Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Finding a Piece of Peace

I have a senior in high school and suddenly May was upon us. It seemed like we were making one trip after another to the school for recognition, awards, capstone presentation, art show and every one of those moments were precious. I was so glad to be there to celebrate her and her accomplishments.


Then, there are those things we put on ourselves. Like redoing flower beds because you did it wrong the first time. Then creating a new walkway and a new flowerbed, planting grass here and tearing it up over there.



There are decorations to buy, food to plan, things to borrow, rooms to clean, a garage to empty and life didn’t change its plans, you just added more to it. Ironically, your senior doesn’t care. Oh, she will appreciate everything you’ve done and will be doing for her but she would do that whether you planted grass or not. The people at the open house are coming to see her and you, not your grass or your flowers.

So, I’m not stressing…much. I’ve slowed down my writing (poetry), my art is at a crawl but I gave up some sleep last week to get up before sunrise to spend some quality time with Petrichor, my Pentax camera. Yes, I named my camera. Just me and nature and not another human soul in sight. It was peaceful and rejuvenating.





So, while I still have pictures to go through, a party to plan, a sweet sixteenth birthday and a graduation to attend, I just remind myself that I’m surrounded by beauty and life is good. 



Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Leap Year


I can’t believe this will be my first post for 2016. Time has been flying by with all the usual things that families encounter during the school year. J


 

So I learned more about Chinese astrology this year. I heard this was the year of the Monkey but if you look a little closer, this is the year of the Fire Monkey. Turns out, each year of the Chinese Zodiac is associated with an animal and one of the five elements. So if you have a baby born this year, he or she, may just turn into an irritable adventurer. J
 




I was also born in the year of the Monkey, an Earth Monkey. Apparently a person born in the year of the Earth Monkey is frank, optimistic and fearless. Yes, well, I do prefer plain speaking, which I’ve sometimes had to curb to avoid getting into trouble. I live in a state where saying what you mean is almost an art form -  and by that I mean, you say everything in a round-about fashion, without ever directly saying what you mean. Do you follow? I don’t like wasting time and for me taking five minutes to say something indirectly would be wasting my time. Of course, I’ve learned the hard way, that the art of indirect speaking has its place. I use it as seldom as possible but sometimes it does need to be deployed.

Yes, I’ve always been optimistic and while I was definitely fearless when I was younger, I would have to say I’m more cautious as I mature.   

So have you heard the saying, “Earth without ‘art’ would just be ‘eh’?” Well, in my Earth Monkey heart I’m bursting with art and this has become the year of art for me.

I’m expanding my horizons, learning new techniques, and honing old skills. I took a colored pencil class  (new to me) at Craftsy.com, a watercolor class also at Craftsy.com and a mixed media class from Brandi Dayton. I’m loving every minute of it. Here are a few of the things I’ve done.

Here is a Maine Coon Cat in colored pencil. This was an online class and great fun. I particularly loved doing the eyes.

I still have a boxer dog to do for this class but the beauty of online classes is you do them when you can and the videos are always there.
 

Next I did a water color class which is something I haven’t touch for over twenty years. I’m also doing a 12 week course of mixed media – acrylic, watercolor, colored pencil and ink. Here is the birch trees I did for my purely watercolor class.

I love birch trees and it was great fun to learn how to do them well. 

With my mixed media class, I usually do the assignment, perhaps tweaking it to my preferred colors or something to make it uniquely mine. Then I often take it a step further and create my own. Here are a few of my favorites from the four lessons we’ve completed.

I loved doing this dove. I think adding the old music behind it was so inspiring. There is a verse right behind the dove, “charm from the skies”, which I thought was so appropriate.





The most recent lesson was doing this art nouveau butterfly. I loved the technique but wasn’t in love with my butterfly.








So I had to do it again and make it my own. Instead of softening the edges as we did in the lesson, I made this one more stained glass like in appearance. I choose a peacock for their vibrancy in color and well, to be honest, the peacock was calling to be to be painted. Like an author often feels the pull to write a character or a story, so do artists get called to paint or create specific items.

