Thursday, November 15, 2018

Another Drawing

In yesterday's blog I included a poor photo of a very early drawing of mine - poor because of the distracting reflections on the glass.  One of these days I'll ask a friend of our who is good-enough-to-be-a-professional photographer how to avoid problems like that. But maybe I should wait until I find out how to avoid the issue you'll see in today's photograph!

Also in yesterday's blog was my embarassed recounting of finding myself in class with no paint - what an idiot!  However, there was something I could do - draw using one of the photographs I had with me.

But first, a little background.  Our first post-retirement trip was to China where I started taking photographs especially for reference material.  The second trip was an exploration of the Four Corners in the Southwest. Those photos inspired three oils of that very special landscape.

Yesterday as I looked through the photos I had with me, I found one I knew had to be a contender.  It was one I'd toyed with but just didn't know if it was too, well, just too much like one you'd see in a travel magazine.  But I love it anyway.

The photo isn't available for me to post here, but I can tell you that it is a study in perspective which is why it was a good candidate for drawing.  The subject is a trading post in Monument Valley with towering cliffs in the background and a wagon in the foreground. Note the line of the roof and the lower edge of the wagon - perspective fun.

The shadowing - especially on the left side - is caused by erasures made with a kneaded eraser.  It took time to get it almost right, but as I discovered while drawing, it was time well spent.  It needs to be finished (the right side of the trading post ends within the porch - past the doorway line).  The wagon's back wheel isn't right, and the barrel is far more burly. 

But here's the real problem for me.  I don't see it as a watercolor.  Do you?  Would it work?  I see, no, I feel it as an oil painting.  But either way it will be a painting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Continuous Line Drawing

Painting day, and off  I went to begin work on what I hoped would lead to a finished painting of the view from Pienza.  But, foolish me, I was a bit late and so was rushing as I left.  That, as most of us know, is the sure set up for a problem.  

And it was.  We did a bit of "Show and Tell" first.  When it was my turn, I showed my framed continuous line drawing from 1965-ish when I was an art student at Syracuse U..  It is something very different, but I have always had a real fondness for this piece.  A "continuous line" means one begins to draw but does not lift the crayon, marker, pencil, or whatever from the paper.  It takes a bit of forethought to figure out how to get from one side of the subject to the other (usually one side of the paper to the other), and it may require several attempts before one is successful. I still do them from time to time.

Back when this drawing was done, I was a commuting student living at home so I chose the living room of our family's flat as the subject of this drawing.  Right now I can't remember for which class this was as assignment, but I suspect it was a basic drawing class. There is no sign of a grade on the paper nor had I signed it, so possibly it was simply an exercise that became part of a portfolio that was graded at the end of a quarter.  That doesn't explain the lack of a signature though - so maybe it was just something I did for my own practice and/or fun.

Anyway, this is it, framed, over my desk - complete with reflections.

After we talked about the various items we wanted to share, we each got our materials out.  Sharon was working with one of my friends so I started to get ready to paint.  That's when I discovered I had left my paints at home.  ALL my paints.  

Fortunately, before I began to tear my hair out, I remembered I had something else to work on.  I'll write about that in another entry.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

View from Above

Last week at painting, I worked on the drawing of Venice which was put away when I got home.  I didn't do that because I was tired of the idea but because there were so many other things that needed doing at home and also because I needed to do some research before continuing.  That research didn't happen - the "other things" I mentioned included a three day quilt retreat.  
All of which is to explain why I started something new - again - today.  This is only a preliminary sketch.  By that I mean that I have no expectation of being able to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear or more to the point, take this sketch and turn it into a finished painting.   Instead, it's an information gathering exercise.  Which paints can I combine to make the many greens distinct from each other?  Indeed, which colors look better or best - say green or blue?  Can I improve the composition by adding this or taking that out?  What techniques can I use to enhance my basic drawing, my manipulation of water?  You get the idea.

Anyway, here is Rough Draft #1.

This is a view from one of the walled hill towns in Tuscany; we were standing at the wall looking out at the countryside.  I discovered later that it is considered "an iconic view" which I well understand.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Spooky Tree and Finshed Painting

We had such fun greeting our little Halloween trick or treaters - and some that were that little!  Although to be honest there weren't as many as we used to have and no high schoolers.  Is that a sign that the neighborhood is aging?  Or could it be a sign that the malls are drawing more adults with their youngsters?  Or simply that the neighborhood is in transition and the kidlets aren't old enough to be out yet?

Even so, we had a great time.  The children are such fun, and David had his own way of enjoying it.  Here is his Halloween tree:

Thie next photo was taken later when it was darker and is a close up of the neat decoration he found; the "light" is in a skull!

Today was also painting day.  During the week, I worked on the second Bayou painting and realized that it just wasn't working. So I decided to return to the first.  Today I took it into to class for Sharon's verdict. She took one look at it , and said -

"It works, and it's DONE!"

