Thursday, August 29, 2013

Construction Day 4

Before I begin prattling on about the construction, here's a pretty for you:

Now here is today's update on the construction.  First they laid down the sub-floor -

These pictures were taken from the garage looking up. The balance these men have developed over time is enviable.  Imagine struggling with wood this size while standing on almost-air!

Now this is what I call a glue gun, and I was quite happy that his hand was steady so none dripped down on me or my camera.   He did tell me it was nasty stuff and sticks like a son-of-a-gun forever.  

Here is the last bit of daylight I will see through my garage. At this point, they're almost finished with this part.  After taking this shot, I went out to lunch with a friend and missed some excitement - the trusses arrived while I was out.  Darn!

But here's what it looks like at the end of today's work.  The original "end" of the second floor is on the far right with some siding still on and visible, the top part over the door of the garage is the dark wood that stretches across the bottom of the photograph, and the front wall of my studio is above that.  The opening in the middle with a workman's sweatshirt and green power cord hanging out is where my front window will be. 

I'm going to have a lot of light!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Construction Day 3

What excitement for us today!  Since it's late (I taught a class today from 3 - 6 which meant I was gone from 2 - 7 p.m.) and I'm tired, this will be more photo-journal than journal.  Besides, ME told me that if I didn't show pictures of the construction, she would stalk me, and she meant it!

Here you are:

 First the lumber was delivered.  It came in the morning but was expected in the afternoon so it wouldn't be in the way of the steel beam.  Oh well, things happen.  I was fascinated with this fork lift; the prong parts attach to a large flatbed truck, it gets secured in some additional manner, and then it simply rolls after the truck like a trailer!  Who knew?

Oh, the lumber looked great, too.

Then came the really intriguing part, the delivery of the steel beam.  This too was amazing to watch.  Each delivery was made by one man who drove the main truck, operated all equipment, off loaded the materials, and even wrote out the invoices!  All I could do was watch in bemusement as technology handled so much of what was done today.  Remote controls aren't just for Pacman any more!  Pac . . . who?

The next picture shows the beam as it is swung out over the roofless garage.  There are several shots of the men getting it in place very quickly, but I didn't want to tire you out too early in this project so I spared you those.  The beam will support the front end of the new room.  That's a good thing because I really don't want to wind up on the garage floor some day! 

The men who are working on this job just keep on going.  When I returned, this is what I saw.  All the floor supports are in place!  The planks you see here run from the back of the garage to the steel beam.  As you look at the photo, you can see the door from the garage into the house, and if you look at the space between the planks closest to you and on the door side, you can just see the window that is on the second floor.  That window will be taken out to make room for the new doorway that will lead into my studio.  Everyday there is progress made!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Autumn Trees

As I mentioned when the subject of my latest watercolor painting came up, ME nailed it.  The photograph of floating orange clouds was the beginning of an autumnal scene.  What with getting ready for construction, dealing with the initial results of the work, and a temperamental dryer, I didn't do a very much painting this week, and the little I did, I didn't record.

As you know I am in the very elementary phase of learning how to use this medium, and I certainly did learn today!  For reference sake, here are the two version of the same subject:

As strange as it may seem, I actually like the way they look right now.  Oh, not as examples of representational art, but as abstract art.  

Anyway, you'll have use your imagination here.  I'll be talking first about the work on the right hand side.  This past week I painted the ground at the bottom with a few light washes since part of that area is in the sun.  Then behind the tree trunks (can you see them?), I put in a very dark wash where the wood are the deepest and darkest.  That's as far as I got on this one.  When Sharon saw what I had accomplished, she explained that I was using an oil painting technique (again!).  Since oil paints are opaque and the last layer of paint is what ones sees, one paints the darkest colors first and works outward to the lightest colors.  With watercolors since the naked paper provides the lightest tone and some watercolors are truly transparent, one paints the lightest colors first and builds up to the darkest.  That means that today I tried to reverse the steps I had begun so you now see the very light washes of colors that will be behind the trees (of course, some areas will darken as I paint over them).  You'd think I would have really gotten that by now, but - well, I guess I hadn't!

