Monday, December 28, 2015

All was good and then...

Last year we had a Snowman Christmas and this year it was all about Christmas Trees and Reindeer. Two trees and seventeen reindeer bags full of goodie$.

I didn't do so good with photos this year. I was a bit preoccupied.
I did manage a few things ahead of the day like these reindeer candy bags.
I planned a fun sock game where my six big and little girls each pulled six...

...of these little tree tabs to find out which 3 pair of unmatched socks they would get. 
I made candied apples for my fruit salad. I baked a pecan pie, banana pudding and banana bread before the day. If you know me, you know I never ever cook anything before the day. I also put together a broccoli casserole. I cooked the cornbread and prepped everything for the dressing.  

On the day as always, I was up early and started the rest of the cooking. I even had the serving dishes out with little paper notes naming what would go in each. I had the hot pads lined up down the middle of the table and noted what would go where.   

All was good and then.....

...around 10:30 on the day about the time the turkey was to come out of the oven, I was whizzing from the bathroom to the kitchen and caught my foot on either a little rug that I had thrown from the kitchen to the bedroom to vac or the vac cord and I danced across the floor head first trying to catch a fall but knowing the momentum was too great. 

I was headed right straight toward the kitchen door facing. I was still trying to catch my fall all the time dancing faster and faster. In a split second, I knew my face was going to be a big mess. 

I was still trying to catch my fall when somehow I ended up in the kitchen on the tile floor. Face untouched. I hit with my butt, not the part when sitting straight up but the part touching when you are slouching down and sliding out of the chair. When it hit the momentum was so great that my body slung backwards with centrifugal force and jerked my head back. It hit the tile floor. In that split second before hitting I knew it was not going to be good and I even thought about how lucky I was that I had been so organized with the day since I probably would not be present now.

When I hit, I really thought I might have cracked my skull. Pain? Yes. I also felt the pain in my butt. Ken was sitting in his chair and saw the whole thing happening. I think I yelled when I first started dancing across in front of him. He said he thought I nearly caught the fall two times.

I laid in the floor crying, first with pain while holding my head and feeling the goose egg swell in my hand, and then I cried loud with anger that I had done something so stupid. I really could not get up for a while or rather I didn't want to get up. The cool tile floor felt so good. Eventually, I was ready and got up. 

With the goose egg in my hand, I knew I had not cracked my skull. I knew I was going to have a terrific head ache and Ken had three Advil ready immediately. 

I got up and sat at the bar and directed Ken on what to do. I had gotten so organized before and had even written my cooking scheduled with what would go in the oven and when. He set the table (a first) and even though he would ask what goes where, he seemed to know. I think he may have been paying attention in earlier years when I would show the kids how to set the table for me. He knew and that made me smile.

He made the tea (another first as far as I can remember) and all was done before the kids arrived. Of course we always wait to put the rolls in until everyone is present and Melissa's job is always to carve the turkey. She strips that bird down to the bone like no one I know which is a job I hate. Tim is in charge of the shells and cheese because they want that right off the stove and not made ahead and Tim is the shells and cheese chef.

Trees and Reindeer
This little stack is ready to go home unwrapped. Seven littles didn't get to come this year and we missed them ever so much. 

The day could have only been better if the seven missing could have been here. 

I'm all good. The goose egg is slowly going down but still sore. I can't slouch in my chair as that is exactly the wrong way to avoid butt pain. 

One more thing. Wrapping and making fun packages is not out of character for me. However, cooking and preparing food ahead of the day is definitely out of character for me.  I knew before I got off the floor who was in charge of the day, as well as, my life.

