Friday, June 29, 2012

Funtry Friday tour around town!

Hey, c'mon and join me for a little spin around the country and let's see what kind of fun is up around here this Funtry Friday! 

Antelope Garden Club garden
Our Post Office always looks so pretty.  The Antelope Garden Club plants all sorts of neat things in this little area right outside the door.  They even have little signs to tell you what all the plants are - and big signs that tell you not to step on them!

Middle School artwork
The inside is really neat, too, because instead of a bunch of advertising, their inside window display has art from the Middle School!  This one is a display of city buildings in perspective.  I love the creativity that kids have - and the fact that most of these had a big yellow sun somewhere up in the sky! 

Well, lets wander back to the home place and see what's up with the critters.

Billie Jane, Hershey, and Bethie
Huh... Bethie does not seem to be the least bit concerned that Billie Jane and Hershey are eating all of her hay.  I guess she likes the weeds better...

Oh my!  Look at our little baby Barn Swallows now!

Baby Barn Swallows

Yep, these are the babies, but they aren't babies any more! 

Learning to fly!
Both of the parents have been showing them the art of flying and all of the babies have been swooping around all over the place.  It has been lots of fun watching them fly.  They sure did grow fast!

Well, hope you enjoyed your little Funtry Friday tour.  Glad to have you along!  Hope you had some fun out where you are, too!

Happy Funtry Friday,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to have a flat watercolor painting without an iron.

Wrinkles in your watercolor paintings?  Don't you just wish they would go away?  From little dips to gigantic waves, they can be distracting when you are admiring artwork.  There are lots of things that people try to do to make their little oceanic watercolor painting waves disapear and stop making people seasick - but why not just still the ocean waves before they start?

Some people tape their dry watercolor paper to a board using masking tape, painter's tape, or artist's tape.  All of these tapes will work on smaller pieces of paper.  Larger paintings will need tape wider than one inch and may still not lay flat.  If you are painting a lot of wet in wet technique, you may also find that the large amounts of water you use will eventually loosen those tapes even on smaller paintings.

Of course, if you have the moola, you could paint on 300 pound watercolor paper all the time and never worry and wrinkled paper again!

Another plan is to stretch your watercolor paper and attach it to stretcher bars or to a board.  Both of these methods will insure that you have flat watercolor paper on which to paint and a flat watercolor painting when you are finished.  Yes.  Flat - even if you repeatedly use a lot of wet into wet washes.  This works great on 140 pound watercolor paper, but it also works great on 90 pound watercolor paper.

For either method, you first have to get your watercolor paper really wet with cool water.  Warm water will turn your watercolor paper into mush.  Expensive mush, but mush none the less.

wet watercolor paper
Be sure that you have all of your supplies gathered together before you stretch your paper.  If you live in a warm, dry climate like I do, be prepared to work fairly quickly, too, because your paper is going to dry a bit faster that in more humid climates.

To stretch your paper on a board, you will need a board, scissors, gummed paper tape, and a sponge.   Well, and your wet watercolor paper...

supplies for stretching your paper on a board
I am using an old cutting board that has a smooth surface.  When I say old, I mean it was my grandmother's cutting board.  Since I was a little phobic about using this for food, I decided to use it in my studio. 

Before you wet your paper, cut strips of the gummed paper tape that are long enough to completely cover the edges of the paper and overlap on the cornersDo not skimp on tape.  <<<< Read that and you will not hate me later.

Set your wet watercolor paper on the board and smooth out any wrinkles with the sponge.  Dampen your sponge, squeeze out any extra water, and wet the gummed side of your gummed paper tape.

getting the gummed paper tape wet
Be careful not to use too much water, or else you will wash the gummed adhesive off of your tape.  (Never mind how I know.)  Turn the tape over, press it down covering about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) of the edge of the paper.  Repeat this on all four sides of the watercolor paper, being sure that the tape has overlapped at the corners.

When you are finished, you should have what looks like a wrinkly mess of wet paper with a lot of wet tape around the edges.  Never fear, it will dry to look like this:

dry watercolor paper stretched on a board
Isn't that pretty?

Another way to have pretty flat paper, is to stretch your watercolor paper on stretcher bars.  You can usually get stretcher bars at any art supply store - these are the same ones that are used for canvases.  You will also need a stapler or staple gun.  One little trick I learned years ago is to staple the corners where the stretcher bars are pushed together.  This will keep your strecher bars from moving while you are stretching your paper.

