Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We've Been Acquired or Life Lessons From A Kitten

Last Saturday, Chris and I found ourselves in the possession of a bow-legged, bat-eared, talon-toed kitten.

Make no mistake as to who was in control of this situation.

Her name is Willis. Mostly. She's also been called Skunk Monkey, Demon, Dammit, and NinjaPuss.
Willis Ferlita
And before you ask, no her name has nothing to do with the TV sit-com from the 80's, but it does have significance to us.

Can you hear that laughter? That's the Universe ROFLIAO. You see, we weren't ready for a new kitten. Or a puppy. We weren't even sure we were going to get another one at all.

Yeah, well, put one lost, hungry and lonely kitten in my parents' garage on the day I have to go over there and poof! We now have a kitten in the house.
Playing with an oversized pipe cleaner
The lessons we've observed so far...

She knows what she wants and she goes and gets it. There is no try. There is do or do not. Or, in her case, attack or do not. Either way, she gets what she wants and she's not afraid to get vocal about it either.

She is nearly fearless and quite fierce. Anything and everything is fair game for those needle-sharp claws. So far she's stood up to the ceiling fan, my coffee mug, and demons only she can see.

She'll try anything once, including jumping up on things (like human legs) best not jumped up on, jumping off things that are a bit too high (tables) to be jumped from, and climbing up things not meant to be climbed (curtains). If she fails, she either tries again or goes and finds something else to do. She doesn't obsess or freak out.

She is respectful. When the older cat came into the room, she sits still and watches him. When he only had hisses and growls for her, she ignored him and went about playing like a maniac. Totally ignored him and his unhappy vibe. She didn't get hung up with his bad attitude nor did she waste any time wondering why he didn't like her.

She plays hard. Then she sleeps. So far she has two speeds—attack and sleep. She lives to eat, sleep, poop and most importantly, have fun and play. We've laughed more in the last 72 hours than we have in the last six months.
Look at those eyes. She's a wild child.
As for the older cat in the house...

Joey staged a hunger strike under the bed for the first 24 hours. When that proved unsuccessful in removing the intruder, he attempted extreme affection and cuteness in the hopes he would prove this new trespasser was completely unnecessary.

I suspect he fears the kitten armageddon that is sure to come as soon as we turn her loose on him. Poor Joey...he may not leave the comfort of his hiding place under our bed from several weeks.

Meanwhile, I think I'm going to see if I can't adopt her approach to life...play hard and often, be fierce, be fearless, try new things with abandon and ignore anyone who doesn't want to play with me!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bears and A Blues Jam (Guest Artist)

Elk Carcass Blues Jam
© Chris Ferlita
Colored Pencil and Ink
Stillman & Birn Alpha Sketchbook
5.5 x 8.5 inches 
(If you missed the first post, you might want to read it here before continuing.)

"I don't remember saying that," says my husband after he seeing the last Alaska post. "It sounds like something I could have said though."

"Seriously? Guess I must have just made that up," was my slightly sarcastic response.

"I remember you asking what I think of when I think of Alaska. You were trying to come up with something for the cover," he says, as if clarifying.

"I asked you what your strongest impressions from trip were."

"That was twenty years ago, I don't really remember the details of the trip," he responds.

"Yeah. Got that. That would explain why you thought you saw a bear eating an elk carcass. Because I'm pretty sure we didn't even see any elk in Alaska. We had to go to Tennessee for that," came my reply.

Again, he disappeared.

A little while later, I see him in his studio, bent over his table, smiling...

He's up to something.

I step closer to see what he's working on.

It's a bear jamboree.

Sort of.

He looks at me and says, "I know it's not real."

"Oh? And what was your first clue?" I inquire.

"Bears don't wear sunglasses."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

For The Greater Good...

Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band
Watercolor and Ink
Stillman & Birn Beta Bound Sketchbook
11 x 8.5 inches
Back in May, I went off for an evening of music and entertainment with some friends and to support a very worthy cause. We went to see Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band in downtown Tampa. They were playing to raise money for retired Marine Sergeant Mike Nicholson. Mike lost 3 limbs back in July 2011 and the proceeds of the concert and auction were going towards building him a specially equipped home.

The evening was fairly cool (for Florida). There was a nice breeze and despite sitting right next to the river, the bugs (mosquitos) were not bad. The crowd was a mix of young and old with many, many military personnel, retired and enlisted, present in support of the cause.

It is not often that you see a Hollywood star step up to the plate as Gary Sinise has done. He has taken his role as Lt. Dan from the Forrest Gump movie and uses it as a way to help those who have given their all to keep the United States free.

The band travels around the world raising funds and awareness of the needs of the wounded vets through the Gary Sinise Foundation. I encourage you to take a look and consider helping out.

I would love to tell you that the image above was painted on location, but I would have to lie to do that and I cannot tell a lie...
This was what was accomplished on location. It was fun attempting to get down the elements that spoke most to our location. The stage, the minarets of the University of Tampa and the palm trees swaying in the breeze.

