Wednesday, February 28

it's a start...


I officially have 2 big paintings started for my show. Not as far along as I'd hoped I'd be by now, but at least I have some paint on paper! I seem to start most of my paintings the same way. I usually lay out my big piece of paper and cover it with toilet paper. (Stay with me, I know it sounds odd.) After the toilet paper layer then I mix up a couple big cups full of watercolor. I then take the watercolor and dump it all over the paper. Then you wait.

My college roomate taught me this little texture technique. (Thanks Sarah!) I remember working furiously on a series of paintings for a college art show using this starting method. I would go through the pouring steps and then slide the painting under my bed for a day or so. It was so fun to pull the paper back out and remove the toilet paper off to reveal what happened.

This starting point of a painting is the easy part. After a couple rounds of the pouring then you have to decide what you want to say with the painting. This is always the toughest part for me!

Tuesday, February 27

salad & baby report



I made the "olive garden" salad last night, and even though it was good, Andrew and I didn't think that it tasted much like the restaraunt version. Bummer. We did give it two thumbs up and decided that it was a good recipe nonetheless. Here are the links for both the salad and the dressing if anyone else wants to try it out.

Something cute happened this morning...I was laying in bed and the baby started moving around, and then kicking in a very rhythmic pattern. I couldn't figure it out at first, it felt sort of like a very strong heartbeat. Then I remembered reading in my pregnancy book that sometimes babies get the hiccups and they can be felt from the outside. How funny--I wonder if this is what was happening. If it was the hiccups, luckily for our little guy they didn't last too long. (It was long enough for Andrew and I to get some enjoyment out of it though!)

Monday, February 26

little birds





These are a couple new little paintings I worked on last week. They are small: only about 4x4". There's lots of stuff going on in these: watercolor, acrylic, graphite.

People always ask about why I put so many birds into my paintings. I have heard that birds are dirty, and sometimes they can be pests. My sister-in-law really hates them. (Not sure why, but she does.) For some reason they keep showing up in my sketches. I think I like using birds as subject matter for a couple different reasons:
1. I think birds are so beautiful and delicate. (Unless it's a buzzard or something. I will agree that they are dirty and very ugly.)
2. There is something very vulnerable about birds...especially the little ones.
3. I just think that birds are fun to draw.

I completed a whole series of bird paintings last spring. As I am working on this new body of work I thought that I was finished with that and needed to move on to something different. We'll see how many birds work their way into these new paintings!

Oh...a little cooking note: I found a recipe for "olive garden" salad that I am going to try tonight. I will let you know if it turns out!

Saturday, February 24

just like mom's

I really love to cook. I love to look through cookbooks, tackle new recipes, hunt down ingredients, the whole deal. Lately I have been craving some really good comfort food--you know, the kind that mom makes. So, I got the "recipe" for one of my favorite mom meals: cube steak and gravy. Now, I love trying to make things I've never made before, but when trying to duplicate a mom recipe it usually doesn't turn out just right. (I think there is a special "mom ingredient" or something.)

I am very happy to report, however, that this meal turned out just right. Yay! It tasted just the way that it was supposed to! Here it the recipe for anyone else hungry for some good comfort food:

cube steak
flour
Crisco
salt/pepper
water
cream of mushroom soup
Kitchen Bouquet

1. Dredge the steak with a good coating of flour on both sides
2. In a large shallow pan (that has a lid) melt a large spoonful of Crisco over med-high heat
3. Brown the steak for 2-3 minutes on each side, (salt and pepper each side)
4. Arrange all the steak in the pan, add about 1-2 cups water.
5. Cover and cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 1/2-2 hours. (Check as it cooks, add more water if it gets dry.)
6. Once the meat is done, remove it from the pan. Add 1 can cream of mushroom soup to the remaining water for gravy.
7. Whisk in more water if you need to, plus a teaspoon or so of Kitchen Bouquet. (This just makes it nice and brown.)

My mom always served this with mashed potatoes of course, plus corn. (I know, I know, double starches...but it tastes really good!)

Thursday, February 22

quality time

I had a baby doctor appointment this morning so Andrew and I got to spend some quality time together. (I had to drink some juice, wait an hour, and then get blood drawn...so we had quite a bit of quality time!) I decided that we should play hangman while we waited. Good decision because I totally won. We played several games and I must admit I pretty much cleaned up. (Sorry Andrew...we can have a re-match tonight if you want.)

After our appointment Andrew had an hour before he had to be back at work so we went to Starbucks for some coffee. Yum. I don't think anything is better than hanging out with someone you love over a cup of coffee!

