Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sketch for New Painting

The sketch for the new landscape painting was completed today.  Now it’s ready for transferring on to the canvas; don’t get too excited!  That can take a while especially since I have to find the right size books to put under the canvas to support it while I press down on the sketch from above.  I definitely don’t want to get this far and puncture the canvas or break a wooden brace!

Here is the sketch.  It may be a bit hard to see, but if you compare it to the photograph (which I’ll post again) you will be able to tell how I stretched the scene to work on the canvas.  Note that I did not put in the clouds; they were not necessary.  The trees are merely squiggles serving as place holders, but important shapes like the mountains are specific.  Those are known quantities and therefore must be correct.  The big egg shape on the mountain on the left indicates where the rocky outcropping will be – more or less.  You may also be able to see my notes (my mutterings – “Okay, lump head, this is the lake not a field!  And this is a field not a stand of trees so pay attention.”)
Two things will be altered from the sketch to the canvas.  First, the entire sketch will be moved up one inch.  That will give more space between the bottom of the canvas and the pond, and conversely, less at the top edge – creates more balance that way.  Second, I drew that house three times, and it is still too big.  In the photograph one can hardly see it among the trees.   The entire purpose for leaving it in the painting is to serve as a size reference; the scene is huge!  The first time I drew the house, I was focused on understanding the architecture.  Note the unusual roof line, the difference in window sizes, and the shallow draft of the porch roof.  Well, once I understood all of that, I should have been able to get the house’s relative size correct, but it still needs attention.

Everything else seems to be all right, but I’m sure that things will continue to crop up.  But not the silo.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Subject of the VERY LARGE Painting

Yesterday I talked about the canvas for the next painting, and I showed you the source photo so you’d understand the size issue.  Did it surprise you that I’ve chosen another lake scene?  I didn’t think so!  Today I’ll talk a bit about this choice so I’ll show the photo in a more enhanced version.
If you compare this photo with the one in yesterday’s blog, you may see the difference between the two.  The first is what the camera really saw the evening I took the picture.  In today’s version, the light and contrast have been boosted in editing making some of the details clearer.  For example, you can now very clearly see the colors in the reflection of the mountain in the pond in the foreground.  Amazing, isn’t it?  Can you also see the farm house and the silo?
I chose another lake picture for three reasons.  One, we have an emotional connection with this lake that makes it both easy and compelling for me to paint that subject.  I don’t mean the actual painting is easy, but when I have that connection it’s easier to struggle both with getting the painting the way I want it and with the time it takes to do so.  Two, it’s a fascinating photo because of the reflection of the rock face of the distant mountain.  Three, it’s a lovely view of a lovely place.
This view has been in my mind as a subject for a painting for quite a while.  That means that I’ve also begun thinking about possible problems.  First, I have to sketch a version of the photo that will fit the canvas size I’ve chosen.  Remember, I have a photo printed on a 9”X12” paper, and it doesn’t quite fill that sheet of paper.  Now think about the canvas size (24”X48”).  You see the issue?  I’ll need to stretch the view.
There’s also the problem of clarity.  It was close to twilight when I took the picture so darkness was beginning to make itself felt.  My tendency is to brighten things up in my paintings, anyway, but I’ll have to be careful here not to overdo.  Plus, it’s hard to see details even in a “boosted” version of the photo so I’ll have to call on memory (a suspect mental capacity at best!) and knowledge of trees, mountains, water surfaces, light, etc.
Just look at that diagonal cloud!  In a painting that won’t read as very believable especially with the underlying ones looking quite definitely horizontal.  And do you see the tiny pink puff of cloud almost in the middle of the sky?  If you peer really hard, you may also see barely evident bluish-white even smaller cloud streaks coming in from the left.  In order to make that tiny pink cloud believable, I’ll have to make more of the almost invisible ones.
Anyway, it’s all very interesting, don’t you think?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Preparing for a BIG Painting

Okay, it’s time.  Time for a really LARGE painting.  Well, that means a 24” X 48” painting, and as far as I’m concerned that’s large.  Looking through my photographs, I haven’t been able to find the source of the one I plan to use as my reference for this painting.  So I scanned the actual photograph so you’d get an idea of what the subject of the painting will be and possibly why I’ve chosen this particular size canvas.

