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Author Archives: Harmony

Oh No! Another Nameless Dog! (a.k.a., Name That Pup) (A post in which I am not as wordless as I make myself out to be)

Oh No! Another Nameless Dog! (a.k.a., Name That Pup) (A post in which I am not as wordless as I make myself out to be)

 

 

My last week has been packed tight, which earned me the American Badge of Honor for Extraordinary Busyness. (Note: apparently, you’re no one in our culture if you do not bear this badge. Want mine?)

The result has been odd — a strange, burbly wordlessness — the feeling that, at the end of the day, I have nothing left to say — which, if you know me, you’ll know is an occasion so rare that psych students should cluster round my brain to sharpen their study tools on my personal vocabulary anomaly.

In other words, I don’t have much to say (aside from, “Can you direct me to the nearest nap spot?”), but I could, if pressed, say absolutely nothing in several hundred words, a skill well-honed in academia.*

* I actually am in academia — for a few more weeks. I’m wrapping up my last term in my side-job as a college writing tutor as we speak. That’s the good news. The other good news: I can no longer be accosted in dark alleys by five-paragraph essays. (I think I’ve found religion.)

Well, now that we’ve covered the important things in life, like assault-by-term-paper, we are now (I hope) willing to be whisked away by art.

Good thing a dog is here to whisk us yonder! A dog painting, that is.

 

 

Watercolor Rainbow Dog by Harmony Harrison | from Oh No! Another Nameless Dog! (a.k.a., Name That Pup) | www.harmonywithanimals.com

???
watercolor on canvas board
8 x 10

 

 

Given my (ahem) crippling wordlessness at the moment, I haven’t yet come up with a name for this pup. Any thoughts?

(Comments in the form of five-paragraph essays will not be accepted. Please see your class syllabus for more information.)

 

And Now It’s Time for Something… Wordier

Exciting news! Which, remarkably, I do have the vocabulary to share.

I’m creating a new little ebook, not unlike The Beginner’s Guide to Animal Wisdom. This new book will be focused not just on animals, but also on one of my other long-term passions: creativity.

As in:

The Cat & Dog Guide to the Creative Life*

*Not the actual title, for which you can thank me.**

**Yes, I am having issues with titles this week. See painting, above.

 

This little book is still taking form in my cranium (and will likely make more sense after I’ve had 2.5 naps and ten times that much tea).

But I do know this: It will be lovely, it will be truthful, it might be silly, and it will definitely be free.

I’m aiming to create and publish it by my birthday, which is coming up on June 9th.

That’s only nineteen days away, so I’m gonna need support. You can join my personal cheerleading squad by sitting quietly in your home and not cheering, which would just disturb me. Hot tea, and lots of it, may be sent by airmail. Photos of encouragement from your adorable animals are welcome, too (those you can just email).

After all, I am cat-activated and dog-powered. The more dogs and cats I love, the happier I am.

 

Now Back to the Dog at Hand

Remember Indigona Jones? Well, what shall we name this new dog? For this one, I’m thinking more poetry, fewer puns. (But I will take the fall for any punnage that may accidentally occur).

Thoughts? Ideas?

 

Watercolor Rainbow Dog by Harmony Harrison | from Oh No! Another Nameless Dog! (a.k.a., Name That Pup) | www.harmonywithanimals.com

 

 

P.S. This post contains 559 words, which means I am 559 times less wordless than when I began it. Thank you for your help.

 

 

Intuition and Paint and Birthdays, Oh My! Exploring the connection between intuition and art (with our party hats firmly in place)

Intuition and Paint and Birthdays, Oh My! Exploring the connection between intuition and art (with our party hats firmly in place)

 

It’s birthday season here. A couple of weeks ago, I painted Two for You — two loose watercolor dogs on canvas — for my sweetheart to celebrate his birthday. Just this past weekend, my sister-in-law’s birthday popped up — and my own (fortieth!) is soon to come.

(Want to see what I made my sweetie’s sister last year? Sneaky Kitty Gets the Treats)

This year, for my sis-in-law — The Auntie to our dogs and cats, one of the rare people our kitty Tucker will allow close to him — I painted this dog:

 

"RainBojo" loose watercolor dog by Harmony Harrison | from Intuition and Paint and Birthdays, Oh My! | harmonywithanimals.com

RainBojo
watercolor on paper, 5×7

 

 

 

… modeled a bit after this dog:

 

Bojo the Fabulous Wonder Dog, photo by Harmony Harrison | from Intuition and Paint and Birthdays, Oh My! | harmonywithanimals.com

Bojo the Great

 

 

Bojo is my dog nephew, The Auntie’s constant beach companion, ball chaser extraordinaire, and champion at getting his butt skritched. He is capable of balancing a treat on his nose, a trick I myself have yet to master. Also, he’s highly skilled in seagull-scattering maneuvers.

