Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Fine Art of Cat Napping

Today Ray, expert snoozer, demonstrates various techniques for napping in the workplace.

1. The Using The Keyboard As A Pillow While Dangling Your Legs Off the Edge of the Desk technique:

It must be pointed out that this technique is not for the novice, because it involves knowing precisely where your center of gravity lies - knowing exactly how close to the edge of the desk you should position yourself to get the free flow of air around your legs and tail, without allowing your body weight to pull you gradually over and onto the floor, which would cause a very rude and possibly traumatizing awakening. This knowledge can only come from months, possibly years, of napping experience.

2. The Using the Scanner As A Pillow Technique. Self explanatory.

3. The Using the Notebook As A Pillow Technique combined with The Full Body Blowout Power Nap in the Sweet Spot Between the Keyboard and the Monitor:

Feel free to try these techniques in your own workplace (at your own risk) or use them as a springboard to come up with your own napping ideas.

Happy snoozing!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

... by His own hand He leadeth me

Proverbs 3: 5-6 (from The Message version of the Bible)

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.

More on God’s divine guidance from Daily Strength for Daily Needs:
In “pastures green”? Not always; sometimes He
Who knoweth best, in kindess leadeth me
In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.

So, whether on the hilltops high and fair
I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where
The shadows lie, what matter? He is there.

- Henry H. Barry

The Shepherd knows what pastures are best for his sheep, and they must not question nor doubt, but trustingly follow Him. Perhaps He sees that the best pastures for some of us are to be found in the midst of opposition or of earthly trials. If He leads you there, you may be sure they are green for you, and you will grow and be made strong by feeding there.

- H. W. Smith

The photo is a pretty little church out in the pasture across the road from our house. The water in the pond in the foreground looked purple this day, against the pale yellow of the winter pasture, more so in real life than is evident in the photo. What a privilege to get to live in such beautiful surroundings!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

He Leadeth Me: O blessed thought!

Psalm 139: 9-10

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

Oak Tree on Ratcliff ©2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
24 x 18 • acrylic on 3/8 inch art board
dovetail slot in back allows for hanging flush against the wall
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning • sold unframed
CLICK HERE to bid!

Shreveport has some lovely old historic neighborhoods - this beautiful, sun-dappled sidewalk was just a couple of blocks from our place in town. I love living in the country, but one of the things I really miss since we moved out here is walking our dog for blocks and blocks past beautiful lawns and gardens, with hundred-year-old trees spreading their branches overhead.

This painting has a lot of texture with layers of glazed color in the foreground, balanced with the smoother brushstrokes of the middle ground and background areas. Here are some details:

I really needed to hear what the Lord had to teach me today when I read this today from Daily Strength for Daily Needs (this devotional was undergirded by the scripture from Psalm 139 that I put at the beginning of today’s post):
How can we come to perceive this direct leading of God? By a careful looking at home, and abiding within the gates of thy own soul. Therefore, let a man be at home in his own heart, and cease from his restless chase of and search after outward things. If he is thus at home while on earth, he will surely come to see what there is to be done at home, -- what God commands him inwardly without means, and also outwardly by the help of means; and then let him surrender himself, and follow God along whatever path his loving Lord thinks fit to lead him: whether it be to contemplation or action, to usefulness or enjoyment; whether in sorrow or in joy, let him follow on. And if God do not give him thus to feel his hand in all things, let him still simply yield himself up, and go without, for God’s sake, out of love, and still press forward.

- J. TAULER (c. 1300-1361)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Anticipating Flagstaff, now available ...

Anticipating Flagstaff ©2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
24 x 18 • acrylic on cradled Gessobord • sides painted dark umber
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning • sold unframed
CLICK HERE to bid!

Here’s another one home from the library exhibit, now available for purchase. I first posted work in progress photos back on November 15.

Here are some close-up details:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Howdy, Neighbor!