My response?  "Hallelujah!"

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Lots of Work, No Photos

In the last two weeks (of not particularly nice weather), a lot of work was done around the yard. D worked very hard outside - some was the usual mowing, but a lot was raking leaves, taking care of bonsai specimens that live outside during the moderate weather, and even trying to corral the acorns.  Those acorns are huge!  They are so large that we can't park in our driveway because the acorns can mar the car.  I wonder what the insurance company would say that if we told them dents were caused by those pesky nuts!

Acorns aside, D spent a bit of time helping me with the gardening chores which, at this time of year, take a lot of time.  But first, before he came home from the trip that included being inducted into the Middle School Hall of Fame, I did take out all the garden annuals in the front yard berm.  They were looking sad and not at all pretty.  The removal of dying annuals didn't take too long, and it improved the appearance of  the front of the house.  However, carrying pail after pail full of those droopy, dying annuals off to our dumping spot adds both weight and time to the job.

The next day of gardening instead of finishing the front I started with the biggest job - the backyard garden. That garden, if its dogleg were straightened out, would stretch almost all the way across the back.  By the time I was within sight of the end, I was moving very slowly and was very tired.  That's when D, my hero, came to my rescue and helped me finish up.  Even so, it took a full day of work. 

The third day,  I realized that I hadn't finished the job in the front yard. The perennials in the berm needed to be cut back - a job that would take more time.  Clipping is hard on the hands and also requires more care than yanking plants out to say nothing of the carting away part of the job.  There were also some summer blooming bulbs - Peruvian daffodils that hadn't bloomed - that I wanted to lift and hold over to next year Maybe they will like next year's weather better.  While they didn't bloom, they certainly multiplied!

Once finished with that, I decided to stop for the day, and toddled off to have lunch.  As I ate, I glanced out at the daylily garden and had to be clipped down.  It's a longish stretch of garden that is suffering from the white pines that shade much the bed's length so as I clipped - again! - I pondered where I could move the daylilies.  The continuous clipping left me with a very sore hand but all garden areas clean and neat for winter.

As for the daylilies?  Still haven't figured out where to move them.  Maybe next year.

Friday, October 19, 2018

David is Honored

A quick post to mention the award David received last night.  The New York State Middle School Association recognized him for his "lifetime commitment and achievement in advancing the goals of middle-level education."  

There was a banquet and speeches and laughter.  To say nothing of the back-slapping and hugs and even a few teary eyes.  Our daughter managed to drive in after work and arrived in time to enjoy both the dinner and see her father awarded this plaque.

He was really pleased, and daughter and I were very proud.  Unfortunately, our daughter had to dash back home before this photo was taken by a friend (who used my phone so I'd be sure to have a photo).  I think other people were able to get some with daughter in the picture, too, and hope copies will be sent our way.

We will say nothing about the woman he is standing beside- except that she was thrilled that all his years of hard work were appreciated.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Way it's Going

Another interesting day  . . . D and I made sure the furnace was available for Furnace Man (aka FM) to be able to access.  During that rearranging of things that live in basements, I realized that I would not be able to do the laundry until after FM did his magic both because I could not get to the washing machine since I'd walled it off with basement items and because I decided having unmentionables hanging about over FM's head wasn't something any of us would appreciate.

So instead of laundry, I busied myself with sorting through some boxes that had been unearthed and seemed to have things that we could get rid of.  For example, there were two plastic drawer-bins that had kitchen items we used to take with us when we went to Vermont each summer.  We haven't gone back since 2016, and even in those last years, we didn't need to take those items because the place we rented was fully furnished.  We found some things of David's that he had no difficulty getting rid of.  Then there were two boxes that were clearly for me to sort more carefully as there might be treasures.

And there were. First,  I found fabric that was supposed to be borders for the hand-sewn spool wall hanging I made several years ago and for which, since I no clue where I had hidden that fabric, good friend Sandy replaced from her stash!  I sent her a text today with a photo of what I had found and will give it to her tomorrow during the Crazy Quilt "class".  Second, I found an "antique" (in quotation marks because I don't know if its 100 years old) flour sack with which I had planned to make an apron.  Third,and oh, this was special, I discovered fabric from which I made part of our daughter's first Christmas dress and a little slip of hers, also.  Those finds may find their way into a wall hanging along with the very worn placemat/dish cloth (my memory won't come up with their exact use at the moment) that were also in the box.  

And, of course, there was something more that.  Here is another of my many unfinished projects . . . but this one goes back a way . . .

A while ago, I was discussing this project with my best friend and told her I was sure these blocks (all 26 - 28 of them) which had been put away each on its own paper plate had been accidentally thrown away.  And knowing that, all the coordinating fabrics had been re-purposed or tossed.  

