Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Wicker Wingback

This is a little business venture I've recently embarked on. I reupholstered this chair.
It was in pretty rough shape. Firstly, the mauve pattern was heinous and secondly, the previous owners had painted on the actual fabric. Yikes! So, I dismantled the chair and recovered it. I even made new buttons! What do you think? Here are some previous chairs I have refinished. Red Chair, Telephone Chair, White Chair  Wow, you'd think I could come up with more clever names than "Red Chair and White Chair."

I had this whole vision of matching a coordinating dress with the finished chair for a picture. Unfortunately, my camera is on the fritz and the majority of my pictures didn't turn out, including the pictures of the back of the chair. Hopefully, I can find a great deal on a new camera!

If you know of anyone who needs upholstery done, please send them my way. I would be very grateful.

Have a lovely rest of your weekend!



Thursday, June 20, 2013

The United Kingdom Experience

You should know, I am so overwhelmed by all the photographs I took overseas. I know I've said that before. I have so many story to tell, but there are just too many pictures. I'm talking at least 10,000. How is that even possible. I have about 1,000 in each folder...and there are easily over 10 folders.

It's just a lot to sort out.

Anyways, I thought I'd just switch things up a bit and start sharing my first hand experience as it was occurring. In other words, I'll share my not-so-personal diary for those who are interested. (And naturally, I'll be commentating in parenthesis because I won't be able to resist the opportunity to make fun of myself.)

"January 12th, 2013

It's strange to think that this upcoming trip has the potential to strip me from my identity as an anglophile. It could be ruinous.  I must embrace the possibility that England will sorely let me down thus concluding that Las Vegas is really the most illustrious place on Earth.

I could come back and have an affinity for casino culture and an obsessive penchant for playing powerball.  Forget about books and literary locales.  Who needs books when there are magic tricks to learn.

January 30th, 2013

The day has arrived.  I must endure my dreaded fear of travelling via plane with the reward of dwelling (haha) in Great Britain for a nice chunk of time.

Yet...we're not off to a good start when there is a winter storm between me and the UK. And, you know it's a bad sign when they attach a moniker to the severe weather. This one happens to be called Magnus. What a brute.

It's windy here in Duluth, MN...and I feel quite frazzled.  I'd like to spritz my hair right about now. It's amazing what a crutch it has become. (haha-I had to pack my cherished hair spray supply for fear that they would throw it out at the security check point. Believe it or not, this stressed me out like you wouldn't believe. I even tried to calculate how many bottles I would need while I was over there.Okay, so 18 spritzes a day x 97 days...)

My agenda for the plane ride

-read Patty's directions again
-go through Great Britain Tour Book with highlighter
-consider what to draw, the purpose behind my subject matter.
-read a lot.

(I accomplished NONE of these on the plane. Instead I watched Hotel Transylvania twice and counted down the mileage the rest of the way.)

I already feel nauseous and I haven't even boarded.

January 31st, 2013

Our plane is hovering above England as I write.  Just a tad south of Liverpool.  It hasn't sunk in yet.  It feels like it is just a map.  I am anxious to get to the train.  I have a horrid feeling the ride on the Tube is going to be an utter nightmare.  I struggled to get one bag up a flight of stairs--I can imagine what a dreadful sight it will be for onlookers.  It's still so dark. I was hoping to see England in the light of day. But beyond my window, it is sheer darkness! --TURBULENCE--UGH

First impressions in this strange unfamiliar land.  Our plane flew into London while it was still night--I liked that my first introduction to the city was in the manner of Mary Poppins or Peter Pan.  There were even dark cotton ball clouds that you could just picture M. P. sitting atop.
People are really quiet.  I feel like a bull in a china shop with my two ginourmous suitcases. So bogged down by them and my sinfully heavy backpack. There are posters all around and styles that are inspiring me already. The tube was longer than I thought and I was shocked by the absence of conversation.

I LOVE everyone's accents. I don't even want to talk & just find one person to tell me their life story and then translate everything I say to make it sound elegant (That doesn't make ANY sense!)

I feel so greasy--my hair is all sweaty. I was just drenched while I went through customs. (Maybe because I was wearing a huge sweater!) I keep on trying to spy people I would know, no one has talked to me for awhile--The light is starting to come out. Such high style here--Reminds me of Nashville in that way (hahahah okay?) I feel like a bag lady. Just disgusting.

I NEED to see Macbeth if McAvoy is in it.  HOLY CRAP! THAT'S HAPPENING!"