As you can tell, I don’t do exact likenesses when I paint animals. I feel more drawn to paint lines and washes inspired by the animals, not the actual, factual critters in question. I am drawn to paint my inner experience.

Which brings me to a whole new topic:

 

cats eye flourish

Intuition in Art
a.k.a., Letting Your Hand Follow Your Gut
(Which Is Not as Anatomical As It Sounds)

cats eye flourish 2

 

But first… the back of a scrap!

 

Ooh, the back of a watercolor painting! | from Intuition and Paint and Birthdays, Oh My! | harmonywithanimals.com

 

 

Hello? Of course you have to see what’s on the back of Bojo’s painting. The Back of Scraps Painter strikes again!

Now, what we were discussing before I so rudely interrupted myself?

Ah yes…

 

 cats eye flourish

Intuition

cats eye flourish 2

 

 

Long, long ago, in a messy bedroom far, far away, a teenaged Harmony sprawled across her bed, surrounded by mountains of books (which, come to think of it, is not too different from my present-day life).

But these books were not the standard murder mysteries / screwball comedies / watercolor tomes on which I currently chomp.

These books were on (cue woo-woo sounds) the paranormal. (I was not normal and I liked to eat pears, so this only made sense.)

Back then, I was fascinated with all things New Age — astrology, divination, tarot, crystals, clairvoyance, healing, and small, unpopular religions, to name a few — but at the same time quite frightened. After all, stuff like Ghostbusters – you know, the incredibly goofy movie? — left me terrified.

Let’s just say that the veil was thin between what entranced me and what scared me out of my skull.

Being of rational mind, I preferred to stay within my skull as much as possible, so I avoided the shaking-in-my-boots department: ghosts, channeling, spirits, etc. (Note: None of these things is actually scary. I was also scared of turtle food back then. Seriously. It’s part of my PTSD bouquet. I will tell the turtle food story another day.)

So, given my low tolerance for fright when I was a kid, I stuck with what I thought was quite safe, pitching my New-Age tent on more quake-proof ground: the study of psychic abilities.

I stuck with it for a long, long time.

Fast forward twenty-four years, and what do we have? A mad woman covered in cat fur, gripping a paintbrush in one hand while desperately trying to figure out how to work her iPod with the other.

Eventually, I remember which way the brush should point (the bristles go out; did you know?) and stagger toward my easel, whereupon… a change comes over me.

 

 

cats eye flourish

I breathe.

I see what’s to come.

I don’t know how I’ll get there…

But soon, a new animal is born.

cats eye flourish 2

 

 

"Orangey" watercolor on music paper by Harmony Harrison | from Intuition and Paint and Birthdays, Oh My! | harmonywithanimals.com

 

 

As pigment and water wash over the surface, the animal eyes start to watch me back, and I am enlivened in the bright flow of knowing, of joy.

I don’t have formal art instruction. I barely have informal art instruction. I’m learning and sharing as I go, just as I have been for the past year and a half since my painterly exploits began.

But in the last few weeks, I’ve started to realize that there is something deeper going on than just experiments with paint.

My two-and-a-half decades of intuitive adventuring — which, since my years in TeenageLand, have expanded to shamanic studies, animal communication, spiritual healing, and professional services for others — have become a deep part of me, so deep that they flow from my heart to my brushtip to the paper, without much need for conscious control.

My intuitive adventures have taught me to trust myself. To quiet my mind and connect with my first thoughts. To have faith in my body’s wisdom, in the moments of pure knowing, in the images that flit across my inner screen.

These adventures have also taught me, with little effort or trying, to trust that my hand and my brush know their path.

All that I am learning right now is from inner experience — an inner experience cultivated through spiritual practice and spelunking in the realms of intuition.

This has been a whole new adventure, as two of my long-beloved paths — creativity and intuition — weave together, with animals at their heart and core. It was animals, after all, who taught me — finally — to trust my intuition, when I learned to speak with them. It is animals who inspire me creatively today. Without their glorious fuzziness and gobsmacking insight, I wouldn’t be painting. (Truth: I would just be pining.)

Now, then, my creative friends — or Creative Cats, if I may be so bold to say — what is it that inspires your art these days? And how (if at all) do you go about allowing your intuition to flow from your heart or gut or {insert anatomical reference} as you create?

There’s one thing here I know for sure: It’s about trusting yourself — and you can trust me you on that one.

