Sunday, September 20, 2009

Melange Team Challenge; Wee Witches - and an interview!

(Available on Etsy)

This week's Melange Team challenge is "Wee Witches."  I decided to do a collage on a small 5 x 5 canvas.  I thought I'd include some instructions this time.

I painted the canvas first with black gesso, then I loosely  painted some strokes across the top 1/2  with Navy acrylic paint.  Then I took a template I made with a circle punch and used it as a stencil.  I used a make-up sponge to lightly fill in the circle with light yellow paint and then a small brush to lightly stroke some moonlight onto the sky.

For the house, I used ink to distress some paper and printed my wee witches onto transparency.  They didn't show up enough against all the printing on the white paper, so I stamped a design on some orange paper (I thought some kind of design was necessary to confirm that they were transparent) and glued the transparency to that.  I thought the rectangle shape would suggest a door.

I made my wee witches' hats out of scrapbook paper that had a black and white photograph on it.  Obviously this is from a large swath of black.  I like it, rather than black paper, because it wasn't as flat and dark as black paper.  To suggest roundness, I used a white charcoal pencil and then smudged walnut ink over it.

I wrote a little mini poem in honor of the subject, printed it out and started distressing it with ranger inks.  It immediately smeared all over the place!  Humph!  So I printed it out again (This time multiple times - just in case!)...and smeared it 2 more times - no matter how careful I was.  I do this all the time, using this exact same printer!  Someone suggested it might be the paper I'm using, and I am using a different paper than usual.  Anyway, I ended up taking some matte spray finish and spraying the 2 remaining printouts, letting them dry for 2 hours (!) and then distressing them  It worked out fine.  Geez! What a process.  Of course it wasn't over.  When I scanned it, it washed out the words so they looked pure white when they are actually quite distressed.  So I tried to use photoshop to make them closer to reality - but I think I got a little carried away!  Oh, well.  Sometimes you just have to call it done.

Check out the comments section on the Melange Team Challenge post  to see other responses to the challenge.  There are some great entries!

And on the exciting news front; see my interview with Jodi Ohl on Saturday's post!  (Perhaps I should have said Jodi Ohl's interview with me?  See for yourself and let me know...)   I'm very honored to be featured.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Baby's First Love Note

How cute is that???  Of course, my DH spent an hour with them on the playground and came to the conclusion - in total seriousness - that the boy in question is "a perv" and needs to be watched closely.  The boy is 5 years old.  Oh, Daddy...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

But Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?

      So, a couple of months ago we were invited to a wedding.  Adam, the son of my DH's oldest friend was getting married in another friend's backyard.  Michelle's backyard, to be exact.Now, I don't know about you, but I've been to many backyard weddings.  Some rented tables and chairs, maybe a decorated arch, a lot of tulle, and some pastel and/or white flowers.  Maybe red roses if there was enough money in the budget.  Backyards are generally large, communicating a them on that scale is difficult and costly.  Most backyard weddings all end up looking the same.                                                                                                   
Not this one!  This was a miracle of decor, I tell you.  Michelle, with lots of help from another friend, Tammy, hunted down every last piece of anything with a picture of a cherry on it!  I didn't even get pictures of everything there was to see. 
There were little, hand-painted, cherry-decorated birdhouses (like the one above) hanging from all the trees - dozens of treehouses!  There were more birdhouses hanging from the fenceposts and in other strategic spots throughout the yard.  
There were prints of cherry paintings hanging from the fence (see below).  There were cherry printed bowls, teapots, pitchers, cups, platters, aprons, ribbons, tableclosths, and napkins.  There were tiny, little pieces of cherry printed fabric peeking out of miniature picnic baskets.                                                                       

