Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Legend of the New Year

Ancient legend foretold of a sacred time of renewal of the human spirit. The Muses of Inspiration granted a blessing on earth and created a window of time when human beings can create a fresh start. During this phase, all the mistakes, regrets, missed opportunities and errors in judgment are purged from the human memory in the primordial fires. It is a time when all fear of failure is transformed into strength of character and clarity of purpose. With proper preparation and humility we are told the human soul can make a request of the universe and our inner being: to transmute the flame of regret into the torch of dreams fulfilled and ignite the fire of burning desire in the heart of the seeker.

The legend was concealed to prevent its power from being used for less than honorable purposes and was hidden in the heart of each new being born on the earth. Each new baby is born with the spark of truth and the essence of their life's purpose on earth. If the human pursued their heart's desire, the spark would begin to glow and take hold and lead the seeker to success. If the human took the path of least resistance and settled for a less than glorious life, the ember would grow cold and life would be empty, no matter the achievements. There was only one magical time of year when all sparks could be renewed and unite into a glorious blaze of triumph, at the birth of each New Year.


The Legend of the Sleeping Giants
As each year of human existence passed, the flames of truth buried in the hearts of humanity grew dimmer and dimmer. The nine sister Muses, the guardians of inspiration for the human race, were saddened. Did the humans not know that their lives were meant to be a blessing, full of love and abundance? Why did they live like insects, small and insignificant; did they not remember they were Giants, with the power to manifest wonders? Could they not see how beautiful and glorious they are? Why did they choose suffering over joy? How could they create poverty over wealth? Why did they choose anger over love? Did they not know that they had the power within them to create a magical world of joy? It was as if a veil of sleep had fallen on earth and humans became the victims of life instead of the original intention, which was to be the Victor. All a human had to do was follow their heart's desire, protect their thoughts from negativity and focus on love.


The nine sister Muses, being of one mind, declared a moratorium on Strife and set out to create a remedy to aid the sleeping human race. They called upon the qualities of the Ancient Ones to restore balance on earth. They besieged Mnemosyn (Memory) to free the minds of humans from their past. With a blank slate each spirit could start anew. The Muses requested the following gifts to be bestowed on humankind:


  • Eros (Love) fills the heart with compassion, first for self, and with that peace comes unconditional love which flows to others.
  • Himerus (Desire), who lives in delight, breathes new life on the spark of truth in each heart and renews the passion for life. 
  • Father Time granted a window in which humans could purge the past. By the stroke of midnight on December 31st each year, the past must be completed and all issues must be burned in the fires of regret for the rebirth of spirit to occur. 
The Muses called on the collective strengths, wisdom and powers of the ancient Gods and Goddesses to support the humans in facing their fears, making amends and forgiving themselves.
  • Zelus (Emulation) granted humans the ability to recognize their gifts and qualities in others and the vision to find their mentors. 
  • Cratos (Strength) fortified the human will with courage to face the things that must be faced for the human spirit to grow. 
  • Eos (Dawn) promised a new beginning every 24 hours and Helious (Sun) gave warmth and encouragement. Soliel (Moon) promised rest and recuperation of the body.
  • Eunomia (Order) reminds humans of the first law of abundance, order in all things, for as within our hearts and mind, so is our outside world revealed.
  • Dike (Justice) reminds humans to forgive all debts, right all wrongs and release those who have hurt us. For as we forgive are we forgiven.
  • Eirene (Peace) provides the silent mind in which we can hear our inner voice guide us to our unique truth.
  • Charities (Graces) endows the human spirit with gentleness, so that we tread lightly on this earth and bless those we encounter.
And when the sister Muses saw the stage was set for a glorious rebirth of humanity, they made this decree:
"Every human who accepts these gifts, lets go of the past and blesses each other with forgiveness and grace will be released from the pain of their past errors. They will be granted the guidance and protection of Metis (Thought) and receive the gifts of Nike (Victory) in the year to come." 

The Muses cautioned humankind to guard their dreams from the effects of negative people and events. 



"Tell only one who will hold your vision as dearly as you hold it when you are nurturing the seeds of possibility. Build a fortress around your mind so only positive thoughts are entertained. The laws of the Universe govern the results. Whatever thoughts you plant will reap a harvest. Be vigilant to plant thoughts of love and positive energy to reap a harvest of abundance."


And so Calliope, the chiefest of all the Muses sent this blessing to earth:

"Children of the Universe, the time of renewal is upon you. By the stroke of midnight on December 31st you must complete the cycle of the past, forgive yourself and your brothers and sisters, be thankful for your blessings and stake your claim on your future."

And with this gift received and acted upon, the embers in the hearts of humankind started to glow and burn brightly. The Muses and the heavens saw our lights burn brighter and brighter as we reached out and touched the lives of all around us. We traded our weapons for plowshares to feed each other, we shared our gifts with those less fortunate and with each life that was renewed with love, the gifts of abundance and joy filled the lives of all humankind.

May this next year bring you blessings of love, health, wealth, passion, companionship, happiness, fun and just a challenge or two to keep you focused!



Note: I've had this legend for years. Unfortunately, I don't have the "source" of the legend and I have no idea who wrote it. However, it's too good not to share! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Something New…

One of many wonderful things that came out of the classes in the fall was that several of the "Imaginary Travelers" decided to take on the 100 Paintings Challenge in a Year. To further help those taking on the Challenge, I've created a blog where we can offer encouragement and support to each other as we travel together. Anyone who is interested in taking on the challenge can join in. Please see the blog for all the details.




What is the 100 Painting Challenge, you ask?

The Challenge is intended for artists that are dedicated to the growth and development of their style as well as their artistic voice. The Challenge also provides a means for overcoming areas in need of improvement.