 

The Cat Eyes Know All, detail from "Orangey," watercolor on music paper | from Intuition and Paint and Birthdays, Oh My! | harmonywithanimals.com

 

 

 

“Two for You”: Celebrating my Sweetie’s Birthday with Two New Dogs (of the painted variety) and a Tropical Storm Named “Carrot Cake”

“Two for You”: Celebrating my Sweetie’s Birthday with Two New Dogs (of the painted variety) and a Tropical Storm Named “Carrot Cake”

 

 

This week was my sweetheart Russell’s birthday. My gift to him was dogs.

Watercolor dogs, of course.

 

"Two for You" watercolor dogs on canvas by Harmony Harrison | from Two For You | harmonywithanimals.com

Two for You
watercolor on stretched canvas, 8×10

 

 

He unwrapped his gift on the couch before a recently-blazoning carrot cake (more on the carrot cake later).

When he pulled the canvas from the gift bag (more on the gift bag later), his face brightened.

“It’s us as dogs!” he said.

And indeed it is. The lovely thing is, he loves it.

 

In the Beginning…

Now that I’ve tantalized you with carrot cake and gift bags, let’s look at some scraps of paper, because I know that’s what you want to do.

Speaking of paper, here’s the preliminary sketch I did before painting “Two for You.”

 

Loose watercolor sketch of two dogs (preliminary sketch for "Two for You") by Harmony Harrison | from Two for You | harmonywithanimals.com

Two for You (Well, Almost)
watercolor on paper, about 7.5 x 11.5

 

 

As y’all know, I’ve been painting on the backs of scraps, because what else are you going to do with those gorgeous blank spaces? This is what’s on the other side of the watercolor sketch above.

 

Weird little kitty in watercolor and gouache by Harmony Harrison | from Two for You | harmonywithanimals.com

Weird, Weird Kitty
gouache on paper, about 7.5 x 11.5

 

 

Let’s Talk Turkey: Cake and Bag

First, the bag.

You know this kind of bag? The gift bag type with paper loops for handles? The bag below is courtesy of my local dollar store (and of one dollar).

 

bag

 

The morning after Russell opened his gift, this bag was lolling about the dining room table like so much post-birthday flotsam.

From the kitchen, we heard a crinkle. Then a shuffle. This was followed by a number of papery sounds. We tiptoed dining-room-ward and watched the spectacle of a large cat trying to fit herself into a small bag.

 

Miss Addie, long-haired tabby | photo by Harmony Harrison | from Two for You | harmonywithanimals.com

Miss Addie, the cat in question

 

 

Within moments, Miss Addie had gotten her head and one front leg stuck through a handle loop.

My pulse shot to Warp 10. I scooped Addie up, hollering for scissors. Russell hopped to it, rushing to the kitchen for the shears.

Luckily, he also brought back a good dose of sanity.

When he returned and saw the scene — wife holding enormous cat whose head had grown into the shape of a bag, complete with leopard-print tissue, and whose front leg jettisoned from an oddly looping aperture — he set the scissors down and did the decent thing:

He simply unwound the cat from her baggage and set her free.

Why don’t I ever think of anything calm like that?

So, cat moms and cat dads be warned: Your gift bags aren’t safe around your cats (but you knew that). What you may not have known is that your cats are not safe around your gift bags. So, tidy up those gift bags, as I’m sure you always do. (You’re welcome to tidy up after me, too.)

 

Did Someone Say Cake?

My most formidable task in the Birthday Hoo-Ha Department was neither painting dogs nor panicking over cats. No, it was something far less… glutinous. As in: Bake my sweetheart a gluten-free carrot cake, so that gluten-free me could join in the birthday festivities.

I set my jaw and dove in.

After cobbling together several recipes (i.e., recipe research ad nauseum), I waved my gluten-free wand and started tossing pineapple and coconut around the counters until the entire kitchen was a storm of preserved tropical produce (plus carrots). Luckily, before Russell could install the foghorn, the air cleared, the tropics retreated, and a magical cake manifested before me.

Alas, I have no photos, as devouring commenced soon after cake popped from oven. But it was amazing. If anyone wants the recipe, let me know —  I am no food blogger, so my recipe won’t be pro, but still, I can whip up dessert-oriented weather events with the best of them.

 

Now Back to Our Regularly-Scheduled Painting

Remember this painting? From way up at the top of the post? (Or are you still slightly comatose from thinking about cake?)

 

"Two for You" watercolor dogs on canvas by Harmony Harrison | from Two For You | harmonywithanimals.com

 

It’s painted on canvas, not watercolor paper, and I think I’m in love with this method. The watercolor drifts through the weave, with bits of pigment pooling nicely between warp and weft. Texture galore.

