Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hand dyed fabric

I decided to try dyeing some fabric.  Frankly I never understood why people bother when there are so many beautiful fabrics to choose from without expending time and energy and making a mess.  I really learned a lesson.  It wasn't much trouble at all, I actually found it very relaxing playing with the dyes, and WOW, it was so much fun!  I started with two shades of blue bottled dyes and dyed two pieces of fabric from each color.  I love the results, and now I'm looking forward to making some natural dyes.  There are some poke berries starting to ripen nearby and I know they will make a lovely deep purple.  I am also looking forward to making some hand sewn projects with my fabrics.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

After Irene

Thankfully Hurricane Irene turned out to be a lot of hype and not much hurricane.  There was some flooding in the area but nothing very dramatic. 

This was formerly a restaurant terrace, now it's a lake.

A local park met the same fate, now also a lake.  We are grateful that we were spared with minimal damage; and our hearts go out to people up and down the east coast who did not fare so well and lost loved ones.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good Night Irene

Delaware is prepping for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.  The beaches have been evacuated and here in Dover we are taking precautions as well.  We are several miles from Delaware Bay, but from the forecast models it looks like we will still be in the most intense band of the storm; we are a tiny state.  I'm not sure what the good folks at Verizon expect to accomplish with those sandbags, but at least it looks like their windows will be safe.

Home Depot is ready to serve should we have a hankerin' to purchase plywood at three in the morning.

Staples is gearing up but Safeway doesn't seem quite ready to commit to plywood.  Or maybe its just because they have every available person on register...

because every business that sells water or food looks like this.  This is the bottled water aisle in Target.  As a seasoned former resident of coastal North Carolina, I can smugly report I already had purchased my supplies, I was just scouting for blog photos.

And my final photo, the outside of Target.  I'm not sure if they were suddenly selling plywood, or just waiting for close of business to board up.  Well, we shall see how smug I am tomorrow if Irene clips off part of our roof.  Or maybe in a few days if we lose power.  As of now, 10:20pm Saturday, it's not much of a much.  Maybe if it picks up I can add a video clip of me outside with my windbreaker flapping, because hey, we never tire of those hyped scenes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Hike

I have taken up Carolina's challenge to change my daily habits and began with a wondeful 2.6 mile hike around Killan's Pond.

I visited with the locals,

and enjoyed the lovely scenery

I also brought along a rock I had crocheted a cozie for the night before, and I was obsessed with the idea of photographing my rock on a nice bed of moss.  I will spare you the billions of photos I took and just show you a few favorites,

Here are some cool tree roots I saw

Yes, I actually took a few pictures without my rock.  In fact, I ended up leaving my darn rock somewhere and I had to backtrack to find it.  I thought about leaving it for someone else to find but I couldn't do it.  Maybe I will make more to leave as gifts but I just couldn't part with my first one.

I finished my time at the park painting on the terrace of the nature center.  I'm making color mix charts of all my watercolors.

I probably didn't make much progress in the exersize department but it was so much fun I can't wait to go again.  And hey, next time I won't have to stop to take 7000 photos of my rock.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Sweet Ride

I used to put on my rollerblades and Jim would pull me around behind his bike, but now I have this sweet ride (please tell me I don't have to explain the Napoleon Dynamite references).  Yessiree, I love to feel the wind in my hair and the bugs in my teeth.  She's not a Vespa, but she is retro and beautiful. Come on, I know you want one.  I had a guy (on foot) chase me down the street once, kinda scary but I stopped, and he just said "ya gotta tell me where you got that!"

I love it when Harley riders give me the motorcycle brotherhood handwave.  Mostly they just chuckle.  But hey, she gets a hundred miles to the gallon!  Now if I can just figure out how to get my chicken to ride in a milk crate on the back.  Can't you see Rosie with a scarf blowing back, maybe little goggles? 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Violets on my windowsill

I think I received my love of violets from my grandma.  She had glass shelves in one of her windows and they were always loaded with violets, she even named one of her daughters Violet.  I love that you can always count on them for a splash of color during long, dreary winters.  I have pretty much given up on house plants,  I am so busy the poor things tend to die from neglect.  But I can count on my violets; put them in a self watering pot and they happily produce flower after flower and even I can manage to water them every month or so.  Here is a quick ink sketch of one of my favorites.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hello Again

The kids gave me a little potted plant for my birthday one year and now it is a big ol' bush in the backyard.  I took a leap a drew it in black pigma pen (gulp! no erasing), but I'm happy with the result.  I started to paint the label in pink but I didn't like it so after a couple of letters I switched to purple, then as I was painting along I thought wow, maybe I'm being very clever because hydrangea blossoms will change color depending on how you amend the soil.