So - of course, I found the blocks.  That's the way my week is going!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Design Wall Quilt

Today after clearing off my cutting surface I decided to take time off from working on the major projects which have kept me busy for the month of September and spilled into October.  There was what had been a pile of fabrics that had morphed into a puddle spreading out from the closet into the room at large that I cleaned up.  That meant doing significant rearranging in the closet itself so those floor fabrics could be put away.  

When that was finished I looked around and the design wall caught my eye.  Or more specifically one work-in-progress called my attention.  It was the beginning of a project that has been on the design wall since it was put up and which has been glaring at me for several years.  You see, the project was far more difficult than any of us in the class had anticipated, but originally, I had thought about adding a few more blocks (instead of turning it into a bed quilt) to make a decent wall-hanging.  

The trouble with that is I couldn't locate the pattern, can't remember the designer, and don't seem to have any of the fabrics except the white with the tree design. So I just sewed the 4 blocks together, and here it is: 

I knew I'd have to find something to use as a intermediate border before the white with the trees (the only fabric I kept).  The blue that forms the intersecting rings was impossible to match so I tried oranges and greens and even yellow, but nothing worked.  I figured I'd have to take the piece in to a quilt shop to see if  there would be something I could use.  

Fortunately, a piece of  fabric caught my eye, and I thought it might match the navy blue of the tree trunks.  Imagine my surprise when I opened it up and found this:

I think it just might be perfect - for a large border.  It won't do for the narrow one I had in mind because of  its large design.  Should I try that narrow orange border that again?  It might do quite well . . . but what will I do with all that white w/tree fabric?  There's both too much to use as backing, and it's too special to hide.

So what do you think - does this blue work?  And what about the tree fabric - should I use it or save it for something else?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Drawing and Baking

Unfortunately, yesterday was an extraordinarily humid day with water droplets visible on the glass in our windows.  So when everyone was assembled in the painting class, Sharon told us that she had experimented that morning by laying down a wash and doing a bit of painting.  It still wasn't dry at 10:00!

She went on to tell us that if we working with a dry surface and a minimum of water, we might be able to have a dry piece by the end of class.  However, if we had planned on working wet on wet, we'd have wet paper to take home - not something you'd want to do.

I opted to do some drawing instead as did a few others in the class.  There's a photo of the Grand Canal in Venice at night that has been teasing me for some time.  But it is a piece that really calls for a lot of preliminary work - specifically drawing.  That's the only way to figure out the perspective lines of all the many buildings as well as the curves of the domes.  The curve of the canal has to show - it's not a simple straight line.  Drawing would also help determine what to keep and what to leave out - there are many small boats both actively plying the water as well as moored near the buildings. Are they critical to the overall composition?  How many windows, doorways, decorative woodwork are essential to make a building recognizable?  

I can't say that a drawing will resolve all those issues or answer all those questions, but it will certainly help me understand this scene better.

A drawing isn't easy to photograph well enough to make a clear image (or it isn't easy for me), but you might be able to get at least a sense of what's there on the page so far.  The buildings (the first is Ponte del Academia which is very ornate) on the left are not as stolidly blockish as I have drawn - I was more intent on getting the perspective lines on the top and bottom correct.  In the distance is the church Santa Maria della Salute on which I spent some time, and the rest of the right-hand side indicates the water line of the various buildings. That's important because each building has a slightly different waterfront edge and is part of the curve in the canal..

Clearly, there is much more drawing to do before I even begin to think about painting.
Today I took a break from both drawing and sewing to go to a local apple orchard.  We bought a bag of Galas for eating and a bag of 17 Macouns for cooking.  We wanted Cortlands which is my usual baking apple, but they aren't ready quite yet.  I asked for a recommendation for a substitute (so many of the apples that are grown in today's orchards are new to me) and was told Macoun was tart and firm so we took them.  

The crisp is made and smells oh, so tempting, but it is for a bonsai picnic this Saturday.  I didn't made a tiny version for us to try this time so we'll just have to wait.  

Silly me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Second Attempt - Bayou Painting 2

Today I took a break from sewing to begin the outlines for my second try at the Bayou painting. 

The trees were painted first this time and the sky was painted in only after the trees were "planted" - the reverse of how I did the first try at this subject.  Of course there will be more trees added later in the background where the light is less of an issue.  I have tried to indicate branches while at the same time leaving the paper around the branches white.  In short I am leaving room for sunlight which I didn't do in the first attempt.  Now all I have to do is leave that light alone as I paint!

