Odds and Ends of the year.

This is a horse with tattoos, everyone has them now.

Ink and marker, 8×10 inches.

This is a lino print with Brusho (a watercolor product). 5×7 inches.

A quick drawing of a guy named Steve.

A cat that I embroidered on my apron because I like to be fancy when I’m cooking. This design is an original and is about 5×7 inches.

A photograph of a shadow from a lamp that looks like the Eiffel Tower.

A sepia self portrait, titled “Closer than she appears.”

The Chicago Waterfront.

And the Wells Fargo Bank reflected in the windows of the Figge Museum in Davenport, Iowa. My favourite painting ” Blue Horse” by Marc Chagall lives at the Figge.


©Virginia Spencer, thepurpledogpaintingblog.com, 2018






The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity. ~ Herbert Hoover

When you enter the Presidential Library of Herbert Hoover, there is a  beautifully made mixed media piece by Richard Pinney.  There are wood carvings and photographs and all sorts of bits and pieces.  I was quite taken with it and inspired as well.

Absolute freedom of the press to discuss public questions is a foundation stone of American liberty. ~ Herbert Hoover

Children are our most valuable natural resource. ~ Herbert Hoover

These dolls were given to President Hoover by Belgian children as a thank you for his war famine relief efforts.  The lady doll seems to be imploring the rather haughty male doll. I am not sure why he has his back to her but I am quite sure that his hat is to die for.

There’s also a slightly out of focus ghostly reflection that appears to be wearing a rather dashing black and white checkered coat. Interesting.

This toy fire truck was made in dedication to the fire fighters who put out the fire at the White House in 1929.

The fire started in the White House attic where 200,000 government pamphlets about all sorts of subjects were stored and then had the good sense to set themselves ablaze.

The President, his son and several other men, worked to remove as many files and historical items as possible while Mrs. Hoover carried on with the Christmas party for children she was hosting.  The children apparently didn’t notice the fire and good times were had.  Mrs. Hoover later handed out cast iron fire trucks to the children that had been at the party.

Hebert Hoover certainly had his share of foibles as all people do but he was an interesting man who did interesting things.  I highly recommend going to his library if you’re in the area.  If you like to meander, the grounds are quite large and perfect for a stroll.  He is buried on the grounds. 



©Virginia Spencer, thepurpledogpaintingblog.com, 2018






Public Art in Davenport, Iowa

I love this statue. It was created in 2002, in copper and steel by B. Thomas Lytle. It sits on 2nd Avenue, in Davenport, Iowa.


sculpture Davenport Iowa Lytle

This lantern is on top a post in Davenport, on River Drive.

lantern Davenport Iowa

This woman is part of a sculpted bronze memorial to Irish immigrants by Louis Quaintance.


©Virginia Spencer, thepurpledogpaintingblog.com, 2017


Seurat, Sundays and Top Hats..

Georges Seurat (1859-1891), the father of pointillism never visited Iowa.

But Iowa sure likes him a lot. So much so that when several large oak trees fell during a storm, artist Ted McElhiney carved them into the figures from Seurat’s most famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”. And Mr. McElhiney didn’t keep all the fun for himself, the figures were then painted by local high school students. They now are a fixture on Credit Island In Davenport, Iowa.

That is pretty darn cool.












All I ever did in high school was (badly) paint a gigantic picture of a carousel horse that for some reason my mother insists on hanging in her bathroom.

Well done, Mr. McElhiney and  teenagers!




©Virginia Spencer, thepurpledogpaintingblog, 2012

Birdstalking Part 2 or How the Catbird Sought Revenge..



I’m trying to come up with a better opening line that that.

But I’m exhausted.

Tuckered out, you might say. Dog tired, bushwhacked, fatigued, lethargic, pooped even.

I mean downright weary.

Why? Well, let me tell you why…

There’s a catbird living in my tree.

That’s right a catbird, I said. To be specific, a Grey Catbird, also known as the Slate Colored Mockingbird.

For those of who you have never met a catbird, yes, they do meow.

They also cluck and cackle and caw. And they coo and cheep and twitter and peep.

And occasionally they whistle.

But the one thing they never do, the One Thing no catbird would ever dream of, the ONE THING that never ever, in the history of animal kind, a catbird has ever done is to..


They sing in the morning, they sing at night.

They sing in the dark, they sing in the light.

They sing when they’re hungry and happy and sad.

They sing when they’re excited, tense or mad!

(They also make me write like a Dr. Seuss wannabe. That mocking thing is contagious)

So I decided to fix his little red wagon and fry his chestnuts. He was done as dinner.

I turned back to my bird stalking ways. I cleaned my camera lens and it was on..

I tried in vain to get a photo of him with his mouth shut.

But I only managed to get photos of him with his mouth open.

He was singing to the left…


He was singing to the right..



Hmmmm… that’s not working…I need help…

Oh Mr Hummingbird, thank you for offering your services. Yes, you stick your tongue out at him.


Oh dear, Mr Hummingbird. Yes it is awfully hard to mock a mockingbird. They enjoy it, the sickos.

But thank you for trying. I appreciate the effort.

Mr. Cardinal? You have an idea, you say?

You’re going to give him the Awesomely Malevolent Evil Eye as only a Cardinal with a capitol ‘C’ can?

Wonderful..Give it your best shot.


Hmmm, Nice, but no banana.

Mr Bluejay, You’re going to what!?! Screech it away?

No!! No!! It’s a mockingbird!! For the love of God!!! Don’t teach it how to screech!!

Sorry, beg your pardon, lost my composure for a minute. It really is mimicking you quite well.

