Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gabriel the Guardian


Gabe lives on South Mountain Dairy, too, where he is particularly loved and respected by all the Girls there on the dairy. He's Butter's "boss" and fully employed as the official Guardian of the Goats. You just can't help but love this big guy.
He's a noble beast. He greets visitors with the manner and bearing of a distinguished gentlemen receiving callers to the manor. At the same time, you should know, he's checking you out. That Great Pyrennes-sized head contains a brain to match. He has a job to do and he takes it very seriously. Neither man nor beast will harm his goats while Gabriel is on call, and that's 24/7/365. The human goat-keepers say they've never had a coyote problem since Gabe came, and they live right in the heart of coyote country. Oh, Gabriel, you great big angel of a dog! What an honor to capture your spirit on canvas! Thank you for the privilege.
Gabriel the Guardian
8" x 10"
Oil on wrapped Canvas
$160.00 SOLD
Dog Portraits by Commission
www.katywidger.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Butterscotch

This handsome boy lives on South Mountain Dairy Goat Farm in central New Mexico.
He's just a youngster, but he's got a serious job to do, and he does it very well.
Butter is a rescue dog. Marge brought him home from the Farmer's Market where she'd been selling her dairy products one Saturday not long ago.
From all indications, he's a most excellent dog and much loved. I can personally attest to the fact that he's quite charming, well-behaved and very alert to everything that goes on in and around the farm. Every dog needs a job, and Butter has found not only his vocation, but his forever home, as well.
"Butterscotch"
8" x 10" oil on canvas
$160.00 unframed SOLD
www.katywidger.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pikey


Nikki says Pike was named after the William Holden character in the movie Wild Bunch, not so much because he reminded them of the character, but because it's one of Don's favorite movies. Still, Pike is 89 pounds of pure muscle with a huge bark and a tough guy exterior. But that's all wrapped around a goofball who only tires of fetching his ball long enough to curl up like a fawn, folding his legs against his body and sleeping the way only the truly happy and pure of heart can melt away into sweet dreams.
Just so happened I was reading Marley & Me in anticipation of the movie coming out soon as I was painting Pike and his slobbery tennis ball. Nikki says of the book/movie previews, "that's our Pikey."
8" x 10" Oil on linen covered board
$160.00 unframed (SOLD)
Dog Portraits by commission at www.katywidger.com

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nikki's Pike

I finished this working drawing of a blonde lab named Pike this Monday morning. I'll start on the underpainting this afternoon, and hopefully finish it by Wednesday.
Pike belongs to Nikki and Don in Colorado, and I'll be painting him along with his pack mates Mati and Boston.
Pike is about eight years old, and it's pretty obvious that he loves to play with his ball.
I got a chance to "examine" a blonde lab up close in the Doggie Grocery Store yesterday afternnoon, to get a close look at that noble profile, the shape of her skull , that egg-shape roundness at the back of her head and the set of her eyes. Characteristics shared by most blonde labs and very useful for me to observe and remember as I paint Pike's portrait. Her nose, too, had the same pink tone that Pike's does. Beautiful, good-natured affectionate dogs who genuinely love both their people and goofing around with tennis balls!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Beauty Grace Joy!


How is it that the fresh, innocent face of a child never fails to bring a smile! There's a certain joy that wells up, a delight unlike any other, when that new little person smiles back at us!
Eyes so full of curious intent and ageless wisdom we dare not look away, less we miss a pearl.
Oh! The Grace of a God who would create such a being and give her to us for a time, to gaze on her beauty and bask in the glow of her radiance, as if the Spirit of God who dwells within, overflows and fills the room with His radiant light!
How do we answer such a gift? With love!

For He first loved us, and sent His Son as such a babe on a cold winter night so long ago.
Beauty Grace Joy!
12" x 9"
Oil on Canvas


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Leader of the Pack


I just finished this wet, juicy painting of our Sadie Wonder yesterday afternoon, and have been trying to photograph it under various light configurations, to eliminate the reflective shine off the wet, thick paint, all morning. I’ve come to the conclusion that it can’t be done. I’ll try again when it’s dry. It was painted with a very limited palette of Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Red, Ultramarine Blue, Phalo Green and White. This translates as a warm yellow, a warm red, cool red, cool blue and blue green, which is a “warm” color in most circumstances. I’ve always used a limited palette, but this is even more restrictive, and therefore, freeing! Proof positive that, indeed, less is more!
I hope the rich colors in the painting comes through on your screen. There was no tube black used in this painting, and all the colors, being mixed from the primary colors listed above, have a beautiful harmony, from the brights to the rich neutrals.

Sadie’s the leader of our Pack of Three Apsos, which now includes her son, Whyatt.
I’ll get a painting done of Whyatt soon, so you can see what a delightful fellow he is, too.
But tiny Sadie, who weighs all of 11 pounds, is definitely the Alpha Female of this pack.
She keeps order according to her own set of canine laws. No one argues with her, either.
Truth be told, the humans of the household are under her command, too. Other than asking her to sit for treats, she pretty much orders us around, too. We do her bidding: opening doors, going for “pokes”, playing “tricks for treats” and even, once, taking them for a car ride, just because Sadie said so. She’s a benevolent leader, however. Generous with kisses and cuddles.
She’s just about the sweetest little dog I’ve ever known, and just look at those eyes! A Champion and mother of Champions, she’s Top Dog around here.
If you want to see a funny little video of our Apsos in Action, go to http://www.zeketheapso.us/ and click on The Zeke and Sadie Show on the left side of the front page. Then, click on "Apsos help make "their" bed" on the little videos. It'll give you a good idea of how apsos can take over your life, in a wonderful way!
As always, Dog Portraits by Commission at www.katywidger.com
This 8 x 10 oil on archival linen board would sell for $160, if it were for sale, which it isn't.
Happy to paint one of your beloved, though!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Value of Color


I recently took a workshop with a well-known regional landscape painter named David Schwindt. The workshop was held at the Starlight Ranch Artist Retreat and B & B which has wonderful accommodations and spectacular views. The colors this time of year are just delicious!

This particular workshop dealt with strategies for painting the landscape indoors, and seven kinds of color contrasts, two vital elements in successful landscape painting, especially for those of us who don’t have many opportunities to go out in the field and do a lot of painting.
David has spent much of his life studying color and his paintings “are about light and how various kinds of light – morning, evening, high noon and twilight –affect the way we perceive an object and especially our natural environment.”

One of the first exercises I chose to do was to translate a value study into color. Successful paintings always have a basic value structure underlying the color, like the “bones” or skeleton underlying the “flesh” of the color and detail. As artists, we must learn to see colors as values, light to dark, and translate those colors into the right values, or the painting won't "read" correctly. I’ve often heard it said, “Color gets the credit but value does the work.”

I painted this value study from a small (and not very good) photo I took several years ago of the Taos Gorge. The next day, I “translated” the value study into a color study. It was a good exercise. Both paintings are 5" x 7" oil on canvas board.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Griz


Some kind soul found him out in the rain and took him to the humane association as a puppy.
Somehow he received a diagnosis of “aggressive male” and the people who fell in love with the beautiful little puppy sitting quietly at the front of his kennel, while all the other dogs were barking like crazy, took him home, anyway.
He was a one-man dog, playful in a reserved sort of way, and not much interested in toys, other dogs or most people. Wolf-life in appearance and manners, he was in his element camping with his people on the high bluffs of Northern New Mexico.
Griz is now in his golden years, and recently met with a terrible accident while on one last camping trip. He’s at home recovering now, receiving all the love and attention he deserves and needs to complete his journey with dignity and respect for the many years of loyalty and friendship he’s so willingly given.
May God bless your remaining days, Old Griz.