In addition to his own acreage across the road, our neighbor, Farmer Mike, rents our pasture land, which comes right up to the rustic, dilapidated picket fence bordering our yard, for his horses and cows. (Don’t worry, there’s also a good barbed wire fence running right alongside the rustic, dilapidated picket fence, to keep our equine and bovine neighbors in the pasture and not in our yard.)

Sometimes there will be a whole group of cows and/or horses having a cocktail party right up by our fence. Today when I walked out into the yard, this guy was all by his lonesome, peacefully munching right across the way. He was quite handsome with the late afternoon sun shining on his red coat. I called out to him, “Hey!” He probably thought I said Hay and he looked up right as I snapped this picture.

And now, changing the subject jut a bit: I wanted to post these work-in-progress photos for Roses for Enid (a painting dedicated to the memory of my Grandma). I listed this on eBay last night, but for some reason Blogger won't let me edit the post, so I’ll put them here and that way they’ll be right above the finished piece if you scroll down a bit.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cheery flowers on a dreary day

Roses for Enid ©2008 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning • sold unframed
CLICK HERE to bid!

It was a joy to paint these cheery red roses in their bright green vase on this dreary winter day! Red roses always remind me of my grandmother - she loved red (hence the title!)

Hey, I just had a thought ... wouldn’t this make a great valentine gift for someone special? Hmm?

Here’s a detail:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thanks for the shout-out!

Many thanks to Maggie Stiefvater for giving me a very nice mention in her blog post on complements yesterday.

And remember back on January 1 when I said one of my goals was to post to my blog every day, even if it was only one sentence? Well, here you go.

Hasta maƱana. amigos!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Not quite finished ...

I wanted to list this one on eBay tonight, but I got a late start on it today, so I’ll finish it tomorrow and post it tomorrow night, along with work in progress photos.

Good night, all!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

“... I think myself one of the happiest beings ...”

Psalm 105:3-4

Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.

An excerpt from Daily Strength for Daily Needs:
I do not know when I have had happier times in my soul, than when I have been sitting at work, with nothing before me but a candle and a white cloth, and hearing no sound but that of my own breath, with God in my soul and heaven in my eye ... I rejoice in being exactly what I am, – a creature capable of loving God, and who, as long as God lives, must be happy. I get up and look for a while out of the window, and gaze at the moon and stars, the work of an Almighty hand. I think of the grandeur of the universe, and then sit down, and think myself one of the happiest beings in it.

– A Poor Methodist Woman, 18th Century

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Waiting for Gretchen

So a long-time friend calls me the other day and says there’s a beautiful little stray kitten/cat that just showed up at her apartment building a couple of weeks ago. She has been hanging around trying to get in my friend’s apartment, and my friend has been feeding this little cat, but trying not to get too attached, because both she and her brother, who shares the apartment with her, have a cat each already, and they really can’t take in another one. They’ve been asking around and putting up flyers with a picture, trying to find out if this little one belongs to anyone around their neighborhood, but no response.

So, bottom line is: my friend offered to pay for spaying and shots if we would adopt the cat. We have plenty of room, and our 3 spend a lot of their time outside anyway, so we said ok. This new little one is solid gray, and we’ve decided to call her Gretchen. She’ll be “going on a visit” to the vet tomorrow, and will stay there to recuperate until Saturday, when she’ll come out here to join our family.

I’ve been trying to prepare everyone (i.e., the canine and feline members of the family). Yeah, I told them this afternoon that they will be having a new little sister move in on Saturday.

Here are their comments:

Trixie: A new playmate!! um, how long till Saturday?

Annie: Oh, great.

Ray: A new chick? Awesome.

Bailey: I'm sorry, did you say something?

Henry: When are we gonna eat? Is it dinner time? I think it's dinner time. Hey, is that a milk bone under there?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ode to an Electric Blanket

On long winter nights
when the whole world is frozen,
this gift keeps us warm
from our heads to our tozen.

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Funny Face

Portrait of a Bluetick Coonhound

Henry © 2008 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning

This is our Henry. Here’s his story.

What a dog! We love him. He loves us.