Yes that is how you sound, you can sit up in that tree and be as offended as you like but that is the noise that you make.


So finches? Any ideas?

You’re too busy playing ‘One Finch, Two Finch, Three Finch, Four!’ to help out a friend?

Yes I do realize catbirds chase cats. And dogs. And hawks and sometimes people too.

I also know that it’s been observed that other birds will actually line up and watch them when they are doing so.

It’s true. Everyone loves a show.

Fine, finches, go on with your game.


I think I know what will do it.

That’s right I called the Great North American White Wookie. It says…

“Arggggg…grrrr…gargle…gargle… arggggg!!!!”


Nothing? Really?

Well, I guess it’s time to ask the Honorable Zen Master Tree Frog for advice..


Hold up now. It’s upset you too? The Honorable Zen Master Tree Frog?

The Catbird stole your moves? and your mating calls?

The Nerve! The Gall!  The sheer unadulterated insolence of that Grey Catbird slash Slate Colored Mockingbird!

Dummy! Come quick! The Honorable Zen Master Tree Frog needs you!

That’s a good Dummy, you cheer him up and I will settle this for once and for all.



Catbird, I didn’t want to have to do this. You left me no choice.

It shouldn’t have come to this but when you push people to extremes they go to…well..extremes.

By the power invested in me as President, Vice President, Treasurer, Clerk, Recorder and Supporting Cast of Birdstalkers Anonymous (Quad Cities, IA/IL Chapter) I call the..

The …

Get ready folks…


Hide the children…


Avert your eyes…

The (and this is the technical name)..

The Dastardly, Heinous, Ghastly, Loathsome, Menacing, Razor Toothed, Jagged Jawed, Mother Nature, that is one mean looking mother but it does have exceptionally pretty eyes for a goose Goose.

We call him Al for short.


So what do you have to say now Catbird?


Yea, I thought you’d have nothing to say

Wait a minute..What is that? Humidity? Oh it’s Hot!  I guess it’s time to turn on the Central Air so my house doesn’t turn into an oven. You know when I turn on the Central Air so my house doesn’t turn into an oven, I can’t hear outside.

Never mind, Catbird. Carry on.



Now I have some peace, I can get back to painting.

This is from a photo in Wetcanvas‘s RIL by Dave Slaughter. Thank you to him for it’s use.

This is acrylic, 4×4 inches and it’s a Mountain Bluebird.





©Virginia Spencer, thepurpledogpaintingblog, 2012

Let’s Dance…

I was driving down the road in Davenport, Iowa. It’s a nice place, has the Figge museum, wonderful restaurants and a beautiful riverfront.

And it has a Skybridge.

It’s a long glass cable bridge that goes from the riverfront to the downtown area .

It’s wonderful for taking in panoramic views.

And dancing…









I was wishing those lights would change but no such luck.

I have no idea who these people are but they made my day!




©Virginia Spencer, thepurpledogpaintingblog, 2012

The drive out…

It was a dark and stormy morning…..

Well it wasn’t that dark, since we didn’t leave until 9:30 as we hadn’t any water. Our well was being cleaned..we had forgot all about the maintenance schedule…


So we took our dirty selves to the store and bought bottled water to have quickie baths in and then smelling pretty we left…

As we drove over the Mississippi River into Iowa, the wild sunflowers were glowing in the sun. At this time of year the wild grasses have a silvery feathery top on them. It is so lovely. We decided to drive north through Iowa to Minnesota then over west to South Dakota.

We drove past the world’s largest truck stop. As you can see the sky was starting to darken. We hit hard rain several times, hard enough to have to pull over. We saw several cars in ditches but thankfully everyone was fine.

The skies cleared as we reached South Dakota.  We realized fairly quickly that people in South Dakota really like signs. I mean they really like signs.

We started to see a few signs here and there. But then we saw one we couldn’t ignore..

Hmmmm. A Corn Palace? The world’s only Corn Palace?

We tried to resist but then we saw this one…

A Corn Palace and a ban pun and Free!…I like corn, I like bad puns..and free is always good…we needed to stop for the night but Dummy would not let us forget that we were so near the home of the Corn Palace…

At the hotel he nagged and nagged and hogged the remote until we agreed to go over to the Corn Palace the next morning…

The little so and so….

The next morning dawned bright and crisp and clear. A perfect September day. A day made for seeing corn palaces…

And there was a corn palace..and it was free.

These people like corn. A lot.

Even the street posts..well you can see for yourself. They like corn.

And then we saw the Corn Palace in all it’s glory. I had envisioned a sort of Lincoln Log type of model built with corn but oh no this was much bigger. In fact these people took a perfectly good building (albeit one with Russianesque onion domes and medieval turrets painted in glaring greens and yellows) and glued 300000 pieces of corn and various grasses all over it. It is pretty impressive. I can’t even get two sheets of paper to stay glued together. If I was the one who glued all that stuff on, people would be getting boinked in the head from falling cobs..so kudos to them.

Apparently they’ve been doing this every year for a good long time. Every year has a theme. This year’s theme was American Pride and Transportation. Cause you know we are just not a patriotic enough country..and lord knows none of us drive enough.

A closeup of the corn.

 Why did they do it?  And how do they stop the lights from setting the dry grass on fire?

I don’t know.

Sometimes it’s best not to ask.

We made a quick stop at Cabela’s to look at dead animals and an iron sculpture..


Dummy lost his manners and ignored the signs telling people not to climb on the sculpture.

So he had to go in the glove box for a while.

And we continued on..