Thursday, December 22, 2022

Starting over and learning new tricks

      Good advice for keeping the brain healthy is to learn something new daily. At my art show back in the mid-nineties, when son Jim bought a painting (Vanity in Aspic) to encourage my getting into computers, I had zero interest.  Thanks to him, I bought a Mac computer and Adobe Photoshop among many other software. I took off two years to teach myself to use a computer and worked through a thick book Adobe sent along with their software. I didn't learn everything. Just what I wanted to know. Through the years I found the easier and less expensive Photoshop Elements and Comic Life were enough, all I needed. Trouble is, they take time to learn. Plus, inspired by a friend, I also want to practice piano more and color!  This requires maturity!

     In the last two weeks, I have been trying to master the updated Adobe Photoshop Elements/Premiere.  I need to view all the many free tutorials online, ask questions to go beyond my present success, which is little. But my blog is overdue and I am determined to post. There must be some value in my fun so far. I like some of my photos and got off a Christmas card. See below. "Fortune befriends the bold." (Emily Dickinson)

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Boring is in the eye of the beholder

       At birthdays and Christmas time, the fun is in making, choosing and buying gifts for others rather than handing over money or getting something for ourselves. In fact, recent research shows we have more happiness giving than receiving: The Joy of Giving Lasts Longer Than the Joy of Getting – Association for Psychological Science – APS. On a smaller scale, I like to personalize gifts by making them, even though I am sure others might prefer to receive something more professional, just as the children want money.

       Although I have been to the easel and sketchbook, I haven't followed through big time in paint and pencil. But a couple of weeks ago, near Halloween, I wanted to take some wine to people who had us to a meal to check out a retirement village. Joe found a seasonal wine and I grabbed some Halloween fabric to make a wine bottle cover. I am a fanatic to use a carrier for wine when it is a hostess gift or otherwise. I found several different patterns online and created bags quickly  There are all sorts of styles, so Google wine bag tutorials to find a style for your scraps. Don't expect to excite someone. The fun is in the making and giving.…  Also "measure twice, cut once" so your pumpkins won't be upside down.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Doodle for your Noodle

     How about an art of no expense, training and preparation. Grab a pencil and block of note pads to start marking during your next Zoom meeting. It is possible that concentration, memory and happiness will increase.

    Smart people continue to insist they can’t draw. That must not be the case since if you put a crayon in any child’s hand they move it around to create shapes and images. 

    Doodles are underestimated as art or a path to. A doodle is a drawing made by a person whose attention may be elsewhere. There are many conscious and laborious doodle also. But I am interested in the mindless moving the pencil around on paper that changes by mood. You may develop a style thinking differently every time you approach and dive into the paper. Different things are on your mind, so just add them or parts to the paper. Lately i start with circles and lines, triangles and square. I add darks and sometimes erase. I never know where I will go next. Then sometimes I mark up the other Zoomers. Who know where it will lead. Have fun.  

     Click to enlarge. I drew the first batch on 3-inch square note blocks and the 2nd batch of doodles were drawn on 4-inch note blocks. Visit Doodles Wikipedia for more.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Inspiration all around

       Plantings have experienced a drought this August, but my heart soars with the inspiration in my painting world. Tomorrow, I will enjoy a members' look at the Obama portraits which have arrived at the MFA BOSTON. Last weekend, Joe and I made a rare 5-minute run into Harvard Square to see two major big portraits at the Harvard Art Museum, free on Sundays: See below: Kehinde Riley and Kerry James Marshall were a major surprise. The sculpture in a surrealism show and a new Jacob Lawrence series were a treat as well (click to enlarge photos)

       On-line I read an essay by Kerry James Marshall "I Paint Pictures Too" which led me to the Cezanne show at the Art Institute of Chicago, closing.  Picasso famously said that  Cezanne is the father of us all. Here, Marshall and other artists were explaining why. I wanted more details, especially since a classmate of mine was reporting as well. Rich. I found the catalog Cezanne on-line. Then I spotted the Still Life tome on our Harvard jaunt and was struck by the novel ways objects around us in the house and yard can be expressed freshly by Australian artists.  Of course a major treat will be a run to NYCity to see the Robert Colescott show at the New Museum. I got to meet him one day in Soho, and he is a favorite artist. The catalog is well written. All three books have super illustrations. I keep them out on the dining room table.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Painting, one way or another

      June was the month to paint the house. Joe has done it before but this time we hired painters others on our block used.  The painters came fast and covered the house, but left as other clients signed them up, leaving many "painter holidays" which happen in every paint job. So we have been taking care of those in July. I liked the colors of paint on the Baker's historic home in Chestnut Hill and was able to find at Benjamin Moore to lift the personality of our house. We had to choose a new door color as well.  

