October 2018 Favorites

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Favorite Things56 Comments

I didn’t write a September Favorites post, because I figured my posts about Paris and Italy sort of covered all of my favorites!  (And I still have more to share on that trip, in fact!)

As I was putting this list together, I realized I did a poor job keeping track of some of my favorite things for October.  Usually, I keep a running list, so I don’t forget the things that sparked my interest when it comes time to share, but I neglected to do that this month.  It’s been a busy month that has completely run away from me.  I keep saying that next week I’ll be back into a routine, but that just hasn’t happened this month.

Anyway, here are some of my favorites (that I can remember)…

Portrait Painting

We have entered into the portrait painting segment of the online art school I’m attending and I have enjoyed it immensely.  At first, I was intimidated at the thought of painting faces…getting the skin tones and likeness right is so challenging.  I just dove in, though, and I’m learning and improving with each one.

I’m still not getting the nuances and angles right and I have a long way to go to be really good at portraits, but it’s coming along with each painting.

I especially love painting “vintage” women and girls.  I love the hats and bows and updos.  That’s also the kind of painting I would be interested in hanging in my own house, so that’s what I’ve been focusing on so far.  I will start selling them since I have had some inquiries.

I’m going to stick with painting faces for a bit, but I would like to revisit landscapes since those are more “commercial” and I just want to become better at it.

Caribou Dark Hot Chocolate

As someone who doesn’t drink coffee or tea, I find that I miss cozying up with a hot beverage on a cold day.  I’m not even into cider or hot chocolate, generally.  They are just too sweet for me.  But, Caribou’s dark hot chocolate?  Perfection.  I have definitely been indulging this month.

Woman in White

I was first introduced to this story through the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same title and I was excited to see it was remade as a series for Masterpiece.  It’s sort of an odd story, but I’m really enjoying this retelling of it!  The fourth episode just aired and you can catch up on PBS’s website or the Masterpiece channel on Amazon Prime.

Listening to Musicals

Speaking of musicals, I have been really into listening to them lately.  For those who don’t know, I practically grew up performing in musicals and I have a degree in musical theater, so this isn’t new for me, but it’s been a bit of an obsession this month.  I’ve been listening to them in the car, as I work, in headphones when I’m walking or cleaning.  I go in my studio and turn on a musical I haven’t listened to in a while and sing and just relish that creative time.

Some of the ones I’ve been enjoying lately are The Woman in White, A Chorus Line, Jane Eyre, Little Women, Sunset Boulevard, and Miss Saigon.

Do you have a favorite musical soundtrack to suggest?  I’ve listened to a lot of them, but I know there are many I’m not familiar with.

Cozy Minimalist Home

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Nester’s new book – Cozy Minimalist Home.  It is wonderful.


It’s an easy read with lots of great inspiration.  We have different styles, but I love how she shows the impact a few carefully chosen statement pieces has on a room vs. a lot of little random things.  There are principles that can be applied to any style.

I’ve also enjoyed watching her design the “cozy barn” trailer to haul around on her book tour.  We’ve been blog friends for years and I love watching her business savvy, creativity, and success.

Nora Murphy’s Country House Style

I first started following her Instagram feed and then I bought her book – Nora Murphy’s Country House Style.  I absolutely adore the traditional, country style featured in this book.  It’s beautiful and homey and timeless.  Since our current home has a more traditional vibe, I’m getting lots of inspiration from these pages.

You can follow her Instagram feed HERE.

What were some of the things you enjoyed in October?

October 2018 Favorites

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56 Comments on “October 2018 Favorites”

  1. Hey Marian…I understand about the hot chocolate. I like hot milk w/ vanilla and sugar. You can add some creamer if you like it richer, and you are in charge of the sweetness.

  2. Oh my word – if I had painted ANY of those portraits I would think I was on par with John Singer Sargeant – no joke !!

  3. I absolutely love musicals. You must add “Les Miserables” if you have not already. I saw it first in London and have since seen it in other cities. I think I will listen to it now!

    1. Yes, I’ve seen the Broadway tour twice and have listened to just about every version recorded! I think the 10th Anniversary is my favorite.

