Monday, December 13, 2010

Merry Christmas to you all!

From our house and blog to yours, may you have a beautiful Christmas, a wonderful holiday season, and a blessed New Year filled with all good things.
Now then - as a good friend often says - "Let's Paint!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Peanut Brittle- the EASIEST

Do you like peanut brittle? Do you need a "quickie" for your Christmas celebrations. Here's a great, simple, quick recipe for you- alot better and alot cheaper than the boughten stuff. I just whipped up some for my folks to send for their Christmas and thought you might like the recipe... BTW- it's a microwave recipe.

Peanut Brittle

1 c. peanuts
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
1 t. butter

In 1 1/2 qt. casserole, stir together peanuts, sugar, and syrup. Cook 5 min. 30 seconds on high, stirring well after 4 min. Add butter and vanilla. Cook 1 min. longer. Add baking soda, and quickly stir until light and foamy. Immediately (and I do mean immediately) pour onto a lightly buttered baking sheet. Spread out thinly. When cool, break into pieces.

This hardens quickly, so don't "loiter" over pouring it out and spreading it.

I finished the great blue a few days ago, just haven't gotten him posted. Busy with the Christmas rush, wrapping, last minute shopping, etc. Now to get him framed. This fellow really posed for me when we were out in the boat in La.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Carving, Painting, and Christmas Fun

Today was finally spent in the studio again after and absence of over a week due to holiday travel and decorating. The pelican has been sealed and now gessoed. I've begun to work on his legs.

I also spent quite awhile painting on the great blue as well. He is shaping up. Still more to do, but he should be complete with another day or so in the studio if I have enough time, altho with working on the pelican at the same time it slows me down.

It's holiday time again and lest you think I've been slacking off, here is what I've been up to, along with a Thanksgiving trip to visit my aunt in Iowa. I rarely get to spend a holiday with her so we had a lovely time.

I love the tree, but my favorite is my Krinkle Klaus's and my Christmas village, which takes me 2 days to put up. I could leave it up all year if only I didn't have to dust it! It makes me feel soooo nostalgic for the old time Christmas magic.

This is my entire village. I'll post close-ups of parts of it and some of my "special" personal pieces. I don't have one of those expensive sets, I have bought pieces from a number of sets from inexpensive places like K-Mart and JoAnn Fabric over the years. I buy what I like or what is special to my family.

I used to teach yearly at a woodcarving seminar in War Eagel, Arkansas and it was run by a family named "Sutton". So when I found an arts/crafts gallery and the "Sutton" name I had to have it!

Ofcourse I have to have a pet store- gotta buy more chihuahuas!

I used to live in the town of Jordan (note the name on the drugstore), my family owned a Hardware Hank store there (I made it from a candle shop- renamed it and added the Hank face).

My husband is a retired firefighter- gotta have a station and a firetruck!

And my favorite- a woodworkers/woodcarvers shop!

I even found a carver and a fellow sharpening his tools!

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season as much as I do. It goes so quickly, only to be followed by - brrrrr..... cold weather. :-(

Friday, November 19, 2010

While I seal the pelican carving I started a new painting. Here's a WIP photo from last night and today. I'm hoping to get this finished before next Tues. with the holiday coming up. I know that's going to cut into painting time. This is as usual, a miniature, done in acrylic. The reference was taken on our recent trip to Louisiana when we were out boating with friends. This fellow was one of the few who stayed put as we passed. We decided he was a "ham" and was posing for the camera. ;-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Carving "stuff"

I'm finally getting back to post here about my carving equipment. I have been at this for a multitude of years so I have "accumulated" quite a bit, but I've used it all for years now. I love my power carvers and I also have a very special place in my heart for my dustbox as my father made it especially for me a number of years ago. I wouldn't want to be without it now.

These are a few of my favorite knives, which is how I started out for a number of years. The one in front with the silver band was my original knife. I used it "to death". The band is a wire wrap to hold it together. A friend of mine "saved" it for me after the handle split. I continued to use it for quite awhile after that. Then I got my very FAVORITE knife, the one right behind it, at a carving club auction. I still love that knife and never found another I liked as well. The small detail knife I used for special things as well as the larger, longer knife which a friend made for me. I rarely use a knife now, but now and again I fall back to them for some special reason or other.