Get your stretcher bars all assembled before you get your watercolor paper wet and make sure your stapler is handy.  And full of staples.  (yes... I didn't, and no, I don't want to talk about it)

stretcher bars stabalized with a couple of staples

Most commercially made stretcher bars have that little ridge around the edge.  For stretching the watercolor paper, it is not neccessary.  So, if all you can find is a flat picture frame, go for it.  As long as it is stable and you have about a 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) on the side to staple into, it should work fine for you.

Take your wet watercolor paper and lay it over the stretcher bars.  Start on one side and put one staple in the middle like this...

one staple in the side of the stretcher bar

Pull the paper to the opposite side, and put one staple in the middle.  Go to one of the ends and do the same thing.  Go to the opposite end and put one staple in it, too.  Check to make sure your paper is on there right (I feel your pain if it isn't...).  Once you have it started right, add one staple on either side of the staple on one side.  Go to the opposite side, and add one staple on either side of that staple.  Got the idea?  Keep adding staples opposite each other until you get to the corners.  Fold the corners over, and put a staple in it to keep it nice and neat.  Pull your corners to the "long side" and it will stretch a bit easier.

a nice little corner for your paper

Let your paper dry.  Leave it alone - let it get dry - wait...  Okay.  Now that it is dry (you did wait for it to dry, didn't you?) you can trim the edge of your paper between the staples and the back edge of your stretcher bars. 

Voila!  You are ready to paint!

Many thanks to Beth Neely, who shared lots of these hints about stretching paper on stretcher bars in her watercolor class that I recently took.  She also shared that one advantage of stretching your paper on stretcher bars is that the paper will dry faster while you are painting.  When your paper is taped to a board, there is no air circulating behind the paper, but on the stretcher bars, the back is open.

Oh, and just what did I do during the last class session?  Well, I got a good start on a new painting.

home from my last class with a fun little painting

What's with the green critter?  Well, that's a story for another day when I tell you what I learned about masking fluid!

In the meantime, Beth is going to be doing a demonstration at The Art Store.  I'm hoping for a front row seat!

What fun things have you been exploring recently?  Did you have time to enjoy a class or learn a new technique yet this summer?  If you did, post a link in the comments below!

Happy creating!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thistles: a point of view

Some people call thistles weeds, but not me!
I like thistles.  They grow wild out in my yard and I have a habit of leaving them alone and letting them grow.   I admit, it makes some people laugh – but that’s okay.  I really don’t mind.

They see:

Prickly plants that
Grow in unexpected places and
Thrive without any care then
Bloom and
Make more little prickly plants.

But I see…

Interesting shaped leaves that have an
Element of surprise and a plant that clings to its little dirt spot with
Tenacious roots and eventually produces a
Bright and interesting flower, and, since it is a
Perennial, I will have more next year!

Thistles remind me of the trials we have in our lives. 

They poke at us, pop up at the most inconvenient times, seem to grow and multiply without any help, and come back year after year.

Looked at in a different way, those same trials could be seen to nudge us towards a new direction, surprise us with unexpected inner strength, produce beauty in the midst of chaos, and give us a new way of looking at our problems.

It’s a matter of perspective. When I use an eternal perspective, it changes the way I view many things.  Even though this is true:

I (Jesus) have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.
In the world you have trouble and suffering,
but take courage I have conquered the world.”
John 16:33 NET
This is also true!

For this is the way  God loved the world:
He gave his one and only  Son, so that everyone who believes in him
will not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world
to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him.
John 3:16-17 NET

Eternal perspective.  I’m going to work at applying that to some upcoming challenges.  How about you?


Friday, June 22, 2012

Funtry Friday - Ready to Fly!

Well, there is some fun sneaking and peaking and crafty goodness going on around in the country today!  Earlier this week the baby Barn Swallows were just peeking over the edge of their nest and they still had lots of fluffy feathers.

fluffy babies peeking at me

Today, that little bit of peeking has been exchanged for an I-dare-you-stare and lots of colorful feathers!

feathers, color, and almost ready to fly!

Ooops!  Look who I caught sneaking!

Bethie - sneaking a bite of hay!

Guess she was extra hungry or else she preferred *meals on wheels*!  Or, at least, *meal on wheel*...

Peek-a-boo!  I do see you!  I am not sure if this is a case of sneaking or peeking...

I see you, Lova!

But she sure is cute hiding there.

Take a look at this cute craftiness, too!  My little almost 6 year old granddaughter drew this cute little lamb and cut it out to make a sewing pattern.

