Saturday, August 30, 2008

Virtual Sketch Date

Today is the day we have to submit our cabbage drawings or paintings for the August Virtual Sketch Date.

Here is mine. I wanted strong color. I don't think I have ever painted a cabbage before but I really enjoyed it.

This was my first time participating in the sketch date and I plan to continue. It will be interesting to see what everyone else came up with.

12x9 140 wc paper

see you soon


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Canning Tomatoes

I know, I know no new paintings and no new crafts, but its that time of year. Between Back to School shopping for my now "must be hip" 10yr old and canning I been busy.
Canning in Canada is an institution. I usually only can tomatoes and salsa. My Mom makes the pickles. I also freeze apple and peach pies, and cabbage rolls. If I'm really ambitious I'll do perogies too.
This weekend we went to Heritage Park for their vegetable sale. "Produce at old time prices "was the slogan. Luckily we took the wagon. 75lbs of tomatoes for $15.00!!!!
Anyhow it was cool and rainy yesterday so a good time to can ...... the kids decided to help.
(that only lasted for 40lbs or so)
It was a good afternoon project though. They also had fun designing the label.
oh well, back to the pies, shopping, etc.,etc.
see you soon

Monday, August 25, 2008

Beet Leaf Rolls Tutorial

I know this has nothing to do with painting or kid's crafts but this is a very old family recipe. It is Ukrainian in origin and I have only come across it in other old Ukrainian families who settled in Alberta.

It sounds a bit exotic using beet leaves but they are packed with lots of healthy stuff for you. ( high in Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc, Vitamins A, C, E, and fiber )

My kids and husband LOVE them and eat them like candy. They are a family tradition and I grow beets just for the leaves in my veggie garden. So before you throw away those beet leaves when you are making borscht or roasting them try this instead. Your family will thank you!!

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: 30-35 beet leaves (about the size of your palm), choose newer
leaves not old leathery ones
2 cups of cooked rice (you want sticky short grain it holds
together better)
2 Tablespoons fresh Dill, chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
Sour Cream
Salt to taste

You want to wash your leaves first in cold water. Leave them in your sink and plug it for the next step.

Now you need to wilt your leaves.

Add enough boiling water from your kettle to cover them and let them sit a while until the water cools down.

My mom told me in the olden days they wilted their leaves in the sun but I think it would dry them out too much. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make sure you get all the edges of the leaves under water.

While waiting for your leaves to cool make your rice. I put mine on to boil and wait until I see the little vent holes and most of the moisture is gone. I then cover, turn off the heat and let it sit a while. (10-15 minutes)

(see the little vents)

While waiting for your rice and leaves chop up your dill. When the rice is ready, you want it to be sticky, add your dill and some salt to taste.

When the water has cooled, drain your leaves. Now we make the rolls. Take a leaf, shake off the excess water and place on a cutting board. I like to trim out a section of stem on the bottom of the leaf because I find it too tough. Cut out the bottom inch or so of stem.

Sorry these photos are in the wrong position but for some reason blogger won't set them up right no matter what changes I make to the original, go figure.

Put leaf into your palm

Add a Tablespoon of rice into the center of the leaf.

Roll up, kind of like you roll up a burrito or taco. Place into a buttered casserole dish.

Keep layering the rolls into your dish until all the leaves are done.

Dot with butter on the top and placed covered into a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of salt if desired.

ENJOY, trust me you will look at beet leaves in a whole different way after this and they do become addictive.

As part of my MISTAKE MONDAY series I thought I would post a picture of my studio (really a room in the basement). I always get a kick out of seeing other artists and crafters post pictures of their extremely clean and organized work spaces. (like on Poppytalk)

They always look like nobody actually works there. My room is always a mess. The more projects I'm working on the messier. During the school year I'll have 2-3 projects I'm developing for art lessons on the go everyday. I don't have time to clean the room!!!
Every once and a while I will clean it up, usually when I'm looking for some special item to use for a project but most of the time it looks like this. Thankfully the rest of the house is usually clean and no I'm am not a hoarder. I just need a lot of supplies to come up with all the projects for school, Scouts, etc. So welcome to my MESS.

see you later,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to Make a Tonal Value Finder

Yesterday I talked about making your own tonal value finder or tool to help you when painting. Today I thought I would walk you thru it.

First you need the following:


red transparency film or acetate (check in scrapbooking supplies or even a clear red plastic doutang will work)


duct tape

exacto knife

Cut your red film to the size desired. Cut out 2 pieces of cardboard about 1 inch larger than red film on all sides.

Using your exacto knife cut out windows in your cardboard about 1/2 inch smaller than your red film piece.

Tape your red film in between your two cardboard pieces. Then tape the two cardboard pieces together around the edges.

Because I will be using mine in my field kit I taped all around the edges with duct tape so it will hold up to daily use.

To show you how this works here is the wc sketch of St. Paul's both before and after changes. The red mutes the colors to get you to focus on the value instead. This is a good tool to have when you don't have access to a computer, photocopier,etc. to view your painting in black and white.

Hope this helps.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

St. Paul's #2

Ok, so I wake up this morning and take a second look at my St. Paul's and go YUK!
Not what I was going after at all, I study the photo again to get a feel of what drew me to it in the first place.

Here they are, I couldn't get them to show side by side no matter how much I edited. I changed the sky trying to capture the sunlight coming in from the left. Increase the drama on the bottom of the cathedral because it's the contrast I liked.

I also added the tree branches for good or bad....but I think it adds to the composition. Now at least I can live with it.

Here are the same two wc sketches in black and white. I do this a lot to check my tonal values.

