Monday, September 15, 2014

Fully Flummoxed Again

Actually, this time it's Susan who is Flummoxed. She was researching jigsaw puzzles for our group that does them here and put several into her Amazon Wish List so everyone could "vote" for the ones they would chip in to buy. A few days later she happened to be looking for something else on Amazon and decided to check out the "Recommended for You" section, just to see if there were some new art books mentioned.

What??? She had absolutely NO idea why Amazon would recommend bug stuff for her because we've never bought any of that stuff online and besides  we live in an apartment where we have "Eco-Pest" treatment provided several times a year. So she clicked on the link that asked if she wanted to know why they recommended bug stuff . Oh yeah, being interested in butterfly jigsaw puzzles means you might want to kill bugs. Nice search algorithm, Amazon!

Another Sweater Child Give-Away. Can you see it here in the path by Shoal Creek that I walk down?

How about now?

On Friday I'll be back down there and see if it's still there. I use a long pole thingy to put it up high.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We Remember, September 11

We remember.

 Rest in peace, Bob.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Mornings

A bike ride to the Turtle Pond on the UT camputs. The turtles, pods, flowers and bees could not care less about the score of last night's football game.

Then the reward. That's my wimpy bike there. I look like an old man riding it. Oops, I am an old man riding it. For years I had a road bike with skinny tires and lots of gears and no basket on the back. When I rode I was bent over in that aerodynamic biking position and all I saw was lots of road. Now I sit up straight, see loads of interesting stuff and can carry stuff back in my basket. One of the distinct pleasures of growing old is not giving a damn about what you look like.

Or what you eat, since you are on the downhill slide of life anyway.

Still working on these pods/squash for a special friend and her family.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

El Paso Food

When we travel we look for Olive Garden restaurants -- lots of salad to eat, fairly fast service, and several simple, plain pasta choices on the menu.  OK, not very gourmet but usually dependable. Unfortunately, they've just changed the menu and taken her favorites off, so in El Paso Susan had to make her choices off the appetizer menu.  She thought this item sounded good so she ordered it:

 Inspired by Italy’s southern coast.
Sautéed shrimp served on creamy polenta and topped
with a fresh blend of olives, capers and tomato sauce.
It came served on MASHED POTATOES. What?!?!? Did they think she wouldn't know the difference? While she waited a long, long time for the server to come back and politely ask "How is everything?" she ate the 4 shrimp  Then there was a long, long delay while the offending plate was taken back to the manager and finally we were told that the item would be taken off our bill. No sorry, no kitchen excuses, nothing. But at least she got the 4 shrimp for free.
Very strange. How is it that a restaurant thinks they can get away with that? Maybe quite easily, if most of the people eating there have no idea what polenta really is. Maybe the kitchen staff doesn't have any idea either.

Maybe I need to go into the food service business. After all, this is how at the Embassy Suites in Phoenix I made sure Susan ate some of her daily fruit/vegetables. She did, but that was after she ruined the nose on the great Food Face by insisting she needed the shampoo in the shower.

 The other strange thing in El Paso was the really nice Hampton Inn we stayed at - quick and courteous service at the front desk, clean room located in requested quiet area, and .....
this hole in the bathroom door. It had us flummoxed, because the door didn't back up to anything that would cause a hole and it's down low, not where someone would try to punch a door open.  And housekeeping didn't notice it and have it fixed????
Strangely, their Barnes&Noble bookstore at SunValley Mall has one of the largest magazine selections we've ever found in all our travels.  Go figure.
Thus, to us, El Paso is a strange town and we usually choose to drive on past to Las Cruces or Deming on our way west.  But coming back east there is nothing after it for another 120+ miles so sometimes it becomes a stop before the long 9-10 hour drive back to Austin.

Since we've come back I've been working on some special pieces for my friend Ana - this is preliminary, they will be for members of her family.

My bike rides to the Turtle Pond always give me something to photograph:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

More Watercolor, A Give-Away and a Book

When we got home I painted this small picture. In the mornings I cut up fruit for myself and always leave some for Susan, who hates fruit. She feels guilty if she doesn't eat what I fix for her but she often forgets to look for it in the refrigerator (or that's what she claims anyway) when she comes back from her walk or swim. Now I put this picture right on the counter by the front door - no more excuses!

She took the same watercolor class I did. Here are two of the pages from her watercolor journal. She did two leaves on every page and then the flower and then asked Gina for more images to copy and did the bird and some other stuff.  She is very "wiggly" in classes (her word, other people might call it Attention Deficit Disorder) and works fast - she says if she works fast she doesn't have time to wiggle and think about what her work looks like and fuss about it.

The other day I did a long bike ride and put another little Give-Away (a bird) in place.  This is Jennifer's Garden wall in a front yard where I'd previously put a smaller bird down low - both show in the top picture. This week-end I'll check to see if they are still there.