This is done by creating 100 paintings within one year. (The year can start at any time. It does not have to start in January.) The paintings are usually a mix of small, medium and large pieces, some sketches, plein aire, and studio work; work from life as well as from photos. The variety is meant to push the artist out of any comfort zones (rut), to provide ample opportunity to create no matter what time constraints the artist is dealing with, and to challenge the artist if they do not create in one of these categories. The work can be done in any medium, but it is strongly advised that the artist choose one medium in which to do the Challenge as this will help facilitate faster growth than trying to master multiple mediums.


It is also very important to NOT JUDGE the artwork! When a piece is complete, the idea is to set it aside and move to the next piece of work. Quantity over quality! The thinking goes that quality will take care of itself as we strive to do our best ANYWAY every time we touch paint to paper. Learning to suspend judgement of our work is a major step forward in the development our skills. The blog is meant to hold the artist accountable as well as to provide positive encouragement and support. Most folks find the Challenge to be demanding and there are periods where the going gets a bit tough. 


If you're interested please pop over to the 100 Paintings Challenge blog and check it out! And I hope that even if you're not interested in taking on the challenge, you'll still encourage others who are by leaving supportive comments! And as always, let me know if I can answer any questions!


Note: My apologies for the odd type this morning - Blogger seems to be a bit cranky and doesn't want to play nice!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!!



'Tis finally here!!

May blessings fill your stockings,

May happy dreams fill your sleep,

May yummy stuff fill your tummy,

May family and friends, from near and far, fill your home,

May love fill your heart.

These are my holiday wishes for you and your family!

Merry, Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Run, Rudolph, Run!!

And what would Christmas be without our favorite reindeer, complete with lights and………


……a '52 Chevy Half-ton Pickup Truck?!?!!



In another lifetime, Chris and I were the proud owners of the Chevy pickup. Now, I will freely admit that anything within a 100 feet of me was subject to be decorated at the holidays. However, this was ALL Chris' doing! He may say "bah, humbug!" but on the inside he has the spirit. Especially if it's just a little off center or odd!

We used to have a great deal of fun riding around during the holidays with this get-up - we'd get waves, and horn honks, and a few shouts as well as the occasional odd look or double take. After all, it's not often you get to follow a deer butt down the road!

Close-ups:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Look, It's Santa……Bob!!


Santa Bob


If you follow the blog, you know my life has taken some pretty sharp turns here of late, and so, in keeping with the zaniness that is defining this holiday, I thought I would share Santa Bob with you!

Santa Bob is the mascot where Chris works, The Compounding Shop of Riverview. His real name is Bob Skurrel. He works in Marketing and Purchasing as a manager in addition to bringing cheer to the office. He sometimes comments on my blog as "Drugstore Bob."

In addition to Santa, Bob has been known to dress up as a pirate for our local holiday, Gasparilla, the Easter Bunny, a doctor (just for fun) and even as a turkey in honor of Thanksgiving - he takes his job of cheering the office very seriously.

Bob knows and uniquely understands the value of humor and lightness during times of stress. He learned this during his ordeal being a victim of vehicular homicide and his reincarnation as Bob Skurrel. He is known to often comment "You gotta laugh or you'll cry. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you'll get ran over. No. Really. It happened to me. Let me tell you………………"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Santa Bunny and the Winter Solstice


Ol' Santa Bunny
Watercolor ACEO

You remember Santa Bunny, right? Old and a thousand years wise, with ears as soft as silk to listen to our heartfelt wishes for the holiday season. Even the lightest of wishes does not go unheard! He knows your heart's desire……

We are moving towards having a Christmassy holiday, after all! The floor is finished in my studio (YAY!!!!) and I was able to enjoy it for about 20 minutes before the "stash-a-thon" began! What's a stash-a-thon? It's what you do when your whole house is a wreck due to renovations and you're hosting a party in 5 days for 25 people!

My studio has become the "storage unit." At least, that's what it looks like. Bet not to many people have a storage unit complete with crystal chandelier and hardwood floors! We also have lights up outside, and the tree is up. It stands bare-naked in the living room waiting patiently for its adornment.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice - I plan to pause in my hurries and review the last few months and look ahead to the season to come, what goals I've accomplished and where I'm going. I hope you'll join me!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just Poppin' In to Say Hi!



The Christmas Penguin
Watercolor ACEO
2.5 x 3.5 inches

It's been a long, busy week here in the land of renovations. I now have about three quarters of a floor in the studio and 48 feet of baseboard waiting to go in. Actually, one wall of baseboard is in due to the huge "Bookcase of Knowledge!" Yay! I've found the crown molding that will be going into the studio, but we haven't had time to go pick it up yet.

It is still chaos and bedlam throughout the house. There may be a mouse stirring (not), but if there is, I'd have a hard time finding him! The cats, however, would make short order of that situation. They're master lizard hunter/gatherer/munchers! How different could a mouse be - if we actually had one?!

We've also had a change of plans for the holidays……I learned this morning that we'll be hosting the family Christmas Eve party for about 25 folks. This will put a kink in the studio plans, but this is a family emergency and that's what families do!

So, how's your holiday season? Gifts all purchased, made, wrapped and under the tree? Speaking of, is your tree up? How about the outside lights? My answers would be no, no, no, what tree and what outside lights?!

Hope your season is running a bit smoother than mine!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm A Guest Blogger over at Christine Kane's Blog, Live Creative!

Hi, all! Just a quick heads-up that I am the guest blogger over at Christine Kane's blog, Live Creative!

If you've read the blog very long, you know how important having a word of the year has become in my life - I recently had the opportunity to write the article for Christine's blog and it's up today! YAY!!!! Please check it out!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Gratitude List! Share Yours!!

It's that time of year……everyone is stressed about the holidays, the gift-buying, what to get, how much to spend, overeating, who's coming over, who's not, and who has had their feelings hurt. Not to mention the expense of the decorating, partying, food, gifts, travel, and everything else that goes into making this the "happiest time of the year." So, enough already, let's try something different………



Watercolor and black pen

Stop, take a deep breath and exhale some of the stress. Now, think about what are you grateful for this year. Chances are good that several things will bubble up to the top of your mind in just a few seconds. Write them down! Share them! Celebrate your abundance and your gratitude by blogging about it!