One thing that really has to be changed, and I think it will be easy enough to do is in the sky areas.  The intention was to fade the sky gradually from the intense color among the upper branches to the much paler color down near the ground.  What I did without realizing how completely I had done it was show absolutely no transition within the cells created by branches!  It's a stained glass look which I don't want at all.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Bayou Painting - Days 4 & 5

Even though quite a bit of time has been spent on continuing to cut and piece a quilt, some painting was done on the Bayou painting, also.  Here's Bayou painting day 4 that I took to today's class:

I wasn't thrilled with the painting because I knew that some of the things I didn't like were not fixable.  For example, I was losing the light (in watercolor painting light is created by either leaving the paper bare of paint or using very, very pale colors).  It's almost impossible to remove the paint without making a hole in the paper.  That (the bit about the light) is also a part of my second complaint.  The painting is overworked - meaning that not only is the light vanishing, but also that too many places have painted over and over and over again which is one reason the light is gone.  These things really can't be undone.

But, even though I knew in my heart that I needed to start over, I did as my teacher suggested - continued to learn on this version before turning to a new version.  That's why she gets the "big bucks".  Grin, grin.

So I did as she suggested, and here is the result.

While I know it isn't particularly easy to see the differences between the two, you might be able to see some changes in the middle distance which is where I concentrated my efforts.  Look on the right side beyond the first tree - the large one on the right.  Also on the left behind the big tree there.

What I am trying to learn is differentiating among the necessary colors, values, and details that make close, middle, and distant discernable.  At least those are some of the things I need to work on!

During the rest of the class, I practiced various techniques that can be used to sketch what I want to paint without using anything that would have to be erased (lead pencil), peeled (masking fluid - sort of like rubber cement), brushed off and/or lifted like charcoal or chalk, or left in place (ink).  So what does that leave?  

Watercolor paint!  One can use very, very pale paint using colors that could underlie the final coat of paint without showing through.  Or,  in a similar way, one make the paper wet and apply the pale paint.  

It only took me the rest of the class to discover that the last one is what I will use when I start the new painting.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Update on Louisiana Bayou

Yesterday I took the time to work on the bayou painting as I hadn't done any painting since last week.  This is the second day's work:

It still doesn't look like much, but this is the way my watercolors appear to progress these days.  Wouldn't it be great if one day I managed do get a good painting all in one day like real artists do?  Oh well, I'm really not complaining because I do know I've gotten better at this particular medium, but I also hope that I won't stall here for the rest of my life.

Day three (below) is getting closer to the finish line, but clearly it isn't there yet.  I worked on land and sky but didn't touch the water.  My thought was that until I had the upper portion close to completed there wasn't much point in tackling the reflections.  Besides, brown water is not easy.

Today the painting told me to stop trying to be cute; it's name is simply "Louisiana Bayou" - at least for the time being.  It will let me know if and when that changes.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Bonsai Show

Sunday D and I went to a bonsai show (some time I'll have to write about how I very recently became an enthusiastic bonsai practitioner - sort of - more of an amateur freshwoman student really - it's all D's fault!), and it was really fun!  We had a great time looking at bonsai, rocks, accent plants, and scrolls and going through the vendor area.  We came home with tiny plants, pots, and a few photos (very few - turns out photos were not allowed).

Fortunately, I had taken only one photo of a tree, and I had taken it because D loves ginkos, has several in training, and was interested in the way this one is styled:

Both of us were surprised this was in the show - it's not particularly; well, it isn't . . . um, it hasn't . . . (sudden fit of coughing) . . .   But ginkos are not noted as graceful trees, but this picture will be helpful for D when he starts to wire his specimens.  I think it will help him figure out what he doesn't want to do!

Then I took a photo of  this scroll; I had never seen one mounted like this and thought D could make one for the scrolls he has.  I took lessons in how to make the usual fabric/scroll, but trust me, I don't ever want to do that.  It didn't speak to me at all.

And of course, I had to crop the scroll so the art work could be seen more clearly.  I  fell in love with it!

Bet you can see why!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Another Painting Begun

It has been a frustrating week and a half as far as my computer is concerned.   We found that once again the router was the source of my inability to get on line or process photos or do any of a number of tasks.  Today the same issue sprang up again, but for whatever reason, it resolved itself.

Another interesting problem arose also, but this one was of my own making.  When I began to set up my materials for painting class, I discovered that I had left at home the block on which my landscape was attached.  Now that was something I've not done before!  

Fortunately, I did have one piece of watercolor paper with me and my folder of photographs as I did not want to start another version of the landscape at this point.  So, what you will see below is another landscape in the very beginning stages.

The photo was taken on our trip to New Orleans several years ago, and the painting is currently being called "In the Bayou".

The dark wobbly line at the top of the painting is a shadow caused by the tape which wasn't completely attached to the paper.  And I repeat that this is a painting in the most early stages as was last week's work.  

Which one will I work on next week?  Right now I am thinking that it will be this one because I am seriously considering changing my mind about the "No Trestle" landscape.  I really want that trestle in that painting.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

No Trestle Day 1

For years I have been really attracted to a nearby site with trees, water, and a train trestle.  I have mentioned it off and on because to me it is extraordinarily paint-worthy.  So, since I have a mal-functioning computer that won't allow me to print my photos and I couldn't begin the painting I'd planned on, today I decided to start the trestle painting.  Finally!

