Category Archives: Creative efforts

Taking Things Apart

One thing you can always count on if you sew, knit, crochet, whatever. You’re going to have to take things apart. You’ll rip out seams and stitches – rippit rippit rippit.

I learned how to sew when I was in junior high school. Girls were required to take two semesters of “home economics.” One semester was sewing, the other was cooking. I actually retained some of the sewing. Probably because my mom sewed and let me use her machine when I wanted to make something. I remember a pair of bell-bottom pants I made with a crazy paisley border print. Yeah, cutting edge fashion, baby. 1970.

After all the time between then and a few years ago, when I got my own sewing machine, I decided to start making some of my own clothes for work. I’m a little out of practice.

Last summer I cut out a pants pattern for some simple pull-on cotton pants in a gray print and a khaki color. I figured I’d cut them to the largest size given since I was gaining weight at that point. Yesterday, I finally got around to starting to put one pair together.

Then I had to take everything apart again because the pants would be way too big. WAY too big. Oh, yeah. I lost the weight I gained last summer. In a way, I guess I was anticipating having to rip all those seams out. I didn’t do any fancy back-stitching at the ends of the seams to prevent them from loosening.

It’s a pain in the ass, though, because I was to the point of “finishing” the pants with the waistband and hems. And now I’m starting over. Including having to go back to the pattern to trim off some more fabric — in the right places — to make everything fit.

That’s life, too, it seems. So many times I thought I’d set my feet on a path I could follow indefinitely, only to find that I was going the wrong way or for some other reason had to retrace my steps or take an indefinite detour. I’ve had to do that a lot.

Maybe I’m not so out of practice at this sewing stuff as I thought.

Painting lesson

I thought it might be fun to show, step by step, my process of making a painting using acrylic paints. Much as I like watercolors, the cost of matting and framing, not to mention using the right kind of glass, is just too high priced for my current budget.  A lot of my watercolors, consequently, are tucked away in portfolios for however long it takes for me to get prosperous enough to take proper care of them. On the other hand, like oil paintings, acrylic paintings can go in a frame with no mat or glass, or you can simply hang them on the wall, especially if the paining is done on canvas or linen attached to a stretcher frame with the staples out of sight on the back side. Like the one below. (Okay, that wall is not pink. Digital cameras are weird. Just sayin’.)

The painting that really got me started with acrylics.

The painting that really got me started with acrylics.

I went to a painting “class” to benefit one of my other favorite places in the world, the local university’s Biodiversity and Research Teaching Collections. Our instructor had all the ready-to-use canvases, paints, brushes, and sea turtle cut-outs if we wanted to use them. Everything else was up to us.

Since I was new to acrylics, but knew that it’s a very forgiving medium (if you don’t like something, just wait for it to dry and paint over it), I just started playing with shades of blue, green, and white — blending them on my paper-plate pallette, blending them on the canvas — trying to create a watery background. I ended up liking the results, the process, the fact that the class was held in a wine bar…

After I got back to my own “studio,” I decided not to worry about subject matter for my paintings, but just play with colors and practice brush strokes, etc. I already posted some of the paintings I did during this phase, and here I want to show the step by step process of making a painting. Although I forgot to take a picture of the very first step — the base coat, followed by adding sky and ground, I can say that I used cerulean blue and white for the sky with loopy brushstrokes and a flat brush, to make some swirly “wind” effects.

Blue sky and fall foilage

Blue sky and fall foliage, a bit blah at this stage

The “ground” color started out as yellow ochre mixed with parchment (unbleached titanium is about the same off-white color), to which I added all these trees showing off their fall colors.

These are the four colors I used.

These are the four colors I used.

Check out that paintbrush. It’s called “chisel” because the edge is chopped into that comb shape. You’ll see the neat effects it creates. The colors are cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue, sap green, and burnt sienna. I also used cad red when I was painting the background trees. These colors are for the next phase.

So add an evergreen in the foreground.

So add an evergreen in the foreground.

See what that paintbrush does?

How to make "pine" green

How to make “pine” green

And then you need dark gray for darker shadows and tree trunks

And then you need dark gray for darker shadows and tree trunks

The contrasts add some interest.

The contrasts add some interest, but it’s still missing something

Highlights on the fir tree, non-earthbound life forms finish it off.

Highlights on the fir trees, and non-earthbound life forms finish it off.