The painting on the left shows some of the same work done during the week with the exception of the dark wash.  I was able to take advantage of  today's lesson with this one.  What you will see on the left hand side of this painting are some horizontal brush strokes in blue (if you enlarge the photo, you will see more).  Those are there to remind myself that these particular evergreens have a horizontal habit of growth and that they stretch irregularly.  It's too easy to seek balance where there is none.  You know, your first drawings of trees may have had two branches on the right, a matching two on the left, and the branches were the same length and width.  Trees are beautiful but they can be "messy" especially when they have competition for light as tree in a woods frequently do.  

And by telling you all that, I am hoping to imprint it in my conscious mind, and to remind myself not to be guided by my or-so-even-and-straight brush strokes!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Construction Day 1 and Quilt Success

Yes, the demolition began today - despite the rain!  Of course, it didn't rain as hard as it is right now during the day, but I was still amazed at how much they were able to get done.  Let me tell you, those men work, and there's no doubt in my mind that they sleep well at night.  Well, maybe with the exception of the man who has a 2-month-old little boy . . .

So here's what it looked like when I arrived home at noon.  Note the siding is gone from the garage, and the

shingles were already off the back side of the garage.  Here they were beginning to the same to the front side.

Next photo shows that the roof itself is gone.  The two photographs below show the garage from the side.  It has the look of the House of the Seven Gables, doesn't it?  Well, except that house is historic and does have a roof!  Later in the afternoon, I had occasion to go into the  garage from the house, 

 and my first thought was, "Oh dear, they left the light on!"  Then I realized - there was no roof!  So all that light was coming from outdoors.  Silly me.

The reason that I was actually away from home this first day of excitement was I had to pick up D's quilt. After I admired the work being done and took some photos, I scurried in the house with my large bundle which I immediately took upstairs.  Slipped the quilt out of its protective bag, I shook it out as best I could (it is large) and then spread it on the bed.  The shams were next.  Not quilted as I told you but at least a presence on the bed.  Finally, I was ready and called D.  How I wish I had a video camera - rather, how I wish I had had the presence of mind to have my phone!  But all I had was a camera - an hour later!

He was speechless!  He was WOWed!  He couldn't get enough of it.  It really took him a while to see the separate elements and each discovery made him beam even more.  So when I flipped one side over so he could read the label, well . . .  It was all I had hoped for and more.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weekend Activities

Another great weekend with stellar weather. When I think about what is happening in other parts of this country, I cringe every time I crow about our a-typical August temperatures and lack of humidity.  Those fires are really scary, and there seems to be no end to them this year.  I mentioned to D that it isn't far fetched to imagine the country going broke simply through trying to deal with the havoc Mother Nature is wreaking.

Saturday morning when I looked out the family room windows, this is what I saw:

"I don't care what you guys think, it's too early to get out of the nest!"
Doesn't that blue jay look grumpy!  I enjoyed the scene so much I took another shot that included the zinnias and our Vermont bird house.

Today D was out most of the day so I took advantage of his absence by making the pillowcases to go with his bonsai quilt.  Even though the color is poor, you'll recognize the ginkgo fabric from the quilt, but the fabric on either side of the ginkgo is orange (not red).  There's a bit of that fabric in the quilt, too, and other oranges to keep it company.  The black that is the body of the pillowcase is new as there wasn't enough black left over from the quilt to use here, but the theme is right.


I also started a small paper-pieced project which isn't far enough along to even think of sharing yet.  Paper-piecing has always been one of my favorite techniques as there is something so satisfying about the precision one achieves.  Thank you to one of my first quilting teachers, MN, for introducing me to the joys of paper-piecing early in my "career"!!!

In addition, I did some painting today on the what ME correctly identified as autumn trees.  I planned to photograph what I did, but at camera time, it was too wet to prop up.  Ah well, next time.

So instead, I'll show you the results of what kept D busy today.  In this photograph you are looking at the copse of oak trees in our front yard, and those stones are what D went up north to find.  A member of his bonsai club had gotten permission to wade in a stream that is full with slate slabs, so a number of members put on their wade-in-the-water clothes and foot gear to find the slabs they wanted.

It may sound strange but rocks like these are used as a base for some bonsai tree plantings.  One mounds some bonsai soil on the slab and if it is a big piece of slate, plants a "forest" of trees.  Such a planting is quite special and very attractive.  D likes the stone farthest away from us (the one closest to the tree trunk) and the next one down on the right.  Of course, I like the one closest to us (near the fern) with all the layers, but I guess it's not big enough for a forest, and that's what he was looking for.  

