“Axle” A Short Story Of Love and Loss

This is a “portrait” of Axle, and a short story of (metaphorical?) love and loss. Axle used to sit by the side of the road between my small city and the town where my oldest daughter lives. With a peachy tan complexion, and wide eyes, Axle became a mile marker of sorts. One that my grandkids and I came to view as “our old car by the side of the road”. “There he is” they’d say, “there’s Axle”.

I had given him the name Axle due to the obvious fact that his front axle was broken, his tires askew. This just seemed to add to the charm of our roadside friend. It’s pretty accurate to say that we amorphized this charming old truck that, week after week, year after year sat vigilantly waiting for our passage.

The thing is that, Axle was not entirely forgotten by everyone other than us. Someone diligently repainted him every year. That is, for a few years anyway. Someone loved Axle as much as we did. He was never moved, or covered, but someone cared. He sat in a small patch of land between the road, a stream, and woods beyond.

Through the changing seasons, the glaring sun of summer, the fall of the leaves, the blowing snows of winter and when the wildflowers would bloom next to him, Axle was there.

But then something changed, some time passed since his last paint job, and the rust became more prominent. He was still charming, maybe even more so in his aged look, but something was definitely different.

And then came the day he was murdered! I drove by one spring day on my way to get the kids, and saw something that, well made me irrationally angry, and sad. Someone had shot Axle in his right eye! Our loyal mascot had become someone’s careless target.

I didn’t mention it to the kids, but they of course noticed. What could I say, there are just soulless people in this world. I just told them that ‘maybe someone would fix him, and he’d be back’, and we went by.

But that was not to be. Months went by and poor Axle sat forlornly with his fatal wound.

And then one day I drove by, and Axle was gone. I tried to console myself that someone was going to give him a new life. We were never to know. He was just gone.

Its funny how sometimes seemingly innocuous things can bring out feelings more than the things that are what most would consider really important. Maybe they’re a sort of surrogate emotional object. One that is easier, less dangerous to express our feelings about. I still miss him.

I think that right now, at this moment in history especially, we need to hold onto the little things that we may not be thinking about as much as usual. I’m glad that I had decided to paint the picture of Axle. It’ll always be a nice reminder of being with my grand kids and those sweet, silly moments that are really the most important moments.

Playing With Mixed Media

Abstract paintings have been something that I have enjoyed doing, especially in the last few years. I particularly enjoy figurative abstract art. It produces a type of freedom to let go, as well as results in a more exciting piece to view. Having never been one to use mixed media, I have preferred getting the look I was striving for with the paint alone. But the other day, while waiting for something, I pulled up a photo of a painting I had done, and started to play around with the photo editor on my phone. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. So I decided to share them with you here.

This first piece, so far, is my personal favorite. It also happens to be one that I did, after finally deciding that this painting was as finished and refined as it was going to get. (More on that later.)

Isaiah At The Waterfall

Although the painting itself was not as spontaneous as when I incorporate the abstract elements as I paint, I do really like the outcome. And using a computer editor, gave me the chance to add to, or completely change how I wanted it to look, which was kind of fun. Below are other versions of this painting as unfinished, and unrefined, with and without embellishments. When I do a portrait of a specific person, it will go through many changes to get to where I feel it represents the person, and I am satisfied with it, as you can see from the photos of this portrait.

The painting itself went through a lot more changes after this to get to where I was good with it.

Some of these changes may appear very subtle but they make all of the difference in capturing the spirit and personality of the subject. There were a lot more stages, but I thought I’d move on to the fun part, goofing around with my phone!

Some of the tools on the app could be taken pretty far, such as this bit, where I went overboard with pixalating it. But I thought it was kind of interesting.

I threw in just a few pixels on this one, and thought the overall effect was cool. Also this was still not a “finalized version” of the painting itself.

The next three images were manipulated on the final version. And although sometimes never completely satisfied, I have to know when to say, “done.”

I hope you are all well and safe, and join me next time! (PS I know I had mentioned that I might go over some of the tools that I use, in this post. I still hope to do that in the future.)

Cats, Work, and Changing Seasons

So I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed, but I haven’t been around as much of late. Truth be told, I just haven’t had the energy. Due to the changing seasons, some problems at the “other” job, i.e. people being out ill, and a general lack of employees, I’ve been filling in quite a bit. Thankfully, some awesome people have been hired, and things are easing up a bit. Time to stretch, aaahh.

With everything that has been going on, I haven’t really had time to even think about what to write. But as it’s always fun to see pictures of cats, (I know I can never get enough of them), I decided to share some kitty pics I’ve done.

When our cat gets this look on his face, well… heheh

I did this portrait some time ago, of a beloved cat named Bic. That was the name he came with when we adopted him from a shelter at the age of two. We actually thought about changing his name, but it seemed to suit him so we kept it. Bic was a very special cat, and was a legend amongst family and friends. Even people who didn’t particularly like cats, (I know, what?!) loved Bic. There was just something about him. He was smart, sweet, and playful. Years after he was gone, people would talk about him, and reminisce. So here’s to you Bicy-bear, we’ll always remember you.

Just a sketch I did of a pretty fluffers.

“Murray In Repose”

I think these ladies are going home to take care of their cats, heheh. Bye for now, hope you enjoyed this post. See you next time!

From The Easel; Building A Love Note In Paint

When painting a portrait it often feels like a love note in paint for me. The following pictures are some of the steps to creating one such “love note”. I recently painted this portrait of one of my daughters, Nikki and our puppers, Kota. It had started out as just a simple sketch of a nice summer day, but I liked the pose and decided it would make a nice painting. The following are some of the steps taken to build on this portrait and create something both meaningful to me and interesting to the viewer. I call this; “Walking On The Fourth” as I completed it around that time. Enjoy!

After I had lightly sketched in the initial drawing, I then started to block in the basic shapes with an underpainting of the general colors I planned to use.

I then began filling in the facial features, and added more to the background as well as added some more smaller details to the figure. Then I began to layer in more detail on the fence and on the piece of wood on the ground. Adding more trees as well as more colors and leaf shapes to the trees that were already there, gave the background more depth. At this point I also added some more shading and fur to Kota’s image.

Unfortunately I hadn’t gotten enough sequential photos to show all of the details used to further flesh out and finish this painting. Needless to say, there was some reworking, and a bit more detail work needed, such as the layers on Kota’s fur, and darkening Nikki’s hair. I did this until it felt finished to me. (Something I’ve gotten better at over time, is knowing when a painting is finished. Maybe I’ll tackle that topic soon!) I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the steps that brought this painting to life. Thank you for stopping by. See you next time!