So as we have entered the Chinese New Year and we celebrate a leap year with an extra day this February, my wish for you is a peaceful year filled with beauty and all those things which make you happy.


Happy creating!



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Just Before Christmas

The house is clean and ready to be invaded with holiday cheer. My neighbor brought me a Christmas gift a few days ago which included this beautiful lighted wine bottle. I just love the label.



The pumpkin bread is in the oven. I used the last of my pie pumpkins from my local CSA.


A few more goodies to make and we are ready, well and then we need to clean the kitchen. ;)




Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Just Before Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving is quickly becoming my favorite holiday but probably not for the reasons you think.

First, from my walk around my neighborhood on Sunday. Ah, nature.

 
So today, Tuesday, I’m starting to prepare for the large Thanksgiving meal. My responsibility for Thursday’s feast are the pies (pumpkin and pecan), cranberry relish, and the bread. Today is pie day.

I have this lovely pie pumpkin from our local farmers.

I cut the pumpkin in half and scooped out the seeds for later (some to bake and some to save). While the pumpkin was baking, I was supposed to be making pie crust. Oops! Instead I was spending my time with a few pirates, a lagoon, strange ideas and apologies. I was catching up on my poetry. I am participating in the November Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge over at Writer’s Digest.


Then I baked the pumpkin and when it was done, I scooped out all the beautiful orange meat and put it in my blender to puree. (Yes, I got my pie crust made. After a quick trip to the store when I realized we were almost out of eggs and corn syrup!)

Well, I think I could have made three pumpkin pies from my one pumpkin, but I opted for two pies and four tarts (or mini pies) for tonight’s meal.



Pumpkin pie!


Thanksgiving is becoming my favorite holiday because it’s a long, five day weekend with my family. There are no massive amounts of decorations, no presents to save for, buy, wrap, and open. It’s just us and other than the day itself, there is no set agenda. Yes, we plan on watching a movie or two, playing a game or two and there will be some work to get done but there is no pressure.

We don’t participate in Black Friday sales, just our preference. I try very hard to have most of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. I just do not enjoy crowds, it becomes too overwhelming and just not fun for me. Plus, and this is a big plus, it takes a lot of the stress and pressure off the holiday season.

However, back to Thanksgiving. The pecan pie is up next, along with tonight’s dinner plans. It’s Friday for us today! Enjoy your weekend!



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Veronica Roth's drawing challenge: Calm

Veronica Roth issued a new drawing challenge last Monday, the topic: calm. She stated the word ‘calm’ felt appropriate for this current time we are living in, where all we seem to hear about is the fear generated from the violence – all around the world. No one is left untouched.  

Tuesday was a very rainy day here at home. So I decided to dip into the paints a bit and see what I could come up with for calm.

I painted a snow covered tree…


 

the wide ocean with a lone sailboat…

 


and finally rocks or more accurately a cairn.



They have a theme, which really shouldn’t have surprised me. Even though each one has a different subject, different color palette – they are about nature. I love nature. Nature is my favorite subject to photograph, my favorite place in the world to be, and my favorite thing to paint. Although Tuesday was a bit of a departure because I painted scenes rather than one subject. (If you click on the “brush” link at the top of the page, you’ll see I like to paint mainly animals.)

So yes, nature centers me. It calms me. It gives me joy.

So when I looked at these three different paintings, I asked myself, “which one speaks to me today, right now?” The answer was the cairn. I added a cherry blossom branch for an added feeling of ‘zen’ but I think it really spoke to me because it reminded me of a picture I took a few years ago of a cairn my daughter built, on Thanksgiving, on the edge of a frozen lake. It was beautiful in its simplicity. A beautiful marker which slowly fell below the water in the spring but for that day, it marked our presence, our joy.


Peace and calm to you and yours.