Thursday, July 30, 2009

When it's too hot to go outside

When it is this hot outside, (108 degrees yesterday afternoon - ugh!) I stay inside. That's OK, because now I need to get to work on my challenge piece for this year's Retreat with Sherry Goshon and Jean Bernard. We are supposed to do something related to Halloween or Harvest, and I knew right away that I wanted to do a Ghost. Not just any ghost, but a White Lady. I'll tell her story later, but in the meantime, here are some in-progress photos of what she looks like at the moment.

I am using the techniques I learned at last year's retreat. I still need to sculpt her other hand and also decide what I want to do with her other foot, but I am so happy with her form so far.

And here she is from the other side.

Her face is sculpted and beaded and ready to apply, but there is a lot more work to do on the figure yet before that can happen. Hmmm... I want more detail in the color of her face I think. Otherwise, so far, so good!

Because there is absolutely nothing on TV, we are watching our collection of "Lost" DVD's again as a family, so I have a lot of time in the evenings to catch up on some beading, so I can give you an update on the white-on-white collar too. I finished beading the segments and got them lined and edge-finished, so now I am ready to add the fringe.

This is the fun part!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Photo of the Week - Worth the Wait

I am a day late in posting this week's photo because I spent this past weekend at my daughter's freshman orientation at Oregon State University. What a fabulous place! The campus itself is beautiful, and the course offerings put my alma mater's to shame. She's excited... I'm excited for her, and more than a little bit jealous, LOL. *I* want to go to college tooooooooooooooooooo!!!

This is a macro photo of the colorful ingredients of my new most favorite salsa. It is very mild, so if you are a heat junkie you will be disappointed (though there is nothing to stop you from adding the heat source of your choice - it WILL work, I promise.) I think even my new-food-phobic family back home might be willing to try mangos if I served them this way.

Corn, Black Bean, & Mango Salsa
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup of frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 fresh red bell pepper, diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
8 green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt (I prefer 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt)
1 tablespoon olive oil, optional (I wouldn't dream of leaving it out. Really now... that is a healthy amount of a healthy fat.)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. If you keep it covered in the refrigerator, it will stay tasty and good for 3 days or so.

I know a lot of people don't like cilantro and I admit it took me a time or two to learn to appreciate the flavor, but its flavor contribution really makes this salsa sing. I intend to experiment with some finely diced jalepeno chilis next time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When good projects go bad

I really really wanted to enter this month's challenge on BPCAG, but my sculpt is not going well. It is just too hot to work with polymer clay, so I am taking a break, and attempting to restore some order to my studio instead. My poor studio needs some TLC badly anyway. I don't mean to be so messy, but I can't seem to help it!

While I was putting away the things that have accumulated on my work table, I rediscovered this piece of bead embroidery. I don't remember deciding to stop working on it - but it was buried pretty deep under the layers, so I know it has been a while since I laid eyes on it.

Now that I don't wear contact lenses any more, I find that I can see those little beads so much better without any glasses at all. It makes it tough to watch TV while beading, but I keep my bifocals handy and pop them on when things get exciting, so I do OK. It's nice to have a project that I can work on in a room that is air-conditioned.

I am such a sissy about the heat.

I am so glad I put up this photo today, because now I can see that I need to add something a little dark to the upper part of the right hand segment to keep the colors balanced. If I keep at it, I should be able to finish the beading this weekend and get started on the fringe. I have some drop pearls that will be just perfect for this.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Photo of the Week - Finished Dinosaur Canvas

I finished my T-Rex canvas this weekend - the photo is a bit dark on my monitor, but the colors are true. I am both amazed and amused that something so bizarre came from my hands. I have never ever done anything like him before in any medium, and I kind of wonder what hidden little corner of my brain he came from, LOL. Me? Dinosaurs??? Go figure...

A high level of texture over the outer edges of the canvas, effectively suggesting a primaeval forest for my creature to stroll through, was created with several mediums as well as wrinkled tissue paper. To make the footprints in the lower right I sculpted a dinosaur foot in polymer clay and stamped it into partially dry gel medium. (It would have worked better in texture medium, but I am out of that and I really wanted to complete this project.)

