Monday, November 24, 2014

Candied Kumquats Anyone?

While I was shopping this afternoon for turkey parts to make stock ahead of cooking my turkey this upcoming weekend, I ran into the first of the fresh kumquats.  I love candied kumquats.  They are a surprising addition to pound cake and the syrup can beused to make an icing.  Kumquats are citrus-y and quite different from oranges and tangerines and add a delicious and  unexpected taste to winter baking.

It's an easy process to candy them and one I enjoy.  A nice way to spend a rainy and windy late November afternoon.

I got four half pints from a little over a pound of kumquats.  I'll take a jar to my daughter-in-law on Thursday when we celebrate Thanksgiving with our son and his family.  On Friday I'll buy a sale turkey and roast it up at the cabin, for sandwiches and soup for the freezer.  I really love Thanksgiving week.  It's full of good smells, anticipation and turkey!

I hope your Thanksgiving, if indeed you celebrate that special day, is full of family and friends, good feasting and most of all, thanks for all our blessings.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Visual Journal Pages In Progress

This spread was done in class and was created with a series of prompts that John gave us.
 I have been taking a mixed media class from my friend John Arbuckle.  I've been working on multiple spreads in a couple of different visual journals, and having so much fun!  John makes each week's class exciting and interesting, and he has shared so many techniques that I find I just have to experiment with different ideas.

I think the above spread is done.  But maybe not?  Not sure.

This one, below, is in my Like a Nomad journal that I started in a class I took from Orly Avineri last summer.  I thought it was done.  And then I kept working on it and adding little bits and pieces.  Never say never, I guess!

The spread below is not done.  It's a good start, but that's it.  Just a start.  It incorporates several techniques John had us don in our class.

This spread (above) keeps evolving.  I have no idea where it might end up.  Or if this is the end.  I am just letting the pages pull me along---no big plans, just letting things evolve.  It's very freeing to work this way and I am really enjoying myself.

I started this spread quite a while ago but just finished it (I think!) the other day.  It has actual "weaving" done with sari ribbon, cotton pearl thread, velvet ribbon and bias tape.  This is in my Like a Nomad journal.

I have just started on this spread, but so far I like the colors and the patterns.  I seem to be on a circle cycle, I have noticed.

And finally, this is a sign I spotted at a favorite local restaurant, FIVE.  I love it!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Having Fun with Visual Journaling and Collage

Cats have credit Jeanne McLam
 I took a one night, really fun class at the Schack with my friend Susan the other  night.  The class was called Playful Acrylics and Collage and was taught by Jean McLam.  This was not an evening of serious art creation but rather one of recharging the batteries and just playing....throwing some paint around, cutting/tearing out images from magazines and gluing them down.  I had a great time.

"work" in progress---photo credit Jeanne McLam

There were no beginners in this class, just a like-minded group of women who were looking for an evening of making art and playing with art supplies.  Jean was a most encouraging, supportive and very well organized instructor.  She provided ALL the supplies and gave us just enough instruction for us to go off and do our own thing.  A perfect evening.  There was even wine for those that wanted it!

class photo!---photo credit Jeanne McLam

Meanwhile, in another on-going mixed media class I am taking, brilliantly taught by John Arbuckle, I've been doing a little work in one of the visual journals I'm working in right now.  Nothing here is completed, just works in progress.  I am having such fun in this class, too.  I really needed to have this artistic outlet to balance the struggle I am having in my beginning Spanish class.  The old brain is slow and it's hard to learn a new language.   Trying to learn a little Spanish is very rewarding, but it's work.  Art is play.  Together they create a nice balance to my week.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mary Oliver's New Collection

"Painted" in the Waterlogue App from a personal photo taken in Port Townsend, Washington

I have just read and greatly enjoyed Mary Oliver's new collection of poems, Blue Horses.  I love several of the poems in the book, but my favorite is quoted below.

