Thursday, July 31, 2008

Self Portrait Challenge - Shine #1

I'll be honest and admit right up front that I'm not too clear on the theme this month for Self Portrait Challenge, but here is my first take on "Shine". Going for the obvious first.
I took a picture of myself in the morning before any face washing, to get the most natural shine possible. The unedited picture will not be posted on the internet. period. But with that shiny morning face it really gave my photo editing program something to work with.These two are the same picture put through a different filter. First is an inverter, second is "neon watercolor".
Zippy and I don't look too thrilled in either of them do we?
And with this post I successfully have completed nablopomo for the month of July, yay me! Will I do it for August too? Ask me tomorrow, in August.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Figuring Out Figs

We have this very enthusiastic fig tree in the backyard. It produces figs seemingly continuously. And we've been very bad at actually picking and eating them. Don't tell my brother-in-law, he loves fresh figs very much and would be scandalized. I planted it several years ago to shade that side of the house which is very sunny. Finally the tree is growing and giving us some shade. I have good memories of climbing in the fig tree in my grandparent's backyard in Sacramento. We used to get up higher than the roof which seemed so daring and challenging back then.Somehow this week we've rediscovered how much we all love figs. And there are happily lots out there that happen to be perfectly ripe. When you look at the deep purple almost black color you realize this is going to be something that is good for you. Deep colors equal lots of vitamins and minerals. Anyways, they are really good for you. And with a sweetness that is quite different than a lot of other fruits. A very complex taste. And a the fruit highest in fiber of all common fruits, thought I'd mention that since this is High Fiber Content and all. Another fruit where you are eating seeds (like pomegranate). The patterning of the seeds as they present themselves when you slice open a fig is quite interesting. I like how they've arranged themselves. I also love that green yellow contrast with the purple skin. Always good to have fabulous colors on the food you eat, right?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don't Fear the Reaper

On Fridays during the summer the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has free concerts of formerly popular rock bands. This past Friday, we finally got our fannies down there in the sand and watched Blue Oyster Cult rock out. They were still really good on their instruments, the singing, not so much. Anyways, it was super fun. So we stayed until the evening show and got on the Sky Ride and got this excellent view of the stage from above. And yes they did play "Don't Fear the Reaper" and even referenced the famous Saturday Night Live skit with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken (I Gotta Have More Cowbell). Some hilarious person brought their own cowbell and played along with the song, almost in time even. Sheesh.

I love this picture of the boys in the Sky Ride. The stage is down in the bottom left corner.
And I'm thinking hard about the beautiful Merced River canyon that we just drove through coming back from Yosemite. Which is on fire now. On both sides of the river. It was so dry (except for the river), I'm not surprised that the fire is growing so quickly. May it be extinguished soon!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hollyhock Dancing

We had a breezy afternoon and I happened to be out near the hollyhocks on my deck.
Their petals were fluttering and waving so attractively that I had to stop and take notice.
Don't you love it when plants have to flag you down just to get you to stop and "smell the roses".
Some do this in unattractive ways, overgrowing where they're supposed to be, turning weedy and gangly in the teenage years, etc. But some are just so quietly lovely you can't help but admire their understated prettiness.
Just like some people I can think of.. When you look at just the flower, they look so tropical (very much like a hibiscus!) don't they? I just love the translucency of the petals, you can see the water content in there, the petals are quite juicy.
Turns out they are edible and quite yummy in a non-spicy nasturtium kind of way. I was just looking up edible flowers, and there are quite a few on this list that we grow, but don't eat. Seems like a good project for the next year as everything flowers out, to see if any of them are tastier than others.
I'm introducing some new seeds to my garden this year, as all my previous hollyhocks have come from the seeds I got from my grandma more than ten years ago. They keep re-seeding themselves, but I'd like to try and grow the Black Watchman, which was grown by Thomas Jefferson just for variety's sake.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Study in Sepia

Here is the latest collaborative art journal coming through on the True Colors inspired rounds. This one is based on the color Sepia. I had to look up sepia to make sure I was thinking of the "right" color. I was close, but it is much darker than I had thought. The cover was a fabulous fabric/beaded construction. I did this two page spread.
The left hand page has walnut ink over crayon rubbings, clothing pattern tissue, brown tissue paper, corrugated cardboard heart (from a heart-shaped Altoids tin) glued on to be a pocket, embroidery floss, a word card from a German/American word game, a vintage picture of a minstrel and woman from Artchix, a very large gold circle sequin, and a line out of a vintage poetry book.The game card was too bright white compared to everything else, so I painted over it with the walnut ink. Note which words are being defined.Helen, thy beauty is to me... he sings to her.This is the reverse of the card with the question: "Can she trust her minstrel?" The card is attached to the embroidery floss.Here is the right hand page.Walnut ink over crayon rubbings, vintage maps and train schedules, embroidery floss, two vintage pictures of women also from Artchix, two more very large gold circle sequins, and two accompanying lines out of a vintage poetry book. Jenny kiss'd me when we met.
Whenas in silks my Julia goes...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Purple-iciousness

