Almost didn’t go to the flea market yesterday. Too tired. So lucky the “good-Lee” won the battle; our treasures were excellent yesterday. Spent an hour or so in total and really improved a wonderful little watercolor, bought for a buck. Many of my best things cost only a buck!


Above is what I bought: a sweet little watercolor of a woman reading, in a water damaged mat, with spaces between the miters on each corner of the frame. The frame had to come apart.


Decided to continue to use the original mat as it is a wonderful gold color that pairs up well with the gold in the painting and the natural wood frame. Since the water damage was only at the bottom, I cut a new cream colored new mat 1/4″ larger in the window than the original mat. Because of this decision it was not necessary to remove the brown paper on which the painting was created from the mat. They have been taped together for well more than fifty years and why disturb them? I know, others would argue this.




Above is the back of the watercolor, done on a piece of a brown grocery bag. The old-fashioned mailing label is from West Virginia. There is no zip code used, so the painting probably was done before the early sixties. There is a fifteen cent stamp on the bag also. These too elements are interesting, but do they help to date the painting? Look at the cardboard used to support the painting and the mat.


A Betty Davis movie? And she looks young here! I have never seen a cardboard advertisement like this, and correctly still haven’t. The ad was cut off at the bottom to use in the frame. I kept the old ad in the frame package.

Searching “Charles Washington Ranson” finds an old opera house in West Virginia that has been remodeled. Born in 1910, it was renovated in 2011.


The miters were re-glued and nailed together. The frame itself was cleaned up with Old English Scratch Cover.


On the back of the cardboard backing is written: “Compliments of e.e. Critcher”, in a European kind of hand, using small letters for the first and middle name initials. Also written is: “Eleanor Coleman states Mrs. Critcher painted this when Eleanor was a little girl”.


I put the layers of the framing package together, and hung it in the bathroom with other small treasures.



Glenn gave me a painting done by our friend Janet Kozachek for Christmas this year.  Had seen it a couple of times in her Etsy shop, and in the flesh at her home.  It is a wonderful painting.,-80.869052&spn=0.007158,0.009645&sll=33.488346,-80.869858&layer=c&cbp=13,337.26,,1,9.81&cbll=33.488155,-80.869803&hnear=282+Boswell+St,+Orangeburg,+South+Carolina+29115&t=h&panoid=5z27rV5Qu-NHoF0NAVGmrA&z=17

Click on the link above and wait until a single image of a house appears.  To readers not in the Deep South,  I imagine difficulty in comprehending this kind of shelter.  This is the house on Boswell Street.  Wish I could have captured a straight on shot from this site, but my skills are not high.

It has been a while since she completed the painting.  She told me that part of the stunning gate in the painting has fallen away now, and you can see it in the Google image.

Janet is a Renaissance painter in terms of her medium.  She often paints on wood, and the wood for this piece is almost an inch thick.  She prepares the surface of her support with material that includes marble dust.  She creates and mixes her own paint.  In some of her work, the surface of the painting shimmers like a Northern Renaissance detailed jewel.  The description, in paint, of the shapes and masses in her compositions are deep and layered, complex with under painting, gutsy and refined at the same time.  Color has not the simplicity to stay local.
We are going to make our own frame for it:  hardwood, fallen-away, with the wooden painting mounted in a box rather than framed with a box. There will be a “moat” around it.  It will have room to breathe.
(We just had a pique of excitement.  Janet told me the house on Boswell Street was for sale for only a couple thousand dollars, and that of course would only be the land.  Any house is an “improvement” on the land.  We could have moved the improvement and resold the land!  What a fine addition to our acreage it would have been.  Oh, well.  Turns out the sign was for the house across the street, and it is only for rent.)
If you want, give.  Janet wrapped up a little gift for me when Glenn went to pick up the painting.  Referred to this ocarina in a former post:


If you are a baby boomer, you know about these.  As a person who is now a visual artist, paint by number kits and coloring books were the things that stimulated me when very young.  Looking at a paint by number painting makes me think of Mr. Wizard and John Gnagy, meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  They are visual comfort food.

