Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Another busy day that resulted in discovering a deadline for a big project is a looooonng way off.  That's dangerous because it's easy to ignore something if it seems that one has more than five months to go.  I have to remember that the project has to be quilted, and I'd better arrange the date with my quilter.  It also will have to be bound so I'll have to arrange with me to get that done.

Once that was resolved, I was able to get to another, even more important project which I had let lay fallow for all too long.  I zoomed along on it today until weariness overtook my eyes and hands.  Tomorrow I have an early doctor's appointment, but after that, I need to return to the sewing machine.

During one reflective moment today I looked around my studio which desperately needs tidying, organizing, and cleaning.  I thought about what is coming up on my calendar.  I know I am overextended, but how does one stop taking on too much?  

Just say, "No."

Easy to think about if one is saying no to things that are not fun, dirty, disgusting, high level intense, demanding-lots-of-sweat exercise, calculus, and things like that.  But this is about things that one, i.e. me, really likes to do.

I know.  It's still, "Just say no."

Wish me luck with that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An Improbable Project Turned Probable

Another good day.  I worked on a quilting project that will result in a very special quilt, but which I can't share.  That leaves me wondering what I can write about . . .

In another week or so, I will be taking a two-and-a-half day class with Esterita Austin (check her site and look at her work under Gallery).  I signed up for this class because I admire her work - a lot! - but there is a downside.  The project for this class is a self-portrait.  Therein lies the rub.  A quilted self-portrait?  Now, aside from learning her techniques and benefiting tremendously from that, what on earth would I do with the final product?  A self-portrait?  

One of the "supplies" needed for the class is a large portrait of close to professional quality of myself.  In short, a selfie taken with my phone wouldn't do.  A friend of ours is a very talented photographer and was willing to take the required photo; he did a great job so I'm covered . . . except I still have the same problem.  It will still be a self-portrait.

Ah, but then I had a great idea.  I had Brian take picture of both D and me with some props to make it interesting.  Instead of a simple self-portrait, I will have a portrait of both of us created with my own sense of whimsy.  

So there!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Just Another Monday

Went for my yearly physical and came away with flying colors and drops to take care of wax in the ears and the beginnings of an ear infection.  The first made me feel terrific and the second made me feel like a kid.  Honestly, is this one of the glory spots of being an adult - an ahem, older adult?  This is a first for me.  Oh well, it could be worse, I know.

Young Adult Book Group met this afternoon to discuss the historical fiction we read for this month.  There were a few good ones, but none that made me feel I have to pass the titles on to others.  If I were in a quiet conversation and someone asked me, "What's good to read?"  I'd answer with a few that had something to offer - one deals with Berlin in 1983 when it was still East and West (kids know nothing about that), one with Germany in 1933 (setting the stage for WWII), and one with the Spanish influenza in Oregon in 1918 (think Ebola now).  That would be about it.  However, being in a group of adults who passionately believe in the value of reading and give up their free time to read anywhere from one to twenty-five YA books a month is worth every moment of reading, book reports, and showing up worth it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Best Part of Several Busy Days

It's been a busy several days with no pictures to show for them, but I feel great about things.  So here's a list:

  • after more cutting and planning, another block was made in a quilt planned for our bed
  • two afternoons spent on a "home decoration" project that D has asked me to complete - one more day should see it finished
  • a morning spent having our SUPER photographer take photos of D and me to be used for another art quilt project and other uses followed be a "thank you" lunch 
  • an afternoon spent with visiting daughter and watching her open her birthday presents including the painting I did for her.  Of that I do have a photo:

And that's the height of the last through days!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Art Quilt Update

As I was expecting a meeting of my art quilt group to be held tomorrow (that's been cancelled), I've spent time today working on the quilt I wrote about on Monday.  I wanted to get everything cut out and at least pinned to the quilt while I still remember my intentions regarding placement, fabrics, etc.

Here it is now:

Octavio has been joined by some cousins in the trees off to the right.  Each of the orangutans has a yellow umbrella (without handles), but all are missing tails at this point.  Ms Zee will have both mane and tail at some point, but those are all finishing touches.  

