Tag Archives: sunflowers

A Little Mystery

Last week, there was a funny smell in my house. Not funny as in “ha ha”, but funny as in “peculiar.” My husband noticed it first, because he has a more sensitive nose. He wanted me to help him figure out where it was coming from, but that had to wait until it got worse, so I could smell it. Fortunately (?), it did get worse. It wasn’t horrendous, like a dead rat in the crawl space; it was just annoying, like slightly rotten vegetation.

We emptied the kitchen compost tray on the compost heap outside. We took out the trash. We sniffed around the house, trying to figure out where the smell was coming from, but we couldn’t track it down. We noticed it when we were relaxing in the living room, so we started pulling out the chair cushions. We found a few cracker crumbs and candy wrappers, but nothing rotten.

We sprayed Febreze on all the furniture and tried to pretend the smell was gone, but we were not fooling ourselves. It was subtle, but it was there. We looked under the furniture. We looked behind the furniture. Still nothing. We gave up and went to bed. The next day, my husband went back to his job and I went back to my spreadsheets. When I took a coffee break and relaxed in the living room, I smelled it again.

That’s when I thought about my painting space in the dining room and the vase of sunflowers I had left there. I got up to check and, sure enough, the smell was coming from my wilting sunflowers. The older ones looked pretty bad, so I pulled them immediately and threw them on the compost heap. The newer ones were still pretty, so I wanted to try painting them again.

My husband came home and I explained about the sunflowers. The older ones were gone and I was ready to believe the smell was gone, too, but he said it was not. I changed the vase and the water, hoping that would take care of the problem, but the problem was in the flowers, not the water. My supportive husband did not immediately throw the flowers on the compost heap, but I knew it was only a matter of time. It was too late for me to paint them that night, so I made plans to paint them the next day.

My husband is supportive, but he does have a sensitive nose. When I went to my painting space the next day, he confessed that he had sprayed Febreze on my sunflowers after I went to bed the night before. In case you wondered, sunflowers do not like to be Febrezed. I had to take one of them straight to the compost heap, but the other three still looked okay.

Three Sunflowers

Three Sunflowers

Whew! I got my painting. As soon as it was done, the flowers had to go, but at least they’ve been immortalized on canvas.

A Bigger Painting

When I stopped at Publix the day before my blogiversary, they only had one bunch of sunflowers in the store. They were a bit bedraggled but I really wanted to paint some sunflowers that day, so I bought them anyway. I went back a few days later and they had restocked the sunflowers. I couldn’t resist buying another bunch. Since my first bunch had been the dark orange-yellow kind, I chose a bunch of lighter yellow ones for my second bunch. I thought I would go right home and put them in the vase with my older ones and paint them.

I did put them in the vase, but I procrastinated on the painting. I had important things to do. I’m working on spreadsheets that will sort out my tie-dye inventory the way the IRS wants it sorted (FIFO) and it’s a tedious process that makes me wonder every year why I don’t just shut this business down and get a real job. Then I remember that a real job feels like death in a cubicle and I get back to work on my spreadsheets. My inner critic is happy when I’m working on spreadsheets.

I wanted to paint, but I resisted painting. It wasn’t just the FIFO thing, either. I was nervous about painting. I had just finished my first whole year of painting and I had spent time in this blog congratulating myself for meeting my goal and celebrating the progress I had made. For some reason, that made it hard to start a new painting. I thought about it every day, but I didn’t do it. My flowers stayed pretty, but I knew they wouldn’t last forever. It would be a shame to have eight sunflowers in the house and let them wilt without trying to paint them.

Yesterday, I finally decided what size canvas to use (16” x 20”) and I painted it purple. My daughter had set up her tying table in front of some bins, which made it a perfect place to hang a purple towel and set up my sunflowers. My usual display area wouldn’t work because the arrangement was too big.

Once the purple was dry, I tried to do some sketching on it with a pencil, but it just didn’t work. I decided I needed a charcoal pencil and then I decided I didn’t want to go out in the rain to get one, so I went back to my spreadsheets.

My husband got home as I was working on my spreadsheets and said he needed to go the store which must not be named (Okay, it was Walmart) to get a coffee maker for his office. He wondered if I would like to go along and I jumped at the chance, since he would be the one driving in the rain. He got his coffee maker and I got some charcoal pencils. Yes, the store which must not be named carries charcoal pencils.

It was pretty late by the time we got home and I still needed to cook supper, so I waited until this morning to sketch my sunflowers. I took a couple of photographs of the set-up because I was using natural light and I had a feeling I would not be able to finish the painting before the light changed. I was right about that. This painting took me about six hours to complete.

More Sunflowers

More Sunflowers

It was worth it, but the next time I try a project like this, I hope I remember to stop for lunch.

Painting in May

Last week, I wrote about Mother’s Day and how I hadn’t been able to take that day off from making tie-dye since we started getting ready for our first Florida Folk Festival in 2008. This week, I can tell you that I spent my 2014 Mother’s Day resting and having fun with my family. All of my children and grandchildren came over for a backyard cookout and my husband did the cooking. It was a lovely day, in spite of the fact that my husband had to pull the grill under our dyeing canopy and run through a storm to bring in the hot dogs and corn.

Since I had met my dyeing goals on Saturday, I was able to take some time Monday morning to paint. I had picked up some sunflowers at the grocery store on Sunday, with the hope of finding some painting time before they wilted, but I went outside early Monday morning to put Onesies into pre-soak and the backyard garden caught my eye again. I was feeling brave, so I decided to try painting outdoors. Once the Onesies were up, I brought out my easel and paints to try and capture the garden before the squash blossom closed up and the Onesies got dry.

Let’s call this a learning experience.

Garden with Squash Blossom

Garden with Squash Blossom

The difficulty level was way beyond my skills and my inner critic had a field day telling me that I was hopeless at painting and I would never get any better and I might as well give up. I heard the voice but I didn’t pay it much attention because the act of painting had put me in a good mood for the whole day. I did want to try something easier the next time, though, so on Tuesday, I painted the sunflowers. My daughter called just as I was finishing up because it was time to get started on the rinsing. I brought her to my house and she admired the sunflower painting. Then she pointed out something I hadn’t noticed – the difference between this painting of sunflowers and the first sunflower painting I had done in early March.

My inner critic can no longer make me believe that I will never get any better at painting. Here’s the March painting:

Early Sunflowers

Early Sunflowers

Here’s the one I did yesterday.
More Recent Sunflowers

More Recent Sunflowers

My skills are definitely improving. In your face, inner critic!