Monday, April 30, 2012

Amaryllis & Hydrangeas

Spring 2010
For the last two years, our hydrangeas and amaryllis have been blooming at the same time. They aren't planted in the same area of our yard, but they've always been on the same schedule, so to speak!
This year, however, our amaryllis are in full bloom while our hydrangeas are only showing the first blush of color. I wonder why...
Thanks for all your comments on my latest painting. Our weather was PERFECT this weekend, which means we abandoned all things indoors (including the computer) and practically lived on our back porch. That meant fewer blog rounds, which I hope to make up for this week.

Today, it's a little more humid, but still a gorgeous day! I hope the sun shines in your part of the world as well...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Poppy ~ Finished Painting

I loved all your comments on yesterday's post! Today, no thoughts, but simply a light-hearted painting.
Sometimes parts of images swirl in my head and I finally have to paint them. With the last painting it was the owl, this time the poppy. 
So, yesterday I sat down and painted her. So much fun! And I just love that naphthol red! The background looks black, but it's actually paynes gray, which looks like a very deep blue.
I am linking her to the most wonderful Paint Party Friday! Make sure you go visit them for lots of fabulous art!
8 x 10 inch acrylic painting on canvas board

Available here in my Etsy Shop.

I hope you are having a beautiful, relaxing, creative and fun Friday!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Backyard Trees & Thoughts

I had mentioned our backyard trees to my friend Victoria (of The Dreaming Palette) yesterday and she said I should take pictures sometime. So, that's what I did this morning. 
In our rather small backyard we have nine large trees. It was hard taking photos because I can't get enough distance to capture all of them. 
I love how this one tree was incorporated into the back porch! 
Probably because of the trees (two large pines and seven oak trees), we have amazing wildlife in our small backyard. 
All those birds I have shown you in earlier posts, plus toads, frogs, snakes, lizards, salamanders, squirrels, opossums, and raccoons.  And probably some mice we don't usually see... Also, because the trees are very tall, there is a whole community of birds in the tree tops that we never see in our yard. We often hear green herons somewhere in the trees, but very rarely can spot them. The same with the pileated woodpeckers.
I love sitting outside and looking up into the trees, contemplating "stuff"! In fact, it's one of my very favorite things to do! 
And this morning I was contemplating something that's been on my mind lately that I've been wondering about. It's our notion that we have to do everything by ourselves in life and how hard it is to accept anything from others. 
I know quite a few people (I'm not talking about any of you here, but I am including myself as this has been true for me at times) who would do anything for others, but have a hard time if anything done for them that isn't "paid for." Do you know what I mean? We've become so insular and I think many people have so much stress in their lives because they cannot allow others to help in any way.

And then I wonder if you can really truly know the gift of giving to someone (a true gift - no strings attached) if you cannot allow a gift to be given to you? I think giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin and you cannot know the one without knowing the other.
I have come to no conclusions, but I have this feeling that learning to receive is just as important as learning how to give. And for all of our talk of community, that seems to only go so far. Is it fear? Is is pride (shame)? Is it feeling like a failure? Probably all of those. And that makes me a little sad.

How much do we miss out on because we cannot accept a gift? Maybe it's that we believe we aren't worthy. Or that what we have to offer in return isn't as valuable as what we receive. I'm not sure.

I should say, too, that I've experienced all of this with every range of emotion, which is why this occupies my thoughts...

I know I'm not being super clear here, but do you have any thoughts about this?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Freya - Finished Painting

This painting had been in the works for some time. Finished in my head, but it took longer to bring it to the canvas than some of my other paintings.
I had this image in my mind of a woman with her owl and couldn't be more pleased with how she turned out! And my first owl as well...
I named her Freya, a name I have loved since childhood. Plus, I like the mythology surrounding the Norse Goddess Freyja.
No matter where I live, in my heart I think I will always be drawn to the North!
10 x 10 inch acrylic painting
Available in my Etsy Shop.

I hope you are all doing well and are enjoying your day! I feel the need to bake something, so off to the kitchen I go... If it turns out well, you know I'll share the recipe!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blanket Finished!!

It's done! Done!! That was a long project, but quite relaxing to make. 
I love the little border around it - that pulled it all together nicely.
And I was brave and just chucked it into the washing machine like the yarn label said and also the dryer. I figured I might as well. And it came out beautiful and soft and all the colors intact!
And because this was such a meditative project to do, I have already started on the next one. This one in a ripple pattern (click here to see), which is a little more involved, but only for the first row or so. After that it's smooth sailing, just as the granny stripe blanket was.

I think tomorrow I might have more art to share with you. I'm staring at a new painting while typing this and am not sure it's done yet.

I hope you are having a cozy day. Our weather has been cool (almost cold) and super windy. Makes me want to sit on the couch wrapped in my new blanket...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Helen - Finished Painting

First I wanted to thank you for all your comments about the bird photos and hoping to see me paint them. My next painting actually does feature a woman and a bird, but that was sketched out even before I took these photos. I guess birds do inspire me...
But first, meet Helen. Thank you, John (Rambles from my Chair), for naming her!
I like how she is all soft in this final version. Dreamy and lovely. She was pure joy to paint! 
8 x 10 inch acrylic painting on canvas
(with collage and tissue paper for extra texture)

Available in my Etsy shop

I am also linking her to the best party on the blogs: Paint Party Friday!! Ok, so I'm late with it, but I  am pretty sure I can still participate...

We are having a gray day and while I am enjoying it, I am looking forward to sunshine tomorrow!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's official...

...I've become a bird watcher!
Yesterday afternoon and this morning, I have abandoned my studio and sat in the yard for hours watching the birds - the weather was perfect and our bird feeders, blue bird house and fountains were more than busy!
The bluebirds are officially moved in to the bluebird house. Last year the chickadees ousted them.
A little Carolina wren. They are so nosy that they keep coming in the house exploring (completely fearless) when I leave the door open. 
The cardinals still stop me in my tracks - they are so beautiful!  (Do you see our oak leaf hydrangea blooming behind he feeder?)
And then there are the entertaining acrobat squirrels...
A little titmouse at the feeder. 
The big and noisy grackles have been very busy.
The males are just stunning in their color!  
Here's one impressing a female who was on the ground underneath the feeder.
A bird of a different sort - Winslow is always happy when we sit outside. What's that bright color you wonder? Daniel's tie dye sweat pants!
He's one of my favorite birds, which I've shown you before - the red-bellied woodpecker! This year we have two males coming to the feeder - we think one of them might be the baby from last year. 
And here is the one I had been waiting for all morning. The tiny downy woodpecker! 
He is so small compared to the red-bellied woodpecker, but just as beautiful! 
What does Ramses think of all of that? It makes him stretch and yawn.
None of the birds mind him being there - they know he doesn't hunt. But watch out if another cat wanders into the backyard - all of the birds and squirrels immediately sound the alarm. That alerts Winslow who chases the cat away - and all is well again!

Wishing you all a peaceful Saturday!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Underpainting and Recipe

This morning I worked on an underpainting (using only burnt sienna and titanium white) to work out the values in this painting and I couldn't be more pleased. I love when these portraits take shape and suddenly convey real emotion and spirit.
It still is a mystery to me how that happens - for me that's the magical moment of each portrait. I keep staring at her, getting to know her and figuring out her story. Later this afternoon, I'll start working over the underpainting with color. Can't wait! 
And, as promised the recipe. It's quick and easy and delicious!

Sauteed Salmon with Orange & Asparagus
from Gatherings & Celebrations
by Burt Wolf

Makes 4 servings

12 medium asparagus spears (I never count them but I'm sure I always use more)
2 navel oranges or 1 navel orange and 1/2 fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Four (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons black or green olive puree (optional) (I've never used that)
1 tablespoon fresh chives, for garnish

  • trim the asparagus spears and cut them into 3- to 4-inch lengths (I always leave them whole)
  • peel one orange so that it's free of all the white pith. Slice the orange into thin sections and set aside. Juice the second orange or use 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice.
  • when ready to serve, bring small pot of water to a boil with a pinch of the salt. Boil the asparagus for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but not limp. Or you can steam the asparagus for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • heat a large non-stick skillet. Season the fish with half the salt and pepper. Add half the butter to the pan and saute the salmon, skin side up first, over high heat until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the fillets. Remove them to a warm spot while you make the sauce. 
  • to make the sauce, pour orange juice into the skillet, bring to a boil and reduce until slightly syrupy. Turn off the heat, whisk in the remaining butter, and season with the rest of the salt and pepper. Add the reserved orange slices to the sauce to warm through.
  • to present the dish, fan the asparagus tips on a warmed platter or on 4 individual plates and place the cooked salmon in the center. Garnish the salmon with a small dollop of olive puree (if using) and the orange slices, and spoon the sauce on top. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday Mishmash

This morning, I have a few things to share with you that make me super happy these days ... and one question. But we'll get to that later...

Last week, I bought a beautiful crocheted necklace from my friend Deb and I just love it! It's different from what I usually wear and just what I needed for the spring and summer. Deb's blog is wonderful (The Wug's Backyard Blogspot) and well worth visiting. There you can also find a link to her Etsy shop. Her work is great! 
Now, let me introduce you to my new favorite dessert. Some time ago, my friend Vicki (her blog is 2 Bags Full) and her wonderful husband came through Savannah and we had a fun lunch together. They brought us a bottle of this amazing chocolate balsamic vinegar. I've been eating it drizzled on sliced strawberries - absolutely delicious!! I can't get enough of it! Make sure you visit her blog - she is giving away one of her incredible nests. I own two already and I'm hoping I'll win a third...
Ok, here is my question for you yarn people out there. I am almost done with my soft and cozy blanket and am wondering about two things.

I'd like to wash and block it. The yarn says it's machine washable, but I'll wash it by hand in cold water. I'm nervous about all the colors together. Do any of you have any advice on that first washing?

Also, the yarn I used is a super soft, mercerized cotton and somewhat slippery. Do you have any tricks on how to keep the ends that I worked into the blanket from slipping out and showing?

Thank you!!
And last, but not least, last night as I was checking my e-mail one last time, I saw that Fiona had sold. Such a great surprise. I'm always so pleased when my art sells and still somewhat stunned - I guess that comes with being a new artist. Fiona decided to go live in New York! Happy dance, happy dance!!
In my next post, I'll share the Orange Salmon and Asparagus recipe with you.

And for today, I wish you a beautiful day. We are expecting rain and looking forward to it. Our garden needs it!

I'm off to package up the painting (yeah!) and run a bunch of errands. It's that kind of day... I'm sure I'll enjoy it.