I have been buying them for years now, and around the boonies of South Carolina, they are not valued as in some big cities.  They are cheap, cheap, cheap.  Something is wrong with me and I cannot have one of anything, or even five of anything.  I have to have them ALL, it is that simple.

Yesterday we found two at the local flea market.  They were very nice but were in these gawd awful Chinese frames with pieces of barbed wire on the perimeter.  We bought just the paintings, and the dealer was thrilled because she loved the frames and wanted to “work on them ” a little bit to make them even better!

These paintings mostly came in pairs with frames and hanging devices included.  Paint came in tiny vessels with a brush, and the numbered cartoons for the paintings were printed on a range of supports from thick paper to hard canvas-like.

The frames that the paintings are shown in here are not their originals as we could not tolerate the barbed wire.  They were from a paint by number kit however, but the paintings were a little water damaged.  Below is what I do with those paintings.

There is a big plywood box covering the water heater in the bathroom of the studio.  Paintings that are not in good pairs, that are a little damaged, or that are less than pleasing subjects go here.  I staple them on, and will soon have the big garish but necessary thing covered.

For yesterday’s find,  mats were cut to make them fit the frames that were too big.  So they are in “real” paint by number kit frames, just not their originals.  Look at the hanging device for these:

A kind of sideways cup hook!  This device was used on both frames.

We have in the new bathroom a “water closet” by a strict definition.  It is here where the nicest examples of paint by number paintings are hung.

Also included here is a typical South Carolina sweetgrass basket.  The paint by number pairs are composed to refer to one another compositionally.  They are engaged in visual conversation, and balance each other when hung.  The pair above is framed in a typical 1950s hard wood frame with an abrupt profile we don’t see much of now.  On the web, I have seen this same pair with a different frame.  My cost was five dollars for the two.

These two have matching plastic frames, and one was under glass when purchased.  They are in great shape, and the subject matter is on the rarer side.  I paid a dollar for the two.

This composition in a strange neoclassic style is unusual in my experience.  I bought this from a dealer who has become a friend and so paid more than normally–six bucks.

This was us!  Check out; this looks fun.


I am making some work now that we cannot photograph well, yet.   It ALMOST makes no sense to make anything that will not copy to advantage;  how would one spread the message that the thing is in the world, and could be purchased?  Or things like it could be purchased?  Of course, the wave of idea to construction to final creation is one amazing ride, and that experience is most fulfilling in itself.

This photo with the palm fronds making shadows is something we were playing with while waiting for the shadows to go away, in trying to photograph a recent commission.

This is how the six by six foot square looked when daily progress was recorded.  This trapezoid is not good.

When in undergraduate school, and the profs were schooling us in the big world of selling art, they took slides for us of our recently finished work.  At that time, I was machine stitching on clear plastic:  think drawings on plastic, hatch and cross hatch.  Remember the plastic that your grandmother had covering her furniture if she was anal?  That was the plastic.  All threw up their hands.  No photographs of THAT work, and that was the end of it.

A friend has been giving me old windows for years, windows that would have gone into the landfill.  We have been using them in any new construction that we do.  I also have been making mosaic compositions within them (my site specific mosaic work has been down for about a year).  Excited about these works,  I want to put them here, but none of the photography is good enough.  And I think they may not be ready.

My husband gave me a little crit this morning, and this is where the synchronicity part comes in.  While I thought that the framing that the window provided was presentation enough, he proposed simply framing it again, simply, and with natural wood.   For some, I agree, but for the ones that have been painted white as windows, maybe no.

We cleaned up the “burn pile” that our construction workers left last week, and there were three choices for natural framing.  One by ones, stuff that looks like lattice work, and the best, a measure in between.

Don’t you just love it when that happens?