Saturday, June 27, 2009

1200 digital photos and no shots of me and my husband

I'm appalled. Today is our 17th anniversary, and I thought it would be nice to post a picture of my husband, Shawn and I. There's just one problem: we have no digital photos of just the two of us. There are no photos of the 5 of us for that matter. My mom and dad have taken photos of us, but always with their camera. We need to do something about that, starting today.

My oldest son isn't the least artistic, but when he take photos, here's the kind he takes. So now I think he's going to start learning how to take some photos of his family (and his parents in particular). I'm sure he'll be thrilled if I let him loose with the camera.

He's at his first swim meet today with Shawn, while the other two water our garden out back. Really they water each other and the plants are lucky if they get some water splashed on them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Thanks to Google I now know it was Plato who said this first. In the shower this morning it kept echoing through my head. I couldn't get it out of my head actually, but it made me happy so I let it stay.

"The Economy" is something the media speak about as if it is capitalized. It's right up there with "Global Warming" to bring you warm fuzzies. Not. But I think both issues will be addressed the same way homeschoolers have been doing for quite some time. When you find something you really want, or need, to do you find a way to do it. Or you adapt. Sometimes God calls you in a different direction than you intended.

"Necessity is the Mother of Invention" is going to be my philosophy. Funny it was a famous philosopher who first said it. I can't buy any more glass until some stained glass panels sells. I can't buy grout until any mosaics sell. Luckily I have 3 panels and 2 mosaics in process right now.

In one way money restrictions are depressing, but it is also freeing. I don't want my creative endeavors to be a drain on our family resouces right now. And creatively, I'm going to take the time to use the scraps I do have to make some great smaller stained glass pieces. I have boxes and boxes of scraps. Of course I also have a notebook stuffed with stained glass patterns I'm working on. I guess I get more time to get my designs refined. This is a source of creativity if I let it be.

Last thought, my prayers are really active for those who don't have a job. By the grace of God, my husband not only has kept his job, but got a raise. In banking right now, that's a miracle pure and simple.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Homemade Castles

Last week for history we read about Louis XIV and his reign. I just happen to have a large book on Baroque Art with lots of pictures of Versailles. So at Co-op this week we worked together to make our own castle out of some of my left over mat board. The other family we did it with did a number of panels with beautiful windows and doors drawn on the "walls", and made us some sculptures out of aluminum foil to decorate our courthard. My sons worked on constructing the form of the castle.

Since then my oldest set up a castle siege with his little army men. My other boys created there own fort type castle out of blankets and chairs. To me, the best learning is the kind you incorporate into play - for fun. It was a reminder to relax and play with my children. Enjoy summer.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Murals on the Walls

"Murals" sounds so fancy. Personally, I just paint on my walls because it makes me happy. A dab here, a dab there...I draw a picture I want to look at for a while.
I thought I'd share a bit of my process.

1. Find inspiration and keep it simple. Probably my best mural was at our old house, and it was based on a children's book with simple colors.

2. Gather some acrylic house paint, preferably flat or clearance, you want to use. In a pinch I've used craft paint or artist paint to adjust a color or make just a small amount.
Using leftover plastic food tubs, I mix the colors I plan to use. This is the same process I use with a landscape painting. Keep it to 4 or 5 colors, and make sure they look good together keeping in mind hue, shade, values, etc. If you don't know what those words mean - just stick to your inspiration piece colors.

3. Prime the surface if necessary. Then take vine charcoal and lay out a rough outline. Lay in your big blocks of color - doing all the browns, then blues, etc. I always love to start with the sky. I love skies. You can see this process clearly in the middle mural, which is only half done. It's been that way for awhile, but I enjoy it just as it is. Come back in, usually on another day, with a different color or another layer. Don't overdo the project, just enjoy.

One son wanted a rainbow by his bed - so he has one. His bed was too messy to take a picture of the rainbow. We have a few palm trees in our upstairs bathroom - just cause it reminded me of Curious George Gets a Job.

4. When you are relatively happy sign your name and date it in a corner - I'm so glad I did this so now I know when I did each mural. It's ok to make changes, etc.

I know some people worry about ruining the walls, but really, you can paint over it if you don't like it. Especially if you use a "dry brush" technique. That means your brush is not loaded with paint that dries with little ridges - a dry brush shows the brush marks (see Under the Sea).

Mostly have fun...they are just walls. The only murals I don't like are the ones where the painter is stiff and timid. Where it looks like it was painful. If your mural "primitive" or "organic" that's ok, no one said you have to create a Michaelangelo.

Last secret - go BIG - cover all four walls with something simple. It makes a big impression.

