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

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Levi - WIP #2

More work done on Levi (first WIP posted underneath second WIP).

Apparently I'm leaving the fun stuff (you know, the face and the fingers) for last.... gotta get those pencils warmed up before I tackle those! Constructive criticism welcome.

Oh........... Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

English street scene

An art card that went to Darlene in Canada. 4 x 6 - watercolor and colored pencil on Arches Hot Press.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photos are here!

Okay, got everything set up with this substitute camera. Here are the shots I took on Monday (post titled "Magical Minute) whilst out wandering around in the garden in early morning sub freezing weather! All pics are of our blueberry bushes (I love the first photo where you can actually see the frost on the leaves... which I decided to use for my heading), except for the last pic which is a Bradford Pear and was taken at sunset one evening. Isn't nature simply beautiful?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Levi - A Beginning

This WIP is a portrait (colored pencil on Stonehenge) of a friend's grandson. This friend advertised in a little local magazine I used to publish, and this photo was used in one of her ads for her shoe store (see his adorable little blue Crocs?). As soon as I saw the photo I wanted to paint it. I loved the natural pose, the light and shadow patterns on both Levi and the steps..... and who could resist those baby blues? He even has a scrape on his little knee... just like my boys used to many years ago.

I'm posting what I've done so far. I usually do the preliminary drawing in graphite but decided this time I'd try doing the drawing using a light umber CP. Not sure that I really have much preference either way. I've never had a problem getting CP to cover the graphite. I've gone over the drawing in most places using some variation of the final color. I've done a little work on his face and on the wooden steps behind him. The scan makes the steps look much darker and heavier than they actually are, but even so, I may have to tone them down. We'll see.

I've already changed the angle of his left cheek several times. The last time I did a portrait of a young child he seemed to look older in the portrait than in the photo. Wondering why, I pulled out my copy of "Drawing People" by Barbara Bradley (excellent book!!) and re-read the section on drawing children. The problem immediately jumped out at me: I hadn't given enough curve to his cheeks. Youngsters are chubby - and chubby is represented by rounded curves. I hadn't given enough curve to his cheek, and the slimmer cheekline made him look a couple of years older. So this time I'm trying to watch out for that and keep that cute chubby toddler look.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Magical minute

This morning, quite early, I purposed to capture the rich fall colors of the blueberry bushes in the glow of the early morning sun. The bushes are now bare of berries, but to me they're more beautiful in fall than any other time. The foliage has turned to deep, saturated reds, browns and burgundies, with just a few hints of green on the sheltered side of the bushes.

After coffee I opened the blinds and saw....... frost! Thick, glorious sparkling frost that lay like a shimmering veil across fields, trees and fading garden plants. It sparkled in the morning sun, making the blueberry bushes radiant. Not about to miss this moment, I grabbed a hoodie and my camera and headed outside. The air was cold, brisk, exhilarating. Everything sparkled. Almost as good as snow, I thought. I walked around the bushes to shoot from various angles, my shoes crunching in the frozen grass; then stood still to get some close up shots. That's when I heard it. In the quiet of the morning, I heard a soft drip. Then another. Then another. It was the sound of frost melting in the pale sunshine. By sheer chance I happened to be there at this time. I stood, unmoving, looking and listening. I was awake, I was aware. It was a fleeting moment - like so many of life's moments. Ordinary, yet special. A few more photos around the garden, and when I returned to the blueberry bushes the shimmering veil was gone. But I had seen it; I had heard it. One of those magical minutes in life.

** Will post photos later. Lost my digital camera few weeks ago, and a family member was kind enough to donate one to me, but am not set up to upload photos yet.

An Autumn Award!

How nice to receive this adorable "Autumn Friends Award" from Rosie at Corners of my Mind blog... thank you so much Rosie!

It's a sweet, easy little award... no lists to write or anything, so in the spirit of friendship, and as requested, I'll pass the award on to three fellow bloggers....


Friday, November 14, 2008

A lovely rainy Friday!

I love a chilly rainy day! When I actually give voice to thoughts like that I usually get strange looks from folks who appear to be wondering if I've lost my marbles. Chalk it up to growing up in England.... rain doesn't bother me in the least. On a rainy day the house feels so cozy, and indoor activities like cooking, knitting, reading and movie watching are even more pleasurable.... especially when accompanied by hot chocolate or hot tea with honey.