Naomi's lamb

And *poof* it turned into a little lamb just waiting for some stuffing and a little decoration here and there!

Awwww!  Going to be a cute little lamb!

Not sure exactly when we will get a chance to finish this little project, but hopefully it will be soon.  Both Naomi and Mikayla like to draw patterns and make doll clothes and little toys.  Needless to say, Grammy has a *grand* time sewing with them!  Sophia has been practicing with her sewing cards, too.  Pretty soon a needle in her hand won't be quite so life threatening...

Well, this is the fun happening in my country corner of the world!  What's happening in your little corner of the world?  Hope you are having a Happy Funtry Friday, too!


Monday, June 18, 2012

History, Mystery, and a Hint of Romance

Love to read a mystery?  I do!

When my friend, Carol, asked me if I would like a copy of her latest book, I jumped at the chance to read it!  Love in Disguise by Carol Cox kept me in suspense with a plot that twisted and turned and gave me lots of surprises.  This historical novel is set in the Wild West of the 1880s and has just the right amount of romance, and a dash of humor, woven into the mystery.

Follow the adventures of Ellie Moore who talks her way into a job with the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  She has one chance to prove herself.  Off she goes to Arizona with her costumes and her imagination - and a need to find out who is stealing all the silver from the miners.

Ellie transforms herself into Lavinia Stewart and poses as a middle-aged widow to gain information.  Other times she poses as Lavinia's niece, the vivacious red-haired Jessie Monroe, who is out west to seek adventure - sometimes in all the wrong places! 

Add a handsome miner, Steven Pierce, who hopes that Aunt Lavinia will invest in his mine, and hopes that her beautiful niece, Jessie, will join them for dinner - and you have a very fun read with mystery, romance, and a good bit of humor.  Oh, and don't forget all the danger that Ellie finds herself in, whether she is Lavinia or Jessie!

Can Ellie solve the crime before her true identity is discovered?  You'll have to pick up a copy to find out because there are no spoilers here and I am about to give my copy a second read!

I really enjoyed reading this delightful book and recommend that you put it on your summer reading list.  Enjoy your trip out west!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Everyday... somewhere... a dad takes a stand.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Protect what the Founding Fathers gave us - don't take it for granted...
and pray for those who do not have that freedom.


Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them,
and those ill-treated as though you too felt their torment.
Hebrews 13:3 NET

Friday, June 15, 2012

Funtry Friday - Let's take a little stroll!

Sometimes it's just fun to wander around with my camera and see who is up to what out here.  There's always a bit of fun going on out in the country - let's see what's up this Fine Funtry Friday!

Awwww - look how sweet Benny Bunny is posing!

Benny Bunny

Did you know that it takes two *large* steps for a greyhound - or two - to stretch properly?

Gotcha and Glory having a morning stretch.

What is it about cameras that brings out the clown in some people - and dogs!?

Gotcha making crazy faces!  Really!

Haha - I must be the universal cat scratching post.  My neighbor's cat thinks so, anyway...


While we are in this neck of the woods, let's stop by and see how Lorie's little baby goat is doing!

Mama and Baby having supper

Awwwww!  How cute is that!  She sure is getting big fast.

Well, now that we have wandered around, it's time to head back home and have a cup of hot cocoa.  Care to join me?

Happy Funtry Friday!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Packing my brushes for a watercolor class!

I am really enjoying my watercolor painting class taught by Beth Neely!  She has a wealth of knowledge to share and I have already had some fun new learning experiences.  One of the first things I learned was how to stretch watercolor paper on stretcher bars.

watercolor paper stretched on stretcher bars
I figured that I would destroy the paper in three easy steps long before I could get it stapled, but it was easier to do than I thought it would be.  And yes, I will share how to stretch paper in a future blog post - however you have to wait until I get this little painting finished, because I only have one set of stretcher bars.  Ahem.  And I didn't take any photos while I stretched this one...  But, for patiently awaiting that blog post, I have some fun work in progress *stuff* for you now!

Beth brought some *mmmm* mangos for a still life.

mangos, but not for lunch
Tada!  I whipped out my camera and snapped a shot for reference later.  I did this because I know that I am one of the slowest painters on the planet.  Possibly in the universe.  By the way, this is a handy "reference" thing to do for any painting - in the studio or "en plein aire" (including field trips to Pluto).

Okay, here's my little painting - well, as far as I got during class.

original watercolor on stretched 90 lb cold press watercolor paper

Not bad for a beginning, I think.  Especially since there are no eyes, hair, fur, fins, or feathers...

