Explosion Cake

 

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My granddaughter and I saw this in a magazine, not knowing how “famous” it was and decided to make one.   If you have a collection of sprinkles you might like to use, it is a great way to use them all, or at least most of them.   It is a really fun cake to make, with all the different colors and layers.  It looks like a regular cake (with lots of sprinkles) till you cut the first piece.

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It is a very simple recipe and easy to make, but you do need six six-inch cake pans.  I actually only had five but had a springform, the right size for the sixth.  The only thing I did notice is that the springform, which was dark took about 2-3 minutes longer to cook, so that is something to aware of if you are using different colored pans.  I may just buy a sixth six-inch pan today.

The basic recipe is a simple white cake and if you are not a “baker”, you could use a boxed white cake.  I baked the cakes two at a time, so I did not crowd the cakes.  Luckily I have two ovens, so it did not take long.

FROSTING

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

16 ounces cream cheese, cold

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

32 ounces powdered sugar

CAKE

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon table salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1½ cups granulated white sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1⅓ cups milk

Food coloring

Nonstick cooking spray

 

Preparation

Cake:

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and put the oven rack in the middle of the oven (if you are using a convection oven, set it to 325°F).

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until they are really mixed together. You have to mix all the dry ingredients together first so that there are no clumps in your batter, which will create white spots. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter and sugar together, until they become fluffy. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula so it’s all mixed in from the sides.  Be sure all the butter is blended, so there are no lumps of butter.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mixture, with the mixer on medium speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.

5. Add the vanilla to the milk and set it aside.

6. Mix about 1/3 of your dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture, then blend in half of the milk, always mixing on medium speed.

7. Mix in the second third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining milk mixture.

8. Stop the mixer for a few seconds and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl as you go, then mix in the last of the flour mixture. Make sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth. You don’t want any lumps, but don’t overmix it so stop the mixer as soon as the batter is smooth.

9. Divide the batter evenly into six portions. They don’t have to be exactly identical, but you want them to be close: You can use any small bowls that are all the same size: Just slowly pour the batter into each of the bowls a little at a time until they are all at the same height (it’s about 1 cup of batter per bowl).

10. Color the batter individually in rainbow colors: I used purple, turquoise, green, yellow, orange, and pink for our six-layer cakes. Start with a tiny drop of food coloring, stir it in completely, then add more until it is your desired color (the baked cake will come out pretty close to what you see the outside will be a little brown, but that gets covered with frosting).

11. Spray six 6-inch round baking pans with cooking spray, then pour the colored batter into the greased pans.

12. Bake the cakes two at a time for 8 minutes without opening the oven door. Then rotate each pan so the front faces the back. Bake for another 8 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when you insert it into the middle of the cake (cakes are very sensitive. The less you open your oven, the better your cake will come out! I don’t know exactly why, but I know it).

13. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes (when they’re warm, they’re really fragile, and that’s when they tend to break.) Then flip them over onto a baking sheet or cooling rack and let them cool completely before you frost them.

Frosting:

Use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter until it is smooth. Add the cream cheese and blend it together until there are no lumps. Then add the vanilla. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.

Mix in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time on the lowest speed otherwise, it will fly everywhere! Use the spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.

Be sure it is all perfectly blended or you may lumps when you go to frost the cake.  It is a fun project.  We used the cutouts in the middle to make what I called the “The Leaning Tower of Caka.”

Assembling:

This is the fun part:  Cut a circle using a 2 inch or so biscuit cutter on five of the six layers.  Put a little frosting on the plate, so the first layer will adhere.  I use commercial cake cardboard available at Walmart, Joanns or Michaels.  Add the first layer, then frost it with nothing in the middle.  Continue to the top layer.  I do a thin coat of frosting over the entire cake, then put in the refrigerator till it is hard.  That makes it easier to put on the final layer of frosting.  There are several YouTubes online that walk you through how to do it.

The outside is a little tricky.  I put the entire cake in a big bowl in my kitchen sink and handful by handful, from the bottom up, added the sprinkles.  It was amazingly easy this way and quick.  Add a little touch-up and you are done.  The fun part is cutting the first piece of this cake.