Well, as suddenly as my cold came, it retreated. I got a really good night’s sleep, and when I woke up this morning I was perfectly fine. I was pretty much on the ball this afternoon, so I remembered to take more work in progress photos:

1. After the initial sketch (with a burnt umber colored pencil), I blocked in the main colors.

2. I added a glaze of pthalo and cobalt blues to the background and to the black areas of Henry, and a burnt sienna glaze to the tan areas.

3. and 4. Doing my best to keep the brushstrokes loose and expressive, adding more layers of color and detail, working from dark to light, until ... well ... it’s Henry!

Here’s a close-up detail:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Professor Henry

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I have a very bad head cold today, and I’m really wiped out. The only thing I’ve created today is a small mountain of used kleenex.

So I had some chicken soup and a bagel for supper, and I’m treating you all to this picture of Henry in one of his more studious moods.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Summer Flashback

Morning Light in August @2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 12 • acrylic on 2" deep cradled Gessobord
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning • sold unframed
looks great even without a frame • hanging wire already attached
CLICK HERE to bid!

On this muddy, freezing-rainy, sleety, possibly-snowy-later-on-tonight winter day, it’s nice to have a little flashback to a perfect summer morning. I painted this one back in August; it’s another painting that’s coming home from the exhibit soon, and now available for purchase on eBay. Here are some details ...

... and here are a couple of work in progress photos:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A new eBay listing ...

Midsummer Morning @2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 16 • acrylic on 2" deep cradled Gessobord
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning • sold unframed
looks great even without a frame • hanging wire already attached
CLICK HERE to bid!

My paintings will be coming home from the Medical Library exhibit soon, so I’ll be listing some of them for sale on eBay. I first posted this one last August. Here are some close-up details:

and work in progress photos:

Grumpy Gus

Here’s Grumpy Gus, Calendar Bear, reminding us all that today is January 16. He really loves his job; he just likes to pretend he’s in a bad mood all the time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ray, cat of 1000 napping nooks ...

Here’s Ray, napping in the space recently occupied by 24 caffeine free diet cokes.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Keep your heart quiet, your eyes open

II Thessalonians 2:16-17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

Today I was reminded by my reading in Daily Strength for Daily Needs not to get so caught up in my own struggles that I fail to see a God-given opportunity to extend a helping hand where I can. We never know what blessings we may have missed by overlooking an opportunity to do something kind for someone in our path:
Oh, when we turn away from some duty or some fellow creature, saying that our hearts are too sick and sore with some great yearning of our own, we may often sever the line on which a divine message was coming to us. We shut out the man, and we shut out the angel who had sent him on to open the door. There is a plan working in our lives; and if we keep our hearts quiet and our eyes open, it all works together; and, if we don’t, it all fights together, and goes on fighting till it comes right, somehow, somewhere.

- Annie Keary (1825-1879)

P.S. the photo is one of the pastures I walk by every day with the dogs; I love that huge cypress tree out in the middle.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Anticipating Spring ©2008 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning

Here’s Bailey, in a comfy spot by the window, looking out at the wintery day. I like to imagine she’s anticipating the warm days ahead, but I really have no idea what goes on in that head. She might be remembering back to her carefree kitten days (as opposed to her stress-ridden and over-burdened life of today ... ha!). Or she might be planning her next strategic move in her secret plan to become Queen of the Universe.

I really meant to take more work in progress photos, but once I got to a certain point, I just couldn’t stop painting ... I guess I was “in the zone”!

and here’s a close-up view:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Introducing a new favorite

A couple of days ago in her Redhead Art blog, Melanie had a link to another blog which has become a new favorite of mine: Pioneer Woman. This woman is hilarious and she takes great photos!

Well, I have to confess today was one of those Saturdays that got completely away from me. At about 5:00 I looked at the clock and went “WHAT??! - What the heck happened to the day?”

