Tuesday, September 29, 2009

English landscape

Here's last night's pastel. Pastel paintings are such a pain to store and frame and such, and so easy to ruin with a little friction before they're behind glass...but such an incredible color medium that they're worth it. I also love the fact that there's virtually no set-up time and very little clean-up time, two things that make it easy to still do some art even after a long, tiring day when oils seem unfeasible.

Where to put them all is still something I haven't figured out, though. To me, even the usual suggestion of laying them all flat with glassine leaves in between each one seems not so good, because as someone who doesn't use fixative at all and loves the natural sparkle of pastel, even the weight and touch of glassine on top of a pastel painting is still too much "touch" on it, in my opinion. I did get a small secondhand CD rack where I can kind of prop them up vertically in between the slats, but there's not much room there. I think ideally maybe someday I'll have someone build me something like that with tons of little vertical slats. Other ideas out there?

Thank you all so much for your support around my previous post. I felt the need to share Snoopy's story, perhaps subconsciously as a way to have him "remembered" by more people in his brief lifetime. I don't so much feel bummed for myself for not getting to have him in my life (though that, too), as feel so sad for him, for not even getting a chance to experience the contentment of a long, beloved-kitty life.

Here's our marvelous Lynx once again.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com


It's been a sad couple of weeks here for us kitty-wise. One of our feline friends, Jellyroll, went missing a couple of weeks ago, which is the first time that has ever happened, so I'm not holding out much hope at this point.

Also, we had been to the Humane Society about five days ago, intending to adopt the most fabulous new little brother for Lynx. It was a tiny cream-colored kitten called Snoopy, a gorgeous little blue-eyed red-point Siamese, who had the sweetest habit of wanting to be held close to your neck and then reaching up with a soft paw to feel your face. He seemed to be somewhat sick, though, and we alerted staff, who put him in quarantine to run tests. For four more days, we checked in several times a day and visited him once more. Finally, today, I got the phone call and was expecting to hear the good news, that he could finally come home with us. Instead we were told that he had a painful and incurable bladder/urinary problem, and that they were going to euthanize him, as he would have nothing but pain and trouble and emergency surgeries ahead of him for as long as he lived. I cried and asked that someone please be there with him giving him as much love as possible through the end. They cried too and promised me they would.

I don't know why, but I felt so close to him, for as little time as I knew him. He was a very special little guy. It's been a very sad day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Three marigolds

It felt good to get back into oils again. Trying a bit of a David Leffel approach on this one.

"You go ahead and groom me and I'll just sit here and look cute...and maybe bite your ears a little."

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Friday, September 25, 2009

Khajuraho sunset

Khajuraho is the Indian city of kama sutra carvings... We went there several years ago--that was my first time in India, and my second time will be this December. To me, Indian sunsets have a very particular character to them, the sun truly appearing as a ball of fire that seems to take a long time to set.

Oh, hi!

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dancer in red / Wide load

So hard to photograph those vibrant pastels well...

Wide load: he's getting too big to fit on that windowsill anymore, though he refuses to acknowledge it.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monet sun / She ain't heavy; she's my sister

A little sun tribute to Monet.

I was recently an unwilling witness to this rather frightening sight on top of the couch... Oh my god, I thought, she's crushed him! I took a little video to document her guilt and her evasive (but ultimately evil) nonchalant demeanor. Not sure if it will hold up in cat court.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Oh, the irony of spending five hours last night (man, am I tired today!) to try to make something look like it was freshly dashed off in ten minutes! Aaaarrggghhhh. The more I learn about painting (and I'm watching DVDs and reading books like a fiend), the less I know. I'm at a very high frustration level. On a positive note, I think this turned out well.

Our first cold fall day. Fashionable kitties this season are wearing striped, color-coordinated mufflers of soft, natural, cruelty-free fur.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On the Seine

His favorite place in the world to nap: on top of the couch. He's gotten very loooooong. (And note the "Mohawk" tummy fur here.)

I used mostly pastel pencils on this, to be able to be more precise (because it's not that big), and then a little bit of soft pastel on top of that. I so love how the Sennelier LaCarte takes charcoal (used for a light under-sketch for placement here), pastel pencil, and soft pastel.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Friday, September 18, 2009


Another wonderful gem from our small garden.

All pastels lately, you may have noticed. I've been too tired lately to do the whole oils layout/paint/cleanup thing. Hopefully this weekend I'll tackle something.

A pensive Lynx on the stairs.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Serrano pair / Lynx doppelganger

Last night's pastel. We are very proud to have grown these serranos in our new little vegetable garden. And they are hot!

