Tuesday, June 30, 2009
If you read Saturday's entry, you know I was writing in Phoenix. We spent Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday in Phoenix. I liked Phoenix quite a bit, but of course it could be that we stayed in a beautiful resort. We recently joined a vacation club and I am very happy with it!
Here's a picture of the courtyard outside our suite. The rooms are all like little condos with a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom with a wonderful jacuzzi tub. My husband said the golf course was one of the best he's played in a long time.
I wish I had taken a picture of the pool. On Saturday night they put a big screen up and showed Kung Fu Panda. We splashed in the pool and watched the movie under the desert stars. It was so nice! Phoenix was quite hot (yeah, I know, duh!). It was a dry heat, but when it's 105, it's hot, dry heat or not.
We went to two Angel's games at Chase Field, and they won! I'll write about all that in another entry.
On Sunday night we headed down to Tuscon and stayed at another nice resort from our club. Here's a picture of the view from our balcony. A beautiful desert scene, isn't it? It was so quiet at night there!
Next time we head out to Tuscon, I need to get some recommendations from Casey (who lives there) because we had a hard time finding a good restaurant. I'm sure they are there! It didn't help that we were looking for something at 8pm on a Sunday night. All the recommendations we got from the hotel ended up being closed. We ended up at the Golden Corral for lack of anything else, and it wasn't where I would choose to eat again, to put it nicely. :)
After Tucson, we headed to Tombstone, the site of the famous gunfight at the OK Corral. Turns out the gunfight actually occurred in an alley behind the OK Corral, but that doesn't sound quite as exciting. I will devote an entry soon to Tombstone because I have a lot to say about it. I loved it there. So much history! And I had great fun at the Bird Cage Theater with my ghost hunting, so I will write all about it in another entry as well.
The only bad part was that we stayed much too late in Tombstone before heading home and we didn't get home until 2:15 this morning. I did OK today at work, but I know I need to get some rest or I'll be a zombie tomorrow.
To be continued!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Anyway, we came here to watch the Angels play the Diamondbacks at fabulous Chase Field. It is gorgeous! But it's weird to me to watch a game indoors. I'm not complaining! It was 104 degrees when we left the stadium, so I was quite happy that it was a comfy 72 in the stadium.
But it almost feels like watching a movie or something. This picture shows it with the retractable roof open. As I said, it was way too hot to go convertible there today. I got a great picture of our rally monkeys watching the game. They came through today because we won a great pitcher's dual 2-1. This is a reminder (to those of you who may have forgotten, though I don't see how!) of just how much I love baseball and my Angels. :)
My husband has tried to hi-jack our trip with three rounds of golf. What has made it work out very well is that he made tee times at what I consider ungodly times in the early morning, so by the time he gets back I have slept in and am sipping coffee and watching the kids splash in the pool. Perfect! I also brought my sketch pads and some colored pencils.
We hit Barnes and Noble in Tempe this afternoon and I picked up a beautiful handmade journal which will become my art journal (inspired by Kim) and a book called "Weird Arizona." We already have "Weird California." These are fun books written very tongue and cheek about all kinds of kooky things in this state. I wanted it partly because we are heading to Tombstone on Monday.
Tomorrow night we're off to Tuscon. I'll wave to you, Casey. Next time when we're there for more than one night I'll see if you want to catch up for coffee. :) In the meantime, I'm ready to do some ghost hunting in Tombstone and I'll tell you all about it when I get back.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I am supposed to complete the sentence"I am light and I want to illuminate----" and then choose five other blogs to send it to.
So, I am light and want to illuminate all those who strive to better themselves in the arts. This is for all of us artists, miniaturists, needle crafters, and anyone else out there who works to perfect an art that brings a little beauty into everyone's lives.
Now, to pass it along. Almost everyone I read has received this award already- that's a good thing! So I'm going to pass it along (and back) to those blogs I look at pretty much every day.
First is Casey at www.caseymini.blogspot.com who can do almost anything and who has shown me that I can too.