I did spend the better part of the morning planning the composition for a new large painting, which I’m putting together from about 5 different pictures. Other than than I didn’t accomplish much more than packing away most of the remaining Christmas-y type things mentioned in yesterday’s post. Except for the snowmen. I figure they can stay until the end of February, since technically they’re winter decorations and not specifically Christmas decorations. I get this type of thinking from my mom.

Anyway, excuse me for totally changing the subject, but here’s Henry engaged in one of his favorite activities ...

... sitting on the back porch, watching. Just watching. Sometimes I wonder what’s going on in that canine brain. I stood in the kitchen watching him watching the back yard for a long stretch of time during which he didn’t move a muscle. I sneaked away very quietly to get my camera and when I came back he was still there, like a statue. I started to wonder if maybe he had fallen asleep sitting there, until I snapped the picture.

Now tell me: who wouldn’t love that face?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Farewell, all ye Christmas ornaments, farewell!

I keep hoping maybe one of these mornings I’ll walk in here and find that all these lingering little critters will have mysteriously packed themselves away until it’s time to come out again for next year’s Christmas festivities.

But alas and alack, no such fortuitous event has occurred. Sigh. I guess I shall have to take it upon myself to do it tomorrow. At least they all made it to this corner of the room - that’s something!

Don’t ask me what the Milkbones are doing back there, by the way.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Golden Oldie

Late Summer Path ©2005 Karen Mathison Schmidt
9 x 12 • acrylic on wood panel
private collection, Mitcham, Surrey, UK

A very long day. Here’s another one from the archives - I don’t think I’ve shown this one before. Right after I painted this, I sold it to a very nice woman who lives in England, and who now owns 3 of my paintings. I must admit it’s very encouraging to be “collected”!

And another quote from Daily Strength for Daily Needs:
Gratitude consists in a watchful, minute attention to the particulars of our state, and to the multitude of God’s gifts, taken one by one. It fills us with a consciousness that God loves and cares for us, even to the least event and the smallest need of life. ... When this feeling is awakened, the heart beats with a pulse of thankfulness. Every gift has its return of praise. It awakens an unceasing daily converse with our Father – He speaking to us by the descent of blessings, we to Him by the ascent of thanksgiving. And all our whole life is therey drawn under the light of His countenance, and is filled with a gladness, serenity, and peace which only thankful hearts can know.

– H. E. Manning (1808-1892)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Santa Fe, revisited ...

You don't have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
– C. S. Lewis

Santa Fe Garden ©2005 Karen Mathison Schmidt
10 x 10 • acrylic on cradled artist’s panel
Private Collection, Chico, CA

Here’s one from a while back ... as you can see, I painted it before I changed my signature to include my married name. I plan to start publishing cards and prints for sale in the near future, and this one will definitely be one of the available images – it’s one of my favorites!

And just now, when I went looking for a quote by C. S. Lewis, I came upon this really interesting website quite by accident. I should probably warn you, though ... it wouldn’t be hard to get lost in there for hours ... enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Red Shoes!

There’s No Place Like Home ©2008 Karen Mathison Schmidt
acrylic on 6 x 6 Gessobord • gloss varnish for protection & ease of cleaning
SOLD • private collection • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

My husband and I took a trip to northern California last October to visit his parents, and on the way back down to my sister’s in Long Beach we stopped for a long overdue visit with a good friend of mine who now lives in San Francisco. While we were chatting and catching up (to the background music Paul was providing on our friend’s acoustic guitar, which she generously GAVE to him later when we were making our farewells!) with the bay window open to a view of a park across the winding street and the Golden Gate Bridge way, way, way in the distance, I noticed these patent leather shoes sitting on the floor right under the windowsill, like a little red sculpture, a gift to my friend from her friend. Just a reminder that “there’s no place like home.”

Work in progress photos:

I tried to keep the brush strokes nice and loose, with a sense of fun. After I blocked in the composition (photo 1) I put glazes of color in the 3 main areas of the wall, the floor and the shoes, choosing green (the complement of red on the color wheel) as the underpainted color for the shoes (photo 2). Then finishing with layers of color and more detail, until the painting says, “ok, enough - I’m done!”