When you look at the photo, please remember that it is the result of one day:

Hmm. Do you notice anything?

You're right.  There's no train trestle!  Even though Sharon has a son who is a professional train photographer, she doesn't share my love of rusty trestles - including the one that should be in this painting.  So I agreed to try this as a pure landscape.

We'll see.

Whisper: I still think it should have the trestle!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It has been brought to my attention that I have not written since August 1.  Now that is just not what I had hoped todo.  While I know what the problem is, I don't know how to resolve it.  Since starting this writing experiment, I have done so after dinner and usually while watching TV with D.  The difficulty, you see, is that that is also when I do "handwork": knitting, embroidery, rug hooking, working on my photographs, and drawing (only occasionally), and those activities have thoroughly kept me from discussing those same activities here.

Will that change?

Well, probably only a little, but I do hope you will start checking in once a week to see if there is anything worth reading.

The last time I wrote, I had started another Lancaster, PA based painting.  That one is now finished and is completely out of my system.  By which you should rightly assume that it isn't among by best, but it was fun to do.  Here is Wash Day.

Tomorrow I will start another, but I haven't been able to print any of the photographs that I'm interested in.  Wish me luck on coming up with something worth while.

You might also think about wishing me luck in managing to write once a week!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Next Art/Craft?

The completion of the crazy quilt block gave me an opportunity to change my evening activity.  Of course, I had promised myself that I would get back to the rug hooking, but there are other things I also want to do and/or need to do.

So here's a list:

  • Rug hooking - complete Autumn Perch 
  • Crazy Quilting - start Spring block
  • Knitting - Start one of many knitting projects
    • oops, sew the pockets on the shawl before I can claim it finished
  • Wool work on the log cabin table runner
At least that's all that comes to mind right now (there are probably more).

Anyway, I've hit on a scheme that may work.  Or not.  At least it's a plan.

Last night I worked on rug hooking.  At this point I'm working on the night sky around the moon.  Since I'm trying to add the rays of light against the deep sky, it's all an experiment which may or may not be successful.  Only time will tell.

The spring block has still to be cut out and then assembled before the "interesting" stitching can begin.  The base is ready, the materials for each piece chosen, and I'm eager to start.

Tonight I started a knitting project.  It's a relatively easy project which is why I chose it.  First I thought it might do as a travel project, but I decided to drop that since knitting tools aren't always viewed enthusiastically on airplanes.  That may mean that I'll put it aside and pick up a knitting project that was started last year and put aside as problems arose.  The two I"m thinking about won't be too dreadful to fix, but they will take both time and close attention.

Today I cut out two wool leaf shapes that I plan to embroider, but then I thought it might be smarter if I hadn't cut them out.  Embroidering the wool while it's a larger piece would be both easier and the wool would have less of a chance of ravelling.

So there it is.  Alternating among the projects has the advantage of keeping my interest keen, but it also might hinder concentrated, consistent work.  It also may not work if I find interest waning in one or more of the projects.

Time will tell.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Caterpillars and Milkweed

When I think of the milkweed plant's flower, I think of a pink flower.  That's the sort of milkweed we always saw growing in ditches when we were growing up and that we have in the back yard garden.  A couple of years ago I discovered that milkweed can also have a white flower and immediately sought, found two, and planted them in my white flower garden.  Last year we had two monarch caterpillars, but they never got to the chrysalis stage much to our sorrow.

This year the milkweed flourished in both locations, and we have seen solitary monarchs flitting about so today we checked the white ones for caterpillars.  The first thing that caught my eye was this:

In the photo above, you can see the white flower of the milkweed and, if you looker lower down and slightly to the left, you may see a caterpillar.  It's not the monarch caterpillar, but it's quite stunning in its own right. The next photo is a close up of that caterpillar.  It's a Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar.  I think it's stunning!

And just in case you're wondering, D found two monarch caterpillars while I was busy oohing and ahhing over the amazing one I found.  Here are the monarch caterpillars:

There is one on either side of the picture; the one on the left obviously hatched before the one on the right.  I hope that since there aren't two very large caterpillars that may in some way protect them from (mostly insect) predators.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Love Affair with Zinnias

Earlier in this flowering season, I talked about my love of zinnias.  They can be counted on to perform under almost any conditions, give any garden a shout of color, last as cut flowers, and continue to bloom for a long time.  Their form is simple, and they are rugged.  Nor are they too picky about soil conditions or watering.  If one treats them well, they will reward one.

