Saturday, May 30, 2009

Asilomar Part 1

John and I arrived home from our road trip to Asilomar last night at 8 pm. It was the best road trip ever. We had summer heat, a cool, foggy stay at a 5 bedroom house in Pacific Grove right next to Asilomar (staying with Stephanie Lee and her family, Misty, Michael, John and Bee) and then a short overnight with our friends north of San Francisco. I hadn't been back to the bay area in several years and so this trip deeply satisfied my desire to see that land again.

I love the trees that grow around Monterey and the bay area; the mist rolling in and the flat, moody coloration. We did see the sun come out about halfway through; summer came and then stayed with us through the rest of the trip. In fact, Medford, Oregon was in the 90's when we passed through yesterday.

The images in this post will be from the Facebook class. We constructed a simple book out of mostly watercolor paper and did a number of exercises on the pages. The class was about exploring our own grafitti styles and painting faces; some collage and paint techniques thrown in.

We bound the books in lace and ribbons. The books were casually constructed and the imagery went well with the binding style.

Each student chose their own color palette and we talked about how art is a journey into discovering and inventing a personal style of expression. A look that will be our own and will tell our personal stories.

Some of the pages were paintings; I can imagine a large version of this persimmon colored one. That color always lights my fire.

I took photos during the painting process so not all of these pages are finished.

And I took soooo many pictures and don't have time to size them all so these are just a sample.

We talked a little about how painting has changed over the centuries. What we think of as good painting today compared with what was expected of Renaissance artists.

In addition to just enjoying the day, painting with our fingers, eating chocolate truffles and laughing a lot we had books to take home filled with samples of various painting techniques.

We surprised ourselves.

There was at least one student in the class who had never painted a face before. But you never would have guessed which one. Everyone's work was rich and wonderful.

Each book had 16 pages to fill with paint.

On the last morning John shot my photo standing in front of the house we shared with our friends. I was feeling mixed emotions here; thinking about the sea-change a week can bring. Right now I have e-mails to attend to but as I get caught up I'll tell you about the other 2 classes I taught and about the road trip. It was wonderful and my head is swimming with beautiful memories.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nonnie & the Beautiful Quilt

Look what came in the mail yesterday. For me. Made for me by my big sister who I've called Nonnie since we were babies (her name is Sandi). This is my red headed sister (if I had more time I'd dig out my favorite picture of her when she was about 25 and her hair was the glorious color of new copper; what a beautiful sight that was.) But I digress. We'll talk about how much I love red hair some other time.

Count the little pieces. I am humbled by the sweet patience of this woman who is as busy as anyone. Life has tempered her and tested her and made her thoughtful and kind. She is my seeser. And oh, how I love her.

Just a little bit of family resemblance there - see what I mean? When I visit her we like to sneak off for coffee and wicked rich desserts. We talk about food, art, clothes, memories, childhood, our kids, our parents, our rich history together.

This is my Nonnie as a young child. The picture was touched up by someone with a dreadful sense of color but I left it. Taken back in the 40's before most of my readers were born I'll bet. We probably lived in Moline, Illinois at that time.

Here is my mother and father with their precious red haired daughter. Judging by my sister's age in this picture I think there may have been a bun in the oven - me!! I have several pictures of my parents that I adore and this is one of them. They had a good marriage and set a good example for us. They weren't perfect and no one is. But they did a very good job and I'm glad they were mine.

Did my seeser stop at one quilt? Non, mes amis, she sent a little lap quilt to hang on the wall or for cold evenings by the fire.

Thank you Sandi, for sharing all my memories; for knowing where the bodies are buried, for being my protector and safe place and especially today for making these quilts for me. And here's to sister love everywhere. How much of home lies in this special blood-bond relationship. Call your sister and tell her you love her. And Sue! Little-sister Sue! I love you too!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Garden Tour & Other Stuff

We'll start the tour with a peek inside one of the cloches John has scattered across the place. With gentle seduction he cajoles the tender seedlings to flourish. He gives them every comfort, nourishment and care.

He supports the ones that need a little extra help. (Fava beans here. To be steamed, then finished with chopped onion & garlic in hot olive oil)

This is a perennial cornflower we call Mountain Bluet.

We use row covers to protect the plants from cool nights and hungry deer. The deer have been known to eat row cover however.

These alabaster lanterns will be magically transformed into blueberries later this summer. Full of flavor and antioxidants. To be eaten in cobblers and on oatmeal.

Artichokes for summer butter-dipping. Served with a crisp white wine.

Can you believe the man transplants corn and beans? Methinks he gilds the lily.

Perky beans ready to climb up the trellises. Black beans, red beans, yellow beans and speckled beans. We are a family of bean lovers.

Our friend Liz grew up in England and told us that after the bombing of the cities in WWII the first thing to grow up out of the devastation was this lovely plant which she called fireweed. It pops up everywhere in climates like ours; a testament to the earth's power to renew. I like me a tough little weed that is pretty and promiscuous.

These are the flowers of some gone-to-seed something; rutabaga or beet; I couldn't tell. But so beautiful with yellow blossoms and black stems, don't you think?

There's my man, gathering a nice salad of baby lettuces. Sugar peas on the trellis. God in his heaven.

Can you smell the lily of the valley? Can you hear the neighbors' hens clucking and shrieking? Can you feel the wet morning dew on your bare feet as we traipse across the yard? Good, you're with me now.

Onions and a long view of the garden beds. Apple trees separating the two cultivated areas.

Do you know what these flowers are? Can you guess? It is a root crop that has an old fashioned name.

Here is the flower up close. Very pretty. It is the salsify root, also known as oyster plant.

Miss Rhododendron has her Easter bonnet on today. She is a complete show-off and knows she's beautiful.

Lastly, the strawberries that are chugging away to give us shortcakes in June. I like the biscuity kind with piles of whipped cream. You can see the berries forming - it won't be long now.

Less than a week before I leave for Asilomar. Here are the sheets of watercolor paper torn and ready for the FaceBook class. We have Fabriano, Dutch Etch, Waterford and Murillo if my memory serves me correctly; there's still time to sign up folks. I'm also teaching Hot Palette Encaustic and Stencil Your Family there. It's going to be wonderful.

Finished the journal page that I showed you in the last post. Made the files larger this time so you could halfway read the pages. Love to write, to play in the journal. Which is why there's never anything in my etsy shop.

This is the page I'm on now. Not done of course. It will change. This is the last spread in this book. I always have a feeling of reverence as I close a journal for the last time. Reverence for the life I've been granted and for the sweetness of the days recorded therein. Gosh. I'm out of pictures. Guess it's time to get to work now. Thanks for stopping by. We must do this again.