Friday, August 31, 2012

LSNE 2012 Album (August Monthly Make)

Every September, Shimelle Laine runs an online course called "Learn Something New Everyday." As with all her classes, once you have taken the class, you are invited to retake it every time it's offered - for free!  I've done the class two or three times now and have always enjoyed it. The last time I took the class, I made a mini album and used a different rubber stamp each day to illustrate the lesson. I decided to do something similar this year. This time around, instead of using a rubber stamped image, I'm going to play with scissors and paper and glue.  I'm going to cut and paste images, words and embellishments from my massive stash of embellishments and ephemera to illustrate each lesson. 
I started with  a chipboard minialbum of pennants that I had in my stash.  To create the background, I sprayed each pennant with some Adirondack ink and then sprayed on designs using three Crafters Workshop stencils (butterfly meadow, peacock feather and peek-a-boo).  I added numbers from one to thirty on the top of my inner pages, so they are ready to go. I decorated the covers already, and they are up top (as well as a sample inner page).  I have found that the key to success (for me) in this class is to have my background pages all ready to go, so that each day I can concentrate on the lesson and its illustration. As an extra bonus, I'm calling my completed base album my "Monthly Make" for August. 
Creatively this year I've been working hard on my drawing and painting. So, in September, I want to return to the art form where I started - collage.  I'm really looking forward to it!
Are you doing LSNE? If so, what's your plan?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

PPF: The Reed in the Wind

The quote from Aesop's Fable "The Oak and the Reed" reads, "The little reed, bending to the face of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over." It's a mixed media work - background in acrylic paint over textured gesso. The feathers are drawn in ink and painted with acrylic paint. I added one real feather.  The house is made from a photograph I took of a torn paper background, and the door/flower is from a Czech postage stamp I purchased during our travels. This art journal page was inspired by the Ode to Nature class, which is encouraging participants this week to use our sketchbooks and field journals to make pieces of art in our own style.  I used these feather sketches as my jumping off point. Can you spot the real feather on the page?
I'm linking up with Paint Party Friday.  For more painterly goodness, check out this link.

Thursday's This & That

Good morning all! I recently participated in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art postcard swap.  I've received some wonderful post card size art in the mail.  The sunshine one is from Deanna Swauger, and the collage is from Karen Smithey.  I also received these:
"Hello" from Janice Darby; Horse from Shelly G; Church from Cara; and roosters from Cinda Bauman.  Aren't they all wonderful?
In other news, Shimelle Laine's annual September class "Learn Something New Everyday" starts on Saturday. I received an email reminder yesterday.  I've done this class a couple of times. This is the mini-album I made in 2010, and you can read my review at this link. I am going back and forth about whether to participate this year. I have a visual journal I could use or a mini-album made of pennant shaped chipboard that has been gathering dust in my closet. Is anyone else going to participate?
Finally, it's been a while since I've shared some music.  Here's a very funny Train video (okay, you have to have a little bit of a dark sense of humor to appreciate it). 

If you're in the mood for something a little softer and beautiful, check out this video of Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight from Amos Lee.

Finally, I love everything about this song and video.  Upbeat, great visuals and a fantastic message.  It fits my upbeat mood this morning because Paul came home from the hospital yesterday! He had a long stay battling an infection, and we are thrilled to have him home. Enjoy your day and keep your eyes on the prize!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {6}

Jasmine, El Granada, Summer, 2012
Wordless Wednesday is sponsored by Create with Joy. You can see more entries at this link.
FYI: To answer the request for technical information, this photograph was taken with my Nikon D5100, using an  85 mm fixed lens at 1/125, f8. These are the same specifications used for the images in this post.  I take most of my photos in the morning, next to a west ward facing sliding glass door. I get plenty of light but very little shadow. I stand on a chair and shoot facing straight down. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to School, 2012 (Photo Essay)

