The Process: Day 3


A few set-backs today. I woke up with a "bad neck" and got started later than I wanted to. I had to medicate which fuzzed me up a bit and caused me to work slower. Then this afternoon I heard a weird sound coming from what I thought was the road. As I walked up my driveway I could tell the sound was coming from my well; it was the sound of forceful water hitting the top of the cover. I turned the pump off, returned to the well and  removed the soggy insulation that I had wrapped around the well head last winter. I discovered, by way of multiple stings, that there was a bee hive buried deep inside the insulation. A nice puffy hand will take your mind off a hurting neck every time  - and I think it may have even healed me because now that I am in for the night - I feel pretty good. Or was it the delightful bath I had buck nekkid in my cool creek that did the trick? Either way, Im ready to relax and review todays painting progress.

I mostly worked on the peacock. The painting is in a very awkward stage right now, and I have written about that before. It is in these times where doubt tends to creep in, but my minds eye has such a clear vision of how this should be that I didnt panic when I had to stop for the day with so many rough areas unresolved. The tail of the peacock is a labor intensive section. I started with black which makes it look too strong for the rest of the painting right now. I will shade that down a bit in some areas, but that background will be critical for the linear work that is the part of the feather thats airy. Somehow Ive got to figure out how I am going to morph the tail into the won't be under the water like Flannery's legs, it will float on top.

Speaking of floating on top, I've decided to have the forearm crutches that Flannery used to do just that. I downloaded a good clean photo of that kind of crutch from a medical supply company for reference. I think it will be tricky to have them in the water and know what you are looking at -I mean, if a viewer is not familiar with Flannery, I still need them to know there are crutches in the water.

I use my computer all day looking up photos of things. You can see a reference image of a peacock on the screen as well as my layabout do nothing Trouter.

Here we have yet another shiftless creature. Both have been in trouble with me today for chasing away the doves from the feeder. You would not believe the grooves in my deck that are from the dogs charging off after doves and squirrels and falling leaves.

Working back to front on the tail, I will refine several times the edges of green and brown and black. The black and white striping of the peacock is a lot like my own hen Vera's feathers. I like the face but its not quite where I want it to be. The body of the peacock is mostly done, it will need finessing at the end but its about right. Once all the turquoise feather lines get painted in that tail and the water is deepened and tricked out the painting will be back in balance.

Here you can see the rough underpainting of Flannery's hands. This is very "illustratory" as human hands are about as big as the face they belong to. Go ahead, try it. Put your hand on your face with the heel on the chin and fingers extended to the hairline. Open your hand and you will see it mostly covers your face. Flannery's head is about 5 times too large for reality -but I like it that way because it emphasizes the container for her incredible brain, her thoughts and her literary gift. This is a device that you see in african art often. I am also reminded of the work of Romare Bearden who in his jazz portraits, emphasized hands because they were important, making the music.

Thinking about Flannery's writing today I arrived at what I am going to do with the background. In the areas outside of the cone of grace, there will be demons and devils. They will be barely perceptible in the end. That's one of the neat things about acrylic painting that could never have happened with gouache, which was the paint I used as an illustrator. I will be able to paint the devils - and paint them fully and well - and then add layers of QNAG (explained in the previous post) until they fade into a pattern only to be recognized upon closer examination. I love the idea of the painting having a life beyond the first look -where things materialize and the content becomes as rich and layered as the surface of the wood.

I remembered today a little room in Barcelona Spain, where the great architect Gaudi slept as he worked on his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, the great sand castle cathedral. The little room with a single cot was located in the basement of the cathedral. It got to the point where he didnt even bother to go home at night. The work was all that mattered to him. Sometimes when I am working on a project like this and I have time pressure I feel like I am living in an alternate universe and can identify with Gaudi being so single mindedly focused.

Even though I have the well problem to deal with tomorrow, I hope to have a very productive day and be able to show you some resolution in the tail and water tomorrow night.

Thanks for joining me!


  1. "a lot like my own hen Vera's feathers"

    The Barred Rock-like feathers were the first thing that caught my eye today. I was wondering if that was an intentional homage.

    "delightful bath I had buck nekkid in my cool creek"


  2. [back to tic the e-mail box]

  3. is your neck and hand ok? :-(

    so much to say, but I'm a tired shop worker so let me just say I love this post and I heart you.


  4. p.s. isnt' that creek cold????? bwahahahahahaha

  5. pss - where was nephew? Aunty isn't going to like this.

  6. lx: no thats how a peacock is! I might buy a fake tail and attach it to Vera - get her a little creek pixs though. It was COLD and i used do bonners peppermint soap (it is biodegradable) which made it extra refreshing. helped with the stings too.

