Thursday, March 29, 2012

Art and Rants

Still doing projects with Matte Gel and acrylic paints.

Mail Call
(click for details)
This is on a canvas board, 9 x 11. It's mixed media and collage, with postage stamps from New Zealand on the left. A rubber stamped image of an envelope is under the gel. I didn't like the letters with just the white image, so I darkened them and I think it's better that way. Media includes acrylic paint, matte gel, oil pastels and Micron pens. It will probably be used later in another project, maybe some assemblage of some kind, or as a journal cover.

Far Away
(click for details)
This postcard was made using leftover paint, an old photo (person unknown) and various mixed media. It was sent out to another mail artist in IUOMA.

Boy the past few days have been stressful! We stopped down the road at the horse stable and purchased some organic compost about 10 days ago. The guy was supposed to deliver it the next day. Next day he didn't show. John went down a day or two later, couldn't find him, no one was there. Then he was able to catch him, the guy promised it would be here the next day; next day, nope. We went through this once more, he had excuses and apologies. Still no delivery. If we hadn't already purchased the plants, which need to get in the ground, we would have started looking for other resources. Today, on the way to buy a microwave (details later), we stopped by there again. His truck was out of gas. I said a few pointed words and he promised to be here to day. And he was!! Even brought a second load as an apology.

The microwave ...... we have been in this house for 5 years. It was newly built when we purchased it. We have had to replace an A/C unit (from the original small house which had been torn down) and the dishwasher, now the microwave; the doorbell fell apart, the plumbing leaks in places, the drains have worn out in the bathtubs, under the back and front door the weather stripping is falling out and the sill is cracking. The light fixtures in the kitchen have dropped to the floor, scaring us and the dogs. Tiles have come up in the downstairs bathroom floor and on the kitchen counters. The wood floor wasn't sealed properly, so where the dining room chairs sit, it's worn down to bare wood. There are no sound buffers, and the stairs going to the 2nd floor groan badly as you walk up them. The outside light for the driveway can only be turned on if you go into the garage, so it's pitch black at night. The windows leak air. The 3rd outside door, which we hardly use, is very poorly sealed and we had to add tape to seal out the cold air this winter. The toilets are cheap and hard to flush, and there is only 1 A/C vent in the 3rd floor room, making it pretty hot up there in the summer. OK, I'll stop there. :)

But, on the plus side, it seems well insulated. And we do live in the country so it's usually quiet and pretty. And the porches are wide.

But I just had to get that off my chest. It seems the life span of many things used to build this house is about 5 years. That's frustrating when it's a new house. ARRGH!!!!

On a positive note - we did get our tax worksheets finished and they will be sent off to the accountant tomorrow! Yay!!

And, it's SPRING!

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday Story: Daddy's Girl

Hello friends, unfortunately I am not able to write a new story this week, so instead I am repeating one from last February, 2011. I have had pretty good days in the past week, but now am feeling a bit worn out and think it's probably better if I rest. I have been encouraged about how much better I have felt and do not want to run myself down. I don't want to look back and wish I had just stayed still! Thanks for understanding!


Daddy's Girl
Seventh in a Tuesday Story series (originally run on February 8, 2011)

The summer I turned six, my parents purchased their first home. We were living in a small frame house which belonged to the U.S. Navy, since both of my parents were veterans. At that time there were three children in the family, with the fourth on the way so more room was needed. The new house was several miles away, across a couple of rivers and on a large island. I was beginning first grade, and my parents enrolled me in the neighborhood school not far from our new home. However, school started a couple of weeks before our scheduled moving date and so my father drove me to the school and picked me up each day. 

I have such fond memories of that small period of time, because it is the only time I can remember having my father completely to myself. He chatted with me as he drove me to school, and after school, he took me back to his office in downtown Charleston and I thought it was the greatest fun to be able to be part of his day like that. My father was the County Extension Agent, working for Clemson College (it wasn't a university yet) and all of the county and municipal offices for Charleston were in the old Citadel, the original site of the military college. 

The old Citadel building had been built before the Civil War and had its first graduating class in 1846. During the Civil War it was active until 1865 when Union troops captured Charleston and occupied the building and the grounds. It remained confiscated property of the Federal government for 17 years and was used as a garrison by Federal troops until 1879, when it was ordered to be returned to the state of South Carolina. The building and grounds were immediately returned to the military college and they remained there until 1918 when a much larger campus was built on the Ashley River and the old building was converted into offices for the city and county. The offices were not air conditioned and still retained the original architecture. During restoration of some of the offices, numerous historical items had been found, including bullets from the Civil War, military buttons and buckles and even one or two old cannon balls (still viable!). A few years ago, the property was bought by Embassy Suites and turned into a 5 star hotel. The outside facade is the same, but hardly anything remains of the inside.

The Old Citadel Building

Daddy's secretary used to save papers for me to staple together, or had me do other "odd jobs" to keep me busy. The building had an open quadrangle on the inside, and all of the floors had a walkway around the quad and I could wander up and down the floors as long as I did not disturb anyone. On the floor above my father's office was a small canteen where I could get an occasional bottle of soda, or more frequently, a cup of ice water. I loved going in there because there was a huge fan in the ceiling roaring at its highest level and blowing everything around. The canteen had a screen door, which would made a satisfying noise when it slammed shut behind me. I would stand between the fan and the door enjoying the breeze created between the two. When it was time for Dad to leave, we had fun talking on the way home. 

