The Delight in a Cup of TEA!

I used to drink 3 or 4 cups of strong black coffee over day. Then my work environment started getting rough and anxiety loomed. That much caffeine became a hazard. Thus, I went tea-crazy!

You can see a bit of the painting I did to hang over this shelf (there’s another shelf below with a teapot and stufff…). Below is the whole thing.

The lighting was not optimum, the green is actually uniformly applied.

And I’m not selfish with my tea, oh no! I have a few cups on hand to share with…should an army drop by!

A section of the shelf…

How Chickens Got to Hawaii

I get the Science Today feed for the headlines and a brief summary of the latest findings. This one caught my eye a while back:

SciDaily

That immediately brought to mind a painting I did a few years ago. It’s just a hobby but I enjoy making things. Wow, seeing this story about the very thing I’d imagined! It doesn’t matter to me that it’s silly and amateur…it was fun to do!

It’s on a huge canvas and I’d love to say it looks better in person…but maybe not. The textures come out better, anyway. The water looks more dramatic.

Cabin June 2015 068I have another painting I started a few months ago and abandoned when the weather started getting cooler and when I got a few bundles of beautiful new cloth to sew. I decided on making thermally superior long johns instead of painting, go figure. BTW,040 they’ve been so phenomenal that I am eyeing the materials to make more (sew I can wash this set more often)…

It’s another featuring my beloved stick-chicken type character. I have gobs of vacation to use – if the paint isn’t frozen (the room I paint in is over the unheated garage) I may give this masterpiece (HA!) a chance once more. Finish it? No promises.

Three Fingers

Marika cut her eyes low, away from the damnable blank canvas. The blasted thing had preyed on her mind for two weeks now. She’d vowed to get a least one spot of paint on it before she removed her butt from the stool. She shifted to stare at the inert jars of paint that could have been an image on a screen for all the good they were.

Cabin June 2015 055

Ilya had meant well, sure. “Get the big one,” he said. “Don’t pick out two or three brushes, get the whole set!” He’d seen one of her checks from the print sales of Krakow Sunset and got a gleam in his eye. Was she his skinny cash cow there for the milking?

Krakow was the last decent painting she’d done before her idiotic suicide attempt. Or attempt to touch heaven. Whatever it was that had her in treatment for so long. The fleeting memory of feeling and seeing her puny limbs disintegrate into the eternal, the intensely emotional longing for the dissociation to reach her brain, the red ecstasy….

Marika caught herself leaving her seat just in time. Screwing her butt back onto the wooden seat, she clenched her teeth and enunciated, “Stop the lunatic star trip! It was not real!” Her breathing evened out after a few minutes. She calmed a bit and eased her jaws.

One glance at the 30″ X 40″ canvas and her anger ignited. An arm grabbed the first paint jar in reach. She spun the lid off and scooped out three fingers of thick aquamarine paint. In a fluid motion she flung it across the deathly white surface. She smeared it around the awful surface in jagged streaks with those living fingers.

She stopped abruptly, breathless and wide-eyed. Automatically her hand reached for the towel so she could recap the paint jar without making a mess. The act of placing the capped jar back in place brought her closer to her soul, further from the starry precipice.

A tilt of her head showed her that the central figures must be iridescent white. Figures? Yes, she nodded, three figures. Tentatively at first, she painted thin white fingers within the widest smears. With greater command she thinned some bright hues on her palette and adorned the perimeter of the upper left of the canvas with translucent yet vibrant blossoms. On the lower right she drew empty, misshapen black stars. They crouched there, waiting for her to stumble.

Her eyes were swept to the flowered garden, making her smile. Now what? If only she could see more clearly! Cleaning the black from her brush, Marika saw Ilya leaning back on the table saw, watching her.  She ignored him and sat with her hands folded in her lap.

“Sweetie, if I’m bothering you, I’ll go.” He waited for a reply. “Marika? I wanted to make sure you were okay, that’s all. Do you want some lunch?”