Wednesday, February 21

words of encouragement



I recently stumbled upon this fun little exercize by artist/illustrator Keri Smith. I find the hardest thing about trying to be creative is working alone. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being by myself in the peace and quiet of my studio and working on my artwork. Sometimes though, I find that I just need some words of encouragement to keep going. I am sure that a lot of you feel the same way.

So, when you are in need of these encouraging words, you need to make them for yourself. Simply select a person you admire and find a picture of them. I selected one of the greatest American arstists of all time: Georgia O'Keefee. Cut out a little speech bubble and attach it to their picture. Post this on your bulletin board for you to see when you need a little pep talk!

Tuesday, February 20

field trip

This morning I met one of my art students at the Minnetrista Cultural Center in Muncie to go through their annual juried art show. I entered this show last year, but did not get in. I had all intentions of entering this year, but the deadline snuck up on me. That is all beside the point I guess...

Anyway, my student Jeff and I went through the show and I was really impressed. The artwork was very good and I left there feeling very inspired. So inspired in fact that I went to the Art Mart and purchased some big pieces of watercolor paper for some new paintings. They had lots of wonderful paper there--I drooled over some 300 lb Arches that was $22 a sheet for quite some time before settling on the $9 140 lb paper. That's a lot of pressure using expensive paper! I need more of a game plan before I make that big of an investment!

Monday, February 19

finding space



Yesterday at church the sermon was all about margins, and how we often want to fill up our homes and our lives with stuff. We are all taught to seek the next big thing/gadget/toy etc. thinking that they will bring us happiness. It was so ironic that this was the topic for the day, because I am currently reading a book about this also: It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life With Less Stuff by Peter Walsh.

So, currently I am weeding through the house, getting rid of the stuff that is getting in the way. It is amazing how many things in your house that you don't actually use...and very often these things at one time were things that you had to have!! I am taking it a little at a time. Cleaning a cabinet here, a drawer there. The little that I have done so far has shown me that you actually feel richer the less stuff that you have! How crazy! I feel like I can breathe a little easier now that I have started this process.

Speaking of breathing easier; I have the afternoon free today at the studio to work on some little paintings. I started a couple this morning...I'd better get back to work to see where these are going to take me...

Friday, February 16

"blizzard", valentine's day, and procrastination



After leaving my very cold studio on Monday, I went home and didn't get very much work done. My day was a little thrown off. I did try a new recipe for cranberry orange scones...they were delicious!

We woke up on Tuesday with very windy and snowy conditions. Andrew bravely faced the cold and went to work while I settled in and watched the news. They were calling the condiditons "blizzard like" and at one point an area of the state had a "blizzard warning". I have never heard them refer to a snow storm as a blizzard before, and it made me wonder: what constitutes a blizzard exactly? All I knew is that I was in for the day...and I was really happy about it.

Valentine's Day was day two of the snowstorm. Andrew was off from work and so he spent part of the day exploring the area--and getting his truck stuck in the snow. For Valentine's dinner we always make something ambitious to eat at home. Last year was lamb chops, and this year Andrew decided it would be lobster tails--on the grill. Even the snow would not shake his determination to make this meal. Andrew braved the snowdrifts and went to the garage to make his masterpiece. I think that Bobby Flay (the Food Network grill master himself, and where we got our recipe) forgot to tell us how to open the lobster tails. We struggled and fought the poor little things. Not very romantic, but memorable! The chocolate cake was much easier to eat.

Today is Friday, and I am finally back in my studio. I now have to face the things that I took a 3 day vacation from because of the weather. I have been struggling with my artwork lately--not sure about the direction I should take. I need to decide because my show is in October and I have nothing ready yet. Not a thing! I think the snow was a blessing, it let me take a couple days off from my art...but now there is no more procrastination allowed!

Monday, February 12

rough monday!



I work everyday in a very old studio. It was a house years ago before holding a variety of different businesses later. Now Andrew and I are the proud owners--well, sometimes not so proud. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but that is ice on the INSIDE of one of my windows. One of the many "charms" of this place. Don't get me wrong, I love it here. I love painting in the wonderful natural light. I love looking out the huge front windows. I love imagining what my studio could eventually look like. This place has definate potential.

I walked in this morning greeted by very cold air...colder than usual. (I turn the furnace down a little every night to try and save a little money.) Anyway, I thought that it felt colder than normal. I went to the thermostat and turned it up to a toasty 70 degrees like I do every morning. Nothing. I flipped a few switches. Nothing. I called a guy to come and look at the furnace. Nothing.

