“Aint” born to Paint — but fun anyway!

March 14, 2013

We have a great niece in Colorado who is an artist and an art teacher (as well as a wife and mother to small children).  She also (because her life just isn’t busy enough, I guess) teaches wine and painting events.  The pictures she posts on Facebook of those “painting parties” have always made me wish that I lived close enough that I could participate in one of those.  It just looked like so much fun.

Soooo, unbeknownst to me, there are now events like that here, and my friend Candy invited me to one last Thursday evening.

Here are some pictures (some blurry for some inexplicable reason):

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Apparently they have figured out that when you have a group of inexperienced painters slinging paint around, it’s wise to give them aprons to wear that cover most of their clothes.  (That really is an apron, even though there is so much of it that it has wrapped around Candy so that it looks like it might be coveralls!)

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The name of the event is “Wine and Canvas” but in reality it’s a little hard to savor a glass of wine (at least for me) while you are trying to put paint on a canvas that actually looks like something!  So there were drinks and appetizers before we started.

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We were seated pretty close to each other at the tables.  (Notice Candy showing off, holding her paint pallet like an old pro.)

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When we arrived I noticed that our plates of paints were under our canvas.  (Shown from the back) So, I wondered out loud to Candy how we were going to get to the paints while we were painting because there obviously wasn’t space to put them beside the easel — and you couldn’t reach them where they were.  She said we would be holding the plate in one hand and the brush in the other.  Oh, yeah.  Have I mentioned that it has been years and years since I have had an art class?  Let me just say, enough years that I was definitely a “rookie” at this event.  Thank goodness, Candy knew more about what we were doing than I did.

When I first saw the painting we were going to do I thought, “There is no way I will be able to paint that wine glass!”  But the instructor had it all figured out, patiently instructing us to use a paint brush as a measure (full brush length, half brush length, etc.) and plotting dots on the canvas that we could then use to “connect the dots”.

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It worked!

But this is when we began to see that each picture is unique, even though we had all followed the same instructions.

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Candy said our glasses looked like one for white wine and one for red.  My take on that was that mine looked a little more like a beer stein.  But I was thrilled with it.  Here, we were waiting for the instructor to tell us the next step.

One of the hardest parts of the project was keeping my paint colors separate, except when I wanted to mix them.  Soon after we  started, I looked down and my black paint had made a straight line to his next-door-neighbor the yellow.

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It’s good that we finished when we did, because I had totally lost control of my paints!

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And, by the way, all the paint didn’t make it to the canvas.

But in the end, considering everything I didn’t know and did do wrong, I was happy with my painting.

Here are our finished paintings.

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P1140159I find it really interesting to look at a whole group of the pictures and how each one is different.  I suppose that is the reason these events have become so popular.

I can’t wait for the next time!


I don’t know which I like more — chocolate or sparkle!

March 28, 2012

I did a couple of fun things last week that I thought you might like to see.

I baked the always delicious fudge sheet cake for a dinner that was organized by Sue, who also just happened to be having a birthday that day.  Her husband called to say that he had planned on taking a birthday cake to the dinner  but since I was bringing a cake he wasn’t sure whether his cake would be too much.  I suggested a solution — I would write happy birthday on the cake I was taking.  He like that idea.

Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit my mother’s ability to write on cakes.  Have you ever tried it?  I find it really hard.  But since I last tried it years ago, because of my cake ball obsession a few years ago, I’ve become familiar with candy melts which are melted and then used for dipping and decorating cake balls.  So, I had a brilliant idea!  I’d see if I could make the lettering out of the candy coating on wax paper first and then put them on the cake!

It worked!  Sooooo much easier than trying to use icing to write the words directly on the cake.  As you can see, I make kind of a shaky “y” in Happy, so I just made another one.

It worked so well I also made some dots to fill in around the words.

And, as a last touch, I sprinkled a little sparkly pink edible confetti on the letters just to make them stand out more.

I was happy with how the cake turned out and so was Sue.

And speaking of sparkly, I am responsible for making favors for a spring banquet at church in a few weeks.  I’m going to make the pretzel candies and crock pot chocolate covered peanuts (you can find the recipes over to the right in my Recipes category if you’re interested)

to put in cute little paper cups I found but, I wanted something to add a little sparkle to the cups too.

So I used foam stickers to make these little tooth pick “flags” to put in each cup.

I hadn’t worked with sparkle glue for a long time, so there was definitely a messy learning curve, but once I got the hang of it, it was fun.

And I was happy with how they turned out.

Happy Spring!


I’m (k)not quilting, and loving it!

March 5, 2012

Remember when I joined the quilting circle at church?  I hadn’t quilted in many years, but assumed I could pretty easily pick it up again.  Wellll, it wasn’t easy to get back on that “bike”, and besides, the quilting circle quilts for people who have pieced (generally very beautiful) quilts, but don’t have the time or patience to do the quilting themselves.  So, not only was I in a re-learning mode as I tried to make tiny, even stitches, but I was doing my learning on a quilt that someone was paying to have quilted!  That just didn’t seem fair to those people, so I told the quilting circle that I really enjoyed their company (which I did — they were so friendly and supportive of my efforts), but I was dropping out.  They were gracious about it, but they understood and I’m sure agreed with my reasoning.

So, about a month ago, one of the ladies from that circle asked me why I didn’t join the “Not Quilters Circle”.  I immediately asked her if that was a support group for those who have found out they can NOT quilt!  She assured me that that wasn’t it. It was a KNOT quilting circle, i.e., they quilt by tying knots!