This idyllic situation only lasted for about two weeks and then I was riding the big yellow school bus between home and school. I missed that time with my Dad and as the years passed, I never again got the chance to spend one on one time with him except for rare occasions. My father worked hard, often gone in the morning before we got up and home long after we had gone to bed. It wasn't until years later that he realised how much he was missing and changed jobs. By that time I was a teenager and could not have cared less whether he was home or not. (Or at least that's what I pretended.) Much later, as adults, I told him how much that time had meant to me, and he remembered it well and told me it had meant a lot to him too. I was happy to know that, but a little sad that I had not known it then, or in the ensuing years. When I became a mother, I asked my husband to please make it a priority to spend one on one time with our daughter, which he was very happy to do. It has proven to be part of the strong foundation for the loving relationship they enjoy today, 27 years later.

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Second Part of the Lesson

Working again on a 12 x 12 canvas for the workshop, here is the 2nd part of the lesson, using the tinted gel texture. I am in a global postcard group, and I received this wonderful picture of a Dutch Boat from Holland, and I was really so taken with the texture on this boat, that I had to do a painting of it, and I decided to give it a go with the tinted gel mixture. I made two different colors of gel medium mix, one a little darker than the other, and I had lightly sketched the boat on the canvas. Here is the gel medium layer: (you can see the postcard in the background)

And here is the final picture. This is a mixed media painting - gel medium, acrylic paint, Stabilo pencils, Micron pen and Oil Pastels. I put to use some things I learned in other classes:

(click for details)

AND NOW  ~~ It's going to hang in the living room! (as soon as I get it framed)

WHOO HOO - I'm excited!!! :)

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Overboard with Texture; and a Story: Watch it!

Working today on a 12 x 12 canvas for the workshop, we were placing gel medium as texture, letting it dry, then painting it. I got a bit carried away with the texture, I guess because it was the largest thing I've done with texture, and so it looks .... um, well, highly texturized! Hahahahahah! Oh well, I'm learning and actually my husband likes it. And I thought the colors turned out pretty well; there are layers and layers on there!

Watch it!
48th in the Tuesday Story Series

During the time I had my antiques business, we purchased a 2000 Ford Excursion, which is really a Ford 250 pickup with a roof. It is HUGE and was a great boon to me as I hauled things around in my business. When we moved to the upstate of South Carolina in 2007, I continued my business for about another year, and then felt like it was time for me to move on from selling antiques, even though it had been lucrative for me, and I had enjoyed the traveling. Looking back, it was timely that I did, because later that same year I began having the symptoms of ME/CFS and it's been a chronic illness for me every since. We kept the Excursion though, because it came in handy for hauling bales of pine straw, flats of flowers, dogs, or anything else that needed something big for transportation.

I had had a few minor mishaps with the Excursion when we first got it, because it is such a large vehicle to try and mix it up with smaller cars in a normal sized parking lot. The top of the Excursion's tires come up to the top of the hood on small sedans. I am thankful that it was never anything serious, and I finally managed to feel like I had mastered the art of driving it and felt pretty comfortable doing so. But if you aren't careful, it can catch you off guard in just a moment!

The roads in the area where we live now are almost all country roads, narrow with little to no shoulder. One day, as I was leaving the drive-in window of our local drug store, I noticed a road going off around a couple of small mountains, but I knew from the name of the road, it must come out near where I would have taken my turn off towards home on my usual route. So I decided to take the long way home, and see what I could see on this unfamiliar road.

As most country roads around here, it had a lot of attractive scenery - old houses, old trees, yards with flowers, farms with cows and horses. And it also had sharp curves and S turns where you had to be careful you did not run off the road into perhaps an old stone wall. So I was moving along, enjoying the scenery, and trying to be careful to give enough room for occasional oncoming traffic. Then I came around one curve in the midst of a stand of trees, to suddenly having an open field to my left, where the distant mountains could be seen over graceful trees in a green pasture. What a lovely view, I thought, as the road kept curving. Then I was jerked back to reality by the sound of

As I quickly turned my head to the right, I caught the sight of a green plastic mailbox bouncing up against the bank, and my outside rear view mirror ripped from the side of the car. I quickly eased the car to the side of the road, and sat there for a minute, stunned by the loud noise, and the now useless hanging mirror. I glanced back at the mailbox, and knew that I couldn't just drive off, so I found a place to turn around and then parked in the driveway by the damages. I got out to try and hopefully put it back together, but it wasn't going to happen. Looking down at the pieces, I felt so stupid and then, taking a big sigh I climbed back into my car and drove up the steep driveway to let the owners know that I would purchase them a brand new mailbox. After knocking on the door several times I realized that the person wasn't home, so I found some scrap paper, wrote them a message and taped it to the glass door so they'd see it. Then I drove on home, keeping my eyes squarely in the road.

