We went for lunch at Hell's Kitchen in Downtown Minneapolis. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and the walls were covered in interesting art. The food is prepared with fresh, organic ingredients. We shared a garden salad with homemade blue cheese (for TOM) and a walnut vinaigrette (for me) and a grilled chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries. The fries did not need ketchup, but the bottle of homemade on the table was terrific. Overall, a very enjoyable dining experience...and it was warm too; a nice change from the cold outside. We also had the daily mystery dessert. Check it out if you are ever downtown MPLS.
I haven't been painting much since I had my drawing class, as I have been focused on that. But this weekend was my DIL's bday and I wanted to add a personal touch to her gift. She likes yellow and I like flowers, so this is what i came up with. This little work is a prime example of not planning your work. I had sketched out the larger flowers, but did not consider the foreground in the plan so the perspective is not correct. Anyway, she's getting a barbara original along with a pair of cozy, warm boots.
I like lighthouses. Not really sure why, maybe because they speak to travelers at sea and I have always had a bit of wanderlust. For drawing practice today, I picked this calendar photo because it had a lighthouse and I thought it would be easy. I am not sure how long it took me, a couple of hours at least. I started it at work, but finished it later at home. I would like to show these 'projects' to my teacher, but she is sooooo good at what she does it is a little intimidating to think about sharing my work with her. I mean she would say nice teacher things, and maybe even offer a kind critique, but I don't know if I am ready for that yet.
Before I can take any more watercolor classes, I have to take a drawing class. I have to practice every day and this was my attempt from yesterday. I didn't finish the top of the glass, but I was more interested in the shading. I did this during my lunch break. Now I need to get to work and finish today's drawing.
I had several colors in my palette that I wanted to start cleaning up. I began by putting in the background using a wet on wet technique to blend from one shade to another. Then I added the orb; I wanted an element that was repeated in each of the 'frames'.
Now that I have completed my first watercolor class, I feel a little more comfortable mixing colors. I mixed all of these myself : ) It is not as hard as you might think. I also tried a wash for the background. Typically, I have too much paint on the brush which will take over. I think this was good practice of one of my photographs. We made a simple lightbox, I traced the photograph with tracing paper and then using the lightbox, I traced the design on the watercolor paper. It was good practice. I see a lot of things that could be better, but TOM says I am too close to it. He thinks its pretty good.
This my my interpretation of a photograph that I took at the pumpkin patch behind the Vermont Country Store on vacation a few years ago. I actually drew the painting a few weeks ago, but was afraid to apply paint to paper. I was not comfortable with mixing colors so I decided to wait until I started my class.
I like certain aspects of this better than others. I like the background and I like my vague attempt at creating some shadows. I have had a problem with not knowing when to stop in the past so I was very conscious about keeping it light. I like the little shed and I like the yellow that I added in front of the shack that helps to outline the contour of the land.
I am not crazy about the pumpkin patch and I really don't like the green. I used green straight from a tube. If I had mixed it using my palette, I probably would have been happier with it. It looks best if you squint : )
All in all, not bad for my very first watercolor painting. The exercises that we are doing in my painting class, creating a color wheel and a complimentary color chart were fun too. Creating these are good practice for color mixing.
Paddling on the Hooch
We went for a paddle on the Chattahoochee River today near Uchee Creek on Fort Benning. The sky was overcast and there was a nice breeze. This is a good location for beginning paddlers. We paddled north for about an hour; about 2.5 miles. We were about a quarter mile short of Eddy Bridge. That will be our goal for next time.
Interest in kayaking is kicking up in the local area with the river restoration project. Needless to say, TOM and I are not immune to the hype, so we decided to give it a try.
I did some preliminary research about lessons, local spots that are good for beginners, equipment rental fees, and the kind of kayak to rent...sit-on or sit-in.
We opted for recreational, sit-on kayaks. They are slower and less responsive, but we figured it would be easier with my weak knee to get on and off, rather than in and out. I really did not want to end up the water, soaked from head-to-toe, before even getting started.
We also purchased a disposable, waterproof camera. I guess we were expecting to get wet at some point :) I really did not want my Nikon to end up on the bottom of the lake.
Lessons: I found a website, Smart Kayaking for Beginners, that was very helpful. That saved us about $50 for a lesson that would have taken place on the Chattahoochee River. You can watch the education video clips in the comfort of you home and hopefully, you will remember what they said when you have to put it into practice.
