Saturday, January 29, 2011

My assignment for lesson #2 of my online class in watercolor journaling from Joggles was to go to a coffee shop and sketch and then color something. I chose to go to the mall, rather than to go to my usual haunt. Yes, chicken that I am I wanted to avoid all those folks I know while I sat there sketching! It worked out well as I was totally ignored, except for Nonie, who read the paper and kept me company. I enjoyed this assignment and found the lid of the cup to be a real challenge to paint. I wanted to get the shadows in but didn't want to lose the "whiteness" of the plastic lid.

Jane LaFazio, the instructor had some good criticisms of the little painting---she would have had me leave out the "graining"of the wood on the table and she, herself, would have left out the table all together. I can see that I got a little precious with the inked in graining of the wood, but I do like that the cup is grounded and not just "floating" in air. It is very helpful to get this teacher/student feedback from the assignments. I'm really glad I'm taking this class!

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm Taking an Online Watercolor Journaling Class

I decided to take an online watercolor journaling class to get ready for my upcoming trips to Hawaii (February) and China (end of April). The best way to improve your art is, of course, to practice. I've been having a lot of trouble getting myself motivated to make some art, any kind of art, so I decided that if I spent some good hard cash on a class, I was much more likely to actually put pencil to paper and DO something

I found this class, taught by Jane LaFazio on the Joggles site. (Joggles has a whole slew of interesting classes. Check them out!) The class is called "Sketching and Watercolor: Journal Style: on Location" and is in six parts. You get a lesson a week. I like Jane's art and her teaching style is one that resonates with me. Our first assignment was to draw a key or key ring so I pulled out my bunch o'keys and got to it. Maybe not my best effort but a pleasant way to spend an hour or so on a Friday night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When the Moon Hits Your Eye....

My dear friend Auntie Pumpkin called me tonight and said, "Have you seen the moon? Go look at the moon!"

And so I did. Spectacular!

(I must add that seeing the moon in Western Washington in January is a rare treat. It was clear. It wasn't raining. Amazing.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Love Affair with Chutney

I love chutney. I've been making chutney for thirty years or more now, and every batch is different and every batch is, to me, yummy. My children are not big chutney fans and my husband is only a lukewarm chutney fan. But many of my friends are big chutney fans, bless their hearts, and so I always make a few extra jars to pass on. (Play your cards right, Patoire and Baaaaauuuuuugghb, and there might be new jar or two in your future!)

Yesterday, while reading the Pacific Magazine that is included in the Sunday Seattle Times, I came across a recipe for Old Fashioned Chicken Curry. Now, I had to admit that the recipe for the curry looked pretty good (and I plan to try it out tomorrow), but what really caught my eye was the little blurb that read, "A recipe for Spicy Pear and Dried Cherry Chutney can be found at" I had to immediately get online to check it out.

I made a batch this afternoon and IT IS DELICIOUS! If you are a big fan of chutney, you might want to try this recipe. It gets five stars in my book.

I have to ask, Dear Reader, but does anyone else out there just love a peanut butter and chutney sandwich?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Prepping a New Travel Journal

I am a very lucky woman. My sister-in-law has given me a trip to Hawaii for Christmas! Not many people are given a whole state for a gift....we are leaving on February 7th. We will first stay in Honolulu for a few days and then head over to the Big Island (Hawaii for those of us who are Hawaii challenged). I always keep a journal when I travel and I will for on this trip too.
Since our departure is creeping up on us more quickly than I can believe, I decided that this was the weekend for getting the journal covers completed.

There is a very creative woman who creates blank watercolor journals and sells them on Etsy. I love the size of these little books (about 6 inches square) because they slip into my pocket or my purse, the covers are a nice quality of paper that takes paint well and the watercolor paper that she uses for the signatures is heavy and wonderful for sketches, water media and just for journaling. This will be my fifth travel journal I have made using L's little creations.

