Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Beauty of Your Dreams - PPF

After I didn't do hardly any painting at all over the past  - well, months - I have been in a paint frenzy this week. I hope it keeps for a while because I really enjoy it and love every minute of it!

I started working in my art journal again which I had neglected for a very long time. I just put down some paint and started drawing this girl. I worked a lot with watercolor pencils for her face and hair. I've recently "discovered" watercolor pencils again and I enjoy working with them - I seem to have a bit more control this way and I love to see the colors run and blend when the wet brush goes into them

From there it was only a short step to a painting on canvas that completely evolved from my painting in the art journal. The canvas, however, I started with book pages and some ephemera, then painted on top of them. I created a similar girl and also used the same theme, "believe in the beauty of your dreams". Since I love birds, I cut one from scrapbook paper and added it along with some smaller circles from the same paper. I really like the outcome especially after I hadn't painted for quite some time. I am not afraid anymore to paint faces, something I didn't dare a while ago. I'm so glad that I just tried and then practiced a lot.

"Beauty of your dreams" mixed media painting, available here
Finally, I can join the party again - the Paint Party Friday. I'm so happy to be back in this wonderful crowd of such talented artists!
And since there is a good portion of orange in these images I am linking to Lorik's Mandarin Orange Monday - check it out!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Laguna

Recently, Jo and I walked at and near the Laguna. It's a great place for bird watching - there are so many different birds and the air is full with their sounds. The first thing I heard when we got out of the car was the distinctive call of the red-winged blackbird.

I have no idea what these birds were, but they looked so gorgeous on the tree and there was a lot of chit-chat. I processed this photo with Kim Klassen's texture "Partings" in blending mode multiply at 75%. It gives the image a darker feeling which fits the birds.

These bird homes were all over the place and we noticed that they had been well used over the spring and summer.

I loved this little sparrow sitting on a hydrant (there were fields close by that needed irrigation).

You didn't think that you would see a "bird post' without a black-crowned night heron, did you? I was so happy to capture him in flight and still see his eye and those yellow feet!

 Processed with "Partings" in multiply at 75%

Some more of the irrigation systems - I like these pipes on wheels.

 Processed with "Partings" in soft light at 100%

One of the many paths in this area - walking here is really pleasant during this season, but it tends to get very hot in the summer.
Processed with "Partings" in soft light at 75%

I'm linking this to Kim's Texture Tuesday. The prompt for this week was to use her texture "Partings" with any photo we like. You can see that I've made good use of it...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coastal Clean-Up

I had meant to write this post since last Saturday, but somehow I never got around to do it until this morning, Wednesday, four days later! The Geek needs the car this morning for a doctor's appointment, so it was his turn to take Kaefer to school and I have a blissful morning all on my own. What a gift!

So, last Saturday we participated in the coastal clean-up, went out to the beach with our orange buckets and collected trash. It was a typical grey day out at the ocean, but that didn't held us back.

There were quite some volunteers combing the beach for trash with their recycling and trash bags.

We had to keep track of what we found, and Kaefer was responsible for filling in the data.

Kaefer and the Geek even got up the cliffs when they saw something hanging in the plants.

Empty bags of chips, tons of cigarette stubs and some old underwear....
 A bottle of alcohol and a soda can - you can tell from Kaefer's face how "enthusiastic" she is about those finds.

But all in all, we were quite surprised how clean our beaches already are.

Afterwards there was a barbecue at Bodega Dunes for all the volunteers. It was quite a cheerful crowd and we met some very nice people. But before that, we went down to that beach, and just about 600 feet from the shoreline there were two whales swimming - it was the cream on top of an already beautiful day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beef Daube Provençal

Last weekend I wanted to cook a nice beef stew, one that cooks in a pot for hours and fills the house with the most delicious smells. I found a recipe for beef daube provençal in one of my favorite cook books. Simply put, it's braised beef stew (with a fancy French name).

You need:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 12 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Heat oil in an ovenproof Dutch oven over low heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan.

Add wine to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen brown bits. Add garlic, beef, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, remaining1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 7 ingredients to pan; bring to a boil (this is the moment when your home fills with the most delicious fragrance, mainly because of the herbs).

Cover and bake at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf.

Serve over noodles.

Bon Appétit!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Desert Solitaire

It seems that over the recent weeks I have been pre-occupied with photography, but nonetheless I also was creative in some other ways. I created a few journals for my shop, am working on a canvas which I mainly hate (I put it aside for the time being) and also did a combination of photography and painting by creating this:

The photo was taken at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico two winters ago. It is a fascinating place (I wrote about it here) with endless white sand dunes, many soaptree yuccas and other desert plants that survive in these conditions and an unlimited sky. It was a photographer's paradise.
I was especially fascinated by the soaptree yuccas with their dried seed pods. They made a beautiful foreground to the sunset sky and just offered another dimension in the ever white sandy landscape. It wasn't enough for me to just look at the pictures on my computer. So I went through the photos and picked this one for my first canvas board - I hope there will be more to follow. The title came naturally - it's a book by Edward Abbey who worked as a seasonal park ranger in Arches when it was still a National Monument (nowadays it's a National Park as you probably all know). Very soon this mixed media painting will be available in my Etsy shop.

After I don't know how many weeks I'm finally able to link up to Paint Party Friday again. I also link this to Mandarin Orange Monday.