Next is Kim at www.flowerkim.blogspot.com who has become a mini friend. She has a beautiful garden and some fabulous art so I enjoy her blog a lot.
Then there is Kathy Calhoun at www.kathycalhoun.blogspot.com. She is building a beautiful Garfield and has the same trouble as I often so- finding the time to get it done!
And finally (I know it's four, but it's my blog!) Kat at http://minikatslittlethoughts.blogspot.com/ who always has something interesting to say or show us.
Thanks to everyone who lights up my day a bit!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I have to share with you my daughter's painting from yesterday. This is a similar painting to mine, but she added the "Beware of Sharks!" sign and the ominous fins in the distance. She's pretty clever for being 8!
I did a little painting on one of my ceramics pieces last night. My goal is to get some of these unfinished objects (or UFOs) completed without starting something new. It's sooo tough, especially when I have the attention of a child sometimes.
Happy Fathers' Day to all the dads in your life. I hope it was a happy one. I know mine was.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I normally spend the class frustrated and thinking I should give up painting all together because it's just too darn hard, only to decide at the end it turned out well and was worth it. But today I thoroughly enjoyed painting this piece. Maybe it was the peaceful blues. Maybe it reminded me of my honeymoon cruise where we stopped in Grand Cayman for a few hours. Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed this one.
When we got home, my husband asked where the sharks were in the picture. Luckily, my daughter painter her similar scene with ominous fins in the water and a "Beware of Sharks!" sign. She has the same sense of humor as her father. He was happy with that. Good. My peaceful afternoon is not involved with sharks, thank you very much.
I had my teacher, Randi, look at my drawings from the past couple of weeks. Sadly, she had a lot of things to say in the way of "constructive criticism." I say sadly because I don't take well to criticism. I don't expect anyone to say these are the best drawing ever. . .but I also thought they weren't bad for my first few attempts. I still have a lot to learn! That's a good thing, though. I believe we have to keep learning and trying to improve. Keeps you young- and it's never too early to want to stay young. :) I have to learn to not take everything to heart so much, I suppose. One more thing to work on.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Right now I'm listening to Lisa See's new book, Shanghai Girls. I can't "put it down," so to speak. As with all her books, this one has a lot in it that's hard to take, but it's life she writes about and this one is very well done. I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See last year. Good book. Because I liked it I read Peony in Love last month by her as well. That is one strange book. Interesting, but very strange.
Did I mention in my last post that I am tired? I may be babbling, so bear with me. :) Anyway, I've been getting a few books on drawing and colored pencil and earlier this week Kim recommended Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I of course went right to Barnes and Noble and snatched up a copy, especially when all of the ratings on Barnes and Noble and Amazon are so positive.
I don't know whether to thank her or tell you all to not recommend any more books to me! I'm only kidding. I love this book. Not only does it have some really interesting drawing exercises, but it also has some fascinating explanations about how we see, perceive things, and draw them. I'm hooked like it's a best selling novel. Thanks, Kim. I'll be ready to start that art journal soon enough!
I cannot buy any more books for two weeks (I've really blown budget for art supplies and books this month), so everyone please save your recommendations so I won't be tempted. :) Please, help me save myself from my book buying binges! Barnes and noble won't be happy, but my husband will. And that's important.
He's just not a book guy. He'll read every word of a magazine or the newspaper, but just isn't into books all that much. It kind of makes me sad, but if we both loved books like I do we'd have to move out to make room, so it's probably better this way. I can walk into Barnes and Noble and just love the way it smells. I was toying with getting a Kindle, but I think it's ridiculously expensive. Even more than that, I love the feel of a book in my hands. An electronic device just isn't quite the same to me. I know, how is that different from an audio book? It just is. I can't read while I'm driving but I can listen.
Now I'm going to go read my drawing book. See you later!
I put down some heavy fabric as carpeting in the children's room. It's not tacked down yet. I just wanted to see what it would look like. I think it needs to be ironed! I had thought to put wood flooring in the whole house, but I really like carpeting in there too (and it's a lot less work!!). I decided a while ago not to be so period perfect, so carpet it is. The Victorians in my dollhouse will just have to understand!
