I thought producing art was supposed to be relaxing…

Prior to this weekend, I hadn’t painted anything since I finished the sky/cornfield scene.  I was on vacation, then I took off a weekend, etc. etc.  I figured I should get back on the wagon before I forgot everything I recently learned (I’m getting my tenses confused here a little bit, please forgive me).  Well, I think it’s too late.  Or, maybe it’s not too late, I’m just too impatient.  I want to be awesome NOW.  I realize I’ve only painted 2 watercolors in my life, but I still want every painting I attempt to turn out fantastic.  But it’s not. or they’re not.  or whatever.

This was the first one I did this weekend:

It is based on another amazing Benny Hageman photograph.  At first glance, I thought this would be fairly easy to paint – it’s sky, corn, field.  But, cornfields have an amazing variation in color, but the variation is on a tiny scale.  I could get all the colors in there (orange, brown, yellow, purple), but not at the appropriate scale.  I tried flicking the brush to get tiny dots of color, but I ending up flicking orange into the sky.  And the sky, eff it, would not turn out the way I wanted!!!!  The colors would not flow together.  Argh.

So, I gave this one a rest and started on another I thought would be fairly simple – an orange & lavender sky with dark corn stalks in the foreground.  (Based on another Benny Boo photo).  Once I finished this one, I actually threw it away.  But, I pulled it back out of the garbage.  This is all about learning and getting better, right?  Maybe by keeping this one around, I can look at it and remember where I went wrong:

Primarily what went wrong was this – I got too impatient and just starting slapping colors on.  I did the sky first, and the colors didn’t flow together well at all.  And, I couldn’t get peach.  This sky is lavender and peach, and the peach was very elusive.  It was teasing me and mocking me and being very annoying.  I was also using “illustration board,” not watercolor paper.  It doesn’t take the paint as well as watercolor paper. Also, you need to tape off the edges because if the edges get wet, water gets between the layers and ruins the painting. When I removed the tape, I ripped a corner of the picture.

Before I put all my supplies away (or sold them on Ebay), I decided to do a little practice picture of Lucent.  Mom gave me a really nice set of Van Gogh watercolors (I had been using the basic 8 color Prang set that they have you buy for elementary school), so I pulled those out.  I wish I would have tried them sooner.  The very first color I tried was the perfect peach I needed for the sky.  Again, argh.

Anyway, I experimented with the colors and ended up with this:

I’m frustrated that nothing turned out the way it did in my head or in the pictures.  But at least I got some practice in, and I didn’t end up just watching 8 episodes of Bones this weekend!  I learned that I need to slow down and really focus in order to produce something of which I am really proud.

I need to start working on another house painting.  Today is nice and sunny, so maybe Tim and I can take a photography journey through Dport and see what inspiration we can find.

Treats, Precious?

I’ve read lots of articles about what NOT to Tweet or Facebook about (google “What not to tweet,” and you’ll see).  I agree with some of what those articles say – why anyone would update their status on Facebook to say, “On a conference call” is beyond me, but I’ve seen it done.  One thing I don’t agree with, however, is these authors’ railing against food updates.  I, for one, am super interested in what people eat.  I enjoy reading status updates/tweets about what people are cooking and/or eating.  I enjoy sharing what Tim and I are cooking/eating as well.  To get to the root of the matter, it’s probably my way of reducing my level of guilt about eating bad food.  And by bad food, I mean food that is bad for me, not food that tastes bad.  Although, I have shared that as well.  People in my social network are generally very supportive of bad food choices (probably because it makes them feel less guilty about their own bad food choices).  Maybe I am the anomaly, and other people don’t care at all what is going into my craw.  But, they do have the option of not reading my post, right?  So, I will continue to update the world on my eating habits.

