Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Heart Health

February is heart health month. In that vein, this is the art heart I created for a member of the Circle of Red Society for the Go Red for Women portion of the American Heart Association.

I started working on this last summer, first with a practice sketch, and then on the giant heart itself. The front of the heart is very three dimensional, sort of like a wedding cake, which makes drawing on it rather difficult.

The back is a flat surface; much easier for drawing and painting. It's been a long process, but today it is finally going to its rightful owner. I couldn't be more delighted.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Surface Issue

Long time friend and fellow artist, Lisa, graciously agreed to come over to the house and give me a tutorial on how to use the glass cutting tool that she recommended in order for me to make a glass tile mosaic.

Basically, I learned that it's going to take a LONG time to finish this project, especially considering that the surface area I'm working on is cardboard.....not that there's anything wrong with cardboard, it's just that it isn't conducive to permanency as a table top.

Originally, I thought that quarter inch plywood would be the right thickness for the table top, but it is now apparent that half inch plywood will be sturdier and therefore better for this. In the meantime, tile color selection for the table top is well under way, in spite of other commitments.....which is interesting, because EVERYONE said that once our kids were grown, that time would be all mine. It's a lie. OK, theoretically time is mine and always has been, but in actuality, time is for walking the dog, enjoying the neighbors, cooking, cleaning, vacuuming, laundry, winding down at the end of the day, and occasionally, there is discretionary time to devote in the art studio. Maybe I need a course in time management? Or maybe, this is what life is supposed to be. Yep, that's what I'm going with, because all in all, this life I'm living with the Amazing Reese here on Addison Road is pretty sweet.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Last week, a good friend gave me a Rembrandt Soft Pastel Wood Box Set of 225 Assorted Colors. That means it's time to learn how to use pastels for more than just street art.

She gave me some used paint brushes and paints, too, plus turpentine and canvases; everything an artist needs to work. It's a huge blessing. Now I should have enough usable supplies to last a few months without having to replenish anything. So, I spent the day yesterday cleaning the studio, and the brushes, and taking inventory (of sorts) of the supplies in preparation of an impending flurry of artistically creative activity. Yay!

This is the same friend who, in the past, gave me a choice easel just as I was shopping, and trying to justify the expense of buying something so nice. God bless you, Debra.....and thanks.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Final Countdown....Recipe

OK, because some very enthusiastic friends encouraged me use the abundance of lemons we had to make limoncello, and because we all wanted our fair share of the final product, we started with three 750 mL bottles of 190 proof Everclear and the zest of 36 lemons, or 12 lemons per bottle.

We soaked the lemon zest/Everclear mixture for I don't know, maybe three weeks (?), during which time a not insignificant amount of alcohol evaporated from the bowl, which left us with 8 1/2 cups of liquid, after removing the zest from the mixture.

We added 2 1/8 cups of water to make it 150-ish proof instead of the very strong 190 proof, like it was the last time making limoncello.

We toned down the addition of simple syrup as well, the proportions of which were 5 1/2 cups of sugar and 6 1/2 cups of water. To make simple syrup, heat the sugar and water on the stove until the sugar dissolves. Wait for it to cool to room temperature before adding it to the lemon zest infused Everclear. Here, one of my enthusiastic helpers, James, demonstrates this step.

Look at all the limoncello we made! It's definitely better than my last batch, not quite as sweet and not as strong of an alcohol bite. The end result is 35% alcohol by volume or 70 proof. One third of this belongs to the Reese Hazel family, so come on by and I'll serve us a drink or two.....or three.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Glass, A Misdemeanor

This week, I borrowed a glass cutter and tried my hand at making drinking glasses from used wine bottles. Step one was scoring the bottles with the cutter.

Step two was soaking the bottles in ice water.

When the bottles were properly chilled, I took them out of the ice water and poured boiling water over them. The idea was that the rapid hot cold shock to the glass would break the bottle along the line that was scored with the glass cutter.

These are the best of the bottles that were cut. As you can see, it sort of worked, but in actuality didn't. "Sort of" isn't good enough for this project. There must have been over a dozen bottles/glasses that were even more dangerously jagged than these in the photo, which would make drinking from them most unpleasant.

Of course, drinking from these glasses was the goal, which obviously isn't going to happen. The project was fun, exciting, and tedious work with nothing to show for it in the end. Oh, well.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Bucket List

On our morning walk with the dogs, we noticed a crowd gathering where there normally isn't a crowd. Turns out that the crowd was preparing to see a 25 story building in the Houston Medical Center get blown up. How cool is that?! Honestly, how many opportunities does one have to see a building, expertly laced with explosives (implosives?) blow up just blocks from your home?

If I had ever taken the opportunity to write a bucket list, watching a building implode would definitely be on the list.

It was so exciting to see it in person! We heard two thundering booms before I turned on the camera. I was so excited that I forgot to zoom. The enthusiastic background commentary (hollering) is all courtesy of yours truly. Also, just after the video ends, we were engulfed in the debris from the building that was floating on the air. Somehow, I hadn't taken this into account. Other people left immediately after the building imploded, or were wearing surgical masks to protect them from the soot. That was probably a smart thing to do. Um, yeah.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Time + Focus =

It's a 32" x 40" oil on linen painting of some trees within walking distance of our house. The Amazing Reese and I sometimes sit at some cafe tables near these trees, have a drink, and talk about ideas, people we love, and events in our lives.

I started working on this painting last summer. It sat on my easel for months waiting, waiting, and waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. I'm glad it took this long to get it done. It wouldn't have looked like this if I had worked on it before now, and it would have frustrated me that it didn't look like what I envisioned, which I didn't even entirely know what that vision was until yesterday. It somehow became unlocked from the deep crevices of my brain.

This is it.

What a blessing it has been to paint again.

Juice in Time

It's been weeks since I've picked up a paintbrush. Thankfully, I'm back in the studio again, working on a painting that has been sitting unfinished on the easel since LAST AUGUST.

Apparently, instead of writer's block, I was experiencing some sort of artist's block. Do other artists experience this? Whatever happened, it's good to be on the other side of it, feeling excited about working in the studio instead of dreading it. Not that I was dreading it per se, it's just that life was abundant with other activities and responsibilities.....such that it was too full (?) to think of anything else creative. Is that possible? Well, whether it is or not, it sure seemed to have happened that way.

The Amazing Reese took care of one of my big responsibilities, and it freed up brain space and time, both valuable commodities if one wants to be creative. So, thankfully, yesterday was spent in the studio. Today will be, too -- yay! The creative juices are flowing again! Hallelujah!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Lemon Aid

When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!

Because we (the Amazing Reese and I) have wonderful friends with a freakishly prolific lemon tree, it's time to make limoncello again. The first time making limoncello, it was rather strong, so this year, I'm tweaking the recipe.

This is stage one, peeling the lemons. In this part of the process, it's important to use only the zest from the peel, because the fleshy white part of the skin under the zest is bitter. It's the oils from the lemon zest that give limoncello its lovely yellow color and lemony flavor.

After zesting the lemons, we (enthusiastic helpers and I) soaked the lemon peels in grain alcohol (Everclear) for eight days. Last time, the 190 proof was a bit strong so I wanted to use 151 proof this go around. All the liquor store had was 190 proof, so the Amazing Reese calculated how much water to add to the Everclear to turn the 190 proof into 150-ish proof. One might say that he came to my lemon aid! (ha)

The eight days of soaking the lemon peels has passed, but I'm waiting until the very enthusiastic helpers return from an epic road trip before finishing the project.