I believe. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Laughing Cow Christmas

I went on a dig through my blog archives the other day and ran across this tutorial. It is one of my favorites and I think you will love it too. If you have been around a while, you may remember it. If you are new, you may be totally unaware and missing out on a really cool project. Therefore, I repost it today with greetings for a wonderful holiday season. 
I'm in full out Christmas mode this weekend.  My kids and grand kids expect, want, and ask for money for Christmas.  Each year, we give it but I must have fun with it and present it a little different each year.  This year, I discovered The Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Cheese. Oh my it is so yummy.  But the little boxes are adorable and I just could not throw them away.  Soooooooo, was the day.  Here is what I did.  I drew a circle around the inside lip of the opened box.  This is so I could get the smallest circle.
Since I don't want the text to go all the way to the edge, I cut it out using the pencil guide but cutting it smaller.  It doesn't matter if it is exact or not.
Then I used Golden Matte Medium #3530 to glue the text on the top and bottom of the box.  I painted the inside of the box with Lumiere #561 Metallic Gold.  It is very pretty because the inside of the box was white.
Now for the napkin.  I want this circle to be larger than the box so I held the pencil next to the lid to mark the circle.
 Then, I tore the napkin following the pencil line as best as I could. Again, it doesn't have to be exact.
Here is another.  I think right now would be a great time to find some beautiful Christmas napkins.  I happen to have this one in my huge napkin stash.
 Make sure you only use the top layer of the napkin.  Most napkins have three layers.
It is very important that you use Golden Matte Medium to glue the napkin down with.  I'm sure something else will work but it should be very runny. Other Golden gels are too thick and don't absorb through to the top side which make them more transparent.  Paint a generous layer of the medium on the box and then lay the napkin down onto it.  You can't move the napkin so place it carefully.  Then, with some medium on the brush, smooth the napkin out.  You might even use your finger a little but the napkin begins to deteriorate quickly so work fast and then stop.  Let it dry.
Notice how I let the napkin go over the edge and also notice how you can see the text through the napkin.
Today, I made four. Here they are drying.  I painted on two coats of Golden Self Leveling Clear Gel. It gave them a very nice high gloss finish which is what I wanted.  I might even add a third layer tomorrow.
Next, I designed a little strip label.  I wish I could have been more clever but it has the recipients name on it which is really sweet.
I'm holding the label in place and showing that I brushed a layer of Lumiere #553 Brass which is very very translucent onto the label.  It gave the label a beautiful gilded finish.
I haven't shown you the last step because I don't have the big bucks in the house yet.  But when I'm ready to close up the gift, I will run a red thread around the groove that is left when the two box parts slide together.  Then I'm going to use a glue stick to apply the label.  A red thread tail is left out so the beautiful little box can be unzipped. You will see how that works when you open your Laughing Cow. So cool!
Supply List:
Laughing Cox boxes (eat the cheese)
Text page
Golden Matte Medium #3530
Lumiere #561 Metallic Gold
Lumiere #553 Brass
$500.00 (gift) or any other small gift
Golden Self Leveling Clear Gel #3001
Label strip designed by You!

Have fun.  If you make a gift box, I would love to see it so come back and leave me a comment.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


CHANGEABLENESS: Just found that word in my Thesaurus.  Here are some of the related words.  alterability, mutability, inconstancy, fickleness, inconsistency, versatility, vacillation, irresolution, fluctuation, fluidity, alternation, restlessness, unrest, etc etc.

Yes, I'm all that. And here is how I do it. Very simple. I just give myself permission to be and to do.
Earlier during this year I knew or rather planned to be painting the attic grid during the fall and winter months. At first, I thought I would try my dead level best to finish this project by early spring. 

Changeableness set in when I actually got started, a month later than planned. Then, one day while enjoying all the painting, running with the inspiration and enjoying the whole process, I realized there was no hurry. I was in charge. I'm the boss of me. I can change my own goals and rules. So, I just gave myself permission to take breaks from The Attic Grid. I had to because when I was not working on the grid, I would feel the nagging pull. 
"Get thee off my shoulder, you little nagger you!".  That's how the five singers came to be. I took a break from the attic grid. 

I seldom sketch in this much detail but the truth is I was taking a chair zone break and stretched out my time there with detail sketching.

 The first two are signed and finished. One will probably be my Christmas card which by the way, just in case you need a reminder, is at the two week away mark. 
Then, right in the middle of Singer number 3, changeableness set in again. Permission granted to take advantage of several days of unseasonably warm pleasant weather. I dropped all my brushes, went outside, jumped on my think tank and went around and around for three hours. I really needed a good think session and the reward is a nice mowed yard and leaves mulched.  The next day, I grabbed matches and burned many of the fallen branches from the wind storms. While my little fire was going, I managed to pick up a lot of the shreadded leaves.

