"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Monday, December 28, 2015

Travels of the Amulet Seller

Ever since I finished the small painting The Amulet Seller I started thinking about a journal based on what her life might be like. Nothing fancy, with short entries describing her journeys with a band of gypsies, selling her handmade talismans and reading tarot cards. She has a love interest named Tadao, but they are not married. I don't know much more about her at this point, but as the journal progresses she will reveal more of herself to me.

Since I have a love/hate relationship with journals I don't know how fast this one will progress, but the idea has me pretty excited. The pages will be made up of my own drawings, stencils, and collage. I will do the text on the computer, because if I did it by hand, it would be a mess and unreadable. This is meant to be her (I don't even have a name for her yet) travel journal, so will reflect, over time, the wear and tear of being toted around from village to town, and over the long roads in-between.

We'll see how it goes. Here is the first page.

I also noticed, after I glued it down, and after I posted it here, that Spellcheck, that lovely, annoying automatic demon, changed varda to varga...or my dyslexia popped up, which is more probable. I corrected it with a pen on the original. At first it ticked me off having to go back and mark it, but then I thought, "Hey, she's a gypsy. Spelling might not be her forte either, same as me. Maybe she goes back and edits herself, like I do?" See, she has revealed something new about herself already!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Amulet Seller — Progression

In this series of photos you can see the progression of the small painting The Amulet Seller, number four in the Gypsies series. In a previous post, I said that I had trouble with the drawing—didn't like it, but couldn't figure out why I didn't like it. I set it aside for about a month, in a place where I could look at it as I walked by. It slowly grew on me. Once I got paint on it, I liked it even better.

The Amulet Seller — Acrylic and Micron pen on illustration board, 10"x12."

I ended up really liking her narrow-eyed expression, as if she is thinking, "If you don't think my amulets will work, then piss off." I have several other ideas for paintings in this series, and have been doing a bit more research into the history of gypsies, their beliefs, and superstitions. All very interesting. Most of us have a rather romantic view of gypsies, but throughout history, their lifestyle has not been an easy one. In this series of paintings, I did not want to veer too close to a stereotype—you know, like the typical paintings or tinted photographs of smiling gypsy dancing girls with their tambourines. I want to keep the paintings respectful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Two Recycle Projects

With the weather becoming more and more iffy, inside projects are nice, for the most part relaxing, and give me a few new items of clothing to wear. Here are the latest ones to keep me occupied when I'm in-between painting and cleaning horse stalls, and it's pouring rain outside.

The first is a turquoise T-shirt. It's a bit shorter than I like them, but it was only $2.99 at the Goodwill, so I bought it because I loved the color. I decided to stencil a design on the front then add either tulle or more T-shirt material to the bottom and sleeves. I have seen tulle added to shirts, and as long as it doesn't look too cutesy, I like it. So, black stencil design to be beaded, and then black tulle added to the hem.

The photos make the shirt look royal blue, but it isn't. The stencil is a Martha Stewart.

The little white mark at the center is made with soap, to help me line up the design.

I think I will add a small piece of T-shirt material on the inside of the shirt, behind the stencil design, to help carry the weight of the beads and stitching.

The next in line is a very wide sweatshirt, also purchased at the Goodwill. I want to make a jacket out of it, with elbow length sleeves.  I am always shoving the sleeves of sweaters, T-shirts and sweatshirts up my arm, so figured why not just cut this one off at that length. The lines on the front are made with soap to show the center, and then how much I am going to trim away from the front. This thing is REALLY wide (the size tag says M, but two medium sized people could fit inside it), so I will also have to figure out a way to take in the back. Maybe make something out of the leftover sleeve material— like the little mini belts on the back of jackets (I am sure they have a proper name, but I don't know what it is).

The T-shirts above it were laid out to see what trim color would work the best. I finally decided on the dark blue. The buttons and beads will go on last. Originally I had pulled out some very nautical looking brass buttons with anchors embossed on them, but decided it looked way too yacht club, preppy, proper, ladies-who-lunch, so I put those back in the button box and went with these mother of pearl ones, turned back side forward, with some old red buttons I dug out to be sewn on top.  This project may or may not work out. I have mixed feelings about it, so when I get it sewn up, if I don't really like it, I won't bother to add any decorations.