After yesterday's wind and heavy, heavy rain, the very tall zinnias were almost all lying on the ground so I went out and staked them all.  I also cut off almost all the blooms that hadn't already been deadheaded to encourage the plants to recover and put out new buds.  In the pictures you'll see some ragged and/or tired blooms from that storm, but they can still make one smile:

The zinnias above and below are in a very thick, large glass bowl.  Seen from the top in the photo above and seen through the glass below.  The second shot intrigues me as I think it has the appearance of a paperweight.

And this is a pretty standard shot of mostly zinnias (with a red coneflower to keep them company) in a vase.  Such a cheery sight first thing in the morning!

I'll finish with a bit of a palate cleanser.  This is the Casa Blanca lily that is fragrant and beautiful.  Another favorite that is planted in the fall.  I feel quite lucky that the critters allowed this one to live and flourish!

Gardens are good for the soul, don't you agree?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Second Lascaster, PA Painting

Once again I forgot to photograph the first day's work on the new painting, but I did take a photo  today after the second day of work.  It is another in what I hope will be a series (notice "series" with a small "s") from the trip to Lancaster.  And, it's worth noting that this one already has a name.

While on our trip through Amish country, we were fortunate enough to have lunch at the home of an Amish family.  Not only did we have the pleasure of eating foods made using their recipes, visit the barns, talk with members of the family, and purchase various food/household products, we also were able to take some photographs as long as none of the Amish were in them.  That did give me the opportunity to take pictures that I found fascinating - mostly in the barn, but also a few around the house.

We were there on what was a day that laundry was done.  They do use gas power so they have more modern washing machines, but I don't know if they use dryers or if, like many of us, they hand clothes to dry only on good days.  And this is the subject of the painting.

Here is the second day of work on "Washday":

There is quite a bit of work yet to be done, and it may only the first version as I'm not sure I like the dimensions of this paper for this subject.

Also, I had planned to paint the sky first and add the line of laundry afterwards but changed my mind because there are white items on the line as well as the dark.  That is one reason why the sky below the clothes line appears to be a mountain.  That really has to be changed!  Also, the building is larger than I am happy with.  

Some things to work on and maybe somethings that need a new size.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Barbara's Block

Well, the time has finally arrived when I can say that the crazy quilt block dedicated to my sister Barbara is finished.  Now all I have to do is write about it in my Crazy Quilt Journal as I have with the other blocks.


You may have noticed that there are numerous "references" to flight, and if you noticed the uniform Barbara is wearing, you'll understand the reason why.  There are also references to sewing which won't surprise anyone since the entire crazy quilt is about women and stitchery of one kind or another.  The VW bus has its headlights, the little smocked dress is on its hangar, all seams have been covered, embellishments are stitched, and the caduceus is in place (in her time, one had to be a nurse to become a stewardess).  

There are many other details which all gave me great delight to design and execute, but I am looking forward to starting the next block which will be one of the four seasons to be used as the cornerstones for the quilt.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Day for Bonsai

D asked me if I wanted to go to the Bonsai Club meeting today; it was a workshop with a visiting expert.  I really like the members so even if I wound up painting as I did the last time when it was primarily a meeting about the upcoming show, I said yes.

The workshop leader was a Korean woman who spoke very good English and was a terrific teacher.  Her specialty is accent plants.  At a bonsai show, people show their trees and often have very small accent plants that make a more complete display.  Young Choe gave us a lot of information about how to select the correct plant to go with tree.  It included things like they should represent the same season or they should complement each other physically (like leaning towards each other), or their colors should be harmonious, or that they grew in similar locales.  

I had never heard or thought about any of that!   Oh well, here is our teacher with her accent plant, a moss ball.

Then we all were to choose plants (as with many other arts odd numbers are preferable) that would harmonize with each other.  We didn't have bonsai trees with us so we didn't have to worry about that yet, but some members clearly had one in mind.  

I chose plants by height (small, medium, tall), color (red, light green, dark green), and leaf type (spear, round, jagged).  We were also warned to make sure that all plants were compatible as far as growing conditions.  I wound up with seven plants which I knew were too many for a tiny pot but thought I'd be able to eliminate some as I planted.

While I was doing all that, D was doing the same thing.  The big difference was he had purchased a super pot.  I didn't have one, but I was planning on making a "moss ball" in which I could plant my lovelies.  However, D had a better idea; he suggested we pool our plants and work on one grouping for his pot.  

We had a wonderful trying different arrangements using some of the plants we had both selected and came up with what I think is a really lovely result.  Other members also had lovelies to show.  

Here they are:  The first one is Dorothy's - it's a little difficult to see because of the plants in the background, but it is a lovely weed.

The next one is a beautiful, large collection of plants that live in wet areas.  Done by very good friends of ours I hope this will be in the upcoming bonsai show.