Be ready as it can make a mess!  I think I am still cleaning up sprinkles!   I put ours in a tray with higher edges, so it would not go all over the floor. We photographed and delivered it to our local Fire Department.

Explosion Cake

Painting and Puppy

Do they go together?

It has been a couple of weeks since I have been able to be in my studio.  Having a new puppy has not helped.  She is very cute but very busy!  Most days I truly wonder if a puppy really adds to your life or just wastes your time.  I don’t feel like you get much in return at this point in time.  She is finally old enough that she can be in my art studio when I am working but has to be in a crate or she would literally “eat” my artwork, as she eats everything else in path.

Just now I went to make another cup of coffee, but the barn door to the laundry room where I make my coffee got knocked off the track by the puppy and it is going to have to stay that way all day.  It is too heavy for me to life to put back on the track. The cat is locked in the laundry room but at least he has food and water and can get to his litter box and he has freedom from the puppy and I am mostly wishing I had freedom from the puppy.

Sunday when my husband was home and my youngest son visiting, I could finally put the puppy in the hands of someone else and go back to my studio to paint.

 

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Last weekend I traveled to the Celebration of Life of one of my college sorority sisters in Vacaville.  It was a bittersweet experience.  It was wonderful to see many of my sorority sisters, but hard to share the passing of one.  It was dear to see her husband, as he was my first boyfriend in college before he met her.  It was so wonderful to see what a rich and full life they had together as they showed photos throughout the years of their long and happy marriage.  It made me feel so good to know what a wonderful life they had together.

The upbeat part of the trip was that I was lucky to spend some time with my oldest son and granddaughter.  We drove out the coast near Santa Cruz, where we took a wonderful and beautiful walk along the beach.  We walked through a farm that is open to the public with several older buildings and some historic sites.  The painting above is of one of the buildings that I photographed along our walk.

3.jpg   Here is the photograph that I painted.  I loved that it looked like one time it was loved, but now it was old and forlorn.  I took several photos of other buildings and think I may do a series of paintings of the area.

Yesterday it was cold and rainy and even though I should have gone to Urban Sketchers in the morning, I chose to try to spend it in my studio with my puppy.  It is funny, if I turn on a movie, she is like a little child and watches the movie without complaint, so I was able to paint the following piece from a photo I took in Poulsbo at the marina.

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I am out to the studio again after I either go out to buy a coffee or I almost forgot I do have a French Press that is not locked in the laundry room.

Anyone want a very cute Aussie Kee that will eventually be a great companion for someone much younger?

Painting and Puppy

Tomato Soup with Feta & Thyme

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INGREDIENTS

 2 tbsp olive oil or butter

1 chopped onion

cloves garlic (or I always like a little more)

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano (I used 1 tsp fresh)

1 tsp thyme (fresh is always better

2 tbsp tomato paste — optional, but a good idea for color

1 28 oz can of Bianco Crushed Tomatoes (available at Albertsons)

cups Beef Stock  & a little water

2/3 cup fresh feta cheese — crumbled

A little fresh thyme

Salt & White Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil (butter) over medium heat in a large pot ( or a Dutch Oven). Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, tomato paste, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

     

  2. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and cooked. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Or I find it just as easy to use my Cuisinart for this.

     

  3. Put the warm soup in bowls and place feta and thyme on top.  It is pretty and adds a little more flavor to the soup.

RECIPE NOTES:

  • Here is a little bit of fun kitchen information.  If you are using olive oil, heat the pan first, then add the olive oil.  
  • If you are using butter, put the butter in the pan and heat as the pan heats.  
Tomato Soup with Feta & Thyme

Dog Eats Books

All my life I have loved to read and collect books.  My cookbook and art book collection is dear to me and I refer to them often.  Apparently, they not only look good but taste good to our new puppy.  I have learned in the last couple of weeks if you do not hear puppy activity and the puppy is not within eyesight, the puppy is into ‘no good’.  As I mentioned in my last dog blog, we blocked off the entire living room, with its tempting bookshelves, my grand piano, area rug, and fabric chairs, but in my office design books are on a couple of low shelves.  I try to let the puppy be with me in the office, but if the jingling of her bell is silent, I know the teeth are active. (or she is peeing or pooping)

This morning, sitting quietly in my office and reading email, I noticed the silence. Time to do the “house tour” to discover the whereabouts of ms. puppy.  First walkabout reveals lovely new piles or gifts by the front door and several runny ones on my tile. What a great to start your day, but at least I had time for a coffee after taking her outside, feeding her, feeding the cat and hosing down the outside.  Oops, better go outside as I forgot to hose down the outside.

