Sunday, January 31, 2016

Much Ado About Nothing or Something from Nothing

Collection of things from around the farmhouse.
A free gift from the paint store with needles of varying sizes--ideal for the housewife of the 1930s. Paint and needles--what better gifts uh? My Grandmother certainly considered them gifts because they made her life easier. She loved the towels in the Breeze Detergent boxes and the depression glass in the oatmeal box. There are two pictures of my Father here--the top one with the shadow of my mother with the Brownie camera. The other picture of him is with his dog Adolph--years before Hitler made the name a little uncomfortable to use. The metal my father received from General Motors on their first "50 Million" cars produced in America as well as his tape measure in included.
A silver fork, from who knows where, a piece of a door knob mechanism and three old door knobs. Various pieces of wood from here and there--a piece of a lace collar, and a wooden spool of thread. All of these things are setting on a pair of doors with cool hinges.
This is my project for February--what in the world could be made from this conglomeration of old useless items.
Check back at the end of February to see if I can come up with some ideas to make a display/work of art and how many pieces I will have left over. Now where did I put my superglue??

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I Have Always Loved Longhorns

Everywhere you look in Texas there are cows-- from roadside pastures to billboards to sculptures in downtown Ft. Worth-- which is often referred to as cowtown. From the front of t-shirts to beer bottle labels, from wallpaper to wrapping paper from...well you get idea-- there are lots of cows.
There is usually a cow waiting to become a painting in the back of my mind--bright colored ones, abstract ones, and cows expressed in local color.
Commissioned piece
 One of the very first things I remember drawing in pencil when I was in elementary school was something my mother call " the south end of three northbound cows". Cow butts! Cow are trending right now, so consequently I have decided to "paint up a cow or two". When one of my students at school brought in some photos of the family Longhorns we both wanted to paint their portraits. He got busy and did a great job on his first oil painting. He was shocked to find out how much he enjoyed painting-- we laughed about that--he wanted to do a second one! I waited until he was finished to start a painting of the same two cows but mine would be a little different-more painterly with very little background like the landscape in Texas.
 This is the first step--drawing in the shapes on our first snow day from school.
Here is step one
Here is step two--blocking in the Momma cow, placing a treeline in the background, and starting on the calf. This took place one evening after school. A rotisserie chicken gave me a little extra time that night. I LOVE rotisserie chickens!!
Here is the finished painting.
I decided to remove the treeline on the horizon and simplify the foreground so the cows would be prominent.
 I think it is finished--never sure, many times I reserve the right to declare it unfinished again and work on it more. I usually set it up on the same plane as the TV so during down time I can gaze at it and see all the thing I should change. I find myself looking more at the painting than the TV so I turn it off and get out the paints and turp.
The colors are washed out in the last photo probably because of the sunlight coming into the room when I was trying to get the photo--I just couldn't close out the warm sunshine today. The cows were basking in it!
Oh, I see something I want to change already!! Well it is "mostly finished" that is probably the best I can do right now. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Terrarium for Christmas

 Green Stress Management
Terrariums are magical places. A "place" my daughter asked for as her Christmas present this year. I made many terrariums back in the 70's when they were all the rage--a throw back from the Victorian era when travel and the collection of exotic plants captured the imagination of the upper class.
So I called upon my memories and assembled some odds and ends I had collected over the years. A trip to a home decor store for a jar was first on my agenda. Then came the home improvement center for some small stones and charcoal for drainage. The last stop and the most fun was the stop along a busy highway where a bluff had been cut in order to construct said highway. As the cars whizzed by, some honking and waving, I searched for just the "right" rocks to add a sense of the Missouri landscape I was looking for inside this delicate glass jar. Back in the car with a pocket weighted down with a dozen rocks and something I was pretty sure felt like it was crawling, I took off for home eager to begin my "build".                           
After washing the jars (the one on the right was an extra for overflow should there be any) I placed clean sand into the bottom for drainage. Then came the charcoal for purification.
A layer of small round rocks came next--evenly distributed allowing some to show on the sides.

Here is the assortment of rocks and sticks I wanted to choose from to add interest to the "place". Also a few terrrarium plants I bought at a local greenhouse. Start with only a few--it gets really busy in there fast!!You can also divide many of the little plants you buy and arrange them in groups of odd numbers. Also try to place the items, as well as the plants, on varying levels. Do this by mounding up an area in the back of the jar.

The potting soil came next, then I watered it all in. Not too much water, just enough to hold it all together.
From here the placing of the plants and objects began in earnest. Some of the plants needed a little pruning to contain them and give the most esthetically pleasing results. I chose plants that were slow growing and enjoyed a high level of humidity and moisture. I also wanted a variety of textures and colors.
I visually decided on how I wanted everything to fit and started the placement. After everything was in the right location I watered it well and placed the lid on top.

Below are photos of the finished terrarium that was a Christmas presents to my daughter.
There are some interesting Missouri rocks and a large variety of textures and colors. Do not over water this terrarium. It should need very little if you keep the lid on it. If condensation occurs remove the lid for a few hours. Also it does better in filtered light. Strong sun will trap heat in the glass and cause your little plants to over heat.

If you look carefully you might be able to see a woodland creature or a tiny Airstream nestled in the landscape.

Everyone should try making one of these beautiful miniature gardens. They are not difficult to make and can bring a lot of wonder and peaceful imaginings. So make one--kick back with a little soft meditation music, a cup of tea and go to a tiny world where there are no politics. Post a comment is you have questions.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Aslan of Narnia

Getting ready for a Narnia themed project based learning event with middle school teachers. No better way to inspire young authors and artists than a huge portrait of Aslan. I painted this on a wooden panel and attached it to the mounting board at the end of my art room hallway at school. I also posted it on Facebook! The other teachers and I are cooking up (literally--Turkish Delight) some entertaining, educational, and extremely fun filled projects so the students will fall in love with the Chronicles of Narnia like we have.
I will post some pictures as we go along and share our successes as well as the happy faces of our students! Stay tuned!