Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Our Visit to the Portland Art Museum and ICAD Week 3

This summer is turning out to be the summer of art, and I am really enjoying it! :) From the nature sketching class I went to for Mother's Day, to my almost daily art work on my Index Card A Day summer art challenge, to our most recent family outing to the Portland Art Museum, I have been having fun with art a lot this summer. I hadn't been to the art museum in Portland, Oregon for probably close to twenty years, maybe even longer. Since my son is very busy with work this summer we will have to delay any big vacations and opt for day trips, so I thought a trip downtown, to see the latest exhibit at the art museum, would be a fun, interesting, and different summer outing.

So we headed out, and drove about an hour to Portland. I always think it is so exciting crossing the bridge into downtown, it always feels a little bit like a different world. Of course, I grew up in the suburbs of Portland, and spent some time downtown as a teen, but the last fifteen years I have lived in rural and small town locations, so downtown really does feel different.

Parking for the museum was much easier than I thought, and we had no problem parking and getting right to the museum. I was excited to see the museum's latest exhibit called God's and Heroes , masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts Paris.

Before we went to the Gods and Heroes exhibit we looked around some of the initial rooms we came to to get oriented to our map, the museum is quite large with many different rooms to see. I loved all the very different art work we saw throughout the day, so many different styles! I loved the picture below of the girl playing with her dog, and I loved the colors of the abstract painting below. I enjoyed looking at all the different silver in the room pictured below, but I really enjoyed the color of the room, the mint walls were really pretty with the white and light coral accent colors.

It is interesting to me how some art just speaks to you more than others and just draws you in, it might be the colors or the subject, but it just speaks to you. I really loved this portrait below done by French artist Antoine-Jean Gros c. 1830 of Felix Duban, I don't know much about the artist or the subject, but I just loved this portrait. I had to stop and stare at it awhile.

I was blown away by all the art in the Gods and Heroes exhibit, we all enjoyed seeing all of the different paintings. Some of the paintings were huge, all of the colors were rich, it was really interesting, and there were lots of really beautiful paintings.

After the Gods and Heroes Exhibit we went to another special exhibit- Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals Zodiac Heads. The display was really enjoyable, all of the different animals were fun to see, the dragon was especially impressive!

We then went to the different Asian art rooms and saw some fascinating Asian art, from very ancient artifacts, to modern Asian pottery. We thought seeing such old artifacts was amazing, it is hard to really grasp how old some of the objects were. We kept seeing older and older things and were trying to keep track of the oldest item we saw, by the end of the day we even saw some things that were from 900 BC!

I am drawn to all things turquoise colored, I loved this archway with a pair of Sagittarius from 17th century Iran! The turquoise color on it was so vibrant.

Below were some of the ancient Greek items we saw, this room held some of the oldest artifacts, it is so amazing to think of these items actually existing back in ancient Greece, as a person who loves history, seeing these artifacts was really wonderful.

Next we went on to the European art rooms, I was really struck by the very vibrant colors of all of these paintings. Plus, seeing all of the historical and religious subjects of the paintings was interesting, again, because I love history, so I've read about some of the subjects, and seen pictures in books, but seeing the art work in person is quite different.

Walking through each of the different rooms was so enjoyable, overall walking through the museum is a nice way to spend the day, I can see why people would want to go multiple times. I would love to go more often now that I have been once so I could focus on specific time periods or genres for a longer amount of time.

After the European rooms we headed to another special exhibit, The Rake's Progress by David Hockney. The Rake's Progress was also playing at the Opera in Portland this June, it would have been fun to see both and compare the two. No photos were allowed in the exhibit, but the work reminded me a little bit of Edward Gorey, who I just love. Hockney's drawings were a little whimsical, and dark. I especially loved the shadow boxes in the exhibit, I love three dimensional paper art like that and was really inspired by them. All three of the special exhibits, God's and Heroes, The Rake's Progress and Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals were really great to see, if you live nearby and can make a trip to the museum, I would highly suggest it.

We also got to see art work from some very well known artists, such as Monet's Waterlilies. I was a huge Monet fan back in high school, and loved hanging pretty Impressionist prints on my wall. I'm pretty sure the first art work that hung in Gary and my first house, when we were newly-weds, was a print of Monet's waterlilies, and I used to play the cartoon Linnea in Monet's Garden video for the kids when they were little. So seeing this art in person was very special. We also saw Matisse, Renoir, and Picasso paintings and sculptures. Another very well known artist, but much older, was Raphael, the bottom right picture is one of his called Study of a Woman. Seeing the brush and pencil strokes of these famous artists was a great experience.