The morning begins.
Henry's summer AP homework completed and ready to go. He finished yesterday at 3:00 p.m. (the earliest ever). His schedule: Pre-Calculus, AP Environmental Science, Economics/AP Government, English and Web Design. Supplies - he said, "All I need is a pencil and a few pieces of binder paper."
Gypsy gives Henry a hug. She seems to know something is up - the kids are never awake this early.
Henry, 17 years old, a Senior in High School, member of the Class of 2013. Confident and ready to go (although he did spend quite a bit of time last night deciding what to wear).  He got his hair cut yesterday and decided not to shave the beard he's been working on all summer. He's up and out in half an hour (including a shower, breakfast and a check-in on Sports Center). When I asked him why he wasn't wearing any of the clothes we bought last week, he said " I don't like wearing anything brand new on the first day of school." 
Meanwhile, in another part of the house . . . 
"Wait mom, I'm not ready. I can't get the frickin' notebook in my purse."
Clara, 14 years old, starting High School, Freshman, Class of 2016. The purse is a new accessory. High School girls apparently carry purses, not backpacks. She's rocking the crutches, and her eye is healing up from the surgery just fine. She's taking Art, Spanish I, P.E., Algebra I, English and Social Studies. She spent less time choosing her outfit last night than Henry did, but she needs much more time to get ready in the morning (1-1.5 hours).
Gypsy is a little sad to see the kids go.
Don't worry, girl, they'll be home later this afternoon. 
And I told them I'd make cookies.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hello Monday {6}

Hello Monday . . . a meme started by Lisa Leonard.
Hello Tree Swing. Another item off my list for the 2012 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt.  Remember, the last day of summer is Sept. 21, and that marks the official end of the Scavenger Hunt.
Hello High School! Today is the first day of school.  Clara is a Freshman, and Henry is a Senior.
Hello Husband? Paul has been in the hospital for over a week battling a really dangerous infection. He seems to have turned the corner, and we hope to have him back home in just a few days.
Hello to accepting help from loving friends.  A group of my girl friends have started to bring meals over once a week.  And my sister-in-law came up to see Paul and to lend me a hand for a few days. My dear friend Rebecca brought over sandwiches from our favorite deli.  I don't know what I would do without the help and support.
Hello prayers for a brighter future for us all.

Library and Scavenger Hunt Update

Here's two views of my local public library. When I was a kid, I loved to go to the library because I loved books.  I also loved to go to the library because it was always a special outing with my father, who also loved books. We would spend hours there.  On other, much less frequent occasions, he would take me to an actual book store . . . B. Dalton Booksellers in the (now defunct) Fashion Square Mall. I was only able to buy one book, and I agonized over my selection. These thoughts came rushing back to me when I saw this  book, which I definitely read as a kid, checked out of the public library:
I thought about publishing this post next Sunday, as part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday, but I've got something else planned.  Will you be telling a tale next weekend?
This post is obviously part of the 2012 Photography Scavenger Hunt, item #13 a library. I only have four left to post, and two of them have already been found.
As a reminder, the scavenger hunt ends on September 21, the last official day of summer, so there's still almost four weeks left. I will publish a concluding post that weekend and ask everyone to check in with their final tally.  
To help keep you motivated, here are a few interesting links:
Cheri's has quite a few finds in this post, but the string band at the end is priceless!
Melissa's post with finds from Taos, New Mexcio give a very strong sense of place.
Linda Mann offers some seashore finds, including a surfer's clothesline in this post.
Jo Murray published all of her finds at once.
Deb finished up her hunt with this beautiful bride.
Louis has lots of finds in this post, but my favorite is the person dressed as angel.
Julia offers up a lot of atmosphere in the two finds in this post.
Amanda Jane just started playing this month, and she's charging through the list. I love her self-portrait in this post; and
Alison stumbled across this very sweet angel, while Jane went on a mission and found several beautiful ones.
There are lots and lots of other posts out there. It has really warmed my heart to see so many people participating!!! If you are one of them, don't forget to mark your calendar for the end of summer, so you can come back and leave me your tally.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Backyard Arrangements and New Obsessions

I spent some time gathering natural treasures from by backyard garden. I then created and photographed a few arrangements.
The first few included leaves and flowers:
And then I took about a million with these seed pods:
Because I'm kind of obsessed with them right now!
These photographs are similar to these arrangements, which I made after beach combing. But they have a very different feel.  I am really enjoying making arranged photographs. It might just become an obsession, as well. What about you? Do you have any new obsessions?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