For example, I think this is interesting.  I ate Mexican food not once, but twice yesterday.  And I ate it the day before as well.  This situation was not really of my own engineering.  On Thursday, I got invited out to lunch, and the invitor wanted Mexican, so Mexican we ate.  We ate at La Guadalajara, which is a passable joint in the town in which I work.  I tried their chicken torta (for anyone who doesn’t know, that’s a Mexican sandwich that’s built using a huge bun. It’s slathered with refried beans, grilled chicken, jalapenos, cheese, onions, avocado, and Oh yes, mayonnaise).  I wanted to compare their torta to the gold standard – El Olmito’s.  I tell you more about that later.  La Guadalajara’s torta was good, but not awesome.

On Friday, one of my old friends and former workmates made the 45 minute drive to have lunch with Laura and me.  We just had to take him to El Olmito, so he could try the famed sandwich for himself.  Plus, Laura is preggers and overworked, and the only treatment for that is a big, fat El Olmito torta. So, I had to eat Mexican yet again.  But, man, was it delicious.  El Olmito tortas are a thing of legend.  They use all the same ingredients as La Guadalajara, but it is just so much better.  They also have two types of hot sauce/salsa – red and green, that put the sandwich over the top.  It was delicious.  Everyone thought so.

Tim had to work last night, so I walked to meet him at Brady Street Stadium.  We wanted to eat at a place within walking distance, so our options were limited.  We just ate at Filling Station last week, so we went to Los Agaves.  The food was fine, not awesome.  I don’t think that any food that comes out 5.6 minutes after you order it can blow your mind.  We wish there was a more authentic Mexican restaurant in the Quad Cities.  The closest we’ve ever found is La Primavera, which, like El Olmito, is a little restaurant in the back of a Mexican grocery store.  I haven’t eaten there for years, ever since I stopped working in downtown Moline.  I’ve heard their tortas are super good, too, though.

So, it’s Saturday.  I probably shouldn’t eat Mexican again, unless I plan on exercising for 4 hours today.  Maybe we’ll grill out.  It’s looking like a beautiful day, so that would be perfect.  First of all, however, I need to make some breakfast.  We have delicious refrigerated english muffins that are just waiting to be toasted, drizzled with olive oil and topped with smoked salmon and poached eggs sprinkled with sea salt.  Delicious.

For anyone reading this who doesn’t know me, I want to clarify that I am not super fat.

You’ll note I categorized this post under “Health and Fitness.”  That is solely done to irritate someone – you know who are.

Ut oh

Today is such a beautiful day that Tim and I decided to exercise outside instead of at the gym.  Tim ran for a solid 2 miles, and I ran about 1.75 miles – not bad at all for our first outdoor run of the Spring!  Admittedly, my first run of the season is always good.  I think it takes my body by surprise, and ignorance is bliss.  After the first run, my body remembers how bad I feel the day AFTER that first run, and it doesn’t treat me as well during my successive attempts.

Once we got home, I really wanted to take full advantage of the good weather, plus I was already in my workout gear, so I pulled my awesome new bike up from the basement and set to filling up the tires.  I have Presta valves on my tires, and our standard pump didn’t work on them, so last year we got a mini pump.  I think the mini pump is intended just for emergency fillings, however.  Pumping a completely flat tire with a tiny pump is exhausting (especially after a 2 mile run), and it’s hard to work the angles.  I was pumping at an angle (man, that doesn’t sound good), and when I pulled the pump off the valve, the tip of the valve was bent.  Tim tried to straighten it out, and in the process the tip of the valve broke clean off.

Needless to say, I was devastated, “Oh no!!!!”  I literally felt like crying.  Instead I threw up my hands, shook my head, lamented how the world hates me and went and raked 1/2 of the front yard.  I realize my reaction was not in keeping with the inconsequentiality of the situation, but that was how I felt.  While I was busy taking my anger and frustration out on the front lawn, Tim calmly pulled the tire off the bike, pulled the tube out of the tire, bought a new tube, installed it, and presented me with a completely fixed bike about 40 minutes later.  He is generally pretty patient with my outsized reactions to annoying situations.

