Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ground Hog Resolutions

Every Year, This is on my list of Resolutions:  EXERCISE

Patience Brewster says it with her art.  Get out there and celebrate your fullness.
I am approaching what I call, a BIG 0 year.  Ya know...25, 30, 35 etc

Yeah, well I have Social Security, so you can guess what "0" birthday comes after that!
I think it is time to wear purple, spread my wings and enjoy my spreading body,
I will Celebrate and be grateful that I am reaching for a big number, this year!

Until then:  I think I will get out and walk my three miles, today!

Patience Brewster
one of my all time favorite artists!
"Need I say More"?
Time for me to exercise!!

I have been exercising my hand and my head, drawing almost daily.  We stopped into Trader Joes a few weeks ago, and there it was:  a Purple Hyacinth.  Well, could I refuse?  We always had hyacinths in our garden, as everyone liked to say "Hi ya Cynth".  My sweet hubby, especially loved to have them and say "Hi Ya Cynth" to me when they arrived in our garden.  A sure sign of Spring. 

I brought it home and popped it onto my art table, and made a quick sketch:

Hyacinth Bulb
Quick sketch done in pencil and colored pencil

It didn't take long, but I was able to make a cartoon of the drawing, for further work.  I probably have told you that a cartoon is just a fancy way of saying "tracing".  With that done, I popped this in the mail to my daughter-in-laws, Grandmother.  She is ill and likes getting snail mail.  

I took the cartoon, and transferred it again.  This time, I took some time and created another drawing with pencil and an overlay of watercolor.

Hyacinth Bulbmixed media
graphite and watercolor

Lastly, I worked on a mixed media of the bulb, just as it was getting ready to open up.  The full flower lacked enough spunk to draw it, so I went no further than the following drawing.

Purple Hyacinth bulb ready to burst open!
The actual burst was a bit anti-climatic.
Mixed Media
(pencil, Water color, colored Pencil)

I will leave you with one last painting, done several years ago.  I went through my portfolio and found some drawings that just needed a little touch to bring them back to life.  In keeping with this month's Purple Theme, I will present a French Iris (actually, think it was a Japanese Iris),  painted from our Colorado Garden.  

Not "French Iris" - Probably "Japanese Iris
Mixed Media
Watercolor, Colored Pencil, graphite

We are still having cool weather in Florida, which is rather unusual.  The nights are cold, but slowly the days are warming up to 70ish.   It is good walking weather, so get out there and stretch those muscles in your body;  then you will have the energy to stretch the muscles in your brain.

By the way, I am joining the Instagram world.  I will show the good, the bad, and the ugly art work through out the month.  If you want to see weekly progress, you can check there....otherwise, you can check in here, once a month.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Taking Down Christmas & Hanukkah

watercolor & color pencil of Holly

To me, the Holidays are a month of magic, in our year.  When Christmas goes up, the lights begin their season of twinkling.   The music turns to favorite carols.  It doesn’t matter if the snow is falling or it is 80 degrees, our lives change for this moment in time.  I love to take out all of the boxes and boxes of Memories, and place them around the house.  It helps the season sparkle for me.

There is excitement in writing and receiving Holiday cards.  We share our thoughts with faraway friends, some whom we have not been seen in many years, but we remain connected in friendship, this one time each year.  It is, as if the pixie dust drops upon each of us and our lives are just a little brighter for the exchange.

Gathering together is a highlight of this season.  We meet friends for dinner out or have friends over to our house.  In our family, We share gifts, made or bought with the hope of finding  just the right present for each other, but the time spent together is the most precious present.  We eat lox and bagels, or pickled herring…a special treat for the season.  We bring our neighbors a carafe of freshly squeezed orange juice from our honeybell tree.  They are delighted and it is a fun and simple act of sharing,.

There is a saying by Charles Dickens; “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year”. 

Part of taking down Christmas & Hanukkah this year, will be the reminder to keep this feeling through out the year.  As I take down the twinkle lights and put away the tree. I hope to box up the sparkle and put it in my heart.   Sharing and caring for friends and family through out the year is my greatest intention as I start a New Year.

Other friends, my age, do not decorate any more.  They do not want all of the work that it entails.  Christmas is a highly charged, emotional season.  It can sparkle, but it can also be a struggle.   For some, it is easier to put out just a few things, or bake dozens of cookies to share.  Each person does it differently.    yet, the excitement that I feel when putting up Christmas, sustains me emotionally, through out the shortest and darkest days of the year.

In putting away all of the decorations: the roping, the ribbon, the hand made gifts from friends; the ornaments that the kids made, so many years ago and our treasured Menorahs that have been handed down through the generations, I take my time.  I wrap them back up in old used paper and bubble wrap, and tuck them into the many boxes that will be stored in our attic for another eleven months.  If I am slow enough, I can adjust to the fresh, clean, yet barren spaces that are left behind. 