We finished the day with a walk through the modern art displays. Some were fun and interesting like this bright red sculpture below.

Some of the modern art was funky like this giant vinyl sculpture that was the perfect spot for a photo.

Some was interesting architecturally speaking, the larger pieces were fun to take pictures of the family with. Some of the modern art was a little too far out, and even disturbing, but it is still interesting to see what people create, and it all makes you think, even if the thought is why on earth is this black plastic cube art, or this random brush stroke on a giant white canvas art, it all makes you think, so it was fun, and in some cases funny.

We spent some time in the gift shop, as well as a break in the little cafe which had good coffee and yummy pastries. Then it was time to head out, we finished with the outdoor sculptures, which were all fun and interesting.

We came across a piece of heavy machinery in the sculpture garden, and Gary had fun pretending to show off this amazing art (Gary has always enjoyed heavy machinery and vehicles and what not), we all had a chuckle. :)

The Portland Art Museum was a great family outing and we will definitely have to visit again!

Now onto my other summer art project- ICAD 2015, where the challenge is to create an index card a day of art, using prompts and themes if desired. The theme for week three was Collage. Since I like paper crafting I thought that collage would be an easier art medium for me to work with, but it was really challenging, and at first I had trouble getting going. Here are my week three cards. (You can read more about my ICAD project here.)

I have also given myself the challenge of using each card to write down a Bible memory verse, some of the prompts are more difficult to match up with a verse than others, so sometimes I more loosely use the prompt. Day 15's prompt was Route 66, I went with more of a travelly vibe, and used some vintage stickers and watercolor pencil to make this card.

Below are cards from Day 16 with the prompt- greeting card, and Day 17 with the prompt- wabi-sabi. For Day 16's greeting card prompt I used my new chevron stamp, printed out the verse, and made the potted flower out of an old flocking kit I found in my craft supplies. For day 17 the prompt Wabi-Sabi made me think of a cracked pot, which made me think of the Potter and Clay bible verse, I decoupaged on book paper print, then the printed out verse and decoupaged a picture of a clay pot, I used brown watercolor pencil to distress the card.

Day 18's prompt was tree-house and Day 19's prompt was snow-globe, for both of these cards I used lots of different scrapbook paper and had fun paper-crafting each card. I never really did much classic collage work for week three, the sort where you tear paper and glue it down in some manner, I will have to work on it more down the road. But I enjoyed paper-crafting these two cards.

Day 20's prompt was color wheel, I decided to do a seasonal wheel with colors representing each season, made with a leaf shaped punch and different scrapbook paper. Day 21's prompt was the 1970's, I was stumped on this prompt, I was born in the 70's and love a lot of the colors and pop culture from this era, but nothing was really coming to mind, so instead I went with a childhood theme and yellow and orange colors as a nod to the orange shag carpet and mustard yellow countertops my grandma had in her home when I was a child.

I have fallen a bit behind with my week 4 ICAD projects, we have been out a bit more lately and I haven't been devoting as much time to art as I want. With a holiday week, and my daughter's 20th birthday this week, it may be another week of being slightly behind. However, I am very much enjoying doing a little bit of art as often as possible, and the prompts are challenging. For more information about the ICAD Index Card a Day Challenge 2015 visit this link or the link below.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mid June 2015 Garden Journal

This month the garden is looking beautiful. Flowers are blooming all through the garden, and the colors are very pretty. Below is a picture of my favorite snapdragon, it blooms in pink, coral and yellow and shades in between. This plant grew from a volunteer that popped up last summer, and made it through the winter at which time I transplanted it to one of my flower pots, I love volunteer plants, they are always such a surprise.

The sedum is blooming as well, we have many different varieties, as well as other succulents that are blooming, some are pink and some are white, I really loved the flowers on the two plants below.

I had to take a picture of my holly bush, it has been having a rough couple of years, I transplanted it from a corner of the garden that was too hot for it, and it has spent the last couple of years recovering, right now the leaves look so vibrant and a rich glossy green, so I'm happy it seems to be making a comeback. I also love all of the yellows and oranges in the garden right now, the marigolds, day lilies and nasturtium are so pretty.