I tried to work myself out of my inexplicable bad mood as I cycled around the bike path.  I did a pretty good job until I encountered those stupid people who have no bike-path etiquette – the cyclists who INSIST on riding side-by-side on a 6 ft wide path, the parent walking down the exact middle of the path with their stroller, the oblivious wanderers, etc.  Overall, though, the ride did help me get into a better mood.  The sky is blue, the grass is green, everything is budding and beautiful, I don’t live in Juarez, life is good.

It’s only 2:30 PM, so we have a good portion of the day left.   Might do a little shopping (I really want (don’t NEED) a new Hobo wallet), maybe get a drink at the Great River beer garden, maybe start a new painting.  I’m getting 8 of Benny’s excellent landscape photographs printed out, so I’ll have plenty of templates.  Maybe I’ll start on this guy:

I need to do another house painting before I forget Tom’s lessons, but I have to get some good pictures first – ones with good light and shadows.

I’m afraid I’m going to be miserable tomorrow once my overly active today settles into my 33-year-old bones – I’m already nursing blisters and a sunburn from raking.  I best get as much done today as I can.

Hope you have a great weekend!

A commentary on workout clothes

I went for a walk after work tonight.  I really didn’t want to.  I had a headache that had been plaguing me all afternoon (damn you SharePoint training in a super hot room!), and I was h u n g r y.  However, I got home a little early ’cause of being in training, and the weather was warm, and I didn’t work out this morning (still massively struggling with getting back into my routine), so I decided I best get some exorcise.  I slapped on my go-to workout outfit – black Nike T and black Champion knee pants.  Note I say “knee pants,” not “capris.”  There is a huge difference.  At least to me. I am very prejudiced against capri pants in any form – workout or otherwise.  I know people love them, but there is something about a pant leg stopping right at the largest part of my calf that I just don’t think looks good.

I guess that’s my first rant against workout clothes – too many capris.

My second rant is about grey sweats.  I understand why people wear grey sweats.  They probably don’t attract the massive amounts of heat that my ninja outfits attracts.  Plus, sweats are supposed to be grey, right?  WRONG!  For some reason, the shade of grey found in most workout clothes always seems to be tinged with yellow.  It’s as if the clothes are already soaked in a sweaty concoction.  It grosses me out for some reason.  One of my strengths (according to this book) is an intense appreciation of beauty.  I need lots of beauty in my life to be truly happy.  So, you see, I’m not being shallow by dissing peoples’ sportswear, I’m just “playing to my strengths.”

I saw the most priceless outfit on the bike path today.  It was worn by a very fuzzy gentleman in his late 50s or so.  He was on a bicycle.  His legs were robed in cranberry colored shorts (long shorts, fortunately), and his exceedingly hairy back and arms were tucked into a baby pink A-shirt.  A pink shirt and cranberry shorts!  It was awesome.

Despite the unappetizing sports gear on display this afternoon, it was an extremely good walk.  I was one of the few people walking on the path; almost everyone else was jogging.  It was very motivational.  I subscribe to the Runner’s World blog for beginners in my Google Reader feed, and they had this encouraging post about how to train for a 1/2 marathon.  Evidently it’s possible for an average human being to run 13 miles (after some training)!  I still am unable to run 3 miles without stopping, but someday, I just might try to do a half marathon.  I’m afraid it’s a slippery slope, however.  One day it’s a 1/2 marathon and the next day, I’m vomiting my guts out after running continuously for 2 hours and my skin looks like a pear that’s been left in a dresser drawer for 3 months.

Anyway, back to my original point, I’m very glad I got myself out for a walk today.  My headache went away, and I have tons of energy.  Look at me, it’s 9:11PM, and I’m still up!!

Cocoa Beach

Tim and I returned from Cocoa Beach on Friday, around 5PM.  We had an excellent trip, but it sure was nice to get back home again!

Here is a link to my Picasa Web Album with a few pictures from the trip.