Too much paint in a spot? It’s easy to lift paint off the canvas with a damp brush — even paint you smooshed on there yesterday. Yes, we’re talking watercolor with autocorrect. *Swoon*

Watercolor is vulnerable unless it’s framed behind glass or is sealed in some Borg-enhanced Hermetic chamber. For this painting, I’m leaning toward Door #2: cold wax sealing (which contains the horror known as petroleum distillates, so the Borg must be involved somehow).

Once I’m 100% certain I want to deal with the petrochemicals (seeing as I’m not so hot at detoxing from acrylic paint exposure), then I might just seal this canvas with cold wax, a la my artsy blogging friend Joanie Springer of Art for the Soul of It. (I learned this technique from her online wax varnishing class, which is available for purchase here.)

Painting with watercolor on canvas is as easy as carrot cake pie. Give it a try sometime — but don’t use your uber-expensive watercolor brushes on the canvas, as the woven texture might erode away at your bristles. I used my lovely (and not very expensive) Neptune watercolor brushes, which simulate squirrel fur — without cruelty to animals.

 


 

Tell me now…

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever painted on? Watercolor on canvas? Oils on thin air? And come to think of it, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever put in a cake? Inquiring minds won’t rest till we know!

 

 

The Ridiculous Strikes Back! Two Acts of Artsy Silliness Revealed (plus a possible third, if you dare)

The Ridiculous Strikes Back! Two Acts of Artsy Silliness Revealed (plus a possible third, if you dare)

    Ridiculous the First In last week’s episode, you joined the intrepid artist as she revealed her serious side. Turns out I can’t be serious for too long at a stretch. This is what recently happened:       From across the room, this kitty looks like she’s underwater, hunting, of course, for sardines. I’mContinue Reading

And Now for Something Completely Different: In Which My Art Gets Un-Ridiculous

And Now for Something Completely Different: In Which My Art Gets Un-Ridiculous

      This dog. I painted her.     ***I just learned that this painting looks crazy-red on some tablets and phones. It’s gold in real life and on my computer monitor. Still learning the ropes of image scanning.***   Now back to our regular programming…   I had attempted an accurate rendition ofContinue Reading

Loose Kitties of the Night, and Other Weird Stuff from My Studio

Loose Kitties of the Night, and Other Weird Stuff from My Studio

The earth rumbled. The studio shook. And piles of paper fell with a deafening whump to my paint-speckled floors. So I have a bit of a filing issue. Case in point: When I was in college, I filed every paper that passed through my hands by shoving it under my bed. This would have workedContinue Reading

Coming Clean: Miss Addie Had a Hairball (Plus surprising hairball facts that you never learned in Cat Parenting School)

Coming Clean: Miss Addie Had a Hairball (Plus surprising hairball facts that you never learned in Cat Parenting School)

  For those of you following the culinary adventures of Miss Addie, Celebrity Diner, I have a small confession to make: My darling dear tabby was not picky that day. She just had a hairball. Thank you very much.       Miss Addie does not care whether or not you think of her asContinue Reading

Miss Addie, Celebrity Diner: The Life and Times of a Very Picky Cat

Miss Addie, Celebrity Diner: The Life and Times of a Very Picky Cat

“So, what do you do?” the party-goers ask, ice tinkling in their glasses. If I’m at a party, I’m there under duress. So I answer coolly: “I stay home and feed cats.” This kind of response results in plenty of elbow room. I sigh with pleasure as the party-goers inch from my presence. But it’s actually theContinue Reading

I’m Stacked: 82 Library Books and Counting (a.k.a., Blame It on the Paint)

I’m Stacked: 82 Library Books and Counting (a.k.a., Blame It on the Paint)

The librarian handed me back my card, cocking an eyebrow all the while. “You,” she said, slightly breathless, “have eighty-two books checked out.” My eyes bulged out of my skull, or nearly. At the very least, I felt a boggle and a breeze in the eye socket area. “Our limit is eighty,” she went on, “but I extendedContinue Reading

We Interrupt Our Regular Dogcasting to Bring You… Chow?

We Interrupt Our Regular Dogcasting to Bring You… Chow?

        Each month, I fizz with delight when I get to join a group of local artists (or people who absolutely are artists but claim not to be) who get together with art teacher Dorothea Tortilla to make weird stuff. Last week, as we bubbled our way into her studio for a class,Continue Reading

 
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The Beginner's Guide to
Animal Wisdom

is a little ebook that will help you listen to your animal pals.
Want the book & occasional newsletter? Sign up below.

(Or visit this cute little page to hear me fizz about why this book is fabulous!)

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