Let me know if I've inspired you, I'd be glad to share my experiences with anyone wanting to try a mural themselves.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Starfire Stained Glass

I just posted one of my quilt-like stained glass piece, my husband named it. I liked the name because the red does seem fiery from across the room.

Now, how to take pictures of stained glass?!? I think that's going to take some time and maneuvering.

First, I really need to go to my mom's farm where there are trees...and no toys or swing sets. Her house could be good for nice window shots, but storm clouds are rolling in so I didn't haul glass over there today.

I'd also like some clean shots like in a photo box - but stained glass needs to be backlit to really see the colors. I'm on a mission now. I need something big and sturdy to hold stained glass, with lot's of light, and an option for backlighting. Either a box, or a draped set up out back. I have nice north side lighting in my backyard.

I did a light can I come up with a stained glass photography set up?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Free Homemade Lightbox

I love free. I love homemade. Put them together and I'm a happy camper.

For a while now I've been trying to figure out how I can get a lightbox. After much deliberation I decided to have Shawn take a 18"x24" hole out of my beloved art table. This meant I had to give up the deep top drawer to make the lightbox.

It turns out, the drawer on my grinder station is exactly the right size for the two organizers that got displaced. And what do ya know, it was just filled with sponges, rags, and junk. Cleaned out there's room for everything.

For the light box: we used some white trim pieces stashed in the garage to form a ledge for the glass. A piece of glass from an art piece I made years ago was sprayed with some leftover window spray. I did not want to paint my drawer white (I like my beat up table as it is) so I used a piece of illustration board instead. I used a fluorescent light I got at a garage sale years ago which now fits perfectly in the drawer.

Hurray! You can see the 14x17 panel I'm working on top of the lightbox. I'm at the grinding stage - getting all the pieces to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Tonight I should get it wrapped with copper foil.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Childhood Memories

Yesterday we did some clearing out in our storage room, and I found some old papers from when I was a child that made me smile.  My mom has most of the pictures I did as a kid, but I have a folder filled with Lisa creative stuff.  All things I made as a kid: house plans, mazes, maps, a and a start to a novel.  It brings back memories of losing myself in creativity.

My favorite was a "country" I made up, wrote a report on like it was real, and made a dozen or so maps of - political boundaries, urban centers, etc.  You can tell I read the World Book quite a bit, because my country has the information you would find in an encyclopedia entry.  I found out my Grandpa read an entire set of encyclopedias when he was a kid, and I think I was trying to do the same.   

I put it all back in a storage tub, but the memories continue to make me smile.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Roses and clematis

Hurray! Patience does pay off.  It  takes time to build a really nice garden.  My clematis gave me a good reminder when it bloomed for the first time.  It took 4 years, but it looks exactly like I planned intwined with the roses!

The roses are a dark pink so I chose purple for the clematis.  Both would look great against my yellow house - really pop.  Except the clematis didn't take off as fast as the roses.  I've accidently pulled them, and the boys have tromped on them more than once.  But it never died so I left it where it was and tried new things to protect it (rocks around the base so I know where it is).

What a good lesson for me.  I forget that as I get my etsy shop up and running that it takes time to build up a following for any business. If I do what I need to nurture it along and I stick with it...all will work out as it should.  Do your best, leave the rest to God.

Last night I sketched out a stained glass panel of the clematis and roses...can't wait to start cutting the glass, although I might change the colors of the flowers.  I just did a purple crocus panel and I'd like to use a different color.  Right now I'm off to wrap copper foil around a purple and blue panel I'm working on.  What fun!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Seasonal Gardening Rhythm

One thing I like about gardening is watching nature's seasons unfold.  I hardly have time to mourn the dying back of the daffodils and grape hyacinths and suddenly the iris and peonies are blooming.  Here's a picture (clockwise) of the cat mint, virginia sweet spire, false indigo, and cottage pinks/dianthis all blooming at the same time.

On the other side of the path is my peony plant.  I fell in love with peonies when we lived in Montana.  We bought our house from an old bachelor who had let it go for 30 years after his mother passed away.  While cleaning up the flower beds I pulled dozens of reddish shoots before realizing those "weeds" must be flowers. They turned out to be peonies!  I treasured the remaining bush during the years we lived there.  Anything that can survive complete neglect for 30 years is my kind of flower.  

As soon as we bought our house in Louisburg I planted a peony.  The key to peonies is plant shallow and then leave them alone!  That's what I was told by a woman who had them lining her driveway.

The peonies are done now, and the seasonal rhythm has moved on to roses and lavender.  I can already see my daisies and echinacea getting ready for their chance to shine with their summer blooms. 

Last night I split my daisies, after the bumblebees had gone to bed.