I just finished, sealed and varnished a new painting. I got my idea from a photo on line of Ruthie the Duck Girl. She is a New Orleans icon. When she was a child, her mother put her hair in ringlets to look like Shirley Temple. She sent her out on roller skates with her pet duck and charged for photos. Ruthie continued to walk/roll around the Quarter all of her life often in a wedding dress. She sold postcards and posed for photos. She was born in 1934 and passed away in 2008. I love this story and that people in New Orleans supported her and her eccentric behavior.
So, I was looking at photos of Ruthie and wanted to paint her. I thought to myself or maybe out loud, “I wish I liked to paint ducks.”.
Shopping reminds me of going to a parade or to a girls lunch on a warm, humidish Saturday. They are both fixed up and wearing their pink nail polish. Best friends excited to be out during a pandemic lull.
The painting is 24 x 30 inches, acrylic paint, charcoal and varnish.
My favorite thing about this painting is the plaster wall. I think I nailed it. My next favorite thing is their relationship.
74 degrees and everything is starting to bloom. Don’t hate. It will be unbearably hot before you know it.
With Spring comes house guests. It is fun to see our city through the eyes of someone here for the first time.
When someone has been here before, I like to act as a bed and breakfast. But for the first time visitor there is so much to see, I think a tour is in order.
We have friends here from California this week. After 6 days of being a tour guide, I felt they had seen enough of New Orleans for a first visit. I was not willing to release them before this. (It is such a great city, I think you really have to live here full-time to experience it.) Today, Mary and Ulco are taking a self-guided walking tour of theGarden District.
We started the week with a car tour… breakfast at Camilla Grill, Audubon Park, the French Quarter, Frenchman St., the Marigny, the Bywater, and City Park. The next day, we rode the Streetcar to the French Quarter and had beignets at Cafe du Monde followed by lunch at the Gumbo Shop. Mary and Ulco were kind enough to go to the finale of Entrepreneur Week to support Where Y’Art. (Where Y’Art won the popular vote, but not the judges vote for $50,000.)
We went to Hogs for a Cause at City Park on Saturday. It had rained all night and it was a muddy mess. *House guests don’t really like wading around in the mud. To be honest, we didn’t like it either.
We stopped by Chickie Wah Wah to see Paul Sanchez. He invited several guest artists on stage during the show. It was super fun. I have to go see Antoine Diel again.
We were super lucky to see the Mardi Gras Indians on Sunday. After that, my sweet darlin’ drove them through the 9th Ward and Chalmette.
Writing to you from the deep south in the deep summer, and loving it. My mother-in-law grew up here without air conditioning. I’m not sure I would be loving that.
The angel put on a white button up shirt. The painting is called, “Baby, I got this.” So please don’t worry about your problems. They are being handled on an angelic plane.
The angel is standing in the midst of many easily handled problems.
Note: In the south, “baby” is a term of endearment, containing no disrespect.
I started a painting of a Pussyfooter to give to the Blush Ball this year. Last year they raised 22,000 for the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children.
The painting is about half done.
A wig that I saw atFifi Mahony’s in the French Quarter was my inspiration.
I am thinking about sewing sequins on her dress.
She is going to have lots of sparkle,
but first I need to love her and she is not quite there.
I am sure she is going to say something meaningful. We Pussyfooters are not just glam and sparkle. 🙂
I was the guest speaker on the Cosmic Cowgirl phone call last night. The Cowgirls asked me to tell my story, how I went from teaching children in California to New Orleans artist. It made me remember how dreams materialize. Seriously, it is pretty magical how things work out.
Maybe I will share my story with all y’all next week.
I am a little in the “is Mardi Gras over already?” and “really, 2 months until Jazz Fest?” slump. It is like when you are a child and you are first able to realize that on December 25th, Christmas is 364 days away.
It also feels like a time of introspection and I am not as excited to put myself out in the world right now. It would be perfect if someone wanted to stop by my house and buy art.
I am just going to sit tight and wait until the ebb of life turns to flow.
Today, I am sharing the steps of my most recent painting. I was going to blog when it was completely done, but the feathers are taking a while.
Step one: adding a little color. Spraying it with water and blending. I love this part where I set my intentions for the art.
Next, I textured it with gel medium and scraped it with a credit card. I wanted to make some raised squares like an Indian blanket.
I liked this part of the background, so I saved it for his heart area. It looks like dreaming and passion.
I used my fingers and thick white paint to make the war paint.
I made feathers with gel medium and painted them many, many times… still unhappy with how they looked. My genius sister suggested I sand the feathers to blend them into the background and make them feathery thin.
I wrote the title with my finger and thick white paint.
I added a close-up of his eyebrow because I love it.
My husband, David, is marching on Saint Joseph’s Day in the French Quarter with the Italian American Marching Club. Since I will be in the Quarter on St. Joseph’s Day, I will have another chance to see a Big Chief.
One more thing… I am really hoping two women look like the couple that I painted entitled “Justice” (even a bit). If so, please send me a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will send you a super nice print.
The only thing that I put on my board last year that didn’t materialize is NOLA Groundswell. We had some interest. We almost received a grant, but nothing concrete yet. I sent a letter off to the Internal Revenue Service yesterday asking for approval of our non-profit status. It has been over a year since our request, including a $400 fee for the government to consider our request.