Oil on linen-covered board.

8" x 10"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ada Grace


Ada: A Hebrew name meaning “Beauty.”
Grace: The unmerited gift of love and favor bestowed by God on mankind. A sense of what is right and proper. Beauty, charm, good will, mercy. A musical note, not necessary to the melody, added only for ornamentation…..

This little Extraordinary Miracle came into our lives quite unexpectedly. She is my husband’s first grandchild. I claim her as granddaughter, also. I’ve known her mother for twenty-eight years, since she was five years old. She was unexpected because we weren’t really expecting any grandchildren. But, here she is, bright eyes and beautiful mouth, tiny nose and long fingers, perfect little being with the awesome power to bring you to your knees in total love and devotion with one glance!

She is indeed beautiful, no doubt about that! And the ornamentation of her existence has bestowed renewed love and favor to the melody of our lives. Reconciliation, thy name is Ada Grace! We praise and thank Almighty God for the blessing you are to us, and ask His daily blessing on your life. May God bless you and keep you, may He make His face shine on you and guide you ever onward towards the Future and the Hope that He has set out for you!
We love you with all our hearts, Sweet Ada Grace!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wild Wild West










That’s me, sitting on Abrams, a Longhorn Steer about five years old.
He weighs almost a ton! What a sweetheart he was, too! I rubbed his face, scratched his chin, fed him some “steer candy”, wiped my now very slobbery hand on my jeans, and climbed aboard!
Clay, his owner, remarked, “You’ve ridden before, haven’t you.” Yes, but that was a long time ago, and never a Longhorn Steer!
Two cowboys had brought their riding steers to the Harvest Festival at Wild Life West in Edgewood, New Mexico this past weekend. I was there participating in an art show, amidst all the tractor pulls, wild bird shows, Native American drum performances and roasted sweet corn. It was a blast! (Sold some paintings, too!)

We listened to some humorous Cowboy Poetry delivered straight from the Longhorn’s back, that included references to the famous West Texas, New Mexico and Colorado cattleman, Charlie Goodnight, who helped blaze the famous Goodnight/Loving Cattle Trail with his buddy, Oliver Loving. These were the same kind of Longhorns that Charlie and his cowboys drove along the trail. When I told them that Charlie was my Great Great Great Uncle, that his sister, Mary Jane Goodnight, was my Great Great Great Grandmother, they invited me over to visit with Abrams for a while. In exchange for getting some pictures of Abrams, and being allowed to sit astride the biggest four-legged ruminant I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, I told them the story of my GGG Grandmother, Mary Jane, and how she came to be the dis-owned sister of the famous Charlie Goodnight.

My GGGGrandaddy, Hiram Daugherty, married the widow Charlotte Goodnight and became stepfather to her kids, Charlie and his older sister, Mary Jane. They lived near Houston, and Hiram was a trader who spent long weeks away from home. On one of these trips, he took Mary Jane with him. She was seventeen. When they returned from the trip, Mary Jane was pregnant.

Charlotte kicked them both out, along with the three children she and Hiram had together. Mary Jane, Hiram and the three little kids made their way across Texas in a covered wagon and finally ended up in the Sacramento Mountains of Southeastern New Mexico. There, they homesteaded in a beautiful valley in Hay Canyon. They raised thirteen children all together: the three they brought with them from Texas that were Hiram’s children with Charlotte, and ten of their own.

Their homestead cabin was built strong and sure alongside a creek in the canyon, and I have seen it several times, still standing as a monument to perseverance and determination. They worked their whole lives to redeem themselves and raise up righteous children. But Mary Jane never again saw or spoke to either her brother or her mother for the rest of her life, such was the price of her sin. She lived a long life, outliving her husband by decades, is buried near Cloudcroft in a sun-dappled aspen grove, next to Hiram. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all remembered her fondly as a good and loving mother and faithful wife. Such is the good news of redemption.

In Charlie’s official biography, he never mentions that he has a sister, and I’ll bet no one knew to ask. When he was asked why his mother, Charlotte, divorced Hiram Daugherty, Charlie said, “For cause.”





Saturday, August 16, 2008

An Artist's Journey





I was invited to give a lecture and trunk show about my journey and development as a quilt artist, last week at the Harvey House Museum in Belen, New Mexico.

At one time, in the early part of the last century, Belen was a major railroad center, a "hub" city for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The Harvey House Restaurants, built by Fred Harvey were elegant eating establishments that lined the north-south route and featured first class dining, an extensive menu and fine linen, crystal and silver. And of course, the renowned Harvey Girls, young women of impeccible reputations who were trained in the fine art of serving fine food to the railroad customers. They lived upstairs in the Harvey Houses, in dorm style rooms, were closely chaperoned and developed reputations for excellent service and high standards.
Belen has lovingly preserved their beautiful Harvey House and made it into an historic museum with exhibits changing monthly.

The rooms of the Harvey House Museum were filled with quilts of all colors and descriptions. They were all made by charitable groups to be given away at hospitals, nursing homes, police stations, anywhere some comfort was needed. It was a privilege to be surrounded by such graciousness and talent!
So, here I am, at the beginning of my lecture to a room full of quilt lovers, men and women both. I showed a dozen quilts that I chose from those remaining in my possession dating back to the very beginnings of my quilt art journey, in 1988 that I felt represented my development as an artist and showcased what I learned along the way.
My early work was all done in squares with the emphasis on color, like the first quilt shown, called "Four Corners" made in 1988. I learned that "Color, pure or muted, is its own magic" and "gradations attract, enfold and please."
"Purple Flower Woman", in the next pic, was made in 1992. By now I was doing much more than dyeing solid colors. I was experimenting with many different kinds of "surface design" techniques. I learned that "Squares and triangles give strength and stability. Patterns fascinate, involve and deceive. Repetitions are to forms what beats are to music. The obvious is enchanted by the hidden. Soft edges invite caress and touch."
"Sand Tracks", made in 2000, won the best of show at Fiber Celebrated International 2001. It is made mostly from silks and fine cottons and is based on the idea of the force of wind in the southwest. It is collaged and contains actual polished stone beads sewn to the surface.
The final piece pictured here is "Elements" made in 2001. It began as a playful exercise in composition using leftover pieces from previous work. After I had made a couple of blocks, I got an idea for a complete quilt, finished up the blocks and dyed the background fabric in cotton sateen in a shibori-style gradation representing the transition from water to earth to sky.
I made my last quilts in 2003. Since that time, I have been painting in oils!
You can see the rest of the quilts along with their artist's statements on my website at
http://www.katywidger.com/ Just click on the Paintings in Hand Dyed Fabric link to see more!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Field Stone Wall


Here’s the final painting. I spent the morning sketching the wildflowers I thought I might put in the painting. As you can see, the flowers are quite tiny in the actual painting, but it helps to know what shapes they assume in real life, even if you’re painting them in miniature, almost as “suggestions” rather than as flower portraits.
The sky came from another photo of Ireland, and I was interested mostly in the light and movement of color from bright blue to graying, with a hint of stormy weather.
I tried to capture the idea of the sun shining from the upper right, down across the mid-section of the wall, onto the daisies. And, I have to admit, this was a bit of a challenge, trying to get the rocks to look like a loosely-stacked field stone wall, with all their odd shapes and the deep shadows with the sky peeping through here and there.
Maybe, perhaps, someday I’ll go to Ireland and see an actual field stone wall for myself!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Field Stone Wall: First Statement


Here, we’ve got the stone wall roughed in using three values of the beautiful, mauve grey mixture of Ultramarine and Terra Rosa. Looking at a blow-up of the photo tells me that the stone has lots of color! Pale mauves, rosy tones and deep blues. That will be fun to paint! Also, the sky peaks through the stones in many places, which will make it "sparkle" with light and integrate the sky, wall and foreground.

