Valorie’s Quilt

By WR Jones

Valorie's Quilt

Valorie’s Quilt 48″ x 60″ Oil on linen

Not long ago I complained to my daughter about some issue with this still unfinished painting. Her reply – “Well, you’ve got 10 years on it so far, what’s another year.”

She has a point there. As luck would have it, I don’t need to sell paintings for a living. Otherwise I wouldn’t be living. Had I created a documentary about this piece it could have been used as a dire warning about starting a painting without a crystal clear composition goal. You know, the moron’s way I approach every painting. My reasoning is – FABULOUS idea, let’s get started on it, I’ll figure out the remaining 75% of composition later.

Along my merry painting way on this piece I at one time had a cat on the bed, took him out, put him back. Where the kitten and the dropped stack of squares are on the floor once held two young girls. One was playing jacks, the other held a doll. I painted out one of the girls and added a toddler clinging to the quilt. Painted out the toddler and later the remaining little girl. After that had dried I realised that now you could see the entire mechanism of the sewing machine. On a sculpting trip to New York we stopped at every antique shop we could find looking for reference material for the machine treadle et al.

My latest brilliant idea was to use a book to breakup the large sheet area at the foot of the bed. I first painted it, then realized I hadn’t used perspective. Repainted then realized, OH, it is two point perspective. Then after turning, pulling, pushing, twisting, realized I couldn’t use a lettering template to do the book title; the letters are also in perspective. For example, the L doesn’t have 90 deg angle between the bottom and the vertical edge it is 60 deg.

Bait and switch – I ordered a ‘free’ trial font design program. As soon as I opened the program and tried to edit a letter a message said that couldn’t be done with the free version, I needed to pay $80 for the ‘basic’ version. I made some progress with this version until I tried a particular (and necessary operation), message said this operation required the $150 ‘standard’ version. Continued with great progress, last click to clean up the letter spacing. Computation proceeds with a progress bar; a clean line showing my title in the custom perspective font appears on the screen. I click to save and …. message – this operation requires the $250 ‘pro’ version, on sale for $200. I cried for a brief period and caved. What could I do? They had a gun to my painting thumb. I’m way to shakey to paint the letters freehand. I proved this by trying it, 3 times. Then after designing the font I had to send it out to have a stencil made. Yep, that was some more money. I should have painted over the book idea and put in a ball of yarn. It’s not like I’m in any way adverse to changing horses in mid river. Anyhoo, I think I may have it done within the year, ojala.


I read that muscle memory, which in my case is as useless as regular memory, may be extra myelin coating particular nerve cells. You get this extra coating by repetition of movement. This can be playing a guitar, shoveling dirt (bad example for me), swinging a golf club, throwing a dart. The theory is, in my raggled halfassed understanding, if you repeat the motion enough times in the same manner, you get a faster smoother neural path which helps with repeatablity of a desired outcome. So right away after reading this article I realize I have no myelin. My nerves have no protective coating which may expain the crankiness my daughter (and the rest of the family) complain about.

After thousands of dart throws I still suck. In some respects it is intriguing. It seems improbable that one could do an act so many times with no discernible improvement. I have proved it possible, as the Creepy Cheeto would say, believe me.

A short internal dialog at today’s dart sufferfest –

Those last two darts were pretty bad. Well, three actually if you count all three darts. A short time later – Say not bad, not bad at all, for me anyway. I’ve now thrown 7 darts and not one of them stuck in the wall out past the 3 foot mark. If I keep the wall shots within 3 feet of the dartboard edge the lighting is such that my wife can’t see the holes (that is with the lights dimmed – which I do as soon as I hear her coming)

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This is a piece I started in a class with Philippe Faraut – a master sculptor and very fine teacher.

In addition to teaching sculpting technique, Philippe instilled a new sense of disipline in me to round out an already stellar character.
Example – yesterday at the gym I turned down a pink frosted donut; iron will! I told the desk clerk I felt I deserved recognition for my self control. Perhaps not on a national scale so as to not interfere with the election process but at least at a state level. She pointed out that she had just observed me eating a cookie and a maple brownie. Oh, ok, never mind I will get on with my workout.

The Scottsdale workshop was a month ago. I just (almost) finished this piece yesterday. In my world of retirement this is considered speed sculpting. I have been putting in a consistent, focused 15 minutes a day on this work. Of course, that includes bathroom breaks, hydration pauses, taking Mango out to pee, and getting the mail.

Thank God I don’t have to make a living doing anything. Vote for Bernie, I need a Social Security raise or I’ll never be able to afford that Tesla which I NEED because it is self driving. Then I won’t feel guilty going down the road drinking. Oh stop feeling so self righteous, I need to unwind after a hard 15 minutes.

