Tuesday, July 26, 2016

One Down, Another One Begun

Painting day again, at long last!  At least it seems like it's been a long time.  I was correct in thinking that Sharon would have a few suggestions that would make the Venice painting better.  Here's what she thought:
  • make the figure on the bridge even more clear by darkening the gray behind her and complete the dark ink outline around the umbrella
  • make the water in the canal seem to flow into the doorway and give it (the water) more movement throughout
  • finish the stonework in the bridge on the left (can't believe I overlooked that completely!)
As I've done before, I'll post the before and after photos of the painting with "before class" on the left and "after class on the right:

Remember, if you click on the painting you'll be able to see a larger version of it, but you won't be able to see them side by side.

After I finished work on the Rainy Day in Venice (no clever title here, I'm afraid), I started a new one without buildings.  While I really enjoy painting cityscapes, my imprecision with perspective has become almost an anxiety. In general, perspective doesn't bother me even if I make some errors. But I'm not precise, and there are mistakes that are beginning to shout at me.  Do I have the patience to really work things out before hand?  I thought I had done that with this one only to find out I didn't solve everything.

So a landscape this time.  See if you can figure out what it may turn into:

I apologize for not cropping this one, but it wouldn't have helped you that much.

Here's a hint; you've seen a lot of this particular place in my blogs.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Painting the Family Room

The painting of the family room began today, and we should open a bottle of champagne to celebrate!  It has needed painting for a long time, but given the size of the room, the massive amounts of woodwork, the number of windows, and the high ceiling, it wasn't a job we could do ourselves.  Therefore, since the garden room opens off the family room, we made renovating the family room part of that work.  

It's a good thing we did, too.  The ceiling was phenomenally dirty from a problem with our furnace and some soot from the wood-burning stove.  The walls were definitely in need of attention, and the green wall was no longer a favorite.  Below you can see that wall as it looks now.  The bookshelves and the wardrobe have been painting with a "white pigmented shellac primer" in order to cover the knots that bled through the green paint.  You can also see where that same paint was used on areas in need on the walls.  The ceiling was re-taped where needed and painted with two coats of ceiling white (a third and final coat will be applied tomorrow, I think).

You can also see some of the pale green carpet on the floor between the wall and covered furniture.  It, too, will go, and the bamboo floor from the garden room will come through into the family room.
Then, of course, there will be some new furniture mixed in with the old, and things will be rearranged.  

There is a slight down side; until some carpentry work has been done, and maybe even until the painting is finished, there will be no TV.  It's a good thing we are both readers!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Little by Little

Mid-afternoon last Thursday, the patio and connecting sidewalks behind the Garden Room and the bottom step leading to the front door were poured.  We've never had a patio that was really functional, and now we do.  Not only is it functional (we've tested it out and it passes muster), it is really attractive!  The front step is now more nearly correct in proportions so one can step from the first step to the top without feeling one is climbing a mountain.  

Saturday I spent the day volunteering at a Family Fun Day.  It was a lot of fun; the children had a great time doing the crafts we had available for them.  The two of us who were working were kept busy every single minute and were lucky we were under a canopy; the sun was hot, hot, hot.  When I got home that afternoon, I was as tired as I ever was at the end of the first week back at school!  

Today I spent my time in the studio.  I cut out the first block of "Toes in the Sand".  Actually, Block 1 is misnamed as it is two blocks using the same pieces but constructed differently.  Also, the pattern calls for making each block twice which equals 4 blocks.  Since I have decided to make this for our bed, I had to cut out enough for 8 blocks.  Then I also began work on cutting out the first block in a Block of the Month I signed up for.  That wasn't finished as we had to run out to the grocery store.

It wasn't what one would call an exciting weekend, but it was satisfying.  Maybe by the end of the week I'll have some of the blocks sewn, and wonder of all wonders, maybe have a new painting started.  But if not, it's okay.  Little by little chores will be finished and interests will be focused on.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Definition of a Successful Day

Today I spent most of my time in my studio.  I had intended to use the time there to begin a new quilt as well as work on one started about a week ago.  Then, if there was enough time, I hoped to be able to paint the lower edge of some oil paintings.  All of that, of course, before the men came to pour our patio at 3:00.