The emptied spaces need time to breath, to be quiet and contemplate the New Year to come. 

But  then, I think, Hey, maybe I will just put up a few Valentine’s decorations!!

It’s hopeless.  I just love to keep a bit of magic in the house, through out the year.  For me, It is a wonderful way to celebrate life.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Winter Winds are blowing!

Old Man Winter is blowing down on us.
(This watercolor is copied from stonework,
from a castle in France that we visited in 2014)
He reminds me of Winter Chills.

Welcome to the Holidays.  We have finally completed our clean up of "Irma", that blew through here in the early Fall.  Our screens have been replaced, many of which, blew out in the storm.  With the back load of work, it has taken almost three months to schedule repairs.  We have spent the last few days cleaning up the mess that it left on our deck, since we did not take things out of storage, until repairs were complete.  Believe me, I am not complaining....too many others are in much worse shape, but it just feels so good to see a fresh clean patio and yard.  Let Winter come, and give the plants time to heal and grow with out the stifling heat of Summer.

So let the Holidays begin.
Holly & Mistletoe
are the seasonal plants,
along with Amaryllis & Poinsettia

I am "decking the house" this Holiday.

There is even a tree for the kids
and some joy tucked in every corner.

Even Santa is joining us.
This Santa was created by a dear friend, many years ago.

Sweet Hubby and I take time out to celebrate our holiday.
While much of our family celebrates Christmas,
we honor them with our tree.
But, our hearts are dedicated to Hanukkah.
Tuesday, December 12
we will light the first of 8 candles.

May your holidays be bright,
regardless of how you celebrate.
Love is Universal.

Peace be with you and yours.

(small mixed media work, taken from a past Holiday card.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Thanksgiving wish for you.....


My Haiku for you!

I am continuing to work on gratitude.  I cannot change others, but I can be grateful for all that I have, including pretty good health, a roof over my head, beauty that surrounds me every day, and plenty of food, with which to enjoy it.  (maybe, a tad too much food, but to savor flavor...I am most grateful).

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I will be back next week, as we gear up for the holidays.  

I will leave you with my completed work on the Aspens.  It has taken several months, as we have been traveling here and there.  

"Aspen leaves" in colored pencil over graphite.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits!

Many years ago, when I was first working, my Boss told me of a superstition (for lack of a better word) that brought good luck.  He told me that if I said, "Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits" on the 1st day of each month, it would bring me good luck.  Even better, if I said it before anything else in the morning of this first day, better luck would come my way.  So, when I can remember, I say it.  It hasn't made much of a difference yet, but maybe, I have had great luck, without even knowing it.

Welcome to November.  This is when things start ramping up.  We are on a sugar high from Halloween, but looking forward to baking for Thanksgiving, and then all the Christmas/ Hanukkah treats that are sprinkled through the next month, create a sparkle until the end of the year.

Down here in Florida, the "Season" is just getting started.  There is always so much more to do each week, and it is fun filled and friend filled, as the seasonal residents arrive again.

One of the things that I enjoy doing, is going to Estate Sales.  There is a great App called:  "Estatesales.NET" and if you put in your zip code, they will let you know weekly about estate sales in your area.  We have found wonderful things - some big, and some small, but all intriguing.

Recently, I found this old cigar box.
I wanted to use it to hold art supplies.
But...when I opened this box up, this is what I found......

After I got this home, I realized that the box originally
held within it, a story.
The cigars were handmade in Kingston, NJ, for B&S
and I think that they were meant to be given out for a very special occasion...

Either a very special birth date...or possibly a wedding?
I can create a whole story around this box,
but I am certain that it won't be used for art supplies.

We are still taking short trips, called "Sploring".  We decided to head to Savannah, GA for a "Sploring" diversion.  We stopped in New Smyrna Beach, FL, as we headed north.  We walked the beach along side the cars that are allowed to drive on the beach for $10.  

There is still a lot of damage along this coast.
Electricity is still spotty as well as the internet.
Hurricane Irma really 'whacked' the east coast all the way up to & into GA

Once we arrived in Savannah, we walked the city and each of it's squares.  We always delight in this magical place, filled with great food, energy, art and SCAD, which is tucked into every corner of the city.  While we were there, several things were going on:  First, there was an amazing 'Rodin" exhibit at the Jepson Center, part of Telfair Museums.

This is Rodin's, "Gates of Hell".  When he lost this commission,
after the piece was completed, he took "The Thinker", "the Lovers"
and other parts of this masterpiece and cast them as individual pieces.
...and Rodin became wealthy from this lost commission.
(another great story, I think)

As we walked around the city, we found a different forms of art in the making....two movies were being filmed within the city.  Here was a quick photo of setting up a scene (which, took an hour,
to become 30 seconds of film).  Of course, security discouraged photos, so I could only catch a glimpse for you.  This film will be out in 2018, called "Killerman 2" (I didn't know that there was a Killerman 1!)  Also filming, was, "Antman 2".  The city bustled with excitement.