Did I mention while taking the puppy out for her first visit to the outside kennel, a bald eagle flew over my head about twenty feet above, luckily with a salmon about half the size of the eagle in its talons.  I did realize that the puppy is finally almost too big to be considered good eagle meals.  Yippee ~ yard time.  Oops, the yard is not effectively fenced.

Second quiet time walkabout finds puppy gleefully chewing on one of my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks that I had in with the design books on the lower shelf in my office.  It now has lovely teeth marks on the corner with a couple tabs missing, but it is still usable.

So now the bottom shelf is sprayed with Lavender oil, as apparently, puppies do not like the smell.  While spraying the shelf, I notice once again the jingle of puppy is not heard. Ah, the door to upstairs is open and the puppy is exploring the upstairs bedroom, which is not allowed as the floor is carpeted.

Quiet time for a moment, as the puppy is asleep by the gate to upstairs, the cat is hanging out adding hair to the top of a chair in the gated living room and I have a moment to add to this blog.

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When I started my blog, it was about interior design, art, and cooking.  Bringing a puppy into a house changes all the dynamics of not only your home but your life.  I never thought the above sprayer would be the dominant accessory in our home.  I have seven of these in strategical places throughout the main floor.  The puppy likes to growl and attack your leg or pant leg, whichever is more convenient. The puppy does not like water sprayed on its face, so not only are these on many tables, I carry one in hand for protection from the growing monster.

On the other hand, I never imagined my personal residence overtaken by puppy gates, chew toys, spray bottles and fences.  I do love the “little monster”, but right now I am not sure how much I like the changes it has brought into my life.  I have not been in my art studio since we brought her home, other than to clean it and get it ready for guests.

My friends keep telling me all this will pass. I would like to take a break today and sit in my favorite reading chair by the fireplace downstairs, but the puppy at the cord to the lamp.  Think I’ll go for a car ride (with the puppy in the crate) so I have a little quiet time.

Dog Eats Books

The Quiet Teacher

David Marty is a local to our area artist that teaches two-day classes in Edmonds at The Cole Gallery and sometimes once a week for six weeks on Bainbridge Island at The Winslow Art Center.  I have taken four classes from his so far with two in Edmonds and two on Bainbridge.  It is always interesting to see the level of the painters at the two different environments.  In Edmonds, there are usually a couple artists that are quite accomplished blended with more with little or no experience. I always learn at least one tidbit that helps to improve my own paintings.  Bainbridge classes are often comprised of many of the same artists that I have taken other classes with, and most all have been painting for several years.

Dave’s work is not quite as loose as some other Plein Artists, but it is always beautifully done. Coming from an illustrators background, his drawing is always “right-on'”. I have improved my drawing skills taking his classes and doing Urban Sketching with a group on Bainbridge Island.

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In David’s classes the entire class paints from the same photograph.  It is so interesting to watch throughout as the artists turn the photographs into beautiful paintings.  If you were to look at the finished pieces you realize just how differently people see. I love watching the artistic process as many of the pieces transform as they are painted.

In the classes on Bainbridge, we were always given a homework assignment to work on at home and bring for critique the following week. Painting Class 1.jpg

This was the first piece we worked on in class.  David would do a demo in the morning, then we all painted the rest of the afternoon and put up our work for a critique at the end of the session.  This class was to work on water receding in the distance.  I walked away content with this piece.

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The second was a scene of a lake and the challenge was to show the lilies on the surface without making it look speckled.  The one above is mine.

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We next worked on the reflections and lighting in this lake scene.

