Wednesday, October 28, 2015

One of My Favorite Nebula Paintings

Center Nebula

This was one of the first nebula paintings I did that was not a whole canvas nebula. I was thinking that it would be interesting to paint a small part of a nebula instead of a larger view.  When I started painting and for probably 15 years after, I only painted nebula. I am really in awe of nebula, and to me, they represent how I believe life works. A nebula is the left over gases from a star dying. But then it becomes the material that forms new stars and planets. Kind of a death and reincarnation of sorts. This has intrigued me from the moment I learned about nebula so I used to  paint them exclusive.

I love how this painting turned out. It is cloudy and spontaneous and lovely. As with many of my paintings, this has many layers and took a couple of weeks to finish.

The following are some of the stages of this painting. There were many more steps; unfortunately, I did not document every step.  As you can see, the painting takes shape over time.

I really don't have a clear idea of what the painting will look like before I start a nebula. Other paintings I have done with a certain subject in mind are often formed overall in my head even before I start painting, but it has never been that way while painting nebula. I may have a thought about color or a concept yet the nebula paintings have always evolved one their own as I paint them. I learned early on not to fight what the canvas and paints want because it always turns out unsatisfactory to me. If I let go and let the paints and colors and shapes guide me, I end up loving the end result.

 So what do you think? Do you do something that takes many steps to get it right? 

Please, share about your hobbies and the time, energy, effort, persistence, and dedication you put into doing it well!!


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Doggy Coat

Since my last post was about my cats, I thought I would make this one about my dog; well, related to my dog. Several months ago, I made my dog a coat. As I have stated in a couple of past posts, I am learning to sew, and this is one of the projects in my book. The pattern in the book was for a small dog so I had to alter the coat for my dog who is pretty big, about 75-80 lbs.

The outside is a canvas camo fabric that I recycled from old curtains I made and didn't like. The inside of the coat is a purple fleece fabric that was left over from a coat I made for myself. Buddy, my dog, seemed to like it, and he seemed willing to leave it on until I took it off of him.

I made this for him a year or so ago and didn't think he would ever want or need to wear it. Now he is 9 years old, I can see that in the near future, he might enjoy it help him deal with joint pain. We'll see. :) Nonetheless, I enjoyed making it, and  I learned a few new things while making it, as I do with every project from this book.

This picture isn't great, but it shows the purple fleece on the inside. :)

Side view 

Front view

The coat has two straps, one in the front and on his chest right past his front legs. they are secured with Velcro strips. I totally did not think the Velcro strips  would hold, but hey really did. He laid down, and they did not come apart. I chose the camo outside because Buddy is our hunting dog, so, of course, his clothes should be camo and the inside color is because I love purple and fleece. 

I thought it was kind of a ridiculous project when I first saw it, but as I stated, I learned something about sewing and was able to prove myself wrong about something, the dog liking the coat. Sewing is an interesting hobby in that it ultimately produces a product of cloth but really does so much more. It is about follow through, precision, learning in a many, many step  process, dedication, pride: really, the list could go on and on. 

Thanks for reading! 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Love Cats :)

 This is Cesar; he's 5.

What can I say? I really love cats! Most of my life has involved a cat or two or more.  Right, now I have 4 cats and had, at one time, 9 cats. No, I am not a crazy cat lady. We have 4 cats now because we live in  the country with about an acre of land, and they are excellent pest control. We had 9 at one time because, at the time, we owned 3 cats and then found a litter of 6 abandoned and abused kittens that we nursed back to health and found home for 4 of them. Yes, we kept 2. :)

Don't get me wrong, I do love dogs, (I have two dogs) but I have always just had a thing for cats. For several years of my young childhood, my first cat, Butterscotch, slept in my bed, under the covers with his head on a pillow, like a small furry baby.  I sooo loved that cat!!  Although I think that having a slightly unstable family led me to get a great deal of comfort from that cat and many after him, so my affection for this particular animal is definitely biased.