That's why he's the bonsai expert!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Another quick post after a busy day.  I had planned to spend the morning painting, but the builder called and told me he wants to come over tomorrow morning to measure and remove the molding from around all the windows he is going to replace.  That meant that I had to clear furniture away from at least half of the windows in the house.  It may not seem like much, but the furniture pieces in front of windows have things on them so I had to find places to put those things.  Since I also have some things from the basement that had to be kept out of the way of furnace and generator men, there are more things than usual around and about.  Sigh.  Ah well, I didn't take the curtains down as that can be done easily tomorrow morning, and D helped with the bulky/heavy furniture when he returned from his a.m. appointment and errands.

By that time I had only enough time to eat a quick lunch and head out to run my errands before going to a class at Trumpet Hill, the knitting shop.  Because I was curious, a year or two ago I took a class in tatting at that shop.  I practiced at home until I really "got" it and was able to make nice looking rounds with picots - good enough to even make a fish or two.  Then, I didn't know what else to do with my new found skill.  The wonderful old books on tatting covered making tatted edges for hankies (with impossibly fine thread that would take forever), doilies, tablecloths, and bedspreads.  No thank you!  I was curious but not obsessed.

So I put my shuttle and thread away until one day when I saw a book at JoAnn's called Tatting Collage by Lindsay Rogers.  It is full of wonderful motifs that would be perfect used in a crazy quilt.  I bought the book, and took out my shuttle again.  Well, I couldn't remember even how to begin!  I know there are YouTube videos for everything, but I really felt I needed the class time.  So I signed up and today was the day.

Again, it will take me several days before my hands remember how to handle the shuttle and the two threads, but it will come back.  Then I'll start with a few of the simpler motifs and work myself up until I can do a bonsai tree.  Yes, a bonsai tree.  

My hope is to be able to include some tatted motifs on my crazy quilt which is a homage to the women in my family who inspired my love of needle craft.  Maybe I'll even be able to make a motif or two with the shuttles that came to me from either my grandmother or my great-grandmother.  

Wouldn't that be grand?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Report on Two Weeks of Art Class

Having said I would tell you what Sharon said about my two paintings, I'll start first by posting the two together again:

What Sharon typically does is come over as soon as we have our work out and talk to us about what we have done.  She doesn't follow a set script but tries to give us what she thinks we need.  She might ask us if anything is troubling us about what we have produced so far, or tell what she perceives as a problem and why, or simply announce that she thinks we're finished and it's time to move on to something new.  

However, last week, Sharon asked me what I thought was different in my approach to the actual painting in these two.  Not the subject matter but technique.  I said that I thought the peppers were more in the style of my early oils with a heavier application of paint, more attention to detail, and more careful.  On the other hand, the mergansers were more watercolor-ish in approach - slightly more fluid and free and certainly far more experimental with the medium, but that I wasn't satisfied with the water.  She agreed and said the peppers had a gouache-look (gouache is an opaque watercolor) to the paint application, I had lost the paper (the white of paper that shines through watercolor and gives it light), and my "table" background was too dead and flat.  Never one to leave a person gasping in pain, she went on to tell me that the peppers were very well done, and the "wall" background had come out so well I should do the same with the table.  

As for the mergansers, she wants me to add a bit more rock definition (cracks and the purpley color of the rock behind the ducks) to make a connection between the two as being at least from the same geological area.  Then she asked me if the orange blob on the top of the duck rock was duck poop.  I hooted with laughter until I saw she was serious.  So then I explained that it is a lichen/mossy growth on many of the rocks at that lake.  She feels it is too dense and want me to lift it a bit. However, she also said she didn't want me to do any more for a while until I decide what I want to do with the water, the front rock, and yes, the duck poop, too!  

As I may have told you, I didn't get any painting done this past week except for finishing the last fifteen pen and ink scrolls for the bonsai tokonomas.  Most the this week's class time was spent setting up for my next two paintings.  Sharon likes us to work on two at a time so while we are waiting for the paint to dry on one, we can work on the second.  This time I will work on the same composition, but I have a couple of things I want to try so they won't be exactly the same. The first painting is on the left and the second on the right. Even without trying, they are close but not identical.  Part of that has to do with the fact that water will go where it wants to - especially when one is carrying the boards out to the car!  