Magnificent Maggie helped me. It is the same cardboard. New duct tape. New bristol paper.
The pink and orange glitter are the Pussyfooter colors.
Physically visible in my fishnets and feathers on St. Charles. Gator Girl Art visible in a gallery in the French Quarter. I will keep you posted on whatever else decides to be visible.
I swear, this snake just turned up exactly like this when I used a brayer with green paint over dried white paint and glitter. I added the eyes and nostrils. I wish you could see the scales.
In one of my We’Moon calendars, I cut out a piece about snake medicine.
Snake medicine is with us.
We can pretend our skin is not shedding,
we can attempt to remain underground, curled up and quaking,
we can refuse to digest our life and suffer indigestion.
Or we can embrace the magic of our transmutation–
Chew on our life, swallow and savor it,
Slither out of our skin and leap out of ruts with passion,
Swirl into new experiences and dance,
Then feel the sun on our skin and dream.
–Gloria Rohlfs 2011
OK. I said it. Words are powerful.
Maggie wrote “izmot”. She might have meant “tomzi” I asked her what it meant and she said, “Good Luck, happy celebrations, and love.” I couldn’t have said it any better. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
Happy New Year to y’all.
With abundant love, an open heart, and shedding skin,
If you would like an original Gator Girl painting, but need to wait a while for the opportunity, there are prints available on Etsy. My prints start at $30 and there is a special going on for the month of April. Go ahead and check it out. You can also send me your email address through my email account at email@example.com and I will send you an email when I have a new painting, OR you can also see all my paintings in progress by following my blog.
And thank you, thank you for reading my blog!
I have completed 3 paintings.
The original of Monsieur Gator was painted on commission and is not available.
The collector asked for a French Gator. Painted in French around the outside edge of the canvas are the words “Strolling at Sunset, Dreaming of z Camembert”.
I listened to Chante France on the Internet. M. Gator loved the music. It seemed to put him in the mood for a portrait. What an attitude he has!
La Femme Fatal is mixed media, 12 x 36 inches painted on wood. She is standing on the street in the French Quarter after the parades have passed. She still has “it” after all these years. She sells for $800.
The Mardi Gras Muse or as MMMM calls her, Princess Masketier is mixed media on reclaimed wood, with a reclaimed wooden frame. The original is $800. The frame is part of the painting, so a small portion of the frame was also photographed.*
There are words about Mardi Gras running through her hair, and a 3 dimensional king cake baby. She is wearing a raven mask for my sister who owns Raven Wisdom Studio in Chico, California. (She is a clay artist.) The music is from the song “Mardi Gras Mambo”.
Mardi Gras Muse started out clearly in my mind’s eye, but took over a month to complete.
Now that these 3 paintings are complete, I will be starting a new painting from scratch. The options are swirling around me as I type.
Please stay tuned,
All my love from an ever-opening heart,
*The photography is by the amazing Dorka Photography in New Orleans.
Things have been super fun and exhausting here with our first Mardi Gras. I think on Sunday there were 7 or 8 parades. It was like hanging out in a tent village. The best part for me was the parade goers. Everyone was so friendly. There are special throws that you try to catch at certain parades. Maggie got a shoe at the Muses all decorated with glitter, David got a Zulu coconut, and Will Farrell gave Maggie and David a cow bell. Pretty awesome and free fun. Y’all will just have to come see for your self.
This was walking distance from our house.
What I am sharing this week is the progression of 2 paintings that I am working on. You will have to use your imagination about what they are going to look like when I am finished or check in next week when I am done. The skeleton is finally coming along. I am going to call her La Femme Fatale. I went through a lot of names. I think it was because I started painting what I had in mind, but forgot to check in with her. A couple of names that she had for a while were Lasting Beauty and Haunting Beauty. Maggie wanted to name her “A field of Unicorns”. Apparently, the unicorns were invisible. I like La Femme Fatale because New Orleans has such a French influence and She is hanging out in the French Quarter around Mardi Gras. She is pretty fatale being beyond the flesh and blood stage of her life.
I decided that I didn’t like such small details, so I went larger.
In the second picture, I am starting to like her here, but she has a long way to go.
Fetching, I’d say, in a fatal way. Those are little crawfish fireflies in the street light, a small alligator playing a tambourine on her shoulder. She is now wearing a little hat with a veil that is so popular with the parade crowd. She had on a real Mardi Gras bead necklace, but I removed it for now. I may add it back in using an old glass bead throw that you can still catch once in a while. I put a net veil on the hat, but liked the permanence of a painted veil. I put little glitter fleur dis lis on her dress. This painting has been a labor. Some times things don’t come easily.
She is starting to look satisfied. I would say she’s almost finished.
I just want to introduce the painting I am having a lot of fun with. She is Mardi Gras Muse. If you want inspiration, paint a muse. They so love the attention.
I picked 3 colors: mars black, magenta and white. I painted these words on in gold: Mardi Gras feel the happy love. I added a big heart on the right and 2 little hearts on the left.
I am just going to have fun with her. Lots of symbols, pictures and words in her hair. She will have plenty of bling on her mask and glitter on her tiara. I see her so clearly already.
I hope you check in next week to see the progress. Life in New Orleans is a dream come true.
What we found out during Mardi Gras is that it is not a sprint, it is a marathon, so pace yourself. There is a bit of life wisdom in that.