Thursday, February 25, 2010

Painting - Lighthouse and Skyscape

Just started a  landscape including a lighthouse (oils, canvas wrapped edges, 24" x 18")
Here is the original print from which I am painting:
(picture was taken in 2009 while visiting New Zealand and Australia)

This is one of the books I am referencing for painting clouds above the lighthouse:

(by Willilam F. Powell, 1998, ISBN 0-929261-48-8)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dutch Mustard Soup

A friend visited Germany several years ago and was impressed with a mustard soup she had enjoyed several times while on both the cruise ship and in the local towns.  She never found a recipe using mustard as the main ingredient, so my husband, The Cook, found one and made it very quickly.  We consumed it on a painting break, and she was impressed with the flavor and happy that he had found a replication of the recipe she remembered.

Here is the recipe from Dutch Mustard Soup:
4 cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1/2 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons coarse grain mustard, with whole mustard grains
1/2 cup spreadable soft cheese, you want it to melt well
4 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and pepper
1 spring onion, chopped


1  Bring water to boil.
2  Add creme fraiche, mustard and cheese.
3  Stir until smooth.
4  Add cornstarch.
5  Continue stirring.
6  When soup thickens, add salt and pepper to taste.
7  Garnish with chopped spring onion.
 Substitutions: sour cream and cream cheese in equal proportions saves a search (and also saves money) for creme fraiche.  Velveeta cheese could also be substitued, and will result in a more yellow color.

We ate it so quickly that I failed to get a picture of the soup, so this one will do from Flickr:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

A solemn day in the ecumenical calendar, today is the day when
the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead -- or in case of clerics upon the place of the tonsure -- of each the sign of the cross, saying the words: "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return." The ashes used in this ceremony are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year.
From Rock Hill, SC the Herald reports this is a day when Christians
“...confront our frailness, our failures,” ...“and the ashes symbolize our broken dreams.”

Services will start today around sunrise and will go far past nightfall. It will happen all over the earth. People with ashes on their foreheads dispersing into the day and night to try to make a world of record unemployment, broken dreams, and foreclosures.

The ashes do not always inspire.

“One time, years ago in Rock Hill, so many people left a service at the Oratory on Ash Wednesday and went to the old Revco pharmacy there in the Beatty Plaza on Cherry Road...the clerk thought it was a cult coming in. She called the police.”

The cops came to find people with gray forehead smears in the shape of the cross, hands clasped in prayer. There was no cult.

Just hope.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

St. Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to all.  Here is a bit of information from Catholic Encyclopedia about how the date and celebration came about:
The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine's Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer's Parliament of Foules we read:
...For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day
...Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers' tokens. Both the French and English literatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to the practice. Perhaps the earliest to be found is in the 34th and 35th Ballades of the bilingual poet, John Gower, written in French; but Lydgate and Clauvowe supply other examples. Those who chose each other under these circumstances seem to have been called by each other their Valentines.
So how did chocolates become associated with this celebration?  Your turn to do a look-up.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Daybreak Shawl by Westknits

This is a fun shawl or scarf to knit because it starts out with only two cast on stitches.  It grows from that point to almost five feet in width.

Besides starting from the center of the piece with only those two beginning stitches, it is also intrigueing because  it keeps the interest of the knitter with a myriad of color choice selections.  Many people on Ravelry have knit it, and it looks quite different each time it is constructed.

Washable sock yarn is a favorite yarn to use for this scarf, although thicker yarns may be chosen.  Designer Stephen West says of his pattern:
Daybreak is a semicircular shawl, featuring clear graphic stripes that echo a rising sun. The generous wingspan allows the fabric to drape comfortably around your shoulders and neck. There is plenty of room to play with color in the three sections of this arched shawl. There are three sizes available to knit this shawl.
The photo above shows the Daybreak shawl that I just finished, prior to blocking.  This link displays many more variations of the scarf. It is fun to see others' choices in fibers and colors.

Pattern availability can be accessed here for $6.  It comes in an immediate download.

After blocking, the scarf mimics the look of a sunrise: a very clever and fun pattern.  This is my just finished Daybreak Scarf knit in the medium size; it required about six 50 gram balls of wool, one of which was a sock yarn.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tips on Painting Flowers

Thursday has become painting day for my friend Shirley and me.  We start at 9 AM, lunch around noon, and keep right on painting until about 3 PM.  We have enjoyed our time together, and mutual critiques have helped us both keep on track.  It sometimes takes another's  discerning eye to catch improvements that need to be made.

Painting flowers is mesmerizing for the artist because so many techniques are used to create shape and depth to both the petals and leaves surrounding the flower.

A bit of an internet search found here was helpful in yesterday's work:
•Don’t be afraid to use bright colours neat from the tube for expressing the colour of flower heads.

•Applying the sunlit or pale colours before the shaded areas will ensure the rich colours of the flower heads will not be contaminated by the dark colour

•Don’t use black to darken the colour of the petals, but its complimentary colour, which is any opposing colour on the colour wheel

•Periodically standing back from the painting and using a wider brush than one might expect, will add boldness to any floral painting

•A good quality sable is essential for detail. A number 3 or 6 round is often ideal

•Over-mixing a colour might kill the life out of a bright colour. Allowing a few streaks of a colour mix to remain will add expression and life to any flower painting.
This is excellent advice which I attempted to incorporate into two current works in progress (below).

More definition and color delineation is needed, but these two pieces are coming along.  Just viewing these petals on screen already shows several areas that need improvement.