a glare from wet paint on this photo. The purple is not so dark under her neck in that line, it's more even in tone. I think that was from a glare. I liked this when it was finished. More carousel horses here. Donna

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Today's post is not fun. I was going through what we call our "storage bus". It's an old Crown passenger bus, looks like a greyhound bus. I found a poem I'd written when I was married. It brought back so many memories of horrible times.

I'm writing this for one reason only, if you're living in an abusive situation, get out of it. I stayed for 25 years. I think I kept pretending it wasn't bad. Another thing that kept me there, I was so busy surviving each day I couldn't go beyond that limit. I was also afraid I'd never see my kids if I had to spend all my time trying to support them.

But now, when I look back, I can see anything would have been better than the way I chose. That's why I'm saying, if you live in a horrible situation, do whatever it takes and get out.

I had a good job at one time, I spent so much money on "marriage councelors". Can't spell that word today. It didn't change one thing. My ex would get drunk, do horrible things to us, pretend it hadn't happened the next day. We were left with horrible feelings of hating him for what he could do, and he'd say, "What the hell is wrong with you guys?" There would be clues he'd knows he'd threatened our lives, we knew that he knew, but always he pretended he was perfect.

He put on such an act in front of the world, there were people who were shocked when I finally left him for good. I guess I put on an act too. After I'd left him several times, I felt so stupid for always going back home. I wanted to pretend things were perfect too, I didn't want everyone to know what an idiot I was.

There were so many signs. On our honeymoon, which was no honeymoon at all, he went out and got drunk with a bunch of teenage girls. When I was packing to leave, he'd stand in the doorway for hours and not let me leave the house. I couldn't call, I couldn't do anything. I lived with threats. He came home drunk at 3 am and he'd line me and our two kids up on the couch. He'd then march back and forth in front of us, waving his fists around and telling us every single thing we did wrong from the time we'd first entered his life. Each time he did this, of course the lists were longer and longer. He'd get so sick he'd puke his guts out. The next day, I'd be cleaning it up and he'd accuse me of throwing up on the floor, he never did it. I used to try to paint, and he'd come home drunk and smack my paintings so they always ended up face down on the floor. He came home drunk one time and I was on my knees, stoking the wood stove. He grabbed the poker out of my hands and started to swing it at my head, he was screaming in a rage, "Don't you ever threaten me with with anything again." I just knew I was going to be dead but something stayed his hand. My son was in his bed and I knew he heard the entire thing. He was so afraid I'd be killed and he'd be left alone with his dad. It was something that terrified me.

Here's the poem I wrote, that brought my past screaming back to me.

The Marriage Bed
When I was lonely alone, I had a choice
For lonely alone I owned my voice
If I sought the company of others
They heard me as if I were their brother

Sometimes wisdom, sometimes wit
Often they told me I was full of it
But when I spoke my words
I knew, my voice, they truly heard

And when I neeed silence and ease,
Lonely alone, brought me the peace
to think and dream and idle and do,
the things I knew I needed to

Lonely together is a different thing
The silence has a dreadful ring
Ominous, and pressing it’s burden down,
It tears your soul and jerks it around

My voice is gone, it's yours instead,
Creating this thunder in my head.
I am nothing, my heart is dead.
This thing called marriage is in my bed.

Copyright by Donna Weber

My only purpose for this post, if you are someone who's feeling this way, do something about it. Get yourself and your kids to a safe place. Get out of there. You won't torture yourself with regrets later.

Something that made me realize what I was living with was this. In 2001 and 2 I was working in a small cafe at night, doing dishes. I came to work at the cafe when my feed store closed at 4 pm. Get this, I had divorced my ex and I was back living with him again. Of all the stupid stunts. I had believed in marriage. I thought you had to "make it work". I thought you had to sacrifice, forgive, look to the future....

My ex and I had gone to his cabin for the weekend. While we were there, we went to bed one night and he jerked my pillow out from under my head. I asked him to give it back and he refused. It wasn't the first time he'd done this to me. It had got to be his favorite trick of late. I slept that night without a pillow as I had several nights before this.

When Monday came, I waa still crying in frustration. I went to work at the cafe that evening and I was still crying. I just couldn't seem to quit. The cook was a friend of mine. He took me in the back room and he said tell me what happened this time. I told him the story about the pillow and when I finished, I said "Why does he do these things?" The cook answered me with something that made it all make sense to me. He said "Because he gets what he wants". It's that simple, I was giving my ex everything he wanted. He had this little slave to do everything he needed. I fed the cattle when he was drunk, I farmed the fields, I made sure the pipes were packed. I fixed up this little world for him where he was the king. At the expense of myself and my kids.