Best book I've read in months: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The kind of book that you slow down to read when you get near the end because you don't want it to be over.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Art Unraveled - Gina Rossi Armfield's Class

The class was Gina's The Watercolor Artist's Notebook and the first night we just learned about colors and how watercolor paints act, which is usually well-behaved except for when their parents aren't looking.

Gina has a lot of stuff going on and she thinks there are No Excuses for slacking off on your art. Well, maybe she'd allow Happy Hour but she'd probably want you to paint your hangover the next morning.  Her classes are incredibly informative, lots of demos and handouts, and she moves around the room all the time while you are working so she can help if needed.  There's a lot of structure in the class but that meant we accomplished a LOT in just 9 total hours of class.

We all got the same leaf pictures to copy. I thought that would be boring at first but then I became One with My Leaf.  First we just did a careful line drawing, then we starting doing paintings of it, each time getting more and more individualized.


Finally we got to the last exercise, a picture of a big flower.  Well, maybe mine looks like an exploding asteroid but I learned to really like watercolors in this class. 

This is by a fellow classmate, Elaine. She was very talented. She made it look like the flower instead of an asteroid.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Art Unraveled - Chris Cozen's Class

Chris Cozen is a very patient and calm instructor. She brings lots of materials for students to use and is a representative for Golden Paints so you get a wealth of good information.  We started out by spreading colors around on paper and learning a lot about the properties of the paint, color mixing and composition.  Above is the final, below is its start:

Later in the class we developed the experimental works into images and themes that were of our own particular interest. I went with the map concept. I told Chris I didn't want to do any "girly" colors and yet I have pink in my work! How did that happen? Below is start and then finish:

The one below was a lesson with Golden Flow acrylics - I didn't finish it but I think I can transform this into another one of my maps eventually.
(Susan speaks: I've taken the picture 3 times and uploaded it 3 different ways. Somehow it still is getting a moiré pattern on it, with or without tweaking in Picasa and/or Adobe Photoshop. It is just on a plain white canvas. Go figure.)
Sitting next to me in class was Marlene from Phoenix. Marlene entertains me with fascinating, hilarious catastrophe stories about her life and family and always manages to make me laugh.  She does really nice work:
Art Unraveled is held at an Embassy Suites which makes me very happy because I can get a really big breakfast and meet up with my Posse, which includes Carol (on the right) from Dripping Springs, TX, and Betsy from New Hampshire. I'd like to tell you the names of the other women in my Posse but they probably would prefer to keep their activities from their husbands/boyfriends - that's why their backs are to the camera.  Breakfast is the time when we all get a chance to visit with each other and just catch up what's happening in other classes. Where's Susan? Other than taking this picture she was probably sitting with other people and catching up on their class info. In the mornings it's like Happy Hour socializing, but with lots of coffee instead of a drink.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Art Unraveled - Jane Davies' Class

In the morning the class was Layers and Textures and I just didn't get that. Once we got home and unpacked all our stuff I realized I had enjoyed the process but really didn't have any pieces I wanted to keep as examples or reminders or even just photograph.  In the afternoon the class was Teeny Tiny Art and we made lots of little pieces that were just 4" squares.  This class I got.

I'm all the way out to Phoenix in a class and wind up meeting another person from Austin. How does that happen?  Here is Jane Cobb's work:

Maybe this is Helen's work:
I think, but am not sure, but whatever, that this is my friend Marlene's work:

I take pictures and forget Susan's advice, which is to follow the picture of the work with a picture of the person's nametag. Or, when in a museum, the picture of the signage next to the artwork. So, Marlene, Helen and Jane, if I got it wrong, sorry. I'll try better next year.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

ArtUnraveled - April Bower's Class

I'd like to claim all of these as mine but noooo, they are all made by April Bower.  The class I took from her was "Reticulated Bi-Metal Bracelet" - the bi-metal was sterling bonded to copper or to brass so it's different on each side. The lower right bracelet in the picture above is an example of the edges folded and formed over so you see the contrast in the material.  But first we practiced on just plain copper -- shaping and forming and then applying patina.
Here's one of my bracelets, start to finish, marking, texturing, folding, shaping, patina:

And the final product:
Here's another bracelet I made in her class:
And finally, here's the bi-metal bracelet that I finished up the day with.  We move fast at ArtUnraveled and April makes sure we get our money's worth.  She'll be teaching at Art Retreat in the Desert next year and I might be going to that.
There will be more to come from our ArtUnraveled classes but I can't make the Blog Wrangler move any faster -- she insists she has library books to read and return and that we have 2 Netflix DVDs that have been waiting for us for nearly a month. We did watch "The Company You Keep" with Robert Redford. (Susan speaks: Time has not been kind to that man and he probably should have used more sunscreen when he was younger.) Only 3 stars for that one. Last night we watched "21 Jump Street" - silly and improbable and just easy watching - 4 stars for not being overdone with ponderous themes and special effects.
We don't get to our Netflix DVDs as fast as we used to because I'm hooked on too many TV shows: The Last Ship, The Strain (gross!), Major Crimes, Legends, and my favorite, The Tyrant.