We have a ways to go with proper trim, baseboards and crown molding, but a little bit at a time gets the job done!
Tomorrow is my monthly painting class. I believe we are working in acrylics and doing a tropical landscape. Another new thing for me. You know I'll share what I come up with!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
After all the practice, I decided tonight to try doing a whole face exercise. This is based on a drawing of Marilyn Monroe. I know it doesn't really look like Marilyn Monroe all that much, but it does look like a woman and all the features are about in the right places, so I think it's a pretty good start.
I'm amazed at how much I really love to draw. I find I like drawing much better than painting. Not that I don't like to paint, I do, I just really like to draw better.
On another note, it was kind of an interesting dinner tonight. We went to a local coffee shop for a quick bite, and as the waitress brought the drinks on a tray, one fell off right into my lap. Of course there are no lids on these huge drinks in this restaurant. Sprite and ice went all over me. It was not a fun meal! I got to eat soaking wet and sticky with syrup. The poor girl was horrified. I know she didn't mean to do it on purpose, but yuck! I suppose it could have been worse- it could have been hot coffee!
And at least I wasn't drawing at the time, which I have been known to do. I bring a drawing pad almost everywhere. It would have been ruined.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Last week I got Alyona Nickelsen's Colored Pencil Bible book. All I can say is wow! Amazing work. She paints with colored pencils. They really look like oil paintings! Take a look at her work on her website at Brush and Pencil. I ordered her book form her website and she autographed it, "To my fellow artist, Tiffany." I loved that!!
Anyway, I've been reading her book and part of her technique is to wash your colored pencil drawing with oderless mineral spirits or odorless turpentine. She says she prefers the odorless mineral spirits, but I couldn't find any locally. I picked up the odorless turpentine instead. I gave it a try. Here is the result of the wash and application of color over the wash.
The turpentine sort of melts the colors together and allows you to add more layers of color on the top. I feel like I lost some definition, but this was an experiment. I learned that applying the turpentine with a q-tip wasn't such a great idea. This drawing is rather small and it didn't allow me enough control. Next time I'll use an actual brush.
But it was a fun experiment and I learned a lot in a short time.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I controlled my inclination to want to build an entire dollhouse in one night, and let her pick out something to make. She picked this little ladybug from a cute kids crafts website: DLTK
This little bug is made from scraps of felt that we hot glued together. We stuffed her with cotton balls and tissue. She's about the size of my palm.
I let her do the cutting and putting it all together. I only helped with the hot glue. Pretty cute for 1/2 hour's worth of work, don't you think?
Margaret does not appear to have a blog of her own, but she is most welcome here! Happy to have you here, Margaret! Update: Mags (as she apparently likes to be called- love it!) does indeed have a marvelous blog! Take look here: Mags-nificent Miniatures She does fabulous work with miniature food!
Donkey is sporting a fun fur scarf made by yours truly. Donkey goes everywhere with my daughter and today she told me she dreamed last night that Donkey could talk. Her brother corrected her by saying, "You mean you dreamed Donkey was alive." She looked at him blankly and stated, "Donkey is alive. I dreamed she could talk." :)
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Anyway, this needs a lot more sanding (when the husband is not home, I guess) but once it's nice and smooth, stained that fabulous red stain I've been using, and poly-urethaned, it will be quite nice! It is a lot of work, though, don't get me wrong. But then again, nothing worth doing is ever quick, right?
Oh, and I brought up my drawing class again at dinner. He didn't say no, so that's a good sign. Like that would stop me anyway, LOL. But he did say I draw well enough and don't need a class. Oh yeah? Hmm. . . . What have you seen of mine lately? The sea turtle! Hmm, maybe he really is paying attention! ;)
I think I'll go draw. I guess that's quiet enough for the golf enthusiast. :)
I've already spent over an hour on his site and if I weren't so sleepy tonight I'd stay up all night reading it. The painting is fabulous, the carving is wonderful. . . Oh to be so precise!