The things we do for our art, LOL!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Photo of the Week - "Weeds"

I do not understand why blackberries are considered "weeds". Yes, I know they are a bully of a plant, but so is mint, so are strawberries. Then again, I like dandelions and wild violets too, so maybe it's just me, but I don't take offense to the presence of blackberries the way some people do. I love their pretty pink blossoms.

I especially love their fruit! In just a few weeks these embryonic berries will start to turn to a purple so deep it looks almost black. Mmmmmm... I can almost smell the cobbler now.

I like bees too, but that's not why I put up this little guy's photo. I am getting better at finding my camera's focus point in macro mode and I am darned proud of the way he turned out. Isn't he a photogenic little bug?

I gotta say that is is MUCH easier to find things to photograph around here in the summer than it was in January!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Finding Time to Paint

My main project at the moment is a sculpt-in-progress that I cannot share as it is a challenge piece. However, while various bits are being baked and cooled and what-have-you, I have begun painting my T-Rex canvas. So far, so good!

I absolutely love Quinacridone Burnt Orange - it is my favorite color and I am seldom able to keep my brush out of it. However, just this morning I fell in love with Pthalo Turquoise. SO gorgeous...

I have no idea where I am going with this canvas, but it has turned into such a fun thing to play with that I don't really care. (Seriously, who could possibly take this seriously, LOL??!) Right now I am thinking that it needs a little more texture to balance the bas relief, and also something for him to be roaring at...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

This month's UFO Challenge Piece: the T-Rex Canvas

I started this canvas well over a year ago after a class with Linda Misa on Doll Street. The idea for this one was inspired by my oldest daughter, who absolutely adores dinosaurs, and an old book on dinosaurs that was retired from the children's collection of library where I work.

I got stuck after I added the dinosaur image and so it has been sitting on the couch in my studio silently roaring at me ever since. Last week I had a dream that gave me the idea to render the dinosaur in bas relief in paper clay, so last night I sat down and sculpted and carved him in 3-D.

It was easier than I thought it would be. Now I just have to wait for the clay to completely dry, then I can seal it and get to the fun part - painting!!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Photo of the Week - Inspired by Picasso

We here in the United States celebrated our Independence Day this past Saturday. Our family did up the holiday in the traditional American way, with a barbecue in the evening, and then fireworks at sunset. After all, everybody loves things that go "bang", LOL. I also discovered that fireworks are surprisingly easy to photograph.

Things got a little more creative when we pulled out the sparklers. A long time ago, I saw a copy of this photograph in a magazine - I found it fascinating, and I've never forgotten it. Of course none of us is Picasso, but surely we could manage to write our names in the sky? Turns out that it is pretty challenging after all. Lydia is the only one who managed to get her name done in the 4 seconds I allowed for the exposure.

Seth almost made it - I think his sky-handwriting is just too big. I'm including his photo too because I like the way the "e" in his name frames his face. It would have been so cool if he could have squeezed in that last letter in the time alloted.

Now all I want to know is how in the heck did Gjon Mili (Picasso's photographer) manage to keep Picasso in focus while all the while he must have been jumping around like a bug?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Even though I only had a few more hours of work on the Hatchling since the last time I posted before I could call him finished, it still took me nearly an entire month to put in those few hours. (It is the end of our fiscal year at my day job and coping with the year-end details sucked up a lot of my energy.) BUT, here he is at last.

And from the other side.

I finished him off with lots of layers of different colors of acrylic paint. What really made his color come to life was the final glazes of Luminarte's pure pigment powders. You have to be careful with those as a little goes a long way, but I think I got it right this time. You can see the faint wash of Sun Gold on his face in this close up. It's a cool effect.

I owe a huge thank you to Sprite for teaching me her technique for creating skin textures. These show up best in this photo on his hips, thighs, and tail. I need a little more practice with this method, as I tend to squish one side while working on the other, but I'll get it eventually. (If you like baby dragons, or fantasy sculpts in general, you have to check out her blog!)

Sprite also gave me the idea to line the inside of his shell with the illusion of crystals. I don't know how she did hers, but I created mine out of several sizes and colors of shard glass glitter, micromarbles, fine glitter, and thin washes of the luminarte glazes again. I love the way the silver shards catch and reflect the light.

I have always loved dragons - I definitely see more of them in my future!