If this is happening to you, plesase get yourself out of there.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What a funny picture to post....but that's what I've been doing today. Preparing panels so I can paint something on them. I have masonite and mdf board cut to size, most of today's panels are around 20X24. I coat them with white gesso three times, back and front and if I don't like the way the front looks, I coat it again before I paint on the surface. I don't sand between coats as some artists do because I like the brush marks that show through.

I also don't mind the white of the support when I begin a painting. You'll hear many artists say they hate the white of the canvas. I love it, when I see a new white canvas on my easel, it's a new beginning... a fresh start.... a chance to begin again. At this point, I haven't messed anything up, there's nothing to correct, no riddle to solve and nothing to do but improve upon what's there.

I've done 10 panels today, both sides three coats. It's been a long day and kind of boring. Sometimes I can do boring, if it's leading up to something. That's what these panels will do, lead me to something new. A new way of mixing color, a new way of holding the brush to apply that color or a new subject to paint.... I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

There are time when I paint something, when I know how I want the painting to look. Other times, I play with my subject and my medium. This is one of those play times. I did this elk in realistic colors and didn't like her that way, so I replaced some of the real colors with other colors.

I'm not finished yet, as I don't like some of the colors I used. I'll go over her again and fix those places.

She has been fun to work on. This is a pastel, about 10X12 perhaps on blue/grey matboard.
See more wildlife art here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Old Iron"
We found this old rebar in a dump. I think it might have been some of the rebar left over from when Swift Dam was rebuilt in the 60's. It made a nice photo with a great abstract design.
She's so beautiful, she's my girl. She's still wearing her winter coat but I suppose she'll shed it off before long. She looks like a young horse, but she's about 16 this year. You can see more horse pictures here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I don't have a name for this carousel horse yet. I always hope they'll name themselves as I'm painting them, it sometimes doesn't happen. This painting is 20X24 on MDF board. It's an oil painting.

So far, I'm pleased with the way it's turning out, it has a soft touch to it.

I was working on this in the new studio. It felt totally comfortable so that's a good sign. I have a few adjustments to make as far as where my palette goes but mostly, everything felt good.

Monday, April 17, 2006

"Bull Fighting a Cup"
I love to take inanimate objects and put them into ridiculous situations. It's kind of crazy, but it's very entertaining. Perhaps I'll do some more of these while I'm on the subject again. I have some favorite knick knacks I pose for these drawings.
Total mess,
that's what I would call this. I sit and sketch actors faces while I'm watching movies. I'm not good at it. But how will I ever learn if I don't try? So even when all I'm doing is making one mess after another, I keep at it. Mostly, I liked Morgan Freeman's nose, I was watching the Shawshank Redemption and trying to capture details of his face when he was on the screen. This looks nothing like him. I would have needed him to stand still on the screen for a long time to capture something of a likeness. Well, you can't win them all....
"Carousel Sketch"
This is wild and rough and the beginning of an idea for another wild looking horse painting. You can't be afraid to make a mess at this stage. Just put lines down and refine them as you go until they become something of the image you're looking for. If my sketch book paper becomes saturated with charcoal, which it sometimes does when I rub out a lot of lines, I can place tracing paper over this image, and refine it on another piece of paper. I can keep that up, until I have a beautiful polished image. When the paper gets full of charcoal, it becomes so slick, you can't make another line on it.... This horse is totally from my imagination. Here are some more polished images of carousel horses.
This puppy is a drawing of my little stuffed dog, the cat came from my imagination. And a very macho cat that is! I'll perhaps work on some of the edges that define the cat, but for the most part this drawing is finished.

I've been down in the dumps lately and when that happens to me, I tend to leave my art behind and bury myself in books and movies. I just read Dean Koontz, "Fear Nothing". Which had me in stitches laughing when a dog and cat sat at a round table and acted out a sarcastic version of how people see dogs and cats getting along with each other.

We also watched "Walk the Line" the movie about Johnnie Cash and June Carter. The movie hit so close to home for us. We have the same deep need for each other that these two people had. We think if we could have only met each other when we were younger and had so many more years together, it would have been wonderful. But life isn't always like that so we're grateful for the time we have.

I spent 8 solid hours on Saturday filling out paperwork. I thought I'd go crazy before it was finished. Rewarded myself with another movie that night..."Real Women Have Curves". It was a movie you could entertain your mind with, something to space out over... It had a few laughs in it but it wasn't totally my kind of movie. On Easter Sunday, we watched "Schindler's List". I like that movie. I've seen it before but I wanted to see it again. It's so nice to be reminded how one person can make a difference in this world for the good.

