Friday, September 17, 2021

“Back in the Saddle Again”

I realize that “back in the saddle again” is a very old-fashioned phrase, but it’s very descriptive. I have not done any art, or posting on my blog, for the longest time I’ve ever been away, I believe — five months. Lots has been happening in our lives, and the easy way was to just let it slide. Most of the time during that five months, when I was “in the mood,” my art supplies were not with me. Then when I had the supplies handy, I wasn’t in the mood!

This piece was done a few days after my last blog post. I really like this one, and I think it’s because I tend to like bright and vibrant colors.

During the five months, we sold our home in Missouri, gave away almost all of the furnishings in that home, packed up two big UHaul trailers to make two different trips (second time with help from son and grandson) to transport remaining belongings to Washington, and got all settled into our home in Washington (where we had lived about half of the time for the last three years). Everything is now unpacked and organized. Once my baby grand piano is delivered (in a few weeks), all my “stuff” will be in one place, for the first time in a very long time!

In the middle of selling the house and moving, I had Mohs surgery on two squamous cell carcinomas, one involving a skin graft as well. Still not all healed, but “on the mend,” at least.

I was also five months behind with scrapbooking, so the first thing I did after getting settled into our ONE home now, was to catch up on that project. Very relieved to have that done!

Now that “I’m back,” (as in “back in the saddle again”) with life being settled into a routine, I do want to return to the fun hobby of watercolor. So, this week I tried to see if it really was like “riding a bicycle.” It is not. I don’t have it “back” yet and so need to keep practicing. Here is my first “return to art” piece, completed earlier this week. Not happy with it.

#bluewatercolorbird #watercolorpractice #backinthesaddle #needtoworkhardertogetitback #scrapbooking #crosscountrymove #MO #WA

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Awaiting Spring

Song of Solomon 2:11-13 
11 See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. 12 Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. 13 The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.

I look forward to spring every year. Truth is, I like seasons. So, in the late summer, I look forward to autumn. But this year more than any I can remember, I look forward to spring—the bright green of the grass and trees, the yellows and pinks of the flowers. The previous year has been difficult for everyone, some more than others. Somehow I feel like the arrival of spring will help me REALLY feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

But here in the Pacific Northwest, it is slow in coming. Yes, we have had some warm and sunny days. But then the next day is cold and dreary and rainy again. It is usually spring-like here at this time of year. I’m impatient. We have a frost warning for tonight. Seriously?

I have been keeping very busy, so it’s not that I’m bored. I have been cooking a lot. A Lot. I have caught up with my scrapbooking. I have been thinking and planning. I have been enjoying our 3-year-old great grandson, and his new baby sister—in person and through pictures. 

My art has helped me maintain sanity, I suppose. I have to tell myself that I’m still not that GOOD at it—that, mainly, I enjoy the process and am okay with the finished product. 

Here are some recent works:

The last one here, the Eurasian Blue Tit (I know, but it’s short for “titmouse” and it really IS its name) is not a bird I have ever seen—I don’t think we have them in America. Here is the reference photo (the real bird that provided the reference for the painting):

So, come on, Spring. I don’t ask for much, just warmth and sunshine!

I know, it WILL come....

#EurasianBlueTit #watercolorpractice #mariaraczynskatutorial #spring 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Loose Watercolor Style (Not Really Me?)

One thing I have noticed about watercolor artists I “follow” and/or try to learn from (tutorials, etc.): Even the professionals sometimes veer away from their “signature” style, perhaps for a break, perhaps because their followers or students pressure them to do a different style. Whatever the reason, I’ve decided that if they can do it, I can do it. 

Here’s what I’m saying: I have determined that loose watercolor is not really my style. But sometimes doing a piece with that style does provide a bit of a break from routine for me.

So, I occasionally step outside the box of more controlled painting, into the “loose” arena. 

More on why it is NOT my preferred style: I have always thought it was somewhat paradoxical for someone to say, “Try to relax.” If you have to try, you are not relaxing. You can’t really relax while working at relaxing. In the world of art, when I attempt a piece in a loose style, it’s like trying to relax. “Loose” is antithetical to my way of thinking/doing just about anything. (For that reason, maybe it’s a good thing for me as a stretching exercise.)

Now, I will say that even my attempts at using the loose style are NOT attempts to use the extremely loose, watery, runny style that many artists can do with beautiful results. Even my attempts at loose are illustrative, a fun style that is loose when compared to a very controlled style, but still somewhat controlled. My attempts at the other style (controlled and more detailed—more ME), are still not the total realism that makes people wonder if your art is actually a photograph. So perhaps I’m usually more in the middle, though leaning strongly toward controlled and realistic.

The last couple of days I have taken a break from my usual style and completed a few pieces “just for fun.” However, referring back to my observation about “try to relax,” I will admit that even these pieces that are loose (and supposedly more “fun”) were not really as much “fun” for me as trying to create a controlled and more detailed piece. Still, a break.

