Sunday, May 24, 2015

Consumed with a Two Bedroom Redo

Twenty or so years ago, I put my marks on our guest bedroom and master bedroom. We had been back East, visited the home of Louisa May Alcott in Concord, Mass., where I was charmed by the art left on the walls by her sister. I came home with the desire (and nerve) to go crazy with paint in my own home. (This was before I ever had the courage to call myself an artist.) Thus, our bedroom became the "dragon room" which was a nod to my summer in China. The guestroom became the "sunflower room" because of my admiration of Van Gogh.

Our closet
After twenty years, both rooms were ready for both a thorough cleaning, new flooring, and fresh paint--no radical change. But, oh boy, did it bring upheaval to the household. Where the heck do you put all the stuff in two bedrooms while you spend "a few days" giving two bedrooms a face-lift? Well, after pretty much filling up our garage and carport with the furniture, our living room has become our bedroom/dressing room.

Of course the "few days" have turned into two week so far. Even the tile guy underestimated how long it would take him to lay the slate in both rooms. This has given me even more time to think up small side projects involving more work, more trips to town, etc.

First of all, for me, even picking the right wall colors is not easy. I tried out five different colors and didn't like any of them. I was looking for a calm and welcoming color for the guest room, but none of these did it for me. The next time I went to town, I cleverly took the quilt that will top the bed and matched the soft yellow of the quilt. The winning color even has a warm feeling name if you are a dog lover, "yellow lab."

Here is a sneak peek of the fresh paint and slate floor of the new guest room. further decor changes there are coming. I have ordered stencils to put on the walls to give this makeover a woodsy feel. Yes, that is one of the small side projects I was talking about earlier. I have more time to think therefore more creative things pop into my mind.

Beyond fancying up the walls with stencils, we gave one of our daughters our old chest of drawers, so I had to come up with more furniture. Mike, the voice of reason, said there was no rush because it would be awhile before we really needed it. But to me, having all this time being tossed out of my bedroom seemed the absolutely perfect time to find new furniture.

On the internet, I found and fell in love with a chest, but I really needed a matching nightstand and I didn't want to pay big $$$. So I called up my sister, Janice, and invited her to lunch and a used furniture hunt. I figured that with paint and my artistic skills, I could turn used pieces into the look I'd been tempted with online. By the end of the afternoon, I had found and purchased two pieces of furniture.

This large chest on the left and nightstand on the right are being transformed into


All you DIYers know this: all it takes is elbow grease. Yesterday I spent the day out in our very crowded (full of our bedroom) garage learning to used "Bondo" to fix a lip on the nightstand, sanding all items thoroughly, and putting the initial coat of oil based enamel paint on two chests and eight drawers. Oh yes, I also spray painted our ceiling fan from the master bedroom and painted its blades blue, but I saving that room for another post!

If you follow my blog because of my art, you are now seeing a sample of what happens when I don't get out into the studio to paint! I just get into more creative projects and drive my husband a little bit nuts. In fact, he banished me to the studio today just to keep me out of more trouble!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Gold Beach Workshop--Surface Texture and Collage

The first weekend in May, I taught a workshop in Gold Beach, OR. It was two days of tinting rice papers, making stamps, texturing a watercolor paper surface, and reviving older paintings. If this sounds big and messy, you're right! It was, plus so much creative fun!

I supplied the materials for everyone to make a stamp out of Moo Carve, which was new to all the participants. These blocks are easily carved with linoleum cutters. These artists created beautiful and intricate carvings that were later incorporated into their artwork. 

I have to thank Paul and Pat Renner as well as Curry Art Association for putting together this great workshop and thinking of me as an instructor. Paul and Pat were just the best hosts and the workshop space was excellent--lots of light and plenty of space for 16 artists.

Along with group instruction, I tried to fit in one on one time with each participant. I really encourage being brave enough to try all sorts of new techniques. When asked what was the most meaningful part of the workshop, one artist said, "Learning something totally new and feeling comfortable enough to do it."

If this sounds good to you fellow artists, I'll be teaching a workshop this fall titled, The Bridge Between Abstract and Realism , October 18-22 at Menucha Retreat on the Columbia Gorge.

