If you’d like to see any photo larger you can right click and open in a new tab or window, or just click on the photo and it’ll enlarge the image and you can scroll through the photos with your arrow keys. Push escape to return to the blog page.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Creativity Challange

The challange: create something that celebrates your own creativity.

This week I let myself play with pastels and pears. I painted a pear a year ago and have wanted to paint more---so last weekend, I bought some fruit and instead of going outside to paint another landscape I decided to work in my studio. I played with the shadows created by the sun streaming in the window, composed some still life images & took digital pics, then after fiddling with those images decided to just set up a pear to paint from life at that moment.

I placed it on a shelf and put a sheet of black paper behind it to cover the shelf brackets & a badly placed wall plug. Then pulled out my pastels & went to work. I discovered several issues in the process---aside from the lighting issues with the late afternoon sun moving quite fast, I was also dealing with easel placement issues---in order to use the sun, shadows, & shelf I had to put my easel with its back to the window---making the painting surface difficult to see (can you say backlit?!) I quickly put together an overhead light system that helped me see my paper easier, but the time that took was enough to move the sun & shadows away from my set-up! Luckily I’d already finished my preliminary drawing so I just scooted the pear along the shelf, with the paper & worked as best as I could with the traveling sunlight. Nothing is ever easy of course!

Working on this pear was a way I could celebrate my creativity---something I’ve been wanting to explore ever since I painted the first with pastels on sanded paper. I’ve always been blessed with creative people in my life which made it easier to embrace my own creativity---As a child I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, and happily this dream wasn’t discouraged. Art was my primary focus in school---especially in high school when I could take all the different art classes offered (jewelry, ceramics, along with art). That’s what I continued doing in college, and after. I’ve taken many side roads into many different art forms, from learning to spin cotton, silk, angora, llama, wool & playing with dyes, then knitting sweaters, mittens, hats, to continuing my studies with paint---oil, acrylics, watercolor, then colored pencils and pastels. I’m married to a sign artist/graphic designer, and we both have been learning how to use computers with our artwork. I’ve always loved photography and several years ago learned how to develop and print my own black and white photos which eventually led to creative photo albums and scrapbooking. Each of these have been continued explorations in creativity, some quite successful, some not. Some have gripped me for years, then I’ve moved on to other creative interests depending on different circumstances. I started playing with pastels about 10 years ago after working for a long time in watercolor and only just last year took my first workshop in pastel, learning secrets about the medium I’d yet to discover on my own. I still paint in watercolor, but it seems more like work to me than pastel---it’s still playing!

This brings me back to pears---my subject of choice this week. Next week I might move onto landscapes again, or maybe apples. Or maybe I’ll finish some of those watercolors upstairs that have been languishing by the way-side. All depends on which way the creativity blows!

This first painting is the pear I painted a year ago---with a close-up showing detail.

This is the pear I painted this week---again with a close-up.

One of the many digital photos I took before starting to paint---for the future when this pear no longer exist---part of my creative process, collecting images for future painting + playing with lighting.

Lastly a favorite image of my pastels!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

We survived!

My tally was around 55 people here---maybe more, maybe less, but was kinda hard to keep track with people coming, going, coming back, going outside to talk on their cell phones to give instructions how to find our place... all occurring outside, in the twinkle-lights of the driveway, dark backyard, shop door opening & closing... trying to be hidden ourselves (request that our kitchen lights not be on so the darkness outside was more complete which helped us to see easier!) As far as we could see and from reports our daughter made and several of her friends it was a blast---super fun, "tight" etc.! Lots of costumes, loud music thumping, fog machine, dry ice with punch, squealing girls, black lights, exclamations of "Whoa" from arriving guests as they opened the shop door... yep, success! Our daughter was a great hostess, keeping the food supplied, the punch bowl filled, the music flowing, and after 11:00 she announced "last songs" & had people filing out by 11:30---most gone by 11:40! Just herself & 4 other girlfriends + 2 quiet guys left to hang out visiting 'til 1:00, then after the fellas left the girls were asleep by 1:30!