You can probably tell what the subject matter is without any help from me. 

 Let's see what happens next.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Busy Day

The title of this entry says it all.  Painting class, college friend in for lunch, neighbor over for drinks in the garden.  

Tomorrow, I will tell you about the class as far as what I started work on today as well as what Sharon had to say about "The Merganser Trio" and "Four Peppers in Search of a Salad".  In the mean time, I had promised another photo of D's bonsai stand once he had it straight.  

Nice and straight and worthy of all the admiration it has received from readers and neighbors.

At least now you can't say I didn't leave you with anything worth looking at!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Unexpected Bonus

One day recently, I was wandering around in the backyard when it suddenly occurred to me that I should set up a painting station right there.  In the backyard.  And paint.  I had been standing looking at the garden trying to count the number of different greens:

Then I looked a little closer and thought, "Hey, there are lots of colors out here and different things like rocks and birdhouses and trellises and . . . ."

Hidden beauty in a non-manicured garden.  Sound like the title of a painting?  Well, maybe not, but I really thought that maybe one of these days when I have the time, that's what I'll do.  Then I went back in the house to do whatever I thought I should be doing.  Like laundry maybe.

Anyway, at some point I went into the family room to put something away and, as usual, glanced out the window.

There on the bird feeder (no, it's not you, it is crooked) making the statement in no uncertain terms was one of the cardinals calmly sitting there trying to get my attention.  His presence put the coda on the symphony of color.

This photo was taken quickly through the window (with a branch in front of it).  Can you see what I mean?  Ignore the unattractive bird feeder and try to imagine the cardinal on some branch out there.  All those lush greens with splashes of oranges, yellows and thanks to our obliging visitor, the necessary red.

It wouldn't be easy, but it might be worth the try!  I will challenge myself to do something with this garden - not weeding, but something "painterly".

By the way, I recently discovered that when a cardinal's crest is down flat against his head, he is calm.  When it is raised like a flag, he is agitated.  The one in the photo above was quite happy to perch quietly for some time.  This morning there was a cat in the backyard.  After it left, a cardinal flew down to the bird feeder, crest high, and bounced back and forth among the four perches at the top of the feeder.  His head  was moving back and forth checking everything out with his crest up the entire time.  He didn't stay long, but he clearly wasn't happy about a cat in his territory.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Favorite Insect

When I was a young girl, the brother closest to me in age (not the one with which we travel to Vermont), my mother and I lived with my grandfather for a while.  Behind his house was a garden and what I remember as a very large yard (big enough to play baseball in).  In the garden, among other plants he grew phlox.  Those phlox with their sweet scent attracted many insects and humming birds much as my plants do now.  One insect in particular entranced me, and every time I saw it I would call my mother to come out and admire it with me.

We called that insect a "lobster moth"*.  Now I know that it is also know as a "humming bird moth" (his wings never stop beating and I've never seen one alight - he darts about the garden much like the humming bird) though its most correct common name is the "clearwing moth" of the family Sesiidae (no I didn't know that off the top of my head - I had to look it up!).  It still makes me smile when I see one (I don't think I've ever seen more than one at a time), and I still have to go outside to watch it.  But now I take my camera, too.  So, if you've never met one, here he is.  All four photos of him:

In this picture you can see both the moth's proboscis and his lobster-like lower abdomen with the tail flanges of that crustacean.

The lobster moth's wings don't have the scales that are usual for a moth hence the name "Clearwing".  Remember that if you want to see the picture better, just click on it and it will enlarge.

Now you can really see the proboscis.  Talk about a long straw!

And in this last photograph, you get a view of his "face".  Can you see why I enjoy this fellow so much?

*Please excuse any errors I make in naming any kind of wildlife or their body parts.  It's been a long time since I took biology (high school, actually), and I take a flying pass at research just to satisfy my curiosity without delving in over my head.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Friends and Neighborhood

Tonight D and went out to dinner with two other couples from our neighborhood and had a wonderful time.  We've done this a couple of times now; the six of us go out, chat, eat dinner, have a beer or glass of wine, and go home again.  We're all of a certain age with grown children, and we've all lived on the same street for 30+ years.

