Friday, March 31, 2023

DIY as a beginner in flower arranging: Flexibility

     There is a comfortable Do-It-Yourself level for most adventures. Joe and I were in charge of flower arrangements for the altar at church this Sunday. Having grown up in the Dustbowl, I know not flowers. But in a painting, one often chooses two colors opposite in the color wheel; and I thought that would work with flower design. I knew to cut off dead ends from stems and whatever would be under the water line in a vase. We headed to Trader Joe's where I have watched people choose a variety of greens and the prettiest blossoms delivered each week. Only after choosing, buying and creating our arrangements did I think to Google "flower arranging for beginners!"

       Joe and I chose a pair of the church's bronze vessels to flank the cross. But only now am I finding one is to create a base with greenery. People enjoy odd numbers in designing, but this can vary. Sources suggest you think of balance, harmony, and emphasis. Google says to add to the base, focal flowers and filler flowers.  I didn't follow any order or design, but worked from the back forward.  Online you can even find numbers of particular flowers that should be in a particular size in arrangements. Ignorance is bliss. Arrangements may grow to several shapes, so dive in to discover your style.

        Last spring, we chose the colors of the Ukranian flag. This year, I wanted to copy Carol's irises which were in season. The store presented the most intoxicating white roses. The bouquets would be up against a flat background. We naturally had to design to fit our limitations; for instance, the back side of the arrangement is not visible. Mostly, I loved the thistles the color purple of the irises and greenery suggested by strangers in the store. I had wanted tulips, but the roses were compelling. I stuck in old tulips back home. Always be able to turn on a dime and don't be afraid of the dark. "Miracles are for beginners." (C.S. Lewis)

Friday, February 17, 2023

Tennyson: "So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be."

      Wanting  to learn something new daily (theme of this year), I find I am lucky to produce ANY thing. On Valentine's Day, for the first time, I PURCHASED rather than created cards for the grandchildren. I was inspired to do something because I ran across an elementary school "Special Delivery Love Truck" son Jim made that had heart shaped wheels carrying stuffed red lips (think Claes Oldenburg) with a tag to pull to show teeth. Caught up in the spirit, I stepped into one store to find cards and simple little gifts to wrap to drop off for the youngsters.Since poetry happens in February, I added rhymes for each grandchild. When delivering, I spied on a shelf a small round canvas in a Valentine box. I must have painted the lovebirds before or at the time Bill and Beth married in 2000. She is sweet to save.

       Grand Erika was born on Valentine's day and likes historical fiction. I had just discovered Marie Benedict's books on interesting women that are a pleasure to read. My favorite Book Bub introduced me to Carnegie's Wife;  and I had read her The Personal Librarian about J.P Morgan's helper. Joe and I piled  four paperbacks by this author to wrap:  The Other Einstein (Relativity), The Only Woman in the Room (Wifi),  Her Hidden Genius (DNA), and Carnegie's Maid. Some of these are in the stack on my table I have attacked. I am enjoying reading again, however distracted coming out of the pandemic with always too much to do.

       Next I was tempted by a Great Courses ad with seriously reduced prices. Three just arrived: Social Media 101, The Everyday Gourmet:The Joy of Medterranean Cooking and Writing Creative Nonfiction on DVD's that I can watch on my big computer. Joe says the noise won't bother him since I am always making noise in our shared study. 

Note: Unfortunately we did not know that cadmium had been found in dark chocolate and included a bar in the grand's Valentines!



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.