And here is ours. I waited to take the photograph until we got home where I could choose a neutral background.  This one is small as the pot is only about 3" in diameter.  Even so, it's hard to really pick out the different plants.  The background grasses are spiky, one low plant (ginger on the left) has a glossy, round leaf, and the other plant in the front has a more lobed leaf.  All soil has been covered with moss.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lancaster PA Painting Finished

Well, I can't decide on the name of this one, but the painting is finished.  Sharon had a few suggestions, and I had a few areas on which I wanted to work.  By the end of class, we agreed that it was done.

This is what I had posted yesterday.  The painting appears darker in this photo than it does in the final version, but that was merely the vagaries of my editing.

This is the finished version.

Now, if I could only figure out the title!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Lancaster PA- Painting

Much to my dismay, it appears that I have taken only one photo of my current painting although I have spent three days on it. I thought this subject would soothe my amour propre (a fancy way of saying "pride") after my disappointment with Splash!  If you remember, that was not a success, and my confidence took a hit.  So I really wanted to work on something that had a chance of turning out well.

Success does help!

Today was my third day of work on this one and that's because one - two hours is my limit for three reasons.  One, I try to work all over the surface and lay down an undercolor of pale color for the entire subject.  Second, once that is done, the surface is damp to down right wet and has to dry.  Third, it provides me with the time to look the work with a critical lens and really think about what comes next or what should be changed.

And writing this blog is also helpful.  I've always found that for me writing requires concentrated thought which results in an exploration of how I really think or feel.

It also helps to see my painting in this way and see things that aren't as I thought they were.  For examples, wow, that barn is RED!   The tree on the left?  Boring!  

And, and, and . . . .

Monday, July 16, 2018

Garden in Fog

Heat, garden, crazy quilt, laundry - you name it, it has come between me and writing entries.

Weariness after the above activities - is responsibly for my negligence.

Okay, maybe I should just have said, "You name it, and I've used it as an excuse not to write"

Actually, all would be correct.  I have been working in the garden, there are several other activities that keep me busy, and by the end of the day, I have been tired. 

I have started a new painting - a scene of Lancaster from a photograph I took from the bus on the quilt trip to Intercourse, PA.   Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photograph of it after the first day of painting, but I will take one tomorrow and write about it at that time.

Today in late afternoon, we had a sudden downpour (which meant I didn't have to water D's bonsai!).  Shortly after it stopped, I went out the front door to see if the plants semi-sheltered by the porch roof had gotten any benefit from the rain (they didn't).  While out on the porch, I happened to glance up and saw fog rapidly rolling down the street.  It was really beautiful!  

Of course, I quickly went inside to get my camera but found that the fog could move faster than I did.  Still, I went around to check out the garden and found some possibilities for a painting.  Maybe someday . . .

I'm not sure which one is my favorite because each one has its own charm.  They each also have their own challenge for a painter.  I'll have to wait and see if I take the challenge!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Moon is Finished!

Yesterday's blog didn't get written because I waited too long and was too sleepy.  That disappointed me because I actually had something to show.  

It's taken a while but the moon on the rug I'm hooking is finally finished.  I say "finally" in that it took me quite a long time since I kept taking parts of it out.  The decision to make it a golden harvest moon didn't change, but I didn't want to make it flat - meaning all one color - because everything else has more detail.  I toyed with the idea of making a man in the moon face, but didn't want to turn the rug into a cartoon.  I actually tried hooking an "oh-so-subtle" face using the craters to plot the 'face".  It really didn't work so all that was taken out. 

Finally I decided simply to hook the moon by randomly using different wools in the right yellow range.  Here's where fate took a hand. about three quarters of the way through, I noticed that in the top right side of the moon there appeared to be an eye. With a few slight changes, it became a subtle eye. That meant I could remove the completed area on the left and replace it with the same shape and colors as on the right.  Of course, that meant that the area around the "eye" would have to undergo some color changes so the eye would be more easily noticed even though "subtle".

After completing that I thought I could finish it quickly, but then I started thinking again.  This time, I thought, if the moon has eyes, shouldn't it have a smile? or a smiling mouth?  But the crow was in that space . . .  I mused.  A mouth could stretch to either side of the crow especially if it had a wide smile . . .


Can you see the eyes and the mouth?

Now I  have to put the rug hooking aside and finish my sister's crazy quilt block - that was the deal I made with myself.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Another Quilt on the Finished Pile - Almost

When tidying my studio last fall - winter, I came across an almost finished quilt with hand-pieced blocks.  In keeping with my determination to finish projects, early this summer I decided to look for the fabrics I knew I had somewhere and make the quilt one of the finished.  

Fabrics were found, borders cut and sewn on, binding made, and a quilting appointment kept.  Saturday, I picked up the quilted piece and brought it home.  Sunday the sleeve was made, the binding was machine sewn on one side, and Monday attached on the other.  Now all that is left to do is hand sew the bottom edge of the sleeve to the back which I'll work on this evening.

Here is a photo:

You may notice that the colors chose for this one is a departure from my usual choices.  Instead of bright, dynamic colors, this quilt features tonal pinks, greens, and browns - in some instances so pale that the quilt didn't photograph well.

