Tuesday, September 21, 2021

T Tuesday with Circles

 I am way late to Elizabeth's T party today - and this will be a short one.

"Going round in circles" is the current challenge at Try it on Tuesday. I love circles, so this was a lovely opportunity for me to work in circles again. I created a spread in my art journal.

The background was created quite a while ago, it's a pink and purple spiral that I painted with acrylic colors. After it was done, I had no idea how to go on and so it sat for a few months - until this challenge came up. Suddenly I knew what to do with it. I journaled within the spiral and then added smaller circles that I cut out of the papers that I had created using the gelli plate. This became a fun project.

When I looked through my art journal and other sketchbooks I realized that I am using circles quite a lot. It is not always obvious at first sight. Years ago, when I was still scrapbooking, I loved to cut circles as well.

I created this layout 20 years ago, it is the right page of a two-page layout. And see - here is where the drink comes in. We had visited Fetzer Vineyards and had joined a tour through the garden. At the end of the tour there was some wine tasting. Of course my daughter, three years old at the time, did not get wine (what were you thinking???). She is drinking their grape juice - and you can see that she really liked it and loved drinking it out of a "grown up" glass.

These are such lovely memories. I miss her so much. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

August Break


During the month of August I participated in Susannah Conway's August Break on Instagram. She gave us prompts for each day to show our photography. I played most days and I want to show you a few of the photos I posted.

The "challenge" started with the prompt "window". I took the photo above in Germany when I was still using film. The image didn't turn out completely sharp, so I processed it in Photoshop and gave it a "painterly" effect. I quite like it this way.

The prompy for day 7 was "glass". I love the stunning art of Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot, especially their "Red Lantern" that I saw several years ago at Cornerstone Gardens. I wrote about it in 2014 here and perhaps some of you remember the White Cloud, by the same artists. 

"Lavender" was for day 10 - I have so many photos of lavender that I could hardly decide which one, but finally I chose the lavender and olive trees at Matanzas Creek Winery. This is still my favorite "corner" in the lavender garden.

What to show for "wooden" (day 19)? What about some old driftwood that my friend Jo gave me before she moved to Portland? It used to be in her garden, now it is in mine. Just recently I moved it in front of the birdbath when I started to work on my current big garden project.

Day 21, "monochrome". That's not always easy because I don't really take many monochrome pictures. Of course I could post-process them and give them a monochrome colorway, but I wasn't happy with that. Then I remembered the pottery in Egypt. These pots were piled on a street corner in Luxor, and while they're not exactly monochrome, they aren't "multichrome" either.

Of course it had to be a cairn for "stone" (day 27) - you know how much I love them. This one is still my favorite of all the cairns I ever photographed, found on a very foggy morning on Ruby Beach in Washington State.

"Adventure" was the prompt for day 28. I see all our trips and travels as adventure. Especially hiking in rough terrain is something I truly like, even though it sometimes brings me to my limits. The award is always priceless and so worth it. Here you can see my booted feet above the Fire Wave in Nevada's Valley of Fire.

The prompt for day 20 was my favorite one - "I love". No explanation needed.

Monday, September 13, 2021

T Stands for Tag


The lovely Valerie is hosting the current challenge over at Tag Tuesday, and her theme is recycle and re-use. It took me a while to get my creative juices flowing on this one which is not because of the theme but because I was pre-occupied with other things, mainly with the beginning of the school year at the German School. The last time I was standing in a classroom is 18 months ago and I was quite nervous before the first day (which was last Saturday). I really needn't be - it was wonderful to be teaching in the classroom again, to see my students and talk with them in person. There was a completely different energy in the classroom that simply beats online teaching. I have a big class this semester, all returning students, some of whom had been in my class several years ago and decided to come back.

But back to the tag - this is what I created:

I cut a tag shape from a Kleenex tissue box and tried to "distress" it with Tim Holtz Distress Ink, only to discover that the surface is too smooth for the ink to stick on it. So I covered the tag with clear gesso to give it more tooth and then roughly painted it with bright aqua green and light blue permanent acrylic paint (Liquitex). I stamped the cabins and the lovely bathing lady (Crafty Individuals) onto watercolor paper and filled them with color using my Winsor and Newton travel watercolor set. The net you can see in the lower part of the tag is from a bag that once held Dutch baby potatoes. After gluing down the cabins and the lady on top of it I attached the piece of driftwood and the shells I had found on the beach several years ago. Lastly, I took some leftover yarn from a couple knitting projects and tied them to the tag. Done.

