"If you hear a voice within you say, 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." --Vincent van Gogh

Monday, June 30, 2008

Time to Read

It was two weeks ago today that I had the bike accident which left me with 11 stitches in my left palm. The stitches came out yesterday, but there is a lot of healing left to be done. I am gaining a little more use of my left hand each day but there are a lot of things I still can't do. I haven't done anything in my studio yet, though I am itching to get back in there.

I've been left with plenty of time to read, and so I have managed to finish not only's June's book, but also July's. I haven't decided what I will read for August - but I guess I have a little time to think about it.

June's Read: 1984 by George Orwell. I was in high school in the mid-1980s. Many of the English classes were required to read this book, but mine was not. In fact, the copy that I read belonged to my husband when he was in high school. It is the "1984 Commerative Edition". I have long known many of the catch phrases from the book, such as "Big Brother is Watching" but I was always curious just what someone in 1949 thought life would be like in 1984. Reading this book nearly 25 years after that date had come and gone was most interesting. One of Big Brother's slogans was "War is Peace" - the irony of which, given the current war the USA is involved in, was not lost on me. Did I enjoy the book? Ummm...it was ok. It took me a long time and some determination to finish it. I'm glad I read it, but won't be pining away to read it again.

July's Read - The Time Traveller's Wife by Audry Niffenegger. I started this book after we returned home (less than 2 weeks ago) and absolutely flew through it. Now this is my kind of book. Although the dates were a little confusing (one of the main characters time travels), the author did a good job of keep the reader up to speed. I tend to be a happy ending kind of person, and found this one to be bittersweet. I would have liked to know more. If you are looking for a book that will flow around you, this is a good pick.


After leaving Santa Fe, we headed west into Arizona. We drove right by Petrified Forest National Park. I had learned of this place as child and I have always wanted to visit. Now, even as a child, I knew that the trees had turned to stone, and that they were lying around on the ground. However ... I still imagined that there was a forest - new trees that had grown up around the boulders that were their ancestors. Silly me! This forest is in the middle of the desert. It is really amazing to imaginethat this placewas once a thriving forest, and later cmpketely submerged!

I saw my first petroglyphs. I am fascinated by this primitive art, produced so many years ago and still preserved. I know it will inspire my art.

The colors and textures of the wood-turned-stone were gorgeous. There was a lot of looting of the park prior to its current protection. Many of the rocks used to have crystals growing on them. Can you imagine??

The cross sections were fascinating as well, and contained hundreds of colors while preserving the rings of the trees. We were there in the early afternoon and the strong sun washed out the colors.

I think I will always fnd fascination in a blooming cactus. The blossoms look like they are made from tissue, and the colors are so brilliant in the desert. I am glad to have finally visited this unique place.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The City Different

First, the tree. You know, the one I was 20 feet from (inside my house) when it was struck by lightening ... well I will be sure to post some pics, but don't get too excited, there's not a lot to see. There are two spots where the bark was stripped off, but the most visible one is really just a narrow vertical gash on the side facing the house. There was a huge fire ball when the lightening hit, but I can't see exactly where that was. I imagine it was high up and we won't find it until the leaves drop. At this point, I have no idea if the tree will die, but I suspect at least part of it will. It's a very nice tree - and must be at least 100 years old. I'd guess it's somewhere around 60 feet tall. We lost about 20 feet off the top of it when Hurricane Fran came through in 1996. Honestly, there are a couple of oaks in our yard that I really wouldn't mind losing - but this one is probably my favorite. :(

Back to vacation! Santa Fe ... I have always wanted to visit this city, and it did not disappoint. We only had one full day here, and everything seemed to close down at 5 pm, so there was plenty left unexplored. I would have enjoyed spending more time along Canyon Road - poking my head into all the art galleries, but when you are traipsing around with a camera on your shoulder and a 10 and 12 year old on your heels, the gallery owners don't pay you much mind (other than the convulsive eye rolls that they were trying to stifle). Too bad - we had some money (a gift) to spend. Still probably too rich for our blood, though. Most of the galleries were paintings, and I'd like to do some of my own soon. I did poke into one gallery that had these whimsical stylized human figures all made out of found objects. I should have written down the artist's name to look up on the web, but I didn't. Here are a few photos of Santa Fe ...

San Miguel Mission - Oldest church in the US (early 1600s). The Saint Francis Mission in Taos is the oldest dedicated to Saint Francis (early 1800s - see I did my research). Santa Fe seems to bost the oldest of a lot of things - church, house, government building. They call Santa Fe, "The City Different" and it's aptly named. It certainly doesn't feel like a city - nonetheless the Capital of New Mexico.

I loved the entrance to this house. Don't you just want to go peek on the side and see what's back there? If I lived in Santa Fe, I would want an entrance like this one!

The ubiquitous strings of chili peppers hang all around town. They are pretty cool, but one of those things that would not look right removed from its element (ie: I didn't buy any).

I loved the name of this store. I looked for it online, but didn't find a website. It is just off the town square. What a great name!