(Of course, I'll write more about my trip soon)

Le page du Matisse

Here's another page from my Articulated Book that I worked on in Scotland. It's really nothing to write home about, but I like it...thus, I am sharing it with you all. I guess I sketched a few empty chairs in front of windows (I'll post more later). Maybe someone has a theory as to why I do that...Like in "Three Days of the Condor," Robert Redford looks at Faye Dunaway's photographs and sums her up by the subject matter she chose to shoot. Perhaps someone can tell me why I draw pictures of empty chairs infront of windows. Maybe if you paint pictures of chairs in front of windows it really means you're annoyed with your brother because he never puts his dishes in the dishwasher. Theory.
Anyways, the assignment was to paint anything in the styling of Henri Matisse. You know, lots of patterns (I really only put patterns on the mushroom pillow, so I should have failed this assignment.) 
I purposely did not pay attention to correct perspective because Matisse is kinda like that. His flower vases always look like they should fall off the table.
I really liked the colour of the chair. I wanted to jump in my painting and read a book there. I suppose that is a trait of Matisse. After all, his paintings are inviting for the most part.
But, I'm not going to pretend like I know everything about Matisse, because frankly, I really don't know much about him at all. I think he was french?
And I know I can usually recognise his work in a museum.
If I remember correctly, here is one painting of Matisse's that I saw in London at the Tate, Modern Art Museum (which I surprisingly found interesting). I used to claim Matisse as my favourite artist, but he honestly does nothing for me now. His works are interesting, but they are not evocative for me . Although, one could also say that there's nothing evocative about the chair I painted either. So, I shouldn't be so critical of other's artwork. Do you find yourself drawn towards artwork that has emotional attachment or just artwork that interesting? There's got to be several schools of thought. Do speak up.
This next one has been one of my favourites since my high school art class. I think it was on one of the art supply cupboards.

Based on these two examples of Matisse, I feel he would have liked O'Brien to model for him. What do you think?
 I drew this in highschool. Can you tell I was influenced by Matisse even then?  I tried to mimic Matisse even back then by trying out the two tone face on my jazz singer.
Now, here's a Matisse that I have a postcard of. The summer before my senior year in high school, my Gram and Pop-Pop took me to see the Cone Collection at the Baltimore Institute of Art. It consists of over 40 paintings by Matisse and Picasso. I didn't like Picasso back then and it's odd because I can't really say, I like Matisse now.
It really amazes me how our taste changes over the years. If you have a favourite artist now, has it been the same one for many years?
(Note, the flower vase in this one.)
Then again, these patterns are pretty interesting. I may have a change of heart.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Charlies Angel

This little sweetheart belongs to my best friend, Katie. His name is Charlie and he is quite the gentleman.  Katie's a little crazy about this little guy, so it was a no brainer to draw a sketch of "Charlies" for her birthday.
I wish I had her reaction on camera. Judging by that reaction, I'd say she liked it!
What do you think?


I'll do my best to keep this post brief as there will be a few long winded posts on the horizon.

As for this painting, this is a little black lab that belongs to one of my friends that I met while I studied in Scotland. Katie really liked the painting of my host mumsies' dog that I did, so she asked if I would do a painting of Nala for her. Luckily for me, Katie had found a darling dress with robins on it at a market in London and she let me have the dress in exchange for a painting! Score!

This was painted with acrylic on 8x8 canvas paper.

If someone is interested in an 8x8 acrylic painting on canvas paper, I would only charge $40 for this service. Incidentally, I will also accept dresses from markets in Europe.

For more options, examples of pet portraits, and pricing, you can visit my new facebook page at

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


There's not much to say about this post other than these are a few of my notebook doodles from the last semester. I don't know if I listen better when I doodle. I suppose my test results would be the only indication of that. Either way, I thought they added a nice touch to my articulated book and they are most inspired by my surroundings over seas.
I attempted lace work a lot because there were so many paintings with the skill of lace being demonstrated.
You'll also spy my attempts at recreating celtic designs of intertwining and overlaping.
But in the end, they're just doodles.

We were able to see this original James Guthrie painting on display at the Nation Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. It was gorgeous. I had just the long winded doodle to frame the postcard in my articulated book.

I didn't paint this rabbit, but I drew the doodle behind him.

Unintentionally, this dog looks like my best friends' dog, Rasta...I must have subconsciously missed her.

So, what do you doodle?

"Hollowed Out"

"...inside: waterproof matches, iodine tablets, beet seeds, protein bars, NASA blanket, and, in case I get bored, Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone. No, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Question: did my shoes come off in the plane crash? "-- Dwight K. Schrute

This is a page from my articulated book which I will be showing you more of, I assure you. I even included a fishing lure from a fly fishing outting. Can you believe that!? I actually went fly fishing in Scotland. Of course, I was a natural at catching anything other than fish. I spent the entire time trying to untangle my line from the bushes behind me and almost snagged a duck. Still, I liked how the lure looked with the rest of the page so I used it.
 This man is named Henry.  He's got one of those thick Scottish accents that I would struggle to understand (think Grounds-Keeper Willie) especially if it was before 9AM when I would occasionaly have kitchen duty. I'm inept as it is in the kitchen, so throwing a Scottish accent in the mix only made matters worse. If you were in Henry's company for more than 5 minutes, there were pretty good odds that he'd share an off coloured joke with you. Not only did he make delicious food like (Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with Stags Breath Whisky Sauce...mmmm), he created the most ornate garnishes (like swans out of lemons and palm trees out of carrots). They were stunning and I would constantly kick myself for not bringing my camera to dinner more often.
To our surprise, Henry is not only skilled in the culinary arts, but he was a champion fisherman once upon a time. I asked him if he's ever seen the movie, "A River Runs Through It." And he said, "Aye, and it's better than sex."  The day we all went fishing, Henry spent most of his time trying to help the Americans to catch one fish. And do you think we could do it?!?! NOPE! We just caught branches and gave up. "American girls."
I drew a picture of him because it was one of our art assignments and he joked that he was going to hang it over his fireplace. Hahaha. That would be hilarious especially when he's wearing a hairnet in the portrait. Nevertheless, I'm glad he even wanted it. Here's our wall of Henrys on display for our in house art exhibit.
And here's a shot of me in action trying to follow Henry's instructions. I thought I'd include it because it looks legit, but you know what would be really legit...IF I ACTUALLY CAUGHT A FISH!