Buy vs. Rent: The obvious solution was to rent equipment. You don't want to buy expensive equipment and then discover that you don't like the activity. The local outfitters charge $40 a day per kayak, x2. $80, for a couple of hours (at most) of fun. Then I remembered that TOM is retired military and we can rent equipment from MWR at Fort Benning for $10 a day.
We headed out to Chewacla State Park in Auburn, AL for our first expedition; a small stream-fed lake. Because of the drought, the stream was low so we were only able to paddle up a short distance, but this is a good location for beginners to get the hang of things. The only disadvantage to this location was the hill that we had to carry/drag the kayaks down and up.
The waterproof camera had an 800 ISO so many of the shots are overexposed. Because of this, I tweaked the shots to give a warmer, aged look. Also, what you see is what you get, no zooming in our out. For the most part, I am happy with how they turned out.
We spent 90 minutes at Chewacla. We got comfortable with the equipment and the paddling. The trickiest part was getting into the kayak. It would be easy to overcompensate and flip into the water.
Interesting perspective...shooting from the water toward the land. Additionally, framing a shot could be challenging because the kayak would drift.
We saw some turtles and TOM saw a deer. He also brought his fishing rod and he appeared to be very comfortable with casting, and even did some 'trolling'. I am not sure what he would of done had he actually caught a fish : )
At the end of the day, we concluded that this is an activity that we would like to continue. It was quiet and peaceful on the lake. The activity was not overly strenuous, unless you to pick up your pace. In that case, it would be a very good cardio workout.
We will continue to rent equipment for the time being.
I did get a blister on one hand, so next time I will wear some gloves.
After Jeremy moved out, we cleaned up the bathroom. New paint, new shower curtain, new rugs. It looks really nice, but I wanted to do something with the mirror. The original plan was to frame the mirror, but as TOM never got around to doing it and I know nothing about saws and wood-working, I opted for mosaic tiles. The project ended costing more than anticipated, it always does, and we had a few challenges.
The first shot is what we started with. Pretty bland/generic.
After the first row or so, we determined that if we put the glue on the tiles and let them sit for about 10 minutes, they adhered to the mirror better. We also discovered the strong odor of the glue in a room with limited air circulation. Not enough to make us pass out though. At this point (below) we decided to take a break to let the glue set and to watch a movie, "Love and Other Drugs".
About two hours later we resume and get the final row of tiles installed. Let it sit overnight for the glue to really grab and grout today. It got pretty messy for a while there, but I think it turned out pretty well. I like the glass tiles that we purchased and they work well with the wall color. They are neutral enough that if we paint again at some point in the future, we don't have to tear out the tiles.
This is the first time I have tried to paint a still life.
Now that the wedding is over, I can focus on the things that I like to do or that I want to do again.
For example, get healthy. Get back to my exercise program. Watch my diet. Reduce stress.
Start focusing on my future by increasing my contributions to my retirement accounts. I reduced contributions to help pay for the wedding expenses. Finally, I am going to continue to stimulate my gray matter in a creative way with painting and sketching.
When Jeremy moved out we had an extra room in the house. Heaven forbid that we actually turn it into a guest bedroom. Actually, we can if we need too. We are going to purchase a blow-up bed that can be used when we have guests.
When not being used as a guest room, we are using this as a place to get creative. I have a table with my paints and brushes and portable easel. A cabinet that we purchased at the flea market. We do have to repair one door and replace the glass, but the price was right and it was the right size for the room. I am trying to decide if I want to paint it or not.
Next to the cabinet is an easel that TOM built for Jeremy a few years ago. He was trying his hand at painting and being the supportive parents that we are ... well you know. He did not take it with him so I am using it as a stand for a book of flower paintings by Georgia O'Keefe.
Along the wall, I have a bookcase with photo boxes, books, candles, and a boom box. There is also a chaise lounge tucked in the corner if you want to sit and read or just relax. So now maybe I need to get off this computer and go get creative...
I case you're wondering what that 'thing' is hanging on the wall with the stripped fabric, it is a headboard for the inflatable bed (or the real bed that used to be there). We made it about 5 years ago when Jeremy moved out the first time. Well, actually the second time, but who's counting?