Tufted Titmouse

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When I first heard this name, it struck me as sort of odd or a bit funny. My sister Jeanette mentioned this bird when I just finished my Chickadee painting last year. She said, “You should paint a Tufted Titmouse; they are so cute.” To be honest, I don’t think I have ever seen this bird in the wild -have any of you?  I looked up a picture and these birds are indeed adorable with their tuft of hair at the top of their head and their chubby body – similar to the Chickadee which they are related to. Well, I kept this suggestion in mind and recently felt inspired to paint the Tufted Titmouse, the second bird in my bird series. (See the Chickadee at http://www.mjnicole.com).  I learned that the Tufted Titmouse has a call that sounds like “Peter, Peter” and I painted the words on my painting.  I again selected one of the many past holiday cards I have kept over the years and used it to make a few of the wild red berries capped with snow, a tail feather, and also parts of the arched branch. When you see this painting up close, I like how the card paper gives the scene depth. I hope this winter, I will see one in my backyard and call “Peter, Peter” to it.

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Do-it-yourself

Do-It-Yourself

As I put away my hand sander and washed my various paint brushes, I thought about what a huge Do-It-Yourself project of painting my house has been.  I started two years ago in late May of 21013 and I worked on it on the days when the weather forecast was dry weather and while my children were in school or between summer trips.  I started on the north side of the house and tackled the full height of the house, then moved to the front (pictured here) and again had a new challenge with the dormer windows and shutters that demanded attention to their small slats of wood.  Several of our windows are still the original 1950s models and so I learned how to scrape, paint, glaze, and paint again the thin wood holding the panes of glasses in the windows.  The north side of the garage gave me a bit of trouble. After painting it, it started to bubble in a weird angled line.  I figured out that in the fall, the sun is lower and it reflected off my neighbor’s metal stove pipe and produced a laser like stream of heat that bubbled the paint as the sun moved through the sky (or more correctly as the earth turned!). I waited till this year to re-scrape and repaint the garage and then continued on the south side and finished up in the back on the east side.  This is a major check mark on my To-Do-List.  Woo- Who!!! It is finished!!! It has been fun to have the neighbors watch the progress – some would drive by and yell out their car window “Looks good!” when I was up on the 24 foot ladder and the walkers who watched intently and would offer words of encouragement.  With such an all encompassing project complete, I am looking forward to picking up my other paint brushes and painting more scenes of the Berkshires.

San Francisco Carousel at Pier 39

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My daughter read a book this summer called “A Drowned Maiden’s Hair” by Laura Amy Schlitz and she enjoyed it so much that she told me I had to read it which I did.  It was a really fascinating story about an orphan girl Maud, the family business of seances, and the intersection with a girl Charlotte – the drowned maiden.  My daughter is doing a school project on this book and is creating a scrapbook of items that remind her of the book.  In the book, Charlotte loves riding a carousel and her favorite animal to ride is a green sea creature.  My painting of the San Francisco Carousel (though the angle is mostly of the paintings of the underside of the top), does include several animals – including a green sea creature!

We were able to see this carousel last summer on a trip out to San Francisco. We were at Pier 39 and discovered this magnificent double-tiered carousel; my children and their cousins hopped on these amazing carved and painted animals and rode them around and around. I loved painting this carousel with all of the bright colors and the warm yellow sparking lights dancing all around the trim; the green sea creature was my favorite animal to paint as he rears his nostrils up in the air.  How serendipitous to have my painting remind my daughter of the book she so enjoyed!