Here’s an interesting thing I learned about larger pre-stretched canvases when working on the “Road to the Lake” painting.  Even though the canvas has been stretched over a wooden frame, the larger ones have a lot of give in the canvas.  It makes sense when you think about it.  If you stretch a piece of fabric in a large embroidery hoop, there will still be give in the fabric.  So, of course, the same is true even of heavy-weight canvas fabric.  With the 15”X30” painting, the give wasn’t a problem.  I became used to it quickly.  However, with the size I’ll be working on with palette knife now, it might raise an issue.  To avoid the problem, one needs to wet the back of the canvas and let it dry face down on a flat surface. 

Saturday I laid out some towels on the living room floor, took a large bowl of warmish water, a 3” wall painting brush, and set to work.  It wasn’t a difficult task and fortunately, it wasn’t messy either.  The point is to merely wet the canvas, not soak it so it should be dry by Monday.  By then I may have the sketch complete and be able to transfer to the canvas before Tuesday’s class.
Wonder if I'll be able to get it in the car?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring is Here!

Just in case you have missed the sure signs that spring has really arrived even though the temperatures are still on the cool side, I thought I'd show you proof. This afternoon I wandered out to the back yard, camera in hand, to capture some of my favorite flowers frolicking.

Can't say why, but this one reminds me a Dutch maid.
In the morning D and I finished putting down the mulch, and that was when I noticed how lovely these daffodils are.  Last year I was terribly disappointed that we had hardly any.  I blamed the chipmunks even though I know daffodil bulbs are not eaten by the usual bulb-eating crews.  Then I got sensible (don't worry, it was momentary!) and realized that the bulbs were quite old.  Maybe even daffodil bulbs get tired after 30 years!  Therefore, in last fall I planted new bulbs and that is what you see here.

"And then she told him . . . lean closer so I can whisper in your ear."
 Since they have bloomed so beautifully this year, I know the chipmunks were not to blame.  This coming fall I will go all out and splurge on bags and bags of these beauties.

 "Wait till Selma sees the bit of fluff I've brought for the nest!"

This is the Vermont birdhouse; it is the oldest of all of them, but every year it houses birds.  As you can tell, this year sparrows have taken up residence instead of the usual Carolina wrens.  D spruced the house up over the winter - gave it a new roof and perching possibilities as well as repainting it a pale gray.  The sparrows chose wisely; they'll stay nice and dry!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Crazy Quilt Block #4 - the Beginning

My fourth crazy quilt block is started.  I made some noises yesterday about showing you what I have so far, and I try to keep my word - see below:

This block honors my great-grandmother who left Scotland as a young woman and went to Canada.  There she met my great-grandfather, they married, had children, and at some point settled in the USA.  In the photo above you can see that I have basted dark red ribbon and a row of tatting around her photo (isn't she lovely?).  Red because I like it and the tatting because I am no longer sure if the tatting shuttles I inherited were from her or from my grandmother.  So - just in case, I included that particular needle art in this block.  Because I have those shuttles, I recently learned how to tat and now know enough so I can tell the difference between tatting and crochet when I see them - but not much else! 
Because she is from Scotland, I found some plaid fabric, made little pleats, and stitched it on as though it were a kilt.  We all know the ladies didn't wear the kilts, but again, it seemed appropriate.  Besides, I've always loved plaids so this gave me a good excuse to use one in this block.   
Below you will see the large embroidery motif I have planned for her though it may be difficult to tell what it is at this stage.  It is a thistle, and the Giordes knot (aka turkey work) in purple threads is maybe one third to one half finished.  When it is all done, the thread loops will be cut, the threads laid out smoothly, and then cut to make the bushy head of the bloom.  You might remember that I used this same stitch for the thatched roof on the cottage in the rabbit block (see Tuesday, April 2, 2013 "Rabbit Block" - the cottage is in the upper right hand).  There, once the threads were all trimmed to the length I wanted, I "tied" them down with stitches to make the roof have the look of sheaves of thatch).

