Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

to all of you
may your holidays be filled with joy
lots of good food and good company!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas Eve!

Twas the night before Christmas.........
I created a little 12" fabric block using a Log Cabin quilt variation made of ribbons and laces.
The photo in the center is of me many many years ago.
I printed it on fabric and just went crazy .
I have actually made 3 more of this style of ribbon block and will be showing them throughout the next year.
Hope your holidays are filled with love and joy!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Seven swans a swimming

 On top of our television cabinet is a white and silver winter wonderland: white reindeer; white, crystal,  and silver swans; a silver tree decorated with silver and white nut ornaments; white and blue candles; and white button trees (made from my button collection)

 and of course, you must have a snowman.......in Florida, he is made of shells
Hope your Solstice is filled with joy!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday ephemera - paper memories

Here's a wreath that I made from Gecko Galz ephemera and leaves cut from patterned paper along with a few cut up doilies.  It's an easy project that could be done from several different paper lines - Jenni Bowlin, Graffic 45, etc. -  or even from holiday ephemera printed from online sources.  I used a metal wreath frame and attached the bottom level of the paper items to the wreath frame and then just kept layering the papers on top and attaching them with raised glue dots so the wreath has dimensionality.
I inherited a box of vintage postcards from my grandmother, and included in the cards were many beautiful and fascinating holiday cards.  Perhaps I have mentioned that I have created a seasonal board that hangs in my kitchen with a calendar and then decorations for the time of year. Of course, it is now decorated with Christmas items, and this year I decided to use a few of the holiday cards.

I guess you can tell I love the colors of each season and I change the decorations in my house to move with the flow of the year and the light.  Do you make changes in your house - it doesn't have to be much - even just a board like mine - or changing a vase or the quilt on the bed.  Somehow each season it is like I rediscover and re-enjoy my treasures - my little things.  I will leave you with one of my favorite quotations:

"There are no little things. Little things are the hinges of the universe."
                               -Fanny Fern

Enjoy your day,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thoughts and prayers

An ornament made from old book pages, some bits of lace and ribbon, and a jewelry charm piece that someone gave me.  I saw one similar on a blog (possibly Prima) but I made my own from bits about the studio.

And a few holiday cards that I have been painting.

In the aftermath of last Friday's tragedy, I have been crying, questioning, praying, and thinking.  I am currently re-reading Night Visions, searching the shadows of Advent and Christmas by Jan L. Richardson and I also recently read Matched and Crossed by Ally Condie.  In Condie's books, her characters have come across a poem that was made illegal by their government - Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night" and they repeat the line about "the dying of the light". In Night Visions, Richardson writes:

There is no dying of the light--
just the washing of a bowl,
and overturning it for night.

She goes on:

In the turning of the bowl
is the turning of the world,
and in every moment
the day is turning into darkness.
Make us bold
in the darkness
to protect each other's slumber,
and make us courageous
in the night
to guard each other's dreams.

May your days be filled with joy and may we all be courageous in the night to protect our children and guard their dreams.
Thanks for reading,

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday magic

Don't you just love the holidays when you can go crazy and decorate to your heart's delight - lots of fairies are hanging around our house right now.......

Hope your days are filled with magic!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reindeer games

Perhaps I have mentioned my little herd.........................................

 Here is the newest member of the herd - a bristle brush from Pottery Barn
 This is Rennie, a Stief reindeer complete with yellow ticket and tag - did you notice the fun S'mores reindeer??
And this is maybe half of the herd - you will see a few more in the coming days as we move toward the holidays.
I am currently reading on a daily basis the most wonderful book - Night Visions, searching the shadows of advent and christmas by Jan L. Richardson.  I reread this book every year during this season (past three years) and I see new visions every year.  I remember lighting the Advent candles when I was a little girl and how the mystery and anticipation would grow each week - as Ned Stark would say, "winter is coming."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Not quite 50 shades of grey

When I saw this challenge on Facebook http://paperissues.blogspot.com/2012/12/50-shades-of-basic-grey.html I decided that I just had to do it - I did read the first book in the series (from the library) but honestly I thought it was badly written and more importantly, why would anyone - man or woman - want to submit to punishment for enjoyment??? I think it says quite a bit about our society that many people think this is erotic.  I cannot imagine anyone who has ever had to live through physical or mental cruelty as a child or an adult wanting more of it - I know I don't!  End of story.
BUT I love the title - and those of us who paint have made many jokes about trying to achieve 50 shades of grey.... the above layout is done on Basic Grey papers with lots of this and that.  The photo is of my husband and his twin.
In the same spirit, that is, 50 shades of Basic Grey, here is a layout I did a while back on Basic Grey paper but I made the origami  hydrangeas from fabric scraps
Hope your day is filled with joy and sunshine!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

right now................