There were little tableaux set up throughout the yard.  On the side of the house, in one small alcove was a little shelf with  a cherry printed tea set, red and white gingham fabric, and black, cherry printed fabric accessorized with glass domes, decorative iron birds, cherry printed basketry and red and white polka-dotted ribbon.  (telephoto at right and below, as well as a view of the whole tableau).         
In the breezeway between the house and the garage - always a very cutely decorated spot, the wrought iron and crystal chandelier is always there - was a buffet table filled with cherry printed serving dishes.  The fence was decorated with an adorable, vintage apron, some vintage cherry prints, and other super-cute decorations (some of which are also always there).  One one wall of this area is a fabulous, hand made, rustic buffet cabinet made by Adam's dad a few years ago.   In it, there were cherry printed cannisters, napkins, candlesticks, bowls...okay, you get the idea.  There's a picture of it below.                                
One of my favorite things was a little area she had set up behind the garden shed - which, btw, I should have take a picture of as well because it looks like a little girl's playhouse instead of a garden shed.  Absolutely adorable! Anyway, behind it she had set up an area for the photographer to
take pictures of the wedding guests.  There was a little white bench with a couple of cherry-printed pillows on it.  Above that, on the wall of the shed, she hung a framed, vintage advertising poster that said, "We tend to Seek Happiness."  Of course there was more to the saying, being that it was an advertisement for cherries, but that was the best part.  You can see it there on the right.  How sweet is that set-up?  I got a picture of Rexy just as she as jumping off the bench.

Another on of my favorite things was that apron on the side of the fence.  How cute is that?  With the light shining through it like that, it felt like you were walking into an old movie.
Those birdhouses hanging from the trees were just fantastic, too.  When you walked under the trees, it was so cool to look up
 and see them swaying in the (barely discernible) breeze (did I mention that it was 96 degrees that day? Hairdo and makeup just melted away...).

Out front she had some statuary wearing this hat with the dingle balls on it and I don't know if

you can see them, but there are little cherry charms hanging between each dingle ball.  Who thinks of these things???  Michelle.  (Yes, that's me in the hat.  I cut off the whole bottom half of my face!  Oh, well.  Rexy looks much cuter in it anyway, there's one pic below)
To the right here (hopefully, when I publish this everything will be formatted the way it is here in the "compose" mode - I don't know about you, but I often have problems with blogger just randomly changing my spacing and formatting.  Sigh.  One of those bugs I hope they fix some day.) is a picture of the "dance floor."  she has a little tinted, cement patio outside the garden shed/playhouse that was utilized
 as a dance floor.  There are pillows on the ground and on the benches - all with a cherry print.  The fence is decorated, as I mentioned above.
So tell me, how cute is all this??? I didn't even show all the tables set up with their cherry printed tablecloths, the lawn furniture with their cherry printed pillows, and everything else that I've forgotten to mention.  And, I would like to add, it wasn't too much.  Everything was tempered with enough white and touches of black to keep it from being overwhelming.  But it's a big yard, so you do need a lot of things to get your point across.   When you walked up the garden path and turned the corner, there was no doubt what the theme was, but it was charming and pretty across the board (or should I say "across the lawn?").  It was so charming and pretty that I just had to share it with you.  And, hands up from everyone who thinks Michelle should be doing something professional in this arena!

I'll leave you with a picture of my beautiful girl having fun with the hat.

(Seems like I should have had her in red and white gingham doesn't it?  The was no dress to be found like that, plus she picked this one herself.)

Hmmmm.  Too much space here at the end.  Off topic, I want to ask, how many of you have participated in the Melange Team's weekly challenge?  Why not start today?  The challenge for the week starting Wednesday, September 16th, is "Wee Witches."

Just make something using the theme "Wee Witches" and then post about it on your blog or Flickr page.  Then,  in the comments section of the challenge post (won't be up until Wednesday, I'm jumping the gun a little here), post a comment including a hot link to your blog post.  There are usually directions for including a hot link (i.e. a clickable link - not a copy and paste situation, it just makes it easier on everybody).  If not, here are directions.  (That site also has some mighty cute, free blog backgrounds - just FYI)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Painting Class

So, many times since I've started this blog I've talked about my painting class.  They actually, both the blog and the class, started at about the same time, I think.  I had been taking painting classes at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle since late 2000, or maybe early 2001 - and then had taken a break to have a baby in 2004.  By then I was completely in love with painting.  I still am.  Put a big canvas in front of me, some music on the stereo, and I can completely lose track of time, forget my coffee, forget lunch, forget everything.  It's not until I stop that I realize I'm thirsty, hungry, and my back and feet are aching!

