Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekly Challenge at Inspiration Avenue- "I've got the blues"

Good morning all- it was my turn to come up with this week's challenge for Inspiration Avenue and I chose "I've Got the Blues" for my theme. I liked all the possibilities that it suggested! Anyway, my plan or rather my highly ambitious plan :) was to do a new painting. Then I ended up buying 30 pounds of strawberries and 40 pounds of peaches to can for the farmer's market......between the canning and the fact that it was the last week of school with events for each child; I got one hour of painting done this week! SO, for my entry I'm using the reference for my painting- it's a picture of a German bearded iris that I took in my mother's garden.
And for those of you who are curious about my new painting, here's what I have so far:
Sorry for the poor quality of the image- my daughter borrowed my camera again and I have NO idea what she did to the light settings!  Anyway, I'm hoping to finish it this week and get on a more balanced schedule with painting and canning and having Summertime fun with the kids- I might even manage to have a relatively clean house throughout the process!
Cheers and to those of you who are Americans, have a great holiday weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Take a look at my beautiful present!

One of my favorite blogs I found on One World, One Heart was Creative Whispers by Laura Haviland.  I've been following her ever since.  She creates the most wonderful art dolls with stamping, painting and collage- I LOVE them!  In fact I featured her work in a prior blog post HERE.  Anyway, she recently created this doll that I loved so much, I asked if I could buy it, and she wouldn't accept payment but sent it to me in the mail instead.  I love, love, LOVE the colors in this- I AM a purple girl, and of course cats are close to my heart too!  I have this prominently displayed on my desk and it makes me smile each time I see it.  Laura is working on getting an Etsy shop up and running, and when she does, I'll be sure to blog about it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Interlude- Original Acrylic Painting featuring Peony and Iris

Good morning- I finished my new painting on Thursday and this is the first chance I've had to blog about it.  So here you go, it features the relationship between a Festiva Maxima peony and a budding Savannah Sunset iris with a dramatic play of shadows and light to make up the background.  For information and pictures, check it out at my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mealor Family Farms- It's All About the Berries, Baby!

Since my family is once again participating the Decatur Organic Farmer's Market- my Dad and brother have an organic farm where they're growing hundreds of tomatoes, leeks, garlic, squash and more...and I'm once again spending tons of time creating prepared foods!  It's a good thing I love baking!
So, I thought I'd better start including our doins' and goings on with the market here on my blog or it might be a reaaaallly long time before you hear from me again!.  There is simply no way to take that much time out of painting and continue to be able producing art at a regular pace!   It's ok though- this is really important to me too:)
So, anywhoo- what *I've* been doing for the market......Bill and I pretty much grow veggies and herbs for our own personal use, and since Ben and my Dad pretty much produce mainly veggies, what *I* do is buy fresh local organic seasonal fruits and transform them into tarts, preserves, mini cheesecakesglazed with said preservesand compotes
Last fall, they were very popular, and I was CRAZY busy with it- we generally could sell as much as I could produce which is a good thing, but does tend to add chaos to an already busy life.....because I had a show coming up, and the growing season was pretty much over, we decided to take the winter off.  But now that it's spring, here we are again!
Right now strawberries are in season, so that's what I'm working with.........
   Carmelized Strawberry Preserves, Peppered Balsamic Strawberry preserves, Fresh Strawberry Tarts, Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts and Mini-Cheesecakes glazed with- you guessed it strawberry preserves!  I feel a little like Bubba-Gump's shrimp factory from Forest Gump...anyone besides me remember that movie?

