Howie's Fan Club

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Under Construction

Container Garden, in progress - 38X46, Oil

Here is a peek at a typical day at Flower Mound Studio. I just finished up the Frito portrait I showed you a bit earlier and have a painting of Rocky and Ruby, two little dachshunds, almost complete. And I've always got a few florals in progress. This is one of my large container gardens. I use the pots of flowers from my deck as my models for my garden series. Where are my assistants? They're all underfoot and lying about on various pillows, waiting for the scrambley egg making ceremonies to commence.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Thistles, 11X14, Oil

The USDA calls the Texas Thistle a "noxious weed." It's thorny and invasive and hard to control and one of my absolute favorite plants - these bristley things pop up all along the highways and in pastures in the hot months. I gaze at them with longing when I drive home from work, trying to figure out some safe spot where I can pull over and get a photo without getting flattened by an 18-wheeler.

Right now they are just about everywhere, so I'm convinced that someone in the LadyBird Johnson Beautify the Highways camp has decided they are a worthy native Texas resident exempt from the summertime mowers. This painting found a home with a lovely little lady who has traveled the world collecting thistle art. She comes to my shows every now and then, and I always have a new thistle gift I've made especially for her when she arrives. She is a kindred thistle-loving soul.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Killer Goes to the Pool Pawty

Are you sure this is safe ma??

Why must there always be hecklers?

This pool pawty better have snacks, is all I gots to say...

Ah, sweet relief. One paw closer to the buffet table...

I'm just workin on my tan...

Good looks, charm, occasional flatulence...what more could you want in a handsome puggy boy like me?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Summer Breezes

Summer Breezes, 16X20, Oil

Summer Breezes is a painting of a subject I love best, sunflowers. My three sisters and I grew up on an organic farm in East Texas and mom and dad planted rows of giant sunflowers to help attract the insects off the other crops. Dad never let us girls drive the John Deere tractor or operate any of the farm machinery. After he passed away in 1992, I had to teach myself how to drive the tractor and hook up the bushhog to mow the grass in the pastures.

I'll never forget the day I was mowing around one of the giant oak trees. My hat got snatched off by one of the branches and when I looked up to grab it, one of the tractor wheels caught the base of the tree and the tractor started climbing up the tree. I yanked (that's a Texas term - yanked) on the steering wheel and turned it to the right as hard as I could. For a few minutes, it was a tug of war between that big ole (another Texas term) tractor wheel and me. Fortunately, the wheel let go and the tractor did not flip over on top of me. I think Dad was keeping an eye on me that day, and I could just hear him say, "Nanny, now THAT'S why I didn't want you girls driving the tractor!"

The Transformation of Frito

Frito's first picture when she arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth
type 2 cancer and other health issues.

The transformation of Frito under the loving care
of Mary Fran Burke, Houston pug rescue coordinator.

Frito Portrait - Step 1

Frito Portrait - Step 2

Frito Portrait - Fini

You may be wondering how a puggy gal with such class and distinction ever ended up out on the streets. Frito battled more than neglect when she was brought into Houston pug rescue by Mary Fran Burke -- her health issues were substantial. She had surgery this week to have two small cancers removed, and is doing well for a senior puggy gal. She insisted on greeting everyone in the waiting room when she returned to the vet for her re-check yesterday. Frito's before and after photographs were featured in Dallas-Fort Worth Pug Rescue's anniversary video celebrating 10 years and 3200 pugs rescued.

Mary Fran has taken Frito under her wing, as she has so many other pugs in the Houston area where she heads up pug rescue efforts. This portrait of Frito was completed last night in my studio, thanks to the tireless assistance of my own three wrinklesnorts, Howie, Java and Annie, who have never missed a meal in their entire lives.

Mary Fran is hoping Frito will be ready for the summer social season soon, so Frito can wear her new Hawaiian ensemble - a pug-sized grass skirt and a tiny coconut bra. Mary Fran you are an angel on earth. We can hardly wait to see pictures of Frito in her grass skirt.

Friday, May 23, 2008

In Memory of Spencer


Spencer went to the Bridge May 9 after battling health issues for many years. He was a little soul who changed all the lives he touched. He was a master singer of the woo roo roo song, a pug who loved people without reservation, and a little guy who kept his dad's pillow warm and occupied every night. We send our love and support to his family, Lara, Rick and Nutmeg, who are missing him terribly now.

