Monthly Archives: April 2014

Greens

There’s a giant collard plant in my backyard. I know it’s not going to be there forever and it’s so pretty I’ve asked my husband not to harvest it until I get a chance to paint it. The problem is, my skills are not up to painting my backyard garden. I did a small study about a week ago and it frustrated me enough that I immediately pulled out a piece of printer paper and tried again. I used printer paper in the hope that I could relax about the outcome, since it was obviously not going to be anything permanent. I was just trying to figure out that big collard plant. Here’s the small study:

Greens study

Greens study


Here’s the printer paper version:
Greens study 2

Greens study 2


That was as far as I got last week. I needed to breathe for a while and stop feeling so frustrated about my lack of skill. I could see some of the problems right away but others were just completely mysterious. How do I make the background agree to be background and stop trying to be foreground? How do I shut up my left brain, which knows exactly how big the trellis is, and just paint what I can see, which is a lot less of it than I know is there? How do I do that gorgeous collard plant justice?

I tried again today, with a real canvas, and I still have all my questions. I do like this one a little better than the study, but problems are pretty much all I can see. I’m sharing it anyway. It’s a painting and it counts, even if it was an exercise in frustration. I want to paint landscapes, so I have to try, but I sure have a lot to learn. Learning takes time. Even if I don’t much care for the painting, I am learning how to hold a brush and how to pick up paint and how to cover empty spaces with it. I’m trying things. If they don’t work, I’m learning that I need to try other things. It’s called “trial and error” for a reason. Even if it makes me uncomfortable (and oh, it does make me uncomfortable), it’s helping me learn how to paint. The important thing is that I am not giving up.

Greens

Greens


I don’t absolutely hate the whole painting. I do like the bird feeder, which is interesting because I hadn’t originally planned to include it. You may be wondering why I didn’t include any birds. That’s one question that’s easy to answer. The cardinals didn’t show up and there was no way I was going to paint those big, fat, greedy doves.

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Still Painting

I think it’s time to admit that I will not be joining my daughter in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I just have too much going on and I can’t crank out the words as easily as my daughter can. She’s set a goal of fifty thousand words in the month of April and she already has nearly forty thousand. She will reach her goal. I will let this one pass me by and hope to get back on the bandwagon in July. That’s the next session of Camp NaNoWriMo and by then I will have survived the grueling tie-dye marathon that others call April and May.

So far, I am still managing to do a little bit of painting. While I was in North Carolina, I tried a small landscape. I did it from life, but I did not go out in the snow. I set up my paints on the windowsill of my sister’s cottage and painted what I could see out the window. I was excited about the unexpected snow but, of course, I had never tried to paint snow before. I don’t get too many chances to paint snow in Florida.

Windowsill set-up

Windowsill set-up


I’m proud of this little study because I successfully used my new scumbling brush to create texture on the trees. Look – I scumbled!
Scumbled trees

Scumbled trees


More recently, I’ve been adding to my series of itty bitty paintings of vegetables. Last week, I painted a red onion.
Onion

Onion


This week, I painted three different potatoes (red, russet and sweet) in a blue bowl.
Potatoes

Potatoes


These are not the only things I’ve worked on lately, but the others were studies that have not yet developed into anything I want to share. I get excited when I paint a decent potato and then I try things that are way beyond my skills. In times past, my unsuccessful attempts would have made me give up, but not now. I just keep telling myself that I’m a beginner and I have a lot to learn. Learning takes time. I am going to put in the time. I’ve made a commitment.

Last year, I didn’t publish a single blog post in April, May or June. In July, I committed to posting at least once a week and I haven’t missed a week since. Commitment makes a difference.

One Spark

Warning: This is going to be a picture-heavy post. It is also going to be a Jacksonville-centric post. Jacksonville, Florida is where I live and I don’t often get a chance to brag about it, but I’m bragging today, because today, my daughter and I went to One Spark.

What’s One Spark, you say? If you live in Jacksonville and you’re saying that, you really need to come out from under your rock a bit more often. One Spark is a huge crowdfunding festival and it’s happening right now in downtown Jacksonville. It continues through Sunday, April 13, 2014, so (if you’re reading this near its posting date) you still have plenty of time to experience it. You should; it’s awesome.

The point of One Spark is to give Creators a chance to get the attention of investors who can help them make their creative dreams real. Thanks to some generous sponsors, there are big pots of money to be won, but any and all people who attend have the opportunity to support any project that wows them. That’s where the crowdfunding comes in. One person may only have a few dollars to give, but there were forty thousand visitors there the first day. If only a fraction of them decide to give what they can to a favorite project, their contributions could add up quickly, and I sure hope they do, because we saw some amazing projects.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. It all started with free parking at the convention center and a free ride on the Automated Skyway Express.

Skyway

Skyway


This took us to Hemming Plaza, where we checked in at the One Spark kiosk. You need to check in to vote and contribute, so by all means, check in. We saw lots of cool things in Hemming Plaza, including a tipi under a tree and a giant goldfish in the fountain.
Tipi

Tipi


goldfish

goldfish


It was hard to decide where to go from there. Art and entrepreneurs were everywhere. We saw art being made right in front of us.
Art

Art


We saw it passing by.
Bigwheel

Bigwheel


We saw the amazing new mural by Shaun Thurston in the atrium of the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Atrium Project

Atrium Project


My daughter plunked herself down on the floor to take it in. After a while, my purse started feeling heavy, so I told her I would sit on a bench while she finished doing whatever it was she was doing.
Appreciating

Appreciating


“Appreciating,” she said.