This morning I had to do another hour or more of paperwork. Perhaps, now, for a while, I'm finished with official stuff and I can get back to drawing and painting!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Oil Paintings.
Here's where you find my favorite part of the studio. The place where my easel stands! I shouldn't show this picture....there are four unfinished paintings in it, begging me to get to work and finish them. I like to have plenty of work lined up...:)
Poet's corner.
To your left, as you look at this photo, will be Robert's desk. He'll sit there and write poems. We frame the poems and have them for sale on the poem stand. He likes antique items also so we have some of them for sale and decoration. The far white door is where my paper storage is.
Gallery Area
This is the main gallery space. Paintings are on the walls. ACEO cards are on the coffee table for viewing. The furniture is pretty comfy, Charlie Pride is playing on the old record player. The coffee is brewing and visitors are welcome. We'll be doing a little more decorating as we go along but the space is becoming useable.
Watercolor and pastel work.
Here's the area where I'll do my watercolor paintings and any pastels I might undertake. I like having different areas set up for each medium. It makes it easy to switch from doing one thing to another. I'll have to address the problem of lighting in the new studio, but I know that's a small problem that can be easily solved with the new track lighting systems and a little ingenuity on our parts.
Paper Storage
This isn't the most exciting photo in the world, but ask any you want a place to store your full sized sheets of watercolor paper and they'll holler "YES!". I'm so excited to have this area in the new studio for storage of large sized pieces of paper. It's in the area that used to hold a washer and dryer.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I'm just checking in. The spammers have found my blog. I might as well say it now, I won't publish the comments for get rich schemes or anything else I consider to be spam so it's no use to try.

Our studio is coming along fabulously. I'll post photos tomorrow. We have paintings hung up, carpet laid down and various and sundry things in the between areas. We live at Vaughn, Mt and we'd welcome visitors to our studio. Just email us and tell us when you can come by. We'll have the coffee on and some paintings, poems and antiques to show you. I check my email several times a day.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My friend Juliet Harrison, a great photographer, posted photos of her horse, Doc yesterday. She posted him on the Equine Art Guild and told us we could use his image for a subject for our paintings. He has such a strong, loyal presence, I had to paint him. This scan isn't like the painting, these extemely layered paintings don't come through looking like the originals. In the originals, you see every nuance and layer, every change in color. The copper shines and the gold streaks give it a glow. You miss that in a scan.

I had fun painting Doc. It was good to be painting cnvases again instead of laying carpet in the studio house. We're almost finished with that project. It's going to be nice to have a place to hang all my finished paintings. Can't wait to do the final vacuuming and call that house finished.

It's pouring down rain here today. It's rained off and on for several days. We hope our grass will grow. If it doesn't, I guess we're looking at buying more seed and giving it another try!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I have some more memories of this place when we first saw it. After we looked at the studio house, we came into this house and looked it over. There was a bug zapper hanging in the living room. The flies were so thick you could hardly breathe. Months before, the man had gone to town and bought his wife a new glass top cook stove. Two days after he bought it, she brought home a bag of ice. The ice was stuck together so she banged it hard on the top of the glass top stove. Of course it broke the top of the brand new stove. They were now cooking on the barbeque grill and it was in the living room.

We saw a hunk of chain link fencing that formed a wall around the family room. These people had a rottwieller and a labrador and several cats. They fenced the family room and two back bedrooms off with chain link fence so the dogs couldn't kill the cats. There were cats everywhere, they were sick and could barely walk. To open up a doggy door, they'd chopped a hole into one bedroom floor, this way, the dogs could get under the house and come in through that hole in the bedroom floor.

We stopped to see these people and discuss some business arrangements with them. They invited us in. The woman had a 22 year old son who'd had a bad head injury, she was afraid of him so she let him do anything he wanted to do. She said the kitchen table was his area and she let him do anything he wanted there. The top of the table was covered with milk, bits of cereal and cat hair, it was deep. They invited us to sit around that table to visit with them. Robert and I both have the habit of resting our arms on the table while we're visiting or maybe resting our hands on the table. We'd almost touch the table, then we'd jerk our hands back and if we happened to be looking at each other it was all we could do to keep from laughing. You sure didn't want to touch that table!

The front yard was fenced to keep the dogs inside. It was such a tiny area, maybe a hundred feet square. Those two dogs had been locked in that area for several years. No one ever cleaned the ground. When we moved in here, we took that yard fence down. We raked and raked the ground but we couldn't get the smell out of it. We hosed the ground down and raked some more, it still stunk like those two dogs. We finally got the bobcat, dug that dirt out, and replaced the ground with new dirt. We could plant our lawn on that and know it was clean.