Yes, I know, since this is Elizabeth's T for Tuesday you want to see a drink. After last week's pineapple-hibiscus cooler I thought I kind of stay with the theme, but add some alcohol to it - here is a hibiscus bellini, that I had in a seafood restaurant in Eureka on our way back from Oregon two months ago. It was delicious, albeit a little bit too sweet.

I love my Tuesdays with the T-gang! You can find them here.

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Beautiful Sound of Rain


Raindrops on the smoketree...

Yesterday we received a Red Flag warning - this is the most severe warning when weather conditions are such that a wildfire can easily start. In this case, the most concern was the expected dry lightning  (that ignited the massive LNU lightning fire last year) that combined with gusty winds and our bone dry conditions could wreak havoc. Once again we were packing our bags and put the grab-and-go boxes close to the garage. By now we are so well organized that we just grab our stuff and put it in place where we can easily carry it to our car.

... on the French lilac...

The thunder and lightning started late in the evening and we watched it with worry. We were watching a German crime series when the Geek suddenly asked "is that rain I'm hearing?"

It was.

Beautiful, calming rain. 

And then it stopped.

... on the African Daisy...

Even though it rained only a few minutes, hardly to get the ground wet, it filled us with hope. Hope that this time we will be spared from evacuating, that the thunderstorm will pass by without causing any damage. Our hope was unreasonable because that tiny amount of rain would not be able to stop any sparks, but hope is a weird thing.

... on the Petchoa...

Eventually we went to bed, while outside there was still some lightning, but not so much thunder.

A couple hours later it was raining harder.

Oh that beautiful sound of rain!

... on the Calibrachoa...

This stronger shower didn't last for long either, but it sure did more than just wetting the ground a bit.

This morning, when I went out into the garden under still gray skies I saw the remains of the nightly rain everywhere.

The abalone shells that I scattered throughout the garden had changed their color to pretty shades of pink. It always happens when they get wet.

The lone pomegranate on my tree was shining with droplets - I planted this tree only last year (one day before the lockdown) and I'm grateful that it already bears fruit, even if it is only one.

Look at the clematis - this one had me worried throughout the summer. It was blooming so prettily in late spring, but then the leaves started to turn brown and the plant didn't look well at all. Just a few days ago I cut it back drastically - and this is the result. I'm not complaining.

I am deeply grateful for the rain that has turned the severity of this Red Flag warning around. While this was only a drop in the ocean and will change absolutely nothing of our severe drought and the danger of wildfires, it brought relief in an anxiety filled night. That was all we needed for that moment.

Monday, September 6, 2021

T Tuesday with Art Journal


Tomorrow is Tuesday which means the past week just flew by and it's time for Elizabeth's T Tuesday post. Didn't I just write last week's post?

Last week I found another challenge called Try it on Tuesday. Every other week a new challenge is posted. The current one is "use book pages" and we can use any medium we wish as long as we follow the challenge theme. I love to include book pages when I create and I decided to make a spread in my art journal. I tore up pages from books in different languages and fonts and glued them dowm randomly. A watercolor wash of burnt sienna followed. The two women and the image of the door are from a catalog of my favorite clothes company. Finally, I added some stamps and stenciled patterns. (She remained true to herself by Unity Stamp; vine flourish by Scrappy Cat; scalloped border by Fiskars; Tim Holtz stencil by Stampers Anonymous)

I hadn't worked in my art journal for a way too long time, but through a short class (more about that in a later post) and a couple challenges I rediscovered my creativity. One of those challenges beside the one above was through colorcrushcreative on Instagram. Every week a different color was the theme of the challenge. Unfortunately I found this challenge only a couple weeks ago when most of the colors were already done. I started out with violet, which is not a color I include in my work a lot, but thanks to this challenge it has made more appearances. I don't think I was particularly creative with that color, just playing around with watercolor, scrapbook paper scraps, stencils, stamps and an attempt to paint a nondescript flower. Drawing/painting is not my strong suit. However, I loved using these Inktense Pens by Derwent, they have such a brilliant color when you activate them with water. (Art text stamp by Stampers Anonymous; Divinata Seasons by Stampington; swirly stamp unknown; stencil by Stencil Girl)

Magenta was the chosen color the following week. Now, this color is much easier for me. I love to include magenta in its boldness. A color that makes a statement all on its own. Everything on this page is re-used - the book pages are from a Greek encyclopedia, the flowers and radishes from seed packages, a tag on a piece of clothing from the clothing company I mentioned above, a piece of wrapping paper, a Métro ticket from Paris, an index card I made. All covered with watercolor magenta that I mixed myself and finished with a stencil by The Crafters Workshop. Creating this spread was pure fun.