I’ve decided that the light will be coming from the upper right hand side, and shine down, across the mid-section of the wall, and highlight the flowers that will be growing there, in that dark green spot, towards the left hand center at the base of the wall. Those will be white daisies. There will be other flowers, scarlet, purple, blue and yellow, along the wall, as well. The sky will be lighter towards the right hand corner, a more cerulean blue. It will move to a darker, greyer sky on the left side. I’m using Cerulean Blue and Ultramarine for the sky, and adding some Cadmium yellow for the ground. It’s mostly a thin, transparent wash, with just a tiny bit of white added to the Cerulean Blue on the right hand side, where the sky will be lighter.

This is the first “statement”; an underpainting that will serve as the first layer to this small, 5" x 7" painting. It is applied thinly and mostly in a transparent wash of pure hues. Almost all of it will be painted over in the next “statement”, subduing most of the brightest colors, but allowing them to “shine” through in some areas . Right now, I’m going to let this dry and come back again on Monday morning and finish it, hopefully, that day.

Field Stone Wall


Kathy and a good friend took a trip back across the pond to Ireland in 1972. A trip of a lifetime, back to her homeland, right out of college. What grand fun they had, driving on the “wrong” side of the road, touring the Irish countryside, kissing the Blarney Stone, soaking up the shamrock fields, the blue Irish sky and the enchanting culture of her ancestors!
She snapped dozens of photos on her little Brownie camera, and was especially fond of all the field stone walls that lined country land and highway. Just a long pile of rocks, mostly, cleared from adjoining fields, bounding land and keeping sheep from wandering too far.
She’s asked me to paint one for her, from one of those little Brownie pics from ’72.
Here’s the first step: Palette set up for this first “statement” is simple: Just some Ultramarine Blue and Terra Rosa, mixed together with a bit of Titanium White to make a beautiful grey. We’ll use that to start in on the rock wall. I’m going to “move” the wall and angle it to give the painting a more dynamic interest. The photo shows a pale, washed-out sky, which means it was probably an overcast day with diffused sunlight. Since there’s no strong directional sense to the sunlight falling on the wall, it's kind of bouncing around all over the place, we’ll “manufacture” one.

I’ve never been to Ireland, but I’ve got some great magazines to look at (Ireland of the Welcomes) and the internet is a wealth of wonderful, well-lit photos of Ireland with true colors, to give me a sense of the light and colors there. I’m using my digital frame for all the reference photos I’m using, which back lights the digital images, and gives a more true-to-life picture than a printed photo would.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Loola Mae


What’s in a name? Doesn’t she just look like a “Loola Mae”? It fits her sweet nature, her delicate frame, her trusting eyes and smiling face. I think she’s perfectly named. I understand that she came into the lives of Jane and Kevin about a year after the loss of their first Sheltie, Jessie. It was time, Jane said. Kevin capitulated, then instantly fell head over heels! Wouldn’t you? Look at that face! Oh, Loola Mae! I’d love to bury my face in your beautiful mane and give you a hug and a kiss, in person, not just through my thoughts as I paint your image!
This painting is a birthday present for Jane, from her loving and thoughtful sister, Susan.
Shhhh…don’t tell her. It’s a surprise!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Zeke's Black & White Baby Toy


By the end of the day, here’s what I had. I’m fairly pleased…it captures the idea I was going for.
Susan pegged it when she told me that in the initial sketch “ Zeke's posture in that picture reminds me of a guy bellied up to the bar....one foot up on the railing, his right elbow on the bar, his shot glass cradled in his right hand....asking the bartender to "fill 'er up, pardner"....
That pretty much describes Zeke: The party doesn’t start until Zeke gets there!

He’s had that B & W toy since before we got him. I scented it all up with my smell, then mailed it to him (to Debbie, actually) in a zip loc to preserve the scent. Wanted him to know what he was getting into, before we went and picked him up! Worked like a charm – he LOVES that baby toy!
When he was just a few months old, we were sitting out on the back porch, talking about how smart dogs are and how well they understand what we’re saying (and thinking!). To demonstrate, I said, rather casually, “ Hey, Zeke, go get your black and white baby toy and bring it here.”
I’d never even called it a “black and white baby toy” before, much less ever asked him to go and get anything! I had no expectations. But, I’ll be damned if he didn’t immediately trot off through the dog door, into the house, and emerged a very short time later with his black and white baby toy! We were stunned!

This toy is very rarely out of his sight. He carries it with him from room to room and he always knows where it is. Sometimes he buries it in the garden for safekeeping, but mostly, it resides somewhere nearby The Zeke.

How to Paint an Apso, Day 2 Part 2


I’ll have to do this in several installments, to show the progression.

I used some linseed oil as my mixing medium. It’s the same oil that is in the paints.
It took me about 45 minutes to mix up the hues that I wanted to use, then I began to lay in another layer of thin paint, in the same values as the underpainting. I’ve worked on most of the painting, except for the eyes, nose, his St. Francis medal and back ground.

Here’s where I stopped for some lunch.

How to Paint an Apso, Day 2


Here’s a picture of the corner of my studio, lights on and ready to get started for the day.
While I’m picking out some music, Zeke asks to be put up onto his “spot”, there, on the chair.
That’s where he stays virtually the whole time I’m painting. Good thing I stand when I paint.
Sadie lays down below, in her little studio bed.

I laid out my palette with Winsor & Newton Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow, a dab of Cadmium Red, and Titanium White. I always try and use as limited a palette as I can get away with. It’s amazing how many colors you can mix with just a few primaries. Rembrandt usually used a very limited palette of three or four colors, plus white.
Look what he did with it! I think it keeps the colors balanced and harmonious.

Zeke’s coat is a wonderful mixture of silver and gold with charcoal tips. Those colors are mixed throughout his hair, and there are very few places where one color dominates. Depending on the angle of the light, he has either a golden or a silvery shine. That makes it a little challenging to capture the right colors. Luckily, he’s laying right here on my stool, so I can match colors directly to the area I’m trying to paint. He’s a pretty willing model.

How to Paint an Apso, Day 1


Here’s a painting in progress, from start to finish.
Today, I drew an outline, or contour sketch of Zeke holding onto his favorite toy from a digital photo I took several weeks ago. I put the photo into a digital frame and use that to refer to as I’m drawing, and later, painting.