Winnie Wiggles Portrait

Winnifred Wigglepants
Portrait by Judy Mackey

Winnie Wiggles was my constant companion in the studio, and my friend Judy painted this picture from a photo of Winnie that was taken just a few weeks before Winnie went to the Bridge. In this photo, Winnie was sitting by my chair in front of the easel, gazing up at me. You might think that was love and adoration in her eyes and maybe you are right, but there was also just a little bit of the message: "Mommy, can we have second breakfast now?" in her appealing gaze. I can't tell you how much it meant to me to receive this portrait from Judy as a gift.


Otis Enjoys a Nap on a Soft Pillow

Today Mister Otis is going in for a dental cleaning. It's risky anytime one of our beloved woofs undergoes anesthesia, but it it especially an issue for Otis, because he has Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis (GME). His mom Dori has tried to wait as long as possible to put Otis through this ordeal, but it cannot wait any longer. Please keep Otis in your thoughts today that everything will come out just fine and he'll be home very soon.

My heart goes out to Dori and all the parents of dogs with GME, which is what took my own Winnifred Wigglepants in January. Dori and I became friends through a wonderful support group on Yahoo groups for parents of pups with GME. Let me know if you'd like more information about them. I'm happy to share.


Dori just reported that Otis did VERY WELL today in his surgery - his vet used valium instead of standard anesthesia since the procedure was just a short one. They only removed one tooth, the tooth that was hurting him so much. The little weenie guy is feeling much better now. Thank goodness for moms who watch over their little ones like Dori does.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Living With a Celebrity

Howard Pee Pugpants Says:
"Do I LOOK like a happy little cowpug, ma?"

One can achieve all goals with the
proper amount of focus and determination.

I am often stopped on the streets and in shopping malls and asked, "Are you the lady who is owned by the famous Howard Pee Pugpants?" Poor Anniebelly and Java Cheesy have learned over time to simply roll their googley eyes and try to change the subject. Living with Howie is an honor and a privilege, except for the times when he is barking at the TV, running out into the yard with his dad's freshly laundered socks, unmaking the bed, or peeing on the new Pottery Barn blanket. Howard has made it a life goal to perfect the art of puggy badness, as you can see on his own dogster blog. If you too are blessed with such a celebrity bad boy (or bad girl!), please share. Enquiring puggy moms want to know...


Whispers, 8X10, Oil on Linen

Whispers is one of my endless exercises in what I love to paint best, geraniums. Our back yard retreat and container garden is in full bloom now that the temps in Texas are up in the mid-90s. I thought it would be fun to paint this pot of colorful blossoms from a birds-eye-view, looking straight down, instead of the traditional format.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lena - A Tribute

Lena waits for her mom to come home...

Lena and Chassity

Mother's Day was hard this year for those of us who lost furbabies recently. Lena was a tough old broad of a puggy girl, and had about every illness and challenge you could imagine. But she had a strong spirit and was absolutely adored by her mom, Chassity. Lena went to the Bridge shortly before my own Winnie Wiggles arrived there a few months ago. Lena was one of the best loved pugs I have ever had the honor of knowing, and her fierce personality and will to live is a testament to the love she received from her mom, Chassity.

Chassity has written some beautiful tributes to Lena on her dogster page. The kind of love Chassity and Lena shared was bigger than life, and it will not be dimmed in the least by the distance between them now. My heart goes out to you Chassity. I miss her, too.

King's Road

King's Road, 11X14, Oil

Photo taken in Fredericksburg - the inspiration for King's Road

King's Road is a painting from a street scene in Fredericksburg, Texas. Fredericksburg is 70 miles west of Austin and was founded in the 1840s as a German Settlement. It's our favorite place to have a pug-friendly family vacation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


"The Bobs" - Boo Boo and Yogi
Elderly pug brothers recently adopted by Cammie

Bella - Never met a snack she didn't like,
diva and grand queen of the Black Seattle Pack

Monster - Runs with the big dogs, loves his
monkey toy, and charter member of the Black Seattle Pack

You might think I'm going to talk about pugs from looking at these pictures. You might also think I'm going to talk about beautiful pet photography, because these stunning photos were taken by a real professional. And you would be right on both counts, but what this is really about is my dear friend Cammie Owen, a Seattle resident, professional photographer, and animal rescuer with a heart of pure gold. Cammie is the proud mom of the famous Black Seattle Pack - five dogs who live with Cammie, Ric and Olivia in a beautiful home in a small Seattle neighborhood. She took all of the photos in this post and has her own photography business. You can see more of her work on her Web site.