I didn't realize I got such a nice variety of nasturtium this year, most often I only get one or two colors, but this year just about every plant is a different color and they are all stunning, I also am enjoying my happy pink cosmos, it is nice having so many flowers this year!

The grapes I planted this spring are doing nicely and growing very well, I don't expect any fruit this year, and hope I prune them correctly for next year, they are a bit of an experiment, but it will be fun to see if they do well in containers. My garlic is very nearly ready, the elephant garlic as well as the smaller variety are just about to bloom this week, I thought the elephant garlic flower with its little cap on looked a bit like an elf with a little pointy cap, I also love the pinkish color of my Killarney Red garlic flower.

The petunias are starting to fill out their pot nicely, and the maidenhair fern is also doing well, I had extra marigolds and decided to plant them in a pot that had a little space left, I was going to plant them in my veggies, but something keeps eating all the leaves off of my Marigolds near my veggie patch, not sure if it is a bird or a bug, but I'd be curious to figure out who is nibbling them, I thought they were supposed to deter pests? Either way, these marigolds seem to have escaped being nibbled.

My hydrangea was very late in blooming this year, and it is no longer blue, so I think I will need to fertilize it properly soon. I know there is something to add to make the flower blue again, which I will have to google. For now, however, I am enjoying the soft pink blossoms, with a hint of blue, they are really very pretty.

The green beans are doing well and the pepper patch is getting going. The zucchini are a bit slow to start, and only about a fourth of the seed germinated, but I am hoping they will catch up. We have had very warm temperatures this June and hardly a speck of rain. Since I was off gardening duties during my recovery from surgery, the watering got neglected a bit, as did the weeding. But I am back at it, and the plants seem to be responding to the attention.

My squash and onion patch is doing okay also, the pumpkins are a bit slow to start, and the best squash plant of all is the mystery squash which was a volunteer, I wonder what it will be? The Walla Walla Onions are doing well also.

The beginning of blueberry season has arrived. I have both early and late varieties of blueberry, and the early variety are ready for picking. The kids have been nibbling on fresh berries and I will hopefully have enough for a small blueberry crisp or some muffins and pancakes this week. :)

I also thought I'd show a picture of the wonderful flower pots the kids painted for me back in grade school. My kids are now young adults, I had these pots put away for safe keeping for the longest time, last year I sprayed them to make them weather proof, and I decided that this year I would enjoy them more if they were planted and in use in my garden. I put a little heather plant in each one, and I love the way they look. :)

We also had a very interesting visitor to the garden this week. I had the curtains open during a girls Bible study I host, and just as we began our lesson this bird lands in the garden. I was sitting directly across from the window and was definitely surprised. I had to grab my camera and get some pictures, the bird stayed in the garden for at least ten minutes. I suspect it was hunting my small bird feeder birds, I most often have at least a dozen little birds hanging out at the feeders. They were all smart to scatter while we had this visitor.

I'm not completely sure what this small hawk is, after looking through books and online I suspect he/she is a Cooper's Hawk. I also read it may be a sharp-shinned hawk, apparently even long time bird watchers have trouble telling the two apart. But since Cooper's Hawk are closer to the size of a crow, which was about the size of this hawk, and sharp-shinned hawk are a bit more the size of a jay or pigeon, which this hawk was definitely bigger than that. So I'm leaning toward Cooper's Hawk. If anyone of you is familiar with birds in the Oregon Valley, and recognize what this bird might be, I would love if you would let me know in the comments. This bird is definitely a hunting machine, his talons and beak are pretty imposing. He/She ran along the fence line hunting for birds, I tried catching a few side pictures, but it was too fast so they all came out blurry, you can see in the bottom picture how long his tail feather is. Between the Kestrel and this new Hawk, my little birds had better be on the lookout!

I really love the large variety of birds the garden has had this year, it really pays off to put out a wide variety of bird foods and have fresh water dripping from the bird dripper. Seeing this hawk up close was quite a treat. 

Thanks for stopping by! :)

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ICAD Week 2 Summer Art Project

This week I have had lots of fun working on my summer art project taking part in ICAD 2015- Index Card A Day Challenge, where you do art on an index card every day from June 1st through July 31. You can follow weekly themes and daily prompts if you want. You can read more about ICAD 2015 on my post about Week 1 or at the ICAD website. This weeks theme was painting- using mediums such as watercolor, watercolor pencils, gouache, or acrylics. Here's how my cards turned out this week.

