Sunday, February 28, 2010

Inspiration and Illustration Friday - Perspective

Most people didn't understand, but from her own perspective, her life made perfect sense.

This is the piece I painted after my last pastel painting. I had this 8 x 10 inch canvas, which I had prepared with gel medium for texture and already two women sketched on it. I didn't like them, so I plastered over them with papers and tissue paper, then covered the whole thing with a layer of deep teal soft pastel ... and there it sat ... for days and days!

After I finished the pastel from my last post, I suddenly looked at this canvas and decided to paint a face on it with very thin acrylic washes. I only used three colors of Golden fluid acrylics - Green Gold, Quinacridone Magenta, and Phthalo Turquoise. Why those three? Because those are the only fluid acrylics I have.

The rest of the colors you see on the painting (with the exception of the white in the eyes), are either those three colors mixed or the colors of the papers shining through. If you remember, I use rubbing alcohol to lift off some of the acrylic paint in some areas.

I worked in very thin washes, fairly quickly and loved working this way! The washes were very unpredictable, and I really liked that lack of control. And I am quite enamoured by the final outcome!!

P.S. I am sorry I haven't been by your blogs in awhile - with Daniel's brother visiting, I just don't have much computer time. But I'll be back soon! In the meantime, thank you for continuing to visit here!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Imitation vs. Inspiration

Every time after I have painted something that felt truly inspired to me and left me with such a feeling of pride of satisfaction, I want to do it again. And every single time, the second piece is alright, but doesn't feel inspired.

The same thing happened with the painting above. You can see the inspired painting here. This one looks good and even similar, but it wasn't nearly as fulfilling to paint it.

And I figured out what happens. I am trying to consciously imitate a process that didn't happen in my conscious mind. That means that with the second painting, I am always painting more from my head than from my intuition and therefore it's never as satisfying as the first one.

I decided that in the future, when I paint something that is truly inspired, afterwards I will paint something completely different, using different materials and techniques. Yesterday, that meant I picked up my acrylics again and I'll show you the result tomorrow.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hoping for Spring...

I am trying to force spring in our house. It's been so cold here and I am so ready for some warmer days that Daniel brought in branches of our ornamental pear, which are now in full bloom in my kitchen. And I've bought some silk flowers and place little bouquets around the house.
Then, yesterday, I got out some yarn and spring colors and knit this scarf. I guess I am in spring mode now...
If you like it, you can find it in my knitting/crocheting etsy store. Simply click here.

Hoping for a few balmy days soon... How about you?!

Friday Food

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now, know that I have a serious love affair with bread! Yesterday, I made a batch of these very delicious oatmeal knots to eat with equally delicious vegetable beef soup.

When we ate them fresh from the oven, I simply could not restrain myself and ate four of them - yes, four! Try them, you'll love them as much as I do!!

Oatmeal Knots
Cooking Light Magazine

1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups boiling water
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
3 cups whole wheat flour (about 14 1/4 ounces)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces), divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg
1 tablespoon regular oats
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and add 2 cups boiling water, stirring until well blended. Cool to room temperature.
Dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add yeast mixture to oats mixture; stir well. Stir in flaxseed meal.
Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Gradually add 3 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour to oats mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into the dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down, and let rest for 5 minutes.
Divide dough in half; cut each half into 12 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent from drying), shape each portion into an 8-inch rope. Tie each rope into a single knot; tuck top end of rope under bottom edge of roll. Place each roll on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray; let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine 1 teaspoon water and egg in a small bowl; brush egg mixture over rolls. Combine 1 tablespoon oats, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds; sprinkle evenly over rolls. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

Yields 24 Rolls.

Guten Appetit!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Can you say HAPPY?!?

One of Daniel's brothers is here for a visit and look what he brought us.
He is a carpenter by trade, but now retired and builds the most beautiful boats.
How did we get so lucky?!
So, if you suddenly find me missing from blogland, you'll know where I am - sailing into the sunset with my honey!

P.S. If you'd like to see some fun (and one slightly scary) older photos of me, visit Verena's blog. She wrote a really sweet post about me yesterday! Simply click here.

P.P.S. Thank you all so much for all your fun and loving comments lately (and always). I look forward to your visits every day!!! My very early morning routine: let Winslow out, make breakfast, eat breakfast with Daniel, read your comments! And then, of course, I check if there are more comments several times a day. You all are addictive...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This 'n' That

Daniel had a book signing last weekend and I got this great photo of him! The proud author and illustrator! It was fun hanging out at the book store and meeting all kinds of people. He sold a bunch of books and then we bought a bunch. Funny how that happens....
And just look at this - this is just some of the love I have received in the mail lately! Oh, so very special!
And then arrived the latest issue of my favorite German magazine. I wasn't going to do this again, but I just have to share some of the beautiful pages with you...
Among others, there are articles on decorating with radishes (I'd never have thought of that),
cooking for Easter,
rhubarb (I so love rhubarb and can't wait for it to be in season again),
nesting birds,
tiny chickens,
and the most elaborate chicken coops.
Aren't they amazing?
I hope I don't bore you with this every time I get my copy of the magazine, but it's so pretty I want to share it with all of you. Thanks for indulging me!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Dear Friend - A New Blog

When I was 12, we moved to Münster, Germany, and I started going to a new school. That's where I met Verena and we became the best of friends!