So I've been missing for most of the month.  I found out I have sleep apnea, and I wake up 44 times PER HOUR every night.  That's 44 episodes of non-breathing for ten seconds or more PER HOUR.  I must be brain damaged, it explains a lot!!  I finally had a medical explanation for my exhaustion (I guess 2 jobs, 3 kids and a husband wasn't enough), and I decided to rest a little, only do the essential (which is still a lot!).  I  have had my c-pap machine for 4 nights now.  It's not the miracle cure I had hoped for but I am told to give it time.  Normally I am aware of waking up 8 to 16 times per night, and now I am down to 4 times, so the  44 times per hour must be down as well.  I did feel pretty good today. 

As it is now 9:11pm here, I wish you all a wonderful night of sleep!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Springtime Morel

It's been kind of crazy here lately, lots of end of the school year activties (x3!).  Not to mention the construction of a chicken coop.  We have built (okay, by "we" I mean my husband of course) a nice run and perch addition onto our garden shed, and will continue with a winter proof coop in the fall.  Rosie continues to lay an egg almost every day. 

Emily received a second place trophy today for her entry into the school science project contest, which happened to be an egg drop ( don't worry I'm covering Rosie's ears).  Students were to use their knowledge of acceleration, friction, aerodynamics etc. to come up with a way for an egg to survive a 30 foot drop in the lightest possible "container".  Emily came up with a mylar balloon/ bubble wrap contraption.  I forgot to ask her how many store eggs she went through to arrive at her final design.  Her science teacher, Mr Freud (yes that is his real name, not sure what the implications are), went up on the roof of the tallest building on campus for the drop.   Another student's egg also survived and his delivery system weighed slightly less than Emily's so he won first (even though Emily's balloons said "A+, Number One Teacher":)!

Anyhoo, we found this morel what seems like ages ago now, and it was so beautiful I had to sketch it (before we ate it).   Hopefully you will see some chickens sketches here soon!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


When life throws something unexpected our way it is usually a curveball, running the gamut from a big financial bite to devastating illness.  But a few nights ago we were surprised by something unexpected that has turned into something wonderful.  I must start this story by telling you we live in the historic district of the capital city of our state.  Granted it is a small city, we have no skyscrapers, but we are just a few blocks from downtown, and a few more blocks from Legislative Hall.  (lest you imagine we live in a regal, grand historic home I should clarify that although our house is about 100 years old, I would call it "vintage" rather than historic! :) 

Our daughter was playing with a neighbor and when we went to pick her up they were at the end of the street under a thicket of shrubs.  When we asked what they were doing they said "We are trying to catch a chicken!"  A chicken??!  And they did.  We asked around but no one seems to know where it came from.  In fact we flagged one woman down who had driven around the block several times and asked "Are you looking for a chicken?"  She laughed a lot and replied "I don't think anyone has ever asked me that!"

So now "Rosie" has entered our lives and our hearts.

She is a very friendly chicken.  I think she is beautiful too.

We have checked city ordinances and hens are allowed.  So I think we are the newest members of the urban chicken farmer craze.  She is going to be an "only" chicken though.  We will wait a while longer to see if anyone claims her, and if not we will convert half of our shed into a coop and build a run.  Rosie has made herself right at home, she is crazy about her dried mealworm treats, and I finally found a place that sells Purina chicken scratch.  I was puzzled this morning because she seemed a bit out of sorts, she seemed to be complaining.  I made a quick trip to the grocery and when I returned.....

I found a perfect little yellow egg!  I will let you know if it is a double yolker.

Hope your world is Rosie too!!!!

PS.   This is why I haven't been posting art, been shopping for chicken supplies!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cherry Blossoms

A sun shiney day at long last!  I have been working away at my little sketches but I haven't had a nice day for shooting photos in ages.  I was finally able to get outside and now I have a plump folder full of edited pictures ready to post.  The cherry blossoms (neighbor's tree) are long gone now but I am happy to have their memory preserved in my scribble sketchbook.

The city has planted a new tree in our front yard; the city claims the little patch of dirt from the outside of the sidewalk to the curb, but I still consider it to be "our" tree.  My husband says it's a cherry, but I won't be convinced until I see blossoms next spring. We used to have a beautiful maple in that spot but it was taken out by a drunk driver.  The new tree is doing very well.  Our nextdoor neighbor who has the cherry tree I sketched, is outside at this moment polishing his brand new jeep.  His pickup truck was recently totaled in front of his house by a different drunk driver!  Our street is actually fairly quiet and we live in a sleepy little town, so I hope our new little tree can grow in peace.  I hope it is also peaceful in your little corner of the world!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New watercolorist on the block

Just walked into my daughter's room and found this cute little scene.  Makes an artist Mommy's heart sing!   He has seen me paint at this lap desk and I guess he went looking for it. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger ate my post. Bad Blogger!!