You can see that I stitched only the outlines of the leaves; one stretches all the way across the "kilt" to hold the pleats in place.  I hadn't planned that originally, but I don't want to take it out and possibly damage the fabric on which it is sewn.  It looks odd as it is now, I think, so I will stitch another, open leaf beneath it for balance.  The globe of the thistle isn't quite finished either. 
As I said, this is just the beginning, but at least you have some idea of why I have chosen certain elements.  Tune in for another look in a week or so!
By the way, I have received a few requests for my e-mail from people who say they have read my blog and want to become friends.  Please post your comments directly to my blog. While I have no wish to insult anyone, I will not give out personal information which I am sure you can all understand.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crazy Quilt Day

Tonight was a special time for me, and one to which I look forward all month.  It was my Crazy Quilt class - at night.  When ME and I started this newest obsession, we went to the day time class, and we still do.  However, that really wasn't quite enough so we decided to try the night class, also.  Now with two classes a month, we might be able to get even more done while learning from the best teacher, BT, and having a good time with other CzQers.
Do I have any photos to show you?  No, but I will take a photo of my newest block, and I promise I will take pictures of the work others are doing and share those, too, if given permission. 
I will tell you that SMcG is working on a chupa which is going to be some piece of work when she is finished!  Her blocks are all white, cream, and ecru with touches of gold and silver.  She is including buttons, crystals, beads, lace, and embroidery.  ME's project is a ring bearer's pillow, and like SMcG the fabric is a white silky material on which she is affixing ribbon flowers with pearls and other lovely items.  J came in today with stunning bead work on her block and some of the prettiest fabrics inclusing a very special gold piece she snagged in a local sale.  
I can't wait to show you all of these wonders!
My current block is in honor of my great-grandmother whose photograph is part of the block.  Since she was born in Scotland, I am embroidering a thistle as the first element.  Where I will go from there, I don't know yet; I hope the block will tell me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Beautiful Mulch

1Here is your problem to solve for the day:

If it's sunny outside, if the temperature is mild (okay, mild-ish), and there's a HUGE pile of gorgeous mulch in your driveway, what do you think you'd be doing? 
Well, it's hardy fair; of course, you'd get it right.  It's all about what you would do so you'd have to be correct! 
Here's what I did.  First, I looked at the pile, envisioned how beautiful it would make my yard look, turned my face up to the sun for a brief moment of sunbliss, thought about how my back would feel if I help spread that mulch, and went back inside.
For 15 minutes.  I couldn't stand it!  The guilt ate at me, and the desire to be outside doing something was simply too much temptation!  At first all I did was rake the mulch so it was more evenly distributed than my husband's tossed piles.  But then I had a great idea.  I could shovel the mulch into the buckets for him!
That worked.  Picking up one shovel full at a time didn't put undue stress on my back (I was careful to lift correctly!), and I felt that I was a contributing member in this beautification project. 
While we didn't stay outside until the task was finished (as we would have done in years past), we are now able to put our car in the garage without driving over a mountain of mulch.  Our front yard is beginning to look as though winter is really gone.  And best of all, we were outside in the sunshine using our bodies for something other than keeping the sofa from floating off by sitting on it.
I know that tomorrow when I return home from multiple classes and appointments, D will have it all spread, and there will be nothing left for me to work at. 
Of course, there's always housework . . . Nah, too dull! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013


What a weekend it was!  We were all glued to our televisions, I'm sure, on Friday.  Saturday we continued to check to see what the latest news was, and then we had lumps in our throats as we saw the baseball at Fenway and the marathon in London.
May we never have to spend another three days like that!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Loose Ends and Knitting

Of late I seem to be at loose ends and find it difficult to settle down to anything other than a good book.  I've sewed a bit and have a few blocks to show for it, but I need to find just the right fabrics to continue.  My hand sewing came out for some exercise last Sunday.  It's put away again and isn't send out any lures.  Both crazy quilt and wool work beckon but weakly.

I've even found myseslf dreaming about knitting!  So much so that I requested a new knitting book from the library.  While I do like to knit, it's a sometimes thing so it's a good idea to borrow a knitting book rather than impulsively purchasing it.  Or at least that's the idea.

The problem is I fell in love with the book and would like to knit almost everything in it - well maybe 75% of the patterns.  Since it's a new book, I couldn't keep it long enough to read the text as I would have liked to.  With all those caveats (I'm only a modest fan of knitting and I haven't read this book), I'm going to recommend it anyway. 