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This was painted from a photo with a row of flowers.  I did not love the photo, so I reversed it in Photoshop and added a little girl picking the flowers in the front.  Once finished I thought and think it looks a bit trite.

Then we started painting a couple of roads, which I thought was great fun. Painting Class 5.jpg

I can always tell when I enjoy the topic we are painting, as I most likely will be happy with the result.

 

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How to make a wall of trees look interesting was a challenge and it was a homework assignment.  I did feel this was successful as it has variety and keeps your interest.   David never says anything negative about your work, but makes quiet thoughtful suggestions on what might improve it.

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Making rocks look like rocks is always a challenge and how to get the right color, so they look real but beautiful at the same time.  This was hard to capture, but I think it reads as rocks.

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Another road with the task of making the road appear beautiful and interesting while receding believably into the background.

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Painting the Night Scene of a city was fairly new to me.  I went with a little whimsy and fun and more abstract than real.  David liked how I did the lights in the background and thought he might change his to a little more like mine.  Boy, did that make me smile.

 

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We all painted “The Red Barn”.  Growing up on a farm, I have always been attracted to barns and have painted several over my life as an artist.  This is a small 8 x 10 inch with a bad glare in the photo, but it was fun doing.

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Homework assignment to paint clouds.  The tidbit I learned from this exercise is that clouds are always parallel to the earth at the bottom, so they are flat at the bottom.  Not my favorite painting, but it was a very simplistic photo.

 

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The homework assignment was to capture the clouds in a painting from a photo of the clouds.  Mine was a good as anyone else in the class, but nothing I would try to sell.

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Everyone in the class liked this, but I sanded it down and repainted the canvas.  The wave looked more like a ledge than waves to me.

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Beach walkers One.

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Beach walkers Two.  I did not like the first rendition, so I painted it a second time.  Not sure that I like either of them.

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From the sea, we moved to snow scenes.  I painted the one on the left in class, but it left me feeling unsuccessful, so I painted the one on the right.  It is a fun exercise to paint the same photo more than once and in slightly different styles.

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With the next homework assignment of snow, I painted the first horizontally and the same scene vertically.  Working on composition helps you see the same thing in a different manner.

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I brought in a photo I found online of Port Gamble, so we all had a take on this.  Port Gamble.jpg

In this case, I have the photo and thought it might be fun for you to see my translation of the photo.  I left out the tree in the foreground.  I do love the mist of the photo and feel at least I captured the essence of the mist.

 

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We were to paint this stream for homework.  Often when I look at a photo, I wonder what would be the best way to try to make this come to life.  When David showed his homework, it was mostly in browns, and I must admit that his rendition was more appealing than my greener version.

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One of the students brought in a photo of Madronas on her property, and while they are lovely, it was a test of sorts to make an interesting painting.

 

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Here is the photo. 2.jpg

First version

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Finished version adding more darks.  I often do not go dark enough, so this was a great lesson in contrast.

The next class I took from David was at Cole Gallery and the class was about learning to paint moving water and how to draw your eye to the water.

 

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I was pleased with the first painting but got my reflections off on the second.

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This was the final painting in that particular class.  I do see water and color in a different way than before, and everyone in the class liked this painting.  I am not so sure that painting just water is my favorite.

Every time I do take a class with Dave, I learn at least one thing.  I enjoy watching how he holds his paintbrush to achieve the look he desires.  Every stroke is thought out and it important.  There is not scrubbing!

The Quiet Teacher

The Man From Australia

My last class, and probably the last one I will take for a while was from a well-known and respected artist from Australia.  Colley Whisson came to teach a four-day class at The Winslow Art Center and people from all over the country came to take the class.  He was funny and told great stories and talked a lot!  And talked a lot, but taught a lot too!  He paints a wide variety of topics and creates beautiful paintings from very simple photos.

The first day he did a demo for most of the morning and into the afternoon.  We were then given a photograph of the painting he had previously done from the same photo.

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It was a very simple beach scene which did not seem exciting, but using the brush strokes he showed us and the limited palate, I was very pleased with my finished piece.  I think I was one of few in the class that he did not “touch” my canvas.  He made one suggestion but seemed to like my work.  (Yippee!!!)

