Monday, March 30, 2009

Photo of the Week - March 30

I had looked forward to photographing the sights in and around Lincoln City last week, but between the fog and the rain, it was too wet to risk taking out my "real" camera. We did manage to bundle up and get one good walk on the beach, so I put my old point-and-shoot in my pocket before we left. Even though the breathtaking panoramic views were nearly completely obscured, there was still plenty to see in the details.

I love to collect shells on the beach, but these mussels were all I found this trip.

Oregon's coast is made up mostly of volcanic rock. These ancient lava flows are everywhere, forming tide pools all up and down the beach.

Let's see... I see sea anemones, mussels, barnacles... I didn't notice any shrimp or crabs this day, but you never know what life you will find in these pools.

This massive sea star looks well fed. I've never seen such a pretty red one before.

I didn't draw this, but I couldn't resist taking a photo as I walked along with my own Jake. I "heart" him too, LOL.

We got back to the suite to find this "Psycho Crazy Gull" trying to terrorize the girls into giving him some food. He and a buddy were actually pecking on the window to get their attention. Too bad seagulls can't read -- the sign he's standing on reads "Thank you for not feeding the seagulls."

I know, I know... I am WAY too easily entertained.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home Again

I can't believe that here we are, home again from our little coast expedition already. It was SO nice to get a change of scene, even if only for a few days. The weather was dreadful, but the company was wonderful and we all brought along plenty of other things to do in case of rain.

I spent most of our down time sitting at the table looking out over the ocean playing with my watercolor pencils. I finished a color sample chart and began working on a portrait of my mother. My reference photo is a faded old snapshot taken around 1950 - she would have been 12 or so. I attempted it in oils a while ago, but I am having much more success this time with a smaller format. So far, so good!

Guilt-free sleeping in AND unlimited creative time... my favorite kind of vacation!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cheating, I know

It's My-World-In-A-Photo Monday, but I just didn't have what it took to get out the camera today, so I am going to cheat and put up one I took this time last year while the girls were on Spring Break. Every year we pick a few days to go to the Oregon Coast and just hang out, and this year the escape just can't come soon enough.

If ONLY the weather will be warm enough to let us go barefoot again!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More watercolor pencil

I would have posted these earlier, but I've been fighting another round of bronchitis this week. Fortunately, watercolor pencils are the ideal companion to hide out in the corner of a couch with. I have had these pencils for a while, but I would never have learned how to really use them to their full potential without the gracious teachings of Sherry Goshon.

I'm not crazy about the lettering on this one, but I love the way the bloom turned out. I used Macro Pearl pearl-ex powders to enhance the texture edging the petals.

This one is going to say "Love" with one letter in each corner once I give the darks another layer of pigment. I lost my black pencil and am finding it difficult to lay down a rich dark the way I'd like.

And this one -- yet another attempt at a white-on-white project -- is going to be "Grace".

I want to make a few more undersketches so I can take them along with me when we go to the Coast next week. I haven't been this excited about learning a new medium in a long time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Photo a Week - March 16

The birds are returning to the Willamette Valley... could this possibly mean that spring is near at last? I couldn't see any of the newcomers to photograph today, but I got lucky anyway.

This little guy is a year-round resident. (He doesn't look very happy about having his picture taken, does he?) I caught his portrait by accident when my finger snapped a photo while I was still trying to adjust the focus. The white-ish blob to the left is what I was *really* trying to photograph.

Ah, there he is! This enormous red-tail and his mate have set up housekeeping in one of the oak trees across the road. It's too early for nestlings yet, but you can be sure I will be watching!

I have been trying to take a decent portrait of him for a while now. I wish he would let me get closer. Thank goodness for zoom lenses!

I saw a bald eagle yesterday while driving in the country. I didn't have my camera with me (arghhhhh!) but I will be on the lookout for another glimpse. I knew that eagles lived in the foothills and along the Willamette River, but I didn't know that we had them here in the Valley too.

Monday, March 09, 2009

March 9 Photo of the Week -- All I Want is to Rock Your Soul

(That is actually a song lyric. My daughter's dance team is using is as the music for their competition piece this season. Wouldn't it be cool though, if some day I could take a photo good enough to rock souls??)

Silverton High School's dance team has a history of excellence, and this season is no exception. I know I'm prejudiced because my daughter is senior captain, but I really do love going to these tournaments. All the teams work so hard, and many of the pieces are absolutely wonderful to watch. These are some photos of our girls at their last competition before the state tournament next week. I'm getting better at action shots, but I still need to track faster. I will keep trying.

Smile for the judges ladies!

Grace in movement... beautiful.

A dramatic team moment...

Extend and keep smiling!

This was my best shot of the day. I actually caught them in mid-air this time!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Evolution of a Canvas

I was so happy to find a way to rescue the canvas I ruined that I couldn't put it down. Because it is not my project to give away I didn't photograph each step, but I can give you a wrap up of the finishing process.

In this view the design has been colored and blended, and a layer of glaze has been added to give warmth and a unifying tone to the whole image.

And then because I am an absolute failure at working pale, I sponged some deeper richer colors around the edges to add depth.

I still want to add some flat back pearls as "blossoms" along the vine, but with the addition of lettering she is essentially finished. (The lettering is the only addition - she looks lighter because I photographed her in different light. And oh yeah... I fixed her crooked upper lip. I think...)

So of course, rather than moving on the the next UFO (UnFinished Object) I had to start another canvas. I HAD to -- this is an image and an invocation that I have been wrestling with for some time and it is more than time to let it out.

I am all for World Peace, but these days I will settle for a truer faith and a little inner peace.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Photo of the Week - More Layers Play

I have been wanting to try this technique since I saw a similar example in a magazine a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I don't have an *ideal* photo to try it out on, but this one is almost good enough. Don't I just wish that I had unlimited access to my subject for more photos...

If I had known how easy it was, I would have tried it out sooner. In fact, I think my new problem is not going to be so much "what do I do now..." but knowing when to stop!

And yes, her eyes really are that blue.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Trying something new

Time for another challenge! A few of my friends and I are going to tackle our backlogs of unfinished projects -- just one a month. Today is the first of the month, so I present here my first UFO. I began this one last month and set it aside in disgust when I found out that I had bitten off more than I could chew. Just about the time I was afraid that I had lost all urge to create... the incredible Sherry Goshon shared her techniques for a wall canvas using watercolor pencils and I HAD to try it.

While I do own a small set of watercolor pencils, I never played with them much until now, so the learning curve proved a little steep -- I made a total mess of my first attempt at using these techniques. sigh... I was too embarrassed to take a photo to show how badly I had mangled the canvas, but now I kind of wish I had because I think I may have rescued it.

It took a layer of gesso, a partial layer of texture medium, and yet a little more gesso to almost cover the original problems, but I'm pretty excited about the way she looks at the moment.

At the very least, I think I have finally learned to keep a very light hand with delicate techniques. My personal preferences run to the rule that "more is better", so this has been a challenge!