And here's one of my favorite stories from our time in Santa Fe - we were in the Saint Francis Basilica, an imposing church when compared to all the humble stucco structures that make up Santa Fe (which was named for Saint Francis, BTW). We were signing the guest book, and two entries above us were honeymooners from Venice, Italy - and I'm thinking, you live in Venice? Why don't you just stay home! Geez. I would love to go to Venice. Obviously Venice is home and "no big deal" to them, but it did strike me as rather ironic and I guess I am easily amused!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A bit of art & Garden of the Gods

Another round tobin has made its way back to the owner, so I can share my piece with you. This one belongs to Emmy in The Netherlands and you can see the entire piece on her blog. Her theme was mermaids in green and blue. I was the last to work on it, and the other parts were covered up. There was not too much to see! But the piece is very cohesive. Here is my part:

I am not partularly adept at facesm so I solved that by just using lots of yarn and avoiding a face at all. I think it was effective. I am particularly fond of the tail. I used a lime green floral print, covered with a lime green sheer fabric that contained spots of crystals. I stitched the piece ti Peltex stabilizer and the cut out the shape. I took various shades of sheers and layered them to make the fin. I used some of my hand dyed cheesecloth in the background. Here is a closeup shot.

The bottlecap says "Las Sirenas del Mar" which means "Mermaids of the Sea" in Spanish. The irony of the fact that the owner's first language is Dutch did not escape me. I tried to translate the phrase into Dutch but it was too long to fit in the cap.

Here are a few more vacation pics. We spent a few hours at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. The kids thought it would be funny to cover up the "G" so that it would reads "Garden of the ods".

We hiked to the "siamese twins" rock formation, which framed a beautiful view of Pike's Peak. The woman who wrote the song "America the Beautiful" wrote it while sitting at the sumit of Pike's Peak. It really was beautiful.
Yesterday brought an interesting experience. We have a bay window in the front of our house, and there is a small couch there. There is a huge old oak tree about 20 feet in front of the window. I was lying on the couch reading, during a thunderstorm. Suddenly there was a huge crack and I saw a fire ball out of the corner of my eye. Lightening had struck the oak tree. It was pretty amazing and I am so glad it did not strike - or jump to - the house. The sap was boiling at the base of the tree for about an hour afterwards, and it stripped the bark off in the path that the lightening travelled. That was a bit too close for my comfort!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008


We took an unscheduled side trip to Taos, New Mexico. We were only there for a few hours, but what a great little town. I felt like I could spend a week there, sipping Mojitos and enjoying the sunshine. Here's a taste of what we saw:

The New Mexico Locust, or Black Locust tree - in full bloom and incredibly beautiful.

A doorway along a side street. Many doors are painted turquoise and emerald and it just sparkles against the adobe walls.

A mural on the main street through town.

St. Francis mission - one of the oldest in the country (we saw so much, I'm going to have to do some research to get my facts straight).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Home Again

No blog neglect this time! We just returned from a 12 day trip to the Southwestern US. We had a marvelous time and did more than you can imagine. I'll share some of our adventures (and a few of the gazillion pictures) over the next few days. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

Boulder Creek (Boulder Canyon) Colorado

Poppies in Taos, New Mexico

A doorway in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Petroglyphs (circa 700 AD) in Mesa Verde, Colorado

I can't say it was all pleasure and no pain ~ our very last adventure was mountain biking in Moab, Utah. We were having a great time, until I came down a hill too fast and hit some rocks. I fell and gouged my left palm on something (I think probably part of the bike) and wound up bringing home 11 stitches. Yeah, it hurt! So I am a one-handed wonder for the next few weeks. It could have been a lot worse, at least I didn't break anything!!! Nothing like a bit of drama.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hide and Go Seek

Who says Nature can't play games? Can you find the tree frog in the photo below? Yes, I said frog. No, I'm not kidding. He's really there.

My Dad took this photo in his yard. He was cleaning up some yard waste and almost creamed the poor guy. Saw him at the last minute. What a camoflauge pro! Here's a photo from a different angle, so you can see him better. Pretty cool!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Switching Brains

Those of you who have read my blog from the beginning might remember back in February of 2007 when I started a piece replicating a painting by Miro. Those who don't remember, can go here to read that post ifyou'd like. It's a small piece, about 5.5x6" and I have finally finished it!!

I had done all the painting way back when, but could not settle on how to finish it. After working on the thread painted pieces, I realized that this was the way to go. So, all the black that you see - including Miro's signature down on the lower left, is done in thread. It's not an exact copy of the original (and that's probably a good thing) but I do like how it came out and it's always good to get something done, even if it is something small. I have also finished the last of the round robin pieces, and that will be mailed out tomorrow.

I'm sure you have heard of the left brain vs right brain - where your left brain controls logic and reasoning, and your right brain controls creativity. I have always been strongly left brained, but my adventures in art over the past few years have strengthened my right brain and sometimes I find that is where I am living. I have some curtains to make for a friend. She would have loved to have had them yesterday, but I could not turn off my right brain and make it do the methodical careful measuring, cutting and straight line sewing, and all the math involved in making even simple valances. My right brain was clamoring to keep control, so I finished Miro and the round robin, in an attempt to appease my right brain, and it must be satisfied with that. I am soon switching over to my left brain, which will happen as soon as I hunker down with the numbers and start making those curtains. I hope my right brain is not too miffed, and doesn't go into hiding. It has a tendancy to do that.