Just a few days ago, Cammie and her family grew by two more four-footed members -- Yogi and Boo Boo. Yogi and Boo Boo, aka "The Bobs" aren't black, but they have fit right in with the Black Seattle Pack. Cammie found them advertised on Craigslist last month and called the owner. The Bobs are two elderly pug brothers who had been living outdoors with their own little doghouse with heated blankets after their family's daughter developed chronic allergies about a year ago. The Bobs' family didn't want them to continue living outside - it gets pretty cold in Seattle! They wanted to find the perfect home for them. Cammie took them in to foster, but decided when she and Ric returned from vacation a few days ago, The Bobs will be a permanent part of her family.

I got to visit with Cammie and the Black Seattle Pack last year in Seattle and she treated me to a trip with the whole gang to Whidby Island via a ride on a really big ferry boat. When we got to the island and she popped open the car's hatchback, all five dogs sat perfectly still, waiting for her command to hop out. I watched people stop dead in their tracks to witness this spectacle of absolute training and discipline. And yes, I have recounted this story numerous times to Howard Pee Pugpants, but none of the lessons appear to have made a mark on my own unruly pug household, particularly Howard, who ran out in the yard three times with Carlos' freshly washed socks yesterday.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Day at the Dallas Arboretum

Into the Woods, 11X14, Oil on Linen

Into the Woods was painted on location at the Dallas Arboretum with a little help from a 9-year-old friend. If you notice a particularly gorgeous smudge of dark purpley brown in the bottom left corner, well that was the mark of what will likely be a future Picasso in the making. I never got her name. After she made her mark, she gave me back my brush and began hopping up and down and spinning in circles in her red dress.

Fredericksburg and Hamboogers

Indian Blanket
A Scene from Fredericksburg, Texas
11X14, Oil

Every year we try to make a trip down south to Fredericksburg, Texas, for a family vacation with the puggies. We have discovered the absolute best pet-friendly place out there and took Winnifred Wigglepants and the Stinky Boys a couple of times last year before Winnie Wiggles got sick. We lost Wiggles in January this year to GME encephalitis, but some of my best memories of Winnie will always be in Fredericksburg. While visiting there last spring, Winnie drew quite the adoring crowd in her polka dot harness and pink pearls shopping downtown at the fabulous must-see store for woofs of all sizes and shapes, Dogologie. Winnie also had dinner at a five-star restaurant with us (on the patio) where she enjoyed a five-star frenchy fry and the unabashed adoration of the waitresses.

We are planning another family trip in June and I can hardly wait to be on the road with the piggypugs. This painting, Indian Blanket, was completed from a sunset photograph taken in Fredericksburg last May.

The best part about traveling to Fredericksburg, according to Howard Pee Pugpants and Java Cheesybritches, are the bites of hamboogers they will get on the way up and back. Howard also particularly enjoys barking at every vehicle that dares to come near us on I-35. He keeps an eagle eye on the rear view mirror to ensure these pesky cars and trucks do not ambush us from behind. Java only howls for the first 50 miles, then drops off into a snoring snooze.

This year will be Anniebelly Bossybritches' first trip with us on family vacation. I'll need to start explaining now that she can't pack all 50 of her favorite toys.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Emmy Finds a Home

Emmy Before...

Emmy After.

In this second picture, Emmy is pictured below, with his sister Luling, above.

When Emeril "Emmy" came to Dallas Fort Worth Pug Rescue, his skin was in terrible shape. My friend Sherrie took in Emmy and Luling, his sister, as foster pugs because she didn't want them to be separated. It didn't take long for her to decide they would be a permanent part of her family. It's what we fondly call "foster failure." You can see now that Emmy is a beautiful, healthy boy under Sherrie's care. He has grown back all of his fur and has a sparkle in his eye. Sadly, his sister Luling, who is pictured with him, died suddenly a few weeks ago. She was just a young pug, and they're not really sure what caused her to go so suddenly. I dedicate this post with lots of hugs to Sherrie and also to every dog rescuer who has given their heart, time and love to these babies in need. Once you give your heart to a pug, you can never live without one. Sherrie and I both volunteer for DFWPRC - Dallas-Fort Worth Pug Rescue takes in all pugs regardless of medical condition, and is always in need of donations, volunteers, and foster families. You can see some of the puggies needing homes on their web site and in their anniversary video.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Poppies and Pears