          IF I WANTED A BOAT
                     by Mary Oliver

          I would want a boat, if I wanted a
          boat, that bounded hard on the waves,
          that didn't know starboard from port
          and wouldn't learn, that welcomed
          dolphins and headed straight for the 
          whales, that, when rocks were close,
          would slide in for a touch or two,
          that wouldn't keep land in sight and
          went fast, that leaped into the spray.
          What kind of life is it always to plan
          and do, to promise and finish, to wish
          for the near and the safe?  Yes, by the 
          heavens, if I wanted a boat I would want
          a boat that I couldn't steer.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Columbus Day

It started out as one fine autumn day here today, Columbus Day 2014.  There was blue sky, and balmy temperatures, a stiff breeze and lots of color from changing leaves.  It was beautiful.  The weather deteriorated over the course of the day and by evening it was spitting rain, but for most of the day, it was perfect.

I have the house decorated for Halloween.  I love Halloween!  I loved it as a child and I love it now.  And it's not just the idea of candy, it's the spookiness and all the black,  the witches, spiders, pumpkins, ghosts and skeletons.

witch on the front door

I have started a collection of glass pumpkins.  I like that I can use them through Thanksgiving and they are cute and pretty easy to store.

I also seem to be collecting spiders.  There are spiders galore outdoors, all over my yard, in fact, but the ones I am actively collecting are faux.  I do not encourage real spiders to reside in the house.  

The merchants in town seem to all be sporting scarecrows outside their establishments.  Here are three that I collected snapshots of this morning.  They are all pretty cute, I have to say.

I am taking beginning (and I do mean beginning!) Spanish at Edmonds Community College.  I studied German and French in school, all those many decades ago, and while Spanish is similar to French, my old brain is finding this pretty heavy going.  Tonight we started having to conjugate verbs, something I have been dreading since the classes began four weeks ago.  (We only meet once a week....)

I am really trying.  I am terrible.  The will is there but the brain is feeble.  And we won't even begin to talk about how uncooperative my tongue can be!

Friday, October 10, 2014

An Art Filled End of the Week

Susan Penning

My friend, Susan, and I are taking a six week mixed media class from another of my friends, John Arbuckle.  We had our first class last night.  It was great!

It's a really fun class and all the participants seem to be enthusiastic and talented.  We are lucky to have John as our instructor as he is a very talented artist and a gifted teacher.  He promised us 20 techniques to use in mixed media work and I think he gave us more than that last night alone.  Imagine how much he'll share with us over the next five weeks.

We created a printing block with a piece of cardboard from a cereal box and some fun foam from the craft store.  Not sure what the exact name of the product is but it's a plastic foam sheet with peel off sticky backing.  We cut our sheets into whatever shapes we wanted and then stuck the pieces down onto our cardboard.  You then use the created 'plate' to print with by brayer-ing on paint.  It worked like a charm.  I've read of this technique but I can't remember ever actually trying it out before.

This is the print I did with my 'plate.'  I really like the effect and I think we got a lot of design for minimal work.  I will be using this technique again.

After we created the printed spread we used stencils and layers of paint to create a background that we'll be able to build a collage onto in later classes.  This was a simple reductive use of a stencil.  I am always surprised at how effective it is.

This morning I finally got around to filling my new watercolor box with paint.  I've had the box for a couple of months now but sheer inertia kept me from filling the half pans with the watercolor paint I had on hand.  I need a few more colors to completely fill the box, so I got those ordered today, too.

I did a color chart to include in the box so I know exactly what colors I have in there and where they are located.  I have more empty half pans, so I can customize the box to suit me.  If I am traveling and want a particular color palate I can make it so.  The watercolor box is well made and has a thumb ring, removable half pans and a lot of mixing space.  If you are looking for a box for your watercolors I found mine here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Free Spiders to Good Homes

I'd noticed that there seem to be a lot of spiders this year.  I keep walking into their webs and doing the spider-web-in-my-face dance.  You know the flail your arms around and brush at your hair madly and jump up and down, often moaning softly?  That dance.  Been doing it a lot lately.

This morning I discovered that my yard is just covered in webs.  In each one sits the builder, looking perky.  Waiting for something to fly by.  You could almost call them stalkers...

There was enough moisture in the air,  from the fog that we've had all day long, to coat each bit of web with little water drops, making the webs quite beautiful.

Beautiful they might be, but jeez...I hate walking into a web.  Just hate it!

If you should have any need of some quite hefty spiders, please let me know.  I have a plethora and would be glad to share with you.  Halloween is coming, after all!