We got off to an inauspicious start on Saturday.  Tim went out to load up the car, only to discover that the battery was dead.  *Somebody* (me) left the lights on all night.  I swore up and down that kids must have gotten into the car and turned the lights on as a prank.  I couldn’t have left the lights on – the car buzzes at you if the keys are removed from the ignition, and the lights are left on.  Anyway, it wasn’t a big deal – Tim jumped the Civic, tossed the cables in the car, and we took off.  After an uneventful 12 hour drive, we rolled into Kennesaw, a suburb of Atlanta.  We got supper (the first of many very unhealthy, late meals) at The Varsity.  It reminded me of Maid Rite, only much brighter and huger.

When we woke up on Sunday, it was raining lightly – no big deal, we figured it would burn off.  It didn’t.  It rained all the way to Florida.  It got so bad at one point, that we pulled off and watched an episode of Futurama on my iPod Touch.  We waited about 1/2 an hour and took off again, rolling into Cocoa Beach around 6PM on Sunday.

We stayed at La Quinta Inn – Oceanfront.  It is a really nice hotel – right on the beach, nice p0ol with “Tiki” bar, accepts pets for no additional fee, each room has a balcony with a view of the ocean, and the rate was reasonable for an oceanfront property.  Despite the weather, I wanted to head out to the beach and check it out ASAP.  Fortunately, Tim turned on the TV and discovered that we were under a tornado warning!  We went to the Front Desk to see where we should go.  As the whole lobby area was surrounded by glass, they directed us back to the bathroom in our room.  We anxiously watched the news and the thrashing palm trees outside our window – I made some last calls to my family, told them I loved them, gave Benny my purse collection should we not make it back, etc.  About 6:45 the warning expired with everyone and everything in Cocoa Beach intact.  The rain didn’t let up until about 1:30PM on Monday, however.

We discovered that there is not a whole lot to do in a beach community when the weather is bad.  We got breakfast at a lame coffee shop (Cocoa Beach does NOT have good food, BTW), bought some flip flops at Ron Jon’s, got soaked while walking through Lori Wilson park, and returned to the room.  When the rain finally started to recede, we got on our bathing suits and hit the beach for about an hour.  Tim wore his hoodie and read from his Sony eReader.  Obviously, he is not much of a beach person.  I attempted to read (I’m reading Daemon by Daniel Suarez), but I kept getting distracted by people watching.  The people watching was EXCELLENT!  I wish we had our camera on the beach with us because there was this tall white dude with a belly who had on the very teeny tiniest pair of speedos I have ever seen.  He had absolutely no butt at all.  It’s a good thing the elastic was holding up.  He was absolutely  not self-conscious in the least.  I was envious of his complete disregard for any one else’s opinion.  It was fascinating.  He was just one of many interesting people to watch.

For supper we went to the 3rd restaurant of the day that was closed on Mondays.  We tried to go to Simply Delicious Cafe & Bakery for breakfast – closed.  We tried to go to Roberto’s Little Havana for supper – it closed at 3 on Mondays.  We tried to go to Seafood Atlantic for supper – it was closed on Monday and Tuesdays.  Florida was really starting to tick us off.  We ended up going next door to Grills Seafood Deck.  We sat outside, got the fish of the day (Mahi Mahi for me and tuna for Tim), which was tasty, and had a couple of Konas.  Despite having to protect our heads from the aggressive black birds flying about, we had a very pleasant supper.

The weather on Tuesday was beautiful – mid 70s and sunny.  We packed up Lucent and headed to Orlando.  We dropped Lucent at the Pet Care Center at SeaWorld and took off exploring.  We split a roasted turkey leg, which was delicious albeit super sticky and greasy, saw sharks, manatees, killer whales, dolphins, exotic birds, sting rays, etc.  We got to see the Believe killer whale show.  It is completely amazing what those whales can do.  The people portion of the show is pretty lame, but the whales were amazing.  They break-danced, for goodness sake.  They also had an excellent sense of comedic timing for splashing unsuspecting mom-togrophers down in the Soak Zone.  About 7 minutes into the show, the trainers had to take a break from the normal show because one of the whales was not doing what he was supposed to.  The trainer explained that when the whales don’t behave as trained, they take a break, let the whales play, and then see if they are ready to perform.  We wondered if they were being extra cautious because of this.  The show resumed after a few minutes, and it was definitely worth the wait.  We also caught a side viewing of the dolphin show, which involved Cirque du Soleil-type acrobatics and costumes and huge, exotic birds.  We didn’t get a seat in the auditorium, so we couldn’t see everything, but it was still fun to watch.