Because it took f...o...r...e...v...e...r at the food trucks (not their fault—they were slammed as there were only two), it was nearly dark by the time I finished the sketch. Rather than attempt to paint in the dark, I  opted to wait until I was home.

When I finally got around to looking at my photos, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. They  didn't come close to show the light, the colors, the emotions swirling around in the air that evening.

Taking considerable creative license with the photo, I painted the colors I saw that night rather than worry about reality. Reality is overrated anyway. You'll note I moved the minarets and made them larger. I removed a lot of folks in the foreground and I deleted the guys running the lights and camera on top of the platform on the left. And probably most noticeable were the colors I added that do not show in the image.

I would like to call out a special thanks to Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band as well as to our Armed Forces for all that you do.

Each day. Every day.

For the greater good.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Birthdays and Bears (Guest Artist)

Suggested Alaskan Sketchbook Cover Idea
© Chris Ferlita
Colored Pencil and Ink
Printer Paper
During the Imaginary Visit to A Past Vacation class, I asked my husband what his strongest impression of Alaska was as this was the vacation I used to create the class demos.

He replied it was a bear eating an elk carcass.

Pausing, I turned to stare at him and said, "But we didn't see any bears eating an elk carcass. In fact, I don't think we saw any elk at all."

He shrugged and said, "We saw bears. They have to eat, right?"

"Yes, but I'm trying to come up with the cover of our sketchbook for the trip. You think a bear eating an elk carcass is appropriate?"

"You asked me what I remembered. You asked me what my strongest memories of Alaska are. There you go," he finished and off he went.

He was apparently in an alternate universe on our trip because his Alaska memories and my Alaska memories are definitely not the same, but I digress...

Now I gotta tell you, I wasn't about to put a bear eating an elk carcass on the front of the sketchbook.

Wasn't happening.

Chris stopped by my studio a little while later to see what I had come up with. Looking over my shoulder, he asked me for the dimensions of the sketchbook and then disappeared.

(You know what they say about when it gets too quiet you should be worried? Yeah well...)

What was interesting, is that he asked for none of our photos. No information whatsoever. In a little over two hours, he was back with a sketch in hand.

The image above was Chris' take on what the front cover of the sketchbook should look like!

I don't know of too many other pieces of art that express my husband's sense of humor quite so well. It also displays his belief that life should be fun, and if it's not, he'll either make it fun or he just won't play. He has a knack for finding the funny in nearly any situation and making us laugh.

Today also happens to be Chris' birthday and this is my shout out to the a very funny guy that keeps me laughing. (Most of the time.)

Happy, happy, happy birthday, Chris!
Doesn't he look happy?!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Classes at ImaginaryTrips.com!

Tuscan Gold
7.5 x 5.5 inches on Arches Cold Press 140 lb. paper
Watercolor

It's summertime and the travel is easy—just take an Imaginary Trip to a wonderful location and never leave home! No packing, no fatigue, no hassles with luggage or security lines.

Come take a look!

Imaginary Trip to Italy 2012 - Six weeks to visit the wonderful country of Italy. This class starts tomorrow, so hurry! More information can be seen here.

Imaginary Trip to Australia - This ALL NEW class starts this Thursday, July 11th. We'll take six weeks to travel around "down under!" You can sign up for the class here.

Imaginary Trip to New Zealand - Another ALL NEW class, we'll be headed to this fabulous country starting August 29th. Come and join the fun here.

Imaginary Trip to New Orleans - This city ROCKS! Come and join the fun starting September 3rd. For more information, click here.

I hope you'll join me on one of these fun adventures. The classes are very flexible and allow you to work on the assignments at your leisure so you can still get in plenty of playtime outside.

As always, we laugh, we learn and we come home with a great sketchbook full of the places we've seen, the things we've done and the experiences we've shared.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

This Just In: Husbands Are Funny Creatures

Double blue peanut M&M candy
Watercolor
Stillman & Birn Beta Journal
Yes, husbands are funny (odd) creatures.

This may not be a newsflash to you.

Actually, it isn't one for me either and before I get a bunch of "hate mail" just let me go ahead and acknowledge that the same could be said of wives.

Why do I feel compelled to share this non-newsflash with you?

Because...

The other evening my husband walked in and placed this double, blue peanut M&M candy on my desk and said "I heart you."
Click to enlarge (it's easier to see)
Full page, watercolor in
Stillman and Birn Beta Journal
Wasn't that sweet?

We all get busy—too busy—in life and forget that it only takes a minute to remember someone in such a way that makes them feel special.

Chris knows I love peanut M&Ms.

He knows that I love unusual heart-shapes.

And look at that…he remembered me during his day and then gave me the reminder that let me know that he was thinking about me when I wasn't around.

It's the little things that count.

Because little things get lost in the day-to-day of daily life, I created a journal page.

And then I ate the candy!

Has your honey-bunny, baby cakes done anything (big or small) for you lately?!
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Wishing everyone in the US a fabulous, safe, patriotic Fourth of July!