So, my lessons are off for the day, and I am heading home to try and do some work there. Reinforcements are coming tomorrow to assess the situation.

I guess I need to get some of those gloves with the fingers cut off and then I could stay here in the cold and work like a "real" artist!

Thursday, February 8

pear studies



These are some little pear studies that I dug up the other day. I think I completed this litte grouping of 18 drawings/paintings about a year ago and had forgotten all about them. I love the idea of studying the same object several different ways using different media. I think it goes well with my sometimes obessive compulsive need to create little rows of things. (Crazy, I know. It is kind of like making an art spreadsheet or something.)

Wednesday, February 7

snowed in supper



The snow really came down yesterday! I made the executive decision to close the studio down early and head home before it got too nasty. After I arrived safely at home I wondered what in the world I was going to make for dinner. I was very happy when I remembered that I had all the ingredients to make a Bolognese pasta sauce. Yay! I only made pasta sauce from scratch a handfull of times, so I was excited to tackle this recipe. (The recipe came from the February issue of the Oprah magazine.) There was lots of chopping involved, so I had a chance to practice my knife skills and pretend that I was on a food network show.

I am happy to say that this dinner turned out very good! There is something very satisfying about finding a recipe and making it and it actually turning out. It tasted even better because the snow was blowing outside and Andrew and I didn't have anywhere we had to go. A perfect snowed in supper.

Tuesday, February 6

I woke up this morning to the familiar little kicks from my baby. I would lay there forever and just feel the tiny (and sometimes not so tiny) movements of him if I could. (I think the baby knows that I am talking about him...he is moving around right now!)

Sometimes I forget how great this miracle is that I am carrying around with me everyday. I get cranky about how my pants don't fit and how much the scale is moving up that I don't realize what is really happening. Andrew and I are so blessed, and today I feel especially grateful for this little life that God has given to us.

Monday, February 5

colt's win & the new adventures of "captain planet"

What a happy Monday...Colts won the Superbowl! I can't believe that it happened! The game itself was not as exciting as the Patriots game a couple weeks ago, but that was fine with me. I'd rather be in control and in the lead for sure! The subject of the Superbowl leads me to my next topic for this morning...

Andrew and I decided last minute to invite his parents, my mom and step-dad, and my grandparents over to watch the game. (I really wanted to try this meatball recipe, and if we didn't have other people over we would have to eat the leftovers for weeks!) So after church we both tag-teamed the house to get everything cleaned up. Andrew even mopped--it was serious.

I have a big problem that comes up when cleaning: keeping all the recycling at our house under control. Andrew calls me "Captain Planet" because I try to recycle everything I can. (Does anyone remember that cartoon by the way?) Pop cans, newspapers, cardboard, and plastic water bottles seem to take over our back room all the time. (They pile up really bad in the winter because when it is really cold I get lazy about taking them to the recycing drop-off!) It is not good that all these recycles pile up in our back room because #1: that is where our washer and dryer are and I am constantly standing on a pile of cardboard to do laundry, and #2: this is the first room that everyone sees when they walk in the house. (Because who ever uses your front door?) Being the good husband he is, Andrew loaded up all the recycles into my car to clean up the back room. Our house looked great for our company, and the Colts won. Good times.

When I went to heat up my car this morning--which was very necessary because it was sooooooooo cold--I was alarmed at the ammount of stuff packed into my car. There was barely enough room for me to sit and drive. (I thought about taking a picture, but then I realized that this was really embarrassing to admit that you drive your car around like this.) I should have went to the recycling drop-off before coming to my studio, but as I mentioned before it is really cold. If you are out too long the inside of your nose freezes. So, as we speak, my car is very full with all the cardboard, cans, and paper. When I was driving thinking about the cold I realized that if my car broke down and it was going to be a while for help to arrive that I could insulate myself with the cardboard and newspapers. I can see the front page story now: "Pregnant Woman Survives Below Zero Temperatures in Car With Recyclables".

Even though they might come in handy, I think I will drop them off later today. Or maybe my Co-Captain Planet (Andrew) will do it for me!

Thursday, February 1

bluebird



I am currently working on a series of very small paintings, they are mostly mixed media pieces exploring what techniques and subject matter I want to explore further. I have my very first solo exhibit coming up in October of this year. I am very excited about this, but nervous at the same time. If people come to the show it will be to see my work--only me! It better be good!