Guess what!

It didn't happen.

What I did do was go grocery shopping before 8:00 a.m., and on the way home stopped to take photographs of the Yellow Door Farm and its field.

You can't see the yellow doors from this side, but the oak tree I like so much is on the right 

And the field of weeds.

I did manage to clean, sort, and tidy one of the shelves in the closet in my studio before the patio was poured, and because I'm a positive sort of person, I'm going to count that a successful day.  Something was accomplished.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Escape from Danger

Today was a day for organization and for down payments.  I needed to pack up the top of my desk.  That's where I had kept all of the important papers and business materials (envelopes, scotch tape, household folders et al) when I packed up the drawers.  Fortunately I had that all done before our cleaner arrived so she was able to dust the desk for me making it one less thing I had to do.

While the cleaners were here, the designer came and we went over the measurements of various areas of the rooms, our chairs, and checking the measurements of new chairs (would they work with the existing furniture? would they fit in the room?  would they fit us!).  After reviewing the fabric choices, also, I wrote the checks.  So now the chairs and fabrics for them and for the "window treatments" have been ordered.  Excitement reigns!  She says everything should be here and settled in by Thanksgiving.  Hm mm, I hadn't thought it would take that long, but now, knowing everything that has to be done, I understand.  Since we love Thanksgiving, I'm delighted to think everything will be in place and lovely.

The rest of the day was spent in various household busy-ness.  So I will show you the photos I took of the local farm before the axle break.  You may recognize the subject of the photos because I have shown other pictures of it before.

None of these pictures have been cropped as they would be if I were going to use them for a painting.  Right now these will wait until if or when I am ready to paint.  Notice the weeds by the edge of the road and throughout the field where's a glorious white pine.

This close up of barn and cottage gives a clearer view of the structures.  I find I have to have a close up even if (or especially if) I decide to leave them in the distance.  I still need to know what they look like.  Also this shot give me a great view of those wonderful weeds.

And here's that super tree!  I do need to take a different view from another side where there is no tree immediately behind this one.  In this one there it's difficult to separate the pine shape from the oaks behind.

You know, if I hadn't stopped to take these pictures, I might have had that axle break in the midst of traffic somewhere.  It could have been very dangerous; I was very lucky!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What a Day!

I was really looking forward to painting class today because I had managed to work on the Venice painting two days this past week.  I thought it possible that it was finished.  Well, let's say I thought it was finished but knew Sharon would probably have a different idea, and there would be a bit more to do.  "Whatever she says," I thought, "it won't bother me because by the time class is over, it will be better and finished."

I never got to class.  Oh, I started out.  I actually got about a mile down the road when I decided the light was gorgeous and that barn really needed to have another photo taken.  Pulling off to the side of the road, I got out and took a couple of pictures.  Once back in the car, I put it drive so I could continue on my way.  "GggrrrccckkkkKKKKK!" said the engine, and the car wouldn't move.  Thinking I had gone over a stick that might have gotten wedged somehow, I got out, checked the back, checked the front - no stick, rock, or any other impediment.

So back in the car, I thought I'd better call AAA and get towed to our Honda place.  Oops, BIG OOPS, I didn't have my AAA card.  Although I was close enough to home that I could walk, I was uneasy about leaving my car.  Who could I call?  D was gone on business.  Neighbor was traveling.  Girl friend was working; or was she?  I called her, and lucky me, she was home!

She drove out here, picked me up, drove me home to get my card, and - get this - not only drove me back to my car, she sat with me until the tow truck came!  When I thanked her, she just said, "That's what friends do," and she's right.  Thank you, ME!!!

Luckily it turned out to be only an axle and the bushing/s (don't ask, I have no idea) not the transmission!   After finishing a book, doing some stitchery, playing a game of Scrabble on my Kindle, and paying almost $700, I was able to drive home.  Whew.

Anyway, here is the way the Venice painting as it was the last time I showed you:

And the way it looks now.

