Saturday, December 31, 2011

Old Lady Antebellum

My favorite house in Savannah is this one.  I've loved the lacy wrought iron balconies and the rusting intricate iron window-works since I first laid eyes on it.  I've always imagined the interior as a lavish home for a wealthy family.  The interior I pictured had grandiose staircases,  windows with yards and yards of richly colored silk draperies and plush velvet armchairs made for shipping mint juleps while cradled in the lap of luxury. The walls would be decorated with contemporary landscapes of live oaks, much like my own.  Ok, now I'm fantasizing that I own the place...Anyway, I never thought that I'd be able to waltz into the house on a sunny afternoon, much less poke my head around each corner on every floor.

Dave and I were in Savannah on our way back from the Podracky Christmas celebration in Orlando this year.  We were walking around and peeking into antique shops when we stumbled upon the open doors of Alex Raskin Antiques.  He owns this house!  Of course we went in, and when we did, we found piles and piles of dirty old treasures.  They were stacked to the ceiling, covering the walls and spilling out of the balconies of this wondrous old shell of a Savannah mansion.  Based on the condition of the stuff, we thought we'd hit a gold mine! Surely we could find an affordable treasure here!  It was not the case.  Every piece of hand-carved furniture and ancient photograph was priced at thousands of dollars.  So we crept around and looked and marveled at the treasures!

My favorite piece was a hand-carved Victorian mantle.  It was a mere $4,500.00.  Since it wouldn't fit in our trunk, I had to say no.  I also adored some stained glass windows that were propped precariously on the first floor in what I assume was the grand ballroom in it's hey-day.  The paint was peeling off in layers as thick as cardboard.  With the original chandelier still swaying eerily from it's dusty chain, this house was beyond anything from my wildest dreams.

We also found an early dress form with a painted doll's head.  Dave loved an ancient looking fish-tank from the turn of the century. He also eyed up some French furniture with aged paint patinas that cannot be mimicked, no matter how many layers of faux paint and crackle medium you try.  We laughed when we saw a "choo-choo" train that looked like it came from the carnival from the turn of the century (1900's, not 2000's).  There is no way to describe the magic of this place.

At the same time, there was an inescapable sadness to it all.  Every room was decaying. The ceilings were caving in on the top floor.  The stairway was held up by a metal rod that surely was not an original part of the design.  As the plaster and horse-hair concoction crumbled, you could see the wooden slats behind the walls and ceilings. With every crack in the wall, it became harder and harder to imagine the people that raised their families here.  I felt a sadness that the owner of this place didn't take better care of it.  Hopefully one day we will go back again to see that renovations from the historical society have begun.  If Dave and I ever hit the lottery, this is where you'll find us!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This is me.

One of my second grade students drew this during class while we studied art about communities.  In second grade, there's a big push to learn all about community helpers like firemen, policemen, teachers, construction workers and even business owners.  We talk about all the community helpers we can think of and I show some examples of Norman Rockwell's illustrated pictures of community helpers from the Saturday Evening Post.

When we got down to business with our pencils and markers,  one of my little kiddos drew ME!  Here I am at my teacher's desk with my pink insulated cup of Diet Coke sitting nearby.  All the students are smiling and busy as they work on their drawings and as you can see, there are lots of drawings hanging up around the room on a clothes line-- just like real life!

Oh how can I begin to describe how happy this makes me?  This is why I'm here-- to nurture, to support, to encourage this kind of sweet innocent talent until it takes off full speed ahead! Have I mentioned that I love my job? I do.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the donut man?

It all started in September 2010, when I took a nasty spill down the stairs thanks to a ginormous load of laundry and a slippery step.  After writhing on the floor for a few minutes, I figured that I'd try out my throbbing ankle to see if I'd broken it.  It hurt, but  I could walk ok and I didn't see any bones poking out.  I even grabbed some frozen peas to ice it down and prevent swelling before I limped off to finish my wifely duties at the grocery store for the day.  