As for the bathtub?  Well, this is a quilt intended for a bathroom so . . . naked people and bathtubs are de rigeur!  The steering wheel is charcoal right now but that will be changed as it doesn't show up well enough against the trees.  The man's cap may be changed to pick up the new steering wheel color, but that's a wait and see. 

 Both the man and the woman will have hair, and the "quilt" may be shifted a bit when the tub gets its wheels.  

Now all I have to do is sew it all in place!  Maybe it's a good thing my art group won't be able to meet tomorrow after all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Starting a New Painting

I spent the morning working on a sketch for a new watercolor.  My plan had been to lay out rough sketches for two works, but the photo I had with me for the second drawing didn't give me enough information even to make a start.  The time wasn't wasted, however, as I got more thinking and actual drawing done on the first one than I had expected.

This sketch has a very peculiar look as it was drawn on white drawing paper but looks very yellowish with some ghosting that appear to be the spines of books.  Instead of taking a photo and uploading the image that way, I put the sketch pad on the printer and scanned it.  The glass must need cleaning!

The subject of this painting is the mews* behind our hotel in London.  It was a lovely area which I felt would make an equally pleasing painting.  This is the view as one walked into this particular mews:

As usual I am taking liberties to make a more interesting/attractive composition.  If we walked into the mews and turned right, here's what we'd see:  

A less pleasing composition, but aren't those colors wonderful!!!  Can you guess what I plan to do?

At any rate, this is the beginning, and I will record it as the work develops.

The following definition is from Merriam Webster's New Third New International Dictionary

* mews: stables esp. a range of stable usu. with carriage houses and living quarters built around a yard, court, or street, (2) living quarters or housing developed from such stables . . .

Monday, April 20, 2015

Art Quilt

The beginnings of this quilt were featured in one or two earlier entries, but until today, it has sadly whimpered in a forgotten corner.  Well, not actually forgotten, but left unattended due to lack of time. Today I decided to make time for it even though it had to be sandwiched in among the Monday chores.  That's just the way life really is; one just has to work around a schedule.

First I had to spend time replacing pins that had worked their way out of the trees.  It surprised me how many had managed to do that until I thought about the number of times it was moved since last worked on.  All the small yellow dots are the heads of pins.  Then I had to find the double-sided fusible I had purchased for this project, and it happened to be exactly where it should be!  Next I had to create mirror images of all the features I plan to include (that took more time and effort for which I had not planned).   Finally, I had to have D model something for me so I could draw the correct view of his hands (an interruption for him, but he was very gracious about it all).  

Finally I was able to actually get some work done.  The first figure I worked on was the zebra on the left.  She is why I left the trees unsewn.  I knew I wanted her to be coming through the woods from the left, and I like the placement of the trees so I had to play with where she would go. Once I had the correct spot, I had to make sure that her legs (three units separate from the body) could be seen.  There had to be enough leg showing (hah!) so her body wouldn't seem to be floating.  Ms. Zee is fused in place so I'll be able to sew her the next time when I'm ready. 

The next figure is the monkey/orangutan, and he was more complicated than Ms. Zee.  I knew I was going to use wool for him, but I hadn't chosen the fabrics for his hand (only one showing - the other is out of sight holding on to the tree trunk), feet, and face.  My first thought was to give him blue feet and possibly a blue hand because I wanted him to look less realistic, and he had to be orange which is right for an orangutan.  When I previewed various blues, they just didn't work.  Then I spied this batik, and I think it is perfect.  After it's sewn in place, his face will be drawn on with archival ink; it's too small to embroider.  Octavio has six parts at this point, but he still needs his tail which will make seven units.  Thank heavens for fusible web!

Once I put his cousin/s in place on the right-hand side I'll be ready the stitch the animals and the trees.  Then for the really fun part - the foreground.  You'll have to stay tuned to see what that will be.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Progress on a Hand-Pieced Quilt

Today my Hand-Piecing Club met, and I was able to show off my very-almost-though-not-quite-finished Carpenter Star wall hanging.  It consists of nine blocks and has taken me almost two years.