Verena has recently started her own blog about life with her family, especially with their daughter Gerlinde, who has Down syndrome,
and Gerlinde's two younger sisters Constanze and Charlotte. For all my German-speaking blog friends, make sure you go visit and even those of you who don't speak German, you'll enjoy her beautiful photos and the spirit behind them! Simply click here! (And you can leave comments even in English...)
With Verena starting her blog, my thoughts have often gone back in time to when we were in school together. And one thing I remember so well (and still have) are the books of inspiration she and I put together. Here is mine:
We wrote down poems we liked, morsels of wisdom and anything else that inspired us.
Looking through it this morning, I have to say that we had a lot of wisdom for a couple of teenagers!
And here my very own drawing of a scene from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, with many moving passages from this sweet story!
This is probably the most creative project I put together during my teenage years. Do you remember our inspiration books, Verena?! Oh, what a great trip down memory lane.

Is there anything more important than good friends? Nothing comes to mind...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Painting my Soul...

Soft Pastel on 9 x 12 inch 200 lb. Sennelier Pastel Card

I dedicate this painting to our friend Renee. You have taught me much about boundless love, great courage, the healing power of laughter, and living life with abandon! Knowing you has changed me. Thank you!

I've been sitting here trying to write about how this painting came about, but I have no words. I was in that creative space and she appeared on my paper. She came from deep within and when I look at her, I can't quite describe how I feel, except that I know that she is part of me. Words are sometimes so inadequate, don't you think?!

P.S. Looking at her again and reading some of your comments, I feel compelled to add that even though she looks sad, sadness was not what I felt when I painted her. Far from it, I felt expansion, I felt freedom, I felt pure joy, exhilaration and great love! This woman has seen much, yet she knows with certainty that all is very well in the great scheme of things...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

And the Winners Are...

Beth Anderson of Beth Anderson Pulls the Wool wins the first painting and Sherry of Everyday Possibilities the second one!

Thank you all so much for participating. It truly warmed my heart that you all would enjoy one of my paintings. There's always a slight worry with every giveaway if anyone will want what I am offering...

You all are wonderful!!

The Evolution of A Painting and "IF - Propagate"

Her attempt to propagate her favorite tree somehow went terribly wrong...

Ok, so the tree could be hugging her sweetly, but somehow my mind felt more sinister today...

Now to the evolution of this painting. A few days ago, I painted the very first version of her, which looked perfectly sweet and to me felt so boring.
It was lacking spirit! Then, Daniel suggested I look at a book by Odilon Redon who had lots of texture in his pastels. My ears perked up because (as you know) I love texture.

After looking at and admiring his work, I decided to leave my safety zone and get wild with my pastels. Enter version 2, which is less tame, but still leaves her pretty face sort of untouched by the craziness around her.
I wanted more.

And that's when I entered The Zone, where my mind sort of shuts off and my deep inner self takes over. It is something that is hard to explain in words, but the exhilaration I feel when I am painting like that tells me that I am expressing a very deep part of myself. It is purely emotional and that is when the whole process feels most satisfying to me! Do you ever get in that space?!

I have definitely left the Land of Pretty and have entered my own deep ocean of inspiration. Just wait until you see my next women! Maybe not pretty, but very expressive - at least I think so...

P.S. I will announce the winners of the giveaway later today!!

P.P.S. Thank you so much for your daily visits! You have no idea what a joyous part of my day reading your comments has become!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Food

We both love to eat roasted or grilled veggies and these just looked so pretty I had to take before and after pictures. We tossed sweet peppers (yellow, orange and red), red onion and sliced portobello mushrooms with garlic, lemon rind, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper and grilled them in a grill basket. Delicious!!
Ever since I started blogging and taking pictures for you all, I notice things I never saw before. A few days ago, I had to roast a whole head of garlic for a dish and when I was finished squeezing out the soft, roasted garlic, I was left with this beautiful "flower."
There truly is beauty wherever we choose to look for it...

P.S. This is the last day to enter my giveaway here!! (The two winners will be announced tomorrow.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thrift Store Finds...

As some of you know already, I've never been a thrift store gal. Yet, we often go and I always find great books and rarely look at anything else. But lately, we've found a few thrift stores that were of a different caliber than the one close to our house. There, we actually found some lovely treasures, like the tall vase above and the little white planter below.
Another interesting planter, which I am using upside down to display some of our Native American pottery from New Mexico. Can you see the snakeskin in the foreground? Daniel has found quite a few of those, the biggest of which was about six feet long.
This Japanese fan we actually found in a little antique store on the road to Charleston. It's gold one one side...
and silver on the other. Just beautiful!
And I was so happy to find this cute little bowl, which reminds me of a tea set I had as a little girl.
I think I am getting the hang of this sort of treasure hunting. The trick is to go often enough and to many different stores to find some real gems!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Illustration Friday - Adrift

adrift in her own thoughts

Yesterday, I discovered this piece of acrylic paper (6 x 6 inches), I had prepared with a background collage of pretty papers and a layer of tissue paper. So, I took it and painted another girl with head in hand. Love her!!

I worked fairly transparently so you can still see some of the papers showing through. After all the pastel paintings, it was fun picking up acrylics again. But then, right after I finished her, I started on another pastel. Can you tell I am hooked?

Thank you all so much for your comments on our Charleston photo. It's so much fun to share our adventures with you!

P.S. Don't forget to enter my giveaway here!

Monday, February 15, 2010