That night it hurt so bad I couldn't even get off the sofa to go pee! I had to scoot on the floor from the sofa to the bathroom and lord knows I had to take the stairs by scooting up one at a time on my rear. The next day I made it down to the couch for breakfast and I didn't move again for 36 hours.  It took me three months to go see a doctor-- Why, you ask?  Because I'm like that. I kept thinking it would heal on its own. After all, it was only a sprained ankle. The doctor that I finally saw was a podiatrist.  He wanted to jam a needle in my ankle and give me a cortisone shot.  I said no thanks (because my Internet research had told me that cortisone actually impedes ligament healing time and I hate needles) and limped out with a brace instead.... a brace that cost me the last bits of my ankle mobility and nearly 400 buckaroos after the freaking insurance monies paid.  Yes.. after insurance that dang brace was $400!  In January, I made an appointment with an orthopaedist.  He told me the brace made my ankle worse by weakening it further and prescribed some physical therapy.

Finally I started to see some improvement!  I went from not being able to walk without a limp to being able to walk gently uphill and finally to being able to jog again.  At this point, It had been 5 months since I'd gotten any cardio... 5 months since I'd run a mile or even been able to walk a lap around the neighborhood.  Don't let that happen to you friends.  It's not pretty.

In the springtime when I was able to run one mile again (albeit wheezing and breathing like a banshee), my friend talked me into signing up for a half-marathon in October and I said yes because I needed a big goal to get back to my old self... my wedding self if you know what I mean.  All spring and summer I huffed and I puffed and I ran my tush around the neighborhood so many times that I swear I wore a new path in the asphalt. The months flew by.  I was doing great. I could run 3, 4, 5, even 6 miles at a time!  Then I got this thing called a "new job," and I started this thing called a "new semester" in graduate school.  By the time October rolled around, the furthest I could run was still 6 miles...less than half of the 13.1 required to complete my upcoming race.

You know what?  I did it anyway.  I wasn't happy about it, (I was pretty anxious about it which turned into pretty up tight about it which turned into pretty annoying to be around) but I sucked it up and I did it.  You know what else?  2 hours and 13 minutes of running later I had a lot of fun.  In fact, that's a picture of me at the finish line! I did it!  Now I know why crazy people run marathons.  They may be crazy, but man when you complete something like that it's like nothing on earth can stop you.  When I crossed the finish line on my half marathon I felt relief and joy like I haven't felt since I graduated high school.  Grinning ear to ear, I couldn't believe I had it in me.  My legs were telling me no, but my head kept saying yes!  After the race was over, my wonderful husband brought me a pink donut-- one that matched my pink running shirt and my pink half-marathon medal.  He's the one who really deserved the donut for listening to me whine about my ankle and about running all year.  He's the best, really... and so are pink donuts. In honor of Dave and donuts, I think October 16th should hereby be known as Donut Day.  I plan to celebrate annually (after I go for a run, of course).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I love my job...

Two weeks before school started, I found a job.  I am a new elementary school art teacher and I love what I do!  Here is a piece from one of my kindergarten students. We studied "Art in the Park" by looking at Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. Then the kiddos drew images of themselves playing at the park.

This kid is SO talented. I don't even know his name--- and no he didn't put it on the paper like I asked him to.  Oh well-- it doesn't matter.  I can't wait to see what he does next. This drawing is inspired by all the playground equipment at my school.  Even though I teach in a trailer that is falling apart and smells like mildew, the kids have nice playground equipment-- as you can see in this meticulous kindergarten rendering.

Enjoy! There is nothing more precious, real or honest than children's art.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Anniversary time

Clouds over Fort Fisher, oil on canvas, 2011

Sun on our shoulders and salt on our skin,
A warm breeze blows through the old oaks again.

We didn't find any shark teeth or teal sea-glass.
But the beach memories we made will surely last.

After we've washed all the sunscreen away,
we dress up real fancy for a nice dinner date.

Memories of golden sand and the years since we met,
Build our strength and love for the path we now set.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I'm frantically getting ready for my big show at Castalia in Chapel Hill.  Everyone is welcome--- please come!  The opening reception is Friday, August 5 from 5-7:30 p.m. We will have delicious wine provided by Studio 91 Fine Art Gallery and Wine Bar, and some lovely new paintings to reveal!

Uninhibited Joy
New works by Katie Wall Podracky
Aug. 1- Oct. 28
Castalia at Meadowmont
301 W. Barbee Chapel Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Please join us for a reception with the artist, Friday, Aug. 5, 5-7:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Seurat's Dots

I have been dabbing... (yes it started out crazy)

and dotting....

And dabbing....and dotting....

and dabbing....

and dotting....for months!