After our full day at SeaWorld, we picked up Lucent and walked back to the car.  As we got closer, I used the remote start key fob to unlock the car.  When I pressed the button, the fob just buzzed at me, as if it couldn’t find the car, even thought I knew we were just yards away.  My heart sunk as I realized why the fob wasn’t working – the battery was dead again.  The buzzer in the Civic that tells us the lights are on was broken.  That’s what happens when you get reliant on technology – you get screwed when it doesn’t work.  We have roadside assistance through our insurance company, so I called them, and within 20 minutes a super nice guy from Pop A Lock was jumping our car, and we were off to the Cirque du Soleil show.

We were running a little late, so we skipped supper and just grabbed a beer at House of Blues and chilled for a while listening to the live music.  We queued up for the show at 8:30PM and made it into the show right on time.  The show was tremendous.  I really can’t use enough superlatives to describe it.  It had amazing trapeze artists, acrobats, trampoline artists, singers, musicians, freestyle bikers (one on a BMX bike and one on a mountain bike), jugglers, etc.  The show was only 1.5 hours – you would think that for your $90 ticket price, you would want more entertainment, but Tim and I both agreed that 1.5 hours of the show is about all your senses can take – the stage is constantly full of colorful movement and gravity defying stunts.  There is no way to even begin to see everything that is happening.  It was absolutely amazing.

The weather on Wednesday was excellent again.  Tim and I spent the whole day on the beach – Tim huddled under the shade of the umbrella and me basking in the sun (under multiple layers of sunblock).  Again, Tim read his e-Reader, and I sat on the lounge chair with Daemon in  my lap, watching the people and the ocean.  The water was pretty cold, but I eventually got in anyway.  I only get to the ocean once every other year or so, so I have to take advantage.  As I waded out to the breaking waves, something hit my neck.  I looked up, and saw that a huge bird was trying to snag me with fishing line!  I swatted away the line and saved myself.  I body surfed the waves for about 15 minutes, and then spent the next hour trying to warm up.

We got some sushi and Thai for supper and then headed out to the Pier for some couples shots (see the photo link), some Presidentes, and some ocean watching.  It was a very relaxing end to our vacation.

We decided to leave Cocoa Beach at 8AM in the morning, hoping that would get us through ATL before rush-hour struck.  We were horribly wrong.  We hit ATL at 3:15 and ground through the city for the next 2.5 hours.  I had heard that Atlanta traffic was bad, but I didn’t appreciate how bad it truly is.  I think it will be years before either one of us is ready to face city traffic again.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.

We made it to our hotel in Nashville around 9PM and back to Dport at 5PM on Friday.  Tim and I both agreed that while traveling to new places and seeing new things and people is interesting, coming home from being away for a few days is even better.  It is so sweet to be back at home, back in our own bed, back in our relaxing routine.

Stalks on Sky

I had a piece of scrap watercolor paper left over from getting my house sheet down to the correct size.  Since my house had no sky to speak of, I didn’t get the chance to apply Tom’s tips for painting clouds.  This scrap piece – long and skinny – seemed perfect for a sky.  I also had a super neat sky picture, taken by my brother Beentz, who is quite the photog.  I can’t find the exact picture in our mammoth library of pictures, so here are a few sample photos, so you can appreciate the kind of source material I have to work with.  I’m pretty sure Benny took all of these.