I prefer to draw whatever I’m going to paint, first. Sometimes I do a completed drawing, “suitable for framing”, other times I do a sketch like you see here, with just enough information to give me what I’m looking for to begin the painting. In this case, I need to know exactly where his eyes are in relationship to his nose (don’t Apso’s have the cutest little anchor-shaped noses!).
And where the darkest darks and lightest lights are going to be.

I draw first because I like to draw, I want to work out the composition on paper before I commit to oil (more easily corrected), and because it acquaints me intimately with my subject. I know it very well before I ever squeeze out the paint.

My support, in this case, is an 8 x 10 masonite board about ¼ inch thick, covered with raw linen. I glue the linen onto the masonite with archival glue then gesso over it, once it’s dry, several times.

Just before I started this painting, I mixed some Terra Rosa and Raw Sienna together on my glass palette, mixed in some odorless turpentine, and rubbed the transparent mixture onto the linen-covered board with a soft rag.

I traced the drawing onto tracing paper using a white pencil. Then I turned it over and rubbed dark charcoal over all the lines, centered it over the now-dry stained linen board, and traced over the white lines with a red pencil. I don’t trace the whole drawing, just the general outline and the critical details. And I don’t always do this, but when it’s critical to get the eyes and face just right, I do. Saves a lot of time and frustration!

Then, I used a mixture of Burnt Umber and Ultramarine, mixed with turp to “draw” over the lines. I switched to a larger brush and began sketching in the darkest darks, adding more turp to the mixture to lighten the values. I looks sort of like a watercolor stain at this point; no opaque white is used at all, just turp to thin it down. More background shows through where I intend the painting to be lighter. No paint is applied where I want it to be the lightest. And I didn’t bother to put anything on the background, yet, either.

I could just continue painting over it right now, mixing and using thicker paints in the colors that I want the painting to end up being. When I’m doing a little 5 x 7 painting, or have more time in the day, that’s what I do. But for now, we’ll call it quits, let this thin underpainting wash dry overnight, and mix up the palette fresh tomorrow.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Panchen's Journey to the Other Side


Farethee well, Travelin' Man!
With tears of sadness at your departure,
With tears of joy that now you see and romp in the light of the Son,
I bid you Godspeed!
I pray Mychal met you with welcoming barks accompanied by all the Gompa Apsos who have gone before!
One day, I'll see your face and your bright, shining eyes will see mine, as well, there, on
The Other Side!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Champ in the Sunlight


We get up every morning with certain expectations of how the day might go…plans, responsibilities, wants and wishes, dreams and daily chores meet us face to face over the bathroom sink.

The sun shines on our life most days, even without our realizing or acknowledging it.
In spite of uncertain IRA’s and plunging 401k’s and rising gas prices, pestilence and persecution by fire, flood and drought, we soldier on because that’s what we do.

We get up in the morning expecting the day to be, more or less, like the day preceding it.
Then the phone rings, and a toothache turns into a fatal tumor. Life changes, like the song says, in a New York minute. Everything we knew in the morning evaporates by the afternoon, and we have to re-group, start over, make new plans.

Champ here, lies in the sunshine, soaking up the life-giving rays of the morning, living his life one sunbeam at a time. Whether or not he knows, or cares, that his mortal life in this spiritual realm is short, is quite probably irrelevant to him right now. He knows the joy of the morning sun on his face, and I’ll bet he’s happier right now than we’ll ever be…..

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mychal, on The Other Side


This was a very difficult painting to finish. But not because of the subject. I’ve been waiting for the right time to begin a painting of Mychal, a time when my heart and my emotions would allow me to do him justice with paint and brush. This seemed like the right time.

It was difficult because I had to stop several times and attend to other matters. I lost my focus. The inertia necessary to complete a painting with the original intent intact was interrupted.
Not only did my paints dry on my palette and on the painting, but the emotional energy ran aground. In painting, continuity is everything. I struggled to finish it, knowing that this resolution was different from what it would have been had I not been interrupted.

Most artists’ desire to paint arises from a place deep inside their soul. A vision rises within that the artist is impelled to express: capturing the illusive light of morning, shadows cast by aspens on snow, sunshine shimmering on a piece of fruit, the inner glow of a newly opened flower.

We are expressing our personal vision in a language without words, hoping that the viewer can “read” our thoughts, understand our emotion, perceive our attachment to the subject matter. And, having made that connection with the viewer, we have communicated on the deepest level.

I paint my life. My dearest, most precious possessions are laid out for you to see in the hues and calligraphy of my art. To see this expression, this painting, is to gather a glimpse of how I perceive the world around me. This is how I communicate my innermost thoughts with the universe. This is prayer, from the deepest, most unutterable depths of my soul. I cannot voice it in any other way. God has given me this voice, and as I put my paint on the canvas, I speak to Him and invite you to listen in.

Mychal, who now resides on The Other Side, hears, too, and whispers back to me, “Amen.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sixteen


There’s probably a name for it in our word lexicon by now. You know, when you Google something and someone’s name whom you know shows up on the list. It happened to me the other day. I was Googling a subject, and way down the list a name caught my eye. Someone from my very distant past. Turns out he’s an authority on the particular subject I was investigating.

He was the boy next door, and my first love. He had raven black hair shaved up the back, with long bangs, parted on the side hanging loosely over his forehead, shadowing green eyes with golden specks. He rode a black horse that tossed his mane the way he tossed his hair to one side. We literally grew up together, but he paid little, if any, attention to me, as far as I knew, anyway, until he came home for Christmas vacation from his first semester at college. I had, of course, been aware of his presence for quite some time. But I was a freshman when he was a senior: a vast chasm of separation in high school. I was a petite, pony-tailed country girl, and quite “under-developed” compared to most of the girls my age. His affections were then captured, I took note, by those lipstick-wearing B-cups with the teased hair and tight capris that treated me like air. And once he was off to college, where an over-abundance of those types roamed unencumbered by curfews and liberated by the Summer of Love, I turned my affections back to Elvis, who was no less attainable and every bit as gorgeous.

I was, then, quite surprised by his attention that December. It seemed as if he had come home and found a new girl living next door. Perhaps he had. I was by then two months shy of my 16th birthday and not lacking for dates. Long, straight hair was in, and hip-hugger pants with bell-bottoms were simply made for my trim little figure, shaped by good genes and years of ballet.

His two younger brothers were the same ages as my two younger brothers and I was accustomed to hanging out with them occasionally, having no sister to offer a more feminine diversion. But previously it had been playing soft ball in the empty sand lot on the corner, or roaming the orchards and climbing trees, having green apple fights. Now that he was home, and could drive, he took us all to the bowling alley and the drive in. Somehow or other, I ended up sitting next to him in the station wagon, with the four little brothers occupying the other seats with their usual pre-pubescent rowdiness, oblivious to the chemistry igniting in the front seat.

The first time he kissed me was in the darkened garage, after the boys had exited the car. I lingered. He put his arm around me, and moved in close. The smell of his aftershave rolled over me like a warm fog and I closed my eyes as hot, moist lips carried the combustible spark that ignited an emotion in me that I was not to experience again for more than a decade. For years afterward, I bought Aqua Velva Redwood aftershave, just so I could smell him again, and feel that burning rise up in my soul.

Our romance continued when he returned to college in the New Year, and included a healthy stash of love letters scented both ways. On the margin of one he proposed, prematurely, it turns out. “When do you want to get married?” And I, being only 16 and not nearly old enough to consider it seriously, still, treasured the idea of it while dreading the thought that it had come too soon and therefore couldn’t last.

