Monday, October 23, 2017

Figs

Our June and part of July was definitely dominated by our fig harvest. Our little tree was producing like never before! When we planted it 11 years ago, it was a merely a little stick, maybe a foot tall.
Every day for a few weeks we picked a couple of bowls of figs. Luckly they don't all ripen at the same time.
I bought a food dehydrator and dried what I thought where huge amounts of figs.
We indeed had a couple of big containers filled with dried figs and then Daniel discovered a recipe for a rye sourdough bread with dried figs, which is excellent and freezes really well. So, we've already used most of the dried figs and have decided that next year, we'll dry even more of them. 
Of course, we also made a lot of fig jam, some with lavender, another batch with thyme and also a few jars with orange blossom water.
All of them delicious! 
We made a rustic fig tart, 
fig pizza with goat cheese, caramelized onion and pine nuts, 
but the best recipe that Daniel found this year is for Roasted Fig Agrodolce. We made several batches for the freezer and it is delicious just on crackers or - like in the photo below - as an appetizer on toasted baguette with goat cheese or cream cheese. Next year, I'll definitely make more of that to freeze!
To be honest, I was glad when the fig season was finally over, but I'm happy we get to enjoy the jams, the dried figs and agrodolce in the freezer yet for some time to come.

Silke

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Long Overdue Update!

Wow, this was a long break from blogging! I was going to start again in September, but then we were preparing for a hurricane evacuation and Daniel's start of school. We ended up being able to stay home during Hurricane Irma as it had weakened to a tropical storm, but we didn't know until the last day. Luckily, we had no damage at all except no power for four days, which was nothing compared to what others experienced and are still experiencing.
I also spent the summer trying to understand the mind-boggling political situation in this country and the world. I will continue to keep my blog free of politics, but I did want to mention it here since it defined my summer to a large extent.
The paintings above and below were really fun commissions I worked on during the summer.
It made me feel quite powerless and so sad and angry to read about what this current US administration is doing and undoing. And then came the unbelievable natural disasters that were happening too fast and were too destructive to fully comprehend: incredibly strong hurricanes, earthquakes and now the deadly fires in California.
There was and is so much suffering so close to home and all in places we have visited. They are all places we love. And I have to say, this year's hurricane season was so unbelievable and so much more stressful as we often didn't know if we were going to be directly in the path. I'm so glad the season is finally winding down and the communities affected can heal and rebuild.
I noticed over the summer how my art was changing. At the beginning of the summer I still liked working loosely with acrylic inks and acrylic paint. I liked the element of surprise. Not so much later in the summer. There had been too many surprises that I had no control over and I noticed how I craved taking my time with my art and drawing more intentionally and realistically.
I found a wonderful young British artist on Patreon whose tutorials have taught me so much. Here's the link if you are interested. The golden retriever above I drew with charcoal pencils and my nephew I rendered with graphite and charcoal.
What I really want to learn is how to draw realistically with colored pencils. I followed Kirsty's tutorial for this kingfisher bird using colored pencils and solvent and absolutely loved it.
I used to think I wasn't patient, but that's not true. I am so enjoying these drawings that take me many hours to complete. I'm working on one right now that's going to take me a few more days until it's done. Again with colored pencils.

Thank you for sticking with me. I have missed our interactions. I'll do a few more blog posts with all the photos I've taking over the summer in our garden and a few knitting projects I've finished or am still working on.

In the meantime, I hope you are all doing well!!

Silke

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Art!!!

Wow! I can't believe a month has passed since my last blog post. It's been a busy few weeks with life and art and friends visiting.
All the abstract experimenting has led me to changes in my art. In this piece I worked with many, many layers of high flow acrylics and also using some of my stencils.

 What you can't see very well in the photos is the gold I used.
 Not just as paint with the stencils, but also gold-colored metal leaf at the end.
The result is a beautiful 9 x 12 inch portrait, somewhat mysterious and quite layered. This painting has sold.
The following painting is quite a bit larger (16 x 20 inches) and here I again worked with stencils, but this time using them with light molding paste to add texture and structure to the painting.
If you look in the lower right corner, those flower shapes are raised.

As are the flowers in the photo below. Such gorgeous texture!
I'm really enjoying working larger even though it takes much longer. And I love painting human portraits again in addition to my animal paintings.
I hope you are having a wonderful June! I'm spending much of it painting and I'll have more to show you soon!

Silke

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mama Raccoon

As I already mentioned in a previous post, we have a raccoon nest high up in a tree next to our house and I take a peek to see what mama raccoon is up to as often as I can. Yesterday, I didn't see her all day. But this morning she was active and posed for my camera.
After being outside the nest for a while, she went back in head first.
She turned around on the inside and for a while all I could see was her ear.
And then she stuck her head out and looked left...
and right...
and got ready to leave once again.

She always stays close, but it looks like she needs a break from the babies once in a while. Especially as the temperatures heat up, it must get quite warm in the nest.

We've lived here for 11 years and see raccoons almost every day and we've never had an issue with them, which we are very grateful for. Can't wait to catch a glimpse of the babies!

Silke

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Stencils and Molding Paste

A couple of years ago I bought a handful of stencils ... and I keep forgetting that I have them! The other day I came across them while looking for something else and decided to experiment using molding paste with them.
One result you can see in this blog post from a few days ago.  And now again. I used the first stencil with molding paste and it worked beautifully.
After applying some paint I worked light molding paste (which I had tinted with acrylic paint) into two additional stencils.

The result is really fun and rather busy. It needs something else. Maybe a focal point.
I'm just not sure yet. Hopefully today will reveal the next step...

Silke