The picture I based the painting off was pretty similar to the first picture, only even better (you can kind of see it in the photo below).  To begin, I used my wash brush to wet the whole paper, then I watered down solid blue and painted in the blue areas, leaving white areas for clouds.  I then added in some purple mixed with brown mixed with blue, to add shadows and depth to the clouds.  Here is my first stage:

Here is the painting after adding in the cornstalks:

Here is the final draft, after layering in some more colors on the stalks (brown mixed with purple for the base of the stalks and the undersides of the leaves and brown mixed with orange for the lighter leaf sections):


I’m fairly happy with how this turned out.  Part of the reason I’m documenting these drafts on this blog, is so that I remember how I did this!  I feel I got lucky with how the clouds turned out, but hopefully I’ll be able to achieve a similar effect next time by following these notes.

I think I’m going to tackle a Lucent pix next time.  He’s mostly shades of tan, so that shouldn’t be too hard, right?!  Speaking of Lucent, do you want to see something gross?  Tim gave him a bath on Sunday and washed, literally, a whole Lucent’s worth of hair off the poor chihoo.  See for yourself:

Ugh, Why do they do that to themselves?!

Whenever I see a runner, toiling under the burden of transporting his carcass around on his two skinny, white legs, face red with exertion, sweat dripping off his chin, I wonder, “WHY is he doing that to himself?!”  Well, I kind of found the answer in this post on Runner’s World about why people run marathons.  This line, especially, I found interesting:

Therefore, the marathon is an event that requires a unique blend of physical, mental, and even spiritual training, which is very unusual in today’s world.

I have been getting the itch lately to start running outside again.  The weather is warming up, and it’s still fairly light when I get home.  Maybe if I started running after work, I could lay off the 4:30AM workouts a couple of mornings a week.  That would very, very nice.  Maybe one day, when I break the 2.5 mile mark, I’ll start working towards a marathon.

Here is picture of Tim and me after the Quad City Marathon 5K last year.  I felt like crap as I crossed the finish line, but I was A-OK 10 minutes afterwards.  We got some coffee from Red Band and some donuts from Donuts and More.  It was a beautiful morning.

Better Late than Never

The time has come.  I am finally going to write about my art class.

First of all, I need to provide some history.  There are two important facts you need to know.  Firstly, in high school I really enjoyed art.  I took 4 years of it, and it was one of my favorite classes.  I even got in trouble by the principal once for trying to skip a school assembly to hang out in the art room.  My two favorite things to make were pottery and pencil drawings.  I loved drawing people and houses.  I melded these two loves in this picture:

This house can be found in Monticello, by Riverside park.  I got the idea of the eye looking through the house from my Psych textbook which contained a photograph of a sidewalk with a puddle on it that reflected the sky and trees.  I liked the idea of a picture within a picture.  I cannot draw solely from my mind’s eye, so I scoured magazines and found a picture of a convict glaring through jail bars.  His eyes had the menace I was looking for, so there it is.  As you can see, I struggled with the background.  At my teacher’s instruction, I added the full moon to make the background more interesting.  Of course, if the moon was really behind the house, the shadows of the house would be all wrong, but whatever.  I still liked the drawing.  My uncle actually tried to buy it off me, so it must be cool to other people besides me.  By the way, the poor background here was a portend of things to come…

The second thing you need to know is that while I loved art in high school, I have produced maybe 2 pieces of artwork in the past 14 years.  This is the case for a few reasons.  I’m essentially a lazy person, and it’s easier to read or watch TV or check my email than to pull out all of my art supplies and try to uncover a patch of house in which to be creative.  Also, I was a non-traditional student, so on and off for the past 14 years (since high school), I have been working full-time whilst also getting my AA, BA, and then MBA.  I finally finished school last summer.  I enjoyed my free time for a few months, and then I saw that the Figge was offering this Architectural Rendering in Watercolor class, taught by Tom Hempel, a local artist whose work I have always admired.  If you’ve gone to any art shows in the QC, you’ve seen his striking, colorful paintings of houses and local landmarks.  My time to jump back into artistic waters had arrived.

