Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Frog Went-a-Courtin' & a Montana Wedding

I've always been nuts for children's books, illustrations, toys, etc. - for myself - having Miranda in the picture means the window's thrown open and I can free fall into the magical world I love so much. One of my absolute favorites is Richard Scarry. Anything Richard Scarry. Jared doesn't quite understand or appreciate it so much...he claims to like just one particular type of Richard Scarry illustration. Of course it hasn't stopped me from filling the Bird's eyes & ears with plenty of "Best Word Book Ever" or "I am a Bunny" (Jared actually likes that one), or "Best Storybook Ever" (my favorite, and maybe my brother's too).

I have a few even older classics...there are the fantastic 1920's Babar books by Jean de Brunhoff, and a gorgeously illustrated book from Mexico - "Nine Days To Christmas" - from my parents (they lived in Mexico City once upon a time).

And then there's "Over in the Meadow" and "Frog Went a Courtin'" by John Langstaff. The illustrations in these Langstaff books are by Feodor Rojankovsky and they are sweet yet rustic, simple yet very deep - colored pencil rendered in a way I could never think to pull off. Even better about the books is that they are actually folksongs so you can sing along rather than just read (I often hear Jared turning Miranda's books into songs while reading to her at bedtime - cute).

I just listened to a great version of "Frog Went a Courtin" as a folksong by Elizabeth Mitchell. While humming along to the catchy fun story of a wedding celebration that in the end goes awry, I was reminded of my sister in-law Stephani & her wedding 2 Junes ago to her sweetie Merlyn. They married in gorgeous Montana, a week after ice storms & just before Summer heat set in. It was an amazing day and I was so privileged to be a part of it. Oh, and nothing really went awry like in the book, it was all very magical and sweet (except for all the clean up we did after the party, hahah ;o). My mother-in-law asked me to paint Stephani from that beautiful day and so I took on the task of a portrait. Sort of a scary proposition, challenging & thrilling at the same time.

And just this week I've finished.

Stephani and a herd of shaggy cows in a lush field beneath green mountains and a great big sky, on a very happy day.

Painted, varnished, and nearly packaged...soon to arrive in Texas.

I'm grateful to my favorite illustrators as well as impressionist painter Berthe Morisot and the amazing Carl Larsson for a wealth of inspiration.

Have a lovely day :o)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Under a rock, in the fog, & not letting go of Summer

I keep meaning to post about our Santa Cruz adventure from well over a week ago but life's been getting in the way I suppose. Miranda caught a cold (??) and has been very needy/clingy. It's about the only time she's ever been sick before which we're grateful for, and she seems so much happier today.

We had a huge downpour of rain last night...if you lived here you'd understand how unusual a heavy rain in September is. I had just come in from a run, Jared was trying to get Miranda to bed (apparently she screamed and cried Mama the whole time I was gone :o(, and the skies just opened up and started to dump. And then dumped some more, all night. Jared scrambled to get all our tools & miscellaneous junk inside while I held Miranda who was thrilled watching the rain.

Our gutters and downspouts are in terrible condition and I had placed a large watering can under a huge stream of water coming off the back of the house. Apparently Jared emptied and replaced it two more times after that - yikes. We are not ready for rain yet!

Over the weekend we rented an auger for a half day and Jared wrestled with it (Ever used one of those? Good grief!) to bore out several deep holes and a trench for our gas line to the bbq island we built. I've designed some neat climbing vines trellises and needed deep holes to hold the redwood posts for the support structure. Privacy screens are in our very immediate future! Privacy screens with purple passionflower that is... That night Jared had to ice his wrist from all that auger abuse, poor guy.

I'm so close to finishing the portrait commission for Jared's parents. Portraits are unusual beasts...I feel like I'm not only painting it for Jared's parents and seeking their approval on it, but also for Jared's sister - I hope she'll feel like I captured her likeness. I know I would feel sensitive about a portrait of myself. How we see ourselves is often so different from how others view us.

The rain last night made me realize Summer is fading away. I've still got a bazillion tomatoes on the vines of course. And the most amazing Charentais melons you've ever tasted. I told Jared my plan for next year is to have so many that I can have one every morning for breakfast :o) I'd die a happy death with a melon a day. This time of year also means a change of focus. Finishing the portrait, moving on to a concentration in textile design, planning for the Fall sale I always do, and thinking about how to wrap up this year in a way that will make me feel satisfied & content that we put our energies & ideas into the right places. Once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator. I heart deadlines.

Well, sounds like the Bird drifted off...I'm off to finish up the painting. Have a lovely Monday and I hope to be back sooner than I promised last time :o)


Friday, September 4, 2009

I'd like purple for lunch please

This is what happened to my sausage, kale, and white bean stew when I thought it would be extra nice to toss in the red cabbage too. Purple everything! Well, except for the kale which has kept its gorgeous green. But purple cannellini beans, purple sausage (appetizing?), even the rice it's sitting next to in the bowl has taken on a purplish cast. Powerful stuff. Oh, and it was actually quite yummy :o)

I'll be back later in the weekend...this little post is all I had time for tonight.



Lately my blog posts have been few and far between and mainly its been due to the fact that its been difficult to take pictures. My Nikon kit lens (which is a really really nice lens!) has been acting up since early August and it's been such a bummer. It seizes up while attempting to focus and spits out these sad whirr-thump sounds :o( My awesome gearhead husband wants to take a shot at fixing it and in the meantime thought it'd be a good time to invest in another lens.

Enter Tokina!

I am not - truly not - a real "photographer". I admire many photographers (my brother is one, so is my sister-in-law). I have mostly taken photos from necessity. To capture and document my work (murals & paintings), for promotion & for my website, and of course for the everyday life moments. But lately, and blame it on the awesome Nikon D80, I have been falling in love with photography and earning respect for all you photographers. There is so much to learn, and wow, when you know how to do certain things with your camera, your photos can really sing.

So while Jared works on my kit lens, I've begun to play with this very interesting Tokina lens. It's a wide angle - 11-16mm. Not super wide, but plenty wide enough. With very little distortion around the edges (way better than the wide angle I had on my Canon powershot). I can literally hold the camera 3 inches from the Bird's face and get a clear shot of her with tons of room around, and beautiful focus. Very intriguing.

I can also capture things like this (sorry, the blogger page I have cuts off my horizontally oriented photos...must.fix.this.soon):

And this:

I'm going to keep learning about this lens and will hopefully begin to take beautiful photos with it. My photos aren't exactly earth shattering, haha, but I'm totally enjoying the process.

Oh, and the post yesterday "Bananas for bananas" - were you wondering what the heck?? It was just that kind of day. A really ehh kind of day. The kind I don't like to rehash and talk about. BUT...that was just till about 4pm. After that things got much better. I'll share more on that as well as share photos from our little road trip and the meet & greet with someone very special whose work I really admire.

If I get time later today I'll post about it. Otherwise probably this weekend. Right now it's time to take advantage of the Bird's nap (halleluia) and work more on the portrait commission. It's looking pretty swell but there's much more to be done.

Lovely day to you!

Thursday, September 3, 2009