This photo is very blurry. I apologize--it was taken with my iPhone. I just had to take it when I saw Lynx next to the litter bag and it struck me that he has a litter-bag doppelganger.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September sunflower

One of the last few things blooming in our front yard now are those indefatigable and always wonderful sunflowers.

I'm really pleased with the way this turned out. I started out realistic, then at a certain point ignored reality and just concentrated on good design and balance. I'm happy with the style that resulted.

We have one cat, Miss Lemon, who has always liked "being danced." The other day The Husband discovered that Lynx likes it too (as long as Lynx is very sleepy). Here's the three of us being embarrassingly silly, The Husband dancing Lynx to the infamously wacky and inexplicable Internet gem "Badger badger badger." (Having your volume on is a must.)

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sam's studio zinnias and other mysteries

Every time I go over to art/friend/neighbor Sam's house, I find something else to poach that I want to paint. This time it was three zinnia flowers in a vase. She was nervous about lending them to me, because they were sentimental, having been given to her by someone else. Of course I assured her nothing would happen to them. Brought them over to my studio, painted them late last night, finished at 2:30 am (that's pretty normal for me; I'm a total night owl).

Went back into the studio today to take a photo of this painting to post...and gasped as I saw that one of the zinnias--of course, the biggest and most vividly colored one--appeared to have a broken neck! It looked awful. Strangely, the whole stem (neck) of it seemed to be thin and collapsed...like a zinnia-hungry chupacabra had been at it in the wee hours.

I felt so bad, I gave her the painting, so she could have some more "zinnias" to look at.

That's Miss Lemon on the left, and my girly-girl, black Cleo on the right. She's developed a really strange habit this summer. She brings these big green pods into the house (see bottom photo). I don't know what tree they're from, but what weirds me out is what must go through her mind. She drags them in from somewhere outside our property (because we don't have any trees like that), all the way back to our house, then through the little cat door, then she drags them up the stairs and leaves them for me, one at a time, next to my bedroom door. It started out several weeks ago as maybe twice a week, and has increased to the point where it's about four times a day.

God, cats crack me up.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Yellow flowers in glass

Another Mark Leach-inspired pastel.

I am cat, therefore I ooze.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The orange bicycle / Lynx and the bell

Another whimsical pastel. Great fun to do and pastel is just so perfect for this type of painting.


Lynx and the bell...(he does ring it a couple of times, so have the volume up, it's cute). Isn't he just turning into such the handsome young man?

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Chefchaouen

The Husband and I got engaged in Morocco. Yes, very romantic... I got incredibly sick while there, both with something truly unspeakable (intestinal--your imagination will suffice) as well as bronchitis. One of our most vivid shared memories is of literally shaking with cold all night long, and another is of using the pages of our travel journal in the wee hours amongst the sand dunes during an emergency moment of said unspeakable intestinal disturbance. Oh, and musn't forget about when the Berber tribesman offered to buy me from The Soon-to-be-Husband.

There were also some good memories--like the town of Chefchaouen, where the bees are literally stoned on kif pollen and buzz straight down into your teeth-rottingly sweet mint tea. The town was almost all blue-washed, with these amazing hand-hacked stairs and funky angles everywhere. This pastel is based on a photo The Husband took while there.

You may detect a Mark Leach (I just got his book--wow!) influence in this pastel, and in several others which I will post soon. I've been having a lot of fun exploring this sort of almost whimsical style, which I feel is a natural match for pastel. I figure, it looks like he had a hell of a lot of fun doing his pastels (I read that he died recently); I'll continue on the tradition, plus I really love and admire his semi-abstract style.


More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Miniature watering can and pushpins

I'd bought this little doodad at a thrift shop. Started painting it last night and realized something was needed to show the scale of it. Hence the pushpins.

The Husband asked yesterday, "Why do you have so many photos of Lynx sleeping?" Well, Husband...he's a kitten. That's pretty much the only time he stays still for the camera.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Friday, September 4, 2009

Spring came and left

The latest. Very cool details in person, and lots of texture. Completely new palette (have been naughty, ordering some interesting-sounding colors). I love this one; The Husband doesn't like it at all.

Trying out the "large" size photo upload here, as opposed to the "medium" I've been using.

I have been lagging with my blogging duties somewhat...sorry. The new semester just started, and with it all the administrative stuff that goes along with teaching. I'm teaching four days a week (three Spanish, one drawing), and experimenting like a fiend at night in the studio with painting materials and such. Very tired lately.

He's such a character.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Red moon

Smoke from the California fires is affecting us here in Colorado. A couple of nights ago it turned the early-evening rising moon red. It was an amazing sight.

I've always loved cats that sleep in silly positions. Lynx is a master at this sort of thing.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com