I'm starting with a gratitude list of 10 things (in no particular order). If you're inclined to share your abundance and gratitude list, leave a link in the comments for your blog post! Got more than 10? Share them! Less than 10? Share them! The season is really about joy and peace and love. Let's take a moment to share that with each other! And please invite others to participate when you add your list on your blog!

I'm grateful for……
1. The health and happiness of my family and myself
2. Finding a profession that I really love (teaching) and being able to share what I'm most passionate about (watercolor painting)
3. An imaginary world! (www.ImaginaryTrips.com)
4. Lots of new friends found in the blogosphere and in my own town!
5. The time to nurture those friendships
6. The freedom to pursue my dreams regardless of my gender, age, religion or any other limitation
7. New opportunities that are popping up a regular basis AND being able to pursue them!
8. A great new studio floor (and a clean, reorganized studio)!
9. A great marriage to a great guy
10. Winning Best of Show in the FSWS' 2009 Open Aqueous Show!

What are you grateful for??!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Learning and Living. Imperfectly.


Yesterday, I tried (on my own) to remove the base boards in my studio. I found out quickly there's a trick to it, and I didn't know what the trick was. This morning, after we picked up the flooring for my studio (yay! FINALLY!!), I asked Chris what the trick was.

I was told it was a chisel. To get behind the board and then use the hammer to tap the chisel down behind the board and lever it away from the wall. Sounds straightforward, right? Except that this base board was installed by my father-n-law and his theory goes something like "if one nail is good, three or four are better!" In fact, when he built the cabinets for the kitchen in our old house there was a standing joke that if we got hit by a hurricane that kitchen would still be standing afterwards BECAUSE it was so well built (read that as nails, lots of nails)!

I did get the base board removed. Imperfectly. And that's okay. I now have a new skill in my house demo-ing toolbox. I also finished painting the last two walls today. That went a little imperfectly too, but nothing that a gallon of paint couldn't cover up. We hope to begin putting down floor on Saturday. Having learned how to do it imperfectly in Chris' studio, I'm hoping mine will be a little less imperfect. Since nothing in this house is square, that's going to be quite the challenge.

I apologize for not having any artwork these days, but I'm truly a fish out of water with no studio and everything in total chaos around here. I couldn't even find an eraser yesterday and I'm pretty sure I have a couple dozen, if not more. Somewhere. I just saw over on Caroline Robert's blog that she's accomplished what I can only dream about - an organized studio!

The little ACEO was done while my mother-in-law was very ill. My father-in-law would give us a word each week to illustrate, then Chris and I would go off to do our own interpretations. We'd then share them the next week. The word for that particular week was "starlight" and it was December. Some things just create themselves. If we're open to it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Are You Sure?

Are you sure it's December? I know the malls are playing the Christmas music over and over, but they start that nonsense in October! I keep looking around for some indication that it really is December in the Ferlita household and, well, let's just say something's missing. As in decorations. As in festive plans. As in a clean house.

Bedlam and chaos rein supreme - the floor in Chris' studio is complete and his studio is about 50% reassembled. Disassembly of my studio is now underway with about 50% of the contents strewn about the house where Chris' things are not taking up space.

It's a bit disconcerting. Usually, the tree is up, the lights are up outside and the serious deep cleaning the house gets every year at this time is underway. Nada. Nothing. Zip. It's all you can do to walk in here! I'd be out of my mind to try and clean anything around here.

However, progress is being made although it is so slow that one would walk right past it and not see it! The card up above is a double ACEO 2.5 x 7 inches and it is all watercolor - even that cute little border! It's a favorite and so I thought I'd share!

Hope your season is suitably festive so far!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Serendipity!!



I went by one of my favorite Christmas shops yesterday, and look what I found–the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben! I always try to buy a couple of ornaments each year that represent the year's experiences - these are perfect, no?!!!

I think they are the perfect representation of Imaginary Trips and all the cool places I've been this year, the new friendships I've made and wonderful experiences I've had. When I came home, I carefully unwrapped the ornaments and put them on a small shelf in my office so my fuzz bugs (aka cats) wouldn't accidentally knock them down, over, or chew on the hanger cords. (Not that my little darlings would ever do anything like that, but accidents DO happen!)

My paint palette and waterbrush were up on the shelf for the same reasons. When I went to pick up the ornaments to take a photo for this post, I realized I had a perfect set up right where they were - in front of my travel guides, with my pocket palette and waterbrush–serendipity, you've gotta love her! She has such a sense of humor!

As an additional note, An Imaginary Trip to Paris and An Imaginary Visit to the Beach are now posted on the web site and OPEN for registration! The itinerary for England is on the table and being discussed - so many cool places to visit, so much to sketch and paint! It's really hard to decide and narrow it down! An Imaginary Trip to England is tentative scheduled to leave April 5th, and as always, I'll list it here when the registration is open! You can also check the web site, Imaginary Trips for more info on all the classes!

To latest edition of Imaginary Trips newsletter, Trav•e•logue, is also posted. If you would like to receive advance notice about class information, please send me an email by clicking on the button in the left hand column of the blog or visit the website!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Little Frivolity!!!




Watercolor Painting of Antique Ornament

As you can see, Painted Thoughts Blog has undergone a rather festive transformation! I am so in the mood for celebrating as I've been able to close some outstanding items from the computer crash waaaay back in September! I feel this great sense of accomplishment and I'm so ready to celebrate and play - care to join me?!!

Run your mouse over some of the darker areas - see the little sparklies??!!! Isn't that fun?!! It's fairy dust and if you look around you might even see that it's snowing here at Painted Thoughts! It's a fun, happy change - for a while anyway! I do hope you enjoy!!

Me? Over the Top?!!!