One reason we creative types should take classes or workshops now and then is so that we are stretched a bit and challenged to try new things. Beth is encouraging us to mix our colors rather than to reach for a tube of the premixed color.  I can mix horse colors in my sleep - but these little puppies are green.  I admit, too, that I have more than one or two tubes of paint.  Yes.  In fact, I have tubes of paint for the entire rainbow, most of the critters, and some other tubes of colors that haven't even been invented yet.  We are talking serious paint habit, here.

But, I am up for the challenge!

a palette here, a palette there...
I cleaned up my original palette and put just the colors she suggested - including her optional colors.
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Burnt Umber
  • Neutral Tint
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Yellow Ochre
Optional colors:
  • Sap Green
  • Alizarine Crimson
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Payne's Grey
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Raw Umber 

There are a lot of colors on my other palette (bottom) that can be made with the colors on my class palette (top).  And, to prove it, take a look at my little painting now.

a work in progress, but getting there

Progress!  It is fun to work with the colors she suggested and I do really like painting on the stretched watercolor paper.  I had to call it quits at this point because the zoo had gathered for feeding time, but I will be back to the work table soon!

I have to admit, that it was a bit easier to work from my computer, than from a distance in class.  I can enlarge the image on the computer, and see the details much better.  I am soooo spoiled...

Oh, and, yes, in the past I had used a spray bottle to dampen my paints, but I am trying Beth's method of just adding lots of water to them instead.  I did use my little mister on my palette today.  We got a bit dry under the fan...

Ummmm... that big bad boy spray bottle, however, is not the one I use on my palette.  Let's just say you don't want to have a water gun fight with me.  I have pretty deadly aim...  A few assorted sometimes misbehaving critters will attest to that...

Hope you had a creative day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blessed to be a blessing.

On a recent trip to Costco, I happened to stop at the food court for a bite to eat.  (Don’t ask what I ate, and yes I enjoyed it!)  Staring at my food while I eat isn’t big on my list of fun things to do, so I started looking around.  From where I sat, I could see pretty much all the way to the back of the retail part of the warehouse.

I started thinking about what I saw…  Costco is really big.  It’s very bright and nice in here.  All of the lights are not lit.  Aha – perhaps Costco is energy and price conscious and they are using only the electricity that they need.  (I didn’t ask anyone, so I have no clue why the lights weren’t lit.)  Costco has a LOT of food in this warehouse.  They have more food in this warehouse than some people have ever seen in their entire lives.  More food than all the people in some villages and towns have ever seen. 

I thought to myself:  We are wealthy, but sometimes we aren’t aware of the wealth all around us.

Okay, don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not suggesting that Costco is a bad place because they have lots of food in their warehouse.  I’m not suggesting that people who have earned and saved their money are not entitled to enjoy it.   I am definitely not suggesting that “redistribution of wealth” is the answer to the world’s problems.  I’m not even suggesting that you and I should empty our pocket change into the next donation bucket that we walk by.

I am suggesting that we all open our eyes and our hearts.  Look around.  Be grateful for what we have.  Be aware of it and don’t take it for granted.

Simple things…

Go turn on the tap.  Get a glass and fill it with water.  You have just enjoyed a luxury that many people in the world do not have.

We are wealthy in ways we don’t even know.  Don’t take it for granted.  Take it for the blessing that it is.  And then share a little.  Not because you feel guilty.  Not because someone is angry that you have a nice home.  Not because someone protested somewhere about something.

Share a little because you have been blessed and because you have the opportunity to bless someone else.  The best way to enjoy a blessing is to share it!

Be blessed today!
"The Lord bless you and protect  you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 NET

Friday, June 8, 2012

Up, Down, and All Around - Funtry Friday!

Happy Funtry Friday!  Are you wondering what's up around here?

The moon!  I love the way you can sometimes see it so clearly during the day.

the moon

And the Hollyhocks are up and blooming!

beautiful pink Hollyhocks

Oh!  Look down there!  Do you see who is hiding from us?

Can you see the Killdeer?
 Shhhhhh!  look over there - someone else is hiding!

The Invisible Rabbit
Well, it's time hit the road and see what's up around town.  Let's start at the feed store.

Silver Shed
Olsen's Grain is a very fun place to shop and a fun place to snap a few photos on the way by.  The grain mill here is from the 1940s and some of the other buildings are pretty old, too.  I don't know how old this one is, but it sure has a lot of character.  And yes, it seriously is called the "Silver Shed" and it has the sign to prove it.