Spring break brought the inevitable. I cried for days, red-eyed and unable to speak to anyone with a shattered heart that left me voiceless, as well. We moved away soon after that, and I never saw him again.

I resisted the momentary urge to hit the “Contact” button on his web page. To send him a “blast from the past” email. He thoroughly broke my heart once, long ago. He was, as he said when he broke up with me, merely infatuated, not truly in love. Sara McLaughlin sings, “I will remember you, will you remember me?” Surely, he is a grandfather by now. A lifetime has passed between us. Perhaps he does remember, occasionally. But I prefer to keep my memory to myself, just in case he doesn’t.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why Are We Doing This, Anyway Part 2


In what ways are you and your family cutting back in order to afford gasoline and the rising cost of everything these days?

We started limiting our trips into town (Albuquerque) back when gas was $2.00 a gallon and it cost us about $5 a trip. Now that it’s $4.00, and everything else is going up, in some cases rather dramatically, we have pared down to the bare necessities, in order to stay within our budget. I don’t know about your income, but when people say they’re living on a “fixed income”, and usually mean a retirement income, I can relate. My husband gets a paycheck twice a month, and it’s pretty much “fixed”, too. It hasn’t gone up in years. We live on a budget, as do most folks I know. When expenses go up, something has to go down in order to balance the equation. Credit cards usually fill in the gaps.

Our income has remained the same, but our middle class lifestyle seems to be deteriorating somewhat, in some respects. At least when viewed superficially, depending on what you consider deterioration, as opposed to, say, a re-alignment of priorities, a re-ordering of expectations, a re-learning of what’s truly important in life.

We pretty much don’t do “vacations” anymore. Haven’t for quite some time. We decided we’d rather spend the money on fixing up our place. So, we do short, day trips, instead. Saves a bundle and there’s lots to see within a day’s drive around here. Besides, we have too many critters to go anyplace. Even the best critter sitters won’t milk a goat.

We gave up spending the big bucks on big ticket items like the Ballet and Musicals and Concerts.
Do I miss getting all gussied up, going out to a sushi dinner and then taking in a Broadway Show down at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque once in a while. Yup. But those evenings used to cost what our entire gas budget for the month is, now. Something’s gotta give.

Life is changing. Not only did we make a decision to re-order our lives a while back, but the economy has apparently decided that we’re on the right track, and is pushing us right along now.

To save water and electricity, we quit using our dishwasher about two years ago. It’s still there, and still used, as a rather expensive, but convenient dish drain. We saved enough water every month to water our blackberry patch four times!

We tore out our “zero clearance” fake fireplace with gas burning logs, and put in a Lopi Woodstove. Bought a Husqvarna chainsaw, got a permit to cut wood and saved ourselves a bundle on natural gas last winter. Fresh, crisp fall air, great exercise, wonderful picnics, the smell of fresh-cut cedar! The gas company now owes us money!

I have used only cold water to wash my clothes for several years now. But this year, we went a step farther. See photo above. Hot, dry air blows most of the time around here, and it’s free.
My clothes dry on the line now in about half the time it used to take to dry them using costly, and getting costlier, natural gas. There’s a real art to hanging clothes on a line. It’s almost like a prayer, or a meditation. If you do it right, as you take them down they almost fold themselves into a neat pile there in your laundry basket, ready to be put away, all sunshine fresh and snowy white!

Prices for that watery stuff in plastic jugs that passes for milk in the grocery store has now far surpassed what it costs us to produce our very own pure, nutritious, enzyme-rich un-pasteurized goat milk, right here at home. We drink it ice-cold while the life energy still remains in it, just minutes out of the goat. The ultimate health-food drink! Added bonus is the kefir, chevre, cheddar, feta, mozzarella and ice cream! Have you seen what those pricey gourmet food stores charge for hand-crafted goat cheese! And we eat it on our toast for breakfast and feed it to the Apsos.

Our chickens lay more eggs than we can consume in a day, and they do it with joy, élan, enthusiasm and humor. And we know what’s in those eggs, too. Not the pallid, insipid imitations that those pitiful battery-raised hens produce in their short, brutal lives that end up in polystyrene egg cartons down at the local grocery. These are the real deal! Beautiful brown eggs that resist the first crack on the cast iron skillet, then willingly divide into two equal parts to reveal the yellow eye of yolk and firm clear white that will soon be chuckling like the hen who laid it. All this for the price of half a dozen of those so-called free range eggs in the health food section at the local Smith’s.

And then we have our organic garden which produces all the fresh produce we can eat during the summer and a freezer full of good eats that lasts until the garden is in the ground the next year. It’s a lot of work, watering, weeding, tending, putting up fresh picked veggies. It’s a lot of fun picking your dinner every evening, like I just did. Fresh spinach, arugula and baby romaine salad! No need to worry about salmonella or e-coli in our garden goodies. I know exactly where it came from, how it was watered and fertilized, and who picked and prepared it!

I am not a lady of leisure by any measure. My hands are scarred, my nails are short and my cuticles are ragged. My neck is brown and my skin is dry and sun damaged. But my heart pounds steadily and easily in my chest, my blood pressure is enviable and my cholesterol is perfect. I haven’t even had a cold in years, much less the flu or the omnipresent sinus infections I used to get, prior to goats and garden. Our life style is our health insurance and hedge against inflation. And now, hanging my freshly washed clothes out on the line, I can even be thankful for the wind!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why Are We Doing This, Anyway?

I have to remind myself on days like today. The wind continues its assault with gusts reaching 60 MPH. Dust hazes the cloudless sky. Everything is parched Why in the world are we struggling to grow food, milk goats, raise chickens, gather eggs, when everything, except the raw goat milk, is available just a car trip into town? Are we crazy for “doing it ourselves” when we could arguably spend about the same amount, or in some cases, even less, to buy the produce and protein we consume? Why are we devoting so much time and energy to doing for ourselves what can be bought?
This is not an ideal environment for growing food or raising farm animals. Granted, just a few decades ago this very land on which I now reside was a dry-land pinto bean farm. This whole valley used to be the “Pinto Bean Growing Capital of the World” and proud of it! The farmers out here simply plowed their fields, planted their beans and waited for the early rains to sprout them and get them up, and the later rains to grow them to harvest.

That all dried up beginning in the fifties. It was over and done by the seventies. Drought came and changed everything. The farmers tried to hang on. They dug deep, expensive irrigation wells and pumped alkaline water out of the ground to water crops that preferred the soft, nitrogen rich water from the sky. Ranchers raised fewer and fewer head of beef cattle on larger and larger acreages. Gradually, they sold out, went bankrupt, moved away. Just a handful of the “old timers” are left here, now. The Town of Edgewood incorporated around one of the last ranching and farming families in this area, when they refused to be a part of the new town.
And then, ironically, they sold out to Wal-Mart! Yes, Wal-Mart. In a surreal turn of events, the very rancher who decried the loss of his lifestyle and bowed his neck in protest by refusing to sign on and become a part of the new age of subdivided ranches turned into new towns, sold out to the highest bidder, after all. Where cattle grazed and antelope roamed now sits a Wal-Mart Super Center; paved paradise turned into a parking lot.