  4. Your paintings make me think that the person was actually a real person as
    that is how much soul they have in them.

    I visited a Mary Cassatte (sp) in Boston at least three times as I could not
    get enough of her paintings. She painted women, children and babies.
    None of them were her own. So enchanting.

    I like that you are open minded and try different subjects.

  5. Your lovely potraits look fully nuanced with proper angles to me! They are wonderful! Sunday night is my TV night – anything on PBS Masterpiece is always a favorite & I too am enjoying the Woman in White series! And I’m hoping to receive Nora’s book as a Christmas gift!

  6. I too am so impressed with your portrait paintings! There is so much depth and soul in them – flowing right out of you through th brush, I’m sure!

  7. Wow, truly amazing how good those paintings are!! Your subjects have such depth to them, not a blank stare but actually you can feel their personality in their eyes. Nice work!

  8. Marian, thanks for responding to my email, BTW. Listen to Jekyll & Hyde with Linda Eder, it is absolutely my favorite, although I Iove A Chorus Line too, names my first daughter, Kassi, after the lead. Cheers and Happy November!

  9. It just blows my mind at just how far you have come along with your painting. The portraits are magnificent and something to be very proud of. Bravo you!

  10. Yes! Jekyll and Hyde musical with Linda Eder. One of the great voices of all time, imho! Never heard of Women in white musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Thought I had heard all his music. Will have to look into that!

  11. One of the musicals remade in the 1990s that you might consider is SHOWBOAT. I saw the Broadway production in Houston when it toured. You could hear me singing with the cast album for weeks.

    1. Ooo…I’ll listen to it. I love some of the music from that show, but haven’t listened to the remake.

  12. You are such a high functioning creative. Marian. I however am a high functioning dreamer. I bought a set of Ikea raw pine drawers and have no idea what colour to paint them. Maybe i’ll Hemp oil them instead.

  13. Those portraits!!! Too incredible! I feel like I know these women!!! You’ve captured their essence! Thank you for this post and every post. I wonder if you know that your courage in tackling new things, your tenacity to improve things and your vision coupled with patience are more than inspirational. I love your style Marian by that I mean your tastes & decor style but also your style as a person. I appreciate that you take us on your journeys and that we we have a ringside seat watching your growth and successes. Though everything looks amazing to my eye, I can see that you strive to improve and willingly share your challenges. If I hated your style (if that’s even possible), I’d still read your blog because It keeps me on the pathway of seeking to creates the better version of where I live, what I do and hopefully who I am. So thank you for sharing.

  14. An organizational question: hiw do you keep track of lists? Pad of paper? Desk calendar? Memo in your phone? Computer?

  15. “ Barnum” is a musical with some great songs. Glenn Close is a pretty good singer.
    Who knew?

  16. Wow,Wow,Wow Marian!! Those portraits are absolutely outstanding. I could’ve taken one, well maybe two, looks at those and been able to tell You painted them! It’s so much fun watching your “style” develop right before our very eyes! You’re really inspiring me to start painting again. That’s cool that you’re listening to musicals while you create. I read where artists, painters to be exact , should listen to classical music while they paint. Something to do with the left brain, right brain stuff. Supposed to help your work, but you clearly don’t need the help. I hope you keep showing us your paintings and share your art journey with us because I’m so intrigued!

  17. I was fortunate to see Women in White on Broadway. It was a stunning production. I especially enjoy the music from Jekyll and Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernell!

  18. Try this trick with your next portrait painting; Turn the inspiration photo upside down. It forces your brain to look at shape, proportion, shadows and light, instead of mouth, nose, neck., etc. I tried it once and it really surprised me!

  19. I’m so impressed with your art work! You have inspired me to pick up the brush again. Thank you.

  20. I grew up in a musical family and watched old movies from the “Golden Age” of Hollywood on TV. So many I can’t think of them all just now. For some reason, Shirley Temple and Buddy Ebsen’s number, “At the Codfish Ball” springs to mind. Such a cute, nonsensical song.
    “Pajama Game”, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, “Ain’t Misbehavin'”, “Phantom of the Opera” “Chicago”, so many more. I love musicals!
    Wish I could sketch and paint a fraction of how beautifully you can. Thanks for sharing your creative passions with us.