Amazed to see my daughter up by 10:00 & happily making muffins for her still sleeping buddies, bubbling over with excitement still about how well it all went last night, talking about who was there, what they did (danced mostly) & later sharing pics she'd taken. So glad it went well---but now am thinking "oh no---this is just the first!" The year is still young...

Here are some party images---blurred on purpose to protect the "innocent"... ;)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Halloween party...

Ok, wish us luck... My 17 yr. old daughter is hosting a Halloween party in my sweeties shop (oversized garage space that he uses as his sign/graphic design shop/biz) tonight---luckily for us the weather is dry so the kids can spill out onto the driveway---last I heard there may be 80 partiers! Yikes! So far we've had 5 kids by, 2 girls showering, another boy supposed to be here soon to shower after football practice, and the party doesn't "start" 'til 8:00! Don't think my husband is ready for this---when he hears 80 he may flip! (lucky fella is out playing frisbee golf, oblivious to the fun about to begin... he thinks he's all ready!)

Hope we all survive!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Studio Friday Theme---Autumn

My favorite season---and it seems like a lot of people agree! I love the colors of the trees, leaves, and how everything mellows after the heat of summer. Woodstove fires, harvest veggies and fruits, homemade soups, baked and roasted meals....all favorites! My previous post could work for this theme---but I'll include some new pics for variety.

Lastly is the pastel I worked on Tuesday----happy Autumn!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Another challenge

Time consuming, but a great lesson in how to play with photos in Photoshop Elements. (only time consuming because it was my first time with this program grouping several photos and playing with the background.) In a way I guess you could say this is my first digital scrapbook page! I'm sure there are better ways to do this, quicker methods, but it was fun to give this a try and see what I could do (can you say trial and error!)

Our plein air group is through meeting for the year, but yesterday was so gorgeous I had to go in search of some fall color to paint. I tried campus first and saw tons of brilliant trees but the settings weren't very inspiring (parking lots full of cars just don't thrill me---even if they're surrounded by leafy reds, oranges and golds...). Next I checked out a local park and was happy to see some great areas of color just sparkling in the afternoon sun. That's the story behind the pastel in the montage below. I was hoping to get out again today but the fog this morning has turned into solid clouds---it would be great for portraits, but I'm not seeing the intense lights and darks I like to try and capture with pastel. Might have to pull out some past photos and play in the studio with my new easel instead!

Thanks again Ali for suggesting this weeks challenge---just the nudge I needed to learn more about my photo software!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ready for winter!

Struck gold today---a once-a-year antique sale has been going on since Wednesday, but only this morning did we get a chance to go check it out---figured most was already sold (which it was) but did find a treasure we couldn't pass up! After creating my pastel studio out of the room my daughter recently moved out of, I've been toying with the possibility of purchasing an indoor easel, one I could work on in the studio and not have to pack it up when ready to head out for plein air painting. I've been glancing at the studio easels in art supply catalogs not really paying much attention to them, other than noting how spendy they seemed! Then at this sale we saw a wooden studio easel, and decided it was perfect! I needed something with a small footprint that wouldn't take up much room since my space is somewhat limited (especially since we've moved the futon in while remodeling our dining room...!) I really liked how big of a canvas this easel could accommodate also---and it was so simple to use! With this being the last day of the sale I decided to ask if they'd take less---and she did! I was a very happy camper---the best thing is that it's not brand new, it has paint blobs already on it, and aside from a bit of wobble from needing another bolt it's just what I need! Timing couldn't have been more perfect either since we just had our last plein air paint-out on Wed.---time to start working indoors and now I have a new toy to use! Here are some pics of my new studio addition:

Friday, October 13, 2006


I've decided to step into a challenge about photography---didn't do any layouts, but did play with the digital camera. I have some successes, but also some disappointments---hiking thru Silver Falls Wed. I was enthralled with the colors of the viney maples contrasting with the giant fir trees,

the gold reflections of the foliage in the pools below the falls

and the images seen thru the falls looking out at the scenes beyond.