These are my power tools. I started out doing power with only the Foredom (this is a flexible shaft tool), even my tiny detail work. Finally my hand would start "going to sleep" from the vibration. At that point I figured I had enough time into it to know I wasn't going to quit anytime soon, so I splurged and bought my NSK. That is the little box power tool on the right. The motor is in the hand piece and there is little or no vibration when using it. I still rough out with my Foredom, then do the detail work with the NSK. I had a different Foredom initially, and "drooled" over one like this- it reverses. I was lucky enough to win this one as a prize one year when I won a first place/Best of Show. I was one very happy carver that year!

Next comes my dustbox. It is a large "piece of furniture" as you can see. The bottom opens to allow for cleaning out the dust and periodically changing the filter.

Below is my wood burner, another lucky prize for another BOS. Again, I had a different burner, same maker (Colwood), but I "coveted" one with 2 units. I can have two different tips and flip back and forth. I have another burner I also won, a different brand, which is supposed to be really good, but I prefer my Colwood and never use the other one. I really should sell it!

Finally- here is the pelican WIP. I actually have him all carved and feathered. He's in process of being sealed now. I thought you might like to see the pattern I started with. When making the pattern for a carving you have to be able to visualize not only a side view, but also a top view. Then you have to draw it out and make it fit together for the sawing process. Also as I carve I have to figure out dimensions and when making a miniature I have to "miniature-ize" things. This means every dimension so you have to think in terms of 3-D. I end up doing ALOT of math- which I am NOT good at!!! Gives my mind a workout! Hope you find this all interesting and not boring!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Latest on mini WIP carving

Worked on it yesterday and today (around the piano lessons) and he's getting to not look so "naked" as a friend so delicately put it!!! Boy, those pelicans have "nasty" feathers on their backs- try to make sense out of those groups!!! It's taking me a lot of studying, and alot of "more reference, more reference" and "where WAS that other shot of that area" to get it!!! I think you can see the detail here and the lifting of the feathering...

By the way- the body from neck to tail is 1.75" in length. So that should give you an idea of how tiny the feathering is. You can also see I've undercut the one lifted wing on the top. I have more undercutting under the wings yet, but that waits until the last minute once all the rest is done.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Miniature Carving WIP

Well, quite a bit of time has been spent carving this fellow, although you may not think it looks like it! My carpal tunnel certainly does! Wrist is hurting big time from harp and carving... Yikes. My 2 loves. I can deal with the pain just as long as it doesn't make it impossible to work. The first photo here was from 2 days ago. May not look like much progress, but I put in quite a bit of time just getting that far.

Today was spent mostly working on the head area. The detail is very intricate and time consuming. I am looking forward to getting to the feathering soon I hope, altho there is still more to do on the underside and also to finish off the head and neck, plus detailing a bit on the wings. As I write this I realize I still have quite a bit left to go. Once you start to see a "face" it seems like you're getting somewhere I guess. It took me awhile to envision the bill but I finally was able to put it all together. Now if I only don't slip up when I'm sanding (I power sand)- one slip and it's all over. Bad enough on the full size pieces, these miniatures haven't a bit of error margine at all...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hello again...

I'm finally finding a bit of time to post a few more photos. Some from the photoshoot, and a couple more from our Louisiana trip. Then to finish... TaDa...
I've started a new miniature carving. I had a painting on the easel when I left, which has since been consigned to the trashbin. We won't talk about that one! It happens now and then. I've had so much going on this past couple of weeks since getting home from the trip- unpacking, then going to my folks to help them pack for their trip. A very, very ill dog to attend to (thankfully she's much better), the normal piano lessons, house cleaning, and much harp practice, being very "rusty" since we were gone so long. But it's coming back with much work. Yaayyy!

I hope you enjoy the photos I'm posting, and also that you will enjoy following along as I begin carving again - but never fear - I'll still be painting as well. Never a dull moment here...

Here's a few more photos from the photoshoot. The fawns were soooo adorable, and soooo approachable. How fun was this? :-)

This was the "look". Cameras in hand, a chat now and then, and constantly on the lookout for a good shot!

I got to hold a coyote, a wolf, a fox, and a racoon. That was alot of fun too.

Here's the beginning of the carving. I drew out the pattern, sawed out the piece, and now today I started carving. It's been a long time, but it's coming back. The "ugly" little piece of wood in the funny shape is the blank. I thought you might like to see my carving "dustbox" that I work in also. You can see how small the blank is compared to the reference photos.