When I returned home and filled in my husband with my sad story, all I could do was wait now until the person called me. John very kindly offered to take me out for a quick bite since he could tell I was still rattled by the incident. When we returned, there was a message on our house phone from an elderly man with a southern twang:

"Miss Cook? This is Daniel __________. You lef' me a message about my mail box? Well, honey, jus' don't worry yourself 'bout that mailbox, it's been hit so many times I might as well jus' throw it away. I have a home health nurse, she's an ex drug addict, ya know, and she can just' take care of it. I 'preciate your leaving me the message and all, but jus' put it out of your head, 'cause there ain't no reason to worry about it no more!"

John and I just looked at each other, then I played it back again. The second time, I started laughing and yes, I did feel better. When I took the car in for repairs, however, it wasn't a laughing matter, as the repairs cost well over $300. But at least I didn't have to buy a new mailbox! 

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blooms ! :)

Before I start this blog post, I want to thank those who have responded to my last post about our dog, Abby. We are encouraged by the suggestions and comments and look forward to finding a way to help her (and us!) out of her current situation.

On to today's post - Blooms! Spring is here, and even though on the calendar it is still winter, it seems that many things here are tired of waiting! And the pansies, which have been around all winter to give us color, are vigorously cheering the warm weather.

I have two of these waterfall pansies hanging pots on our front porch and they are so pretty. Next year, I hope to get 6 of them to hang all around the porch.

Cheerful faces in an old Hungarian baby bathtub; we have some smaller pots of pansies scattered around the house.

We went to Martin's Nursery on Saturday to get some help with planning what to do with the ugly bank behind our house, and came home with a drawn planting plan and several suggestions by the owner of the nursery. I had taken photos of the area and printed them out. She did all the rest. How great was that!?

Yellow Jessamine for the arbor we'd had built, the state flower of South Carolina.

I received ten tiny trees from the Arbor Society last fall, planted them and held my breath. Now nine of them have sprouted leaves! (The 10th one was eaten by our daughter's dog, Kit) These are the Hawthorne trees.

We have several Forsythia shrubs - one full grown bush given to me by a friend, which we divided into 2 plants; both are doing well. I rooted several cuttings and now we have lovely little shrubs growing in front of the fence, as well as the two in front of the barn. Only one did not make it.

This is Loropetalum, also referred to as Chinese Razzleberry or Chinese Fringe Flower. There were 6 of these around our back porch when we purchased the house, which was not a good place for them to be, since they grow to about 6'! We moved 3 to the outside corner of the fence (shown here) and 3 on the side of the fence, last year. They all made it!

This is the Ugly Bank, with some puny Juniper plants (we will have someone help us put the plants in, since I have fatigue issues) ....

..... and these is the arbor where the Jessamine will go.

And besides flowers, all of the birds are busy claiming their territory. The bluebirds built this nest in the bluebird house last week and started laying eggs.

So far we have 3! I expect them to lay 5 total, as usual.

I hope where ever you are, you are enjoying the weather. I feel richly blessed!!

Click on any picture you want to see closer.

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kind of Sad

Our dog Abby has been with us about 2 and half years. She showed up at our back door in September 2009, evidently dumped out on our country road. She is a very pretty dog, and when we took her to the vet, she said that she was probably about a 9 months old then, so she is right over 2 years old now and weighs about 70 pounds. She is full of energy and is sometimes obstinate, but we fell in love with her. We have another smaller dog, Taylor, who is about 12 years old. Abby started throwing her weight around with Taylor and sometimes would get into a fight with her, but for the most part they get along pretty well. But the problem which keeps occurring is that she will snap at us for no reason.

Tonight, John was petting her, the way he always does, leaning over and talking to her and she growled, snapped at his finger but did not break the skin. She has done this to him several times in the past year, and has done it to me. She does not break the skin, but there is enough pressure to cause pain at the moment. With her strong jaws and big teeth, she could easily tear open the skin, but she has not done that. We put her out of the house when she does this, and that's where she is right now, and John wants her to spend the night outside.

We are at a loss as to why this takes place. She is well fed and exercised and we have tried to make it clear that she is not "head dog"  - we are. But she keeps doing this periodically and John is concerned that she may do it to a small child when he is walking her, or an adult for that matter, and possibly hurt them. She has never done it to our daughter either.

Abby and Taylor
I am very sad about this, because we may have to take her in to be put down if we cannot come up with another solution. We don't know what to think!

Friday, March 16, 2012

More Texture!

Today I made some reference cards for paint and texture, to refer to as I continue in this workshop. Last evening I cut small "canvases" of about 5 x 7 out of mat board, added some heavy matte gel and torn book pages to each one. I left it to dry over night. This morning I worked with a group of acrylic paint colors for each board to create my reference library. Oh, did I have fun!!

(click for details)
Rust Attack!

(click for details)
Post No Bills 
(I think it looks like implied decaying paper!)

(click for details)
What's Hiding Under The Paint?

I used a stencil in a couple of places on this one when I applied the matte medium.

This was surely great fun to do! As much as I like texture and have used it in the past, I can feel my artist engine revving up now with all of the new possibilities!! :D

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!