Friday, April 26, 2013

Beware of Ticks, Painters

Last year I contracted Lyme's Disease while painting en plein air.

I neglected to wear bug spray; I was walking in weedy fields and the woods; I wore shorts and loose fitting tops. I didn't shower as soon as I left the field.   I did everything wrong.

After my first day of painting, I was covered in insect, I bought some insect repellant was apparently too late.  I painted for five days during this contest in Pennsylvania and by the next weekend, when I arrived home, I was feeling tired and drained of all energy.  I had one particularly red insect bite in the very middle of my back which I kept watching throughout the following week.  All other mosquito and gnat bites disappeared, but  this bite remained red and angry.

Meanwhile, I was feeling just awful.  I would wake up in the morning around 7 am, and nap again at 10 am.  I'd fall asleep again at 2 pm and then sleep all night.  I felt achy.  I had headaches.  I was dragging myself to teach my time progressed, I began to feel incredibly ill.

I was almost grateful when, at the end of that second week, a pale red "bull's eye" rash formed around that one insect bite in the very middle of the back.

Now, I knew what was making me sick.  I had Lyme's Disease.  This was readily confirmed by blood tests and my physician, and I was immediately placed on a round of antibiotics.

So, painters!  Watch yourself and take all precautions you can and read up about Lyme's Disease.  I now wear long pants with socks tucked over them and I spray my clothing with spray containing DEET.  I tend to paint along the road, instead of in the weeds.  I shower immediately after finishing,
and I check my body for those nasty little creatures. 

Happy painting, everyone,  and take care of yourself out there in the field.....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Washington Capitol in Early Spring (c) contact artist for information

Hmmm.....I've got twenty yards of mulch sitting in my driveway.  My gardens desperately need to be fertilized, trimmed and mulched.  Thank goodness I've got help for this project.  It feels great to have my lovely flower gardens cared for.

While the very competent workers edge the beds and spread the mulch, I paint.  I finished this watercolor today of the Washington Capitol in Early Spring. 

20 Yards of Mulch, Spring, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

What Do I Do This Summer?

"The Homeward Journey," $850.00, at Oatlands, Leesburg, VA May 2013

I'm looking forward to the summer.  Something magical happens to me when I'm outside painting "en plein air."  I've decided not to teach for a few months, and to take a break during June and July, and spend as much time as I can outdoors.

Some of my students have been asking me:  "What are we going to do during the summer?  Who shall we take lessons from?"

Here's what I recommend that you do during the summer:

Do something that you've always wanted to do, but you've been putting it off, saying....oh, I'll get there one day.  This summer is the day, the time and the hour.  Go to Europe, or go bungee jumping, or learn how to high dive or go mountain climbing or drive across the country.

Do something that fills you with fear.  For me, this will definitely be something associated with very high altitudes.  

Walk slowly.  

Breathe deeply and inhale every fragrant scent that nature makes.

Sit in the sun.  Fall asleep.

Day dream.  I'll bet you NEVER do this.  Spend hours lolling around in a chair on a porch, rocking and listening and breathing.....

Fall asleep in the sun, again.

Take the most fabulous vacation you've ever dreamed of.  Think about paying for it later.

Go on a picnic.

Draw and paint outdoors.  Make mistakes.  Flounder.  Rip some paper.  Scream...laugh....cry....feel.  Draw and paint some more.  Don't worry about what things will "look" like.  Paint with new mediums that you've never used before.  Make more mistakes and laugh at them.  They will become abstracts or collages later.  Take a sketch book with you everywhere and draw everything that you see in restaurants, parks, the gas station, along the road and in church.  Pen and ink in the good things.  Experiment.  

Breathe, and enjoy yourself and give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn anything that you want to from them. 

Just have a great summer.  One never knows.  Squeeze everything you can out of this one.......

My very best, Catherine Hillis,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Painting Should Be Fun

Homeward Bound (c) Contact the Artist for Inquiries

Painting should be fun. 

Painting should be fun.

Painting should be fun.

I make my living as a professional artist and I'm juggling many hats in the air.  Sometimes, I have so many classes to teach and so many exhibits to prepare for, that I hardly know how I'll make all my deadlines.  While I do work well under pressure, there are times when I must stop....step outside for a while....and remember to breathe.  It's hard to produce good artwork if you're experiencing stress. 

Running a small business, no matter what it is you stressful.
Keeping up with taxes and business records and paperwork  and pr is stressful.
Ordering frames and mat board, and cutting mats (the large and expensive ones nearly always have to be cut twice, because I'm rushing and making mistakes) and packaging a first rate product is stressful.
Delivering and shipping work can be stressful.
Thinking about what to paint should NOT be stressful.

So, when I start feeling that incredible tension creeping up my back, I try to go for a walk along my peaceful country road, or I go to a yoga class, or I just step outside to breathe and slow down.

I have a Civil War themed show coming up at Oatlands Plantation, outside of Leesburg, VA in May, 2013.  My painting, "Homeward Bound" is slated to be in the show...among others.

I have also been elected to the Washington Society of Landscape Painters
It's a great honor to be one of the 40 members of this esteemed organization that includes only elected artists in the MD-VA-PA-DC area.  I am so honored!  Thanks, WSLP members, for believing in me.  Our first of many Centennial Exhibits this year opens this Friday, April 5, 6:30 pm at the Arts Club in Washington, in Washington, DC.

But - remember!  Painting really should be fun...............