  21. Your drawing talent is just amazing to me as I have followed you from your beginning. A path you didn’t share you are blessed with many talents , almost unbelievable what you have accomplished. So interesting .. a small mustard seed… blessed for sure!

  22. I’ve watched your painting skills constantly improve with awe and wonder. Your portraits are beyond amazing. I love them. I hope you’ll eventually put some of them on the market.
    You are always such an inspiration.

    1. Yes, all of these will be listed for sale. Putting them out in the world is a good incentive for me to paint more.

  23. Follow your blog all the time. Where do you get Caribou dark hot chocolate? Looked all over the internet.

    1. I assume you can only get it at a Caribou store, which are mostly in the Midwest, but there are other locations across the country. Look at their website to see if any are near you.

    2. You have to get it at a Caribou Store. They aren’t all over the US, so you might not have one near you.

  24. I think you will be a great portrait painter, even your early paintings, show life. I love watching this part of you grow. I myself am surrounded by artists, my mother and my daughters, me I draw a mean stick person. My medium is fabric and dirt, and I enjoy this direction of creating. My favorite book in October is Nora’s. I’ve followed her for a while, and some of the individuals highlighted in her book. PURE EYE CANDY!

  25. If only I could paint portraits like that! I struggle with painting people- faces are so challenging! As far as musical theater soundtracks- check out Once. It was a low budget movie that came out years ago and I just saw a local theatrical performance which was done very well- the music is everything. Gorgeous voices and amazing lyrics. Great music to paint to!!

  26. Marion! Your paintings are just beautiful. I’d love to throw my hat in the ring for the third pic with the young girl in the hat with the bow in the back. I was stunned to see it because I felt like I was looking at my foster daughter that I raised for a couple of years who later went back to her parents. Her life has been full of tragic events and I miss her. I hope I can afford to bid on that one some day. Love your blog and look forward to it every day.

  27. Oh my goodness! Your portraits are just beautiful! How gifted you are! I so wish I had artistic skill, but alas I am not. Caveman drew better!

  28. Marian, if “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” isn’t on your list, you must add it! My son and daughter performed in it at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY back in 2001, and I listen to their version almost every day. It’s probably my favorite “musical music” ever, along with that from “Phantom”, of course!

    1. I haven’t listened to it in a while, but I was in that production twice and I have the entire thing memorized to this day! I’ve always wanted to play the narrator.

  29. Can’t believe nobody’s mentioned the “Wicked” soundtrack. I find it inspirational in the car!

    1. Oh yes, I love Wicked. I got to see it on Broadway with amazing seats. It was an awesome show and I listen to it often.

    1. Yes, the original Broadway cast of “Camelot” (Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, Roddy McDowell, can’t get much better)! Also, Broadway cast of “My Fair Lady” (Julie Andrews).

  30. you just slay me with the amount of talent you have cultivated from your God-given gifts! i love these. i know it involves hard work on your part but you have the ❤️ of a true artist.

  31. The painting of the woman done in sepia tones really grabbed me. If you are going to be offering prints for sale or the original I would love her. I don’t know why exactly but as soon as I saw her my heart bumped. Maybe it’s because she’s done in brown, my favorite color, or perhaps because she bears a look of sadness in her eyes… whatever, she spoke to me. And I loved Nora Murphy’s book as well. I pre-ordered it without knowing a thing about it and wasn’t disappointed! And I’m not a tea, coffee or much of a cider drinker either but I love dark chocolate and hot chocolate so this combo sounds like a winner to me. Thank you for the tips!

  32. I feel obligated to be the person who tells you to listen to Hamilton, if by some miracle no one has told you to listen to Hamilton yet.

  33. I like the ladies more than the landscapes. Great composition and you have learned this quickly! Is that a light by the easels, or something else. How does that help you with the painting?

    1. yes, that is a light that I use for still life vignettes. it’s just sitting next to the easel, because I used it a couple of days ago.

  34. Marian
    What is the name of the online painting class you are learning from? I love your work – you are very talented so be sure and give your self credit! I look forward to more of your posts about your European trip. However, all of your posts are great reading. Thanks for sharing!

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