There are 556 pieces in those nine blocks.

But you are still thinking, "Wow, two years????"  There have been weeks that have gone by when I have been so involved in other projects that I didn't work on this one at all.  There have been months that have gone by when I have been so tired of it that I didn't work on it at all.  There have been days that have gone by when I have forgotten all about it.  Has any of that ever happened to you?

Six of the nine blocks are completely finished  I know you're asking yourself, "How can something be incompletely finished?"  Of the three blocks that are not finished, each consists of four smaller block-ettes which are sewn separately.  When those four are completed, they are then sewn together to form one larger block.  All those block-ettes are done; now they have to be sewn together to form the larger blocks.

I am probably much too excited about this milestone because there are more hurdles to come.  In between the pieced 10" blocks are 10" blocks of un-pieced fabric.  All I have to do is whack up six (I think) 10" squares of my chosen fabric and sew them between the fancy, pieced blocks.  Then there are the borders to add.  

And when I wasn't paying any attention, out of my mouth came these words, "I'm thinking of hand-quilting this one."  

Who was that woman? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Savannah's Buildings Close-Up

This will be another day in which I will posts photographs with little description as the pictures are the best descriptions.  These were taken on Monday which was the first full day of our tour.  We had an informative meeting in the morning and then a leisurely stroll, lunch, and a continuation of our walk through the picturesque area of Savannah.

First however, during a break in the morning's meeting which was held on the 15th floor of the hotel, we were mesmerized by the sight of a HUGE container ship making its way up the Savannah River.  Remember, we were very high up and quite a distance from the river (also, the picture were taken with my phone through a glass window).  What you can see are the containers on the deck of the ship and the white structure which houses - well, the bridge, probably the crew quarters, mess, etc.

Here is one picture that might help you realize the sheer enormity of this ship.  Again you can see the containers on the deck and the white "tower" structure.  Behind it is a large building on the other side of the river (it's almost on the river front); notice the size of the windows in that building and how many floors you can see (the ground floor of this building is not visible).  Because this ship is on the river whose surface is lower than the first floor, that gives you another reference as to how big the ship is.  Then check the buildings and cars that are on this side of the river.  Whew!

Now from here on, you will be seeing primarily fountains, ornamental ironwork, bas reliefs, interior designs, and the like.  It was not a pretty day, and I took only my phone as a camera due to the drizzle.  Later in the week my photographs focused on other things.  Remember that I use these pictures as inspiration, and see if you can figure out why I took certain pictures.  Admittedly, some merely tickle my fancy!

Don't you love the reflection in the window?

How can you pass up a restaurant that features books as very large part of their decor?

The stained glass and chandelier was over our lunch table.

The wall across from my seat.

This is actually one of Savannah College of Art and Design's major buildings, and I show it here for ME (even though I took it because of the ironwork and architectural beauty).  The restaurant in which we ate our very tasty lunch was just across the street.

A cotton exchange - cotton was King, remember.

Here's a break from all the architectural details I've shown you today.  I did take a few pictures of this type that day, too.  It's just so exactly what I have in my mind's eye when I think of Savannah.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Savannah's Train Museum

Back to photographs from our trips in March.  I'm going to focus on Savannah today, but I may return to San Diego to share some of the last pictures and to revel in the sunshine that was generally missing while in Savannah.  That was a big disappointment, but the city is so beautiful that aside from the facts that we were unprepared for the cooler temperatures and taking pictures with my phone on the rainy days resulted in less attractive photos, it was a great trip.

One of the first places we visited was the train museum which was wonderful.  We wound up spending much longer than I initially thought we would, and we all enjoyed it a lot.  I'm going to try to use very few captions/descriptions tonight because I don't think I can accurately explain what is in the picture, or because I think the picture speaks for itself - just interesting or good.  So here goes:

And that, in brief, is our visit to Georgia State Railroad Museum.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sunset on the Caribbean

No, we didn't travel to the Caribbean last month.  It is the title for my new, completed painting,  Yes, it is finished!  