She shoved the stool back with her foot and stooped to add strategically placed chaotic arrows in magenta. Standing, she faced him silently.

He stepped toward her. “Your studio upstairs is all cleaned up and ready. Do you want me to help you take this up there? The light is so much better there. I can carry your painting.”

Gut roiling, she answered, “Yes.”

With tears on his face, he whispered, “Hallelujah” and followed his wife out of the garage and onward to the sunlit studio, one step at a time.

What It Looks Like Now

As I mentioned before, it took many days of diligent labor to get the floors, wall and windows clean and cleared. TheCleanup Monster Cabinet next step was moving heavy furniture. This monstrous cabinet is one big unit. My ex made it. Not slow, not quick, but half-fast. It just about wore me out shoving this from one end of the house to the other – it took a while.

The desk was in a little room meant originally to be an upstairs bath. That’s where my office has been; now it is in the corner of the great room. Naturally, I had to disassemble it, move it piece by piece and Cleanup Desk Closereassemble it. I like it here even if the bats don’t.

Oh, yes, the bats. The next morning after scrupulously scouring the floor, I discovered guano and shredded insulation. Marvelous. I put this rug down so I can take it out and shake it every weekend, and wash it on occasion. As they’re directly behind my left shoulder as I type, I Cleanup Bat Matthink I can hear tiny bat babes. I shall deal with the bats later. I love ‘em, but they really should be outside.

I now have a sewing table and a big shelving unit to organize the cloth and other goods needed. Ten feet away is the huge thick plastic cutting layout, with grid lines. I bought that years ago and it was still curled up in the box. The layout is on a 4×8 foot table that has wonderful work room. There is a grand open floorspace for rolling out the canvas for floor cloths. The monster cabinet is by the easel where I will store the paints, palette and whatnot. The north window will be behind me. I have room to array the paints in use. I also put a nice stool at Cleanup Reading Areathe big table and can pull out my drawing stuff, wood burning stuff or the jewelry making stuff as needed. When not in use, back to storage in the monster cabinet.

Ah, here is the relax-and-read area. I bought that sofa eons ago, put it in the loft and immediately piled crap on it. Nevermore! Now I need to bring back a few hundred books at a time to repopulate the forlorn shelves. I miss my books.

More Ambition than Time!

Where I work, we can buy an extra week of vacation a year. For Non-Americans, we are notorious for being driven by work, work, work, thus blog june 039adding one week to the provided two or three weeks is a great increase. I did not buy any vacation as I have difficulty using all I get. Sad I know. Yet if I could buy weekend days at the cabin without impinging on my job (must stay in good graces at the job) I would probably break the bank.

One Project Example: I have the t’Hoot series with  one book ready to edit, then publish…most of what I have to do with that project – except trying to sell them – is done. So of course, I started a new series Otto and Socks that is Mouse readingdifferent than I every tried before. Learning curve. Research. Fifteen drafts of the first one until it feels right. Writing umpteen storylines for subsequent stories since all will (probably) be only 5, 000 to 10,000 words each. They won’t write themselves, either. Learn new formatting and cover software. Design the cover with the series in mind. Plan publishing. Will I establish my own publishing imprint and buy my own codes or not? It-would-take-TIME.

I have that big ol’ canvas that isn’t painting itself (amazing if it did). All I did with it last weekend was cut out paper bubbles of several sizes and fit them up under the crackly part Brushes topto see how it might look. Maybe. If I hee-hawed over my writing as I do with the painting, I’d have never got the first one published!

I have a super cool blue suede jacket, long and flouncy, that is cut out and 1/3 done. I worked on that last in early December. Don’t even remind me of the great stack of My Sweetheartsewing projects by my machine that the cats keep climbing on and knocking onto the thread-strewn floor. See photo of Krink Pestercat saying, “It wasn’t me!” Yet I spent an hour printing out polar bear patterns…and a leopard pattern…and a doggie. I have cloth store coupons in my wallet and visions of thick white fur bounding about in my head. Smack me!