The current color is pink and I decided to keep it simple. I took the photo of the Black-crowned night heron several years ago while I was at the lake early in the morning. The fog was still hovering over the lake, it was very peaceful. It is still one of my favorite photos. A soft pink, I thought, would fit this particular mood. I mainly used scrapbook paper (for the background, and the poppies are cut from one as well and then painted with water-soluble wax pastels by Caran-d'Ache), the letter stamps are by Creative Imaginations. Somehow I love this page.

Even this week's drink - a pineapple-hibiscus cooler that I ordered at a lunch with a friend - sticks to the color scheme!

Monday, August 30, 2021

T Tuesday with Tags


Through Valerie's beautiful blog I became aware of Tag Tuesday and decided on a whim to participate in the current challenge - the theme is "shells". I love shells, driftwood and all the other things you can find on a beach.

It's been a long time since I joined a tag challenge. I did it several times back in 2010, but since then, I have hardly made any tags at all. I felt a bit rusty, to be honest. Fortunately I found a few old tags where I had already created the background (probably years ago) and used them as a start.

This tag already had a painted background and the torn piece of a page from a French book. After that I had abandoned this tag, waiting patiently for this challenge, I assume. I used mainly stamps for this project - the water plant, the seastars and the big seashell. The sea horse epoxy sticker was hiding in my box of random supplies that I had bought over the years. (Water plant and shell stamps are by Stampington, seastar stamp is by denami design) 

The second tag had a sprayed blue background.

I had wanted to use the stamp of the little girl collecting sea shells for a long time and only used it once to make an ATC. This time I stamped it on watercolor paper and painted it with Derwent Inktense pens which I then washed out with water. I bought these pens seven years ago (!) at the National Gallery in London and have hardly used them. But now I totally fell in love with the rich and brilliant colors. Shells were stamped on a left-over piece of scrapbook paper and I stencilled the top. (Girl stamp by Stamps Happen, shells by PSX; stencil by Stencil Girl)

And since I was on a roll I made a third tag that already had a painted background. 

I just added a couple stamps, some Stickles (I had to get that flowing since it was kind of dried up in the bottle because I hadn't used it in years), a little shell and some final touches using a stencil. This is actually my favorite of the three tags. (Scripted shell stamp by Club Scrap; I don't know who made the swirly stamp, I found it at a Goodwill and it's just mounted on a blank wood block; stencil by The Crafters Workshop)

I drank coffee while I was working on these tags - I love to drink it out of this mug which is one of my favorites. This is for T day!

I'm sharing with Tag Tuesday and Altered Book Lover.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A New Trail


Today I wanted to walk around the lake again, but when I arrived in the parking lot, I changed my plan. It was an overcast and cool morning, perfect for hiking into adjacent Annadel State Park. I first climbed up a steep trail that I last hiked a few years ago.

I apologize for a photo-heavy post.

Even though you can't see it in the pictures, this is a very steep trail, littered with thick roots and big boulders. It's ideal rattlesnake habitat which is why in the summer I only walk trails like this on overcast cool mornings like today. Our rattlesnakes tend to keep away in this kind of weather and I prefer it this way.

On top there is a summer-dry meadow and a completely dried up little pond.

Signs of the drought are everywhere, but also gorgeous views.

The hills in the photo above is where the Tubbs Fire raced through in that fateful night in October 2017, destroying everything in its way. Although homes are built up there again, I can still see the scars of the fire. I wish there were no buildings on those hills.

Walking across the meadow I discovered a trail I had never hiked before and I spontaneously decided to try it out. I knew that it eventually would lead down to the parking lot of Annadel and I sure didn't want to walk that far away from my starting point (which was on the other side of the mountain), but I at least wanted to get an idea of what the trail looked like.

I'm glad I did.

The first part of the trail was rather mellow, but then I rounded a corner and saw this:

This is where last year's Glass Fire had burned in Annadel. See that tree on the right?

Like a snake is shedding its skin, these trees are shedding their burned bark and beneath it they look pretty good. It is always amazing to see how nature heals itself. However, for some trees it is just too late.

But even these obviously dead trees still offer habitat and protection for wildlife. Think of birds and little critters that make these trees their homes. I'm glad that not every burnt tree is cut down, but that nature is getting its way.

California has always had fires. This is not a new thing, however, what is new is how ferocious they have become. California has always needed fires, but now with more and more homes in the wilderness areas and a forest mismanagement over many many years a change of course is unavoidable.

Here you can clearly see the fire's way:

I eventually turned around and hiked another trail above the lake before I finally went back down the steep trail. I can assure you that climbing it up was way easier than down!

What I love the most about this area? The crooked trees.