Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Orchid in the Gulf and a Story: Storms

Once of the graces that has been given to me during this illness, is the ability to create art. It's somewhat sporadic as I have to spend so much time lying down. This time I wanted to create something special for another sufferer, who is also a friend. I found out her favorite colors - yellow and the colors of the Gulf of Mexico. She has to travel to get to the Gulf, so she doesn't get to spend time there now. She also loves flowers.

Orchid In The Gulf
(click to see details)

I knew I wanted to be able to get it to her as soon as possible, so I chose a small wrapped canvas- 8 x 8. It is mixed media, with collage, gel medium, acrylic paint and oil pastels. The flower comes from an old English botany book, and I made a copy to transfer on. However, it did not do very well and I ended up painting most of it. I also included  a postage stamp to bring out the bits of red, and a strip of muslin, dyed blue with paint, runs along the bottom. I love to extend my collage to the sides, so what you see collaged folds over the edges. I chose that particular flower because of the colors, they resembled the colors of the Gulf water. She notified me when she received it, and she loves it. That just makes my day!


61st in the Tuesday Story Series

Watching the path of Sandy for the past several days, and praying for all of the people in the congested area it was aimed for, could only bring back memories of another severe hurricane we went through in 1989 in Charleston - Hurricane Hugo. It made landfall in the Charleston area about midnight on 21 September and wreaked havoc through the early morning hours of 22 September. 

When I was a child, we went through Hurricane Gracie in 1959, and it was a Category 4 when it hit the South Carolina coast. We battened down the hatches and rode it out, since no one was warned to leave. I was eleven at the time, and a few memories that stand out to me was the wind and rain, the fact that my mother boiled several dozen eggs and when it was over, she stated "Well, I was expecting buckets and things to be flying through the air! Wasn't anything like that!" She was from Pennsylvania and this was her first hurricane to go through. The major damage from that storm was in Beaufort SC, although we were without electricity for a couple of days.

When Hugo started taking aim at Charleston, I was not concerned. By that time, I had been through numerous hurricanes and thought it would be just like the others. We made preparations and settled in to wait. When the electricity went off around 10 PM, that was the last we would see of it until 8 days later. Tabitha was about 6 years old, and doesn't remember anything about the storm, just the aftermath.  We had bedded her down on the floor of our closet, as it was the most protected place in the house.

Hugo made dead aim at Charleston, and I remember when the eye went over around midnight, we went outside and there was not a bit of wind. The stars were gorgeous and several neighbors called back and forth to make sure we were all okay. Then the wind started picking up and we all scooted back inside.

During that first half, we had heard all 15 trees fall, and each time they hit the ground, our stone fireplace shook. We heard several tornadoes go though between our row of houses and the houses behind us, and they do sound like trains! In another story, I will describe in more details about the destruction and how it affected us. For now, I will just say we were all right, but after that whenever a hurricane took direct aim at us, I packed the car and left for my parents. John stayed at work, in the emergency center area, because he couldn't leave. 

Hugo was a Category 4 when it slammed into our area, and the damage from it was the costliest in the US history till that time. Now, it's ranked as the 11th costliest storm to have made landfall in the US.

And they still built large beach houses right at the water's edge after that. Dumbest thing I ever saw.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Story: Comfort Kitty

It's been rather rough, these past few weeks. I had a cold in September (a gift from my husband) and although it only lasted a week, I am still dealing with the aftermath. I had a Skype appointment with my specialist in Charlotte a couple of weeks ago, and he told me that it would take about 6 weeks before I come out of the relapse even a mild cold can bring, on average. I've been able to paint a bit, and do a few other things, like feed the birds, but I have spent most of the time on the bed. I am starting to feel a tiny bit better. On a sad note, this is the 3 month anniversary of another sufferer of ME who died in her sleep of heart failure. One thing the doctor mentioned to me was that my heart rate may be unstable from the viral impact (I wear a heart monitor) and he was right - it didn't take much for my heart rate to spike and so I have had to take it real slow. But there are rays of sunshine, and the following story is one of them!


Comfort Kitty
60th in the Tuesday Story Series

Because I spend so much time lying down, I had thought about adding to our menagerie of pets - right now we have 2 dogs, 1 cat and a fish named George. One dog is older and arthritic and does not come up the stairs, the other one is bouncy and not a good bed companion. Our cat would rather be outside, although we see to it that she comes in at night, because of the local coyotes. And a fish...is just a fish, even if he is a Fantail Beta.

One day after I began thinking about this, our daughter Tabitha was here and she told me that she had been thinking I needed a cuddly kitty to be on the bed with me. I told her that I had been thinking about the same thing, and I said, well we will see if one comes along, because going to a pet shelter, even in my wheel chair, during this relapse was out of the question.

A week or two later, she took me to my hair appointment and then on the way home, she mentioned that she had found a cat which met all the requirements - he was fixed, had been declawed, was three years old and very affectionate. I didn't mention that one of my daughter's favorite things to do is visit animal shelters and pet stores, just to play with the animals a bit. She asked me if I wanted to go see him, and at first I said no, because I was so fatigued, and then after a few minutes, I said well, ok. We were very near the place where the cat was.

Tabitha was excited and she said "Mom, I didn't tell you the best part - he looks just like Chester!" Chester was a orange/gold cat that we had had since he was a tiny kitten, and he lived till he was 13. He developed diabetes and I had to give him insulin shots for several months, but then he just started failing, and I had to be fair and put him out of his pain and suffering. It was several years ago, and it was really hard.

When we arrived, she took me over to the cages, and I had to sit on the floor, because I could not stand anymore. She had the lady open his cage and he came right out and rubbed up against us both. His story was that his previous owners had suddenly developed an allergy to him and his brother and had to release them to the shelter. I thought briefly about taking both of them, but the other one was a bit more rowdy, and it would not have been a good idea. So this cat, whose name was Tyndal, became a new member of our family.