After being a stay at home mom with only one car in the household for 2 years, I was going stir crazy.  I was on the computer one night perusing craigslist and for the first time noticed the "community" section. I saw that they had an "artists" section and decided to check it out.  Inside it was a bunch of posts, much like the "for sale" section that I was used to, but these were all art related posts.  "Art opening tonight at..." and "Looking for artists to start a salon night..." That type of thing.  One caught my eye, it was someone looking for oil painting students for a class in her studio.  On a whim - without even consulting the DH - I responded that I was interested.

What a stroke of luck that was!  The painter was Gini Lawson, and I have never had a better painting teacher.  She's a born teacher on top of being a truly brilliant artist.  She has an extremely discerning eye and is articulate enough to be able to explain what she sees with intelligence and humor.  That's her in the blue shirt, on the couch, in the first pic.  All these photos were taken in her studio during classtimes.  Behind the book is Rachel, and sitting on the coffee table is LuAnne.  The painting in the background is, obviously, one of Gini's.

This is a painting that I'm working on.  The little girl is my grandmother in front of her house.  That house is still there, about 45 miles from where I live now.  I'm painting it from a photograph that I printed from an old negative when I was in college.  Naturally, it's in black and white.  Translating that to color has been somewhat difficult, but I"m starting to get the hang of it.  If you're thinking to yourself, "Why does her grandmother have a goatee?"  It's because she does have a painted one!  Gini was showing me where I needed to contour and scale down her features.  I've been putting off working on that part because I'm going to have to repaint the entire face.  Sigh...

This photo was taken before the one above, I hadn't filled in the house yet.  All the paintings you see are Gini's.  If you could see them close up you would not believe how adept she is with light!  Wow!  Check out her blog and look at the blonds, it's amazing.  The little work set-up is Dan's.

The painting in the foreground, with the red-orange background, is mine from a past class.  I had left it there to dry and never got a chance to pick it up.  It's the best work I've ever done, but it is far from completed.  We worked from a model that time.  Below is a pic I took of it at home.  The weird halo effect is there because I had to reduce the size of the ginormous head I had given her!  A regular mistake of mine.  It could be good, but I don't know if I'll ever finish it.  I didn't take a picture of the model at the time.  I really should have.  Everything I do now would be making stuff up.  With this I kind of feel like being true to real life.

This is my friend Rachel.  Rachel, Dan and I have been in Gini's Saturday classes together since the beginning.    Rachel is as cute as can be, she sometimes wears sandals with heels to paint in.  Oh, to be that young again!  If you are on facebook, here is her finished painting.

The paintings along the back wall there are from Gini's Thursday class, she runs it Atelier style in that you can start or stop at any time and pay for whatever number of class hours you want.  (I hope I'm describing it correctly.)

This next picture is of Dan.  It's funny, the three of us have been in more than a couple classes together and we all have such different styles.  (The painting behind him is one of Gini's, I didn't get a picture of his for some reason.)  I know at a glance whose is whose.  
This is Gini passing out some sort of cool solvent or something and giving her excellent advice to Dan. (a small note: Luanne was gone the day I took the pictures of everyone working on their paintings, so there's only the one picture of her.  Sorry, LuAnne!))

This is Gini's work corner.  Look at all those brushes!  Ooh!  I'd feel rich with that many brushes, wouldn't you??? (there may be a better view of the brushes in the pic above)  This is the beginning of the painting she's talking about on her blog.  Look at that line-up of paint tubes on the second shelf - I'm in art heaven just looking at that corner.  (Can you tell that I have no studio?  Cramming myself into the corner of the dining room on a little, portable, gift wrapping table just doesn't compare to this spacious, light-filled room.)

I looooooooove taking painting classes from Gini.  It's so nice to be somewhere where all you have to do is focus on art.  We talk about art.  We look at pictures of other artists' work.  We make art.  There's no phone, no kids, no laundry, no demands on your time at all - except from your canvas.  It can be hard, and I by no means feel confident in what I do.  But when I leave there I feel rejuvenated - and more myself in every way.

*Please note, all works are wholly owned and copyrighted by the stated artists.  No reproducing, copying, or sharing of the images in any other format without the express permission of the artist is allowed.