What’s the perfect age to retire? How will you know you’re ready?

the perfect age to retire has no number.  I can’t imagine not having some compelling reason to get up every morning.   I’ve worked at many “jobs” in my life from banking, teaching to being a sales person…and now it seems I’ve found the job that I’ve done all my life while I was doing all those other jobs….painting!  I’m lucky!

I always painted while I was doing other work to make an income. The creation of Bellacompany really set me free from the schedule of others (pretty much) and has allowed me to take the time to really paint more as well as give some assistance to dog rescue agencies.  I have no concept of retirement….and can’t figure out what one would do in it!


Even though every day is  filled with many tasks,  I’m consistently spending time in my studio. When I did the Give Me That Dog Project, I picked up the habit of spending time in my studio each day. Just being here every day for a few hours has moved my painting life forward!  Yesterday I actually got some paintings up on my newly painted studio walls.  Now it looks like I live and work  here!

I’ve started a new painting and thought it might be interesting to  see a painting in progress. The work contains the good, the possible and the ugly.  The progress of a painting can be almost a painful experience…like a hike up a small mountain.  Lots of other “stuff” gets in the way and some of the choices I make today may be unacceptable tomorrow.  There is a kind of “lostness” to the experience.  The key is to hang in there until there is a resolution….everything working together in just the right way. Kind of mystical. Enjoy!

Art as wishfull thinking

Sometimes the urge to run away from the world is overwhelming.  It’s hard to ignore phone calls, tv news, hot weather, paying bills, trying to figure out what to have for dinner that won’t heat the house up in this summer heat, etc. etc.   I think sometimes I paint just to escape all the mundane. Painting is a struggle. It’s an activity I choose to engage and struggle in.  Painting is something like taking a path through some unknown woods.  Everything is new.  Being “lost” is  frustrating…but it’s also the state in which treasure can be found.  The goal is to stay in the woods long enough to find the cool new stuff just hanging out there!  Just like the walk in the woods, there is much temptation to go back to something more familiar in subject and style.  The discipline is to try something new  in composition and then keep at it.

I do sometimes copy myself just to enjoy painting without all of that lost feeling, so I admit to going back to the familiar. I have painted Camp Gone to the Dogs 4 times in the last 10 years.  My latest version includes our current dogs and my white shepherd, Luna, who was one of my favorites.  Believe it or not, I always think copying a painting subject

Camp gone to the dogs story time

idea of my own will be easy, but each painting in this series has been just as difficult as the one before!

Back to Big Canvas

My latest work has been acrylic painting  on large paper.  In early June, I completed the first “set” of paintings based on some great stories that dog rescuers sent to me along with some pictures of their rescued dog(s).  It was a challenge to my organizational skills to keep photos and stories straight, but I got the job done along with permission to publish their story.  The rescue stories were awesome and inspiring .Hopefully, the stories published in a small book , A Chair for HelenEarly Morning (detail), will encourage others to jump into the rescue mode.  There are so many dogs needing a home and they really are the best company! I’ve lived with at least one dog, Bella, for over 10 years. Presently we have 4 great companions just sleeping here in my studio on this very hot summer day.

Now in the midst of summer I’m back to working on large canvas.  I’m surprised at the learning curve I’ve had to experience just to get back to what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years!  I’m re- learning to paint and re- discover my “style” .

Inspiration is lurking somewhere near you

detail from Nicolas De Stael painting

Last evening I began to think about all the artists who inspired me to start painting.   I lived in Corvallis Oregon and there was a small book store downtown. One day on my lunch hour I went over there to browse and this art book just jumped off the shelf at me. Nicolas De Stael.  We didn’t have lots of money, so I wasn’t sure I should buy the  book. I went back to work and worried all day that someone else would buy that book. At closing time I rushed back and bought the book!  I’ve had it with me ever since. When I look at it now, I can’t quite remember what knocked my socks off so long ago. …but I enjoy looking still.  I also saw his work in Seattle at the Worlds Fair.

What’s my point?  I guess one should pay careful attention when their socks are knocked off.  Opportunity comes and goes away.