I had fun using different paints this week. I also have given myself the added challenge of finding a bible verse for each card, so I can start my art Bible journaling. This week I mostly went with joyful and inspiring verses, and a couple verses that the prompt made me think of. Day 8's prompt was grapefruit and cherry, I used Prismacolor Watercolor pencils for the first time, as well as accent white Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen. I really love how the Prismacolor watercolor pencils work, they sort of remind me of those watercolor activity books I would get as a child, the sort you just add water to and the color spreads, but in this case, you get to draw on the initial lines, they blend really well, and the colors are pretty vibrant. Since it was a fruit theme I chose the fruits of the spirit verse.

Day 9's prompt was carrot and lemon, I used my watercolor pencils again, and embellished with Sakura Glaze pens.

Day 10's prompt was eggplant and ginger, for this prompt I decided to go with eggplant and ginger colors and try out my new Gelatos. Gelatos go on almost like a cross between a crayon and a tube of lipstick, then using a mini mister you can spray them with water and the colors blend using a blending tool. To prep the surface of the card I painted it with a thin layer of acrylic gesso, then added and blended Gelatos, I did the center with chalkboard paint and wrote in white Sakura gel pen, and added a champagne glitter to the surface. It was fun experimenting with a new medium, I was starting to get the feel for how Gelatos work.

Day 11's prompt was lime and mango, I used watercolor pencils and drew limes with a mango colored background, and again did my verse on chalkboard paint with white gel pen.

Day 12's prompt was parsnip and kiwi, I chose to go with the colors of parsnip near the middle and kiwi toward the outside of the card. I wanted to practice blending the Gelatos more, I prepped the surface with gesso, and got a lot better feel for the Gelatos, I can see how they would be really fun to use for all sorts of projects. Again I did my verse on chalkboard pain. I was happy I had a little bottle of chalkboard paint, I purchased it a few months back from the Target dollar bins, and it has been fun to use.

Day 13's prompt was blueberry and plum, I used watercolor pencil again, and drew a representation of my little blueberry pots that I have in my garden as well as the the decorative plum tree I have in my front yard. I was going for a more red/purple leaf on the tree, but I only have twelve colors and my blending didn't go as planned, but I still liked it overall.

My day 9 and 13's cards had matching trees, I thought it would be fun to try the tree a second time.

Day 14's prompt was salt and pepper, I decided to go with a black and white color scheme and only focus on the salt, I did a chalkboard paint background and drew with Sakura white gel pen, and I used some white and iridescent glitter for the salt. I had fun with this picture, I really like working with the white gel pen on black.

I had fun with the painting theme of week 2, next week's theme is collage. I haven't done much collage, but I do a lot of paper crafting so I am looking forward to working on collages this week. I stopped by Michael's this Sunday, I needed a few supplies, I picked up some new ink pads, and a couple new stamps, and found some fun things for collage week. I bought a pack of book pages, I love using book print for backgrounds, but since I'm allergic to old paper I don't keep a stock of old book to use, and of course the books I do keep I don't want to use them, in the past I have made copies of book pages, but I thought this little pack would be fun to have around, it was fairly inexpensive, and the pages are in all different sizes with different printing and some cute images. I also found some mini word flashcards, and some very cute mini button brads. It's always fun to add to my art supply stash. :)

Week three has been going on now for a few days and I have been enjoying working on my collage cards. I also really love checking out all the art work that other participants in ICAD post, there are some amazing artists who take part in ICAD, as well as people doing all different types of art, it is really a great learning experience. If you are interested in taking part you can jump right in, stop by and visit the website for instructions if your interested by clicking the link below, it is definitely a fun way to practice art every day! :)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Two Graduations and a Ceramics Display

This first half of June has been all about graduations around our house. The first graduation was my youngest son's high school graduation.

We got the house all decorated in the school colors black and orange, with lots of flowers and balloons. I made a cute banner for the fireplace in the living room with black and white photos of my son and his girlfriend and cute chalkboard style 2015 clothespins I found in the Target dollar bins.

Gifts were wrapped and food was ready and waiting in the fridge for my son and his girlfriend's graduation luncheon. Many of the kids had decorated their grad caps, Joe went with school colors orange and black with drama and music decorations, I loved all the grad caps, they were very creative and fun. During graduation my son and his girlfriend performed for the last time with their high school concert choir, the performance was beautiful.