After we bought this place, the man and woman got a divorce. The man wanted to stay here and rent the house. We agreed to let him. We were working on a car crushing crew by then. We were on a job near Missoula, Mt. We came home on a weekend and the guy wasn't home. I checked on his rottweiller, the dog had a huge dish of food and a big bowl of water. The guy didn't come home all weekend. When it was Sunday night, it was time for us to leave for Missoula to go to work again, we had our 5th wheel camper on the job with us and we were following the crew around, going wherever the next car crushing job was. We knew we wouldn't be coming home until the next weekend.

We had a feeling the guy wasn't coming home for several days. We fed and watered the dog before we left, by this time, he was our friend. On Tuesday night, I told Robert, "You know he hasn't come home to feed his dog. That poor dog is there, without food or water." It was August and the temperature was in the high 90's. Robert knew what we had to do, we got off work that night and drove the 150 miles to home. When we got here, it was midnight. We came around the corner of the this house and Herman, the rottweiller heard us coming. He'd picked up his water dish and he was carrying it around the fence line, trying to woof at us with his dish in his mouth. He was so thirsty, he drank and drank. We filled several food bowls and left buckets of water for him as we had to be back to work the next morning by 8 am. We slept a couple hours and took off for work. When we got to Missoula, I waited until 9 am and called the humane society. They promised they 'd come out and get Herman and take care of him.

A week later, the guy who owned Herman came home. He came over and knocked on the door of the house as it was a weekend and we were home. He said, "Where 's my dog?" Like he expected Herman to be there waiting for him. I said, "I don't think your dog would still be alive if the Humane Society didn't have him."

After that, we kicked him out of the house as he never wanted to pay his rent and we couldn't stand to watch what he was doing to his dog. When he came back to move his things out, he had Herman with him again. I'll never in my life understand how he got that dog back after he treated him like he did.

We had such an affection for Herman. He got out of his yard one day when we were working out back. I had the hose running, watering what little patch of grass we had when Herman came to see me. Just for fun, because he stunk so bad, I started rubbing him with my hands, then with the hose to see what he'd do. He loved it! His poor skin was so dirty, I think that was the first bath he'd had in his life.

We wonder what happened to him after the Humane Society gave him back to his owner. I don't think he had much of a life. I think they gave him back because they told me they had such a hard time finding homes for Rottwiellers.

Life has been interesting since we came here, lots of different experiences. Working to restore the studio house has brought back memories of how it all was when we first came here.....
I've been creating lately, but it's a creation of a different kind. We're remodeling our other house, to turn it into a studio/gallery. Robert writes poetry, I do the art, sometimes we do works together. We also like to collect antique items and sell or trade them.

We're also into recycling-Big Time! We haven't had to purchase anything for the studio house except for some windows and we bought them at the Human Resources store. We like buying things for the house there as they use the money they get to build Habitat for Humanity houses.

To describe a typical day for us: We were in Great Falls and decided to go down some alleys to look for building materials. We had the 8' camper on the pickup. What do we find but acres and acres of carpet that had been thrown out from an independent living building. Two people who worked there were out having a smoke so we asked them if anyone cared if we emptied their dumpster of that carpet. Of course they were glad to get rid of it as it was spilling out into the alley and causing a mess. So we had to spread that carpet out, and roll it up right there in the middle of town. Along with the carpet pad.

From there, we stuffed that 8 foot camper completely full of rolls of carpet. I don't know how on earth we got it all in there. The carpet was nice carpet, not ruined in our opinion, but you could see where the building must have leaked and caused water stains on the backing.

We got the carpet home, out of the camper and spread it out on the ground. I took a broom and a bucket of soapy water and scrubbed each peice. From there, we hung that carpet over a fence and Robert pressure washed it. Now it's the cleanest carpet you'd ever want to find!

When we bought our place, it was in shambles. Two double wides that belonged to people who spent their time watching porn, doing dope and having run-ins with the law. When we came here, the weeds on this two acres were up over our heads. The house that's now our studio, had been abruptly abandoned when the guy who lived there shot someone in the head, and went on the run.

The freezer was full of meat but the electricity was turned off. The meat had melted and the blood had run through the house and under the dining room carpet. Flour and other food had been left in cupboards and the mice had a hey day with everything. The roof leaked so there was water damage.

We laughed like fools while we were cleaning that house because we'd grab a peice of carpet, to throw it out, and we'd be gagging and hacking all the way to the door. It took us forever to empty that house of filth because we were driving truck then and we only got home once or twice a month and that would only be for a day at a time. We'd get home, do everything we could, then head out on the road again.