For this journal I decided to use Hawaiian quilt block designs for the front and back covers. I love the graphic quality of Hawaiian quilts and I thought they would translate well to a journal cover. I had a copy of Hawaiian quilting by Elizabeth Root in my stash and I liked many of the quilt block designs featured in the book. I opted for a hibiscus for the front cover and the anthurium design for the back.

I photocopied my chosen designs and resized the images to more closely fit the covers of my journal. Then I scribbled with a plain old pencil all over the back of the designs to create a sort of carbon paper to transfer the design to the covers. (Placing the design face up, with the pencil scribblings on the cover and then tracing over the design with pencil.)

Once I had the designs transferred to the journal covers I went over the pencil design with a ultra fine point Sharpie and then I used my Copic pens to add color.

When I was happy with the covers, I then gave them several coats of matte gel medium, applied with a small roller, to protect the covers and make them waterproof. I like having the covers to my journals waterproofed so I don't have to worry so much about slopping water (or tea or lattes!) around when I am journaling. I am, I'm sad to say, very messy.

I used a very thin wood veneer "paper" that I found at a scrapbook store for the inside of the covers. I cut the veneer to fit with my paper cutter and then used a permanent glue to affix them to the inside of the covers. I weighted them down while they dried as wood veneer has a tendency to curl and I wanted them, of course, to be flat.

Not the most elegant covers for a journal, but I am hardly the most elegant of journalers. I am pleased with the end result. Now for the fun part---taking the trip and creating the journal while I'm away. I'll add ticket stubs and ephemera that I collect on the trip and I will also probably add small photos that I will print with my Pogo printer. I love that printer and the fact that I can print out 2" by 3" sticker-backed photos while I'm traveling. By being able to add photos to my journal pages while I am still on the trip I have a completed journal when I return home....ready to bore my friends and family with my adventures!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Odds and Ends, by Emily Carr (1871-1945), Canadian painter

I spend two nights in Victoria, BC just before the New Year. Nonie and I had a little after Christmas holiday and we had a lovely time. The weather was clear but cold and it was beautiful. I enjoyed seeing all the Christmas decorations and some of the after Christmas sales. The photo shows yours truly with the Emily Carr statue near the Empress Hotel. Emily Carr is one of my favorite painters. Besides having this photo taken, I got a chance to see the house where she was born and raised and also to go to the new exhibit at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. It was a great show! If you find yourself in Victoria, head on over and take a look. You won't be disappointed!

The Inner Harbour at night, all decked out in Christmas lights. It was magical.
This was the view from our room at the Inn at Laurel Point, looking west towards the Outer Harbour.
The Emily Carr House at 207 Government Street.
You know how when you live or visit a place you often don't go to the tourist sights? I've been going to Victoria for years and for years I have never ventured to visit the Craigdarroch Castle. This trip Nonie and I decided to go, and am I glad! It was an amazing house and the visit was great fun. Visitors are allowed to explore all over the house, from the ground floor to the very top of the house (where the views are spectacular!). The Castle was all decked out in Christmas finery.
This photo of the entry hall was taken looking straight up. It's an amazing space. It cost a fortune when it was built, something like $30,000. Now? It would be an astronomical expense to create such woodwork in this day and age, if you could even find the craftsmen to do it.
I believe this room is called the study. It was a lovely room. The stained glass window over the fireplace was an especially lovely detail.
The ceilings in the formal, public rooms all over the Castle were amazing. Note the lion head in the corner plaster work.

The diningroom was decorated for a Christmas feast and tableware was lovely. I was especially taken with the mother-of-pearl flatware.

The stag carvings is so Scottish! You can guess the Dunsmuir family's heritiage from this detail alone.
This is the breakfast room. I love the morning light that comes through the beautiful windows.
The room below is the smoking parlour---there was even a hubble-bubble on display.

I wonder, justwhat does today's date signify? I know it's already a third of the way through January, much to my horror and disbelief, but 1.11.11 seems so....I don't Weird? Maybe just graphic! But it's something to make note of, at the veryleast.
(And, no, Dear Reader, I am not superstitious about the date!)