Still, this area of arid New Mexico is accustomed to receiving about 12 inches of moisture each year. We usually get about six inches of rain in the spring and during the late summer monsoons, and enough snow in the winter to account for the other six inches of moisture.
It gets cold, but rarely dips below zero. The wind blows in the spring, as it does in most western states, sometimes furiously. It’s just a fact of life.

But this spring feels different. The weather is crazy all over the country. The whole world seems in turmoil. Earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons are ravaging parts of the world to which I have never given much thought, prior to seeing the suffering faces on the news and in the paper.
And right here in the good ole safe USA, tornadoes are putting peoples lives through the blender of destruction, floods are ruining homes and crops and lives and drought is sucking the life out of the rest of us. The Earth is growling her warning. Her lips are curled in a defensive snarl.
She is rumbling her displeasure and spitting her anger.

I look to the sky daily and wonder if this could be the day when HE returns to claim His own and His Earth. No man knows the date or time. All things foretold have been fulfilled. The last sign is simply His coming, which He has told us will be sudden, without warning, apart from the signs of the Earth. And so I wonder, daily, nightly, when the wind howls and the sky is angry and the nightly news reports our Mother’s latest tirade and tantrum against her spoiled and uncaring children. Is today the day? And if so, that answers my question.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

50 MPH Winds

This has been one of the nastiest springs in recent memory. Late spring freezes killed all the blossoms on the fruit trees and damaged the blackberry canes where the sap was beginning to rise. Erratic temperatures have caused delayed growth in almost everything. There simply were no spring rains at all. The wind has not quit blowing since March. Fifty mile an hour winds have been blowing all week long. They awaken us in the night with their fierce thrashing and continue on mid-day, raising huge dust clouds and desiccating everything in their path. Were most of our garden not covered with cold frames, it, too, would be gone with the wind. Nothing can, or wants, to stand up to it. The trees are whipped around so violently that I don’t know how it is that their limbs remain intact. And, in fact, the leaves are whipped off them like dust off a shaken rug. Snap! And the yard is full of fresh, green leaves and small branches that are supposed to be soaking up sunshine. The sound of it is frightening, and discouraging. It beats against the house and roars through the trees. They say the strong, hot, dry wind zaps all the negative ions and makes us feel irritable. At the very least!

I am weary of it all. My heart longs for a gentle spring with wildflowers blooming across the green meadow, freshened with rains that nourish but don’t overwhelm with their goodness. Soft, cool breezes that waft away the perspiration. Warm, but not hot. Just enough humidity to soothe, but not oppress. Don’t want much, do I? I’d settle, quite happily, for less wind.

However, I am extremely thankful that we have not had a tornado here. There have been no golf ball-sized hail, or even large marble-sized hail. It has not flooded here, and probably never will. We have not had any earthquakes, although this area is in an active fault zone. Fire has not visited its wrath on us, either. We just have this unrelenting, brutal wind. I am praying that God will enable me to be thankful for it, too.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Goats Just Wanna Have Fun!


Lily is three weeks old now. She has almost quadrupled in weight, from about 5 pounds to almost 20 pounds. She's been disbudded, meaning that we've burned off the tiny horn buds when they first appeared. Just one of those things that has to be done, and the sooner the better. Lily was eight days old and scarely missed a beat. I hope we did a thorough job.
She's getting all of Claire's milk that she cares to have, being the only kid. Only problem is that she's only nursing from one side of the udder. So Claire's a little lopsided most of the time. We've been milking out the other side every morning, getting Claire used to the idea and easing the pressure. If Lily's twin brother had lived, things would have been a little more equitable and we'd soon be putting the kids up at night, milking Claire from both sides of her udder each morning, and letting the kids have the rest for the next 14 hours. We'd also be selling them both, but as it is, with just one little baby goat, well, we'll just keep her. Not that we need another goat. More like, she needs her herd, being an only kid.
Plans change according to circumstances, and we're still milking Maggie every morning, just to insure a milk supply. It's been her job for several years now and she seems to enjoy being the lead goat. Still, we'll probably be drying her off in a few weeks, and hoping that Claire willingly assumes her new title, and that Maggie will enjoy her time off.
Our fragile lives can change in an instant, for good or ill. Plans change daily, sometimes. What we thought we were going to do, we're not, and now we're going to do something different, only we're not quite sure what it is, just yet. But God knows. He knows the end from the beginning.
I have a tendancy to fret about things future, near and far. I worry about little things and things I have no control over. I wish I didn't and I try not to, but still, the worries come in the dark hours of a sleepless night.
I had a dream the other night. In it, I was riding on a motorcycle behind my husband (when we met, he rode a Kawasawki and I spent many hours holding on for dear love). In the dream, we came up over a hill on a rainy night, and the other side was one steep, muddy, slick mess, with a sheer wall of rock on one side and a long drop over a cliff on the other side. I took one look and knew we would never make it, and that I had no power whatsoever to do anything about it, other than to hold on. So, I did just that. I put my head down, behind my husband's back, closed my eyes, and prayed as we slip-slided down the muddy mountain road. Then, I heard my husband's voice saying, "Open your eyes, and look." Somehow, we had made it down the mountain without going over the edge. We were on a tiny ledge at the bottom of the steep muddy road, with mere inches insuring our safety. But we had made it and we were together, in one piece! And all I did was close my eyes and trust.
That's all God asks of us, to just close our eyes and trust in Him to take us through, all the way. He knows the end from the beginning, and He has promised us that if we are His own, it will be all right in the end. He has promised. And I believe Him. Lord, help me trust.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lily Joy


Joy comes in the morning! And what a difference 24 hours makes!
Claire finally went into labor Saturday afternoon, April 5.
Her water broke about 10PM, and the first "bubble" of amniotic fluid from the first baby's sack appeared about an hour later. But, no delivery, in spite of pushing against hard labor.
So, novice goat mid-wives that we are, we decided to "go in" and take a look. A nose, a foot, and an upside-down foot belonging to a back leg. Not good. We called in the expert, the official goat mid-wife, who runs a local dairy, at 2AM. God bless her! Even if there were a vet around who knew something about goats, there is no way they'd come out at 2AM! No way. But Donna didn't even hesitate when we woke her from a sound sleep in the middle of the night. She just got in her car and came, and saved the life of our goats.
Just as she arrived, I managed to finally get the stillborn baby boy out. Donna said I'd done the right thing, the only thing I could have done under the circumstances.
Claire layed down, exhausted, and we all waited for labor to begin again.
An hour later, Donna washed up and went in, again, and pulled out another breach baby. This time, Lily Joy emerged, wet and breathing, around 4AM. We got a quick nap at 6AM after the newborn got some good colostrum in her, and started the new day ninety minutes later.
Her she is, none the worse for the trauma of her birth, later that sunny Sunday morning.
Claire is an outstanding mom and Lily Joy, named for my niece, whose 13th birthday was April 4, promises to be just as much a pickle as her mom! Just look at that face and tell me this "only kid" isn't going to be a handful!

Friday, April 4, 2008

St. Claire


Miss Claire is VERY pregnant today. Yesterday was her due date, and today, she still shows no signs of imminent labor. I'm waiting for the emergence of the white mucous plug to signal the opening of her womb, for her to paw the ground, arch her back, do something other than eat and chew cud!
Yesterday, I received this from a friend, after I told her of my anxiousness in assisting Claire at her delivery:

"...Clare of Assisi was in real life a sister to Saint Francis, patron saint of animals. The following seems so appropriate for your day. I am also thinking of the Navajo Clan of Many Goats! So I send you prayers and blessings for a safe delivery with many little goats! You will do beautifully, bringing calm and quiet love as a doula!"