PPF: Backyard Field Journal

The week three assignment in Alisa Burke's Ode to Nature class is to create a Field Journal, and she encouraged us to start in our own backyard.  A Field Journal is a lot like a sketchbook, but with more writing and even less worrying about getting things "perfect." I enjoyed making this top page featuring a hydrangea leaf, jasmine leaves and a jasmine flower taken from my side yard. 
I did another page about some very cool seed pods:
And a page which was a summary of what's going on in my garden beds:
These were all done with pencil, pen and watercolors. I have admired similar pages when I have seen them done by others, but I had never figured out how to do it myself. So this lesson made me really happy! 
If you're interested in what other students are doing in the Ode to Nature class, I can definitely recommend stopping by the following four blogs:
Andy Lean - he's an art teachers and produces beautiful drawing, painting and photographs (he's also brand new to blogging);
Inge's Miracles of Nature - beautiful sketching and photography, with a cool Nordic vibe; 
Alexa's Trimming the Sails - Photos, stories - no incorporating nature; and
Pat's Art Kerfuffle - sketching, book making and other crafty stuff. 
I'm posting this to Paint Party Friday (my favorite weekly meme). For more painterly goodness, check out the offerings at Paint Party Friday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Few Tall Tales

*Yes, my husband is a little more than 14" taller than I am.  He stands 6'7" (two meters even).  I occasionally stand on a coffee table to see what the world looks like from his vantage point.  Strangers have come up to him and asked "Do you use your height for good or for evil?" Seriously - this has occurred on more than one occasion. The first time I saw Paul, in my final year of college, I knew I wanted to get to know him better, so I asked him to help me hang a really large map in my room. The rest, as they say, is history.
*My son, Henry, is an inch or two taller than me, but my daughter Clara is starting to realize that she will never pass me up. 
*I was only five feet tall when I graduated from High School (having just turned 17), but I grew almost five inches during college. I was determined not to be short.
*Although I am taller than my mom was, all three of my brothers and both of my sisters are taller than me. We get our height from our paternal side - my dad and his brothers were all over six feet tall. And my Tia Lupe was not too far behind them.  The Lunas were small - but fierce.
*There are six kids in my family, and I was born third. My older brother Petey and I are the short ones in our family.  He claims it's because my parents spoiled our older sister, to our detriment nutritionally, and that our three younger siblings benefited from my parents' increased economic status over time. I think we need to just embrace our fierceness.
*I claim to be 5'5", but my true height may be just a shade below that.
These tales are offered in conjunction with Julie Kirk's really fun August meme:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {5}

Seashells, Pillar Point Harbor, Summer, 2012
Wordless Wednesday is sponsored by Create with Joy; check it out here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Arranging Nature's Treasures: Still Life

In the Ode to Nature class I'm taking, the first assignment included gathering treasures from nature, arranging them artfully and then photographing them.  I posted my first, basic arrangements in this post.  As I was playing with my treasures, I started combining them in more interesting ways, so they became more akin to a still life series. I really liked the one up top, which involved putting shells inside an empty crab shell. 
I also created a series of four involving a cracked crab shell.  I call the first one "cornucopia."
The next one is titled "pouring."
The third is titled "growing."
And I call the last one "fly away."
Again, I really enjoyed creating these photographs. It is rare for me to "stage" photographs like this, but I think it's something I want to do more often.  I really like the results, and they feel very much like me.  The biggest technical challenge is that the focus really needs to be crisp for them to work out.  The creative challenge is in how you arrange things.  I can see putting them on canvases, postcards, or note cards.  
What do you think of these? Do you have a favorite?  Have you ever created a still life? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hello Monday {5}