My kiln in the basement awaits an electrician to install the proper electrical outlet, but that has not deterred me from buying all sorts of ceramic instruction books and DVDs. I have a scroll saw collecting dust, as are the wood working saws and such in the garage. The last bookshelf built was in May of 1821. I found a mouse nest in my big box of yarn with the knitting project, needles still stuck in it, mid-purl. I shall not go into the tasks begging for the cabin upkeep or gardening or podcasts or a thousand other things. And right now, I should be hard at work at my job.

Mary holding Hate thin

All I can say is IT IS WONDERFUL TO NEVER BE BORED!

Gargoyle pair

Since I Don’t Have Enough To Do…

I had heard about Citizen Science for a long while, but equated it with birdwatchers getting eaten up with ticks out in some snaky woodland. That can be great fun, including the monkey-like tick-picking afterwards, however it is time consuming and risks horrid diseases. Then I found Citizen Science for couch taters and cubical residents:

ZOONIVERSE! People-Powered Research

The Zooniverse provides opportunities for people around the world to contribute to real discoveries in fields ranging from astronomy to zoology. Welcome to the largest online platform for collaborative volunteer research.

They have lots of projects from wildlife in Gorongosa to old sailing ship logs to weather patterns – you select a project and they tell you the way to count and identify what you see. They show you pictures. You count or circle or describe. If you like, you can join a chat on the subject.

I have indicated the illustrations in old horticultural journals. I have compared one storm track against another to discern the stronger. I have counted wildebeests and indicated what direction they ran. I have categorized Mediterranean plankton (least favorite). The newest one is spotting and identifying Wisconsin wildlife, looks very interesting. For all y’all that have jam-packed days already (as I do) yet wish to contribute in a meaningful way, give it a try as you can do as many counts as you have time for. It’s fun!

Painting pre-crackle runsPainting crackle detailOooh, update on the painting project – CRACKLE. Check out the before and after; neat effect after drying a couple days. I propped the canvas up at various angles until I got the drip rate I wanted.  I have tons left to do on this. I love the ‘fractured sky’ look and the way it dripped down, but not so much the solid brown right below the crackle. There are plenty of ways to fix that. All I have to do is tear myself away from my laptop and the SF new series…I have more ideas for that too. How long before the weekend starts?

The Grand Painting Update

I went upstairs several times over the weekend simply to look at the big canvas with the bright background. What would it look Painting Backgroundlike with a Titan Buff glaze? How about iridescent bronze or gold? Antique gold or bright gold? Saturday, I prepared a large cardboard with stripes  of the same background colors.

Saturday night it was dry. Not having buff right then, I tried bronze diluted with medium, then diluted more as it was so dark. next was the antique gold. Still darker than desired. The Paint tubelighter gold worked best, yet could not be all I sought. I left it and finished a brightly flowered dress, rayon, knee-length. At first I though I’d put the zipper on the wrong side but realized I had the dress on backwards. Never mind it was supposed to be a side zipper, grrrr.

Sunday evening came the epiphany! Crackle! Over my test board, I slathered a varying thickness of crackle medium with a dab of azure in it. Since it has to dry a few days, I stay in anxious anticipation until I get back home to see it. Of course, since then I’ve been mentally going back to it again and again on exactly where to put that crackle. What color should it be? I’m thinking it goes across the green part between the sky and space, the green swirls should show at the cracks. Greenhouse gases. Broken sky. Gosh, I want to get back to it! I did get the stars put up in that dark blue sky.

Pictures of the test board? Shots of the starry expanse? Forgot! How about cats to round out the post? These are the cabin crew. Fatty and Barto are hand picked from the Humane Society. I got Bridget, Gidget and Digit from the chicken plant junk heap…only Bridget is left after all these years. I’ll have to tell all about Krink someday, she really is special.