Well, it seems that Teresa over at Blueberries, Art and Life seems to think so - she even gave me an award to prove it!! Thanks, Teresa! Teresa is a fabulous colored pencil artist who also happens to love chocolate and blueberries - a girl after my own heart! I hope you'll pay her a visit to see her fabulous art - she has recently completed a dog portrait WIP - gorgeous! Oh, and she also happens to be a great writer as well - check out her newspaper articles. They're quite entertaining.




The rules are:

Pass this award on to five people, and answer a list of questions in ONE word. 
(like that's gonna happen!)

So here we go:

1. Where is your cell phone?…chilling
2. Your hair?… messy
3. Your mother?… fun
4. Your father?… ornery
5. Your favorite food?… chocolate
6. Your dream last night?… yep
7. Your favorite drink?…coffee
8. Your dream/goal?… sustainablelivingasanartist (hey, that's one word, right?)
9. What room are you in?… office
10. Your hobby?… painting
11. Your fear?… blindness
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?…happyandsuccessful
13. Where were you last night?…home
14. Something that you aren’t?… sick
15. Muffins?… nothanks
16. Wish list item?… time
17. Where did you grow up?… here
18. Last thing you did?… typed
19. What are you wearing?… pj's
20. Your TV?… sony
21. Your Pets?… multiple
22. Friends?… several
23. Your life?… zany
24. Your mood?… quiet
25. Missing Someone?… no
26. Vehicle?… blue
27. Something you're not wearing?… bra
28. Your favorite store?… art
29. Your favorite colour?… OnlyOne?!!!
30. When was the last time you laughed?… today
31. Last time you cried?… Wednesday
32. Your best friend?… Hubby
33. One place that I go to over and over?… mountains
34. Facebook?… yes
35. Favorite place to eat?… Chili's




And the 5 lucky recipients:


1. KJ over at Catching Happiness, a new blogger
2. Pat at Pat Reese Designs, is this lady ever talented or what?!!
3. Vickie over at Garden of Weeden, is another very talented artist and super nice person!
4. Susie at 1st Floor Flat. Susie has several blogs and all of them, as is her art, is outstanding!
5. Cheryl over at Scrappy Cat, a very talented calligrapher, journaler, and artist


Hope you go and take a peek at these ladies as well as at Teresa's blog - you're in for a treat! Thanks again, T!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December, What Are You Doing Here Already?!!


I must be mistaken, but I've double-checked the calendar twice and it still says it's December!! Can that possibly be right? Egads, if it is, I'm already behind. Not that it would matter or be any different than usual. 


This little tree is gracing my studio at the moment. It keeps saying it's December too. If you look closely you can see the green wall is now in the studio, complete with blue painter's tape - the latest in home decor! Well, at least at my house, it's the "in" thing. 


I ran across the tree while I was pushing things back and forth across the room (not literally!) so I could get some painting done this weekend just past. I decided to decorate in the latest color incarnation of the studio. The photo doesn't really do the tree justice (not to mention the image is lopsided. Which is the fault of the photographer and not the tree).


We've put in half the floor in Chris' studio and hope to start on mine this weekend. I'm thinking it will probably be mid-week, next week. We still have work to be done in my studio before the floor can go in. The work can't be done until there's room to work in there. Since our house already looks like a storage unit with Chris' studio stuff piled everywhere, my studio will have to wait until his is reassembled. 


Then there's the small matter that I haven't made up my mind what flooring I want yet. I think now that all that fabulous color is in, I can make a better decision. I hope–as I'm gonna be stuck with this stuff for a long time to come!


Hope your Thanksgiving holiday was wonderful with lots to eat, family to visit, friends to catch up with, shopping to do, places to go and whatever else there is that makes it a great holiday for you!


P.S. Does anyone have any idea why Blogger is suddenly adding double spacing and small type in the posts - that look normal in the composer???

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time of Year!



I find myself coming to this holiday with grATTITUDE! I have so very much to give thanks for - an abundance of riches in new friendships, accomplishments, health and happiness.

My wish and hope  is that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with time to celebrate and reflect on the blessings of family and friends! I am so very grateful for each of you being a part of my of life this year – Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Studio Transformation: Part I - Paint Chips Lie


It has begun! Well, actually it began two weeks ago with replacing the light. The painting began this past weekend. One wall is painted. Unfortunately, no matter what angle I took the photo from, this was as good of a photo (of the wall color) as I could get. The color is much deeper and richer and not nearly so pink. Nor is it rose. Once the sun comes out, I'll try again. Probably Friday as we're expecting rain for the next two days.

Below the wall, you can see the flooring choices I am currently entertaining. The two dark woods are hard to tell apart, but Number 3 is actually bamboo stained to an "expresso" color. Number 2 is "Sangria" oak that is lighter with more wood grain showing and plays well off from the reds and pinks in the wall color (which may change. Eventually.). Last but not least is Number 1, a Natural Red Oak - finally, a regular name! It too plays well with the reds and pinks in the wall color.  The trim is going to be painted white to unify the room somewhat. Which one would you choose?????


In the second image, we see the test wall. Again, with photography being a challenge, this wall has six different colors of green on it. Along with cast shadows. Four of the six colors are store made. The last two are Laure made. I have not made a decision on which one to go with, but I have narrowed down the field - Numbers 1, 4 and 6 are out. Most likely 5 is out too. That leaves 2 and 3. Both Laure made colors. Go figure.

Once I narrow it down to the winner, I'll take my sample board back to the paint store and have them scan it and make the new color up. Whichever color I decide on, it will be called "Sass!" Because man, it is very sassy and the color practically vibrants off that red/pink wall! LOVIN' IT!! (You can see the edge of the "Bookcase of Knowledge" on the right edge of the photo. You can also see the green reflections on the white! (eeeeeek!!) This is what concerns me. Whether or not I can handle that reflected color. More about that later.)