  7. Boxer: sweet tired shop girl...thanks for coming by anyway. YES you know how cold it was. I was only about knee deep and used a washcloth to do the rest. Nephew? i havent seen him in weeks! rest well xoxox

  8. Chickie, this is fabulous. I went back and read the previous posts but will comment here. I love hearing about the process and watching all the under-work ... is that a word? But most of all, it makes me want to read something by Flannery. I just have never heard of her before and can't believe it ... I'm usually up on authors. What do you recommend? She looks amazing. Those blue eyes are something. She is quirky and cool and retro but modern. We have one painting in our work collection that is goache and everyone comments on the fantastic colors. But I would have no idea what the difference in techniques would be .. all so beyond me. Keep up the good work, and maybe some bee venom is just what you needed.

  9. This is how you create on a bad day??
    Not too shabby chick.
    I love the scale and drama of the bird. Can hardly wait to see the final colors!

    Peppermint is great for achy breaky body parts. I can testify. I have a tube of Burts Bees Peppermint Foot Lotion. I found by accident this stuff works wonders on my achey neck. Now, when I know I am going to spend my day on the drawing board, it's Burts first. Halelujiah!

    I cannot imagine how you work in the studio climbing over what look to be giant dogs. Sweet, but they look huge in there! I guess we are accustomed to seeing them outdoors where the scale looks reasonable.

    Do you listen to Flannery on cd while painting your homage? Just wondered as I like to listen to books on tape when I am working alone in my studio.

    Hope dealing with the well doesn't eat your day tomorrow.
    I am still looking forward to the water.


  10. Chick9, oh this is thrillin'. This paintin' will be arrestin' to the art judges.

    The bird is grand--and ain't Flannery's description of peacocks fabulous?

    I'se really sorry --so so sorry--about yore neck, so I ain't gonna switch yore laigs fer goin' nekkid in the creek--what is ya' thinkin'? Jes' tryin' to give Nephew a show? Think this through now, Pup.

    Whata fun series of posts--thanky

  11. Wow! You made a lot of progress today. Are there pics of the buck nekkid in creek portion of the day?

    Drugs, even pain meds, are bad in my view.

  12. Pam: there are so many good flannery stories. you need the book with a collection of short stories. Good Country People is my favorite story. I will write about this on one of these process posts about my time in Milledgeville, where Flannery lived with her mother after she got Lupus. Milledgeville is where the state asylum is which is funny considering Flannery's cast of characters. You will love her...its very southern lit. Gouache is a very flat paint -its colors are rich because it absorbs light...acrylic, which of course is plastic, reflects. Gouache is a great medium for reproduction - like illustrating a book. It is difficult to paint large with dries so fast it makes seams where dry meets wet so you just cant paint big areas like the background you see here. but almost all the illustration you see on my website is gouache. Im glad you are following along -it must be hard to take your eyes off the baby!

    fishy: its funny you should mention that...I was going to download a flannery book to listen to but ended up on Pandora most the day. once the insects fire up in the afternoon i just listen to them. the well -if it does it cant be helped. I need water!
    I might have to work in the night some this weekend to make deadline. thats ruff...the light is harsh. Friday will have to be cram school. Thanks for your peppermint suggestion!

    aunty: it was almost dark and the dogs were there too. look, that would be too hard for nephew to creep back thar...he wouldve been down at Donald Rays Brother's Place by then anyway. doan switch me!! glad youse here.

    troll: you think so? I was thinking, this post wont show much happened for a whole day. I hope that tomorrow there will be no white of the board left showing. alas, No buck nekkid pix -and it aint nothing to see if there was. Drugs are like guns. They are tools and can be live savers or a life stealers.

  13. A buck nekkid dip in a cold creek sounds exhilarating...but too risky in my neck of the woods-I'd probably get arrested!
    And today I've learned about the proportion of hands and faces. Yesterday lips, today hands...very informative.

  14. Ouch!! Sorry about the bee stings, they do hurt.
    This work of art is looking fabulous, a peacocok is not an easy subject to paint with all of those patterned and iridescent feathers, you have captured the colours beautifully and the turquoise added to the tail will make it perfection.
    Is it hot there, the girls look exhausted?
    Happy painting tomorrow sweet girl.
    xoxoxo ♡

  15. Love the way the peacock is coming along! Beautiful colors as always! I feel your pain (although slightly different) with the bugs. We recently bought a house in the country (ha! Alabama country!) and we have fire ants everywhere...and oh, how I wish the new house had a creek! We did end up the 3 acres which will be prefect for our little family addition due in about 3 months! When I read about your studio not having ac I felt your pain there too...ours has died a slow, pitiful death this summer inspiring our neighbors to loan us one so that I grew the baby instead of cooking it....this comments turned into a bit of a ramble...but love the new work! Keep it up!

