Thursday, August 11, 2016

August Flowers

What a muggy, hot day it was today, and I guess we are in for some more.  That's August for you, I guess. 

It's later than it should be so I'll only take the time to show you a couple of pictures from the garden.  Now remember, I've mentioned that the garden really hasn't been tended this year due to all the construction with men and machine traipsing all over the backyard.  It's not all their fault, of course.  The work did keep us busy, too.

Anyway, now that the season is farther along and since we're finally getting some rain, we do have a few flowers poking up.  But the first to share with you is a house plant that is doing remarkably well in its summer residence.  The stephanotis is huge and is sending new runners out all over the place.  It hasn't looked this healthy in a while. 

To prove how well its doing, there are two clusters of buds (one on the left and another on the right) on their way to popping open.  It's the first time it's bloomed in years!  I've looked to see if I can find more, but it's hard to see in among all those leaves.  Since it is touch-sensitive, I don't want to go digging around in the foliage.  Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Our new delphinium was doing very well until the heavy rains hit; I hope it was the rain and not one of the rabbits.  Anyway, it was fortunate enough to have a friend nearby to lean on.  I should have staked it but forgot.

The last picture is one of my favorite flowers.  Of course, I can't remember its name right now, but it's very tall and looks like a rudbeckia.  It is way back almost among the lilacs that are the back border of our garden.  The color of the flower is like a bright light in a shaded place.  Its very pretty leaves (that don't show in this picture) are very dark green - all of which make the blossoms appear to float in the air..

I hope your garden is giving you pleasure, too!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ansel Adams - Early Works

Today we traveled with a friend to Cooperstown to go to the Fenimore Art Museum.  We were going to one of their "Food for Thought" lectures which we have attended and enjoyed in the past.  Today's topic was the early works of Ansel Adams. 
I was very surprised at the difference between the early and his later more well-known photographs.  Or more well-known to me. This exhibit showed Adams' growth over his life and that was the most interesting thing of all.  His first photographs are admired, but many left me unmoved.  His subject was the great outdoors even early on, but the drama I think of when the subject of his work comes up was rarely there.  Instead, I saw the influence of Japanese woodcuts in some of his compositions (those I liked); they influenced many artists of that time period.  I learned of his devotion to getting just the right light, waiting for the more dramatic clouds, and his desire to convey what he was feeling. 
Some of the facts of Adams' life struck me as intriguing.  He was born in 1902 in San Francisco, was frequently ill, and didn't do well in school.  In fact, he left school after finishing 8th grade.  He hoped to be a great pianist but had to realize he didn't have what it took there either.  So what impressed me is despite those "failures" he applied himself thoroughly to the art of photography including all the chemistry and math required and was very, very successful. 
But to me, many of the photos I saw today did not strike a responsive chord. Nothing unusual in that - no one is going to love everything they see in an art show.  Nor is it surprising that I love his later work when he manipulated the development of his photos to get what his vision demanded.  What is surprising to me was how much the fact that even an artist as incredible as Ansel Adams needed time to develop, even his work changed over time, and even an artist of his stature had some clinkers in his work.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Stay True to Your Vision

This is Day 5 on the newest Lake Willoughby painting, and I think it has maybe only one more day of work before it is finished.

When I went to class, I was disappointed with the fact that I hadn't done any work on it this week, and also disappointed that I no longer thought it was as successful as I had originally thought.  Yes, I had taken a "dark and stormy" photo and turned it inside out, but gradually it lost its luster. Something was definitely "off".  

So here it is as it was when I went to class today:

When I explained my dissatisfaction to Sharon, she asked her usual leading questions that made me find the answer.  She asked, "What do you like?"  

My answer was, "The sky."

"What else?"

"The lake,"  I responded.  Then, of course, it became obvious.  The hills weren't "alive with the sound of music" or anything else.  They were downright dull.  A bit more conversation, and by the end of the class, this is what I had:

In brief, if I were going to work with the brights of the storm, I couldn't wimp out two-thirds of the way through.  I have to learn to stay true to my own personal vision.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Jason Yenter's "Peaceful Holiday"

There was no entry yesterday because I forgot.  We had returned home from a weekend spent with daughter and grandson and dove right into the end-of-the-weekend chores.  Not a good excuse, but it's the only one I have.

Today was the usual Monday-so-it-is-laundry day, but I did get some quilting done on my Improvisation quilt.  That's a good thing as it is going to be in the Schenectady Guild's show this fall.  It would be better if it is finished, don't you think?

Anyway, last Friday the first block in the BOM was completed!  Well, except I did not "square it up" as you will see in the photo below.  This is the Jason Yenter "Peaceful Holiday" pattern, and this is the center block:


I had thought I had cut the very center blue carefully, but you see that there are no snowflakes on right or bottom.  Didn't notice that until I had appliqued the round medallion.  Drat!  I guess I will have to embroider some snowflakes there as it is bound to nag at me.  