"Service, in Clare's view, is a calling to be reflections of God for one another. Within each of us, Clare saw clearly, is a seed that awaits birth. We are encouraged to endure life's labor pangs and bring forth life."

Funny thing about her name, Claire: We had girl goat names all picked out when we went to purchase her two years ago. Donna led me to the pen with about a dozen little baby does and said, "your choice". I picked the first one I could catch - who could tell - they all looked alike!
We went into the dairy barn and she was filling out papers. I was holding the baby goat in my arms.
"What are you going to name her?" she asked, ready to write it down.
"Her name is Claire," I said, and the words just came out of my mouth without a thought.
Ken said, "That's not what we talked about." And in truth the name had not even entered my mind, until I heard myself saying it.
I said, "But that's her name." And so her registered name is, " Raindance Saint Claire."
I had no idea at the time that Clare was St. Francis' sister! But what an appropriate name for a dairy goat, full of the milk of life, so willing to serve mankind. God bless you in your motherhood, St. Claire!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sassy Lassie


A Sassy Lassie

I will not come
I will not go
I will not wear
That friggin’ bow!

I will not beg
I will not heel
I will not fetch
Oh please, get real!

I will not hurry
I will not rush
I will not stop
For comb or brush,

I will not smile
I will not stay
I will not please
In any way,

Treat!
Did you say Treat??
I am your best puppy
Obedient and Sweet…
Now, where’s that Treat???

Kathy Rasmussen copyright 2008

Photo credit: Kathy Rasmussen copyright 2008

reprinted with permission from the author
April is National Poetry Month

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Raji


These sweet little trusting brown eyes beckoned me to know her. To understand her Spirit and comprehend how she came to travel the vast distance between Tibet and California, passing through other countries and many hands over long years in a dog’s life. What did she encounter along the way. And who. What kindnesses and injustices came her way.
Her life has had its turns along the path. Hills and valleys, shadow and light.
Rarely does a dog get to choose her ultimate person, her pack, her home territory. But, serendipitously, Raji did. And she chose well! Blessings came to both Raji and her forever person, who opened up her heart , there in the garden of her forever home.
Oil on linen board
5" x 7"
$70.00 SOLD
Dog Portraits in Oil
www.katywidger.com

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Raji, Gompa Apso, Endangered Species Along with Tibet



My cherished Lhasa Apso
my culture’s watchdog,
you are dead by Chinese poison dog food
imported, trade imposed stirring the air with political pollutions
javelins spearing Tibet
to teãr a tear from fallen monks
shot in cultural genocide
Compassionate ones,
we are the only true clique for justice
A gamble on diplomacy is failing like a kidney on Chinese heparin
A dialysis is to bet Tibet in a card game with Artists of War and propaganda an atheistic clique with bullets
For the tourists’ amusement let them people the autonomous puppet government with the buffoonery of their claque
But let us be the only true clique left alone for our prayers and daily walk
Why would the world be a lap dog—- Douglas Gilbert
Sign the Petition to Free Tibet from the tryanny of the PRC:

Petition to Chinese President Hu Jintao:As citizens around the world, we call on you to show restraint and respect for human rights in your response to the protests in Tibet, and to address the concerns of all Tibetans by opening meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Only dialogue and reform will bring lasting stability. China's brightest future, and its most positive relationship with the world, lies in harmonious development, dialogue and respect.
http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/98.php/?CLICK_TF_TRACK

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!


This is our little Sadie Wonder, lying on Mychal’s grave.
We noticed her doing this months ago, when she first came to live with us.
The graves of our beloved poodles are fenced in with the blackberry patch, to keep them safe from coyotes. The Apsos love to run up and down in the blackberrys every morning, playing, scouting for bunnies to chase. The graves are sort of out of their way, off in the corner by themselves.
Still. Sadie almost always heads directly over there, circles around the crosses a time or two, then goes directly to Mychal’s grave and lays down for a bit.
We don’t know what to make of it, if anything. But it makes us smile to think that her little spirit, in some way, acknowledges his departed spirit over the site of his earthly remains.

As Christians, we celebrate the High Holy Day of Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, with an especially joyful heart. By acknowledging that Jesus the Christ, the Son of God defeated sin and death by rising again on the third day after His crucifixtion, our spirits link to His Spirit forever more, and we celebrate not only His resurrection, but our own future resurrection, as well.

My joy is complete in knowing that not only will I some day , in my newly glorified flesh, see the Living God, I will also be reunited with those I love, including Mychal.

Christ is risen; He is risen, indeed!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Chicken

“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

This was the covenant promise that God made to Noah after the flood. It is a promise made not just to Noah, but to all mankind, all creatures, and the earth herself.
I hold on to it during these present days of violent weather and global warming. I remind myself of God’s continuing care for the earth and all her creatures when I read of the horrible cruelties that sinful man inflicts on the other living beings that share this planet with him.
I cling to it when the politicians and greedy businesses plunder and spoil the land and water and air for their own gain, without a thought to the future.
This day, in particular, is enough to sustain that hope and convince me that it is not misplaced.
Today is the first day of Spring! The equinox occurred sometime last night. I awoke this morning to a new season on this old earth! Once again, without fail, spring has come!
And here, one of our hens, full of the gift of life itself, ponders the miracle of the egg!
What surprise! What joy! In amazement and awe I give thanks for this new season of hope and renewal!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tea with Kathy


Two Irish sisters met one another over the Internet. Common interests that drew them together were love of Lhasa Apsos, a fondness for fabric and fiber, devotion to silent meditation, common faith and a delightful discovery that both shared Celtic heritage and surnames.
A friendship is born!
The tea came in a St. Patrick’s Day package of mirth and joy from the Cavanaugh half, and the Daugherty lass drank it up in toast to them both!
Here’s to you, Kathy Cavanaugh, Irish sister in blood and faith!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Irish Rose
5” x 7”
Oil on board
$70.00 unframed
katy@katywidger.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Easter Lily


Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. It’s easier to figure if you use a lunar calendar, which is what the ancient Hebrews used, rather than the Roman calendar that we use today. This year, Easter will be earlier than any of those presently living will ever see, for the rest of our lives. The last time it was this early was in 1913, and the next time it will be this early will be in 2228. Easter is the High Holy Day of the Christian Church worldwide, and is the New Testatment fulfillment of the Old Testatment event known as Passover. Christians consider that Christ became the Passover Lamb, and so we acknowledge His death on the cross as the Sacrificial Lamb for the sins of all mankind. We celebrate his resurrection on Easter Sunday morning as the fulfillment of the promise of Passover.
The lily, as one of the first flowers of spring, has become an enduring symbol of the resurrection.

The season of Lent precedes Easter by 40 days. Christians use this time to reflect on the great sacrifice our Lord made for us, as he prepared to offer himself up as payment for the sins of mankind.

I offer this Lily on this, the 31st day of Lent, for your contemplation, and mine.