Oh and lest anyone think I'm not painting at all, here's a WIP of my new painting with my muse who decided to pose with said painting!  I actually took this picture on Monday- now I'm almost done and hopefully I'll have time to finish today and post final images tomorrow.....lord willin' and the creeks don't rise as they say around here ;D

Friday, May 14, 2010

Art me in the Garden-

Since it's been a while since I last posted pictures of my garden, I thought I'd write a quick post with updates.....our first bluebird babies fledged on Mother's Day, which I thought was a wonderful unexpected gift!  And wouldn't you know it, the Daddy Bluebird was back on the house that same day strutting his stuff to start another brood!  I say, "GO big Blue, GO!" 
Right now, mostly what's blooming is the roses and foxgloves.  The last of my azaleas, called "Conversation Piece" started their show earlier this week, and the hydrageas are just starting to show some color.  The Bee Balm and Black & Blue Salvia are well on their way too.  In the veggie garden, we spied our first baby 'mater and bell peppers yesterday.  We also have beans, habeneros, squash, cucumbers and tons of herbs.  I'm feeling VERY bountiful!
So, here are a few pictures or your viewing pleasure.  I'll apologise in advance for the poor quality- Caroline borrowed my camera this week and I don't know what she did to the settings, but they're not nearly as sharp as usual- definitely NO paintings from this batch, lol!
My Annabelle hydrangea- I do have to admit that I prefer old fashioned flowers like this....

Bill built this arbor for my birthday present from my design for my birthday present (yes, I KNOW I'm SO lucky!) BTW; I found the windows that are built into the base on the side of the road- Gotta LOVE free antiques!

One of my foxgloves, I'm not sure why it bloomed such a pale pink- but Isure hope it re-seeds!

Conversation Piece Azaleas- BTW, that's a real window that I spray painted with Mirror Paint and Bill hung on the wall for me- the hay rack was last year's birthday pressie- yes, I know, lucky......

These roses are SO much more beautiful in real life- they are "Jude the Obscure" and the adirondack chair?  Another roadside find......:D  I picked it up because the seat was broken- I love using this kind of thing for supports.

Cinco de Mayo rosa and MORE Foxglove with Bee Balm marching along.  Did I mention that I have a kind of thing about Fogloves....?

Side path to my front garden, the lady banks rose is just finishing up...
I think that's enough for now, I know I get carried away when it comes to my garden, I can't help it!  I just want to cram as much in as I can......but now, I have to start working on my contribution to our family farm stand at the organic market- I do preserves, tartlets and cut flowers.  I've been canning strawberries ALL week, and let's just say that it'll be a while before I want to eat another one....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Treasury- I Like Coffee, I Like Tea......

Good morning, I just wanted to share a new treasury that I got this morning.
I chose "What's your morning cuppa" as my theme......
Have a great day!  BTW, I'm almost done with my new painting, I'll probably post pictures of it tomorrow; always assuming that all goes well ;)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

on Being a Mother......

Happy Mother's Day- I thought I'd share some artists whose work speaks to me on being a mother......

I couldn't resist including one of my drawings- no, it's not for sale- it was a baby gift for my brother when his son, Porter was born four years ago......

So, happy Mother's Day to all, whether you are Mothers or daughters, it's still a special day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

what's UP in the studio- Altered Books and a New WIP...

Here are some of the altered books I finished for the show a couple of weeks ago.  I've managed to list most of them in my Etsy shop.....I'm slooowly getting back to a normal schedule!

I used my current favorite technique of tearing and collaging printed images from my paintings
And the quote I used reads; " 'Tis moonlight, summer moonlight all soft and still and fair, the solemn hour of midnight" by Emily Bronte.

again the collage technique; did I mention it's my current fave?  I also made a bookmark to go with......

I also enjoy doing pop-ups and here's a close up of the seed envelope opened....

For my new painting, that I'm sketching out today I chose to use this image of a peony and iris....
So that's about all that's going on with me.  Have a great day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Learn Your Lesson- "Banana's Foster'ish Belgium Waffles"