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Day two was an old cabin and it was interesting to see in a class of twelve or more that were no two even similar.  Mine featured the smallest cabin. Once again, he did not jump in and work on my painting and made one or two suggestions.  This is a small canvas and I liked using a larger brush than I had in the past.

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Day three after the morning demo he set us free on copying his painting.  Other than saying I should move the chicken or the fountain, he seemed to like my work.  He did make one perspective change that was right-on.  I am getting used to using the bigger brush and like the look.  I would never have selected this view to paint, but I think it turned out pretty fair.

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The fourth and last day we painted Plein Aire in the garden that used to belong to a friend of mine. I had not been in the garden since she sold the home after her parent’s passed away within months of each other.  It is a whimsical and beautifully lush garden.  As I walked in, I loved the contrast of the blue pot in the distance and the bright pink flowers close-up.  After I came home and looked at a photo I had taken and what I had painted I darkened the background for more contrast.  At his suggestion, I added more paint in the foreground and I think the effect is quite positive.

Colley is an excellent teacher that does beautiful paintings and makes his living selling his art in Australia.

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I love the simplicity of his work along with the beautiful brushwork.  One thing he said that will now remain a constant in my work going forward is that you need to have a quiet space to contrast the brushwork.  Brilliant~

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Simple composition with beautiful colors and brushwork. And I really do not like blue, but like the work overall.

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I call this elegantly simple, but fascinating.

 

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As you can see from the four examples I shared of his work, it is colorful, but controlled and beautifully painted.  I would definitely take his class another time. There were many little jewels that I learned from this master artist.

The Man From Australia

The Art of Turning 70 Years Old!

Turning seventy is a pretty big marker in your life, kind of like a “land-mine”.  You are there, it is the climax, as unfortunately, it is mostly downhill after 70, with health issues, brain issues and with what personally worries me the most: stamina!

As we go through life we make wonderful friends, have wonderful adventures and experiences, enjoy our family time and spend a lot of time working at some job to support our lifestyle and our hobbies, adventures, and family.  We live hectic busy lives racing from event to event, sport to sport, meeting to meeting and don’t realize we love it, till it is done and our children are grown and live elsewhere. But the memories and the joy of them remain.

I am lucky enough to have one beautiful granddaughter that spends time with me throughout the year, but does not live closeby; so I do miss the everyday experiences with her and regret she does not live closer.  Still, at eight we have a wonderful and loving relationship.

This year I decided to have a party for my Birthday, which I have not done since I was sixty and will not do again unless I turn 100. (But I will be too senile by then to know if I had one or not) . Ha Ha

My youngest son and granddaughter and I made seven types of sausage one summer day and ate the “go-betweens” for dinner.  That is called “not changing and cleaning the sausage stuffer between recipes”.  They were so good, my husband and I made two more kinds one night after he got home from work.  It was a lot of fun and over 100 sausages of all different kinds were made.

I had decided to have a 70th Birthday party, so sent out Evites and Emails to about 150 friends and family.  I used to have parties with my women friends when I was in my late forties and early fifties and single, and more than one hundred people would show up.  I would make the entree, and everyone would bring food and wine.  It was easy and great fun!  One year everyone had to wear red, so my whole house was a sea of red.  One year it was a “silly slipper” party and the best slippers won a price.  Invitations were mailed and each person could meet a friend.  We all made lots of new friends this way and had fun and lots of laughs.  I had expectations of this being the same for my 70th!

My dear friends of forty years came up from Del Mar for the celebration, and friends of fifty years came, even after recent back surgery.  Most of my book club, my Table Five Women’s group, and a variety of neighbors, ex-students and local friends came and we had a lovely evening.  But it was not the hundred or more that used to arrive.

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The Evite card had a photo of me at 30 saying the “Glamour is Gone”, but the party has just begun.   In many ways that is just not true.  I believe the quiet time of life has just begun.  Since I am no longer working, I awake when I desire. (not too late with new puppy) and enjoy my days painting, cooking and reading  (Seventy-five books last year and fifty-one so far this year). I no longer participate in Rotary or the local Chamber and interestingly enough only one person attended from those years of service.