Finally got around to working on my Passion for Purple Bullseyes, applying the third and final circle. Here is how they look before being sliced and diced. I wanted to put purple on as the top circle, so I went through my giant box o' purples and used only ones that I hadn't used for the backgrounds. Wow, I guess I do have a lot of purple fabric! At least 80 by this calculation...And here they are along with Jaye's after being put through the starch spraying, squaring up and slicing into triangles routine. Adrienne is still getting hers done, which is just fine by me, I've got lots of things going on that are higher priority to finish, so no hurry there! But when those arrive, there will be 40 more triangles to play with.
This is going to be fun coming up with a new design. I'm already fooling around with a few things....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Fill-In #82

A Friday Fill-In, since it is ohmygoodnessFridayalready!

My answers are in bold.

1. I believe whatever doesn’t kill you just isn't trying hard enough.

2. If you’re good at something, then you better learn something else already!

3. Why so glum sugarplum?

4. Something is out there, Fox Mulder told me so and I believe him.

5. If my life were a sitcom, it would be titled "Short Attention Span Theatre".

6. Sitting on my back porch I see a hazy blue summer sky, trees that need trimming (again!), a mimosa tree in blossom and some very bendy hollyhocks and roses trying to bloom yet again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Too Much

I'm reaching my limit on too much. I was sitting there beading on an Exquisite Corpse piece and looked over toward my storage area in my work room. And had an internal "Aieeeee, too much!" moment.

Too much stuff.
Too many projects half done.
Too many projects never started.
Too many completed with no where to put them.
Too many have to dos, should dos, might dos, want to dos at some point.

What to do about it? It isn't healthy or useful for me to have this much, it feels like a weighing-down, an impediment to being constantly creative (or even usually creative).
Seems like a good point to re-evaluate and take stock of what I have, what I need to keep around to do what I want/like artwise, and anything besides that gets passed on or donated or tossed. No more keeping things around because the boys might want it someday (hah!), or because my grandma made it (or started it) or all the other eleventy-billion reasons I come up with, etc. etc.

Especially since we are finally readying the studio room with paint and flooring this weekend, so I can move in to my "real" studio and stop being so temporary and hesitant with where I am now.

Sounds like a plan right?
Hopefully I'll be back with an "after photo" soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Little Girl Quilt

I get to make a quilt for my niece, Meytal who just turned three. She's vacating the crib to make room for little sister, and needs a quilt for her big girl bed. I'm so excited to get to make something kinda girly for once, but not toooo girly. Here are some of the fabrics I just picked up to supplement all the kid prints that I already have.

I happened to have Kaffe Fassett's book, Quilts in the Sunout of the library and brought it over to show to my sister-in-law. We decided that the cover quilt would be perfect for using the kid prints in the center of each 8"square. Then I'll use various pinks, purples and blues for the 4 1/4" framing strips. And since this is a bed quilt, and I know I have such a hard time doing simple non-dense quilting, I'll actually quilt it as recommended which is in a few straight lines through the framing around each square. Easy peasy right? We shall see...

I scanned this picture by Debbie Patterson out of the book because I love it so much I had to share it with you. Don't you love the contrast of the peeling paint and the perfect quilt?
I also brought over my big box of kid prints that I'd used to make the boys' bug jar quilts and let Meytal look through it. She liked a lot of the bugs and frogs, and several of those are in the range of pink/purple/blue instead of bright primary. It was fun to go through the fabrics with her and see her face light up at certain images, there were a few she wouldn't put down for quite a while, so those are definitely going in the quilt.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

All Things OZ

I've always loved the original artwork by W.W. Denslow that went with the original Wizard of Oz book (which I think is loads better than the movie!) So I was really pleased to run across these small notecards the other day. They're made by Clarkson Potter from the book All Things Oz.

I'm not an Oz collector or anything, but I just really dig the illustrations which by the way, go *completely uncredited* in this boxed set of cards! How horribly rude!
Check out the Hammerheads on the side of the box! (The Hammerheads are hostile, armless, and with quickly extendable necks, so watch out!).
So if I owe you a letter, you may be receiving one of these...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not My Pictures

Don't you just love it when you leave your camera lying around, and then you dowload your pictures to your computer, you sometimes discover strange pictures on it that you didn't take yourself?
I can tell who took these because they were wearing jeans.
Only one person wears jeans around here in the summer (at least this year), my son Zach.
I just think it is funny that there are these pictures on my camera that I knew nothing about. And now everyone knows about them!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Over-dyeing Shirts