Tremendous work goes into films.
The set up, security, details that went into this one scene
amazed us.  By late afternoon, they were shooting around the corner.
The director shared with the gawkers, that they shoot from
sunup to sundown (often 17 hour days).

Now, back home, we are catching up and I am trying to find some time each day, to work on my art.
Slowly, I continue with this drawing.  Hopefully, by December, it will be complete.  

This is a colored pencil overlay of a pencil drawing.
Last month, I posted a photo of the beginning of the drawing.
 I am progressing towards the completed work.
It takes many layers of pencil to create the effect of each leaf.

Enjoy November, with it's cooler days and the beginning of the Holiday season.  I am glad for this moment of gratitude, in November.  It has been such a chaotic year.  Some years prove to be harder than others, with loss, health issues, weather, and politics.  So much anger fills the papers every day, that just taking moments out for gratitude, keep me going.  

Please leave a comment, if you can, about what you are grateful for this year, and what has been difficult for you.  Kindness in all comments is appreciated.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Art and such

We are getting back to normal around here.  The trash has been hauled away.  The tree that was leaning dangerously close to the house was taken down (very carefully!).  The repairs continue, as we are on the waiting list and the lack of supplies are limiting the ability to make the repairs.  We wait patiently, enjoying the morning paper and coffee, with my New Susan Branch Mug.  It is the "Bluebird of Happiness" mug.  I bought it because we were spared the worst of Irma's wrath.

Nothing like my favorite morning Joe
with a rice cake and almond butter!
Oh, yes...and the WSJ!

Canada celebrated Thanksgiving this past week.  With friends to the North, I sent a small colored pencil drawing that I had completed as a sketch.  For some reason, our friend likes figs, so I whipped up a fig drawing and sent it on its way.  I have been doing that from time to time.  Just surprising someone with a little sunshine.  I think it helps, in these times of chaos and disaster.  That's the hope.


I was catching a bit of Facebook, the other day, and I found a thought that stuck with me.  It is not really a quote, but it is a thought, which I will share.  

"When you hear Contempt from others
Answer with warm Heartedness"

That is hard to do, in these troubled times when angry words and contempt for others, reveals itself.  To turn the other cheek and be warm hearted, as the Dali Lama stated, can be difficult.  I am a more of a person that hears what Maya Angelou once said:

"When People show you who they are, believe them"

but that doesn't mean that I can't be civil.  I can.  Now, I need to find the warmth in my heart to answer with warm heartedness.  This will be a difficult task, but one can always start somewhere.

Okay, "back to work", My Mama used to say.  I bought this pumpkin at the grocery store, and did a quick study.  I may make some cards out of it, but it may also land in someone's mailbox.  You never know.

I take photos of my work to see the progress, and sometimes,
I forget to photograph after the work is completed.
This was almost done, but it was a quick check and a poorly lit photo.
This was a pencil drawing with watercolor over it, and colored pencil on top of that for details.

I felt like playing with veggies
When I was done playing, I realized that the proportions were off.
Still, I had lots of fun doing this one.

One of the tasks which I am working on, is 'playing' with art.  Every piece cannot be a masterpiece.
Sometimes the color is off, or the proportions are incorrect, but everyday can be a day of exploration.
I always learn from doing my daily sketches & taking time for some artistic play.  

This is part of a larger piece.  I am experimenting with working in graphite first.
Then, I am layering the colored pencil on top.
So far, I am quite pleased with the beginnings of this work.

We are heading out to explore the world soon.  I hope to have photos to share, and continued sketches and work to be revealed. 




Saturday, September 23, 2017

Preparation - Evacuation - Clean up - Normalcy

Hello Friends!  Yes, we are back in business, here on the West coast of Florida.  Whew!  I won't describe this past month as an adventure (though, in some respects, it was!!).  It was a moment in time that was filled with a low level of anxiety and wonder.  Having never been through a Hurricane, I knew that Irma was going to be a wild and crazy experience.

PREPARATION:    We tried to think of all the lists of things to do in a Hurricane.  We had packed up food, water, sleeping bags, clothing, etc.  I really didn't grab the photo albums.  There were too many, and I thought that if we lost the house, I would want to remember the details of my life in my head.
The waiting and anticipation was hardest.  Should we leave or should we stay.  should we head to our Son's home, or drive away from the storm (hard to figure that one out, since it covered most of Florida!).  So We prepared and waited:

Furniture removed from Patio
Window coverings put on (they are a mesh material)
Plants tucked away

Important papers, food, sleeping bags
at the ready...just in case we evacuate.
Now, the waiting begins.......
Sweet Hubby bought "high Water" boots
and I already had a pair, which we set
by the back door.
Just in case....