Tom taught his 4 step process to produce an architectural painting in watercolor.  To begin, we drew very quick (15 to 20 minute) sketches of our houses, then used a T-square to straighten out the horizontal and vertical lines.  Then we filled in the basic color of the house.  After the first 2 hour class, this was my masterpiece.  Oh wait, first of all, I have to show you the photo I was drawing from.  Please keep in mind that the tree background on the printed photo is much darker than it appears here:

Okay, now that you’ve seen that, here is my starting point:

Actually, I think this was my painting after Week 2.  I forgot to take a picture after Week 1.  It pretty much looked like this, sans the shadows and the color in the windows.

After week 2, we started adding in the details.  This included drawing the shadows to represent the wood siding, using an exacto knife to painstakingly scrape paint and a very thin layer of paper off of the painting to get the areas that should be white to actually be white.  FYI – If you want an area of your painting to be white – DON’T PAINT IT!!!  It’s much easier than scraping layers off the paper.

I worked on the painting over the weekend (Tim and I set aside “creative time,” where he worked on his short story, and I painted).  Well, first I had to do some more art supply shopping.  The $2.99 brushes I picked up from Major Art and Hobby majorly sucked.  They were losing bristles the first night I used them. Based on recommendations from a friend, I bought some short-handled sable brushes from Micheals.  They made a world of difference – the paint went on much more smoothly and more controlled.  Here was the painting after the weekend:

The next step was to add the grass, steps, flowers, and background.  As you can see from the photograph, the background is very dark.  It’s essentially trees.  To start me out, Tom had me paint a few patches of blue, and then paint the whole background light green, as a base.  It actually looked pretty cool at this stage.  Tom said it looked like the cover of a storybook.  I wish I would’ve taken pictures, but somehow I forgot.  Anyway, during the last night of class, I put on layers and layers of dark, greenish/bluish/purplish paint to try to achieve the dark-looking background of the photo.   I kept a few places light, to convey light striking some of the foliage.

The background kept getting darker and darker and wetter and wetter.  This was my first foray into watercolor painting, so I was/am still learning how to manage water and the paper and the brushes.  I didn’t know before we started that you are supposed to stretch and tape/staple your paper to the drawing board.  This is a very important first step.  You can’t really tell from the photos I’ve posted, but my paper (140 lb cold press (made out of cotton)) was ultra wavy and crazy.  I eventually had to use duct tape to keep it attached to the board.  As a consequence, my dark, wet paint kept sliding off the peaks and settling in the valleys.  It made for a strange effect.

While I was trying to figure out what to do about the encroaching darkness, I worked on my grass, sidewalk, and flowers.  Tom recommended using acrylics to do the flowers, to make them really pop (I’m using that sardonically, but you can’t tell).  I got a couple of tubes of Folk Art paint and set to.  I’m really happy with how the flowers turned out.  Tom gave me lots of tips regarding the colors, shading and shadows, and it really helped.  I worked on the painting a little bit last weekend after the final class, and here is the semi-final version:

Overall, I am quite happy with how it turned out.  I LOVE the greenery, the door, the windows, and the foundation bricks.  The grass could use some highlighting/lowlighting – something to make it less uniform.  The background needs the same thing in a big way, but I’m at a loss.  I need to lighten up sections.  I might take Tim’s advice and have a go at it with the exacto knife.  I’m afraid of making it worse, though.  I have to ponder on it a little more.

But, overall, since this is my first watercolor painting ever, I am very happy with it.  I have tons of brushes, paints and paper now and all the reason in the world to keep at this, I just have to make myself do it.  I really enjoyed the class, and it’s  just super nice to get back into an artistic mind frame again.  The class shifted my perspective, and I started seeing all the variation of color and shadow that make up things I looked at cursorarily daily.   I started to notice how the tan weeds growing up through the snowbanks were actually a dark lavender at the base, how the clouds in the sky actually had brown and purple in them, how grass isn’t just green – it’s red and orange and blue, as well as green.  The class really made me see things differently.  Even if I never paint another watercolor, at least I’ve learned that.  Plus, I got to meet some really neat people in the class, one of whom sent me this class picture.  That’s Tom, our teacher, in the middle:

What am I going to do for my next project?  I need to paint a picture for Tim – one of Lucent, I think.  I need to paint “Serenity” for a friend.  I want to paint this photo:

One of my fellow students, who has a BFA and is an art teacher, asked me what I was going to do next, and I described this picture to her.  She said, “Wow, you’re ambitious!”  Am I biting off more than I can chew?  Painting people is probably harder than painting houses.  I guess we’ll see.  I would also like to do another architectural painting, to reinforce the concepts.  Should I re-paint our house, in which case I could actually measure out the house, so it’s to scale?  I had a problems with parts of the house not matching up correctly (don’t look at the stair railing too closely).  Plus, I could paint a beautiful cloudy sky behind the house instead of Fangorn forest.  Or, I could try my hand at a brand new house…  So many choices.

Well, if you have any ideas on how to fix the background, let me know. Otherwise thanks for reading, and if you ever get a chance to take Tom’s class, go for it!

Surrealizm

Tim and I, along with two of our other couple friends, attended an Alex Reymundo show at Penguins Comedy Club last night.  Alex, and the opening act, Beck Something?  Something Beck?, were actually pretty funny.  Of course, there were the typical, endless sex jokes, and the language was atrocious, but my stomach hurt from laughing so hard.  The funniest moments were the extemporaneous ones – where the comedian would go off on a tangent based on something happening unexpectedly.  All-in-all, it was a good show.  I could have done with 90 fewer b.j. references, but Tim helped me understand the reason for those.  The comedian is constantly trying to keep the rowdy, bucket o’ beer drinking audience engaged, so he constantly has to dumb down the comedy  in order to prevent himself from getting heckled to death.  Drunk frat boys think penis references are the bees knees, I guess.

A very odd thing happened at the show, however.  As I was watching the comedian, I would start to space out and feel as if I was watching TV in our living room at home.  Then, suddenly, I would remember that I was 10 feet away from the live entertainment, in a room full of strangers.  It was a little disconcerting, and it made me feel kind of anxious.  What was even stranger was that Tim experienced the exact same sensation!  I think it’s caused by the darkened room, coupled with the predictable laugh-track response after each joke.  It was unsettling.  I still really enjoyed the show, but next time I think I’ll ask to sit in the back.  I always feel more at ease when I’m close to an exit.

Still no post including the watercolor pictures, I know.  Again, I solidly blame Tim.  I don’t know how to get the pictures from the camera onto my computer, and I don’t want to know how.  I balance the checkbook, and Tim transfers the pictures.  That’s just how it is.

We actually had a pretty productive day today (outside of not making my promised post).  I updated our check book and budget, booked our hotel rooms for the trip to Florida, did some laundry, went  to the gym, did a little shopping (I got 2 dresses for our trip.  Hopefully someone I know will get married or have a party, so I will have more than one opportunity to wear them), and got groceries.  Not bad for sleeping in until 8AM.

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Man, I haven’t written a post in a long time.  Actually, I take that back, I have started and not finished several posts – one about Legend of the Seeker, one about Crazy Heart, one about my new Philosophy products that are messing up my skin, and one about the architectural rendering in watercolor class that I’m currently taking.  I actually plan to finish that last post; I am waiting for the Teems to download our February pictures, so that I can actually post pictures of my pictures.  According to Tim, people like pictures in posts.

Hopefully this weekend I will get a real blog post done.  But, I felt I owe my 5-7 readers an explanation for my absence.  I guess I didn’t really explain why I didn’t complete any of those other posts, though.  Regrettably, I think it boils down to sheer laziness.  Putting words together in a coherent, witty fashion is difficult, and when I get home from work, I really just want to eat supper, sit next to Tim on the couch, and watch Community and Bones all night.  I know that’s what I’ll be doing tonight.

So, stay tuned for the super awesome post this weekend about my first art class in 15 years.  It’s going to be super delightful and engaging.  And, if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to actually put forth the effort to READ, you can just look at the pretty pictures.