Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scrapbooking my Holiday

This year I am doing something different. I have decided to jump into scrap booking by making a mini book of our Christmas holiday season. I came across Ali Edwards' blog and info on December Daily 2010. It seemed to perfect opportunity to just get in there and start scrapping. In honor of this mini book concept, and the hope to make scrapping a more daily/weekly event in my future, I also started a new blog devoted to my new scrap booking activities. Perhaps you might like to follow my efforts at chronicling our lives and our memories over there. The new blog is called Doreen Scrapbooks, Too! My plan is to do all my blogging about scrap booking over there, so if you want to watch my progress and see where this takes me, then go ahead and bookmark that page. As I keep active with other artsy type projects, you'll find the artsy stuff here . . . and the artsy sewing stuff. You didn't think I was planning on giving up sewing, now, did you?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hallelujah! King of Kings, Lord of Lords, For Ever & Ever!!!

One of the best videos I've seen in awhile! If I had been there that day I would have stood up and joined in on the singing - have to give it a standing ovation, too! It was excellent enough on it's first public appearance before King George the II - that he stood to his feet with a standing ovation - it's even better now - sung all across the world via the internet.

In case you are not aware of the story of Handel's "Messiah" I am including a link with some history of this extraordinary song and the setting in which it occurred.

Check these links out for more info:


Here the words are written so you can sing/follow along: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdRyNea19PE&feature=related

Here a very clear, crisp rendition with wonderful orchestra and vibrant chorus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76RrdwElnTU&feature=related

A resounding version featuring several 16th-note (semiquaver) melismas referred to in the Wikipedia article: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__gnmuzq6HI&feature=related

Hope you enjoy the music . . . I know it's Thanksgiving in a couple days . . . just getting a jump on getting into the holiday festivities now for the next month!

"You will have a song, as in the night when a holy feast is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goes with a flute to come to Yahweh's mountain, to Israel's Rock."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow Day!

I came across this video while visiting some of my favorite bloggers. And due to the fact that we are getting more snow today . . . and the cuteness factor of this little girl . . . I am declaring this to be a SNOW DAY! We're supposed to get 10 inches by Thanksgiving Day here in North Dakota.

You can see more from LoobyLu found in the sidebar to the right, or just click here. Her daughter, Emma, did a fine job with the musical stylings of the song. Such a cutie when she musters up all her courage to sing in front of this audience - then lets go with one of her radiant smiles. Love the high five at the end!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cold Tracks and Dry Leaves

The plant at the top of this image is my bay tree. I purchased the bay tree at our local garden center. The tag attached to it indicated this plant was not a good choice for our growing region. I have misplaced the original tag, but an on-line source says these plants are for zone 8-10 . . . we are zone 4. Big difference, huh? Makes one wonder why they were selling it here. I left it in its original clay pot - just sunk the pot and all at ground level outside in my raised bed garden area by the patio. I planned on bringing it indoors for the winter. I have hopes it will survive in the house till it is nice enough to move back outdoors early next summer. The leaves have really dried up. I gave it a good watering when I brought it in. And have watered it a couple times again. I am wondering if I should switch out the clay pot for something else, something that is not quite so porous. It seems to continue to be drying up. Then it occurred to me this plant may lose its leaves in the winter like most other trees. Might have to do a bit of research to find out more info. Actually about half the branches and leaves have greened up nicely and become supple again. If the rest of it doesn't respond better in a few days I may give it a little trim job.

The plant at the bottom is my Christmas cactus. This lovely plant was a gift from my daughter-in-law. It came to me filled with blossoms in bloom. Over the past year it has done well. I look forward to it blooming again. Don't know if I am supposed to do anything special with it to make it bloom again, though. Will wait and see what it does.

I looked out the kitchen window into the backyard this morning to see these animal tracks. Those going back on the left side are from our dogs. Those in the raised bed planter are from our backyard rabbit. It seems to enjoy nibbling the last of the frozen parsley. That's pretty much all that's left of any green plants out there.

Funny, you don't notice the screen so much when you're looking out through the window in person. It's really rather distracting in the photo - darkens the whole view.

After checking out the backyard animal trails, I thought I'd take a look at the front yard. That rabbit (or it's relative?) sure gets around pretty well. Here's the view of animal tracks in the front of the house. I don't think there's anything edible for it out front . . . just passing through.