While we waited, I started a small watercolor of 'bleeding hearts'.


The days before the hurricane were beautiful.  The sun was shining; the garden was in it's glory; the house was clean and orderly; and all elements of the exterior had been prepped.  Irma kept changing her mind, and by Friday afternoon, Sweet Hubby checked in with the kids (who had to work and also had the flu, so they couldn't leave) but decided that we needed to get on the road.  He found a hotel with a cancellation, filled the car with gas, and estimated that with one small fill-up, we could make it to Pensacola.  What we did not count on was:  Cars on fire from overheating; Traffic at a dead stop for hours; no gasoline...any where!  We ended up sleeping in our car, in front of a family members house (it was 2:30 a.m., by the time we got there, and we were not going to wake them up).  We found gas at 6:00 a.m. and probably got the last gas available for fifty miles.  We called for hotel reservation in Valdosta,GA;  Pensacola, Fl;  Montgomery and Birmingham, AL.  We found a reservation in Birmingham and took off.  We drove the back roads, stopping in Montgomery, at the Southern Poverty Law Center's, Civil Rights Memorial Center.  It had been on my bucket list for years, and though we were exhausted, it was an amazing center, and an emotional visit.

A bucket list moment!

We landed in Birmingham, to a crowded Hotel, filled with Floridians.  There were Grandma's and Grandpa's; Mom's & Dad's with dogs, puppies, cats, Teenagers hangin' out, as well as kids & babies crawling and walking and playing together.  The hotel put out a welcome of doggie biscuits, diapers, water bottles, etc. and a list of things to do in Birmingham.  The television monitors were all on "The Weather Channel".  This would be our home for four days.

We called the kids and reminded them that we had a nice place to stay...please come!!  Over that four days, we would text our California kids and Florida kids constantly....even being the eyes and ears, when the hurricane's eye headed directly over the kids.  To say that we slept peacefully, would not be honest, but we had air conditioning, electricity, hot food, and hospitality like no other.  We loved the city of Birmingham, and tried to explore it, when we weren't focused on the hurricane.  

Of course, where would I head, but to the Botanical Gardens.
They did not disappoint.
A beautiful, calming place.

A  very zen place

The Vulcan is a Birmingham symbol
that represents the Steel and cast iron industry.

Sweet Hubby was told by my brother, that there was a nice museum that he would enjoy.  We visited the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.  With a beautiful setting in the hills, and a Porsche driving school, next door, my Hubby was 'all in'.   Mostly, it was filled with wonderful motorcycles through out the ages, and Lotus Elan's (which my brother loves and collects....see the connection?).  Here are a few of my favorites.

Wouldn't this be fun to take to the grocery.  It's a tandem bike, but the wicker is just 'beachy".

all that chrome!
You have to love a Harley!

I wanted to take this home, for the after hurricane clean up!

And this is for my brother.   All the Lotus are lined up in order of age.
All are timelessly beautiful.

After "Irma" passed through Florida, it spread out to the east and north, to do more devastation.  So far, between Hurricanes:  Harry; Irma; and Maria, people were left in much worse situations than we can even imagine.  Help is difficult, but the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and untold Church groups are uniting, to try to make a difference.  If you can do something, any little bit is helpful.  It is going to be a life changing event for many.  We were so grateful that our home was still standing, without any interior damage.  We had screens torn up and trees down (or leaning quite a bit) and tons of stuff that blew into the yard.  Next up for us:  Donations with a grateful spirit and yard cleanup, in that order.

since we lost screens, the pool needed a good cleaning.

Many screens blew out.
We are 'on the list' and waiting.
We will replace all of the screens, as many are ripped  from the wind.

A most beautiful Jacaranda was split in two.

If you look right above the garage, a Pine is listing to the left (over the house).
We need to go through the HOA, in order to cut it down.
Slash Pines do not do well in wind, sad to say.
p.s.  that is our clean up pile on the curb.

And the beginning of the trash bag mountain, under our orange tree.
We ended up with about 20 bags of 'stuff' from the yard.

When I am nervous, I like to do hand work.  I finished this while we were evacuated.
It is my new motto.
The original pattern was created by Charlotte Lyons, Of House Wren Studio.
She has a shop on Etsy, if you want to purchase this pattern.
ETSY:  Charlotte Lyons

Just another day at the beach.
Every thing looked so normal on our walk, yesterday.
(lots and lots of shells, though)

For the next month, I will be working on bring back normalcy to our house, our children's home in Florida, and to all of those around us who need a helping hand.  There is clean up needed everywhere,  and just a cheerful face can make someones day, but filling their cupboards up would be even better.  Hopefully, we can all reach out and help out.  If you read this and need some help, please let me know.  

Be well.  Much love.  Caring thoughts.