The Silver Shed Sign

Well, it's about time for me to get ready for my watercolor class, so I will catch up with all of you later. 

Just "chicken" to see if I have everything I need in my bag!

Hope all of you have a Happy Funtry Friday! 

Have a little country fun today!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Need help lift off..."

You just never know what you might find at Prescott's local art walk.

The Frame & I

Earlier this year I dropped by the Frame & I because I knew there was something there that I just had to buy...  A book!

Lola Hetteen Knudson and my autographed copy of her book, "Magnetic Connection"!

Oh my goodness!  I had read reviews of Lola Hetteen Knudson's book, "Magnetic Connection", perused descriptions of the plot, and let a few paragraphs tease my already energetic curiosity.  Really - UFOs in the Bermuda Triangle - what's not to love?  And the *thick plottens*, as we say around here...

Need help lift off…"

Following a solar storm and wildly surging seas, the Miami Coast Guard receives an SOS in old radio code claiming to be from a UFO disabled at the bottom of the ocean, needing help to restore lift power. As the news goes global, nations and interests maneuver to possess its technology, without regard for the aliens' rights or lives.

Meanwhile, marine biologists Drew Culhane and Kathy Ennis discover and have secret contact with a second UFO. At odds with each other, the power of bureaucracy, and partisan agendas, they take on a perilous commitment to help rescue the aliens - but find themselves in a race against time. They and the world are soon in the middle of a fantastic saga which ultimately reveals the truth about a legendary mystery.

No spoilers here!  I will just say that I couldn't put this down.  It was a great read and it kept me wondering how it was going to end - all the way to the last page!  If you like science fiction and plot twists that keep you guessing, this is a very fun book that you will enjoy.  You can get your very own copy of "Magnetic Connection" right here.

By the way, this family is full of talent!  The great cover art for Lola's book was done by her husband, Robert Knudson, who is a professional artist.  It really captures the mood of this book very well. 

Grab a copy - you won't be disappointed!
Happy reading!


PS - Look for another book review in the near future because another friend of mine who is also an excellent author just had her most recent published book released!  Oh, I know sooooo many talented people!  What a blessing!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The snake needs a bell. Just sayin'....

You say it's Sunday?  Are you sure it's not Friday?  My blog thinks it's Friday *winks* - look at this!

Don't mess with THE Chicken!
One of my neighbor's has this sign on their fence.  Definitely goes on my list of great signs!

Starting to look a little like Funtry Friday, huh?!

Forrest needs a rest.
Forrest had a very busy morning.  She had to defend her castle from the neighbor's cat, watch a ton of birds, and chase a snake...  No, there are no pictures of her with the snake...  But here's the snake.

Bull Snake
Yeah, here's my friendly Bull Snake... all just about four feet of him.  He and Forrest went nose to nose, but neither one was more than curious.  This, you will note, is an aerial shot... from my porch.  I also do not have a picture of myself tossing rocks to keep this little critter from ending up right here. 

keeping an eye on me
It all started when I was watering my trees.  Then I moved to water the flowers.  Then I turned around to go to the next tree.  There he was - slithering in my direction about two feet away.  *sheesh*  I want a bell on this dude.  Seriously!

See his little blurry tongue?
I did get a chance to take a lot of photos (from the porch) - mostly because I was determined to get a picture with his tongue sticking out.  Do you know how long that took?  Long enough to be ridiculous.  I did discover that every time I clicked the camera, he stuck out his tongue.  This was not helpful, because he sucked it back in faster than I could take another picture.  Except for once.  And, no, it was not the last picture I took.  I worked so hard to get that picture that I don't care that his tongue is a blur!  Just look where the white arrow is and pretend you see his tongue.

Pal pretending that I am a scratching post.
Pal was not interested in the snake.  Or the camera.  She was more interested in clawing her way to the top.  Of me.  Doesn't she have the prettiest eyes?  They are two different colors!  And her claws are pretty darn sharp, too, just in case you wondered...

Well, for a Sunday, it sure does look like a Funtry Friday on the blog.  I also have pictures of a cute little rabbit and some of the local birds, but that will have to wait for another day.

For now, I am going to see where that snake went - he needs to wear this so I can hear him coming. 

The snake needs a bell.

Either that, or it's 'clock soup' for his lunch.

Hope you had a great weekend, and a Funtry Friday on this fine Sunday evening.  Just pretend we had a little time warp...


And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
1 John 5:11 NET

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