I don't think there is enough difference between the water in the canal and the buildings behind the bridge that meet the water (under the bridge you can see the darkest side of the gray building).  The only place it is clear is below the person  . . . Well, if you can't see it, I really need to do something about it.  But what?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Family Reunion

Such excitement these past several days!  Brother D will now go by the moniker of B2 (brother 2) because I have another brother whose name begins with D (hereafter known as B3 for brother 3), and let's not forget my dear husband whose name also begins with a D (who will continue to be known as D).  Having cleared all that up, I will now explain what has caused all this excitement.

B2, E, D, and I are going to go to Florida some time in the fall to visit B3.  In a phone conversation, B3 and I determined that it has been 12 years since we have seen each other.  That is unbelievable, right?  Anyway, we are going to get together, but that's not all.  It gets even better.  We will be able to visit with his daughter and her family (husband and three children). And better still - his son, wife, and two children are going to fly in from the mid-west in order to join the fun.  

How is that for a roaring good time?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Caladium, Hellebore, and Shadows

While I did work a bit on the Venice painting today including drawing the railing behind the figure on the bridge - I agree with you, E), what really captured my attention was our Stonehenge.

When we returned from our walk (rather sweaty and bedraggled), I decided that I had to plant the hellebores before they decided I had totally lost interest in them and sulked themselves into a fit of the dismals.  Fortunately, I have only three of them and was putting them in soil that had yet to be compacted so it went quickly.  And fortunately again, we had rain this afternoon which cleared up about dinner time when we were sitting in the Garden Room.

Here's the view we had:

The caladium leaves backlit by the sun are just lovely, and the hellebores, albeit still a bit droopy, with their sun splashed green leaves make such a pretty oasis of color for us.  Especially welcome as we have a broad stretch of sand in this general vicinity.  Don't overlook the circle of light behind the tree and its border of shadow as well as the shadows of the beech leaves on the ground in front of Stonehenge.  Finally, the play of light and dark on the stones . . .  All together it's a treat to see and savor.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Almost There

Yesterday was painting day, and while much work was done, the painting still isn't finished.  BIG sigh.  So, since life is a little bit calmer, I decided to work on it a bit more today.  

Today I added the iron work on the upper floor of the pink building and on the bridge over the canal.  On the building, I made the ironwork relatively Italianate (in this context that just means moderately ornate) and on the bridge completely spare.    

So here are the questions I have for Sharon: Should I make the railing on the bridge more characteristically ornate?  Or would that take too much attention away from the figure?  I do think I need to make the head a bit more defined and slightly brighter colors on the shirt.  Anyway, another question would be: Should I draw the railing on the other side of the bridge?  Or would that detract from the rather simplistic drawing of the background buildings?  Or would it balance the more ornate detailing on the pink building?

Anyway, I still have to paint the edges of the bridge while I ponder what I think might be best.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

White Blossoms in July

Today I took a few photos around the yard.  I was concerned about the Stewartia tree which is nearing the end of its blooming period.  It's a bit odd because the blooms are scattering around the tree with empty spaces with no bloom between.  It has an extended period of bloom because of this little trick.

That is a bonus for me.  We planted this tree in 2002 or 2003 because it has beautiful, multicolor bark.  At the time we planted it, I had no knowledge of its flowers or how lovely they are.  Possibly because they aren't crowded together, the blooms seem more special to me.  In the photo below, you can see two buds near the opeining bloom.  One will open when the bloom you see is gone, and the third will wait until both are finished before its petals unfurl. 

And then there is the white hydrangea at the corner of the house.  Beautiful large, round flower head, but they don't hold up well if cut.  So I've learned to enjoy them where they are and cut a different flower if I want to take it inside.

And thus you see a few of the lovely things I took time to enjoy today - white blooms on our 47th wedding anniversary.

Appropriate, I thought.

Monday, July 11, 2016

End of Another Quilt Show

The quilt show at the Pine Bush Discovery Center was taken down today.  I'm so very glad we did it.  It gave quilters a chance to have their work seen by a new and different kind of audience which I think is a good thing.  It wasn't an overwhelming amount of work.  Some different quilters won "ribbons" (Karner blue butterfly pins) than won at the Guild.  I made some new acquaintances at the Discovery Center.

Now I have to decide if I'm going to enter the other Guild's quilt show because if I do, I have to fill out the paperwork tonight.  

Hence the very short entry.