You can see some of my reference photos I'm using.

This fellow really grabbed my attention. He was such a pretty fellow and I'm always into birds. ;-)

This was our Cajun motorcycle "gang"- we had a great time riding around together.

We ran cross this old church which had been hidden by brush and undergrowth previously. Our friends had never seen it before in all the times they'd passed that way. We wandered around, looking in the church and around the grounds, finding the cemetary behind it very overgrown. How sad... what memories are held within those crumbling walls? It was a very haunting, emotional place.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Missing Artist Spotted in New Orleans!

And amid wild animals, trudging through swamps, and voraciously downing multiple Beignets, Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, and Crawfish Ettoufee!!!

Aren't these little fellows adorable. I love them (as long as they aren't living in my home!) I went to a photo shoot in Sandstone, MN, just up the road from where I live and spent 3 days photographing and watching the antics of animals running free from cages and bars. I actually got to hold a racoon, a coyote, a wolf, and a lovely little fox. I did decline the porcupine though. ;-)

These are just a tiny sample of the experience of walking with and experiencing the wild creatures we were so fortunate to spend time with.

This owl is not alive- it is a beautiful woodcarving at one of the carving shows I attended and helped to judge. Some of these carvings are phenomenal to see. Just astounding what can be done with a piece of wood, a few tools, and alot of knowledge, work, and yes- talent. But I do want to stress "work and knowledge". These carvers spend years developing and learning their art. It does not come easy, it comes at great cost of time and sometimes even sleep!

The swamps and bayous are just beautiful. Alot of areas are so very haunting. Filled with life of all sorts. Fish constantly jumping to catch a meal, birds and herons and bald eagles in multiples. What a grand sight to see a pair of bald eagles flying above us as we boated down the bayou to a friends "camp". The ease and grace of the great blue and white herons, the funny little galinule running across the lily pads. We kept a sharp eye out and saw a number of large and small alligators, several kingfishers, white ibis. After a wonderful afternoon of wildness in the bayous we spent an evening over some good Cajun food with some dear, wonderful friends, a glass of wine and good old "catching-up" chatter.

We spotted four of these little guys- 6-8 week old baby alligators. Mama must have been nearby, but all we could find were alligator trails.

We spent a couple of days learning more about the backgrounds of the Acadians, the history of the area, and touring an Acadian "village". We became very aware of the way homes were built in a very similar fashion for many years afterward. As we drive now we see the same basic plan, altho larger in back, but looking very much as the historical cabins did from the front.

I am fascinated by spiders (in the wild, not in my basement!) We found several rather interesting specimens. These seemed to be very common and we saw many of them. They are quite large and easy to spot hanging in the center of their webs between trees.

This beautiful plantation home was not nearly as large as it appears. It is just 6 rooms, 3 up, 3 down, and even though it is a Greek Revival exterior now, it was a Creole home. The original home was actually only 3 rooms with just storage below because of flooding issues. They also often slept on the porch (can you imagine the mosquito issues?!) The porch went all the way around. No hallway, doors simply opened from each room onto the porches. Now the back porch is enclosed as a long room/hallway.
Do you know what makes a "plantation"? We often think of them as the huge, beautiful antebellum mansions, but all plantations did not have that distinction. A plantation means it derives it's income from one main cash crop, rather than a farm which may have multiple crops. This home still had an original row of the majestic live oaks (foreground) and all 22 of the original slave quarters. We learned alot of very interesting history, and I have a book or 2 in mind I want to purchase to learn more.

We spent a day in New Orleans enjoying the French Market, beignets at Cafe du Monde, walking around Jackson Square and chatting with the artists there. Dinner of a multitude of Cajun favorites, an fun stroll up and down Bourbon St. Then the next day we drove around looking at and photographing some of the cute little historical homes in the area near New Orleans. Perhaps I'll try and paint a few of them someday.

More of the local wildlife scene. Several days spent with more old friends motorcycling and touring through sugar cane plantations, swampy areas, etc. Down to Grand Isle, a big Cajun family dinner of white beans and fried shrimp. Heaven...

I hope you enjoyed this tiny bit of our past month. I'll try and post a few more in a week or 2. Time to catch up at home and then get back to the easel! Until next time, be well my friends.