In the end, my only souvenier was the chartreuse feathery fly that Henry let me cut from my line.

Baby Angus

 8x8 -Acrylic
Here's another little cutie that would sometimes follow me around while I was staying in Scotland. I called him Baby Angus. He belongs to my host mumsies who were gracious enough to take my host brothers and I on many excursions and to the cinema while I studied abroad.
They love their little Angus. I knew I wanted to paint them a painting as a thank you gift, but there were so many cute pictures to choose from. I'll prove it...

Eventually, I decided to use one of the pictures from this impromtu photoshoot. Look at him in his little hoodie!
This post seems a nice opportunity to talk about my facebook page, Pet Portraits by LaPine Design. Feel free to swing by and leave a comment or even LIKE it if you want!
'Til next time!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Did you know that if you are having dinner at a pub in England, it is very likely that you may be greeted by a four-legged friend? Being a dog lover, I was always delighted to share a chip or two with the little beggars. (Chips are the U.K's version of fries in case you didn't know.)  I mean, how could I resist? During Spring Break, I travelled by myself. I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast called the Carpenter's Arms outside of Newbury, Berkshire and ate my dinners at the pub across the car park. While I inhaled my bacon cheeseburger, there was a little dog named Eric who kept me company.  He was darling. He could have been one of the Eddie's from "Frasier" or the little Queenie from "Water for Elephants". Purely adorable--so much character too!
To avoid feeling entirely awkward sitting by myself, I would keep busy sketching my surroundings and this little terrier at my feet was clearly the most charming model I could have wished for.
After I scribbled out my sketch of the lil'  pub dog, I ripped the picture out of my sketchbook and gave it to his owners hoping they would be pleased. Then I snuck out of the quaint, golden lit pub complete with the tolken wellies that tend to cluster around the door of any proper country pub and tried to forget about the anxiety that was shrouding me. You see, I was only 2 and 1/2 miles away from Highclere Castle that night. A mere 2 and 1/2 miles. Normally I would be roughly 4,024 miles from Highclere if I were in Wisconsin, but on this particular evening I was only 2 and 1/2 miles...

Conveniently, the next morning would be the season opener of the Castle which you all know has gained acclaim for being the location of Downton Abbey. The very same Downton Abbey that springs up in many of my blog posts and conversations. Of course, I planned to be exactly where I was at that precise moment, but there was a massive hole in my meticulous planning.

Somehow, I missed the 24 hour window to secure an online ticket to tour Highclere while I was in the U.K.
The season sold out within a day.

I would only be in the U.K. for 3 and 1/2 months, but within that time, there would be no tickets available for this fanatical Downton Fan to procure.

The thought of being in the U.K--only 2 and 1/2 miles from Highclere and not being able to see it was not something that I would accept. But the reality was entirely out of my hands. It was a fate I had to consider.

Would I be able to convince them to let me tour the castle? Would I even get a glimpse of it from afar? So much could go wrong...The boxoffice told me that there would be a few tickets available on a first come, first serve basis at the door, but it was unclear how many. What if they only let in 15 people and I was number 16 because I had to walk when others had cars and could drive. The day before I had timed my 2 and 1/2 mile walk to the gates of the castle (To my disappointment you couldn't see it from the gates. That disappointment may or may not have made me cry.)Then, there were always those "people who knew people" and I didn't know anybody that would give me a ticket or reserve a spot for me. I was just a crazy girl from Wisconsin who, instead of partying in a tropical destination as normal college students do on their Spring Break, chose to freeze my tail off in the uneventful region of BERKSHIRE where nothing remotely exciting ever happens, just so I could toy with the chance of being able to walk through the house where my favourite television show was filmed. You see, so much could go wrong with this sad, pathetic situation, ergo I was anxious that night.

Before I tell you what happened the next morning, I'll finish my story about Eric, the pub dog.
The following evening when I went to the pub for dinner, the bartenders knew me as "the artist" and were showing a xerox copy of my sketch of Eric the dog to the other occupants.
I felt honoured.
Then Eric's owners handed me a great big purple bag.

Inside was this card...
and a ginormous chocolate Cadbury egg!

To be continued...

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