After a busy week, today will be spent finishing my monthly newspaper article. I do have a new art card to post... this one went to Shelley in France. This 4x6 card depicts New England in the fall and is done in watercolor and colored pencil. It was lots of fun to do.... I LOVE New England and using those juicy fall colors was a great pleasure!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Knit Your Bit" ... A World War II Knitting Project

I've just started a World War II knitting project. Yes, you read that right!
Actually, it's for veterans of World War II (and you thought I was losing my marbles didn't you? Actually, sometimes I wonder myself....). I came across it last week and knew immediately I would participate.

It's a project sponsored by The National World War II Museum (http://www.nationalww2museum.org/calendar/knit-your-bit.html) and asks willing volunteers to knit scarves for WWII vets. We're rapidly losing our aging WWII vets, (some estimates place the loss at a 1,000 per day nationally) and many of the remaining vets are fighting serious health problems. The scarves are a gesture to remind the vets that someone out there still cares, still honors the huge sacrifice they made. If you'd like to knit along, visit the website (link above) for the scarf patterns. There are three you can choose from. The site is really interesting and features vintage pictures of young schoolkids knitting for victory along with slogans such as "The Navy needs men, but it also needs knitters!".

**P.S. Crochet patterns are also available for the scarves

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In Honor of Fall....

I've redone my blog! This color scheme seems very "fallish" and cozy - sometimes a change is good!

It's been a busy couple of weeks. We've had sickness in the family and since I was blessed with good health I sort of ended up as caregiver. So, there's not been much productivity in the art department lately - or much blogging. But that's the way it is sometimes. Thankfully, everyone is either back in good health or looks to be well on the mend. You know there's nothing like a bout of severe illness to drastically rearrange schedules. Good health... what a blessing it is, and how guilty I am of often taking it for granted. I remember reading a prayer sometime back that went something like this: "Lord, thank you for all the blessings you've bestowed upon me. I ask you for one more thing: a grateful heart." A grateful heart... appropriate since Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

Speaking of Thanksgiving ... both of my boys are coming home for the holidays - yay!! - (they're 26 and 29, and both live about two hours away from me) and the youngest son is bringing his steady girlfriend. What a joy she is . . . beautiful, smart, funny and has a loving, generous heart. There's been talk of her "joining the family" and we'd be very happy to claim her!

'Course, lots of company means lots of cooking! Oh boy! An excuse to pull out my favorite recipes, don my antique apron I bought in an antique store (don't laugh..... you'd be surprised how fun and practical it is) and cook up a storm. Youngest son has requested sweet potato pie, his girlfriend has requested pecan pie and oldest son usually goes for sweet potato bread. I'll eat about anything sweet and the hubby loves fresh greens. A few years ago we started brining our turkey and it is so juicy and delicous that we haven't cooked a turkey since without having brined it. It's a little more trouble than just popping it into the oven . . . but well worth the effort. If you'd like to try it, here's the recipe. You'll need to plan ahead. The turkey must be thawed out before brining, it needs to brine for about 6-8 hours (I usually let it sit overnight) then it needs to sit in a refrigerator for at least 8 hours to "equalize".

How to brine a turkey:

• For a 12-14 lb turkey, make a brine by dissolving 2 cups table salt in 2 gallons of water.
• Rinse thawed turkey thoroughly - remove giblets, neck, etc and reserve for gravy. If the legs are tied or wired, remove the tie.
• Place turkey in brine and refrigerate; or if using a cooler, set cooler in cool place for 6-8 hours.
• Remove turkey from brine; discard brine; rinse turkey well under cool running water. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels.
• Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting pan that has the slotted, removable top (using the slotted top allows the excess water to drip down and away from the turkey).
• Refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 24 hours (this allows residual moisture left in the skin to evaporate). Read the "Helpful Hints" below before you begin!

Helpful Hints:

• We use a cooler to brine the turkey - it stays cold this way and saves room in the
refrigerator. Wash cooler and rinse turkey. Place turkey in cooler.
• It’s easier to dissolve the salt if you boil it first. How I do it: place turkey in the cooler. Measure one cup salt into a small boiler with enough water to cover it well. Bring the salt to a boil. When the salt boils it won’t dissolve but will become very coarse and gritty. Once the salt feels gritty when stirred, pour the salt water mix into a gallon pitcher and fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cool water and some ice cubes. Stir well until the salt has dissolved. Makes 1 gallon of brine. Pour this over the turkey and then make another gallon of brine (or as many as needed to cover the turkey - how much brine you need depends on how big your turkey is and the size of the cooler you use - try to use a cooler that’s not too much bigger than the turkey).
• Cook the turkey using a turkey roasting bag - (rub butter all over the turkey skin before
placing in the bag) - keeps the meat moist and since all the juice is captured in the bag you can use the juice for gravy, soup, etc.

Makes the most delicious turkey you've ever tasted!
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