Looks like we only got a couple inches. Not so bad. I heard a guesstimate of 6-8 inches the day before. Not a problem to get less! It turned out to be pretty cold out there, though.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Postcards Ready to Pop in the Mail

Yay! They're finally done! Here is a peek at all five postcards together. They will be dropped off at the post office in the morning . . . it's too late for them to be processed tonight. So glad to be finished. Hope all the recipients like the one they end up getting.

I wanted each one of these images to have its own distinct appearance. They do, yet I can see similarities in them as well. Doing this project has brought me back to painting again. It has been a lot of fun to try this activity again. Many, many years have passed since I last worked at painting. I can see I need to practice more . . . and I need to pick up a few more colors of paint as well. I could have used a few other colors to create these faces. It would have helped with some of the color mixes and the shading. But considering the number of colors I currently have on hand, I don't think I did too badly.

After standing back and looking over all of these I have to say I'm okay with them. I was a bit bent out of shape by one of yesterday's images, but have settled down since then. I really need to paint alot more to get better at faces, and work from some photos to help with the shadows and reflected light. These are more cartoonish than portrait like even though I tried to get some shading in so they wouldn't look flat. I want to keep working at it so I can get back to a more realistic portrait style like I used to do. I'll have to dig out those canvases I tucked back away in the closet.

Here's a look at the final postcard. I won't say which one I like the most, but I do have a favorite. Like I posted yesterday, they will mixed them up and I will randomly pick which card is sent to each of the swap participants.

Another thing I realized doing this is how much I've missed doing arty stuff just for fun, and as a challenge. I flipped back through some things I did earlier this year with Terri Stegmiller's Creative Cue. I only did two of those. Been thinking I should jump back into that and do some more of those, especially since the year will be coming to a close before we know it. I'll have to get over there and check it out, see what her current word is. Anyway, hope you've enjoyed watching my progress on this project. More arty stuff to come in the future.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Postcard Progress Update

I have been busy painting more on these fabric postcards. I finished this one the other day. I think it turned out pretty well. Not quite what I envisioned, but I am happy with it. I wanted to incorporate alot of color in the piece and feel I achieved that.

After finishing this one I completed the reverse side of the postcards. The back sides will be the same for all five of the cards. It is created on my computer and printed out on heavy weight cardstock. I incorporated a photo of the pawn - cropped to show just the gamepiece - as a feature on the backside. Once I get all the painting completed I will take them downstairs to my sewing studio and stitch the fronts to the backs.

I decided I will write the addresses on the backsides then turn them all upside-down and shuffle them. Then blindly pick a front and back to stitch together and each participant will randomly get one of the paintings. I figure it is too much trouble to pick and chose who would get which specific painted image. So far there are some things I like and don't like about each one. Random selection seems the best way to go. There were only four of us in this round of postcard swaps. I planned to keep one of these for myself, so that means I will have one extra. I've been considering to whom I will send it. Hmmm . . .

Here's the second one that I was working on last night before I went to bed. Honestly, I expected to be done with these a lot more quickly. I really am a slow-poke. Thinking I was putzing too much on them, I decided to move on to work more on the other three. I'm not sure if I will call this one done yet. It can pass for done. But once I stepped back from it and studied it with a more critical eye, I see several things I would like to change. Time will tell if I decide to paint over part of it and rework it. Since I'm already past the deadline on getting these mailed, I likely will let it go and just call it done. I'm not sure how I feel about releasing something, which I am not entirely pleased with, out into the universe. What do you think? How do those of you involved in the creative process handle something like that? Have you worked it out somehow where you've reached a comfort level that says it is okay to give someone something you might not be entirely pleased with? Just curious.

I goofed! I am currently taking a break waiting for my postcards to dry - and get started with making supper. In the process of working on these cards today I grabbed a black ink pen to draw in some details. I didn't realize it till I started painting again that the pen I grabbed was not a permanent ink pen. Here I was painting away, floating in some additional color, and noticed my black ink from the pen was streaking and smearing. Yuck! I touched up what I could before it could dry, then went in search of my spray fixative.

My hubby came walking in here not too long ago telling me, "I'm getting high over here!" Me, too! I took the cards outdoors to spray them. However it was too cold out there to stay out for long, so I brought them back in while still damp. That's some stinky spray! And my asthma started kicking in gear with a reaction tightening up my bronchials. Thankfully most of it has either dried of evaporated now - it's much better in here now. Thank God for modern medicine and pharmacy products that help with asthma! Aahhh . . . I could make a comment about 'suffering for my art' but won't go there - just kidding! And let's not have anyone calling the EPA with anonymous tips on me creating a hazardous work environment!  :)

Here's a closer look at those on the left.