This will be the last update for a while on the studio as the focus will now switch to Chris' studio to get the new floor installed in there. I asked over the weekend if he would mind if I posted images of the new floor. His reply was that we should post before and after shots. Except we had already pulled the majority of his studio apart and taken the carpet out. Guess that means yes, I can post images of his new floor. So, we'll have some "after photos" anyway!

Monday, November 23, 2009

You Never Know What You'll Find . . . . .

. . . .when you leave my husband and food alone together!


My husband loves to play with his food. Or yours, if you'll let him. On occasion, a waiter or waitress has recognized us after Chris has left a "food sculpture" from our meal. Like the crab made from a bun and broken bamboo skewers from our grilled shrimp for legs with olive rings for eyes.

So it came as no surprise when I opened my leftover salad from Chili's to find a "face" looking back at me! Made from croutons and a french fries.

What a guy, right?!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What Does "Studio" Mean To You? Part II

Two years ago, when we visited the Artist's Loop just outside of Gatlinburg, we stumbled upon a gallery called "In the Wild." When we walked in, I could almost feel my blood begin to fizz and hum and fill with energy–the walls were a brilliant shade of green, not quit lime but close. The store owner, Doreen, and her daughter, were the artists of all the fabulous artwork. Black bears with magenta and electric blue in their coats and poppies of every possible shade–all of them brilliant in tone! Raku pottery, altered books, handmade jewelry! Art quilts that would just make one fall in LOVE. Instantly and irrevocably. And I did! With all that magnificent color!!!!

But……

On the long ride home and in the weeks that followed, I talked myself out of painting my studio any of those rich, luscious colors. After all, being a watercolor artist I was very concerned what those colors would do to my art as I knew color that BRIGHT was going to reflect LOTS of color around the room. In addition to that, I could not imagine the hassle of dragging everything out of the studio to paint–no matter how bad or how deep it was getting in there! And what about my sanctuary? What would happen to the peaceful, calming, soothing, environment in there?

Fast forward to last month. While we were in Gatlinburg, we went by to see Doreen and those rich, fabulously luscious walls and vibrant artwork and art quilts. I visited the gallery twice, the first time just to see if the reaction would be the same–the quickening of my blood, the hum of energy in my mind, and sure enough, there it was! I could just feel this surge of creativity bubbling up and wanting to explode onto paper! It was an awesome feeling! As Doreen had customers, we wondered away to visit other shops. On our return, the gallery was empty and we went in to speak with Doreen. The hum and fizz returned–even stronger than before!

And you know, if it hadn't been for that blinking light in my studio, this never would have gone anywhere at all. But the light was blinking. And needed to be replaced. And we went to every Home Depot and Lowes and hardware and flooring and lighting store in the county. And they had paint departments. With luscious green paint. And lots of other rich, luscious colors just calling my name! Begging to be looked at, to be chosen.

And this time I decided to go with my longings for a bright, energetic environment in the studio.





But, what color(s), I wondered…………

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Does "Studio" Mean To You?


We all have different ideas and definitions of the word "studio" and how we make that word fit into our lives. A studio can be a place more in our minds than of this physical world, it can be a something to hope for, a place to work or it can be a place to pile all the extra clutter when family comes to visit.


I am learning that my relationship with my studio is more complex than I originally thought and the definition is evolving. In evaluating the changes that we're going to be making in the next six weeks or so, it become apparent that the studio was quite a reflection of "who I've been" for the last ten years or so.

The first image of the studio is from Christmas 4 years ago. The set up is basically the same, but a lot of "stuff" has been added - mat board, foam core, paper, etc. Stuff stacked everywhere. Most of it tools of the trade and necessary, but highlighting the need for better storage and organization.


 The next image gives a good idea to the color scheme - calming, relaxing, soothing. And that's what I needed when I came home for Corporate America, strung out on stress, fatigue, and caffeine. A place to retreat to. I realized that the studio is (and was) as much about being a sanctuary as it was about being a place to create. It is my nest, full of objects and art that tickle my fancy and make me smile, my place for contemplation and for journaling. And for creating.

And make no mistake, this studio serves me well, but in the last few years, I found myself wanting something a little…different……more energetic, alive, more vibrant. These thoughts have teased around in my brain for a while, but I just couldn't quite see clearly what it was that I wanted to change or do differently. I kept thinking that if I made the changes that were floating in my mind, I'd lose my sanctuary. The question then became about balance. Then about change. Then balance. Then, oh, never mind! I decided it was fine the way it was. Except it wasn't and the Universe decided I needed a nudge.

To be continued . . . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Introducing KJ!


I wrote about a new friend I had "met" recently and how it seemed we had known each other forever. Well, that hasn't changed. We can walk into Panera's (our meeting place) and make 3 hours (or more) disappear just like that - poof!! KJ is a freelance writer among other things and she decided (with a little help from her new friend) that she ought to start a blog. "Wonderful idea!" I said.

I'd like to introduce you to KJ, also known as Kathy Johnson, and Catching Happiness! Kathy's a budding artist and a really fun person to spend time with. Her outlook on life is uplifting and I enjoy her company immensely - I'm sure you will to! Please do stop by, check out the blog, leave her a comment and welcome her to the blogosphere!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's Going On Here?!!!

I've recently been having a problem with my light/fan combo in my studio. A few months ago, Chris came into to talk to me while I was in the studio and I asked him to turn off the overhead light. When he flipped the switch it threw an arc, shocked him and blew the bulb. Or so we thought. The light went out and would not come back on.

We replaced the bulb - no go, wouldn't work. And then it came on. Then off. Drats. Suddenly the bulb came back on. Then off again. Then it was on most of the time. Occasionally, it would blink on and off of its own free will in the most haphazard, irritating way possible. This is not desirable in an electric device. At least not at my house. So we started to replace one thing and then another trying to isolate the problem. Still hadn't found it and I'd began to get a bit concerned about a wiring short causing a fire. We decide to replace the light/fan combo all together. We went "looking" shopping, not "shopping" shopping.