Poppies and Pears, 16X20, Oil

Poppies and Pears was a good exercise because it was full of challenges for me - reflections in the vase from the pears, the folds of the cloth napkin, and the blue vase and its patterns in shadows.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cool Things From Photoshop Elements

Orange Crush Using the Photoshop Elements' "Fresco" Effect

For all you artists out there on a budget (we're not starving, we're eating paint! :) I found a great program with many benefits of Photoshop at a fraction of the price! Photoshop Elements has lots of bells and whistles and there is even a book called "Photoshop Elements for Dummies". I created a video for Dallas-Fort Worth Pug Rescue's 10th Anniversary using the Photoshop Elements slideshow, which has smooth transitioning features, a nice variety of templates, and the ability to upload multiple photos into a presentation at the same time - much less clunky than Roxio or Digital 8, if you've tried those two older slideshow programs.
Another nice feature is the way you can change your artwork to a black and white photo to check out whether you've succeeded in getting your values correct. You can also try out some painterly effects - here is an example of my artwork Orange Crush using the "fresco" effect.

Pickles and Peaches - Step by Step

Pickles and Peaches, 16X20, Oil

These two little Missouri pugs were a commission I completed for my friend Melissa who is a professional photographer and graphic artist. Take a look at her beautiful work on her web site. Can you tell which one of these pugs is the diva?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Bright Lights

Bountiful on the Cover of
Journal of Emergency Nursing April 2008

A big congratulations to Ann Hardy for winning third place in the Oil Painters of America annual show. For those of you who know Ann, you won't be a bit surprised to hear about this. She is one of the most talented artists you will ever meet. One of the bright spots about taking a workshop from Ann is to get one of her trademark hugs. She is a bundle of energy and always has a kind word for everyone.

I also received some exciting mail yesterday - the April issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing with my painting, "Bountiful" on the cover. I'm happy to report this painting found a permanent home with a nurse in Buford, Georgia, shortly after the issue was published. Bountiful was a small work done entirely with the palette knife. Winnifred Wigglepants was my primary assistant for this creation, and I recall she insisted on early lunch to celebrate its completion.

Bountiful - Cover Art

Bountiful, Palette Knife/Oil, 11X14
Feature Art for the April 2008 Cover of
the Journal of Emergency Nursing

Great Pug Connections

Winnie Wiggles gets kisses from Aunty Sharon

It's true, we pug people are certifiable. We're the ones who will stop on a busy street and roll down the car window for a chance to exclaim undying love for pugs we've never met before if we spot a total stranger walking one or two. When I spotted an absolutely wonderful pug painting through FineArtStudioOnline, I did basically the same thing. I stopped everything and immediately posted a note to the gifted artist who had masterfully rendered a snorfley smoosh-nosed little puggy named Spike.

Sheri Bartholow's web site has paintings and drawings of her pug, Spike, as well as her figurative and botanical work. Sheri has been drawing and painting since childhood and has her MFA from American University in Washington, DC. Don't tell Howie I said this, but her pug Spike is one of the most photogenic specimens I've ever seen.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Boris the Intrepid Schnauzer

Boris the Intrepid Schnauzer, 11X14, Oil

Boris was a little San Diego Schnauzer who had a pretty tough life until he was rescued by my friend Mindy. She nursed him back to health, both physically and mentally, and he enjoyed the good life with his pug brother Elvis by his side. As you can see, Boris was quite the dresser. His closet was always full, as his mom has her own business with cool T-shirts and gifts. In addition to taking care of her critters and running her own business, Mindy can play Scrabble in three languages! You can see some of her latest creations at her web site. Her designs on math and autism have gained quite a bit of notoriety on Zazzle. I just ordered a painting apron with a design of Pablo Pug-casso on it and can't wait to show it off at the paintout at the Dallas Arboretum next week!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Stella, Canine Art Critic

Stella wonders if there might be one more piece of popcorn in my pochade box.

Plein Air Day 1

Iris Garden, 11X14, Oil

This is my first plein air painting, completed last weekend at the Mackey estate in Southlake under the watchful eye of Stella the Canine Art Critic. As long as I kept the popcorn coming, Stella had nothing but tailwagging praise for my every move. The front of this painting may appear to be a blue blob encroaching on an innocent batch of giant monster irises. In fact, it is just a harmless ice plant in need of some root structure.