Here are some of the inspired works that was generated over the weekend. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Trip of a Lifetime: Part IV Goodbye to Egypt and a Week in Paris

Dear Viewers, I hope you will tolerate looking through one more photo album of my trip to Egypt and France. The end of our time in Egypt continued with more adventures--riding camels at the Pyramids, riding horses in the desert, seeing Whirling Dervishes, learning more about bartering, and soaking in as much of this interesting and exotic culture as possible.

We saved the most iconic sights for the last days in Egypt. Our trip to Sakkura where the oldest step-pyramid stands, proved to be both historically fascinating as well as presenting its own mystery. As is typical at the tourist attractions throughout Egypt, there are many men waiting to tell you about the ruins and show you especially interesting details, etc. for a baksheesh (tip). These people may or may not distribute the true history, but it can turn into an adventure. 

Sakkura and Giza

When we entered Sakkura, we paid for an additional ticket to go into a special tomb, one that features the tomb of two brothers. As we wandered through the ruins, we could not see any signs or indications of where our special ticket was going to be of use. One fellow took us into a tomb where we had to hunch over for 50 yards, climbing down a steep slope to finally arrive in the tomb. He even talked me into letting him take an illegal photograph, as photography is not allowed in the tombs. (He was very insistent!)

But this was not the tomb we had a special ticket for, so on we went on our quest.

Finally, one fellow seemed to understand what we were looking for. He told us to wait, while he found the man who had the key to open the tomb. Several minutes later, he reappeared with the man who did indeed have the key and we did indeed get into the tomb of the two brothers, which was the frosting on the cake for me. (But I enjoyed the hunt for the tomb almost as much.)

After the morning's trekking around ruins in 100 degree searing sun, we were ready for a lunch break. This restaurant is renowned to have the best chicken in Cairo, and I would not argue. It was delicious.

Chickens roasting on quite the mechanical set-up.
After lunch we went on to the Pyramids of Giza, and I finally lived my dream of riding a camel by a Pyramid.

The Sphinx through the haze of Cairo.

Whirling Dervishes

Entering the Wekalet El Ghouri Arts Center which was built in 1504 which is the venue for the Whirling Dervishes in Cairo.

A Desert Horse Ride

Something our granddaughter loves is horseback riding, so our hosts, the Rutherfords, arranged for a ride in the desert. It was an activity they had not done before, but everyone was game to try. The expat woman who created her own piece of paradise in Egypt rescues both horses and dogs, with a few goats and water buffalo she has quite a menagerie. 

L to R, Sam, Wayne, Maya, Yoshiko and Angelica
This was another great experience. As we rode along pyramids, we found that there are many lesser pyramids all through the desert, and no one could identify them for us.

Six Days in Paris/Versailles
(It's not enough!)

We had one day and night in Paris before meeting our friends in Versailles and we made the most of it, eating our first French croissants, visiting the Louvre, and taking a night tour of the Eiffel Tower.


We met up with our friends Anna and Rose who joined us for their school break in Versailles.
They taught us that bread or croissants are the go-to breakfast in France and you must buy it that morning!

Château de Versailles

is so glitzy. Apparently there was never too much gold, too many chandeliers, or too many paintings for the Louis (plural).

When Marie Antoinette got overwhelmed by the glitz, she would retreat to her small chateau, built purely for her pleasure. No wonder the French rebelled!

After a day of touring the Castle and it's grounds, we attended the horse show at the Equestrian Show Academy - Palace of Versailles. This was an impressive display of what horses can be trained to do.

Back in Paris, we tried to fit in as much as possible into our short stay.

Musée d'Orsay

Outside the Musee d'Orsay

Inside the fabulous gallery
Wow! Van Gogh 
Gorgeous view from the roof.
Monmartre, Paris

Basilica of Sacre-Coeur
Angelica got a charcoal portrait done in the square full of artists selling their skills. We had a yet another delicious French bread sandwich on the sidewalks. 

And a visit to the Dali Museum was mind-bending! Below is a quote of Dali's that I couldn't resist!

We eventually had to pack up and head home. Thank you to our friends and family for making this a Trip of a Lifetime!
Anna and Rose made our last dinner in our Paris apartment.
We were well worn out by the end of the 3 weeks!