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By WR Jones



I didn’t even make it to the new year to have a failed resolution. New Year’s eve at a relative’s home I resolved to stay awake to see the new year arrive. Didn’t make it past 10 PM – slept until 2 AM when wife woke me to drive home. She didn’t speak to me the whole way home. Seems when I nodded off my head dropped into the mashed potatoes. I’m considered an embarrassment.

These images show a progression in past resolution failures. The large 4′ x 5′ painting I resolved to compete something like 5 years ago. Sensing hopelessness on the larger paintings which require entirely too much persistent work, I switched to smaller sculpting projects. This piece is meant to be Mango herding sheep. Notice I have placed it up high out of the way. If I don’t look up I won’t be reminded of the 75% remaining work to completion. You know, I’m surprised I can even spell that word “completion”. It’s like a foreign language. The guitar? I was going to play that back around 1972 as I recall.

To mitigate my extremely high resolution failure rate my 2016 resolutions are
1. Exercise less
2. Eat more
3. In particular, eat more chocolate
4. Also in particular, eat more Cherry Garcia ice cream
5. Do even less around the house. This is only theoretically possible. Have to call in some experts to see if it is possible to do less than zilch.
6. Do absolutely NO yard work. This is not only possible but probable.

This is going to be my first ever successful resolution year. GO 2016 !!!

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By WR Jones

Horse sculpture

This is a sculpture started in a workshop with sculptor Ken Rowe and his assistant, sculptress Adryanna Ciera.

For those family and friends that know me, yes, since this sort of looks like a horse I had some minimal help from the instructors. By minimal I mean I personally did one of the ears. Not the good ear mind you, the raggedy looking one. But it is not all my fault that it only loosely resembles a horse ear. When I asked for advice, Adryanna demonstrated the creation of an ear. She said, “first you make a small triangleish piece then stick your finger in it”. Her piece resembled an ameboa (what my horse would look like without help). When I questioned her “triangle” she told me the “ish” on the end covered the shape accuracy issue. That alone was worth the cost of the workshop. I will polish that knowledge with practice and make it my own. Examples: “yes dear, I cleanished the garage.” “I will be on timeish for dinner with your family”.

A painter friend suggested I call the exposed wire leg and tail as prostheses and call the work complete.   Given my ever diminishing work habits that advice is under serious consideration.

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Corporations That Care

By WR Jones

Mother 1936
Mother 1936   20″ x 16″ Oil on linen

Watching the morning news the other day there was an on the street reporter with a small segment in a McDonalds. She started with saying it had been established that children did much better in school with a nutritious breakfast. The McD manager was standing by with a smile on his face nodding his agreement. The reporter went on to say that McDonalds was supporting better education with a program to help children get their healthy preschool breakfast. (Manager again nodding) Reporter: “Could you tell our viewers what McDonalds is doing today to help our students start out the day with a hearty breakfast?” “Yes I’d be happy to. For today only, the first 100 customers who purchase an egg mcmuffin will get a free kids meal, on the NEXT visit to McDonalds.”

Good Lord, I was gobsmacked. After all the negativity against McDonalds here was a corporation that cared about kids. Who can calculate the enormous profit loss due to this unprecedented generosity. This could potentially cost each store hundreds of dollars. No wait, the customer has to return and buy something else. Ok, ok, still it could cost tens of dollars.

I was riding high on the wave of corporate humanity until I was brought back to earth by the report of a man in Kansas dying from a new virus he contracted while doing yard work. Holy crap I was about to go outside to pull weeds. Or at least note their location so I could point them out to my wife.

With a gesture every bit as magnanimous as Mickey’s school breakfast program I have set up an isolation ward in the garage in case my wife gets ill out in the yard.

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Anger Management

By W R Jones

Mango Shock
Mango – waiting in his car seat

I got so irritated with Mango’s demanding angry tyrant behavior (he screams when he thinks we might be going somewhere without him), that I decided to try shock therapy. Here he is waiting in his car seat after I threw the switch. It didn’t work as expected. All that happened was his hair stood up and his memory failed. Now he has forgotten not to bite the hand that feeds him.

On reflection he may be picking up his anger issues from me. I recently tried to slam a revolving door. This is a pretty good example of an ill advised outburst. The door, instead of slamming behind me, slammed from the front breaking a tooth. The event will cost me $4K and leave me whistling as I speak for 6 months. I had a brief hope it might make me look younger as in a 7 year old. I did a trial grin in the mirror. Too many wrinkles to pull it off. I look like an 85 year old who forgot his dentures.

I went to the pharmacist for some stuffy nose medicine yesterday. The kind you have to show ID to purchase. She got the pills and was ringing me up when someone nearby said something funny. I giggled showing my missing tooth to the pharmacist. She looked at me and grabbed the pills. She thought I was a long time meth user. When I told her how I lost my tooth she gave me back the meds saying I did look dumber than 40 water buffalo so the story made sense, sort of.

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State of the Union Interest Level

A video by Lisa Towers

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