Graduation went very nicely and afterward we walked around the commons a bit, and said goodbye to teachers and friends. Here is Joe with his sister Sarah, and Dad Gary. :)

Here is Joe and his girlfriend Lorene proudly holding their diplomas. Afterward we all went home and had a nice little luncheon get together with some of our family and Lorene's family. Then the kids got ready for their senior all night party. It was a very fun weekend. The following Monday my son started his full time summer job and will start college in the fall to work on his communications degree.

Here is a picture of me with both of my graduates. My daughter was the next graduation of the month. She just finished up her two year associates degree.

Long time readers of my blog may remember that two years ago, shortly after my daughter Sarah graduated from high school, she was in a terrible car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Fortunately she has made wonderful progress in healing from her injuries, and entered college right away. Anyone who has suffered from a brain injury or severe concussion, or has a family member who has gone through one, knows how a healing brain struggles with extreme fatigue and can be bothered by loud noises or memory issues. Sarah pushed through all of this and worked extra hard to do her school work. She graduated with honors and has maintained a high GPA. We are all very proud of how hard she has worked, and felt very blessed that she has healed so well from her injuries. Here she is below with Dad and brother.

Since Sarah's school colors were red and blue, we decorated the house in red and blue, with pretty red tulips, and bright blue balloons and red polka dotted streamers. We celebrated with a BBQ and had a fun time with friends and family.

During Sarah's last term of college, since she had finished the majority of her required classes, she decided to take a fun class and explore ceramics, which was something she had been interested in trying out. She really enjoyed her class, and brought home a beautiful collection of her first collection of ceramics projects. I was really eager to see her work as I had been hearing her describe them all term. So I decided that it would be fun to set up a little art gallery of her work in the dining room, so that during her graduation BBQ everyone could check out her art work.

Here is her work- the class started off with some basic pinch pots, and also practice throwing cylindrical pots on the pottery wheel. I love the colors of all the different glazes, and each pot is so different and pretty, I can imagine them all holding little plants or pens and pencils.

She had another assignment where she had to create a functional and non functional object- so she made a bird house and a bird figurine. I absolutely love them, the bird house is especially wonderful, Sarah plans to hang it outside and see if any of our backyard birds move in. Also in the picture below are some rocks she made from some of her extra clay, as well as a small pinch pot that was fired using an interesting process called raku that uses lower than normal firing temperatures, it was interesting to hear about the process.

Next her assignment was to make a piece based on one of the artists they studied. Sarah chose artist John Mason. He does some interesting very geometric pieces and Sarah has always been drawn to geometric art. I absolutely love how her piece turned out, the pictures hardly do it justice, the color is wonderful and the shape is so interesting!

This next vase was a project that took her the longest, it was a coil vase, and took an incredibly long time to make. Then just as the vase was nearly done and ready to be fired, a student moved it and accidentally took off part of the top. Her teacher helped her repair it with some paper clay, and after glazing and firing it turned out great. I love the shape, and the colors of glazes she chose are really pretty.

Another project was to make two lidded containers, they turned out so cute, but unfortunately there was glaze on the inner lid and when they were fired they stuck together, so they can't be opened. She hopes to remake them in the future. If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again. :) I love the two little birds as a handle, and the brown container looks perfect for holding coffee.

This was another vase project, this time made of slabs. She was inspired by the game Minecraft (Sarah, Joe and Gary all play Minecraft together) it is a Minecraft bookcase. I love the shape and colors, and think it would hold tulips nicely! :)

Currently it is on our dining room bookcase, and it looks wonderful with all the books.

I put her vase and artist sculpture on the top of one of our taller bookcases so they wouldn't get knocked over, they are hanging out with my fox cookie jar, and they look great in my dining room! I am so proud of her art work and think she has a real knack for it. Her teacher encouraged her to come back next year and take more ceramics classes, and Sarah has decided she will. This next year Sarah will be taking a bit of time off from academics and pursue other interests, so it will be nice for her to delve into art a bit more. She has definitely earned a break! I look forward to seeing her future art work, I absolutely love it!

Now that graduation season is over I am looking forward to spending a nice summer with my family, out in the garden and exploring nature. I am a very proud mom, and look forward to watching my children grow into their new roles as young adults!

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