As we came home tonight, I thought about how lucky we are to have stumbled upon the house in which we wound up raising our daughter.  We'd been looking for a while, and I was ready to settle for something less than either of us wanted when we happened upon the house we're still in.  And at the time, that was all that mattered - the house and the school district.  Little did I know, I'd found a neighborhood and life-long friends.

D grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else.  I grew up moving from town to town and from state to state.  Listening to others, I knew I missed something, but I didn't really know what it was. Now I know.

Our children still talk about being able to be out all day playing with their friends from the neighborhood, and every parent looked out for every child. There were neighborhood activities: sports, cookie exchanges, bridge games, garage sales, picnics, neighborhood work groups, and the yearly visit from Santa. 

Now that we are older and the neighborhood has morphed into something still wonderful but different; now that our children have grown up and moved on, now that many original neighbors have moved out and new ones have come in, and now that younger children are once again riding their bikes up and down our driveway (the only "hill" in the neighborhood), we look back and realize how lucky we were.  

We look to our neighborhood as it is now and rejoice that the magic is still here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bonsai Stand

D really surprised me today!  As some of you know, my sewing area is currently on the first floor in our once-upon-a-time dining room, and the ironing board is set up directly in front of the window that looks out into our front yard.  This afternoon, I was working on sewing the binding on D's Shoji Screen wall hanging and had occasion to get up to iron the binding strips.  After pressing a few strips, I glanced out the window and to my amazement, I saw:

Of course, I saw it from the back, but as you can see the top of the stand is perfectly visible from the dining room window.  Isn't it great?  Clearly, there's some work to be done in order to level the stand itself since the soil isn't, but that's a small matter.

Here's a closer look at the bonsai on display:

I tried straightening the photo using the top of the stand, but that threw the background so tilty-whirl that it would have made you ill.  I left this view alone but took care of the final close-up:

While at first it may make you a bit dizzy, if you focus on the plant and rocks you won't feel so off kilter.  After D levels the stand, and when the weather is better, I'll take another series of pictures.  I really want to get a few good ones of the tree which I think is simply lovely!  By the way, remember what I said on Monday about the items that complement a bonsai specimen?  The rock to the left of D's tree is such a piece.

All together it's a lovely thing to look at while ironing!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Queries for Self and for Readers

Well, naturally Sharon had very helpful critique of both paintings, and someday I may show you what I needed to do.

Now here's the question for myself.  Why do I think that a painting is finished when I know that there is always something that can be improved?  Why do I inflict them on you knowing they aren't really ready?

And here's a question for you.  Do you mind?  Also, do you mind seeing the various versions of my "finished" paintings?

I hope not because it does help me to write about all of this, but it would make that writing easier if I knew that it doesn't make you throw up your hands in disgust.

Ah well, I shall continue, and maybe tomorrow or the next day I will show you the results of today's discussion.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Peppers and Merganser Paintings - again

Today was one of those days when I found myself painting most of the day.  First I worked on the last few Tokonoma scrolls for D and finally had fifteen for him to take to his bonsai meeting for approval.  In case I didn't explain before, a Tokonoma is like a stage.  It has a "ceiling", a floor, a back, and two open sides.  Its purpose is to showcase a bonsai specimen and can be small enough to place on a stand in one's home or large enough to be room side (a small room - maybe more the size of a roomy alcove).  Very few items go in the Tokonoma other than the bonsai, but some companion pieces that work with the display to showcase the plant to its best advantage are acceptable.  For that reason, a scroll hanging on the back wall of the "stage" can help set the mood.  The scroll can reflect the season, something in nature, or calligraphy.  

The scrolls I have been making (you saw three of them yesterday unwisely photographed on white paper!) are 9 1/2" x 1 3/4".  Not an easy size for a composition, but the ones you saw in yesterday's entry were two cliff-with-tree scenes and a waterfall scene in between those two which worked all right with the required size.  D is off to the meeting and will return with news as to the acceptability or not of the 15 I sent and whether more are needed.  

Anyway, once that was "off my plate", the two watercolors I've been working on called to me.  So here are the peppers again - on their plate (!), and the platter they are on is actually fluted on both ends now!

Of course, I can see all sorts of problems, but I am happy with the background (remember the ghastly first wash of red and green?) as it is now.  The peppers now have more recognizable pepper shape, I hope.  ME, if I'm wrong, you'd better let me know!  However, I'm not happy with the fluting on the right; it's too sharp (the fact that it's not the same as the left side doesn't bother me).  And I didn't handle the wash on that side of the platter very well, either.  I'll probably need to lift some of that tomorrow in class, if I can.  Finally (I hope), the highlights on the purple pepper aren't satisfactory so there's something else to work on.