When we left the house, I was thinking track lighting. After all this is a studio, right? There is now a bendable track lighting that you can bend around a room in whatever configuration you want - perfect! I thought. We looked and discussed the pros and cons of more than a dozen light set ups. We looked at light/fan combos, we looked at spot lights, can lights, and just about everything else you can imagine. Everything seem to have more cons than pros. Since the studio has become a video production studio in addition to being a painting studio, I was looking for something that would be useful in both scenarios. I couldn't find it.

Finally, Chris said, "Since what we had in mind is not working, you might as well get what you want." It was as if a chain dropped. I knew what I wanted. Immediately. Instantly. And it's nothing like me! Really. I don't do glitz. Or glam. Or bling-y. I don't do plaids, or pleats, or ruffles or frilly or fru-fru or cutesy or, or, or……or so I thought. Ummm, what happened? I've no idea. Dunno. Really. (Perhaps Sam, my alter ego, could explain it if she wasn't over there on the couch laughing herself silly. At what, I don't know and I don't think I want to know!) What I can tell you is that "this" is now hanging in the studio……

And (Sam and) I love it!! It makes (us) me smile every time (we) I see it or (we) I turn the switch on!  I think what appealed to (us) me most is the fact that the frame is rusty and that gets to (us) me on so many levels that it's impossible to describe! I love rust, just adore it, and I especially love rust in unusual combinations––so add some bling to it and I'm all over it. Really.

I'm sure adding/using chandeliers is now "just so last year" in the decorating/designing world and that's okay as I really don't much care. I'd much rather have something that makes (us) me smile and makes (us) me happy then to be up with the current fashions. There are also some other changes underway in both my studio and Chris'. I'll be sharing more about those as the week goes on. Let me just say that Sam's been busy. Very busy. Meanwhile, I think I need to go have a chat with my alter ego and find out what else she's up to……sneaky little wench! "Oh, Sammmmmm……"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some Husbands Bring Their Wives Flowers . . . .

. . . . or some special item from their trip out of town. My husband brought me dead snail shells from his recent trip! Wasn't that sweet of him?!!

Florida Apple Snails Watercolor sketch

Yes, you read that right - dead snail shells. They're actually Florida Apple Snail shells from Lake Ockeechobee (pronounced Oak-uh-cho-bee). They may be Channeled Apple Snails. He picked them up along the bank of a canal leading into the lake. Most likely they died a premature death caused by the rooting of wild boar in the area. Chris said there were 1000s of these shells, most of them crushed, damaged or bleached white from the sun.

These look deceptively easy to draw and paint. Very deceptive if you ask me. It was quite easy to get caught up in the whorls and lose my place - even with the shell sitting in front of me. The biggest shell is a little over 2" tall and about 3" at its widest point. The other one is much smaller - maybe half the size of the first one. The bigger one suffered some type of trauma as there is a distinctive ridge and a change in the shell pattern. To learn more about Florida Apple Snails please click here.

As to the dead snail bells, Chris knows me well enough to know that I'd much rather have the snails than flowers. Flowers are easy. Snails? Not so much! Especially unusual ones (to me anyway) like these. I'm not sure where the term "snail bells" came from, but I have a memory of it and it came bubbling up when I was painting these. A grandmother's comment perhaps? Not sure. Maybe as I continue to draw and paint these the answer will reveal itself too.

She Came Back - Again!!

I'm becoming rather fond of the Domestic Goddess! She came back yesterday, and together, we cooked up something called Southwestern Corn & Black Bean Soup. The longer this stuff cooks, then sits in the fridge, the BETTER it gets! I think she came back yesterday because it simply was not a good day. Nothing major, just everything from broken email accounts to tropical storms to corrupt files to lost files to video hosting sites crashing - all - day - long. Lots of little things. All day long.

The goddess knows me quite well and knows that there is nothing that will lift my spirits faster than something yummy simmering on a cold, damp, windy day, filling the house with wonderful aromas. Especially soup! Our temps are suppose to cool down this weekend - yippee skippee - so soup was the perfect choice!! And she told me to share. Since I can't share the soup with you, I thought the least I could do was share the recipe! (Sorry there's no art to go along with this - there hasn't been much time lately.)


Southwestern Corn and Black Bean Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup green pepper, sliced and diced
1/2 cup onion, sliced and diced
1 tsp. minced garlic (or more depending on your tasty buds)
1 can (28 oz) or 2 cans (15.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed (also known as Turtle Beans
1 bean can (15.5 oz) of water 
1 can (15.5 oz)  diced tomatoes
2 boxes (18.3 oz) Campbell's V8 Southwestern Corn OR 2 cans (15.5 oz) cream style sweet corn
1/2 tsp. cumin (or more depending on your tasty buds)
1/2 tsp. oregano (see above)
1/2 tsp. chili powder (see above)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat olive oil in large soup pot, saute green peppers, onions and garlic until onions are translucent. Add black beans, tomatoes and corn/soup to green pepper and onions. Add water using more or less depending on how soupy you like your soup. Add seasonings (adjust amounts of seasonings depending on your family's taste). Reduce heat to a low simmer. Allow soup to simmer for at least 20 to 30 minutes. 

Serve with a dollop of T. Marzetti's Southwestern Veggie Dip or Hidden Valley's Spicy Ranch and tortilla chips if you like a little crunch in your soup. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm!!


The flavor improves drastically the next day so hide the leftovers!!

If you decide to try it, let me know what you think!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thoughts and Prayers

My thoughts and prayers go out to the soldiers, their friends and family, really to all effected by the massacre at Ft. Hood, Texas. May you find the strength and courage to move through this tragedy.

May God bless you and keep safe.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just How Fast Is A Siberian Husky?

Warning: This is a humorous, but graphic post and not for those easily upset.