Below is a brief review from Amazon:

Medieval-Inspired Knits: Stunning Brocade & Swirling Vine Patterns with Embellished Borders
By Anna-Karin Lundberg

Inspired by the dramatic murals in the medieval churches of the province of Uppland, Sweden, this collection of colorful knitwear projects is sure to challenge and reward experienced knitters. Whirling botanical details, three-dimensional patterns, and embellished borders combine in a sumptuous collection of sweaters, vests, hats, and mittens in sizes for adults and children.  Inspired by the dramatic murals in the medieval churches of the province of Uppland, Sweden, this collection of colorful knitwear projects is sure to challenge and reward experienced knitters. Whirling botanical details, three-dimensional patterns, and embellished borders combine in a sumptuous collection of sweaters, vests, hats, and mittens in sizes for adults and children. With clearly presented instructions and color photographs of both the completed designs and the paintings, panels, and tapestries that inspired them, the stunning results of these patterns are complete with button details, creative edgings, flattering profiles, and finishing touches that are reminiscent of the tunics and robes commonly worn in the Middle Ages.
I have to say that I am attracted to the medieval period and to the recreation of medieval design by the Pre-Raphaelites and others (I include Anna-Karin Lundberg), but I suggest if this book sounds interesting to you, check the review on www.knittingscholar.com. That review is possibly a bit more realistic than my emotional reaction allows me to be. 
Whether you buy the book or not, I do think you'll enjoy looking at it and maybe find alternative ways to use the designs.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Big Sale for Crazy Quilt Enthusiasts

In case you haven't heard the news, Alfred's Fabrics is closing and is having a sale.  You may be thinking, so what?  It's way over there in Kohl's Plaza, and it would cost more in gas than I'd save in fabrics.  Besides, they don't carry the kind of fabrics I want.
Re-think that.  Instead, start thinking, 50% off everything and then another 50% off on top of that.  Velvets originally selling for $20 a yard are now $5.  Silks?  I bought half yard cuts for between $2 - $5 each.  You want to buy tapestry fabrics for bags?  Home decorator fabrics for curtains?  Cording?  Lace?  Buttons or patterns? 
How about yarn?  Wool for jackets and coats?
Everything is on sale, and I mean everything.
Don't say I didn't tell you!

Monday, April 15, 2013


Several years ago, ME gave me a wall hanging she had made that she, after listening to me carefully one day, thought might coordinate with the bed quilt I had made for our bed.  And she was right; it was the perfect companion piece.  D and I purchased a wooden hanger for it and put it up in our bedroom.
Time went by and our daughter needed a hanger for a piece I had made for her.  "Gee, Mom," she said, "I really like the one you have in your bedroom.  May I take that one?  You can get another one, right?" 
Well, of course, we said, "Yes."  And down came the special wall hanging in our room.
Time went by again (have you noticed how it does that?), and I saw the "Hang-It-Dang-It" in a quilting magazine.  What a clever idea, I thought, and filed it away in the "get-to-it-some-day" corner of my mind.  You know what happened; I forgot about it.
Finally the day came when I looked at that empty space on our wall and remembered that cool hanger thingee I had seen somewhere.  Luckily enough for me, after talking to others who had one, I was able to find it on line.  It's quite inexpensive and had more good reviews than bad so I bought one.
D and I put it up in no time; indeed, I could have put it up myself.  I put the hanging on the rod, plugged the rod into its bracket, and it was up!

You can see the decorative hook we used on the wall and the ends of the rod in the photo above.  I'd like to find some kind of hook that wouldn't show at all, but this one doesn't bother me.  You'll also notice that there is about one inch of rod on either side of the wall hanging.  That's because I bought the size for a slightly larger - larger wall hanging for two reasons. 
First, the negative reviews of this "Hang-It-Dang-It" complained that the rod "bowed" on either end from the weight of their quilts so I felt that if I bought a slightly bigger size it should accommodate more weight.  I wonder if the problem was those people were hanging quilts quite a bit longer than wide or if they were heavily embellished or had weighty fabrics?
Second, I have a tendency to make larger quilts and thought it would be nice to use this space for a winter scene (if I ever make one) that might or might not be larger than this lovely, summery hydrangea basket.  Buying the size rod I did would make it possible to hang a larger quilt.
Now let me tell you about this generous gift from ME.  It is, without question, a lovely piece of work.  The yellow fabric used as the background for the basket is almost a perfect match for the yellow of our bedroom walls.  The blooms in this work are the blue of the "Endless Summer" hydrangeas which we love.  The hydrangeas in the quilt I made are periwinkle so the two coordinate very well indeed. 
And, just in case that's not enough, I love and use cloth hankies (though not the one in the basket!) and have a collection of them also.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Opalka Gallery at Sage

Before I forget I want to encourage you to go to the Opalka Gallery at Sage (entrance on New Scotland Avenue) before April 21, 2013.  You know that occasionally I write about books I'm reading or have read, and reading is one thing that led me to the current exhibit at this gallery.  The second reason I wanted to go is my love of quilting.  Now, combine the two and you have the exhibit in your hands.