Hello Monday . . . a meme started by Lisa Leonard.
Hello Heart Shaped Stone . . . a gift from my wonderful friend Deb Turtle.  A heart shaped stone in a "substitute item" in this year's Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt. If you're participating and having trouble finding a bride or a hammock or something else on the list, you can search for one of these instead. Here's what I wrote in the original hunt post: "Substitute Item (new this year):  If you find any of the above too hard, you may substitute a photograph of either a heart-shaped stone or a four leaf clover for one item; however, you may not substitute this item for #21." 
Hello Opportunity to Do a Good Deed . . . Deb's mom Marti is going through cancer treatment and feeling a bit lonely. If you'd like to brighten her day by sending her a card or little something, send me an email at rinda1961(at) yahoo(dot)com, and I'll send you her address.
Hello Worry and Uncertainty . . . Paul had a bad reaction to his chemotherapy over the weekend and had to go back in to the hospital. It's not an unexpected reaction, but it's troubling nonetheless.  We hope to have him back home this week. Good thoughts and prayers always appreciated. His condition will affect some of the other "hello's" for this week.
Hello Students . . . I start teaching on Wednesday. Luckily, I just have the one class scheduled this term.
Hello Eye Surgery for the Girl . . . she's had a small lesion on her eye for about eight years and we've finally decided the time has come to remove it. It's scheduled for Thursday.  She should have the eye patch removed before she starts school on the following Monday. Because we don't want her having to start school doing the "full on Pirate," with both crutches and an eye patch! On the other hand, she'd really like to start school without the lesion. 
Hello Detroit . . . I have a quick business trip scheduled for the end of the week.  We'll see if it comes off.
Hello Book Group . . . this month we read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  I haven't quite finished it yet, but I think I will in time. It's a very intriguing book.  Anyone else read it.  What did you think?
And, I'll leave yo with a little levity.  Clara decorated her crutches with colored duct tape.  She found the idea on the internet, and I think they turned out pretty well:
What's up for you this week?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Arranging Nature's Treasures: The Basics

In the Ode to Nature class I'm taking, the first week's assignment included collecting some treasures from nature, arranging them artfully and then photographing them.  My first attempt at this actually took place while I was on the beach.  I created this arrangement:
When I got home, I laid out some of the items on my sketchbook:
I like the simplicity of it, but then I wanted to bump things up a notch. So I did an arrangement on some red scrapbook paper:
I then tried a very subtle blue piece of scrapbook paper:
I like the naturalist feel this one has. I think it's my favorite background, and I put my favorite arrangement at the top of today's post.  Do you have a favorite?
I really enjoyed this, and I feel like I could spend hours creating various arrangements.  I could see these on postcards, note cards or calendars.  As I was playing, my muse took over, and the exercise morphed into something different, which I loved even more.  I'll share those photographs with you on Tuesday!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Displaying Nature's Treasures

In the online class, Ode to Nature, this week's lesson is about "The Art of Collecting."  Alisa Burke has us collecting treasures and then arranging, displaying and photographing them. She shared a little about this on her blog in this post.  Earlier this week, I went out to do some beach combing and then created these displays.
A basket full of drift wood, crab shells and other beach goodies.
Two small glass bowls filled with sea shells - taken from two different angles. And, my favorite:
Feathers in a tall shot glass!
This exercise was fun on many levels.  First, I really needed to get out to the beach and spend time there away from my responsibilities here at home.  I took some great photographs which I will share later. I also enjoyed spending time working on my still life photography skills.  Finally, it just makes me really happy to see these little displays around my living room. 
I'm sure I'll be using these collections for some other art work - sketching and more photography for sure.  I also hope to spend some time in the garden, fields, and forests doing more collecting.
Do you have a favorite among these photos? Do you display any of nature's treasures in your home?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

PPF: Beach Combing Sketches

Time for another Paint Party Friday! Go to this link for a whole variety of painterly goodness.  I really appreciate how this meme keeps me on track for  playing with paint at least once a week.  Even if it's just a few simple watercolor sketches, it's still better than nothing!  This week, the Ode to Nature online class that I'm taking is all about collecting treasures from nature.  I went on a beach walk and collected lots of great stuff.  Most of the prompts were about photography, and I'll be posting my photo projects over the next couple of days.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the sketches of seashells, a crab shell, and my new favorite thing to sketch:
feathers!  I think I could spend a lot of time sketching feathers.  They're really fun.
Have you found anything new that you like to sketch? Or paint?