But, the mergansers have eyes!

We'll see what Sharon says about these two watercolors tomorrow, but I think the water in the Merganser Trio needs some attention before I'll be satisfied with it.  And the peppers?  Well, I'll let you know.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guess what I did this weekend? - Photo Hints

Here's the first hint.  Pretty easy, isn't it!

And your second one isn't much more difficult.  By the way, these two squares are simply lying on some darker fabrics I had "hanging" around.

Final hint.                               

Don't you wish all puzzles were as easy as this one?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Meet Mr. Huge Behemoth - our Furnace

I wish I had a photograph of the furnace that was in this house when we bought it.  Not a photo of my father-in-law's furnace that was considerably older than ours but the one that was new when we moved in.  Even in that relatively short period of time there has been such a change.  

First of all, we have had oil heat all these years, but D and I simply were fed up with sending all that money to the Middle East.  So we switched to gas in an effort to keep some money in this country - and in our own pockets, as well.  I don't know if the type of fuel has a lot to do with the size of the furnace, but oh my.  This puppy is streamlined.

When we decided to put a room over the garage, we were advised to put the furnace in the middle of the basement for a more efficient use of energy.  While I understood that, I wasn't any too happy about having a hulking behemoth in the middle of the floor!  I imagined myself tiptoeing past while holding my breath, my tummy in, my elbows tight to my sides, and anything I was carrying balanced precariously on my head - all just to get around the FURNACE. 

Hah!  Meet Mr. H. Behemoth and some of his duct work:

Speaking of carrying things on the head?  It is Mr. B who is doing that; he has both an air conditioner and a humidifier on his head (I cut one off in this photo - sorry).  He is clearly very strong and quite sleek.

I may be in love.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Daughter's Visit

Our daughter R took today off so she could drive down.  She needed to do some business locally, and she said she needed some time to be with us.  Isn't that nice?  We certainly thought so.  It does make a difference when she is here without our grandson because he does take all of our attention - or at least most of it.  And that's as it should be as she freely said, but it's nice (she also said) to be able to relax with us without keeping a "weather eye" out for incipient problems with a youngster.  We definitely know what she means!

Anyway, it was wonderful to see her; she is so happy and relaxed these days even though her work is stressful (when isn't it for our children?).  That is a real joy for us.  I commented to ME after R left that we don't realize just how difficult things are for our loved ones until the difficulty is past.  Barring a catastrophic event, more often than not hard times come on gradually, and therefore changes come on in the same way.  It's all so gradual that we don't notice.

But all is well with her at this time so we rejoiced and enjoyed her very welcome presence.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Merganser Trio

Common Mergansers are ducks, and the females have a white breast, gray body, and a russet head with a crest of feathers at the back.  Their beaks and feet are a similar russet. They are quite common at the lake to which we go every year, and we've grown very fond of them.  They fish in the shallows so we see them and their young quite clearly.  That also means I've taken lots of photographs of them.  One photo in particular of three adolescents tickled me so much that I decided to paint them.

Here they are on a nearby rock.  Again, it is a work in progress, but I thought you might enjoy seeing this intermediate stage.  I worked on this piece and the Peppers today, but neither are finished so don't be surprised to see changes (in this one it will include eyes!) the next time you see them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Starting the Peppers Painting

Today was a fantastic day; what terrific weather we're having!  The joys of living where we do . . .

This morning I had to paint.  Of course, had I been really wise, I would have painted outside and taken advantage of the fine sunlight, but you see I have this photograph of peppers . . .

They are too beautiful to pass up!  I had worked on the background for these beauties earlier because I wanted to experiment with layering the washes.  If I manage to do it correctly, the background will be a very rich color.  Of course, as it turned out, I didn't know anything about the transparency of various watercolors, so that idea is all shot to heck already!  Oh well, just remember that as usual you are going to be seeing a work in progress - which is one reason why one side of the plate's edge is shaped and the other is not (frankly, I forgot that bit) and yes, I made it more oval than round.