It's almost ready for the big show...  almost...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Starry Starry Nights

Last night I taught my first class in Asheboro at Nikki Needham's and Betsy Brown's new gallery called Colorshow Gallery. It was fabulous!  I had so much fun with all the ladies that came to join us for Van Gogh's swirling paint and a glass of wine.   Here are the pictures. They speak for themselves!  The paintings turned out fabulous! I hope to offer more classes like this on a monthly basis in the fall. Let me know if you want to join us next time!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A good start...

Currently on the easel:

Vibrant, Dark, Magical, Vivid... but is it finished?

Believe it or not, I'm working from an image of Bur-Mill park in Greensboro! Here's the original image so that you can see what I add through the painting process. I had to force myself to stop so that I could leave that warm coral color in there. Sometimes the best thing you can do to a painting is leave it alone and think about it for a few days. I love where this one is going... but is it there yet?

... I think it's there!

Bur-Mill Park, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches, 2011
Available in August at the big show:  Uninhibited Joy, new works by Katie Wall Podracky

Thursday, June 30, 2011

ATC: Artist Trading Cards

I've heard about these cards before, but I always dismissed them as something I wasn't interested in.  I didn't think they were "serious" art, or something like that.  Well, for my online course this summer, I had to complete a little set of 5 as preparation for a lesson plan. Instead of just trading the cards among the students, we are receiving contact information for a pen-pal in GERMANY!  Now anyone who knows me knows how much I like to stay in touch via old fashioned snail mail. There is simply nothing like the little jolt of joy I get when I find a handwritten note from a friend in my mailbox. My mother met my stepfather this way--- through a thank-you note!

Traditions: Hike the Blue Ridge Parkway

When I was in middle school my family took a trip to the beach and I met a friend in the pool on the last day of our trip. We are still in touch after years of writing pen-pal letters and I really think I might get to see her again this August.  We used to decorate our envelopes like crazy-- we made them look like all kinds of things. I wish I still had all those envelopes somewhere, but I wasn't as organized when I was young.  Guess what... my pen pal is a teacher in Wilmington now.  How ironic is that?  I should have known a long time ago that I was meant for this kind of thing.

Stereotype:  Fat American Tourist in a Tacky Suit

So here are my first artist trading cards.  For my class, we had to depict our region, a famous local person/celeb, something from history, a tradition and a stereotype.  Here's what I came up with.  Enjoy!

History: American Indian Figures

My Region:  The South-- lightning bugs in a jelly jar

Local Celeb: The Wright Brothers, N.C. First in Flight 
(I'm not really with-it when it comes to celebrities, so I chose historical celebs)

I can't wait to see what my German pen-pal sends back. Her name is Madeline, I think... isn't that beautiful?  This is exactly the kind of project that I would put together for students in my art classes. I've always wanted to befriend a teacher in Iraq or Afghanistan so that I could begin to build a tiny little bridge of friendship between young people there and my American students.  Hidden agenda?  Sure... I'm out to save the world... one ATC at a time. I should have one of those "whirrled peas" bumper stickers, but my car is too "serious" to deface with vinyl.... riiight.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Can't see the Forest for the trees II...

I just couldn't get enough of this image. I'm not sure why it caught my attention so much, but I just enjoyed painted the spaces between the trees! I wanted to keep the immediacy and freshness of the pigment and brush strokes so I had to force myself to stop working on this one! Here is the progression:

This painting will debut at Castalia in Chapel Hill this August! It's going to be a great show! The opening reception is the evening of Friday, August 5.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Raffaldini Vineyard Thunderstorm

A few weeks ago, our great friend, Nick was in town. We all ended up going to some local vineyards that we've discovered while living in N.C. Raffaldini is the most spectacular as far as the view, and Elkin Creek is our favorite for rustic charm, delicious pizza, roaming guineas and wine that is way better than the standard N.C. versions. As we were sipping from our glasses on the patio at Raffaldini, the most spectacular thunderstorm billowed in from the distance and we watched until it was right above our heads before we ran inside for safety! Here are some pictures and here is the painting that resulted. I must say, I just love it! It's even more fun because it's tied to such a great summer weekend memory. The painting is actually brighter and lighter in person, but another thunderstorm was rolling in as I took the picture of the canvas above. The full painting progression is below. Cheers!

"Raffaldini Vineyard Thunderstorm, 36 x 48 inches, oil on canvas"
This painting will debut at Castalia in Meadowmont Village of Chapel Hill in August. The opening reception is the evening of August 5.