And then I just play around with the leftover paint, plus some red

And then I just play around with the leftover paint, plus some red


How I spent my summer, part 1

Remember when you were a kid in school and the teacher had you write an essay on the first day back after summer vacation all about what you did? Do I hear groans of recognition? Yes. Well. It’s that time of year again. School will be starting again for lots of kids, and plenty of adults as well — me included. It will also soon be time for my high school class reunion, and I’ll refrain from mentioning how many years. But I started thinking about some of my high school classes and teachers, and thought I’d blend some of my artsy stuff into my reminiscing stuff and share a bit. This first painting is the result.

Recreation of a high school art project

Recreation of a high school art project.

One of the projects the teacher had us do was a “non-objective” painting. Mine looked something like the one above.  I figured I’d get a bad grade because the painting looked like giant yellow eggs sitting in “trees.” Instead, the teacher liked it so much she hung it on the wall at the front of the class for the rest of the semester. I was kind of embarrassed. Weird, huh?

I was a bit hot under the collar when I did this

I was a bit hot under the collar when I did this.

I remember learning in my driver’s ed class to avoid driving while in an “emotional state.” Considering all the road rage out there, I guess they don’t teach that anymore. Whatever. No one ever said not to paint while in an emotional state. Once when I was mad, I tried to paint a volcano erupting. It was garbage. This time, I decided to just try and evoke the lava, rather than the whole volcano and surrounding countryside. I used only four colors: yellow ochre, azo yellow, cadmium red, and burnt umber. It was very therapeutic. And, hey, I’d hang it on my wall.

Gotta love fireworks!

Gotta love fireworks!

This was a lot of fun. But then, fireworks always are. These, however, are safe even in extreme drought conditions. They also don’t scare the dogs.

Imaginary nebula as seen from an imaginary telescope.

Imaginary nebula as seen from an imaginary telescope.

When I got finished with this one, I had to laugh. I call it the “My Little Flying Pony Nebula.” I’ve always loved images of stuff in deep space, taken by the Hubble and other telescopes. Always wanted to try and capture those colors. I see many more paintings like this in my future.

Just three colors went into this one.

Just three colors went into this one.

My “alien landscape” was a surprise, as well. I used three colors: vermilion, cerulean blue, and parchment. I stared with cerulean at the top, then blended in the parchment toward the middle. It was the first time I got that to work the way I wanted. Then I worked up from the bottom with the vermilion. Don’t ask me why I wanted garish red land/ocean — I really don’t know. I just like the color. I may have been thinking of a sunset when I started out, but then I just started playing with the brush, jabbing it against the surface, and I started liking how it made tree-like/rock-like shapes. I needed something a little darker in the foreground, so I added some cerulean to the vermilion. I was not expecting the indigo blue. But I really liked it.

And, yes, I threw all the paintings on the floor of my kitchen/breakfast room in front of the patio door to photograph them. It was the only place I could get almost good enough light. Obviously, there is room for improvement in all my artsy methods.🙂

New Year’s bonus

Line drawing of horse

And for the equid enthusiasts out there...

Colored drawing of bay Arab

Bet on the Bay

The Snow cat, again

Snow leopard on black paper

A do-over with different materials

I wasn’t altogether happy with my previous attempt to put this cat on paper, so I started over. So far, I’m liking it. Still a way to go. My source for the original photo, Brian Switek, has moved his primary blog, but the photo is still on the wall at the old place. I hope he likes this version.

I’ll be posting updates as I progress.


Completed Blue Heeler portrait


Toy Fox Terrier portrait


“Brown paper exercise”

Mona Lisa pup in progress

Someone's precious pup

My version of the basic “brown paper exercise.” Still a work in progress.

Update, minus photo

I have finished the drawing of Tag, the Blue Heeler/Australian Cattle Dog for the friend of my cousin who has been waiting for it for some time. Mea culpa, I plead technical difficulties which delayed my starting on it sooner.

But I’m not posting a photo of the finished product until after it’s in the hands of it’s new owner. That only seems fair. Instead I offer a first look at a new project, which is a *secret, Christmas present* project, that I may not be able to show further progress on until after it, too, has gone to its new home.

Preliminary drawing

Just a bunch of lines at the moment

Update Number Two

I’m pleased to report that I’ll have this finished and in the hands of it’s rightful owner before Christmas. The light has been kind of iffy lately — we actually had some cloudy and overcast days in this part of Drought Central. Of course those clouds produced very little in the way of rain. Now that we’re back in the grips of the all-sun-all-the-time weather pattern, I can get some more art work done.

Portrait of a Blue Heeler

Closing in on done

Project update

Recent work on my drawing of “Tag.” He sure has been good at “holding still!”

Portrait of blue heeler in progress

Coming right along