And, yes, I won a "ribbon" -  first place in the public opinion poll.

Thanks, Caleb!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Colorful Clouds

Lately I have been checking out the sky.  What catches my attention most are clouds.  Not only are they amazingly beautiful, they are also amazingly difficult to paint - no matter what color they are.

Here's an illustration of what I mean:

This photograph is from June of 2015.  D and I were in D.C. and had gone to a Nationals' baseball game.  If I remember correctly, the game hadn't even started when a severe thunderstorm started rolling in from Ohio (I think).  With the storm, as usual, came clouds, but these were made remarkable because of the color.  

So if the question of clouds is accepted as within the normal range of difficulties painters face, then imagine this.  If you were looking at a realistic painting that included clouds this color, what would you think?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Gardening Realities

No weeding today!  Instead I put in many (seemed like hundreds!) perenniels. Over the course of years of gardening in the same site, some plants naturally reach the end of their attractiveness, health, or appropriate size, color, what-have-you. Multiply that by the random and infuriating incursion of any variety of animals, and replanting becomes necessary.  In our case all of the above are responsible for the multiplicity of plants I put in today.

Plants but no wire.  By this morning, I had become really concerned about my ability to cut any amount of wire hardware cloth as well as the appropriateness of the kind of cloth I bought.  So I did the smart thing and asked D to check it out for me.  He confirmed both of my suspicions.  I wouldn't be able to cut the wire (nor did we have wire cutters that would make the job possible), and I bought the wrong kind.  No wire for this garden (I'll have to become creative and think of some way to use all that hardware cloth).  But at least that made my day easier!

Easier, certainly, but worrisome.  All those wonderful plants . . . There's always the chance that some will not survive.  That percentage goes up with the number of desperadoes (i.e., critters) lurking about drooling over the new edibles in their salad bar.  No hardware cloth, no protection for the plants.

I just hope that it won't be as hot the next time I work in the garden!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Day 2 of Weeding Excitement

The weeding was finished today, oh joy, oh rapture!  Also because there may be rain tonight or Wednesday,  I put down a weed killer.  With any luck, I won't have to do any more major weedpulling this year.

The down side?  Nothing was planted.  So that means that tomorrow I will be outside working on cutting hardware cloth (hope my hands are up to it!).  The hardware cloth will surround the underground portion of the plant, and therefore, save it from the voracious appetite of chipmunks.  I'm just tired of spending money on plants that have roots completely devoured, tired of dreaming of the beauty that particular plant will add to the garden only to be disappointed, tired of the work it takens to plant and coddle new flowers only to have them disappear before our eyes.  

No pictures of what I did today, but I have two pictures of the garden area that I like.  This one is a photo of a favorite birdhouse; the wrens vacated it yesterday so it's for rent again.  But what I like best in this picture is the Mary Todd daylily.  It's such a rich yellow and is one of our earlier daylilies.

Yesterday I posted a photo of  D's Stonehenge.  ME wondered if it would create magic.  My answer is, Yes! Just look at the wonderful shadow on the ground and the color of the leaves with the sun shining through.

  Beauty is magical, don't you think, ME?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Outside is Tidier

Yes, today was the day I made it out to the garden for weeding!  D continued the work he had started on the right hand side of the big garden while I started on the left.  We worked until lunch time and have only th doable patch in the center to do tomorrow.

Here's my side.  I only made it to the path between the birdhouse and the table and chair.

This is D's part.  It may not look like much, but it was quite a big area.

And this is what is left.  It begins from the right side of the plant stand to the left of the photo.  Working together we should be able to get it done rather quickly.  Then, the plants that have been waiting patiently in their little cardboard mailing boxes for a month and a bit.

Finally my favorite part of the outside work done this weekend.  D made a decision to make a moat around the big beech tree right outside the garden room.  When I called him in, this is what I saw.

Isn't it a wonderful "Stonehenge"?  His plan is to put come decent soil inside so I can plant flowers in it.  Right now I'm planning on hellebores and daffodils.  Hellebores because they're so early, and daffodils because the bulbs are poisonous (chipmunks might  leave them alone) and because they are a breath of the coming spring.  We'll have a clear view of the flowers from the new room.

Things are coming together.