Thursday, July 24, 2008

Song Bird Morning

I've been thinking about my Dad today. His mother, my grandmother G, too. They both had Alzheimer's Disease. Dad has been gone since November 2006, and Grandma since October 1989. In the future, I'll share what prompted my thoughts.
Last Christmas, I shared a special story of how God comforted me at the time Dad needed to go live in a care facility. You can read it here.
I told of having a sleepless night after we took Dad to the facility and rising at first light to go outside with my camera. This is another story of encouragement from that time.

I was at the farm I grew up on. The pre-dawn rural landscape was beautiful. The cheerful song of a bird drew me away from the house and down the gravel road. I finally spotted the bird in the shrubs that grew along the fence line of a soybean field. The sky was rich with color. My heart swelled as I took pictures of that beautiful singer. God reminded me that day, every day, is a day He made. Regardless of the circumstances, He is worthy of praise. Though my heart was breaking that Dad was separated from his wife, his home & all that was familiar, I could still find joy. While taking time to enjoy God's creation and praising Him, thanking Him, I was given the gift of joy.

This picture reminds me of that gift.

Iowa State Fair Fine Arts Acceptance

I am delighted to announce that I've attained one of my artistic goals. Today I received notice that I will have a painting on display in the Fine Arts Exhibit at the 2008 Iowa State Fair from Aug. 7 - 17.
I recently posted the accepted painting, Pride Before A Fall. The image in that post was a scan that cut off a portion of the painting which is 10" x 10". This image is a quick shot I took with the reframed art sitting on an easel right before I packed it up. Unfortunately, there is a hazy reflection of Yours Truly. I need to get a better image once it's back in my possession.

Initially I framed the art very simply in a thin black 10" x 10" frame, but I wasn't satisfied with the results. I casually remarked to my husband that maybe one day we could attempt frame construction, since we now have some dandy power tools for working on our current house project. He's such a fantastic supporter of my work and he was all for the idea. In fact, he was determined to help me build a frame for "Pride" in time for me to submit it to the State Fair. That was more than I even hoped since I was thinking we'd try something after we get the house done.

Making the frame was simpler than I had imagined. We selected Douglas Fir and had the frame constructed relatively quickly. The tricky part was finishing the frame. Initially I considered distressing the wood, but the grain was so beautiful and interesting that it didn't need the additional texture. After initial tests on scrap wood, I applied layers of burnt umber colored gesso to the frame. Brown paper bag was used to rub down the finish and create a worn paint look.

It was quite late at this point, and I hoped to deliver the painting the next day. My husband offered to spray the acrylic sealer coat for me. He stepped in the house a few minutes later and YIKES!!!!! The warning to not use the sealer in high humidity conditions should have been heeded. Immediately there were areas that looked like someone sprayed a thin coat of white paint on the frame. It was too late to do anything else and I was grateful there was another day before the entry deadline.

The next day I used a palm sander to remove the sealer and much of the brown gesso. I decided to take a different approach to the finish from the day before. I liked the amount of wood that was exposed, but I wanted to warm up its color. I mixed some Golden Nickel Azo Gold with matte medium and spread it on the frame. I blotted off the excess with cheese cloth. The transparent gold gave the wood the warm glow that I was looking for without overpowering the art. (I had used some of the same color as an accent on my painting.)

The next step was to add a fine spatter of burnt umber, iridescent bronze, and a warm brown mix. The effect was quite subtle. Lastly, I sealed the frame by brushing on acrylic sealer inside my air-conditioned home and no worries of clouding.

Once the frame was dry, I finished the framing process. Using my Logan mat cutter, I cut the mats. Hubby helped with the finishing touches like pushing in the glazier points and adding the wire hanger.

It's great to have a painting accepted for the Fine Arts competition at the Iowa State Fair. It will be on display in the Cultural Center on the East side hill of the fairgrounds. The fair is something Hubby & I look forward to attending each year. There is SO much to see, do, hear, eat and smell!

Do you have a summer tradition like we have for going to the fair?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Art Fair Thanksgiving

Yesterday was a great day for an art fair. Sure, the temperature & humidity were soaring, but who could complain? The breeze was gentle and rain was just a memory from the night before. Thank you, Lord, for your tender mercies.

I never could have participated in the art fair without the help of my husband and sister. I'm so grateful for their physical and emotional support. Thank you T & B!

Brandie was my neighbor for the day. We met last year at this same venue when she was exhibiting and I was scouting art fairs. She has become a valued friend who has inspired me in many ways. Thanks go to you, dear Brandie!

The Central Iowa Art Association who hosted the art fair had many wonderful & friendly volunteers on the grounds. They made me feel welcome & right at home for the day. Thanks for the opportunity to show my work.

Lastly, I'm grateful for all the people who came out to enjoy the art. Their kind words of encouragement and compliments are gifts to me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Jewelry Designs

We're still working on the house project & I'm also preparing for the Central Iowa Art Fair in Marshalltown this coming weekend. Here are some new jewelry pieces I recently created. They'll be in my Etsy shop if I don't sell them on Sunday.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Late Spring Garden

Do you ever forget that you've got a stash of images on your digital camera's memory card? Tonight I took some shots of a custom jewelry design I've been working on. Then when I went to download the images to my computer I realized my card was almost full. Here are a couple treasures I found.

The top photo is what my garden looked like a few weeks ago. Isn't it gorgeous! It's my favorite time in the garden. The colors are so Monet.

The white rose belongs to my sister. It was extremely fragrant - that wonderful old-fashioned rose scent. This shot was taken a couple weeks ago when our family gathered for my niece's graduation.

Many of the flowers that you see in my garden came from my sister. She's a walking encyclopedia of plant knowledge. Several years ago she shared divisions from her gardens. I've since shared divisions from those plants. It's so wonderful to have plants to give away. Right now my Stella d'Oro day lilies are blooming in profusion. I think I need to share again.