Here are both projects laid out on my big work table in the garage.

Those should keep me busy for a while. I am especially looking forward to stitching and beading the T-shirt. So, time to grab a book on CD, make a cup of tea, park myself in a comfy chair, and bead away.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Studio Corner - New works In Progress

I must say, I am really enjoying my new little corner of the garage. It is slowly getting organized, and developing a personality. My inspiration board is finally up, with photos of figures and interiors I am using for the two series I am currently working on = Gypsies, and Ghosts in the Ruins.  More and more photos and various pieces of flotsam and jetsam will no doubt be added to the board as time goes on. I have another board in the room where I make my jewelry and do my beading on clothing, which has ideas, colors I like, clothing I would like to try and make, etc. I seem to have always had some kind of inspiration board—or mood board, as they call them these days.

In one of my trips to the library I found a wonderful book on painting with acrylics, titled  Capturing Light in Acrylics by John Hammond. He paints in an impressionistic style, which I don't, but he gives great visuals for tone, color, palette, composition, and light. I loved the book so much I ended up buying it through Amazon. One of the techniques he uses that I tried and loved, was mixing gloss medium with the paint rather than water, to make glazes. I also learned, and experienced personally, that if you water acrylics down too much to make a wash, the bonding medium in the paint won't adhere to the paper as well.

There was another book on acrylic painters that I got from the library that I didn't like as well, but did learn a new trick for drawing on paper/canvass and sealing the drawing with gel medium. I had just bought some Krylon sealant for a previous painting where I had used watercolor pencils. It made me wonder if I could use the Krylon, instead of the gel medium,  to seal the pencil drawing onto the illustration board. It worked like a charm. It also sealed the board, so the paint didn't soak into it as much, which had been a problem on Soul Mates.

So, this is what is in the works right now. Another in the Gypsy series titled The Amulet Seller, and the first one, which is VERY experimental at this point, in the Ghosts in the Ruins series. That painting is titled Lost Dances.

Here is the pencil drawing for The Amulet Seller. I loved being able to work from a drawing instead of having to ink over the drawing and erase the pencil lines. Original drawings have way more life in them, and I don't even mind if some of the lines remain in the final painting.

I struggled with this drawing. I did it, didn't like it, but couldn't figure out why I didn't like it. It sat for about two weeks in a place where every time I walked by I could glance at it. The drawing slowly grew on me and I left it alone. Once I started getting paint on it, I liked it a lot better.

This is the painting in progress. Still need lots of work on her hair, and I need to finish her skin tones. The blue shadows will be toned down a little. The amulets, earrings, nose ring, and hair beads will be the last things painted. The size is 10"x12" on illustration board.

The other painting is truly an experiment. I don't usually put a tinted wash down before I do the drawing. This new series is all about decayed buildings, lost memories, and bewildered people. There is going to be a lot of texture in the paintings, so I gessoed a 16"x20" masonite panel, then added this acid green wash, letting it drip and run so it would look like mould and mildew. I used a sepia water color pencil to do the drawing, and wiped off mistakes with a cloth dipped in water. This is where I found out that if you water down the acrylics too much, they don't stick. As I rubbed the pencil off (I make a lot of drawing adjustments, so I did a lot of rubbing!), some of the green paint came off as well. I'm kinda okay with that this time, since the painting will have lots of layers and glazes—all done as a total experiment, which may turn into a disaster. But it will be fun!

The drawing will be sealed with Krylon spray. Right now, I am still working on the drawing, but you can see the wash, and where it has rubbed off where I have done corrections...lots and lots of corrections with, no doubt,  more corrections to come.  It's not clear in the photo, but she is standing in a building, with an archway behind her, where a plant is growing into the room.

Here is one of the photos of abandoned building that I have been collecting as references. Again, Pinterest was where I found most of the resource material.