That sounded perfect to me!  So I’ve joined the Knot Quilting Circle and have found my quilting “home”.  We meet twice a month during the winter for three hours.  There are usually four or five tables with four women working at each and each table completes the knotting of between three and five quilts in that time.

It is so much fun to see the quilts that members of the group have pieced together just for this purpose.

We are very fortunate that the local Holiday Inn supplies us with the sheets that they are required to replace frequently (I’m told the chain requires each hotel to replace all their sheets regularly so that guests are always sleeping on fairly new sheets.)

There are three layers — the pieced top, the sheet lining and another fabric for the backing.

The ladies who are very experienced at this, bring their own pair of pliers to help them get the big needles needed for the thick yarn through the three layers of fabric.

Then someone else follows along behind and cuts the yarn between the stitches and then ties a knot at each stitch.  That’s what I do so far.

By the end of the three hours, there are an impressive number of knotted quilts that are then ready for members to take home to bind the edges.  That is the finishing touch.

In a church service in May the quilts will be displayed on the ends of the pews.  And during the service they will be dedicated to God’s work in the world.  After that they are sent anywhere blankets are needed.

What a wonderful ministry!  I am very humbled to now be a part of it.

And may I just say, Wahoo!  I’m no longer NOT a quilter, because now I’m a KNOT quilter!  God has a place for all our “talents” we just have to look until we find them.


More Art by Alex: Caricatures

January 20, 2012

I probably won’t post all the art lessons that Alex puts on line (although I might, because the ones so far are great), but I tried this one this morning and enjoyed it enough that I thought you might be inspired to try it yourself after seeing how my attempt came out.  If I can do it, anybody can do it!

In Alex’ lesson, she did a caricature of herself.  But I didn’t know how to draw wrinkles, so instead of doing one of myself I looked for a face-forward picture of one of my loved ones to use, and the first one I came across was of DD.  So here is the caricature I drew of her. Because she coaches volleyball, I put her in that setting.



If you are intrigued at all by learning how to draw a caricature, I recommend that you watch Alex’ video (actually it’s in two parts, I and II) and then give it a try yourself.  This was really fun.


Take a Line for a Walk

January 17, 2012

My brother and Page (Call Me Nana tells about my memories of her) have a very talented granddaughter named Alex.  She is a wonderful photographer and artist and is a grade school art teacher.  Unfortunately she grew up on the other side of the country from us, so I haven’t seen her since she was a little girl.  And now she is married and has an adorable little boy, but still lives in the same area … so still far away.  But this is one of the nice things about Facebook — because of it, I’ve gotten to know Alex and her art and have become a fan.

Well, now Alex has started putting videos on her blog, Sabot Studio, which are geared to children, but I enjoy them too.  And I look forward to introducing DD’s daughters to her videos.  I’m sure they will enjoy them too.

Here is the first one of her videos I watched.  I was just totally charmed, so I wanted to share it with you.

I gave this a shot today and it’s no accident that I’m not showing you how my “walk with a line” turned out.  But even though mine didn’t turn out quite as well (ahem) as Alex’, I enjoyed it.  So I’ll try it again with the girls.

Hope you and any children in your life have fun with it too!  And if you go to her blog, you can see her others.


Sometimes it’s fun to try something new …

January 10, 2012

… especially if you can eat your mistakes.

When we were at DD’s house before Christmas, I asked her what I could do to help get ready for the dinner she was preparing for company that evening.  She looked around and said, well you could finish that gingerbread house the girls lost interest in.  Obviously she had things pretty well under control and was searching for something for me to do.  I got that and I didn’t mind.

I had never had any experience with making a gingerbread house, but not knowing what I’m doing doesn’t necessarily keep me from doing something anyway, so I dug in.

Luckily I had brought a very large container of red and green juju’s that were each topped with a white cap.  We had used some to decorate cookies, but there were lots left.  And it’s a good thing, because much of the candy that had come with the gingerbread house kit was nowhere to be found.  Possibly the reason the previous contractors had lost interest?  They had eaten enough of their building materials that they realized they couldn’t finish, is my guess.

It took me a while, but I finished the house by just using frosting to glue pieces of candy in every available space.  That was a little trickier than it might seem because the pieces that were already in place weren’t always in straight lines and they were stuck fast, so I had to work around them.  But, even then, I was surprised at how much fun it was!

So I’ve decided that next year I’ll try making a gingerbread house from scratch.

You may want to tune in for that.  It may be a disaster, but I’ve certainly learned that sometimes the best stories come from disasters.


a fun twist on the day

October 10, 2011

On my way to the gym one recent morning I stopped by the church to drop off some items for their food bank.  But as I was leaving I walked past the fellowship hall and happened to see a group of women gathering around a quilt in a frame.  This must be the quilting circle which I had always heard about but had never seen — and I realized I knew most of them but I had no idea they were a part of that group.

So I went in for a minute to say hello and admire the quilt they were working on.  But one thing led to another and I ended up staying for the rest of the morning to see if I could remember how to quilt.  The women were great at making interesting conversation without ever missing a stitch and I really enjoyed working on the quilt with them.

A fun twist to an otherwise routine day with a group of talented, friendly quilters and a chance to try my hand, many, many years after my last attempt at quilting, at something unexpectedly fun.

I’m going to go back, but I’m going to practice first. Those tiny little stitches are just as hard as I remembered.