Sadly the camera wasn't capturing these images as well as I wished. The contrast between the sun areas and the shade were too much for the camera. It really made me realize why I like to paint from life---my eyes can adjust to the light changes, I can play with the pastels and make the colors work on paper, but the particular camera I was using wasn't up to the job! I ended up trying to revive these photos on the computer, but still feel they fall short from the images I'd witnessed with my own eyes.

Earlier that week I shot some digital pics of the flowers we received for our anniversary---several turned out just the way I envisioned! No computer enhancement needed :).

It's usually the lighting that can make or break a photo for me---but sometimes that takes a backseat to capturing a decent portrait---however lighting helps that too. I feel like a strength I have with photography is the eye I've developed as a fine artist---I've trained my eyes to see beyond what might just be in front of me---to look for that focal point, the supporting color juxtapositions, the contrast between objects, lighting that can enhance, soften, make your subject pop... it's what can draw me to a scene or image. I've also had to find images at times during poor lighting situations---or sites that just didn't jump with inspiration---that is also great training for the artist and photographer---as an artist tho I can work an image to my satisfaction, but as a photographer it's more of a challenge to create that stunning photo when the circumstances don't always fall into place.

Below are the questions we were asked to consider this week---Thank you Ali for the inspiration!

"What is your personal photo-taking process?
What are your strengths in regards to taking photos?
What do you want to change about your process?
Which photos that you have taken are your favorites? Why?
What makes those photos your favorite?"

Monday, October 09, 2006

Some anniversary party images

My oldest daughter was assigned the job of photographer at the party and did a terrific job---not only did she manage to shoot a picture of everyone that attended she also had a cd burned and delivered the next day! What a sweetheart she is.

These two show the view off my parent's deck---it was a glorious fall day just barely hitting 70ยบ drawing some of the people outside to relish the sunshine and perfect temps.

This next photo shows the amazing spread of food we all enjoyed.

I made the carrot cake and Brad used silver and gold leaf to decorate it along with some of our nasturtiums from the back yard.

Lastly, this bottle of wine is 25 years old...it was from a case my dad bought for our wedding...one of 3 Brad had stashed in his closet. Cheap stuff then, down right nasty now! Of course we had to try it.... I think we should save one for our 50th...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

50 years of love

Yesterday we had a combined party with my parents---it was 50 years to the day since they'd married, and last May we celebrated our 25th anniversary. What an amazing thing love and marriage can be.

The party was great---we had so much food, drinks, wonderful people, and lots of laughs. Seeing some of my parents friends I hadn't seen for 25 years or more was truly some of the most fun---I had to really hunt to find the person I remember sitting around the card tables, playing poker, doing "grown-up" things while my brothers and I would peek around the hall wall, watching the big people talk, break out in a roar of laughter, as we'd try to think of an excuse to pop out so we could get closer and see if some of that grown-up aura would rub off on us... It was a different world then---the kids made a quick appearance so the parents could show how we'd grown, but then we'd be sent off with our token bowl of snacks to not bother them while they had their adult time.

Oddly I didn't feel shy or unconnected with these people yesterday---the barriers had fallen down. We'd finally entered the world of the big people---too bad we didn't pull out the card tables and poker chips...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Belated Studio Friday (on Monday...:)

" Studio Friday, for me, is a network of Artist from all over the world. It's a fabulous way to communicate with and learn from artists of all backgrounds. With this being said, I would love to see a showcase of what YOUR art is. Are you a scrapbooker? A clay artist? Are you a collage artist or a photographer? Do you paint or work in the fibre arts of Knitting, sewing or enbroidery? Are you a gardener a botanist or an eclectic artist of many trades? I'd love to see a piece that you have created that you are most proud of. SHOW off your STUFF!!"

Ok, here's a belated entry---Hope I can still "play"! I'm just beginning to figure this stuff out :). This blog shows a lot of what I do, but here are my latest paintings--these 3 were recently framed & are now in two different juried art shows. Two are shown in previous blog entries in their almost finished stage after the day of plein air painting---these photos show them completely finished & ready for framing (my least favorite thing about painting...!) If you're new here, these are pastel paintings, my favorite plein air medium.