  16. Chick - you are on to something with the bee venom. It's been used for a very long time as a painkiller. New research shows it might be helping with rheumatoid arthritis - I clipped this from
    "Bee venom also contains a substance known as adolapin, which is both anti-inflammatory and pain-blocking."
    Of course, you got your venom the old-fashioned way - lol! The painting is knocking my socks off and her face has rekindled my love for her writing. I've added her to my library list. xox Pam

  17. Love this journey! Especially like the peacock's legs...relaxed, showing trust in her arms. Hmmm...bee stings have been used as a remedy in ancient times, maybe they were onto something. xo, Cary

  18. Chicky baby, I so get the alternate universe. I used to feel that way when I did my beadwork, working for hour upon hour into the night, not even wanting to stop to cook, so ordering take away to get back to it.

    Is the QNAG expensive? I remember a painter friend loving cobalt and telling me how pricey that particular blue is.

    I'm curious to see how you are going to work on the tail with the well as the crutches, and think it's wise of you to leave the harder parts for later to get the bulk of the work done. Good luck, looks beautiful to me so far!

    PS: Like your analogy about drugs and guns, too true. xo

  19. On occasion, I enter that universe when I write. An entire day will go by without me even knowing it, and I haven't eaten, showered, played with the dogs, or acknowledged S.B.'s existence. Coming out of it and back to everyday tasks can be difficult.

    My favorite part of this painting so far is the haughty look on the peacock's face. "Yes, I AM so very beautiful."

    Sorry about your hand, but I have heard that for some people, bee stings have therapeutic properties.

  20. how's the hand, neck, well today??

    Leetle bitty bit worriet fer ya.

  21. Good afternoon Chickory,

    I think it's beautiful and was surprised at how far you progressed since yesterday.

    I'm not sure if you remember, but I deal with some fairly significant pain issues also. I won't do narcotics. And have found that mixing 200 to 500 mg of aspirin with 200 to 500 mg of ibuprofen can not only relieve most pain, it reduces the inflammation causing the pain. It doesn't affect your mental capacities. If your stomach can tolerate aspirin you may want to give it a try. I have heard of people doing this with Tylenol instead of aspirin, but I don't do Tylenol, so I don't know if it works or not.

    Hmm, cold stream, you could get a web cam.

  22. Getting caught up here. Fascinating to see the peacock develop, and I will be glued to my computer screen to see how you handle the water! Hope the hand, and the well, did not put too big a crimp in your progress today.

  23. deborah: i am blessed to have a free flowing cold creek. when the well goes out I can get buckets of it to flush, or run through the filter for drinking water. I havent bathed with dr bonners since my camping days and it brought back such fond memories of adventure. Ill have to embed more art school knowledge for you in upcoming posts.

    dianne: im not sure how i am going to handle the layering of those feathers. I will start today (its friday) with looking at the photos really hard and developing a plan. Im glad you come everyday - your friendship is like warm sun on my back. thank you.

  24. hilary: congratulations!! how exciting. I have an AC unit for the window -but I havent put it in because I need to keep that studio door to keep an eye on my dogs. I have a property surrounded by a huge expanse of woods...and no fence. Ive been training my young dog to stay home and I am almost 100%...but she still slinks off now and then and I need to see that so i can correct it. and, i sort of like the temp - its not too bad. Im used to it now.

    Yoborobo: ooooo good! What Flannery are you reading? On fridays post i will write about my time in her town. You were absolutely correct about the venom. amazing. So glad you are here!

    cary! welcome friend. good to see you stop in. Your comment is a real gift...thanks for noticing that...its true about fowl - they will use their feet to push off if they dont want to be held.

    DIva: your beadwork? Id like to see that. Im sure that cooking could be that way -i think baking is. Im still thinking about that coconut cake! You are right, its good to rough in all of it before you get down to detail work. I had to get that face early though because everything else is in service to it. Thnak you for joining me for this process!

    moi: i turned out to be some people. Im astonished at how well that worked. Im sure you do get the alternate universe. V was going to come up this weekend but as we talked he said: you wont be there so see you next week. I know what he meant. We are blessed with our mates how get the focus involved in creative endeavors.

  25. aunty: im good. I really am! its friday morning and i am still good but running out of food. But i do NOT want to go to the store because of all the time lost yesterday. tomatoes again.

    Karl: no i didnt remember. what is the issue? You know that Tylenol is very hard on your liver. Harder than narcotics. I try not to take them because in the years before my first neck surgery I took a LOT of vicodin to get through a work day. Its rare now that I have to resort to that. I try and solve it with a BC power or aleve. Aleve is great actually. sometimes if its just a horrific headache, a nice New York strip will do the trick. thanks for stopping by Karl!

    eggy: thank you! water is coming on Friday. I did a badge for you but want to do one more so you can choose.

  26. Chickory - Love Flannery's eyebrows. She is watching you through this process, and she believes you will pull it off! I loved your demons...but I also love the landscape background - gives more depth to the painting and makes Flannery more prominent. You are courageous to share this process. It is fascinating to watch it unfold, even when you have to backtrack. Thanks for the reminder that a failure is only stopping instead of trying again.


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