When we had the carpets out of the house, we'd pour straight purex over the floors and let it sit until we got home again. We'd then mop everything down and do it over again.

Every door in each of these houses had holes bashed in them. We collected doors on our dump runs like maniacs. I think we've found 20 doors and Robert slowly replaced our bashed in doors with good ones we found in the dumpsters.

As soon as we'd get a house bare, and purexed, Robert's next step was to turn off the electricity and bring in the garden hose. He'd take a five gallon bucket of hot water, filled with Pinesol and dish wasing soap and he'd take big scrub brush and we scrubbed every single inch of both of these houses with hot soapy water. He had me use the garden hose to rinse the ceilings and walls behind him. The black dirt would run down the walls. You can't imagine how filthy they were.

We discovered also, the sewer lines on the studio house were broken. When the house was set down, someone set a huge block of cement right on top of the sewer line, where it came out from under the house. We had to break up that block and get it off the line to repair the line. We discovered the sewer line to the back bathroom had been cut and was running on the ground for probably years. Instead of fixing the problem, the people who lived here cut the sewer line to let it run! We wore masks and coveralls and took the siding off the studio house. We left it open to air out for a year after we took rakes and scraped the ground bare and clean. That was a job, I don't know how Robert stood it, to go under that house and rake that mess out. Of course it was all dry but it was still a horrible mess.

Meantime, everything outside had to be taken care of also. The place had been fenced in a Ma Kettle fashion and it looked horrible and shaggy. Robert took down the crazy fence. We don't have farming tools, but there were two trailer house hitches out back. We weighted them down with iron and pulled them behind the pickup, they gathered up the weed stems and we pulled the weeds into huge piles which we burned.

Now tell me this, does this make sense to you? There was dope, porn, animal and human cruelty, and killing going on here, before we moved to this place. The cops were here every other day like clock work. We move here and start cleaning things up and the neighbors are screaming their heads off, we had to deal with the county guy every five minutes because we're making a mess here.... Of course we're making a can you throw out tons of carpet, ruined cupboards, and appliances, crummy stinking furniture and not make a mess? But don't you have to make a mess sometimes to make things better? Plus get this, we're not young anymore, we're almost 60 years old. It takes us longer to clean things up than it did when we were young.

In the meantime, not one neighbor came by to say hello or to offer their help. Not that they had to, didn't expect that. I just thought when you can obviously see someone cleaning things up, why not leave them alone to get the job done?

I spent all last year painting. I painted every wall in this house we're living in about four times. The house was in such disrepair, the paint soaked in like the walls were thirsty. I used paint we pulled from dumpsters, mixing my own colors as I went. I did buy kilz and primer for the first coats of paint to bury any remaining stains and make an even coat to work over. The ceilings all took four coats of paint. Two of primer and kilz and two of regular ceiling paint. The other house was just as bad, it needed several coats of paint before the walls and ceilings looked half way decent. I painted the paneling after I fixed the holes that had been bashed in the walls.

I also stained four large decks, and put two outside coats of paint on the house we live in and got the front of the garage painted on the studio house. When Robert got finished with plumbing, electrical and carpenter repairs, he helped me paint our garage.

We took a funny old shed that was out in the horse pasture and drug it up to hook onto our house for a back porch. We put the wood stove in that porch. The washer and dryer are now out there also. It gave us more room in here. :) We took another old shed that was all ready attached to this house and turned it into a spare bedroom. We call it the Navajo room as it's furnished in a southwestern style.

There are still tons of work to do around here. We want to insulate both garages and put roofs over three remaining decks, we installed a roof over our front deck in the house we live in last summer. We need to get a roof on the studio house. We planted drought resistant pasture grass in the little field behind the house. We've been trying to get grass to grow out there since we moved here. We spend half the summer spraying for weeds and spraying for bugs. This place was so run down, we don't know any other way to get ahead of the earwigs and the weeds. When we have nice healthy grass, it will make a huge difference.

The woman who sold us this place, was a funny one. She was kind of simple. When we made her an offer on this place, she said, "I've never been able to understand this, my real estate agent brings people out here to look at this place, then they never come back...."

Everytime we think of that, we laugh. We know all the reasons no one ever came back to take a second look at this place. But we're a little crazy, we'd rather take a place that's run down and needs us than to find something brand new and beautiful. We'd rather find building materials in the dumpsters, and use them, than to buy the stuff new in the stores.

We actually think when we're finished with this place, it's going to be beautiful....

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I would love to have this painting show up in it's true colors. artists say on the internet all the time, the scan doesn't do it justice. The glitter shines and the paint glows on this one. He's another of my electric horses. I think I'll go list him on ebay for sale.