Luther, he's 9

Right now while I am trying to write this, Cesar is trying to worm his way onto my lap, where my laptop is, of course, because he is a cat. This is one of the things I love about cats, their insistence to live their lives how they want to regardless of what others want. In return, they give an enormous amount of companionship and some even let you cuddled them. :)

Rocky; he's 11

I am in the process of planning when to get a new kitten. Yes, I know, I already have 4 cats, but 3 out of my 4 cats are close to useless when it comes to killing vermin. So, I was going to get one a few months ago, but I lost 2 cats in the last 5 months to something in the wild, a bear, bobcat, raccoon, something.  I am a little apprehensive about getting a kitten right now. But soon, our household will have one more cat. :)

Toni; she's 7

The pictures in this post are the cats we have now.  The first two, Cesar and Luther, are our newest additions. These were my husband's dad's cats. We adopted them when my husband's dad could no longer care for them. It was the first time I have gotten cats that were so old already. The oldest cat we had adopted before them was one year old. They took some time getting used to their new life but have become happy members of our pet family. However, these two were declawed (no, not by me) and they are not a great additions to the pest control team

Rocky is our old guy that we have had since he was a kitten. Oddly, he was the runt of the litter yet turned out the be a giant cat. His head is the size of a softball and he weighs 20 pounds, and no, its not fat, he's just huge. And he kicks ass! I have seen some gnarly cuts from fights on this cat. But a sweet, sweet cat, a giant teddy bear to people. He used to be a super hunter in his younger years, and I know he still hunts a little, but he is really not helping the pest control much.

The last picture is Toni, the only female cat in the house right now, and she is bat shit crazy. Yes, you read that right. She really is! I love her, don't get me wrong. She is one of the kittens we found abandoned in a field by our local lake. Some one had burnt their whiskers and cut their ears, and then left them in a hot field to die. My husband went there with our dog and found them. They were tiny and messed up. We were able to get all of them back to good health and kept 2 of them. One died of FHP a year later,  Toni survived and has been around ever since, but she is super kiddish and fearful of people. I do not blame her but she is really more like a feral than a house cat. We do get to pet and pick her up occasionally, which we try to do as much as she'll let us to keep trying to prove that not all people are bad.  On the very positive side, Toni is a killer. She is fast, small, stealthy, and camouflaged which is a truly lethal combo. The lead and mainly only pest control cat we have now. 

So what are your thoughts and/or feelings about cats? Seems like ,many people have strong feelings about cats, one way or the other, and I'd love to hear what you have to say. 

Love a cat!



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Body Painting - Claw Feet

Over the years, I have tried to challenge myself in my painting. Although I have done a few different kinds of paintings over the years, I still have a hard time trying something new. But for this painting, I was ready to break out of my usual mold of only painting nebula.

I took about 6 feet of butcher paper and laid it out on the ground. Then I took acrylic paint and covered the most of the front of my body with several colors of paint. I wore only underwear. I thought about doing it nude, but acrylic paint dries like plastic. I did not want to try to get that out of my pubic hair.

Once I liked the color blend on my body. I laid down on the paper with my hands up at the sides of my shoulders. Since my arms were not painted, there were not any arm impressions. When I got up, I saw that the impressions my shins made oddly looked like I had claw feet. Although I made several body paintings that day, this is my favorite. Its odd and interesting, and I am very happy I decided to try something new that day.

So what do you think of this painting?

Thank you so much for stopping by! Leave a thought in the comments section.


Monday, October 12, 2015

The Beginnings of My New Quilt

I have mentioned before that I am using a book called Sew Everything Workshop to learn how to sew, and in this book, there are 26 projects at the the end at 3 levels of difficulty. I am currently on the last few projects in level 2. One being this quilt. 

The first step was this- cutting out 30 11" x 11" pieces of cotton quilting fabric. I used fabric I have saved over time. Some fabric I got from my mom, and those are from when she made a quilt and bird cage cover for me when I was 8. Yes, that fabric is 35 years old. Other fabrics are from other projects I have done from the above mentioned book. A few fabrics I bought recently with intentions of using them in some project.

After several re-configurations, I decided on this (so far). It is always hard for me to commit to one of the configurations because I often think there could be a better pattern or a pattern I will like better later.

The next step, which I have just started, is to sew the pieces together in horizontal rows. This is where I messed up my last quilt. I did not know what a seam allowances was back then (which is how far from the edge of the fabric you put your stitching, or seam.)  So I just sewed the pieces together and them sewed the rows together. Here is that quilt:

It looks a little wonky, doesn't it? In this picture, I can't see exactly where the pieces don't fit right like I can in real life, but I can totally see that it doesn't look uniform, symmetrical.  

With the quilt I am working on now, I am really paying attention to sewing all the pieces together in an uniform way, with the same seam allowance on all of them. I finished sewing the first two rows and they line up!! YEAH! I only have to do that 3 more times, which is awesome because it provides me with practice, really deliberate practice of making even seam allowances. 

I am excited to see how this all turns out! I will keep you updated on the quilt as I go along. :)

Hobbies anyone??  What do you do? For fun or challenge?


