Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I did last week

This weeks post will be mostly pictures.  I don't know if I mentioned or not, but my friend and trainer, Samantha, has accepted a position at Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale and is going to pack up and move to The Sunshine State.  I met Sam when she taught adult swimming lessons in October of 2010 and we have become good friends. She is a good kid.

When not at the gym, I make time for hobbies and crafty things and last week I realized that if I'm going to be wearing my hair up this summer, I needed new earrings.  So I got busy and came up with a few pieces.

This first set is aventurine and sterling silver wire that I created using some simple wire wrapping techniques. The bracelet is so comfy that I have to keep looking at my arm to make sure it's still there.  I am almost out of good wire, but I had just enough to play with last week.

I had enough to make a simple coil ring.  I wrapped the wire around a metal ring sizer, using it as a mandrel, leaving about two inches of wire to make the coils. Very easy project and if you use a heavy gauge wire, it will be very durable.  I think this is 16 gauge, sterling silver round wire in dead soft. I hammered lightly it to strengthen it. Simple and easy.

Using one of my many books on jewelry design and technique, I created these little bits of sparkle.  I've always been able to wear long earrings and when I'm having a bad hair day, hopefully no one will see anything except my shimmery earbobs.

More dangles. Ceramic beads on the left and a natural stone, resembling turquoise on the right. The ones on the right are threaded onto a sterling silver eye pin that already had a coral stone as part of the design. They came from Fire Mountain Gems, and worked well.

Sometimes the perfect color bead is already part of a necklace that you don't wear much.  These rose quartz beads were components in just such a piece.  I have no qualms about deconstructing a pre-made necklace, even if it was vintage Napier. I needed those beads.

Last but not least, I call these my Bea Benaderet earrings.  If you don't already know why, read the Wikipedia and see if you can figure it out.

Actually, these beads were also part of the vintage necklace that I mentioned.  They look so nice on. 

I am really surprised that any of my pictures came out at all.  I took them out on the deck and my camera is one of the older digitals that the display seems to disappear in the sunlight.  I never know if it's my eyes or the camera, but fortunately, these turned out OK.

Speaking of my eyes, I went for my consultation last week regarding eye surgery for my cataracts and for some reason my lower peripheral vision has changed since September to a degree that the ophthalmologist wants me to do a field test, to judge exactly how much it has changed and determine why.  Perhaps, then we can talk about the surgery. I'll let you know.

Well, that's it for me for today.  Take care.  Have fun and stay safe.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hello, again.

Seems like the only time I am motivated to post anything is on Saturdays.  We have had a relatively uneventful week. Our state (Virginia) had a presidential primary Tuesday and even though there were only two candidates on the ballot, we definitely voted.  I can't complain if I haven't done my part, right?  Seems like the other candidates didn't get enough signatures to even get on the ballot. That might mean something in itself.

I worked on the little (6 x 9) watercolor of the deer and while it's not that great, I am posting it and another one because you have to start somewhere. Remember to click on the pictures for a closer view.

There are so many things that jump out at me as being "wrong", that I have to focus on the things that I like about this little painting. While I didn't realize that I was centering this tree in the painting, I really do like the shadow side of it and the way the ivy is climbing out of the picture.  I like that the animals do look somewhat like deer, even though the one in foreground looks like he has been cut in half and reassembled somewhat askew.  Oh right, I'm focusing on the positive...sorry.

Earlier in the month I did a painting of the same size (6 x 9) of a wintry scene of birds.  I followed along with the artist on Artist Network TV and even used the line drawing that was supplied, but the birds not only look like emus struggling to stay on a branch, the one on the left appears to be wearing a bird mask instead of having a bird face.   But I'm learning as I go...

This was a lesson in various techniques, and there was so much going on to begin with, that I'm not surprised I struggled some and really overworked several areas. I do have trouble remembering to keep the white of the paper white.  I still feel the need to paint every area on the paper.  Well, maybe that will just be my style.  I'm having fun and it keeps me off the street.

Sometimes the photos that you take aren't the best reference photos, so I'll let you decide if either one of these feel right to you.  If fact, I would love someone would paint their version, if they want or simply state your opinion of the photo.

Here is an closeup shot of my spring jonquils, I have other shots to choose from, if anyone is interested in seeing them, but a daffodil is a daffodil, isn't it?

The fall foliage on our street is always so vibrant that I'm thinking about doing something from this photo...

The dead tree next to the fence has been taken down, so I will probably omit that from the picture if I use this one as a reference.