This afternoon, Chris returned from an overnight hunting trip, and we sat in our breakfast nook overlooking the backyard to discuss the two day's events, both his and mine. As some of you know, we have three dogs: two good ol' American mutts, and a Siberian Husky, all of them rescues. Susie, the husky, is a big girl weighing in at over 60+ lb. She is big for her breed and not at all overweight–just a big girl. She also wasn't raised well as a puppy and can be aggressive towards other female dogs. Gets along fine with males that are close to her size. Or bigger. Go figure.

In the last couple of years, we're started letting Susie have limited visitation time with our other two–female–dogs. She plays well with Spec, but Andi doesn't want too much to do with her. When Chris got home this afternoon, he let Susie out for play time. As we sat talking in the breakfast nook, with Chris telling me about his heroic pursuit of the "hog that tried to get away," about how he ran a quarter of a mile and still the pig was disappearing out of sight, and about how he had to bring it down or they would have lost it for sure, I noticed all the dogs stampeding for the north side of yard. That could only mean one thing…

…we had been invaded by a squirrel–the evil-doers of the outside world. Or at least in the Ferlita backyard. As Chris kept on spinning his tale, I noticed Andi trotting back around the house. Okay, I thought, we're safe and the pesky varmint had been run off. The audacity of some squirrels. I mean, really. Then Susie came around the corner. Prancing. Practically dancing. With. A. Long. Grey. Floppy. Body. In. Her. Mouth. That she was slinging around like a new toy. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! Dogs 1. Squirrels -1.

Past experience has taught us that if the dogs are going to get annoyed with one another it's generally over food. And squirrels are quite coveted as they are the tastiest of tidbits. So the squirrel had to be seized and removed before the girls had a quarrel. Do you know what it's like to try and remove a squirrel that is approximately 8" in length (not including the tail) from a 60+ lb Husky that does NOT wish to part with said item?? Ask Chris. He knows. This is no small feat.

But the mighty hunter had just returned from his successful hunt and he was up for the task. He started by trying to temp her away for her new crunchy toy with a milkbone. She wasn't having any. Then he tried to sneak up on her. She wasn't having any. Then he tried chasing her around the yard for ten minutes, explaining to her how he had just returned from "two days of hunting and he'd already been running for two days and she was going down!" Do you know how fast a 60+ lb. Husky can move? Faster than a 40-something-year-old man, apparently. Dogs 2. Squirrels -1. Humans 0.

After Susie settled down to some cheerful crunching, Chris managed to get close to her. At this time, I heard him ask very politely, and with a big smile, "Susie, may I puleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaasssssseeeeeee have the squirrel? I'll give you a milkbone!" She wasn't having any. Now, my hubby, he's a pretty smart guy. No, really, he is. While he distracted her with his right hand, he made a grab for the squirrel with his left–and got it!! Score!! Sort of. Problem was there was still a 60+ lb. Husky attached to it. The tug-of-war was on! It was back, it was forth, it was over there, it was over here, and finally, Susie made a tactical error and tried to get a better grip. Chris managed to pull the squirrel away from her. Susie was crestfallen. Heartbroken even.

And then as only dogs can do, not 15 seconds after Chris turned to dispose of the squirrel, Susie came trotting over to me, fully recovered and sat like the sweet little (well, not so little maybe) lady she has been trained to be and waited for her promised milkbone. Other than the fact that she would not look at Chris, nor acknowledge his existence even when he took the milkbone to give to her as an act of truce,  there was no other hint of what had gone on just moments early. But, dogs being dogs, who think with their stomachs rather than their brains, decided she could be nice long enough–to get the milkbone!

Only in Dogdom.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

She Returns!


She, the Domestic Goddess, has returned!! She has been rather scarce around here of late, but yesterday, she came back. She made a pot roast, beef veggie soup and a big, big pot of spaghetti sauce for the cool winter evenings soon to come. Yummm!

As we sat eating some of the soup last night for dinner, I tried to explain to my husband that we needed to sing the goddess' praises and flatter her, or it might be a while before we saw her again. He really didn't take me seriously which will explain why we won't be seeing her again for a while. Silly man!

I must say her soup was exquisite. A while back she told me to take any dabs of left over veggies, rice, tomatoes, etc. and to put them in a big container in the freezer and when it was full, she would appear and make the soup. Well, being the busy person that I am (apparently a little on the silly side myself), I didn't get around to it for a while, and the container just filled up this past weekend.

As I stood there looking at all that frozen "stuff" and thinking to myself, "now what?" Poof! She appeared! The goofy illustration is part of my heartfelt thanks and shameless homage (ploy) to entice her to come back and play at my house again - very soon!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Laughter - The Best Medicine


Watercolor Sketch in my Nature Sketchbook

Does that not look like one mean, ticked-off shorebird?!! Doesn't s/he remind you of the ticked-off bluebird of happiness that's been circulating around for years?!! When Chris and I were in Venice a few weekends ago, we stumbled across this little bird. I knew instantly s/he was coming home with me. You see, s/he's another one of those critter statues that people my studio, and if you can make me laugh out loud in the middle of a store (and do not cost the farm), well then, I think you've earned your keep! The bird sits almost at eye level in my studio and every time I pass by, I smile. That, to me, is priceless.

Watercolor Sketch in my Nature Sketchbook

S/he doesn't look nearly so ferocious from the side as from the front angle. I am guessing that it's some artist's humorous take on a sandpiper, but I may never know as there was no identifying info. Kind of a cross between a sandpiper and a puffer fish! The roundness is not an exaggeration - that's what the bird looks like!

We'll be going back to the beach some time in the next few weeks, and I'm going to take the bird with me to snuggle it down in a sand dune for photos. I may even use it in my next Imaginary Trips' class, “An Imaginary Trip to The Beach!” That trip is scheduled to launch in February 2010. Wanna come and play??!! More info on the class will be available soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Day At The Beach

I forgot to post about our trip to the beach! This was actually two weekends ago, before the trip to the mountains. The day was wild and windy as we had a front moving in. We'd had rain off and on for a couple of days before we got out to the beach. It was a gorgeous day - if you don't mind 45 mile an hour gusts and overcast skies. It tends to make it a little chilly out on the water but all the better if you ask me!