Weeell, I've said my piece about this one.  I guess it is wafting around somewhere in cyberspace.  Don't know if it will ever come back, but here is my tiny painting again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Plastic wrap background

I started this sketch by laying down some colors with the vague idea I would paint flowers.  So I put purple and pink on the top half and greens on the bottom.  Then I covered it with plastic wrap until it dried.  I've been meaning to try this technique for a long time and finally got around to it.  I think I might have used more pigment, it dried very pale.  I decided to practice delphiniums as a warm up for a large painting I am doing.  The background colors muddied my flower painting a bit which I thought was a little (okay greatly)  frustrating.  If I use this background technique again I think I would draw my subject first and mask, and then lay down the background colors. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sketch Du Jour

Another scribble sketch for the archives. It was a glorious day today and this depicts my happy mood.  It was sunny and 75 degrees with no humidity, a day for driving around with the windows down (I could smell flowers), painting outside, and sleeping with the window open tonight.  Hope your day was glorious too!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sketch of the Day

This is one of many little floral pincushions I made.  Unfortunately I don't have a nice little story to go with it; I was just looking for something to sketch and I thought it might be fun to paint the details on the fabric.  The center of the flower is a pearl and a clear button.  The clear button was very difficult, I might have to paint a whole pile of them before I begin to learn how.

Speaking of learning, because yesterday was Mother's Day I got to choose the family activity, and I chose to go to the batting cages.  It was a blast!  I'm working on medium-fast baseball, and I'm pretty good if I do say so myself.  In fact, I had so much fun I went back today while the kids were in school.  I thought I even might try fast-baseball but I quickly discovered my left hand is bruised and my right shoulder is sore.  Maybe batting gloves would help my hand.  I wonder how fast those baseballs are flying, I know a MLB fastball is in the mid to high 90's (mph), so maybe around 75mph for the medium-fast machine?  I also don't know how a pitching machine compares to an actual pitcher.  I do know I am in pain so I will let my hand rest a few days before I go back.  I will let you know when I succeed at hitting a fast ball.  I am determined!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Scribble Sketch: the no stress approach

I call this the scribble sketch.  First you go to the dollar store and get one of those jumbo novelty pens, you know, the big one with eight different ink colors in one giant pen (cool!).  Then you start drawing your subject in whatever ink color comes the closest to the actual color (fun!).  It is a totally no stress technique because you are drawing with a ball point pen for crying out loud, no matter what you do it's not going to look that great anyway.  After your subject is drawn, throw in some cross hatching or squiggles to fill in the background a little.  Then comes the magic, add some watercolor washes, which look better if you go OUTSIDE the lines, and ta da, your scribbles end up looking okay.  You can also use Sakura jelly roller pens, they come in a wide variety of colors, which is what I used here (mine are sparkley, (more fun!).  I'm also thinking this is a very good technique to use if you are sketching from your backyard lounge chair and sipping a refreshing adult beverage. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

How weird am I?

This morning I drove around looking for Amish laundry on the line, curious cows, an interesting barn, the odd burro, you name it.  What I found was, the Amish are cagey about their laundry.  It's either so far from the road you can't get a decent shot of it, or it's very close but they are out next to it working in the garden so you can't take a pic without them wondering why this demented and possibly dangerous person is taking pictures of their laundry.  I found a lovely herd of cows right next to the road, yay!, but when I stepped out to take my photos they wouldn't even look up!  Now when have you EVER seen an uncurious cow that hasn't turned to gaze at you with that daft, lovable expression cows get?  I saw many interesting barns but none I could get a proper angle on.  Aren't these farmers considering aesthetic presentation when they set up their farmyards?  What's an artist to do?  Burros and sheep?  All out of camera range.  Not to worry though, it was a gorgeous day and I got some amazing flower photos, which hopefully you will see one day transformed into amazing paintings. 