....I am enjoying a beautiful sunny morning and being thankful for this lovely day so filled with promise

....I am so happy that I finally finished the Margaret Dashwood shawl from the summer edition of Jane Austen Knits - all the info is on my Ravelry project page

....I am well stocked with boxes of Tazo Joy tea from Starbucks (I love this tea and since you can only buy it during the holidays, I took advantage of the BOGO earlier this week!)

....I am enjoying this color palette from http://blog.scrapfriends.com.au/2012/11/yummyscrap-colour-palette-challenge-7.html  - see layout above and check out their challenge - the sketch also made me think of an old layout I did back in the These Are a Few of My Favorite Things challenge blog (so miss it) and Sweet Julie T-W, our boss - ah memories!!!!
....I am enjoying my watercolor portrait class and really trying to push myself - hopefully I will have something good to show you

....I am looking forward to dinner tonight - turkey leek pie made with Thanksgiving leftover turkey, fresh leeks, and puff pastry top - so yummy - I use Jamie Oliver's recipe

....I just read Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal and The Raven Boys by Maddie Stiefvater - very very different books but both very enjoyable reads

....I am looking at our budget and expenditures for this year - only 3 weeks left!  Would you believe that all I have spent on scrapbooking supplies is $6 - the postage to receive the items that I won from Jenni Bowlin this summer, and that all I spent on fabric was $30.  I made 3 quilts from scratch this year and finished 2 others that were started in earlier years. It feels so good to use up stash!!!

....I just received a fedex email that I have some wine being shipped to me - I won 2 bottles of wine from the Hayfork winery through Amanda Soule's Soulemama blog last spring.  The winery contacted me to let me know that they wouldn't ship to Florida until cooler weather so.....I am very excited about this very special wine!

....I am so loving my Kindle Fire HD 8.9.  It was a combined birthday/Christmas present but I received it just before Thanksgiving - how did I ever live without it???

Hope your day is super and filled with joy and fun!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A walk around the neighborhood

Probably from the title of this post, you expected to see some scenes of my neighborhood in south coastal Florida - palm trees and holiday lights - especially the "icicles"!! But the above painting was inspired by a huge live oak tree in our next door neighbor's front yard. A previous neighbor who lived in that house was an artist who created art from wood pieces and found things.  One day he came over and took me to show me the tree in the front yard. He had placed a skull in a big oval hole in the tree - I doubt you can identify the skull type as it is an alligator skull turned upside down.  That was several years ago and now the skull is a permanent part of the tree. So................................................
Thanks for looking,

Monday, December 3, 2012

Joy and pain in the studio

I have been selling some books on half.com so I decided that I could spurge with a new art book - Jean Haine's Atmospheric Watercolours - I am so amazed by her paintings - I wish - I wish...........
I was unfamiliar with her (she is a watercolourist from the UK) until a copy of her other book How to Paint Colour & Light in Watercolour came into the used book store where I work. I bought it and was enthralled with her loose style of painting.  It's had to believe how hard it is to get loose - you want to define and add details when you should just let it alone - let the viewer finish the scene.  I came across this inspirational quote in her book: "The more paintings that go into your bin, the more you are learning, so fill it up......An empty bin means you are not practicing enough to be a great artist...."  Well, my trash bin is always full! LOL!   I was inspired to paint the above masquerader from one in Haine's book - but I am happy to say that mine is very very different from hers.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dare to........................................

Dare to..............
Pare things down to essentials
Tear it up
Wear it out
Stare someone down
Prepare for the unexpected
Bare your soul
It's just one little word

A bit of this and that........

Whenever I am a busy girl, I just don't seem to find the time to blog so here's a little recap:

I am taking a watercolor portrait painting class at the museum - we started with value studies, and here is mine of this photo of Herbert Hoover(assigned).  The drawing took quite a bit of time but the painting was done in one shot - about 1 1/2 hours.  I could do more to make the darks more intense but at this point I am busy working on a drawing for the next painting of my choice - this time in color.
My kitchen is on the east side of my house so it gets dark there quite early this time of year. For some time I have had a lamp on the counter near the sink - I love the warm light that it gives, so much friendlier than the overhead spots.  I had a wood and metal lamp there for several years but it blew over a couple of weeks ago when I had the window open - the socket got too loose to use so I put a new lamp on my thrifting list - and amazingly the very next time out I found this porcelain lamp - it was only $12 and they also had 35% off everything in the store so it ended up only costing me $8, including the shade! Yay!  I love how it goes so well with the cream pitcher that I got from my mother - just perfect!
That same day I found this incredible book Cloth and Culture, Couture Creations by Ruth Funk - for only $1.50!!! It is filled with the most fantastic and creative garments - what inspiration!!
And finally one of the lilies from the arrangement on my Thanksgiving table - I put together lilies, a few roses, some mums, and eucalyptus in a beautiful old vase that I inherited from my mother. I surrounded the vase with orange tulle to match the lilies and then arranged gourds around the bottom.  I so love doing the table up for the holidays - and now it's time to decorate my house for Christmas and the Solstice - I bought a new reindeer for the collection at Pottery Barn, and I am really looking forward to getting the herd out as well as the swans and the village.  I plan to decorate a small tree with birds like last year - I am just like a little kid at holiday time!
Have a super weekend!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

May your Thanksgiving be filled with good food and good company

"This morning I ask only
the blessing of the crayfish,
the beatitude of the birds;
to wear the skin of the bear
in my songs;
to work like a man with my hands."
- Joseph Bruchac
and in my own words:
This morning I ask only
the blessing of the food before us,
the company of those I love,
to wear the pigments of the earth and the sky
in my paintings ;
to work like an artist with my hands.

May your day be blessed with abundance!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Frida Kahlo has always been one of my idols: she was an innovative artist and an icon of style.  Some years ago I saved a photo from Vogue or one of the fashion magazines showing a model holding a Frida mask - the above is my interpretation of that photo.
I was recently thrifting and came across this book for a dollar - what a treasure! 120 pages of photographs and commentary about Frida - she is not only an artist but also an actress and political activist; she is seductive, innocent, mysterious, and above all, iconic.  I find it fascinating to compare these photos taken of her throughout her life with her own image of herself as seen through her self-portraits.

I have drawn myself a bit, especially parts of me like hands and feet - where can I get a better live model? I have never painted myself but perhaps that is the next step - who am I?

Have you created a self-portrait of yourself? I would say that anyone who keeps an art journal is creating a visual self-portrait of their thoughts and daily life, their dreams, their disappointments, their creative journeys. It seems that journey is a short one but perhaps it is the longest journey we can ever take - as T.S. Eliot wrote in Little Gidding:

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

Happy exploring!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

C'est la Vie - right now

C'est la Vie Restaurant in Sarasota, FL
a new watercolor

RIGHT NOW........
I am working on landscapes and portraits - trying to get away from flowers

I went to the Art Museum and enjoyed the Norman Rockwell and Pop Art Revisited shows - the Museum sponsored a charity soup day and you could get in by bringing a can of soup. (I had to forgo joining the Museum this year and also next year - money is tight and since I am saving to go to Italy next year for two weeks, I have had to be brutal and cut almost all of my discretionary spending.)

I received a beautiful handmade soup bowl for my birthday from one of my best friends - as part of the charity soup day, many local potters have been making soup bowls, and then they are sold for $10 as part of the event. My bowl is so perfectly wabi-sabi - ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh - I bought 2 pears at the store and put them in the bowl - a still life
I know you will be seeing it soon in a photo

I just finished Veronica Roth's book Divergent and can hardly wait until I can get Insurgent from the library. I really enjoyed that book! What are you reading?

I am almost finished with my Margaret Dashwood shawl from the Summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits. I am a very slow knitter but I need to get this done: (1) so I can wear it and (2) so I can knit a few presents for Christmas - little cell phone bags and fingerless mittens - fast and very colorful!

I am buying the ingredients for my mother's English Christmas Cake recipe so I can get it made and let it soak in brandy for 4-6 weeks - so so good!

I am enjoying every day as it comes - the weather here is absolutely stunning and I eat lunch on the lanai almost every day - so glorious! 

Hope you are having a beautiful day!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November Sketchbook Challenge

the November theme over at The Sketchbook Challenge is the Spice of Life - and this time of year (well really all times of the year) my life gets spiced up with food - pumpkins, squashes of all varieties, and then add a few olives for their piquant flavors.
we have a brand new French bakery in town, Patisserie - check it out - yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm - and I hope you noticed my little "I voted" sticker on the cup of coffee. DID YOU VOTE?
we had a wonderful Halloween but very few trick or treaters - not sure why.  We were so very fortunate to be spared any real effects of Sandy but I am so moved by the suffering in the New Jersey/New York area. Having been through this before, I totally sympathize and empathize with them - and they have the added problems of the cold.  Sending thoughts and prayers and donations.............................

Hope you have a great day!