I practically live in t-shirts, so I am always sad when one of my faves needs to be retired due to stains, or bleached-out spots which is otherwise in good shape. Thanks to the reminder of Wardrobe Refashion, I now try to over-dye them before giving up and sending the to the ragbag. If I like the result it is like getting a new shirt practically for free since I'm simultaneously dyeing fabric for quilting anyways.
This Ants! shirt was from an exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences and it is kind of styled to look like one of those cool 50's mutant monster movie posters. I love the baseball jersey 3/4 sleeves too. It was originally white with some red print in the logo design, so I threw it in the red dye box, and this is how it turned out. The black sleeves which were somewhat faded are now darker, but not exactly black which is a cool effect. I love how different the logo looks now with the red overdye. Plus it turned out good and mottled which is how I prefer my over-dyed clothes to turn out. A "subtle tie-dye", if there is such a thing!
This was one of my favorite t-shirts, was the right stretchiness without being baggy, and just a basic light grey which went with everything, but then it got bleach spotted, right in front (of course). So now it has some blue and green on top of the grey. I love how subtle the color changes are, and the contrasting stitching that remained undyed looks nice too.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fitting In With Fungus

Two great examples of fungus from our trip to Tuolumne, not sure of names, but they are very photogenic aren't they? It is always fun to come upon something like this growing among all the beautiful wildflowers, they're so different in character.
I love the colors of these two
Oh and I didn't knock over the one below, we found it like that, I swear!
See, I match! This is me on a six mile hike on the John Muir Trail (probably the easiest part of it), but still, six miles for someone who is basically housebound, not so bad. Towards the end on the way back I was wondering why I'd done it, but I was glad to have gotten out there and seen the meadows and the river and rocks. And having a day to recover while riding back home in the car was a pretty good plan.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another Trip to Tuolumne

I'm just back from our yearly camping trip to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. This time only two nights since I was late in getting reservations (oops, grrrr), but still lots of fun. Once we got over the shock of seeing gas being sold for $5.55 in El Portal. Geez! Price gouging anyone? That is a full dollar more than the next town down the road. This is the little town right on the outskirts of Yosemite, so they apparently can charge any damn price they want. All those motorhomes gotta fill up to make it up and down the mountain.
It is not every day that one gets to see a marmot! And not one but two, hanging out in their rocky nest near the Soda Springs/Parsons Memorial in the meadow. They're about the size of a housecat, only live at high elevation and wary but not skittish. They just kind of looked at us for a while as we took our pictures.
It made me remember one of my favorite John Muir quotes which mentions marmots:
" How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountaintop it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make -- leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone -- we all dwell in a house of one room -- the world with the firmament for its roof -- and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track. -John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

Click on this picture to see the marmot on top of the rock a bit better. They really do have good camouflage don't they? The last time I saw one was at the summit of Mt. Whitney,(yes really I did that hike, way back when I was quite a hiker), as it was stealing my trail mix right out of my backpack sitting next to me. We've always been telling the boys stories about our encounters with marmots and I was so glad they finally got to see one up close and in person.
Ahhhh, I just love those High Sierra Meadow Colors!

Now back to doing camping laundry and dishes. Yes dishes, our tradition is to bring home our last day's worth of dirty dishes to wash up at home. That way, when they are put away until the next trip they'll actually be clean instead of just "camping clean".

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Montezuma Castle

One of the side trips we took just outside Sedona was to go see Montezuma Castle, a cliffside Native American ruin which is a National Monument. Perched way up on the cliffside was the castle. It was at least 105F when we were here, I felt like I was swimming through the heat even though there is zero humidity. It was great that the pathways were so shaded by sycamores. We were bummed to find out that we didn't get to go in the high rise apartment, it has been closed since 1951.I found the cliffs to be really beautiful, look at all the soft creamy colors, reminds me of frosting in the bowl.

Lower down the cliffside were the peon dwellings, a little lower rent, but easier to get to. I love the patterning of the stones, and think this photo would make a great silk screen image. You have to remember to look down frequently when you are walking in Arizona, otherwise an ankle-biter cactus will get you! Lovely flowers though, eh?

A grinding stone near the ruins. What a lot of work that would be! A reminder to be Very Glad that I can buy my flour pre-ground at the store.
In this dry, hot place amazingly there are some plants that aren't cactus related that manage to flourish. Especially if they are under a shady tree or near a seasonal river/water source. Many are still quite spiky, thorny, or otherwise unfriendly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Enjoying Roses

I was going through a random box from the garage and found my flower arranging stuff, inherited from my grandma. And here are the three nesting vases I always coveted with some mini roses and one big rose.
The vases are a calm, pale, celadon green, bought in Japan when they lived there after WWII.
She was always whipping up beautiful centerpieces for her famous parties. I don't have famous parties, and my centerpieces are usually shoved aside soon after the meal is consumed so that poker or something can be played on the table.
But I wouldn't trade the time I spend making them for anything. It connects me to my grandmother in a way, taking this small amount of time out of a busy day to create a temporary spot of beauty in our very chaotic house. Even if I'm the only one who notices, it is important enough to me to keep on doing it.