I WILL be doing my sketch of the day, thanks for asking, but I am running out of day so I am showing you what I have done so far, which is to prep the background for a painting of delphiniums.  The drawing is completely masked and the blue is still wet so it looks a little buckley right now.  It will dry flat and the mask will come off and then I can start to paint.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


     Today was a day spent driving the kids to all their various appointments and activities.  During the waiting time I worked on this little sketch.  At some point I realized it was going to be dark before I ever got a chance to finish painting, so I plunked him on the hood of the van right then and there and snapped this picture.  His feet aren't finished but I think this is enough evidence that I (will) have done my daily sketch.  This little rascal gets on our screen porch several times of year and chatters away.  I'm not sure if he is telling us how happy he is to visit, or cussing us out for not clearly marking the exits.  Our porch is very popular with the local wildlife, we had a raccoon a few nights ago, and a possum last summer.  Although we get excited about our visitors, the latter two aren't opposed to making their own exits, so husband has to redo the screens more often than he cares to.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Daily painting number 2

Yes this one is a bit of a departure from my regular watercolors.  I decided to smear some acrylics around just to loosen up a bit.  I can't decide if this is finished; I'm thinking of doing some highlights with a fine line permanent marker but I wonder if I will like it.  Oh why not?!  Okay I'm off to be brave and see what happens.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bleeding heart study

I have opened my big mouth declared I would do a daily sketch, so here is my first entry, bleeding hearts from my backyard.  They make me think of my grandmother's garden although I can't remember if she even had this plant, her specialty was peonies.  I loved her garden because it wasn't a rectangle, she had curving grass paths that led you through the flowers.  As a child it seemed so big, and it stays that way in my memory.  Grandma is long gone but I will never forget her cinnamon rolls made from scratch with sticky white frosting and romps through the peonies, and gathering big bouquets of tiny violets for her that she put into jam jars and clucked over, because they were from me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sketchbook pages for March and April

Here is my page for March, followed by...

my page for April.  I tried a little watercolor crayon on the April page, I think it improved the sketches but I'm not sure I like the gritty look of it.  I have been talking with Carolina of The Muse of the Day about quieting the fears, and just getting something down on paper without worrying about how it compares to anything else in this big wide world.  Nothing is going to improve your painting other than painting, one right after another.  So in the spirit of not quiting, I am going to post a daily sketch and see where it takes me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fear and the humble sparrow

I have nothing new to share, but thought I could at least dig something up from the past, 1995 that is.  I found this buried in the rubble, of what is supposed to be my studio, but is mostly just piles, heaps, and mountains of junk (re:  untapped art supplies).  My hubby complains, and rightly so I suppose, because I have a great number of sketchbooks all with just one or two pages started.  Which brings me to my main topic, fear.  Lately I have been trying to conquer FEAR and possibly complete an entire sketchbook or finish a darn painting, but I'm finding that simply declaring myself "brave" has not shut up that pesky inner-critic.  The ideas and drawings flow effortlessly but as soon as I pick up a brush....the door SLAMS shut.  I'm not good enough.  I am trying to heed the great philosopher Dory and "Just keep swimming", but DANG its hard!  So how do you keep going?

Note:  I want to add that I drew these by looking at a fieldguide or something, I wish I could credit the source but it was 16 years ago and I don't remember

Monday, April 4, 2011

April Showers Bring May Flowers

This is a little project I started many months ago and then abandoned.  I zig zagged on the fabric strips and outlined a robin in free motion machine stitch.  I think the tension was wrong and I was unhappy with the  robin so the project was tossed aside.  Then a few days ago I saw cute little free motion daisies on
Garden Clippings lovely blog, and decided to give it another try.   I dug it out of the great heap of abandoned projects and started adding free motion flowers and raindrops.  I couldn't resist adding some little French knot flowers as well.  Do they make it a little too busy?  Last I painted in the robin outline.  In retrospect I think I should have painted the bird first and stitched around him, but overall I'm happy with the results.  He is my cheerful reminder that spring will really arrive.  Hope you have signs of spring in your little corner of the world.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A little bit of progress

It has been a busy month I haven't been able to spend a lot of time painting.  I decided I had better at least show the little bit I've done rather than leave my poor little blog completely neglected. This is still in the very early stage but I think it is coming along.  I saw Betsy Dillard Stroud's amazing painting in the April issue of Watercolor Artist and it inspired me to dig out the old photos I took years ago in Sedona and give it a try.  Here is Betsy's inspiring painting...

I especially like the patterns she has on the rocks.  I am trying to teach myself how to paint and I like to make practice paintings trying out different styles just for fun.  What really wish I could do is figure out what MY style is!  I know my common thread is birds and nature, but I'm not even close to figuring out what my signature style is, and it is VERY frustrating.  I like to paint both whimsical and more realistic images.  But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself, I need to learn how to paint first. So I shall continue to putter along trying new things, in my own way, and hopefully my authentic voice will reveal itself along the way.  SOON.  Please make it soon!