Unfortunately, today I'm feeling like some little creepy devil is slithering its way down my throat to rest a while in my chest. Hopefully, I have put a stop to it. "Get thee out of my chest, you creepy little devil." 

In my opinion, having the changeableness trait is necessary to being able to keep all the balls in the air. Now, instead of going back out to the gardens, I'm going to change from this chair to the chair zone chair and battle that slithering devil. 

Saturday, December 05, 2015

In the Spirit of Giving

It is that time of year, between  holidays of gratefulness and giving, I'm feeling blessed for all that I have with my family and friends. And I'm feeling I have something to give.

As you all know, I closed my classroom site this year. Even though I spent untold hours developing all those classes, here I sit with all that good stuff lingering on my computer.

Some of my "cloth side of me" friends are discovering Inktense Pencils and trying them out for the first time. While following their progress, I kept thinking about how they might enjoy my Inktense Faces of Fabric class which as you know I pulled from the Tree Castle Apron class. I thought at the very least, they might pick up a useful tip or two. So I decided to share. 

But then I thought, "heck, they might enjoy the whole big class, apron and all".

Therefore; I'm here today to tell you that I will be posting all the Tree Castle Apron class at my blog, The Cloth Side of Me. My season gift to you. It is free to anyone. 

Today I posted a preview of the who, what, where, and when about this at The Cloth Side of Me. Pop over and see. 

Note: the videos will only be viewable at that blog and they are not downloadable. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Acapella Solo in the attic

I sat without a brush in my hand many rainy days just waiting for something.

Then one day when the rain stopped, I put on my rain boots and walked the long way around the tank dam to The Garden Palace. I needed to go and sit in the attic studio. And I needed to cut more cardboard cells for the grid. 
I was excited about a bit of inspiration that floated by while looking at Alissa's painting. It was the windows. When I saw them I knew immediately windows would be a perfect addition to the choirs in The Grid. 

Each cardboard cell has to be measured and cut for a specific spot. So, I decided where I would paint the first window. Being there made the window vision so much clearer. I measured and cut these three cells and returned to the studio in the big house.

I don't know what happened but I didn't even argue with her. I haven't mentioned her in a long time and every since this argument, I mostly just listen and paint.

Well actually, I do know what happened. I discovered two new artist of the Art Nouveau period. Charles Rennie Mackintosh and wife, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh

Painting "flat" without depth doesn't satisfy me so much. But once I got my brave girl attitude together and picked up my Chinese calligraphy brush, I started adding the black layer of lines. What fun that was once I got the hang of it. I think this soloist waiting for her acapella moment in the attic grid is a great addition to the choirs up there.

I'm still excited about the windows in the attic grid and you know what? There are many more perfect places for windows.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Singing Choir


Today I have no words about this Singing Choir except I painted it the first week of November. I'll be back. 

Here is what they are singing:

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Another Choir

 Oh dear! There is always one unhappy singer. She, the unhappy one, is a good example for not painting figures straight forward. Face, eyes, shoulders straight on is so confrontational. And she is. But I left her there because she is a critical part of this choir. 

I'm guessing she sings with the lowest vocal range. Can you guess which one sings soprano?

I need your "Reactions".  
Look in the gray bar below each post just like the one here.
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

About The Grid

And this thing I do "in my head."

A dear friend told me one time that I just needed to get out of my head. I don't remember why she told me that. Honestly, I really did not know what she meant. 

So, I got "in my head" to try to understand what that was about. It has taken me a long time to recognize when I do that "in my head" thing and maybe even why.

Simply put, I am a problem solver. And I do it in my head. All the time. It never stops. On and on and on. Constant over thinking. The only way to stop it is to proceed by going forward in some small or big way.

I problem solve everything. I do it for me. I do it for you. I do it for my children. I do it for my dear husband. I can't stop it but I have learned to keep it to myself. They all appreciate that.