So, that is what is going on in my little corner studio.With winter coming, I suspect I will have to invest in a small heater. Even though the garage is insulated, it will still get cold out there. I am also going to buy a better supply table, as currently I am using two small folding tables that don't give me much room. They have nice, four-foot plastic portable work tables at Home Depot that aren't very expensive, so that's what I think I will get. Once that is set up, the only thing I still need to do is replace some of my paints. I tossed about five old tubes yesterday, that were so dried up you couldn't get anything out of them. Of course, the fact that they were all about 30 yrs old might have had something to do with it. That means a trip to Central Art Supply in Medford (35 minutes away) is in order before I can do much more painting.

Oh, and after the first of the year, I am going to join the Josephine Country Art Association. I used to be a member when we first moved to Oregon twenty-six years ago, and I had two collage paintings in the member's show one year, but let the membership drop. We were just too busy, and too broke, with getting our new place squared away (it needed LOTS of work)  that I didn't have the time or money for either the membership or paint supplies. Let's just say, for a lot of years, we were REALLY broke. Which makes it all the more wonderful that I have my little corner to play in, and enough cash to actually buy paint and brushes. Right now, it feels good to be me! LOL

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Soul Mates

I finally finished the third painting in the Gypsies series. It got put on the back burner for about a month, as I was dealing with other things, including the filly we adopted/saved from a kill yard in Washington. Got back to it yesterday and finished it. I like that both the horse and the woman look so bold, striding across the landscape with confidence—in themselves and each other.

As with all paintings, there are also things I wish had come out better with this one, but I must be doing something right, as at least one person on FB asked me if I was going to make prints of the picture! That made my day, I can tell you!

So, with this one declared done, it is on to the next ones. Another in the Gypsies series, and the first in the Ghosts in the Ruins series. Should be fun!

Monday, September 7, 2015


This is just an update about what's been going on around the place.

Are blogs dead? Not sure, but there was a short discussion about that on Facebook, and it made me think that maybe they are. I suspect they are being replaced with said FB, and Twitter, Instagram, etc. Instant gratification. Blogs took over from the old My Space, and now blogs, if not linked to some of the instant messaging apps, may not get as much attention. In my own case, this blog has been running for a number of years, and only has 14 followers. My Pinterest site has been up six months, maybe a bit longer, and I already have 92 followers. Yes, Pinterest is all about pictures, but in some respect, they are the same pictures you would probably want to share on a blog if it weren't so time-consuming. For those who use their blogs as a personal diary, like I do, then I guess it doesn't matter if no one else reads it but me. But it does make me pause, and wonder if it is worth my time, when maybe that time could be better spent on projects or painting.

Speaking of painting...which I haven't done much of lately because the garage got so hot (daytime temps got up to 113) I just couldn't work...I am fired back up to start a new series. It will run concurrently with the series I've  already been working on, Gypsies, which has one drawing, a finished painting, a painting still in progress (the one I had to set aside due to the heat), and many ideas for future paintings. The new series will be called Ghosts in the Ruins. Figures in decayed rooms. Lots of mould, peeling wallpaper, chipped paint, and plants reclaiming the space that used to be theirs. People looking lost, wondering what happened to the place that they knew, wondering why they are there again, and wondering if they can get back. Back to what? Back to a life before the decay? I want the painting to express a sense of bewilderment. A sense of "Why did we abandon this place, or let things get so bad?"

Since the new series will involve lots of texture in the paintings, I started thinking about how I would get that decayed, crumbling look. As I was sitting out on the deck the other day, it got a bit warm, so I peeled off the sweatshirt I was wearing, only to discover that a dryer sheet had been stuck inside. I looked at the dryer sheet, and thought, "Wow, what a great texture. Wonder if I could use these things in my paintings?" So I am going to experiment with them, glueing them down with matt medium then painting over them to see what kinds of surface textures I can get. And you know, it's always good when you can repurpose something rather than throw it away.

On my reading table is my Big Red Boxed Edition of Lord of the Rings. I hadn't read the book in over ten years, and wanted to go back to the source after having seen the Peter Jackson version so many times. It reinforces just how much the movie veered away from the book, and in some places abandoned it all together.