Easter Lily
10” x 8”
Oil on board
www.katywidger.com

Monday, March 3, 2008

Wide Angle View


Have you ever wondered what a “Bird’s Eye View” really looks like?
From way up high, how well do they really see? Bird biologists tell us that eagles, hawks and other raptors have built-in telephoto lenses in their eyes. Sort of like looking through binoculars all the time. Ravens have remarkable eyesight, too. I wouldn’t doubt that they, too, have a built-in zoom lense. They can spot a tasty tidbit or remains on the road from a long distance. I’ve painted this pair many times. I don’t know where they nest, but our acreage is within their territory and they hang out around our place a lot. Yesterday, they were harassing a pair of red tail hawks, who also call this area their home. Ravens are daring and raucous, and the red tails screamed and dove at them, but eventually gave it up and flew on their way.
Occasionally, we are forced to dispatch a gopher who tunnels his way into our blackberry patch. We put the dead gopher up on a corner post, sort of a “gopher on a stick” and wait for the ravens to spot it. No sense in wasting good food. The first time, they couldn’t figure out what a juicy morsel like that was doing up on a post. But now, it’s de rigueur, and they sit nearby on the fence, just in case, patiently waiting for the hoped-for gopher du jour every time we work outside.
Oil on board
5" x 7"
$70.00 unframed
katy@katywidger.com

Friday, February 8, 2008

Valentines


Monet loved her at first sight. She was devoted to him, clung to him like moss to a stone. And he was her rock, her anchor, the steadying influence in her life of tetter-totter emotions. Camille had, shall we say, issues. If she had been human, we would have suspected a bi-polar condition. But she was a gloriously beautiful white standard poodle. And she well knew how gorgeous she was, and like a movie star, knew how to work it to her advantage.
We dealt with her "issues" for her entire life. Resolved one or two, but mostly just learned to live with her idiosyncracies. Monet the Magnificent not only tolerated her oddments, he found her enchanting, her peculiaritys endearing. They were inseparable and when he died she almost died, too, of a broken heart. They had true love, written in stone. Now, together again, like George and Gracie, their love story continues on for all eternity.
Monet and Camille
7" x 9"
oil on canvas board
Pet Portraits by Commission
www.katywidger.com

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Maxwell the Colorado Mountain Dog


God has made no finer creature on the face of this earth than the Golden Retriever. Hunting companion, kind-hearted and loyal beyond all reason; a dedicated retriever of any and every thing Master requests, from ducks to slippers. A most excellent Dog who finds his truest expression as Friend of Man.
This kind and beloved face belongs to one who now awaits his Master on the Other Side. And his Master remembers him well, and in faith, looks forward to a happy reunion with his Ole Bud.
11" x 14"
Oil on canvas
Dog Portraits by Commission

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Barnmouse No. 2


This could possibly be the same mouse as Barnmouse No. 1, but I'm pretty sure it's not.
Inasmuch as I see them for only minutes each day, I have been able to discern different personalities. Barnmouse No. 1 is bold and daring. He barely hesitates in coming to claim his morning peanut. This one here will come out of the hole under the wall when I call to him, ("Good Morning, Little Mice!") but he (or she, I have no way of knowing!) is more hesitant to claim his morning prize.
This morning, I laid a peanut on the edge of the 2 x 4 that Mouse No. 1 is perched on in his portrait below, and waited a mere second for him to claim it. No. 2 met him on his way into an adjacent hole behind a post, and I could hear them tussling over it. Maybe they shared. It was a big peanut. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be a silent observer of mouse society in the barn!
Once again, using the limited four-color palette of Rembrandt. He knew his stuff!
Barnmouse No. 2
Oil on Board
3.5" x 5"
$40.00

Friday, January 25, 2008

Barnmouse

I know, you'd probably rather see this little guy with his neck in a mousetrap, or not at all. But, a whole family of these cute little guys live in my barn. We used to trap them. But, slowly, over the months, I grew used to them and looked forward to seeing them every day. (Plus, we have a resident weasel who furnishes rodent control on a regular basis.) Then, I started talking to them every morning. Slowly, they got used to my presence and quit scurrying away when I turned on the light. I almost hate to admit this, but, it's true. They now take peanuts from my hand, and actually come and sit on my feet, and look up at me with their little hands reaching out for that peanut. I know, I know! They're rodents, vermin, mice! But they're so cute! They look just like those little Disney mice that pull Cinderella's carriage. I can't kill them. That's the weasel's job. I don't want to know about it!
I painted this "alla prima" using the four-color palette of Rembrandt: white, black, cadmium red and yellow ochre. Took about three hours. It's only 3.5" x 5", but the little guy is just about life-size.
Oil on board
"Barn Mouse No. 1"
$40.00
katy@katywidger.com

Monday, January 21, 2008

Blind Travelin' Silver Dog


Meet here Panchen, Gompa Apso from Tibet.
He has literally traveled the world and lives now in his forever home with his new person and three of his Apso clansmen.
Blind, yet his vision extends over the miles to look into my heart.
Fare thee well, Silver Dog!
8" x 10"
Oil on canvas board

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Be Thou My Vision...


This is a rough sketch of a blind dog. His name is Panchen, and he is a Gompa Apso from Tibet.
He came to this country, the United States, for the purpose of saving his kind by virtue of his unique and precious genes. He has walked that path, passed on his genes to a new generation of Tibetan Apsos. Now, he is adjusting to a new life among his kin at the private home of a kindred spirit, where he can live out his sightless life in safety and love and acceptance.
I have been walking a path through the darkness in my own life. Often, I have wondered what it would be like to be physically blind. We talk about "blind faith". We ask of the LORD, "Be Thou my vision.." The Word tells us that "faith comes by hearing, and not by sight," meaning that we listen with our hearts. We seek to enlighten our souls with the vision of the heart, as we walk by faith, and not by sight.
Now comes a blind dog to show me the way. He is not mine; my only connection to him is one of empathy, yet he is present in my prayers. Right now, he must re-align himself with the new world that is his universe. He must do so relying strictly on his intuition, his sense of smell and hearing, and the vision of his heart. Surely, this Spirit of Dignity is guided by the Source of All That IS.
My heart aligns itself with yours, Panny.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Friends, Old and New!


We outlive these dearest of friends,
with broken hearts that will never mend.
A loss so great, it wounds to the core,
never forgotten, those who came before.

Relationships forged though time and trial,
until they walk that last final mile,
and when they pass from beyond our sight,
remain close in our heart, though gone in the night.

Tears come easily each time we recall,
how much they gave; they gave us their all!
Now waiting for us, on the far other side,
they’ll be there when our door opens wide.

We cannot remain, endure on memory alone,
without the true love we have intimately known;
We can only be consoled by another new joy,
the next incomparable canine girl or boy!

So now it’s a couple of Apso’s turn,
To give great love, from whom to learn,
that life is more than it appears to be,
a proving ground and the truth to see.

Zooming is how our lives should be run,
full-speed racing, bonzai fun!
No time to worry or time to be mad,
too precious to squander, just being sad.

Advice not taken, they sleep on the bed,
Making a pillow of their master’s head.
Demanding another backyard ‘poke’;
make up the rules, or tell an Apso joke!

Yes, Adam knew just what he had done,
when he named the dog, a most fitting one.
God spelled backward, and that’s just in case,
We ever forget this wondrous gift of grace!
by Ken R. Widger
copyright 2008
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"Champion FFT All Said and Done"
6" x 8"
Oil on canvasboard
Katy Widger
copyright 2008