OK, got carried away for a moment. You know that happens when I get excited! Anyway, George is a real artisan and you must look at his blog. Really, you MUST! You will miss something if you don't for sure. :)
Welcome George! I'm thrilled you took the time to look at my work.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
So here it is 10:15 on Sunday night and I didn't get to do much of anything artistic today. The kids and I went to visit my Dad around noon and he BBQ'd some terrific burgers for us. Then the kids went swimming in the neighborhood pool. I opted out of that and practiced colored pencil technique on the Angels baseball logo. I don't think it's worth showing here (it was just for fun) while the kids splashed around. We waited around for my husband to get back from the golfing trip (his ride was coming back close to my Dad's house), and then we all headed home.
At any rate, I just got home and I'm trying to decide if I feel like working on anything. It may be better to just give in and sleep and have a fresh start on everything after work tomorrow. My friend calls me the midnight artist. It's from necessity, not choice! :)
So sad - Monday already tomorrow. I'm not ready yet!
Oh, I did order Alyona Nickelsen's book last night. On her website you can get her book and DVD for a really good price, and it comes with some samples of things she likes to use. I'm working on taking the painting class. My darling husband has been to Angels Spring Training and a golf trip so far this year. I'm thinking one painting class (albeit one expensive, month long class) puts us at half even, if that makes any sense.
More soon. Hopefully more interesting and something to show!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
I finally had the first minute in the past few days to do anything artistic. Mr. Sea Turtle got colored in! I used a combination of colored pencils on the turtle and watercolor pencils for the background. As usual I'm happy with the subject (in this case the turtle) but not so happy with the background. Again, it's all about learning technique! I like how his shell turned out with a lot of depth.
If you are at all interested in colored pencil technique, you should check out this site: Brush and Pencil The technique was designed by Alyona Nickelsen and is simple amazing. I'm dying to take a class from her. And it looks like she is in Aliso Viejo, which is about five minutes from my work. Sounds like a sign, right? :) My current art teacher is an amazing painter but doesn't much like colored pencils. I'm sure she'd be happy for me to expand my knowledge in art no matter what it is. Anyway, I'm not sure if Alonya Nickelsen teaches classes in person or only on line. I'll investigate further. They are a bit pricey but oh, the results.
Oh lottery. . . you have a worthy recipient here. . .
I have another BBQ tomorrow so I'm not sure how far I'll get on anything fun. But you know I'll try, just to keep my sanity if nothing else.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
In the meantime, here's how I did it. I started by laying the skinny sticks down. I dotted glue on the back and pressed each one down. Press it tight to the one next to it. It's important to make sure to stagger each piece so you don't end up with seam lines running horizontally across your floor. This is where the EZ-Cutter comes in handy. It's not my favorite tool for every job, but it works well for cutting these sticks. I especially like it for angles, as in the back right corner of this picture.
I should have just stained and varnished this room because it (and the one above it) are the only ones who have real wood floors. They are part of the addition. But I realized that halfway through putting down the skinny sticks, and it would have been a lot of work to sand down the glue, so nope, not happening.
Now we continue along gluing the pieces down, staggered, until the whole room is covered, like this. You will see that I got a little sloppier on the left side. There are more gaps there. But you don't need to worry too much about that.
Don't even think that this floor is done. Believe it or not, the easy part is done. This is as far as I got tonight, but I'll give you a little preview of what comes next. Sanding, sanding, sanding, and, oh yeah, more sanding. This floor needs to be sanded until it's very, very smooth.
I press all the saw dust into the gaps. I think I learned that trick from Deb on the Greenleaf forum. It helps make it look very uniform. When it's as smooth as can be, then you get to stain it. And then? Yep. Sand some more. Stain. Sand. Continue as above until you are happy with the color and texture. Then varnish. And that's how you get a skinny stick floor that looks like Victorian wood. I'll show you the rest of the process and it comes along.
OK, I'm kidding. I borrowed this picture, but I wanted something to liven up the post.
A little bit later the storm came in a lot stronger, with loud thunder and lots of lightning. It was kind of fun, because it is so unusual. I'm glad it was my work at home day so I could enjoy the crazy weather from my home office window.
