Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hearing in Color

When I hear music, I see paintings in my head. When I hear words, I see color. That's how my brain works, and I thank God for it. So listening to music and drawing and painting go hand in hand for me. Some of the most artistically inspiring music for me comes from a group called The Innocence Mission. Their song Bright As Yellow, written by Karen Peris, from their CD "Glow", is a favorite. Click the link and have a listen.

Bright As Yellow

And you live life with your arms reached out.
Eye to eye when speaking.
Enter rooms with great joy shouts,
Happy to be meeting.
And bright,
bright as yellow,
warm as yellow.
And I do not want to be a rose.
I do not wish to be pale pink,
But flower scarlet, flower gold.
And have no thorns to distance me,
but be bright,
bright as yellow,
warm as yellow.
Even if I'm shining, even if I'm shining here inside.
Even if I'm shouting, do you see that I'm wanting,
that I want to be so
bright as yellow,
warm as yellow.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Life imitates art

Partner in Crafty Crime: The Living Room

Elizabeth Shippen Green: The Library

Friday, July 24, 2009

Where I learn to make lemon curd...

...or more importantly, how I learned to zest a lemon.

I really like lemon curd, and was really excited when a friend invited me to her home to teach me how to make it. Since a jar of good lemon curd can be quite expensive, I jumped at the chance. I never realized how something so luxurious could be so simple to make. What you'll need - lemons, butter, sugar, eggs, and a double boiler. The recipe came from

I've heard it said that if you can read a recipe, you can cook. But I am a visual learner, so watching my friend do it was helpful to me. Here are two tips that I learned from watching: (1) I have always found zesting (or grating) a lemon difficult, a lot of work with little result. My friend showed me that zesting is best done in a circular motion against the grater, not with straight strokes like planing a door, which is how I had always done it. Brilliant! (2) When adding the eggs to the sugar, you must keep whisking so as not to let the eggs scramble and leave a bunch of eggy bits in the curd.

We made some scones and a pot of tea to go with the lemon curd. Delicious! By the way, warm gingerbread and lemon curd go together very nicely as well.

"Come along inside...we'll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place" - The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Seeing is...

I took this picture the other morning. I hadn't planned to. I just got finished picking tomatoes and basil from the garden, and plopped the bowl down on the table. Something about it--the light in the room, maybe--struck me as pretty. So I grabbed my camera and took a shot. As you can see, I can claim no picture-taking ability whatsoever. But I was happy with the outcome. It always amazes me how much beauty can be found in everyday things--that's what I was hoping the photo would capture.

Jan Vermeer is one of my favorite painters. He had an incredible gift of being able to see beauty in simple everyday tasks and record them on canvas. His paintings literally glow. The first painting I ever saw was Vermeer's Maid Pouring Milk. I was five or six years old. My dad had pointed it out from a book he was reading to me. I would go back to that book again and again just to look at the picture. There's something about it that I found comforting. Years later I was lucky enough to find a framed print of it at a yard sale, and it now hangs in my kitchen. I still get the same enjoyment out of it now that I did then. I don't know how a painting of a woman performing a simple domestic task can convey so much dignity and beauty, but it does. God's mark is in the ordinary.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Paper, Scissors, Glue....

My partner in crafty crime and I both like castles. We've never seen a real one, but someday... So the next best thing, in our estimation, is this little project from the Bellerophon Book Castles to cut out and put together. The book features two castles--the White Tower and the Chateau Gaillard--with a brief history of each. The challenge for both of us will be the cutting out of small pieces, for which we have little patience. But hopefully our interest in the subject will help us to overcome.


P.S. Before we started, my partner in crafty crime decided to make a gingerbread cake with strawberries and whipped cream. Good idea, just in case the castle thingy doesn't work out, let them eat cake....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hot Plate

Here's a fun experiment using an old hot plate or warming tray, canvas paper, and a box of crayons or oil pastels.

If you don't have a warming tray, you can often find one at a thrift store for a few dollars. That's where I found mine. Plug it in, place the paper on top, and start to sketch with the pastels or crayons. You can even mix them. As the tray warms, the colors will begin to liquify. Oooh la la! Now the fun begins.

Your once solid crayon or pastel now becomes your paintbrush. You usually have to press hard to start, but after awhile, your touch should be light. If you find the colors are getting muddy or running together in a way you don't like, lift the paper off the tray and let the paper cool for a few seconds. The first time I tried this I didn't care for my results, but I kept at and now I love it.

Just a caution - I've never burned myself on the warming tray, but then again my husband says I have hands of asbestos. The old trays do not have heat adjusters, but ordinarily they don't get really hot--just warm. In saying this, I would not have younger children do this activity unsupervised.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oil Pastels

I love playing with oil pastels; melting, mashing, layering--depending on what I want to achieve. Sometimes I use them straight out of the box with pastel paper, but my favorite thing is to set them out in the sun until they get all soft and melty. Then I rub them into canvas board to see what happens. You can rub the color in with the pastel and blend it with your fingers. And if you don't like something, you can scrape it away with a knife, and start again. I've also found that using the knife can help mash the colors into the textured surface of the canvas.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making stuff

My most vivid memory of loving to make things was in third grade. I had made a castle out of sugar cubes for a history project. I dreaded going to school. School always made me anxious. But I remembered just sitting there, perfectly content, gluing the cubes together to build a castle wall. I was in the zone. I don't remember if I ever finished that project. What I do remember is how I felt creating it--pure joy.

I have always had a need to make things. But what is curious to me is that I am much more interested in process than in product. It can be so satisfying just to learn how, and if something beautiful comes out of it, even better. But just a mess is okay, too.

I had an art teacher who once said, "If you start a painting expecting a masterpiece, you'll get nothing. But if you go at it for the joy of it, willing to take risks, you just might have a masterpiece in the end." I thought it would be fun to take a risk by starting a blog and sharing with anyone who is interested in my messes and successes. Here we go....


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