I have put up four tubs of tomato, pepper, basil soup base. They are now in my freezer, waiting for those cold winter evenings when hot soup tastes so good. I may have enough tomatoes left on the vine to make one more tub. I know I have enough peppers! The peppers went crazy this summer.

Lastly, a quick word about the horse we adopted in July from a kill yard in Washington. After a month and a half, she is finally out of quarantine and in her permeant turnout. She has been such a good girl, very level-headed...until the farrier showed up. She took one look at him and every alarm bell in her body went off. We managed to get her front hooves done, but it was pretty traumatic. She was literally shaking with fear and refusing to let him touch her. So, I have no idea what was done to put the fear of the world into her when it comes to farriers (she has never reacted to anyone like that before, not even the vet), but we will have to figure out something, as her back hooves were in worse shape than the fronts. Might have to give her a sedative for the next few sessions, to get her calmed down and over the fear.

That's about it. The days are getting shorter, nighttime temps are dropping into the 60s, the air is crisper and smells of fall, and we even had a rain/hail system blow through, that washed all the dust and ash from the trees. You could almost hear them sigh with contentment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

T-Shirt Tunic and Ratty Work Shirt Update...and Pumpkins!

In my last post I showed photos of the humongous man's T-shirt I bought at the Goodwill, laid out ready for cutting. And then one of the tunic sewn together, but with no bindings. That project is done...for now. After I wear it a few times, and decide if I really like it, I will decorate the front with something and maybe bead the binding. Right now it is pretty Plain Jane. And since I bought two of these HUGE T-shirts, if the first tunic turned out okay, I had planned on making another. The only change that needs to be made, is that the armhole is a little large, with just enough play to sometimes show my bra. Not a lot, but enough to show a peak of it  I might buy a fancy sports bra to wear under it, so if something does show, it will be pretty. Anyway, in its next incarnation, I will adjust the armhole opening.

This shows the little tuck I did in the binding for the V-neck.

This tunic is very loose-fitting, and the bottom edge hangs about four inches below crotch level, which is perfect for me. I decided not to bind the bottom because I didn't want to add any stiffness to it. The way it is, it drapes nicely, which is what I wanted.

Okay, moving on to the ratty work shirt. I salvaged this poor thing from my husband's box of work clothes.  By the time things get to that box, it means they are in such a beat up condition he can't wear them off the property. I started covering this shirt as a project I could work on between other projects. Something easy, that could go for months without being worked on, and that I wouldn't feel guilty about neglecting. The denim is torn and threadbare, but oh so soft. I wear this shirt when going back and forth to the garden to change the water. It keeps the sun off my arms and deflects the heat (it has been up to 113 here this summer). I also wear it in the morning if it is still a bit chilly out on the deck, which is where my husband and I have tea on the weekends. The spiral denim piece and the biding on the collar were the first things I added. The new section is a piece of an old flannel shirt which had gone from the work box clothes, to the "use as garage rags" box.

All of the stitching is no-muss, no-fuss. I even left the knots and ties showing on the outside, which I never do on anything else. More and more patches, appliqu├ęs, beads and charms will be added as time goes on. I hope to eventually cover the whole shirt.

Lastly are photos of the pumpkins in my garden. This is my first attempt at growing them, and I think I did pretty well! The variety is called Cinderella. Well of course, what else would it be called?

When they get heavy, I put little pads under their bottoms so they don't get bruised. I see lots of pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, baked pumpkin, and pumpkin pie in my future.

Hope you are all having a grand summer. Here it would be a lot better if we weren't surrounded by wildfires. Kinda hard to breath when it's 105, and visibility is down to half a mile because of the smoke. A nice summer rain storm would be a treat right now. One can only hope.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sleeveless T-Shirt Tunic

For some #$^%$ reason, Blogger won't let me move this margin to the left, so has decided that I must 
keep it centered. This after having a $%^&#$ing nightmare getting photos to upload. I am not happy
will Blogger, or my computer right now. But, I battle on.