On to killer shampoo. Since I'm an adult (at least I am old enough to be one!) I've been washing my own hair for many years. I never considered it to be dangerous in any way, until today.
As I was minding my own business, happily distributing the shampoo through my hair this morning, a blob slipped into my right eye. Yes, I know you are supposed to avoid eye contact. I didn't do it on purpose. I also did not expect the result. The bottle says "Avoid contact with eyes. Stinging may occur. Flush immediately with water." Stinging? This was more like a red hot poker! Dogs were howling and running to hide with the sound of my shrieks. And running So Cal hard water into one's eye is not much better.
I actually am shocked that they can sell such a product legally! My poor eye swelled up to the point I couldn't open it at all for at least an hour. Needless to say, I was stuck with my glasses all day. My contacts laughed at my pitiful attempts to get them in my eyes. So I've been stuck without peripheral vision all day. I'm better, but that was not pretty. Perhaps I had an allergic reaction. I know, there is tear free shampoo. Have you ever tried it? They should call it "Make your hair like straw" shampoo, and I've had that in an eye years ago and it wasn't very nice either.
Maybe the lighting and thunder threw me off enough so I couldn't shampoo my hair properly. Hopefully if I work on the San Fran a little later I won't have disastrous consequences! Wish me luck!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
If you do have Aaron Brothers by you, there is a 40% off coupon on their website!!! Good until June 6th right here: coupon I went in looking for water brushes (check!), a couple of Prismacolor pencils I didn't have (check!) and a Prismacolor blending pencil (check!). It's exciting to find everything on my list! I also picked up an oval shaped brush I wanted for blending.
Once I had what I came for, I had to look around right?? You know you would too! And I found this really pretty wooden box to store my watercolors because storing supplies in Michael's bags just doesn't cut it. I picked up this box, opened it, and the scent of linseed oil surrounded me. Just for a moment, it was mid Summer and I was eight years old again in my grandmother's utility room painting with oils. I had forgotten all about that! But for a moment I was there. It's amazing how scents can do that, isn't it? I think I painted all of about three days and that was the end of my oil painting career, but I have always loved the smell of linseed oil.
So home the box came. It was reasonable and even more so with the 40% coupon. Don't you just love a good bargain??? Here's a picture of it closed. To me it's just really pretty all by itself. The wood is just a nice color and has a really pretty grain.
Here's a couple of shots on the inside. It has a tray on the top and slotted compartments on the bottom. Don't let my art teacher see I have Reeves paint! :) I bought a starter set to see how I'd like it. I figure, why buy the good stuff if you won't use it? Since I like watercolors after all, I've been adding to my collection with better quality paints. The "expert" advice is always to buy the best you can afford. OK, so that was what I figured I could afford at the moment I had to have them.
Anyway, now that I've totally bored you with talk of a box (I know, I know! I'm so easily amused! Give me a box and I'm happy. So sad. :) ) I will show you a couple of things I worked on the past couple of days.
Here is a watercolor drawing I made. This was to practice technique. I learned I don't like the grainy, lined look of the sky, and when you use too dark a color in some places it isn't easily fixed(as in the areas under the right side poppies). But remember, I'm learning and I'm enjoying doing it, so that's the point. I do like these Icelandic poppies (I think that's what they are) even if the background is somewhat of a mess.
We rented the stupidest movie ever tonight. It was some "spy thriller" with Dolph Lungren and it was so terrible I couldn't watch. So I drew Mr Sea Turtle instead.
If you recall on Saturday night my daughter and I drew an underwater extravaganza and I drew a turtle on that for her. Well, my turtle looked more like a land tortoise with stubby legs rather than the flippered and fabulous sea turtle. This was an attempt to correct that mistake. I'm not quite up to painting or coloring him tonight, so we'll have to wait for him to be "brought to life."
Oh, and this blog will return to minis shortly. I promise! I'm eager to finish the beautiful San Fran, but painting is just such fun. . . More soon!