Faith Ringgold became a hero of mine when I read Tar Beach, a picture book for youngsters.  Ms Ringgold wrote and illustrated this story of a girl whose family lives in NYC and spends hot days on the roof of their apartment building to enjoy the breezes and their own "tar" beach.  There's more to it than that, of course; it's a wonderful story of imagination.  And the illustrations?  Well, they're delightful:

Faith Ringgold's "Tar Beach #2" from 1990
This quilt shows how the little girl imagines herself flying over the bridge.  It's much larger than I thought, and is a silk screen on silk (many of her quilts for books are painted with acrylics on canvas quilted with what looks like nylon fishing line!).

Ringgold "Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles", 1996
The lithograph above is an homage to the many black women who struggled for economic independence and racial equality, but what really tickled me is the figure in the background on the upper right.  It's Vincent Van Gogh; Ringgold gave him credit for her inspriation in this subtle gesture (no where is he mentioned by name or identified in any way except for the pot of sunflowers; you're expected to know him and his work - love it!).

The second artist represented in the show is Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson with whom I was not familiar at all.  "Crowman", the sculpture below is made from recycled clothing and other materials and represents a beloved storyteller from Robinson's childhood. 

The second work of Robinson's is a collage of fabric and buttons with painted details, one of a series.  If you can read the "headlines" in the newspaper the woman is holding, you will get the gist of the artist's purpose.  I love the way Robinson depicted hands and enjoyed pondering why hands have such prominence in her work.
Since I just realized that all of the examples I am showing here have captions, I won't add any more of my own, but I will say that these illustrations come from the pamphlet I purchased at the show.
The show itself is small, and depending on how much time you take to really examine the works, it won't take you very long to see the entire exhibit.  I think we were there for less than 2 hours.  I would also encourage you to go on-line to your library and see if you can request some of Ringgold's books.  They are well worth reading and you will truly enjoy pouring over her quilted illustrations.   
But do try to see the exhibit!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Water Lily - Art Series?

Last summer we visited Montreal's Botanical Garden with the bonsai club, and this time despite the heat, we managed to see some different areas.  Much to my delight we "stumbled" upon the water lily and koi pond (they use black plastic to line the lily area) where I took several photographs.  This one, which I may have shared last summer, is my favorite.                             
Waterlily in Montreal Botanic Garden

Each time I looked at it, I tried to visualize how I might paint it. So when thumbing through the printed collection of "this-one-might-make-a-good-subject-for-a-painting" prints recently, I pulled this one out and decided to draw it. This year I have re-discovered both my love of sketching and the value of doing so - especially when considering painting the subject. As I drew it, I became more and more fascinated by the reflections of both the lily and the light and the movement of the water.   Below you can see how I have interpreted not only what I saw in the picture* but also what might have been there if I had taken the photo a few minutes earlier or a few minutes later.  In my drawing the photograph has become a stylized, almost Art Nouveau rendition.      
Tracing of my drawing of the water lily
Now, what to do with it?  Well, I definitely want to paint it which is why what you are looking at is a tracing of my sketch (I use a softer lead pencil to trace than to draw and this photographed more distinctly).  I will transfer the tracing on to canvas - including some of the stylized lines, and then paint a relatively realistic water lily.
And/or I can trace all of the drawing on canvas, get imaginative with color, and have a different interpretation of the scene.  Think of the water in purples, pinks, and greens (what color would you make the lily pads? the lily itself?).  It might be a lot of fun to do, and who knows how it might turn out?
And/or I could use fabrics and make an appliqued version and wind up with a quilted wall hanging (or should I attach the resultant "quilt" to canvas and have a triptych?). 
So many possibilities!  What do you think?  Do you have suggestions, questions, or concerns?
* The small "R's" you see below the waterlily are merely notes to myself that those  shapes are "Reflections."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Self-Imposed Complications

D had asked me to find some bonsai material so I could make pillowcases with it.  When I asked what he wanted them for, he said, "As a gift."  Okay, thought I, he wants to put them in the blind auction to benefit the bonsai club.  I found fabric that he really likes, and to make a complicated story less so, it turns out that he wanted the pillowcases for our pillows.   Today I made them for him, and the fabric makes stunning pillowcases.

While I was ironing them, I had another one of those "well-smack-me-in-the-head" moments. Remember the shoji screen story - the search for the pattern, finding it, making it for D - all of that?  Now picture this pillowcase fabric in the Shoji Screen pattern. With fussy cutting and enough fabric, I might be able to make four blocks (mostly moon with a little Mt. Fuji, rocky coast with pine tree and a little Mt. Fuji, upper dramatic wave and boats, and lower wave).  Wouldn't that be an eye-popper! 

Even if I couldn't get four blocks that work together, I could possibly use the rocky coast or wave twice, or find fabric in an appropriate color to fill in.
It amazes me how easily I can draw the wrong conclusion (pillowcases for us vs for bonsai club) or misinterpret what is requested (did he want Hokusai's wave fabric in the screen to begin with?) even when I think I know my husband well!  How much easier it would have been to make him what he wants if I had only asked the important questions:
  • For whom do you want the pillowcases?
  • What fabric do you think would look best with the screen pattern?
But then, where would be the fun in that?  I do seem to need to complicate things!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Photo Catch-Up

What a sunny day!  Here's hoping all my family and friends were all somewhere they could feel the kiss of sunshine.
Before I get in more trouble than I usually do, here's the promised photo of D's birthday present "Shoji Screen".  You may be able to tell that this is not from a continous panel of the same lansdscape.  Instead, each section of the screen is part of a larger landscape area on the fabric.  It was fun trying to fussy cut them so there was a flow of subject from one to the next.

This afternoon while I spent my time on my painting, D was outside taking his bonsai out of the shed for the spring; we hope.  It took me a while, but finally I realized that was the perfect time to try and get a photograph of this wall hanging.  I dashed downstairs to pull it out from underneath a pile on the dining room table (that's where you store everything, too, right?), ran back upstairs, ripped a red fleece blanket from the guestroom bed, and slapped both blanket and wall hanging up against the pillows of our bed.  What was missing?  Oh, yes, the darn camera.  So off I went again, downstairs to the family room to grab the necessary tool for photography, upstairs again to take the picture.  By that time, I could barely hold the camera let alone hold it steady; I was breathing too hard - make that "gasping" too hard!  So the picture may not be great, but I managed to take it and get the wall hanging put away before D came back inside - a major coup in my eyes.
On my way outside to chat with D after the successful photo shoot with camera in hand, I casually snapped some pictures including one of the pussy willow bonsai-in-training.  It's too bad that D put it against the garage where he has a wire for something or other that you can see in the background, and the bare branches on the right are from another bonsai that's not in leaf yet look as though they're trying to snag the pussy willow, but despite those distractions, you should be able to tell it's coming along nicely. 

My art work consists of several sketches as I try to decide what to paint next.  I have two strong contenders for large paintings (bigger than any of the previous ones) both landscapes and an interest in a floral study - possibly two of the same subject.  That's why there are no pictures of art lately.  Soon, I hope!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hasty Message

Quick entry today as I have just returned from the Young Adult Books reading group and am still riding a "high" from the joy of reading and talking about good - great books.  This month our genre was High Fantasy and Science Fiction, my favorites! 
And D is out with his Bonsai Study Group and will be home in about half an hour.  Talking about his bonsai reminds me I need to take and show you some pictures of the pussy willow tree.  I think you'll enjoy seeing how it's changed.
I also want to share the Shoji Screen wall hanging I finished over the weekend after our grandson left.  But - that, too, needs to have its photo taken.
Tomorrow is painting so I need to get my things ready -
Until next time!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Games We Play

When I was a little girl, I know I played jacks and dug in the dig and roller skated and drew with crayons.  When I got a little older, I played baseball (badly and only because there weren't enough boys)and drew with crayons and colored pencils and played solitaire and Parcheesi and rode my bike.  Nothing I did was really intellectual.  The only game I can think of that would fit that description was chess and that was usually thought of as a grown-up's game.

My nine-year-old grandson plays chess and plays it well.  He plays it well enough to beat D almost every game.  G'son loves games of logic and was thrilled when we gave him the board game "Risk".  We played Uno, and he skunked me.  All three of us played Scrabble which he started playing with me on my Kindle the last time he was here.  He didn't win but wound up with a score in the hundreds.  We sat together and he played Hearts (again on my Kindle) and he won game after game after game.  Since he was naturally doing well, I started teaching him to count cards and figure the probability of how many spades the other players had so his discards would be more logical.  He soaked it right up.
He's in the last half of his third grade year and knows his square roots.  He can do math in his head (I have enough trouble doing it on paper!) and knows the multiplication tables.  Fractions are new, but he understands the concept.  The continents, countries (and which continent they are on), oceans, and seas and their relative sizes is no mystery to him.
Is he brilliant?  No, reading isn't his favorite although he can read, writing isn't a pleasure, and spelling still catches him unaware.  Basically, he's good in science and math and weaker in English and social studies.  Like us, he has his strengths.
What amazes me is what he and all other third graders in NY are learning!  They are so far ahead of where I was when I was in third grade that it doesn't seem possible.  While I understand that each generation experiences this, I know I didn't really think it would change so fast or go so far.  It wasn't all that long ago that I was teaching seventh graders who didn't have the same gasp of basic math as my grandson.
Of course, I don't either, and I still play with crayons, colored pencils, ink, and paints.  I hope g'son won't lose his zest for games as he grows older.
G'son patiently waits to play Risk while D tries to figure out the instructions!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tickles of Spring?

It certainly didn't look like it this morning, but according to the top of my piano, spring is most definitely in sight!  Here are the forsythia branches I cut and plunked in this wonderful blue ceramic vase last week.  Okay, so I had to turn on the light to get a decent photo (I had to be sure you'd recognize the flower!). 
I have also been able to watch the birds explore and take up residence in some of our birdhouses.  Unfortunately, the one problem with our newest bird residence in the front yard is that I can not see it from the downstairs rooms.  I don't think it has attracted any residents yet.  There are no feeders in the front of the house so there is no reason for birds to linger when they know the food is in the back.  I may have to remedy that oversight next year.
Our grandson is coming tomorrow for the end of his vacation week visit so I'll be quiet until Monday.  Maybe, if we all think very hard about sunny weather and balmy days, spring will actually arrive by then? 


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Crazy Quilt: Rabbit Block

Today there are three completed blocks in my Crazy Quilt box.  This is cause for celebration and cheers on my part because they do take a long time.  Of course, it would help if I worked on them regularly, but, as you know, there are so many things to work on!  The Rabbit block is finished. 

Here are some questions for you to answer:
  1. How many rabbits are in this block?
  2. How many sections in the block have carrots?
  3. Where does the rabbit live?
  4. What is the rabbit's name?
  5. For which question is there no answer?
Today during our class a participant asked me, "Why did you do the Rabbit block?  What significance does it have?"  I didn't really have an answer for her because there was no real reason.  What happened is this.  I challenged myself to make a block using a textured fabric (the gray), to limit the palette of fabrics used to gray/silver/black, orange, and blue.  While not completely successful, I came close.  I added the purchased carrots (and tomato?)applique.  Then, the lines in the textured gray forced me to think of a good way to make use of them and a garden of carrots seemed a good choice to go with the applique and my requisite orange color.  Well, who likes carrots?  Rabbits!   Not terribly symbolic - just whimsical.
Answers to the Rabbit block questions:
  1. How many rabbits are in this block?  Four
  2. How many sections in the block have carrots? Four
  3. Where does the rabbit live? Thatched cottage
  4. What is the rabbit's name? Any name you want.  I call him Farmer Wrabit.
  5. For which question is there no answer?  Number four (his name doesn't appear in the block . . . yet).

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nothing to "Show"

Tonight I spent too much time machine sewing on a gift for D - one he actually asked for not the matchy-match shirt about which he knows nothing and too much time organizing painting materials for tomorrow.  It will be a day of painting and crazy quilting so you an imagine how excited I am.
So excited that I forgot to upload photos of my work!

Tomorrow evening I hope to better better organized and have somethings I can share with you.  Have a lovely day realizing that it is April and warmer weather is close.