Some of this was foundation pieced which I love in a pattern like this as if you are careful, the points will be perfect.  However the rest of it was pieced the usual way - which would have been all right if the pattern had given the measurements for those units once sewn so any errors could have been caught immediately.  I can see that I will have to re-sew some of those corners.  

Going wonky this early in the game is not a good thing!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Renovations and Races

Excitement is beginning to build regarding the renovations going on here.  I think I mentioned that the area rug and an ottoman for Garden Room have arrived plus the blinds for the family room.  Today another blind arrived; it's quite a long package so I didn't open it.  At first I thought it might be for either the kitchen or the Garden Room.  But then I reasoned that since the first one was not a honeycomb type, the more recent one probably isn't either.  That means that it is most likely for the kitchen.  We'll have to wait and see.

Today, D had a meeting in the morning so I spent my time up in the studio working on the block-of-the-month Block #1.  My hope was to finish it today.  That didn't happen.  There were a few interruptions by workmen needing to check on things, and as usual, the sew took longer than anticipated.  So before that block was finished, D came home.

That meant that I had to scurry around and get ready to go to the race track for our annual day in Saratoga.  I may it more difficult for myself because I had laid clothes out earlier that really weren't appropriate for the heat.  After two or three attempts, I finally found something cooler yet still comfortable.  Except for the shoes which at the end of the day are now in the wastebasket (they are now too small).  We did have fun despite the blister, though, and D was fortunate with his bet on one of the races - a first for us.

We returned home to find the workmen had managed to lay the floor in the family room.  It looks beautiful!  All in all things are beginning to take shape.  Now if we can just get the workmen to put in the necessary shelf so D can have his TV back, all will be well in our world.  We will be able to wait for the furniture to come in.

I hope.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

News on the Construction Front

The painting is almost finished in the family room; there are only a few minor touch ups left.  The construction men were back today, and now the carpeting has been torn up!  The echo which had been living in the Garden Room has moved to the family room.  The new room now has all the too-heavy-for-us-to-move furniture from the family room so the once lovely room now looks like a storage area (or the "lumber room" as such places were once called) while the family room has new life.

We are now being told that the construction will be finished by Friday.  I am skeptical.  While the only big thing to be done is laying down the flooring, there are numerous small bits and pieces.  Covers for the floor electrical plugs, shelving to attend to, vent covers, doors painted, backsplash in the bathroom, etc.

Then the heavy items have to be moved back.  And chipped paint touched up.  La, la, la . . .

Well, here's a nice thing - or at least something that makes me feel good.  This past weekend I finished a small embroidery project that was lots of fun to do.

It's a kitchen towel which will be at least one of two.  One of the women in my sewing club was working on a similar project the last time we met, and she very kindly let me use her teapot template for the embroidery.  The towel I selected has a white background with green borders so I chose a variegated green-to-orange embroidery thread.  It was fun to work on as the stitch is a simple one and the changing colors kept my interest.   This kind of work is very soothing which also makes it possible for one to participate in any conversation going on around one.  Time passes quickly and so does the project.

I have ordered a few more stencils so I can do more of this kind of stitchery . . . while waiting for the family room to be finished!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Who's Driving?

Willoughby is the subject of yet another painting - the beginning of which I showed last week and asked if you could guess the subject.  Today I'm going to begin with the photograph that is the inspiration for this painting:

Now here is the beginning of the painting that I posted last week.  It isn't easy to see because, well, there isn't much there!  I started it towards the end of class and, as I had done with the Venice painting, I wanted to limit the amount of drawing.  In this one, though, I did do a little.  I changed the proportions of water and sky because of the difference in proportions between the photo and the pad I am using.  The photograph is printed on 9 x 12 inch paper, and the painting is on 5.9" x 11.8" pad. 

Fortunately, I was able to find time during the week to work on it a bit more.  I had decided I wanted to work with the colors that are only hinted at in the photo.  All the speckles in the water (the lower portion of the painting) are an orange masking fluid.  It's like rubber cement, and it's purpose is to keep that part of the paper white even if you paint over it.  That application turned out to be a mistake - lesson learned this week.  But I do like the sky.

And here is what I did today. I have added more ominous color in the sky and in the water.  There's also more work in the hills going down to the water where you can now see the beginnings of the cabins clustered near the shore.  The mountain on the right is greener than it was.  While you can't see them yet, the raft (left of center in the water - small grayish mass) and the buoy (just right of center but closer to the bottom - red stripe around its middle) are now in the picture.  You can also see my attempts to minimize the dotty effect of that masking fluid in the water on the right (liking the dots into lines).

It definitely isn't done, yet.  Sharon has even said that this is just the first one, and that that in the second one, I'll avoid the errors I made here.

D isn't liking this one too much - at least not yet.  He wants the cabins and everything else to be more identifiable, more distinct.  I understand his point, but I don't know yet just how close to realistic this is going to be.  So far I am really enjoying the direction this painting is going, and it seems to be in charge, not me.  

I don't seem to be driving this bus!