Sharon did have suggestions for improving what I had done, and I agreed with her.  By this morning, I had revised my emphatic, "It's finished!" stand of last night.  In the cool light of morning, I knew the left-hand side of the painting needed help but wasn't sure of the best way to approach the problem.  Basically, the dark clouds on that side dragged the weight of the painting to that side alone.  By intensifying some of the other colors and pulling the dark purple through the red and orange and even into the right, the painting found its balance.

Now I'll have to figure out what to work on next!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Watercolor Painting with Vivid Colors

Taking a break from travel photos for a little while seems like a good idea.  There are a lot from Savannah, and unfortunately the weather was such that I don't think many of them will be worth viewing.  However, they will still make for some wonderful painting ideas.

Today I spent part of the afternoon "finishing" my latest painting.  The word finished is in quotation marks because what I think is done and what Sharon, my teacher, thinks may and frequently is different.  

There is another, and to my mind, more basic problem.  Is it any good?  You see, with this watercolor I have tried (and to some extent succeeded) to paint in a looser style.  The subject, a sunset, allowed for that.  Up until this painting, one quality of watercolor was elusive.  I did not like the diluted colors I got while other artists paint with very vivid, striking color. How did they do that, I asked myself.  The answer is easy - use the best paints (I do) and less water.  The latter was the problem with which I struggled.  In this current painting, I have come closer to using the paint with less water and therefore the sunset is vivid.  I have yet to be able to avoid the "sealing of the paper" to which I have come close and maybe even, by now, tipped over into.  Sharon will be sure to let me know tomorrow!  Then I have to ask her to sit down with me and explain how to recognize that one is in danger of sealing the paper and how to avoid it!

The successful vividness of the sunset and the ocean on which it is reflected is the other issue. I used a photograph as usual, but my fear is that the painting is so colorful as to be unbelievable.  Since there is no boat, no shore, human figures to give a clue, this may simply be an abstract painting to the viewer.

Does that matter?  It depends on my intention for this work, doesn't it.  Tomorrow, I will have Sharon's verdict, and I will let you know what that is while I also post a photo of the painting (unless Sharon tells me to burn it!).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

San Diego - Land of Amazing Skies

It was about the middle of our week in San Diego and probably the hottest day there when we decided to hike the northern section of Torrey Pines.  It was a beautiful day that started with some excellent reference opportunities like this photo (one of many of pics I took as this boat tacked back and forth).

Which leads me to ask, "Can a boat of this type (using a motor) 'tack'?"  Anyway, this picture was taken from the balcony of BD and E's condo.  Then we went on our walk.

At first I thought I would concentrate on the flora we could see beside the trail.  Yellow and red is one of my favorite color combinations; throw in white and it's a ballet.

These two plants were all over this section.

Prickly pear again, and the blossoms were coming along at the rate of at least one a day.  Okay, that's a guess.  I looked at the spent blooms and extrapolated from there (I've always wanted an excuse to use that word!).

Pine cones; I love the shadows in these.  

Then there were these formations.  Again, absolutely wonderful shadows.  Both of these are interesting photographs and worth a lot when the right painting walks into my head.

But the next one is like the pictures I took at the beach.  

The beauty of rocks catches me every time - especially, as with these, when they have "arranged" themselves into a lovely still life.

So why "Land of Amazing Skies"?    Look at what we saw that afternoon:

Keep an eye on the clouds . . . 

Shooting off the trees . . . 

If I painted this one, no one would believe a cloud really seemed to curl around a tree like this.

And now, clouds like geese women in flight . . .

Here the vertical rays of the sun and the horizontal swoop of the geese clouds  . . . wow!

Do you believe this?  Stationary beetle-browed rock formation and fluttery clouds dancing above it and complete with the sun itself!

Finally, the sunset.  What a day!