Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for March, 2010

Day 45

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Secret vice.

Remember the first day of school? When you had new notebooks and new pens, and before anyone has assigned any homework, the world is full of promise.

Maybe it’s that memory, but when I go to Staples or Office Depot, I’m like a kid in a candy store. I love office supplies. Really love them.

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Day 44

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010


I’ve changed my mind about something recently. I don’t know why I’ve never liked Geraniums before, but I’ve always thought of them as an ugly flower. My grandmother loved them, and I never understood why. They don’t really smell good, and they aren’t very showy like tulips or roses. I always thought of them as the ugly stepsister of flowers.

But sometime in the past year, something changed. I like them a lot. Last Spring, they were on sale when I went to buy the pretty flowers for our window box and I got one on a whim. All summer, after the pretty flowers had faded and wilted in the heat, that Geranium was a bright spot of color. It was tough. And actually, kind of pretty.

So this week when I was buying flowers for the window box, I skipped the pansies and the primroses and went straight to the Geraniums.

Isn’t it beautiful?

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Day 43

Monday, March 29th, 2010


When I paint toys, I’m usually drawn to toys that have good memories for me. Mr. Potato Head, the Chatter Phone, Kermit… I can think of playing with them for hours by myself.

This toy is different. The good memories with this toy were about other people. See, you can’t play Barrel of Monkeys by yourself– it’s no fun. The fun is in the competition. Who can get the most monkeys?

I wasn’t very good at a lot of things as a kid. I couldn’t ride a bike, I couldn’t jump rope, I couldn’t even tie my shoes. But somehow, I was really good at getting the most monkeys in this game. And in the first grade in 1984, that mattered a lot.

Though it doesn’t seem quite so impressive now.

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Six weeks ago today was day 1. Remember that? And this project has been more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

(Sorry, I just couldn’t help it.)

Day 42

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Sunday Series: 6

In an old life, I was an English teacher. One of the best parts of that job was that people had to listen to me when I read poetry aloud. I miss that.

I’ve found a few new poets lately that I love. People around me can only take so much poetry, so I had to figure out a way to share it with someone, so every Sunday I’m going to take a quote from a favorite poem and put it with a watercolor painting. Why watercolor? Because for some reason, I think it works better with words, and just for a little variety.

Here’s the sixth one. Mary Oliver again. The biggest challenge with her poetry is knowing what to leave off. I think as we progess, I’ll have to paint larger watercolors simply because I want to include more words.

My first real art work was a water lily in pen and ink in 9th grade. I’ve always liked painting them since then, because that was the first time I made something I was really proud of. So when I read this poem last week, I knew immediately that I had the next Sunday painting. And here it is.

“each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.”
— Mary Oliver

(You might want to click through to see more detail, since the paintings are larger this week.)

9×4 Watercolor on Cotton Fiber Paper. $42

Special rules apply to today’s painting. Everyone wins. On Sundays only, instead of one buyer, I’ll paint a version of this for everyone that requests one, because I think if the quote speaks to you then you should have it. Each painting will be an original and slightly different from the others I send out, but based on the painting you see above. The only rule is that in order to paint one just for you, I must receive your email by 5pm Pacific time today.

Day 41

Saturday, March 27th, 2010


We have waffles every Christmas morning. It’s a Guillebeau tradition. I love waffles.

When we moved to Portland, it took all of four days to find the Waffle Window.  And that’s when I knew we were in the right place.

The Waffle Window is here in our neighborhood and they serve magic waffles. Really– they’re magic. It’s the only explanation. How else could you get a warm Belgian waffle with fresh fruit for only 4 dollars?

I love to go on a sunny day and order a waffle to go. They sell plain waffles wrapped in blue checkered paper with a dusting of powdered sugar, just like the one I had in Belgium. It brings back happy memories. I walk home eating my waffle, smiling at strangers and trying to keep the powdered sugar off my face.

Come visit sometime, and I’ll take you to get your very own waffle, too.