        To go with the Benjamin Moore Aura Custom light yellow shingles and Gingersnap trim, we chose Newburyport blue and a dark chocolate accents for doors. The deck became Behr's Cordovan Brown and  Atlantic Blue. The blue was opposite on the color wheel from yellow, so it seemed a "go." Heretofore window and roof trim has been light, enlarging the house visually. But our new trim  darker than the shingles, calmed down the house, and I love it.  Unfortunately some of the thick primer lost some shingle markings. Nothing is perfect. Not all was primed or covered including the lower backs of the front porch columns. Easy to forget with the covering bushes. Also, we wanted coordinated back basement windows and door trim to go with the rest of the house. We were pretty fast making decisions/choosing colors, but some thoughts and fixes come over time. We need touchup over the back porch door and bits elsewhere.

       The real fun in painting was taking some left-over deck colors and painting tops of two old deck side tables. It was a joy greater than getting to the canvas. Same for trimming 1 1/2" the blue deck top and landing, where I used a tiny roller over a brush. Painting trim without thinking is so much fun, I just must learn that is the way to paint canvas.



Friday, July 8, 2022

Gifting a Quilt

       When I had my first baby, I was sent a wonderful quilt that I continued to enjoy with my grandchildren. Quilts carry on and pass down through the years the loving touches sewn to connect the maker with the recipient.

        I was not a quilter, but wanted to make my first grandchild Hannah a quilt for the same reason.You want to sew/sow a connection. I made a quilt from "whole cloth" the imagery reflecting me and my hopes for fun w the grandchild. I had a sewing machine for straight stitches and felt I could tie knots to connect the back through the padding to the front. I looked up on the computer how to make a border.

         Erika received the same quilt with a changed border and background. It was with horror I wondered, "Did I make David, the third, a quilt as well?"  I couldn't imagine leaving him out. I found an old photo. His was made with two big pieces of polar fleece, the edges of which were cut and tied together. "Tie blankets" from fleece! So many color and theme choics in this cozy material. All instructions are online.

     My friend Alice came to visit, creating an over-the-top hostess gift with her quilting skills. She brought dolls for the littlel girls. The quilts we finished off together. They were a big hit with me and the children.

        Katie is always creating for her children and grands. Lately she asked for their favorite T shirts. She  pinned the blocks of images from the t-shirts onto muslin to keep them anchored while she joined them to the "lattice" between each block. She then joined each row of blocks with longer lattice pieces betwen each row and backed them with flannel instead of a light filling as I did. Very cozy!

Think about quilting some gifts for friends and you may get into sewing up some love full time!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

BLOG: A graduation lap quilt to carry hugs from home and family off to college

      In May I heard grandmothers were making memory quilts for graduating seniors. I mentioned my failure to Hannah. She said I could make one for her if I wanted to. With little time left, I imagined the color blue she likes, saw some clever patterns in stores and decided I would make a book quilt for Hannah who is a phenomenal reader.

       I researched "book fabrics" online and found fabric with prints of pages of books and stacked books. Amazon mailed. Like the graduating student, I didn't know exactly where I was going but I moved with the adventure. Inspired by Katie, who was creating a 45" x 45"of life and ball game T-shirts for her grand, I decided to make a lap quilt size so the memories would fit on a dorm bed or chair to provide hugs from home and family. I would sew the fabric face to face and somehow look for gold cord for the edges. This I found at fabric discount store, Sewfisticated in Somerville which also had upholstery trim loaded with tassels that I cut to attach to suggest book marks. The trim and cord were so inexpensive, I bought more than needed. Maybe a pillow? Katie said she prefers lap quilts at  45" x 45" and she used cozy flannel instead of batting. Mine was to be 45"x 56". I got thin cotton batting Quilter's Dream that is good for hand quilting since my sewing machine was acting cranky.Joe designed the iPhone pocket and I sewed a label underneath saying "Made With Love." 


        There were many crises and mistakes figuring how to insert the ribbon of the cord between the fabrics. I watched videos and realized I needed a fancier zipper foot to ride the cord. Next time I might sew on a cord without the ribbon. I did lots of hand sewing and there is a thread made for that which slides more easily into the fabric and batting. I finished after about 7 intense days doing little else. I had blind quilted the batting to the books fabric and now had to tie surgeon knots to the three layers as invisible as possible.I grew to love the quilt and am missing it now.We are so fortunate to have the Internet and videos to fill in the gaps of what we need to know and how to solve crises. I am glad the quilt was a hit.

More "book quilts" found online. and there are others.