Clearly the one thing I did not pay attention to was checking that it was squared up before giving it to the quilter!  Ah well, I'll have to make a note to myself to take care of that step in the future.

At least it's - almost - finished!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

More Garden Shots - Daylilies

It is in July that daylilies come into their own.  We are fortunate enough to have a 20 - 25 foot border of these lovely though fleeting flowers where we can enjoy them from our kitchen window.  

Then there are those in our main garden in our back yard.  These bloom a little later because every year the beech tree (also in the back yard) gets taller and shades part of this garden more and more every year.  But they are really coming along now.

This one has been a glory and a boon to my spirit for several years now and has an interesting history.  First, it was a gift from SiL A (actually both of the daylilies I am posting today are from her), and second, its name is Mary Todd.  That, which might have figured in the posts from previous years, is one daylily whose name I remember because Mary Todd Lincoln was an ancestress of my husband's (and, therefore, SiL A and SiL N).  It is a spectacular flower.

The second one, in deeper shade farther away from Mary Todd, is the first to flower of  those in that part of the garden.  I've been expecting those to bloom for over a week now - especially because of the brutally hot spell we just had - but they've kept us waiting.  This one has a softer color but a very beautiful form.

Before I took these photos, I cut many of our daylilies for bouquets in the house - enough for two tall vases.  While each flower lasts only one day, I cut stems that have several buds not yet open.  That way we continue to have new bud opening every day.  A veritable largesse of beauty!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

New Painting - Finished?

Today a painting that has frustrated me for at least two months is - as far as I am concerned - finished.  I think this is the 7th version of this subject I've attempted, and that should alert you to the fact that I found it a difficult one.  I also realize that when I take it in to my class, my teacher will have suggestions.  Before I tell you what I think she will say, here is "Splash!"

I know that my teacher will have something nice to say (maybe, "You finished it!" - that's a "tongue in chee" bit) before she tells me that it's overworked and then asks if I want to try it again.  She is very kind no matter what bad news she has to impart.  

Tomorrow I will go through my photos to a new subject.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


D won all kind of kudos for seeing the new wall hanging immediately when he walked into our bedroom. 

Then he garnered even more accolades when he stepped closer and saw the heart block (in the center) with the date of our wedding and our initials. 

He noticed the phrases on the fabric also. 

He was very pleased and even more so when I told him I had designed it to hang over our bed and not where it currently is (squooshed between a doorway and my dresser with mirror).  So I won kudos for not hanging there in the first place as I had promised not to hang items that require climbing on furniture or ladders (I have a reputation for falling off such things).

Definitely it made my week of frenzied work on the wall hanging more than merely "worthwhile".  It was a "labor of love" appreciated. What more can anyone ask for?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Garden Notes

Sometimes I feel that I really should bang my head against a wall because so often I overlook the obvious.  Last week I planned to sit down and write my "monthly" (meaning it isn't always done on a monthly basis) letter to my brothers.  As I do rather regularly, I dithered.

What should I write about?  I paint, I sew, I hook, I read, and at this time of year I play in the dirt.  What would my brothers find of interest in any of those activities?  Painting? No, to the best of my knowledge neither of them paint, draw, or sculpt. Sew?  No way!  I do hope they can sew on buttons if needed, but are they enthusiastic about sewing for any reason?  Again, no.  Rug hooking?  Equally ludicrous - not for males, but for the male members of my family.  Read?  Aha!  Now there's a real topic for letters that would engage both brothers.  Not the romantic suspense I enjoy; possibly not even the mysteries that are also a large part of my reading.  Non-fiction?  Quite possibly, but it isn't  the type of book I reach for often.  However, I know one brother enjoys historical fiction and both the science fiction and fantasy genres.  So there was my topic for him, at least.

Of course, once I had settled on that, you would think I would immediately take pen in hand and start writing immediately.  You would be wrong.  Since I had discovered a topic for one brother and had even come up with another topic for the other brother, I should have been able to get right to it.  Why not? you ask.  

What could I use for stationery?  I'm one of those who doesn't tear off a sheet of lined paper or grab a piece of computer paper for letters.  Stationery is important.  It sets the mood.  It lets the recipient know that this is a deliberate letter that took forethought (too much, in my case, of course) and that the recipient has been part of the particular paper, has been in the forefront of my mind.  

That's actually true, but honestly, a lot of the dithering was the result of procrastination, pure and simple.

Not finding anything I felt was worthy of this month's letter for either brother, I was about to pull out some paper that "would do".  Until . . . I thought of my garden photos.  Ta-dah!  Both brothers are or have been gardeners in their time, and both they and their wives might enjoy those photos.  

We now have a small collection of notepaper with pretty and cheerful garden photos.

Oh, yes, I did write the letters!