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Birthday Painting

I painted this recently and gave it to my husband for his birthday last weekend. It turned out fairly well.  Above are three of the stages of this painting, but it definitely had more stages than that. Overall, there were about seven stages to this painting: 

1- painting white and yellow center
2- painting orange/red side
3- painting green/blue side
4- drawing out branches and birds
5- painting black branches
6- painting birds
7- painting birds again

All of the paintings that I do are done in stages. Sometimes I have an idea of what those stages will be like this painting but not always. The paintings usually evolve as I paint them because I do not always have a clear idea of what the painting is going to be.

I enjoyed doing this painting because it is unlike anything I have done before. I used brushes for this painting unlike the painting in the first painting post I did last week. I used natural sea sponges for that one. It has only been a year that I have been using brushes in painting, and it has been a difficult and wonderful experience. It felt soooo awkward at first yet over time, I have seen how many more things I can do having more tools in my painting tool kit.

Have you ever painted or wanted to?

I suggest you give it a try. Even if you are not very good, it is an enjoyable, relaxing process, and with practice, you can get better!!


Monday, October 5, 2015

I Sewed a Couple Pouches yet Got More

Image result for practice
 Here are a couple of zippered pouches I made in order to practice putting in a zipper. I have made several more since then and have gotten better over time. The blue one on the left was the first one I made, and if you look closely at the top of the zipper, it sticks out and is not suppose to. So I made the next one which is the pink one on the bottom and did a little better job.

I made the first one because it was a project in the book I mentioned in the last post. But I found out that I like these little bags very much and have found many uses for them which led me to make more. The two mentioned above, I made for my husband for his pencils; he loves having sharp pencils with him and these are their carrying bags. I have one in my purse with aspirin and the like in it (the one in the middle). I have one in my make up bag that holds my mascara and eye pencils and such. I think I have a made a few more but can't recall what for.

Many of the projects I have been sewing from the book I am using to learn to sew have become more than a simple project; they showed themselves to be steps I needed to take to learn new skills that will hopefully transfer to new projects in the future.

What do you do to learn new skills??

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sewing Beginnings

In the summer of 2012, I decided to take up sewing. The only thing I really knew a bit about was making a quilt because my mom and her mom, my grandma, and my dad's mom. my other grandma made quilts. I have had and seen many a quilt made and for some reason thought I should start learning to sew by making a quilt. I used fabric we already had and were either left overs from another project (like recovering stools, making pillow cases) and old clothes I kept because I liked the fabric (my husband's old silk boxers, a pair of shorts I bought in Japan, a shirt I loved that got old). To that, I added other fabrics I had collected over the years. But mostly, its made from the fabric of our 20 + years at that point. The edge and backing is an old sheet we had which is a grey flannel material.

As you can see if you look closely, I did not have all the skills necessary to make a really good quilt. The rows and columns do not match up perfectly and the grey edging that folded over from the back is not symmetrical around all the edges.

Yet, I really enjoyed doing it and learned a lot about fabrics and how they sew. I learned that different fabrics require different tensions while sewing and that putting together different fabrics in one stitch is very difficult for a new sewer.  With all the difficulties I had while making this quilt, I love it and appreciate its imperfections. Doing this quilt showed me what I know about sewing and what I had to learn, which I discovered was a lot.

Since this time in 2012, I bought a book to teach myself to sew and have completed many projects from that book. It is called Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp. I love this book and have been learning tons every since! If you want to learn to sew, I highly recommend this book.

So that is the beginning of my sewing journey. I will continue to share with you the things I have made over the last three years. Hope you continue to come back and share this journey with me!!

Thanks for coming by! HUGS!!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

What I Love - Painting #1

About 20 years ago, a friend of mine started painting, and I thought that it looked like fun. So I started to paint and found that I love painting nebulae. I have done many paintings over the years which I will share with you in future posts. The painting above was done over 8 years ago. My husband is a wood worker, and he made the frame for me so I could enter this painting into a local showing and competition. It is called "Tangerine Swirl". I think this painting got an admirable mention in the art show.

I do really like this painting yet I can see I have evolved since painting this one. I am teaching painting for the second year now and have learned so much about painting.  Before I was teaching painting, I rarely used a paint brush opting for natural sea sponges to paint the nebulae. Now I often paint with my students, and they use brushes so I have been using brushes exclusively.

But for this painting, I used natural sea sponges and my fingers to create this look. I really like using both of these tools to get the cloudy look that a real nebula has in space. There is something about getting my hands dirty while painting that is truly satisfying.

Okay I hope you enjoyed this new twist on my blog. I am excited about sharing with you all of the things that I love. I kind of hope it will inspire you to do what you love and share it here with the other people who visit this blog!