Late day sun trying to break through


Waves breaking on the rocks.
The rocks are man made and placed in strategic locations to help stop shore erosion.


The calm within - a small pool of water captured with the rocks with some shells help captive.


Sea Oats blowing with the wind to keep from breaking.


There are over a dozen birds in this image. Can you find them all?
I have left the image large so that you can click on it to get a better view.

There is something very cleansing about a day at the beach when the wind is up and the clouds are racing by. It is hard to stay myopically focused on internal issues when Nature is putting on such a glorious show––as long as you don't mind the sand-abrasion exfoliation provided by Mother Nature. (I had on capris that day and my ankles are much smoother! ;•) Days like this tend to blow the "cobwebs" out of my mind and sweeps my pent-up worries and cares out to sea.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Hallow's Eve!



Wishing you a night of happy treats, just a few tricks (to keep you on your toes),
and wonderful times to make great memories!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Fleeting Visit

 Chris and I love the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, and we've been dreaming of “escaping” for a visit for most of our long, hot, humid summer here in Florida. This past weekend, we jumped at the chance and took off! We arrived in Tennessee on Friday morning to rainy, overcast skies, but it didn't dampen the gorgeous colors of fall in the least.


                Cade's Cove on Sunday

We spent the day in the "shops" in and around Gatlinburg and Kodak, TN, on Friday as the rain was heavy enough to make the prospect of sketching on location, let alone hiking anywhere, a rather unpleasant idea. We visited with some old friends on the Arts & Crafts Loop and made an early night of it. Oh, and we visited the apple orchard restaurant, Carver's, that's an old favorite!


                Roaring Fork, TN

Saturday morning dawned wet and overcast - after all, they don't call it "smoky" for nothing. This was the view that greeted us about a mile and a half up the trail. Still, it wasn't raining and it was so still and beautiful––good medicine for the soul. The temps started to drop around noon.


            Roaring Fork, TN
We soon walked out of the smoke and mist, only to return to it as we climbed up. There are places in this area that really make you rethink what it most of been like to have lived in this area back 150-200 years ago when these "trails" were the "roads." Folks today hike to go see the pretty waterfalls or the trees in all their glory––back in the day, the pioneers hiked because that was the only way in. And out.

 
                  Bigfoot????

Don't you just love those funky shots that you get sometimes that seem to suggest something else entirely?!! This is actually a photo of Chris half hid behind a tree and for whatever reason (operator error) the image came out murky and dark and slightly out of focus - and hence, our Bigfoot sighting! By 5:00 that afternoon, with darkness falling rapidly, it was downright chilly. Excellent weather for sitting in front of the fire and musing about the day. Turns out it was 37ยบ the next morning - perfect for someone looking for a break from the Florida heat!


With only one dry, sunny day, I didn't get much painting done. However, I did come back with a box full of leaves and such, as well as a pile of images for inspiration until we can return again. Maybe after Christmas??? (Hint, hint)
 

And I have to say Chickadees make lousy models. They should have named them "Mad Cap" instead of "Black Cap" as these guys are not still a minute! Consider yourself lucky if you get 15 seconds of this guy in one spot! This is unfinished as there simply wasn't time to chase him all over the National Park to get a sketch done. It will be finished from photos.

All in all, a much needed break and so good for the soul. Would loved to have stayed longer, and already, I'm dreaming of the next trip. In the meanwhile, I've got leaves and pinecones and critters to tickle with my paint brush!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Better Photo


“No Place Like Home”*
by Laure Ferlita
© All Rights Reserved

Where has this week gone?! I had intended to have this new image up on Monday, Tuesday at the latest, and it's already Thursday?! Time is flying and Autumn with it. It will be Thanksgiving next week and Christmas the week after that at this rate!

I am so pleased that "An Imaginary Trip Through Autumn" is over half full! Yay! I am so looking forward to the class–so far everyone seems to have a love of all things "pumpkin!" As it turns out, several of us have made several trips to the pumpkin patch/stand and have come home with several pumpkins–just for the purpose of painting!! We've been discussing the possibility of starting a support group! If you're interested in joining us, please click here for more info.

*This painting won Best of Show at the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society's Open Aqueous Show being held at the Venice Art Center, Venice, Florida. The painting is available for purchase. Please contact the Art Center for more information. You can read about the show here

Friday, October 16, 2009

BIG, HUGE, HAPPY, WONDERFUL, EXCITING NEWS!!!

I am over-the-moon-beyond-the-stars thrilled to share with you that my watercolor painting, “No Place Like Home”, has been awarded Best of Show in the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society's 2009 Signature and Open Aqueous Show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo!! Yippee skippee!!!!!


No Place Like Home
Watercolor Painting by Laure Ferlita
© 2009 All Rights Reserved

Some of the long time readers on the blog will remember when I was painting this back in the early summer - and nearly ruined it! From the brink of disaster to 1st place! This is the first time I’ve been able to show the completed painting on the blog due to different show restrictions. (And for those wondering - that’s the new ‘do, too!!) I am so very, very excited! I'm not sure I'll ever get to sleep tonight. I've known that the painting won an award since last Saturday, but we didn't find out until tonight at the reception where all the paintings actually placed. The reception was very well attended with a lot of super nice people. There was live piano and finger foods as well as wine - just a lot of fun!

The Open Aqueous Show is being held at the Venice Art Center, 390 Nokomis Avenue S, Venice Florida. The facility is one of the nicest I've ever visited and they are open Monday - Friday from 9 to 5. The show will hang until Friday, November 6th. If you are in the area, please stop by!

This painting is available for purchase. Please contact the Venice Art Center for details.

p.s. I'll be posting a much better photo of the painting in a few days!