No, it isn't Christmas!  The backgrounds will eventually be a very, very dark and rich red, and the "table" will be a green so deep it will look black.  Today I laid in the base colors of the peppers and they look very raw, don't they?  Not the peppers (they were raw when I took the photo) but the colors.  I was most interested in getting the shadows on the plate, but that didn't work too well.  The yellow pepper and its shadow are too close in color right now, and I never added the shadow under the purple pepper.  It looks as though it's floating above the others.  Also, I don't think I managed the washes on the plate very well.  Those washes I'm still trying to get a handle on; it's so unlike the way I work with oils.  

All of which is making this a challenge, and I consider that a good thing. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Modern Art

Sometimes one has a peculiar couple of days during which many things are worked on but nothing momentous occurs.  This was such a weekend - enjoyable, stress-free, glorious weather.  I taught a class which went well, I was ready to turn over a completed project for quilting (even though that didn't happen due to circumstances beyond my control, I wasn't stressed by its non-occurrence), many small household chores were completed, some books that had been hiding were located, and I started cutting fabric for a new quilt.  

Yet I have nothing of significance to show you. 

Except for one amusing photograph.  I was cooking dinner using our largest frying pan.  It has no lid so many years ago D purchased a "universal lid" designed to fit most pans.  The lid does fit more or less successfully. There are times, though, when I wish for a tighter fitting one so the steam will stay in the pan.  Not having an alternative, I've learned that if I fill the tea kettle with water and balance it on the handle of the lid the weight of the kettle holds the lid down more tightly.

Here's what I saw when I turned around and really looked at the stove top.

Modern Art in the Kitchen

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thanks to Robena of Trumpet Hill!

Is there a knitter in this area who hasn't been to Trumpet Hill yet?  I certainly hope not.  Let me tell you why.

When we were in Vermont on Vacation, as I mentioned before I happen to purchase a skein of "hand painted" yarn.  Only one skein because that was all that was available in that particular colorway.  I fell in love first with the color, and then I touched it.  Oh my, such a silky soft hand!  It certainly didn't feel anything like the mohair yarns that were so popular when I was in high school (and if any of you remember them, you'll know what I mean).  Scratchy?  You better believe it.  But it was the "in" thing so we wore those dreadful sweaters, anyway.  

Well, today I decided I would go to Trumpet Hill and enlist their help.  First, the skein is only 250 yards, and I had no idea what I could make with that.  A washcloth?  A coat?  Maybe something in between?  Second, since the yarn was only 2-ply, I figured I'd have to buy another skein to use with it.  But what kind of yarn?What weight?  

What I did know was that Robena DeMatteo (shop owner extraordinaire) would be able to help me.  If she wasn't there, I knew I could turn to Celeste (designer par examplar) or maybe Ruth (teacher of all things - including tatting!).  Anyway, the point is someone there could help me.  As luck would have it, when I walked in I saw Celeste who was in the midst of teaching but still had time for a warm smile and hello. Robena was there, too, and immediately left her office to come out and greet me with a hug and kiss of welcome.

I showed my yarn and explained my predicaments.  Did Robena sneer at the yarn purchased elsewhere? No.  Did she roll her eyes at my naivete (it would make only a hat, not a hat and scarf)?  Absolutely not. Did she have suggestions?  You bet!  Did she try to sell me a book of patterns?  Not at all.  She suggested a free pattern from Ravelry (for which I chose different yarn).  Then she suggested that my yarn was too pretty to use for a hat and maybe I should make a neck piece.  Inspired suggestion!  I asked for more ideas and she said maybe a Moebius scarf would be good, but she then (after checked to be sure she wouldn't be interrupting at a crucial point) she asked Celeste what she thought.  Wow, shop owner openly asks opinion of employee!    Once that was decided upon, Robena asked if I'd ever made one, and when I said I hadn't she gently suggested a class as they can be tricky.  Hey, knitting is not my primary or even secondary talent, not even tertiary, but she never made me feel like the no-nothing-knitter I am.

Basically, I'm saying that no matter what your level of knitting expertise, you will find the warmest welcome and most helpful people at Trumpet Hill.  Look them up on line or on Facebook.  And if the above doesn't convince you, check this out:

Nestled in my skein of Painted Mohair is the coordinating yarn I chose today at Trumpet Hill, and as soon as another Moebius scarf class is offered, I'll be in it.  

Can you imagine how luscious the result will be?