That means I’ll get to go too. It will be a sacrifice, but I’ll manage somehow.

5×7 Oil on Masonite panel $41
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Day 40

Friday, March 26th, 2010


A long time ago, I was a Clinique make-up artist. (Yes, me. The girl who is currently wearing mismatched socks and has a stripe of Ultramarine Blue paint across her chin.) I wore the white coat and everything. It was my second job during my early years as a teacher, and I mostly worked weekends and in the summer for a little extra money.

I realize now that I was painting faces when I was meant to be painting pictures, but it was a good job for awhile. I can still impress people with my mad eyeliner skills.

And make-up is fun. Most of the time I’m wearing clothes that are safe for painting (jeans, t-shirts, things from REI), but occasionally it’s nice to put on a dress and put a different kind of paint on my face.

The kind that isn’t Ultramarine Blue.

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Day 39

Thursday, March 25th, 2010


I bought a couple of new tubes of paint this week. Maybe that’s not big news to you, but it’s a big deal around here. I tend to stick with colors that are pretty familiar to me. If you look at the painting of my palette from 2007, it looks pretty similar to the palette sitting next to my easel right now.

There are a few reasons for this.

One, I know what I like. I know that Naples Yellow and Sennelier Grey work really well together for a neutral background. I know that Burnt Sienna is almost always a safe bet in shadows. These are things I’ve learned from experience and from wisdom passed down to me from some amazing teachers.

Two, a tube of paint is a commitment. Some of the tubes I’m using today have been in my paint box since 2002, if I only squeeze out a small amount. Many are from 2006, and there are only a few colors that I replace more than once or twice a year. A 37ml tube of Cobalt Blue (also good for shadows) costs more than 40 bucks. It’s a commitment. So I tend to stick with my favorites.

Occasionally though, I need a little variety. A lighter blue than cobalt, or a transparent yellow, like Indian Yellow. Just to shake things up a bit. Sometimes a new color changes a painting completely. Like this one.

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Tomorrow is day 40– can you believe it?

Did you know you can see more of my paintings and look at all 39 days very easily on my Facebook page?

Day 38

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Kitchen Tools Series: Measuring Spoons

Yes, my measuring spoons match my mixing bowls. I’m kind of a dork like that. Did I mention that I like red?

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And while we’re in the kitchen: new prints!

This is my newest adventure. Recipe prints! Once I started the recipe series, I tried to think of a way to have the whole series in one frame somehow.

These are a series of pen and ink drawings I did based on the recipe on the bottom of the page. Each drawing is an ingredient in the recipe. They are printed on a warm brown chipboard using a brown soy-based ink. I love them!

Of course, I also had to test the recipe a few times, just to make sure it’s good. It is.

You can hang this print in your kitchen too! They’re available for $15 +shipping. Just email me here.

Day 37

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010


One of the challenges of painting flowers is keeping them alive once they enter our house. Libby the cat is rather fascinated by the petals and has eaten a little bit of every flower I’ve painted. Don’t even ask about the orchid fromDay 4– it was so sad.

So now when I bring home a flower to paint, I have to hide it somewhere safe until I can finish the painting. This flower was hidden in the bathroom for a few days before I got a chance to paint it. When I brought it home it stood straight and tall, but after a couple of days, it began leaning toward the mirror.  And I knew that was the way I had to paint it.

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Day 36

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Laurelhurst Park, take three.

This is the final painting from my en plein air painting session last week. It’s a similar view to yesterday’s watercolor, which is interesting to me. It’s kind of like those old games in Highlights Magazine where you try to find the differences between the two pictures.

The oil painting has a very different feeling about it to me. I’m not sure completely why, though I know that the light changed pretty dramatically in that hour. By the time I finished this painting, the wind had picked up, the clouds were sneaking back in to the sky and our moment of sunshine was fading.

That afternoon, as I watched the rain hit the windows I was really glad I had captured the moment with paint.

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