A while back I bought two enormous man's T-shirts. These babies were XXXXXL. I stashed them, not sure at the time what I would do with them. Recently I decided I wanted to make a sleeveless tunic, and that one of these giant shirts would work. I dug through my stash of old, old patterns and found one I thought would also work. It has sleeves, but I just left them off. Also, the shoulders are dropped, and I thought that might give the tunic a cap-sleeved look. Worth a try, anyway. 

I decided to use this dark gray one, so if I screwed things up, I wouldn't have used up the dark blue one, which I like better. This little project is a total experiment.

Oh, so down here, it's going back to a left-hand margin. **sigh** 

As you can see, the shirt really is huge. Here is how it looked after I cut off the sleeves, cut up the side, and across the shoulder seams, so it would lay flat. 

This is the pattern I am using.

I like V-necked shirts, so I am doing that version, which may mean I have to futz with the binding at the V part, but, I'll figure it out. 

This is the pattern laid out, and then cut out. 

Lastly, are photos of the tunic sewn up with matching grey embroidery thread, and next to it the shirt that I will cut up for the edge binding. When the tunic is done, and if I like it, and it feels good on, I will add some kind of decoration/applique to the front, and bead the binding. 

And to entertain myself while I sew the binding on, I bought a new book-on-CD to listen to. Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Basically, the animals of the world start to fight back.

I have another major project that I have taken on, but I am writing about that in my horse blog. I have adopted a two year old Andalusian filly from a kill yard in Washington. It's going to be a long, fun process of getting to know her, and getting her healthy...she was 100 lbs underweight, and has a bacterial infection known as strangles. Very nasty. So if you are interested, head over to www.equine_madness.blogspot.com.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Word for the Week = HOT

For the last week it has been swelteringly hot. Between 95 and 110 degrees. I love summer, but trying to get anything done in that kind of heat just makes people and animals wilt. I have to do things either early in the morning, or later in the evening. However, that doesn't always work, as the day it hit 110, at 7:00 at night it was still 95. Usually, this kind of heat wave in our area doesn't last long. Maybe two weeks, on average. However "They" say this year it could last, on and off, all summer. With this being the fourth year in a row of drought, our biggest fear is fire.

The heat also affects the plants in the gardens. The squash and pumpkin leaves collapse in self defense, the basil wilts, the flowers fade out, and leaves get crispy around the edges. The potted flowers on the deck must get watered every night, or within hours they are wilting. But, some plants, like the peppers and tomatoes, love the heat and thrive.

Last evening I picked our first tomato of the season. Kinda cute, doncha think?

Even though I really liked this photo, and thought is very zen-like, it didn't show how tiny the little guy was, so I stood a wine cork next to it to show scale, and took another photo.

The plant this little fella came from is loaded with fruit, so we will be eating lots of these. I plan to put them in a big bowl on the kitchen counter, and we'll grab them to snack on as we pass by. This one was very sweet, so we are looking forward to using these in salads as well.

Other than tending the gardens and yard, and trying to keep them all from withering in the heat, I have been working on the painting Gypsy 3 - Soul Mates. Here is a photo of it after I inked the drawing and then erased out the pencil. Currently the base coats of paint are on parts of it, but I don't have a photo of that yet. I want it a bit further along before I show it again.

The other thing I have been working on, besides riding my horse - which the other day was so miserably hot I felt like a fried piece of bacon - is a new costume project. Robert and I didn't compete in the Rogue Mounted Archers International competition this year. We sweltered as ground crew. Next year we want to ride (I did the previous year), and for that we need "warrior" costumes. The norm is for everyone to go black leather, corsets, medieval, or native (which could be from any country, as riders come from all over the world). I can't ride in a corset, I have NO desire to wear black leather when it's 90 degrees plus, and I wear medieval when I do SCA stuff, so wanted something different. Then we watched the new Mad Max film, and shazam! Road warrior! Robert and I have already trolled the Goodwill for bits and pieces of stuff, and got pretty lucky. The idea of ripping, shredding, and coffee dying all of this has me very excited. Also adding bits of flotsom, and metal hardware to the clothing, is going to be way fun. It's all so different than what I am used to working on, so that is the really exciting part for me. Here are the items, other than two belts, we picked up from the Goodwill, laid out on my work table. This is the "Before" shot. Every item is between 90 and 100% cotton, so even if it gets hot, it will breath. All of this has to be comfortable when riding a horse and shooting a bow, which influences the design. A fun challenge. So, let the ripping, shredding, and dying begin!