Here are the three loose pieces I created in the last couple of days.

For comparison, here are some of the more “controlled” pieces I have done in the last couple of weeks. Note: still not total realism, but not loose or illustrative either.

Next I will complete my January scrapbook pages and then back to more watercolor practice.

#watercolorpractice #watercolorfox #loosewatercolorduck #watercolorpuppy #loosewatercolorbighornsheep #watercolormountainbluebird #watercolorhino #watercolorgreenlemons #loosewatercolor 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

All in a Day’s Work

I’ve always been pretty “big” on routine. That’s not to be taken as “boring” or “in a rut.” I suppose I was raised to think there is value in having certain routines, even in retirement. 

For example, we make our bed every morning. I say “we” because I haven’t made our bed myself in a few years. That’s something my husband does to help me, so that I don’t get a backache. But it is part of our morning routine (as is coffee and watching the birds at the feeders).

My daily routine varies from time to time (see, not so boring) but almost always includes Quiet Time, devotional and Bible reading, prayer time, walking, coffee times, cooking and communicating with friends and family (usually via social media and texting).

My daily step goal is 10,000 steps, and when the weather is not conducive, that means lots of walking around in the house. Ugh! Tough to get that many steps. I don’t always make it all the way to 10,000, sometimes 7,500. But usually 10,000.

So I pass some of that time by listening to the Bible (currently reading through the Bible chronologically through one of the plans in the Bible app), through AirPods, as well as listening to daily devotionals from the First 15 app.

Another routine while walking is to pray over my Prayer Circles in my Prayer Journal.

From my son and wife I learned about “The Chosen” series as well as the little devotional book, “The Chosen: 40 Days with Jesus.” I am going through that during my Quiet Time now. I got a little journal to keep notes and prayers from the devotional study.

Since we are not going much of anywhere these days (Covid restrictions here in WA state are a bit extreme), and coffee is sort of a hobby for us, we recently got a new coffee maker and are now using a system other than a Keurig for some of our daily coffee times.

For espresso, we use the Nespresso machine with Nespresso capsules. For the Keurig, we use Kcups. But in order to use the new TechniVorm MoccaMaster Coffee brewer with the fresh roasted Colombian beans from Fresh Roasted Coffee, we needed a burr grinder. The OXO was highly recommended.

Most days we have three meals: usually granola or yogurt for breakfast, larger meal (sometimes Home Chef) for the middle of the day meal, and something light for supper. (My “big meal” is usually on Sunday when all the Washington family comes to our house for Sunday Dinner after church. Love that.)

Most days I do some art or some scrapbooking. 

I just completed the 2020 Scrapbook Album. 

I have also been placing some of my artwork in frames and using for a bit of decor “around the house.”

Today I finished another watercolor black-capped chickadee. I am finding that “creatures” are my most enjoyable watercolor subjects.

So, perhaps the only value in writing this post is so that I can answer my own question, “What in the world did you do with yourself today?” 

#dailyroutines #watercolor #scrapbooking #coffee #technivormmoccamaster #oxoburrgrinder #nespresso #keurig #freshroastedcoffee #thechosen #chickadee #prayercircles #prayerjournal #quiettime #fitbitversa2 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Goal for the New Year {Aging GRACEFULLy}

My little watercolor kitty makes me smile. She is so sweet.

As I think about the new year, I want to focus on things that make me smile. Of course I have a lot of goals... goals about my projects, reading the Bible through, being what God wants me to be, serving, loving, being kinder and sweeter, having more grace, being a better wife, a better Mom, a better Mamo...on and on goes my list that I pray over each day...

But sometimes I come across something that someone else has written, that makes me think: 
“That. Right there. That’s it. That’s how I want to be.”

The following is copied.

I love it.

The beautiful, well-versed 83 year old lady, fully dressed every morning at 8 am sharp, with her hair done in fashion and perfectly applied makeup, is moving to a retirement home.  Her husband recently died, which motivated her move.

After many hours of patiently waiting in the hall of the home, she smiled sweetly, when told her room was ready.

As she moved her walker toward the elevator, she was given a detailed description of her small room, including the curtains hanging from her window.

′′ I love it,” she said, with the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old girl who was just handed a new pet.
“Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room, just wait.”
“That doesn't matter,” she replied.
“Happiness is something you decide over time. Whether or not I like my room doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged, it depends on how I arrange my mind.

“I’ve already decided that I like it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have the choice; I can spend the day in bed, going through the difficulty I have with my body parts that don't work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the parts that do work.

“Every day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I will focus on the new day and the happy memories I've stored just for this time in my life.”

HAPPINESS is like a bank account: you withdraw from it, what you deposit.

So my advice would be to deposit a lot of happiness into your memory account.

Remember these five simple things:

1.- Free your heart from hate/discord.
2.- Free your mind from worries.
3.- Live Simply.
4.- Give more.
5.- Take less.

#watercolor #watercolorkitten #aginggracefully #finishwell #itisadecision #itisachoice