This is The Grid. On this day dear Son and I installed the floor in the attic. Here he is brainstorming with me outside my head.

The problem:
  • What or how to cover the ceiling.
  • The screws holding the tin on the roof were dangerously protruding.
  • Every cell of the grid is a different width and height.
  • Did not want to do anything that would make it dark.
  • Did not want to cover the vertical wood.
There are 198 cells in The Grid. He saw it as an opportunity for art painted for each cell. WOW! That he thought of it blew me away.

The problem:
  • On what
  • How to attach
  • The protruding screws would still need to be snipped off
And so on and on and on. Each one of those bullet points leads me down more problem paths to solve.  You get the point. On this day I was lucky enough to have someone outside of my head.

Most of the time it is just me going down every problem path until there is a fork in the path. Before every fork there is a new obstacle. Each path is a new solution. And then more obstacles. And more solutions. And so it goes.

Eventually, it has to stop! The solutions become complicated, time consuming, costly, and impossible. The solution becomes a chore that is no longer something to look forward to. I have learned to turn around and go back and simply remove all of the obstacles because after all, "they were just in my head".  I figured out what "in my head" means.

It means, I have come up with so many solutions or options that it all turns to muddled mush. It is confusing and I feel totally disorganized and defeated.

So about The Grid. I spent about five month in my head after brain storming with my dear Son. Then I ordered five bundles of 36" X 48" heavy duty cardboard that had to be delivered on an 18-wheeler that would not be able to turn off of the farm-to-market road into our drive. Yep another problem to solve.   

Before I started painting the above last November titled, "Who are These People", I resolved that I would only use pastle colors. I would not use collage. I would not paint faces.

And then, the first piece I painted had faces. And then, when I picked the piece up again in March, I reasoned that napkins would not add weight so I collaged. And then I worked on four other cells before putting it down again and more phantom faces showed up. I will share those when Installed.

And then, I went back "in my head" until this past Sunday. I spent a lot of time thinking about what to paint. I was unsure if each cell should relate to the one next to it. I thought I wanted to paint in a more abstract fashion. I thought each cell would have a floral theme. I even reasoned that each cell could be a journal page.

But. I did not want to paint a mural. I considered several ways each cell could relate without becoming a mural. I know nothing about abstract and there was a little voice that kept saying, "now is not the time with a project of this magnatude."  After painting the flowers on the floor cloth, I became unsure about that idea. And you know and I know that I simply suck at journaling. Yep, time to turn around again.

So basically, I came to terms with painting faces on the ceiling by first accepting the phantom people that showed up in the first cells and deciding to accept their presence up in the peak of the ceiling. I was fully expecting more to show up and would welcome them.

I was still in my head Saturday when I thought to revisit my big book on Gustav Klimt and his work titled, The Beethoven Frieze.

I absolutely love the sections with the horizonally floating figures who appear to move their hands in front of them as if swimming. They blend into the gray fresco wall. Not that I was going to create anything like that, I was very excited with inspiration and to get my brushes in my hand.

Sunday morning, I walked into the dark living room with my big piece of cardboard that I had painted a dove gray and white background on. I had a tiny piece of charcoal in my hand and I pulled out the piano bench and sat down across the room from the very large painting I did a couple of years ago. It is the one with the five girls with flower head pieces. I sat in the darkness with purpose so I could not see much detail. I just wanted to quickly sketch the shapes and placement of the girls. But the mood of the dark room transported me back to a sketch exercise assignment that Misty gave during my first trip to Orvieto. She had us scatter throughout the convent and I chose the enormous dark ballroom where the only light was from huge windows that cast warm rays across the floor.

In my own dark living room, I felt the peace of the room and the confidence to paint. It excited me and I sat down and just did it. There were no obstacles and I restrained myself from perfection and details because, for one thing, when installed in the peak of the ceiling, it can never be viewed any closer that about six feet or so. Another thing, with 198 cells in the grid, my mission is to be quick about it. And, I'm not going to get into my head about what quick means.