Once we were finished appreciating, we started to feel hungry. There were many options, including a food court, but my daughter had seen a restaurant with potstickers on the menu, so her choice was already made. It turned out to be a good choice. She had the potstickers and I had the tofu curry. It was almost too pretty to eat, but I somehow forced myself.

Pretty food

Pretty food


The restaurant was Pho – A Noodle Bar. As soon as she tasted her potstickers, my daughter started texting all her friends to recommend this restaurant. I don’t text, but I blog, so I’ll add my recommendation here. Go to Pho. The prices are reasonable and the food is wonderful. The service is prompt and friendly, too.
Yes, that's my reflection in the window

Yes, that’s my reflection in the window


Once food had been acquired, I went in search of coffee, which I found in the place my daughter calls the Temple of the Money Gods (the Bank of America building), which had some interesting Creators in the lobby. Then we went to another Temple of the Money Gods (the Wells Fargo building) to check out the Creators on the second floor. I kept seeing the word “EdSpark” and wondering who Ed was until it finally hit me that all these Creators were trying to to fund projects that were educational. My daughter homeschools her children, so we spent a lot of time at EdSpark. I found a great quote on the wall.
Great quote

Great quote


I also found a place where I could be photographed with deely boppers, a feather boa and butterfly wings. Sorry about my expression; I think I was trying to explain the camera to my daughter.
Cheer up, Butterfly

Cheer up, Butterfly


EdSpark alone had over forty Creators. Once we made it out of there, it was getting late and we needed to head back to Hemming Plaza so we could catch the Skyway back to the convention center. On the way, we saw this:
Yarn bombing and worms

Yarn bombing and worms


There was so much amazing art and enterprise at One Spark that we could only see a fraction of it in one day. While I was writing this post, my daughter called to ask me if we could go back tomorrow and take the kids.

Of course, I said “Yes.” We should really be making tie-dye, but One Spark only comes once a year.

Weekend Fun

I blogged early last week because I was going out of town for a long weekend in the mountains. My husband and I have a small piece of property in Western North Carolina and he wanted to visit before the trees and shrubs leafed out, so he could see the true lay of the land. Our bit of hillside is just over a ridge from my sister’s property, where she and her husband built a cottage last fall. The cottage will be their summer place and they were hoping to live in it a bit last year before wintering in Florida, but it wasn’t finished in time, so this was their first visit, as well as their first time hosting guests.

We had been keeping an eye on the weather for weeks, trying to find a time when the travel and access would be safe for Florida flatlanders in a two-wheel-drive vehicle. We chose this past weekend because there were supposed to be two days of full sun after a couple of rainy days, one of which would be our travel day. We figured we’d be okay as long as there was no frozen precipitation.

We left here early Friday morning and enjoyed a reasonably dry trip on the interstate, where we saw early spring flowers in the fields and on the fences throughout Georgia and South Carolina. In North Carolina, the only color came from daffodils, but they were everywhere. The gravel road to the cottage was a little wet, but easily passable. We had run into some brief showers on the road, but no heavy rain, and we hoped Saturday would be the same.

We slept in a bit on Saturday because we had celebrated our first evening in the new cabin with wine and Whist. I’m not very good at wine (I took a sip to toast our first night in the new cottage) but I’m great at Whist. Well…I’m great at having a good time at Whist even if I’m not getting good cards and I keep having to play forced fours. I love Whist as long as there’s a hope that I might get a good hand the next time. Whist and Chicken Foot are the only things that will keep me up past nine o’clock.

We went to town on Saturday to do a little shopping. It was gray and wet in Burnsville. That made it a good day to get in some groceries and sundries. When we started to get hungry, we decided to go to Spruce Pine. There was a pizza restaurant there with a microbrewery. We had tried to check it out on previous trips but never managed to catch it on a day that it was open. Saturday seemed like a good bet and it sure wasn’t a good day for sight-seeing.

We were just sitting down in the pizza place when my sister got a phone call from her North Carolina neighbor, alerting her to a new weather forecast which included the possibility of snow. Snow? We had chosen this weekend because there was no ice or snow in the forecast! Now they were saying we might get one to three inches during the night. We enjoyed our pizza (my husband enjoyed his flight of six tiny glasses of beer) and then headed to a grocery store to make sure we would have enough food to get us through Sunday, just in case there was enough snow to keep us from wanting to chance the gravel road. Some folks were still saying there might be no snow, or it might not stick if it fell.

Back at the cottage, we played more Whist and went to bed pretty late, with no sign of snow coming down outside. My brother-in-law was the first one up in the morning and asked us if we had looked out the window.

“Is there snow?” we said.

He didn’t answer, so we got up and looked out the window. Yes, there really was snow! There was a light dusting on all the trees and on the ground and on the front porch of the cottage. We wouldn’t have come if we’d known it was going to snow, but it sure was a nice treat to see it from the warm coziness of the cottage. Of course, my husband had to go out on the porch and build a tiny snowman.

The sun came out in the afternoon and melted all the snow, but the snowman will live forever, because I painted this itty bitty portrait.

Tiny painting of tiny snowman

Tiny painting of tiny snowman