It's been great, he is so sweet and cuddly and loves to be up on the bed with me. I did change his name, though, partly because I did not like the one he had, and partly because of my love for Chester - it's now Rochester. He stays upstairs with me, and loves to look out of the windows at the birds at the feeders and any other thing he can see. He was very patient having his picture taken, and is starting to be friends with the bigger dog which comes upstairs. He is my new Comfort Kitty!

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

Part 2 of the Postcards

In my last post, I began working on a set of 6 postcards I plan to send to other sufferers of this illness, ME. I have been in a lot of pain and discomfort, with great fatigue, so it isn't going as fast as I like. But I was able to do a bit yesterday, and here is the progression.

I have a bowl with dried rose petals that I often use when I make these postcards, so I chose a few from the bowl and set them aside.

In this photo, you can see that I have begun the painting of the postcards, and attached some of the rose petals over one of the doilies (the medium I used is still wet in the photo). Remember they are at an intersection so when the foam core is cut, there will be petals on each card. I will also put some on the second doily, but I was beginning to feel bad, so I knew I needed to lie down. I am hoping that I can get back to this tomorrow.

Click on either photo if you want to see details.

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dilemma and A Story: The Right To Ice

My dilemma is that I have several paintings I'd like to begin, and also some new postcards, and a very limited amount of energy. What to do, what to do? Well, since the postcards are for other sufferers of M.E. I thought I would go ahead and start them.

If you have never seen me go through this process, I am sure you will find it interesting as you watch the process of turning something that begins one way into something totally different. Here are the first few steps:

Step one was to paint the top of a piece of Foam Core board with black gesso. I did this to make the overlaying colors appear richer. I usually use a piece which has been cut to 12 x 18, but this piece, 14 x 12, was lying around and I did not want to waste it, so instead of 9 postcards at the finish, I will have 6. The paper piled on top is torn scraps of patterned tissue paper. Choosing and tearing them into pieces was step two.

Step three was to collage the pieces randomly across the Foam Core. No particular pattern, just covering the area.

Because I find these particular tissues too bright for my liking, in step four I covered the board with water thinned acrylic paint to age the appearance. Then I drew cutting lines for later use.

Looks like a cake top doesn't it? Step five includes laying the base down for future texture points. The white on the sides is soft gel, it will be clear when it dries; I added some scalloped crepe paper strips on the top and bottom, and some polka dot crepe paper strips in a vertical line. In the center are two paper doilies collaged over the intersection lines. In making these, it pays to remember that you are not looking for perfection - any distortion causes happy accidents and adds to the individual postcard. I guarantee you that when these are finished, you will be surprised at the difference from beginning to end! You can look for photos of other postcards I made on Foam Core board by using the search button at the top right.

Click on any picture you wish to see closer.


The Right To Ice 
59th in the Tuesday Story Series

In 2003, my husband and I took a 10 day vacation to the island of Guernsey, which is part of the Channel Islands off of the coast of France. They are now part of the United Kingdom, so we had to fly into London, then take a smaller plane into Guernsey. It was one of the loveliest places I have ever visited. A year later, I traveled to England with a friend for an antiques shopping trip. The reason I mention both is that besides being part of the UK, they have something else in common - warm drinks. 

In the US, we like our ice; even before the Civil War, there were boats which would travel down the Mississippi in the summer with blocks of ice cut from frozen rivers,  wrapped and buried in straw to stay frozen during the journey. In the South, the wealthier people would use ice to help them make it through the long hot summers when their clothing was enough just to make them prostrate with the heat. Ice was something we all grew up with - ads would feature "Ice Cold Beverages" whether soda, lemonade, tea or beer. 

In the UK, and Europe, that is not the case. At that time, I was still drinking Diet Cokes, so when I ordered one the first time, I was surprised to see it in a glass by itself. I took a sip and almost gagged, it was as warm as the day outside. I called the server and handed him the glass, asking for some ice for my soda. He gave me that look, the one I'm sure he gives to All Americans Who Ask For Ice, turned and went to the counter. When he returned and set the glass down with a slight curl to his lip, I looked and there was indeed ice, four whole cubes. And John who wanted to try out their beer, got it warm.

As I reflected on this, the only reason I can figure for the difference (and this is not a scientific study) is that the southern part of the US is much closer to the equator. We must have gotten into the habit early and it took firm root - after all, any Southerner relishes a cold glass of iced tea. In the North, it used to be difficult to find iced tea during the winter, but now it can be found almost anywhere. But jolly olde England is not jolly about serving cold drinks, thank you very much.

Finally I worked out a system where I could have the well iced cold drink I wanted - I began to ask for a soda and an extra full glass of ice. I still got the look, but I didn't care, I was happy. It was a pity poor John could not do the same for the beer!

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

Monday, October 1, 2012

Journal Play

I haven't been able to do much, because my husband shared his cold with me, so whatever energy I had was drained fighting my "gift". I feel better today, and really wanted to make some art, so I just played on a journal page rather than focus on something which needed a clear mind to get it done right.

(click for details)

This page had already has some light lavender color on it from a baby wipe I had used to clean up other art pieces. Some of it shows down at the bottom left (it looks gray in the photo). I played around with using foam plates to stamp with, the first was the whole bottom of a plate with Vermilion paint, and pressed on there twice. Then I did a smaller one with a heart carved in and swiped with Sap Green. The page background is painted in a wash of Indian Yellow. I added a scrap of paper from Taiwan, and two butterflies are collaged on. Oil pastels were added for color effect and then some squiggles with a paint pen. Oh yes, I also used part of a background word stamp in the upper left corner and the bottom right corner. And it was fun!

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