To prove that sometimes I do have a domestic urge, here is a shot of my take on macaroni and tomatoes. 
I chose a mixture of ground chicken and super lean ground beef, which I browned in EVOO with seasonings and a bit of chopped onion and celery.  After browning and draining what little grease was there, I added one can of diced tomatoes, about one half can of filtered water and a handful of orzo pasta.  I let it simmer covered, about fifteen minutes.  I like a very soft pasta, so I can pretend I'm a kid again, eating beef-a-roni.  It turned out to be very tasty and gave me something warm to eat while the hubby noshed on his chilli.

I'm still working on a needlework project and a gal at the gym wants me to make a newborn owl hat for her friend, so I am planning on staying busy.  I'm thinking about abandoning my weight loss blog and periodically posting things of that nature here.  Blogging seems to be slowing down some and I'm never sure how much interest there is in hearing about my little life here in the burbs of the South.

In any event, I'm alive and kickin' and have my cataract consultation next week. Wish me luck on that. I'll keep you posted.  Take care and give everyone a big old hug and kiss and say it's from me.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Morning

Well, all is well here on the home front.  With tornadoes all around the country this week, we are blessed to have stayed safe.  The lights flickered once and there was rain with lightening and thunder and high winds, but we were tucked safely here on the hill in the Valley of the Star.  At night when it's stormy I draw the curtains and we watch television and eat yummy snacks, but during the daytime when the light is better, you just might find me painting.

This week I watched several videos on Artist TV Network for inspiration, and decided to get out my very neglected watercolors and try to get a handle on this medium.  I have great control when using acrylics, and I find them easy to work with.  I do use a great deal of water with them and get the transparency that I really like, but, for some reason I have never liked the looseness of the traditional watercolor technique.  Long story shorter, I decided to go in a more dry brush direction to have a bit more control.  I practiced on several things, but they look so juvenile.  I dug my heels in and reminded myself that not all things are easy when you first start them, so I watched more videos and got some books from the library and practiced some more. My results were about the same, so I thought that maybe I was trying too hard (I tend to do that sometimes) and needed to stop over-thinking things.  So, one day this week I watched a PBS artist doing an acrylic painting of a barn and I thought maybe that would be a good subject to work on, but in watercolors.  Now I'm not one to haul my supplies anywhere to paint, I have tried that and it's just not me.  BUT, if someone else wants to do that for my benefit and have a show about it, I figured it's OK if I continually hit the pause button on the remote and use his finished painting as my inspiration.  I did just that.  The end result is still not worthy of any art gallery, but it is recognizable as a structure.

I have a photograph that I took of deer grazing in our woods that I'm working on now and hopefully, that will be "postable".  It's often said to make a picture interesting, it's a good idea to include something living, so I go from making two stroke birds to attempting a painting with five deer in it.  I know, not really logical for the Vulcan that I am, but what the hey, I'm up for a little challenge.

On a sadder note, in my opinion, the world lost two very special men this week.  By now I'm sure you have all heard of the sudden death of Davy Jones, that Monkee that so many of us grew up with. I always liked him and had all their albums.  Didn't miss any of the shows, either.  He will be missed.

In hopes of not losing too many readers, I want to address the fact that my world (the one of the horrible Conservatives) lost a great friend this week also.  Andrew Breitbart, passed away suddenly, as well, Monday from an apparent heart attack. We had heard him speak on numerous occasions and the hubby and I are happy to say we got to meet him several times at functions we attended over the last several years.  He was one of those men, who was wildly passionate about his beliefs and fearless in his pursuit of making sure other folks were made aware of the things that he sincerely felt were true.  That fearlessness and the fact that he went "full speed ahead" all the time, may have been factors in his early demise.  He will be missed, but his work will certainly go on, in the form of his websites and his colleagues who have promised take up where he left off.

Here is a picture of my sweet hubby, Tim take on two different occasions with Andrew.  I took the bottom one when we attended an AFP convention in November, and I found Andrew to be a really nice guy. (In case you didn't know Andrew, he is the taller of the two).

Well, that's all for now.  I slept in this morning (it is Saturday, after all) so I need to hit the shower and get ready for what's left of the day.  Painting those deer will certainly be a part of it and trying to remember to answer my e-mails (Karin, I'm soooo sorry) and thinking about all the things I'm going to do when I get my cataracts removed will keep my mind occupied for the next few hours.

Have a great weekend and if you suffered in any of the storms that were so treacherous this week, my prayers are with you. Stay safe and hug your Bestie. You'll be glad you did.