I been meaning to make a tonal value tool for my field kit. You just secure a piece of red transparency paper in a small mat. When you look thru it you can see your tonal values quite clearly. I'll try to make one today and post it tomorrow in case anyone is reading this.

well later

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

St. Paul's

Well we are back home from our BC vacation. It was a good unwind. The last few days were incredibly hot so not a lot of painting or crafts. We spent most of our time on the beach or in the lake.

Today I attempted some daily practice. I chose this photo that my hubby took of St. Paul's Cathedral. I liked the angle.

I have all these wonderful photos from places my husband has travelled to (work), unfortunately I have never seen them.

I started with a fairly detailed sketch, more than I usually do.

I laid down my first few washes.

Added in more detail and shadows as I went along.

I've just taken Shirley Trevena's book "Taking Risks with Watercolor" out of the library.

It is an incredibly inspiring book. Her style is so different and her color choices are breathtaking. I was trying to keep her in mind while I painted but its going to take a while. (...I'm maybe a little loose and undefined on the bottom...) anyhow it is a wonderful book and I'll probably review it over and over in the next 3 weeks.

Well here is where I called it quits. It was hard to keep my lines and the statue messes up the corner a bit. If I was taking more risks I could have made all my lines a bit wonky.

I'll keep at it.

see you later

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Painting Conundrums Part 2

Well here was that painting I was working on. I scrubbed out the end of the road because it looked like it was floating. I'll lower it to the base of the tree trunks.

I also scrubbed out the shadows a bit because I didn't like how they looked.

Here is a picture of the same road as it looked this afternoon.

I studied the shadows to see how to correct my painting.

I fixed the road now and I'm working on the shadows in this shot.

Here is the finished painting. I'm still not completely happy but I like it much better than before the fix.
I'll wait a day and it probably will grow on me.

Painting Conundrums

Here is some painting I've been working on in the last two days.

This is a Mission we visited during Easter in San Antonio, Texas. The sky was a very deep blue and the sun was very bright. I was trying to capture it here. My sky didn't take exactly as I had hoped. I was working on the back side of 140lb wc paper in my sketchbook. I try to paint on both sides of the paper when I'm practicing. The back side tends to repel the paint so its harder to lay down a wash.

This is a picture of the road in front of the cabin where we are now. I took it last year in the fall. The sunlight was very intense thru the trees. I decided to make some changes when I started painting. I wanted a more afternoon light feel with some shadow play on the road.

I got frustrated with it so I still have work to do and changes to make. The road seems to climbing into the sky so I'll have to fix that and the shadow play doesn't look right. I will watch the road this afternoon to get it right. I also have to unmask the birch tree trunks and fill in the details there. I'll post it when its done.

I wasn't going to post these as I wasn't exactly thrilled with them, but then I got thinking. I started this blog to motivate myself to paint everyday......I also started it to chronicle learning to paint which means the good and the bad. I tend to learn more from the bad parts anyway. So I'll try to show it, all warts included. Who knows maybe I'll start a "Mistakes Monday" group to share the angst.
I do know that I have learned that watercolor is not an all or nothing medium. You can try to fix things. It just usually helps to spend some time away from your painting and then come back with "fresh eyes".

If I can tear the kids away from their embroidery I hope to have a new craft tutorial soon.


Monday, August 11, 2008

How to do Embroidery with Kids

It's been cool and rainy the last two days here at the cabin. The kids watched Olympics yesterday but today they were BORED!!!

Time to try embroidery. I have seen books showing you how to turn your kid's artwork into embroidery but I got to thinking why can't they just do it. I thought ahead this time and brought a few basic supplies with us to the cabin.

I asked them to think about what they liked best about the summer so far. I'm thinking we can turn this into a sort of vacation sampler where everyone contributes a portion. I'll post the end result when finished.

I thought this would be a good project for my 10 yr old and that maybe my 8 yr old would try it. They far exceeded my expectations.

Most surprising though was the 5 yr old. I didn't even bring him a hoop. We found one at the general store and thank goodness, for he didn't want to be left out.

I think he is a natural. This is what he did in one afternoon.

Let's make this simple.

Materials Needed:

- embroidery hoop (just the plastic kind from the dollar store)
- embroidery thread ( Walmart and Micheals sell a larger sampler pack for about $9.00 that has all the colors your kids could want
- Tapestry Needles ( why tapestry you ask, because they are fairly large and have blunted tips, no sharp points for the kids)
- fabric ( we are using basic cotton muslin but you could go heavier even burlap)
- scissors
- pencil

Cut your fabric to size. I didn't want the kids to struggle with a lot of extra fabric so I cut a 16x16 square. Before placing in hoop draw on design with pencil, yes pencil we don't need any fancy marking or vanishing ink pens.

I started the kids with their names and the year to get them going. Once they got the hang of it the began to come up with ideas for the rest of the piece. You can add as you go.

Thread your needle in desired color. I wanted this to be easy for them so we used thread right out of the package. We didn't separate into 3 or 5 strands. I also threaded it in a double length and knotted it. This way the kids can pull on their needles without worrying about unthreading the needle. (It saves on frustration for Mom too)

The stitch we used was a basic outline stitch. You
pull the needle thru underneath a stitch space ahead and then go back the hole you created in the stitch right before it.

This keeps the kids on track and they tend not to leave spaces between the stitches making a good line.

Final tip: If they are having troble with the excess fabric on the sides of the hoop, my 5 yr old kept catching it up in a stitch, you can roll up the edges and pin with a safety pin close to the hoop.

Anyhow give it a try they may just surprise you.
Sorry no paintings to post today. I'll try for some daily practice tomorrow.
see you later