Here's to hoping my next blog post will have me reporting these postcards have been dropped into the mailbox!

And here is a closer look at those on the right side. Still a ways to go before I can call them finished.

Okay, so there they are . . . still not ready to mail out, and the day is really getting away from me. I'm currently eating supper (chicken, chicken and brocolli Rice-a-Roni, and sweet corn) Yummy!!! I will be back to painting in just a few moments.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Look What Is On My Drawing Table

Here is a peek at what is currently on my drawing table. I am working on another postcard swap. I should have put these in the mail by the 9th - I'm late. But I anticipate finishing them up tomorrow. They need a bit more detail work and have their back side stitched in place before I give them up. There is no mail delivery because of Veteran's Day tomorrow, so they will just be sitting in a bin at the post office when I do finish them and post them. "Sorry" to my recipients, if you're reading this. So sorry I am late with them. Soon, very soon your postcard will be in your hands! I hope you like this version that I came up with.

The assignment for this postcard swap was under the theme: Game Day. I kept thinking about pawns --as in the game of chess-- ever since the election and the previous months of politicking, speeches, advertising and news coverage that has been going on here in the US. It seems to me that we, the people of this country, get short shrift from leaders who make poor decisions and choices on our behalf. I was thinking about the similarity to chess where your pawns are expendable in favor of those game tokens with higher rank - anyway, that is what has been on my mind. Originally, I thought of doing something with domino images since we like to play Chicken Dominoes, but this image of the chess pawn kept coming to the fore front of my mind the most.

The way I made the postcards was to stitch together scraps of fabric and over stitch them with extra decorative stitching on my sewing machine first. I had in mind that there would be an underlying stitched pattern beneath the painted image. This was intended to reinforce the idea that there's more, at a deeper level, than meets the eye . . . more going on behind the scenes that affects us 'pawns' - the common everyday people of America.

After the background stitching I started the under painting with acrylics. First a base of paint across the whole background to cover over the stitching while not entirely obscuring it. Then I sketched in some of the basic image, blocking in the main components with pencil. Then I moved on to using some permanent markers, which showed up better and were not prone to smearing like the lead from the pencil, to lay in the basic features of the face. Next came the painting to create the faces and expressions. They still need detail, and also some shading on the pawns to give them dimension, highlights and shadows. I've been working on these a bit, off and on, but have been sidetracked with other stuff lately. That's why they're not finished yet and off my desk.

We got snow today. It wasn't a whole lot for us. The storm that came through North Dakota was more west and north of us. Yay! We got bypassed for the most part. And I heard it was supposed to warm up a bit tomorrow again, so the snow that fell today will melt by tomorrow. This is the second snowfall so far this fall. This photo is a view out the back door at our patio.

We covered the boat for the winter season and put all the patio chairs and table, the cushions, flower pots and various other garden things away in the sheds for storage.It looks so much larger and open now that it is empty. But it will make life easier for my hubby when he goes out there to snow-blow when the big snows hit this winter. We have to keep moving the snow back from the house so the dogs can get out there to do their business. Ginger, our bigger hunting dog, is more adventurous about going further out in the yard and exploring when the heavy snow is on the ground. But the chihuahuas will only go as far as the bottom of the stairs if the way is not cleared of snow for them. Plus, it melts so much nicer away from the house and the water run-off in the spring isn't such a mess when the snow is blown further back.

Notice my big planter box? My hubby built this raised bed planter for me this past spring for herbs, tomatoes, onions and the like. You can see a bit of some of the herbs still there. It looks like our backyard neighborhood rabbit was sitting there nibbling on parsley the other day.

I cut some of the herbs and hung them to dry on my laundry drying rack. I believe they are sufficiently dried now so that I can put them in zip-lock baggies and crush them. I need to go out shopping to get more zippy bags. We used the last of them the other day sending sandwiches with hubby for lunch and snack breaks at work. It won't hurt the herbs to hang there another day or two while I finish up painting my postcards tomorrow. After all, I've been side-tracked enough . . . first things first tomorrow is to get those postcards done.

This large pot of soup is one of those things that side-tracked me today. I've been meaning to make up another pot of this Potato Chowder. I ran around and got all my errands accomplished this morning, and when I saw the snow start falling after lunch I decided supper today would be soup. And it sure was tasty! There is plenty left for lunch tomorrow . . . so that means I can paint and not get involved with cooking anything till tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to another great day with art in the morning!