Hello all, I've spent all morning reading the tutorials at our blog party over at Inspiration Avenue.  If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend it- there is So much to see!  I didn't make it over there till this morning because on the weekends, my computer becomes shared space and I have very little time to use it.
Nw, after reading so many great tutorial, some including recipes; I found myself getting hungry and decided to make my daughter's favorite Banana Foster-ish Belgium Waffles.  As I was melting the butter to carmelize the banas, I was inspired to share this recipe with you!
The Belgium Waffle part is purely Food Network, you can find this portion of the recipe HERE- it has a few more steps than I once used, but the whipping of the egg whites, makes the lightest, fluffiest Waffles I've EVER had!
You could also just do the banana part of the recipe to accompany pancakes or french toast....I've been thinking of palying with it for banana bread as's so yummy, you'll want to find other uses for it too, I bet!
Banana's Foster Inspired Topping
1 Ripe Banana
2-3 T Butter
1/4 C Brown Sugar
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Cinnamon
Handful of Coarsely Chopped Pecans
Begin by melting the butter (I always start with 3 Tablespoons and add more if necessary- the goal here is to create a caramel sauce to coat the bananas and pecans).  Mix in the brown sugar and add the cinamon and nutmeg; once the mixture is bubbling, you can add the banana's and pecans.  Allow it to cook down about 15-20 minutes or until the bananas have mostly broken down. 
Make your waffles or whatever you plan to top with the bananas and get ready for a deliscious breakfast!
BTW, I'm aware that Banana's Foster doesn't usually have pecans, but in my opinion, they just improve on all the elements of this recipe!
I'm off to mix MY waffles-Enjoy!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Learn Your Lesson- Altering an Altoid Tin with a Collage

First of all let me say that my tutorial ended up being something different than I'd planned.  I'd wanted to do a tut on Flag Books like this:
but, alas, I did not have time.  However, if any of you would like for me to do a write in a future post; I'd be happy to do so- just let me know!

For my tutorial, I'm going to show you how to make an altered tin.  I LOVE these; have a bowl full on my desk holding various odds and ends; paper clips, x-acto blades, erasers etc.  Anyway, I think it's an attractive way to store small desk items.  I only wish they were big enough for business cards 'cause I'd be carrying one in my purse too!
But I make an altered tin:
Altoid Tin
One Sheet Cardstock
Modge Podge
Gesso or othe Primer
Acrylic Paint
Clear Varnish
Step 1. Choose the Image for your collage
I use Microsoft Digital Image but Photoshop will have the same options for altering the values of your image.
Step 2. Altering your image for the collage
Once you've chosen your image, you will need to "Save a copy as" and apply the "diffuse glow" filter (or whatever the equivelent is in your program) to change the darks/lights of your image- here I wanted the difference to be very subtle, so the original colors would show through.  I suggest playing with different filters until you get a contrast you like.  Once you have a combination you're happy with, print 3 in ACEO format size- 2 the same and 1different.  You should have two different images for the collage and one image for the interior of the tin.
Note: you could actually print a whole sheet of different filters and play your collage before modge podging it if you like.

Step 4. Ripping and Glueing and Collaging....oh my!
Note: If your prints are not waterproof, spray them with spray fix or something to cure them BEFORE tearing so the modge podge will not smear the images!
Once you've chosen your two images for your collage trim them out leaving a small border.  Begin tearing one of the images into strips and number each one so you don't get confused as to which piece goes where. 
This sounds like a no brainer, but I've NOT numbered enough to know that it can cause a real headache!
Now you're ready to lay out your collage- this is where the fun begins! Place the strips alternating between both images so it creates contrast. Once you have a composition you like, modge podge it into place.
Step 3. Priming your tin
I use gesso, but really any primer would do. The important thing is to take your time and mask it off carefully with tape where the lid will overlap the bottom so your paint won't get scraped off!
For the example, I only primed and painted the top, bu it looks best when both are painted!

Step 4. Painting your tin
Choose a color to complement your image and paint over the primer.  Sometimes it will take more than one coat.
Step 5. Trim and Attach your Collage 
Trace the outside of the tine onto a piece of cardstock and cut it out to create a template.  Trace this over your collage.  Cut it out out and glue it onto the top of your tin wiping off any excess glue.  I usually cover the tin with plastic wrap and place a heavy book on top to avoid any bubbles or ripples.
Note: sometimes it's more attractive to have the image be slightly smaller than the top- in this case, just trim it out a bit more! 
Step 6. The inside Image
, Trace your template onto your remaining image, cut out and glue into the inside of your tin.
Step 7. Finish your tin with a protective sealant- I like Windsor & Newton's Satin Varnish, but you may use anything you like!

And VOILA, you are done!
Here's what mine looks like: