Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Monthly Newspaper Column

* I'm posting my monthly newspaper column on my blog again as I did last month. This month I owe a special Thank You to Rosie at Corners of My Mind blog who graciously allowed me to make reference to, and use part of the information from her delightful post of Thursday, September 18, 2008: "A Walk at Baslow". Thank you Rosie!!

The Traveling Front Porch

This morning, after a welcome dose of invigorating coffee, I went with a new friend for a leisurely walk in Derbyshire, England. It was cool and misty, so with jackets on we set off down the path to Chatsworth Park, crossing a picturesque little stone bridge under which flowed the gray waters of the Derwent River. We walked alongside neat rows of thatched cottages, passed through the revolving “kissing” gate, and walked down worn paths that to this day retain some of their original cobblestones. At this time of year in England, cool autumnal breezes bid summer goodbye and the trees are resplendent in burgundies, reds and golds. We continued walking until we could see the roofline of stately Chatsworth House, visible just beyond the tree line. Chatsworth is a beautiful English country house often used in period movies such as “Pride and Prejudice”, in which it became Pemberley, home of the dashing “Mr. Darcy”.

After this pleasant morning stroll, I hopped over to New Mexico to see Jo’s latest pastel painting; stopped by Oxford, NC, to see Lin’s newest watercolor masterpiece, checked in with Jeanne in California (who has a husband, four dogs and would rather do colored pencil art than housework. Hmm..... not a bad idea!) and enjoyed a brief visit to the Blue Ridge mountains where Ann’s fresh pastels and soft colored pencil art brings back warm memories of wonderful vacations.

Do I have access to a Lear jet? Ha! Not likely. Nor do I have a Star Trek style transporter to instantly beam me from place to place. What I do have is a computer and a blog list. Blogs where friends, family, neighbors and strangers (who sometimes turn out to be friends you haven’t met yet) can drop in (almost instantly) to talk and share their lives. If you’re not familiar with blogs and blogging, here’s a quick primer:

“Blog” is a contraction of the term “web log” and is variously defined as:

- an online personal diary

- a news outlet

- your memo to the world

- a journal that is available on the web

A blog is basically a website that’s updated regularly. The newest information shows up at the top of the page so you read the most recent post first and as you scroll down the page you read the older posts. A “post” is an entry on the blog. A blog usually includes text, photos, and links to other blogs and websites. A blog can be themed around a particular subject (such as a hobby, an occupation, a sport, politics, news, etc) or just simply be a casual collection of a person’s thoughts and observations. The activity of updating a blog is “blogging”, and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger.” Bloggers usually have a “Blog List” - a list in the sidebar on their own blog that has links to other blogs they like to read - you can click on the links to go to those blogs. One of the nicest features of blogs is the “Comments” feature. When you visit a blog there’s a place where you can leave comments to the blogger (“I like your art work”, “Where did you find that lovely poem?” “How did you get that particular effect in your painting?” etc) and usually the blogger will respond to you. Then you can respond back to them. If there’s an area of mutual interest you might end up getting to know this person and a neat thing happens....you make a new friend .... and most of the the time you’ve never met them!

Earlier this year I participated in a Virtual Sketch Date. A lady named Rose, from Texas, was the originator of this project and it’s basically a group of artists - some professional, some amateur - who select one photograph each month and everyone draws/paints that image. It’s amazing to see the widely different interpretations of the same image by different artists. Everyone completes their sketch and on the appointed date they upload it to their blog. It’s lots of fun visiting from blog to blog to see the results. At that time I was new to blogs and blogging, so I didn’t have a blog... and, honestly, didn’t think I wanted one. Sure, it was fun, interesting and even educational, but I just didn’t have time for a blog. Rose encouraged me to start my own blog, pointing out their advantages, especially if you’re an artist: most art bloggers are very generous about sharing their tips and techniques, some even post art demos so you can see art being made step by step; you get feedback on your own art; you get inspiration - visiting art blogs is like going to an art gallery! - and you also get encouragement as you read of other’s art struggles that often parallel your own. I’ve been reading blogs for almost a year now and had my own blog since May 2008. Most of the blogs I subscribe to are art blogs, but there are a few non-art blogs on my list that are interesting, informative and a delight to visit .... like Rosie’s blog. Rosie lives in Stoke on Trent, in England, and it was her post about her early morning walk in Derbyshire that I enjoyed so much and described to you at the beginning of this article. Her interesting narrative and accompanying photos almost make you feel like you’re there too... sort of like taking a walk with a friend.

For years now I’ve thought it a sad thing that the time honored tradition of sitting on the front porch with family, friends, neighbors or “new folks” has pretty much died out. I see new homes being built and most of them have a generous front porch with inviting rocking chairs and colorful plants. But the comfy rockers are usually empty.... neighbors and friends are nowhere to be seen.

Before I left Rosie’s blog, I left a comment thanking her for sharing her morning walk. As I clicked to go to the next blog, I realized that the tradition of visiting and sharing on the front porch has not completely died out after all. In part, at least, it’s just taken a different form... we now visit through blogs. Of course a blog doesn’t take the place of in-person visiting, however, it does have its own particular advantages, one being that it’s a neat way to make new friends from all over the world- friends that you’d probably never have met otherwise.

So, make yourself a cup of coffee, find a blog or two that you like and start reading.... there’s a comfy chair on front porch waiting for you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Irish Cottage card

Another art card... this one went to Mary in Ohio (and I actually remembered to sign this one... aren't you proud? :-)

Ireland is close to the top of my "Places I Most Want to Visit" list. I'd love to set up in a field near one of these old thatched roof cottages and paint on location. One day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More art cards...and a delightful poem!

So far I've received confirmation of receipt on 4 out of 6 Vacation Dream cards that I've mailed. Sure hope the two that are AWOL at the moment are not lost in the mail! Here's two more of my art cards: the log cabin in the snow went to Kitty in the Netherlands and the hot air balloon went to Joan in New York. Both cards were such fun to paint. The log cabin is watercolor and gouache, the hot air balloon is watercolor. I see now that I forgot to sign both of these cards after I finished painting them... oops!

While we're here, I'd also like to share a little poem with you. Someone emailed it to me and I really liked it; so, for your enjoyment, here it is...........

The Law the Lawyers Know About

The law the lawyers know about
Is property and land;
But why the leaves are on the trees,
And why the wind disturbs the seas,
Why honey is the food of bees,
Why horses have such tender knees,
Why winters come and rivers freeze,
Why Faith is more than what one sees,
And Hope survives the worst disease,
And Charity is more than these,
They do not understand.

Hilary Douglas Clark Peplar, English, 1878-1951

Monday, September 15, 2008

First Art Card...

Woo Hoo! My art cards are beginning to arrive at their destinations so I can finally begin posting them. This card is the first art card I've ever done. It's 4"x6", colored pencil and was done from a reference photo I took on a vacation to Ocracoke Island summer before last. On that vacation I kayaked for the first time -- and loved it! What a great feeling of freedom to paddle out over the lapping waves while the gulls circled overhead in the warm spring sunshine. We paddled out of Silver Lake just around the corner to Springer's Point - a secluded little point with a maritime forest. The beach, like Ocracoke's other beaches, is part of the National Seashore and is completely unspoilt - and quietly beautiful.
This card was sent to a gentleman named Joe who lives in Florida. There are 25 people taking part in this art exchange and they live in various states in the US and several different countries: Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, India, Thailand and France.
This is the first posting..... more to come!
P.S. The photo you see of me on the blog (in the red kayak) was taken on this trip.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A caboose from Jeanne!

I'm back! Actually, I haven't been anywhere. Been busy creating art ... all of which was for the Vacation Dreams project, so after the cards arrive at their new home I can then post them here on my blog and you can see what I've been up to. I mailed off 6 cards to recipients as far away as Canada and the Netherlands, plus various states here in the US. This is such a fun project! I've loved the small size (4" x 6") that enables you to complete them fairly quickly which means you can try out all different kinds of subjects and techniques. I'll be working on another card today - a street scene - which is something different for me. This card is being done in watercolor.

I'm also posting here the latest card I've received from the project sponsor herself, Jeanne Grant. Jeanne found out I love cabooses and this week I was thrilled to get a beautiful card from her of an old fashioned red caboose! Thanks, Jeanne... it's one of my favorites!

The hubby's band is playing this weekend, so it will be busy for us. Hope your weekend is relaxing and fun!
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