 I will post updated photos of these pieces as I go along.

So, that's what's happening in the heatwave of Southern Oregon. Well, at least at our place.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Finished Sewing Projects, A New Painting Started, and Garden Photos

This is pretty much a "catch up" post. So I'll dive right in.

First photos are of the finished riding jerkin that I made for my husband. This is for our medieval horse gaming events, but it is nice enough to wear to SCA non-horse events as well. He hadn't had a new costume in, oh, about 30+ years so I figured he was due.

The material was given to me by a friend, and is a deep maroon, heavy damask with a leaf design. I lined the piece with brown linen from my stash of fabrics. The trim looks kinda pinkish in the photos, but isn't. It does have a lot of gold metallic threads, however. The nice clasps are from JoAnn's Craft store. Oh, and the pattern was a modified Simplicity 4059. It turned out so nice, and was so easy to make, I plan on making him another one.

Apologies for the O-ring shadows. I had to hang this from my antique French iron plant holder, and didn't, I admit, realize they were in the photos until I uploaded them onto my computer. My bad. Also, once these costumes are done, I never iron them again. He wore this one last month, which is why it's a tad wrinkly.

The next one to be finished was one I started last winter, got partly done, set it aside, then pulled it out and wore it, which made me decide I really needed to finish it.

Lately I have become sorta obsessed with bohemian kimonos (I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to them), so when I found this light rayon blouse at the Goodwill, I fell in love with the pattern, the fact that it already had gold beads on it, and that it was all floaty and light (read that as baggy and floppy). I bought it for $3.99, even though it was an extra large. I just thought it would make a great shortish kimono/jacket. I cut it up the front, secured some of the beads that were coming off...they are still coming off and I try and catch them before I lose them...and wore it like that. But it needed something along the hemline. On Pinterest I saw examples of kimonos hemmed in fringe (my favorite), lace, beads, or left plain. I couldn't find any fringe, lace was WAY too expensive, so I opted for beads, since I already had ones that would work. The other day I sewed beads all along the hem. It worked out perfectly, and added just enough weight to the piece to make it hang nicely. And it adds that lovely clickity-click that beads make when they come in contact with, oh, chair backs, tables, etc. The only thing I haven't decided on is whether to shorten the sleeves. They hang below my wrists, which usually bugs the crap out of me, but as I was walking through the freezer section of the grocery store the other day, with this kimono over just a tank top, I was grateful to have those longer sleeves, otherwise I would have ended up with frostbite. So they may stay...for a while. After I make that decision, I will add beads to the hem of the sleeves. Also, it needs some kind of clasp for the top front. Not because I would ever wear it closed, but because it is so light and wonky, it falls of the hanger without being secured. Currently it is held in place with a clothespin. In the photos, I held it with a sewing pin, then took it out for the last shot, so you could see how it hangs, and how I wear it. It looked smashing with a black tank top and jeans.

Next in line is the preliminary drawing for another painting. This is number three in the Gypsy series, titled Soul Mates. Before I can ink this, and start the painting, I need to head to the art supply store and buy new ink pens and better brushes. Working on that first painting, with old supplies, some over 35 years old, was not fun.

Lastly are some misc. garden/deck photos I took about a week ago...before the temps hit 107, and a thunder storm came through and trashed a lot of the blooms. Look closely! Some of the blossoms have little guards posted!

This deck is where we spend a lot of time relaxing.

One last photo of the deck at dusk, fairy lights on, and Robert having his evening beer.

That's it, folks. Hope you are all enjoying your summer...or winter...depending on which side of the equator you're on.