Krink Beg 2
Krink Pestercat, My Sweetie

Fatima Relaxed
Fatty, Typically Relaxed

More Cat Than Box
Barto, More Cat Than Box

Bridget, Rescued from the Chicken Plant Junk Pile

A Little Color

Painting BrushesCabin June 2015 056I’d stared at the blank canvas for far too long, not wanting to ‘mess it up’ and attempting to make final decisions. Heck with it! That canvas is slathered with great gobs of paint now. I took a couple pictures of the initial volley and of the background with sketches taped to it. I guess I still have the ‘don’t mess it up’ phobia because the next step has me dithering.

Painting BackgroundReading up on acrylic glazes, my most Painting with Sketchesprobable next step in making a thing glaze of bronze and put it over everything except the dark blue at the top. That’ll tone the bright colors down and blend the composition better.  I watched a couple North Light videos too, and they have lifted my confidence level in that it’s okay to PAINT OVER something you don’t like! Less inhibition, now, and perhaps better skills.

Always before, I put the colors down and when the canvas had no white left, it was done. I’ve tried realism, painterly and bold cartoon-like pictures. I always used by nice easel. This one, I’m going to experiment with glazes, texture and pay more attention to the physical composition. I have the painting flat for easier access. We shall see!

Cabin June 2015 066

Of my past ones, Stick Chick Crosses the Road is my favorite. That was inspired by a change in management at the place I’d been with from start-up. My new $&*%# boss wanted her own person in my spot but I did a good job, so firing me was problematic. Wahhh. I let her harass me until I found another job, then I hung the 30 inch x 40 inch about a square meter) picture at my desk and let her stew a week before I put in my notice. Ha! Did I mention it was a chicken plant? I use a chained biker-type wallet and so does Stick Chick. I had often posted cartoons of dung beetles in amusing situations, so Big Black Buggety got a cameo as well. Maybe one day I’ll post a few of those here…

 

 

 

 

Ah, Sew…

I have come to the conclusion I am a person driven by one compulsion after another. Brew season, I am obsessed with sanitizing more bottles and deciding how many Cabin June 2015 076buckets I can manage fermenting at one time. In the Spring, I am consumed by trying such and such fruit trees yet again or having another go at more flowery bushes. When I am writing, I write non-stop many hours at a whack.

Now I sew. I have spent way too much at Hancock’s (great bargains!) for 13A Plus 029material and patterns. My weekends are gobbled up with sewing up one garment after another. It doesn’t seem to matter we don’t need more clothes, I simply love making them!

Most patterns get used in an inspirational way, maybe make this shirt pattern into a dress 13A Plus 028with poofy long sleeves. Make this unlined simple jacket pattern into a lined and insulated long coat with cool toggles. You’d think I’d need fewer patterns if that’s what I used them for. Ha!

The only possible conclusion is that making something well is the way I judge my self-worth. When the books I labored over so arduously do not sell, I get anxious and crave another creational outlet Download 090915 016that might do better. I made three fruitcakes last weekend with supreme optimism that at least one will make a wonderful birthday cake and present for Ma who will be 85 the day after Thanksgiving – she adores fruitcake. I hope she likes the fact I’m slathering them with homemade apple wine periodically.

I also made Ma an electrical blue with silver sparkles tunic with matching skirt and me a poetically patterned dress and a black and white plaid pencil skirt with a matching cool, complicated jacket. I love the feeling (perhaps mistaken) that I’m gaining some degree of mastery in this endeavor. Did I mention the saddle-brown boot skirt just made that has the back zipper pull on the inside? I decided it wasn’t that big of a deal and left it that way…Cabin June 2015 054

Once I get my backlog sewing projects done, next is the acrylic art studio upstairs. Or perhaps I’ll be in that studio all this weekend…I have a marvelous idea and have made ten sketches already. That room is over the garage and not directly heated, so if I am going to paint, I’d better get a move on!