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!!!!


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.