This Birthday is the last of the big parties I will attempt to have.  We may be eating sausage for the next ten years anyway.  I so very much appreciate my friends that took the time to stop by and love the cards and several gifts.  I have come to the realization, that as our friends grow older, they travel more, spend time with newly extended families and do not respond to invitations.  In life, we are always learning. I love all the Birthday Greetings that I receive via Social Media and accept that Social Media is beginning to replace or attempting to replace meaningful relationships.

I remember when, before cell phones with contact lists, I had over a hundred telephones memorized and now I cannot even tell you those of my spouse or my sons without referring to my cell phone.  Email and text and messages via Facebook have replaced many happy phone calls and coffee dates with friends.  Thinking about this I wonder what it will be by the time I turn eighty?

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None of this is a complaint!  It is a realization that life changes as we age.  Our families live all over the world.  Our friends are busy with their families traveling all over the world to stay close to them. My summer birthday date sends people to weddings and the births of grandchildren; the last hurrah of good weather for those traveling in this area and people so much on the go there is not enough time for everything.

I had really wanted to just go to Ireland, but that was not in the cards.  From now on I am going to be traveling on my birthday and enjoying it.  No more weeks of prep for a party or a day or two of clean up afterward.  I am accepting that I am too old and too dang tired.

I have always been lucky in life that I have wonderful friends and I intend to keep them close and love them more than ever, but I am going to put “me first” for once and save my money and travel and paint.

So Happy Birthday to Me and thank you to all my family and friends for making it wonderful!!!

 

 

 

The Art of Turning 70 Years Old!

Art Classes

This summer I took quite a few Art Workshops with different painters. From some, I discovered new ways of seeing art. From others, I had a good review of the basics of art, something all artists should think about from time to time.   As would be expected, I enjoyed a couple of my classes better than others.

I am not a floral artist, but I took a studio with Stanley Bielen where we painted small florals, vegies or anything we selected from a table full of fun objects.  My first was a copy of the demo he did for the class. Stanley 1.jpg

Being happy with that, I found a small white teapot and put together a rather whimsical painting with the teapot.  All of these pieces are 6″ x 8″ or 8″ x 10″, a size I had not done much work in before, so small was a little challenging to me.

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The class lasted three days and each day I discovered something new or different. Stanley is a funny and intelligent instructor that kept the class laughing with stories and kept our interest by sharing facts and information about other current artists that he has met.  The class had students from all over the United States and Canada. It was fun being in a class with such dedicated artists.

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Going searching the table for the next object or objects to paint I spotted this beautiful turnip and loved the contrast of the bright orange peppers next to it.  Purple and orange are two of my favorite colors, so this was fun to paint and I was pleased with the composition.

Day three and a lot of the flowers on the table were starting to look a little limp, and having had such fun painting the turnip, I decided to do another vegetable – a Bok Choy. Bok Choy.jpg

I loved the floppy character of the Bok Choy and felt I “captured” the essence in this little painting.  By the last day in the afternoon, I was getting tired.  I was enjoying the class, but my energy level was down a bit.  I often think I am better in a two-day class. The last painting of the class was my worst of the series. yellow.jpg

I started too high on the canvas so I was not happy with the composition and composition, even of small paintings make or break the work.  I think I finally just cut off the bottom and repainted shortening the stems.

Being inspired by painting small, I took the concept to a slightly larger canvas and painted plants with pots from our local nursery.  I am pleased with the result and hope to do a few more of these in the future.  Pink flowers.jpg

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Stanely Bielen’s class at The Winslow Art Center was informative, fun and made me look at smaller objects in a new way.  This was not the first of my Summer Classes, but one I truly tried something I had not attempted before and was quite happy with the result.

One other lesson from taking many classes in too short a period of time is that every successful artist believes their paint color choices, canvas finish, and style is the best way to paint. What you should take away is that there is no one style of painting and that you can incorporate, some but not all that you gather from each professional.  Take too many classes and it becomes confusing.  Take classes from too few instructors and will realize that your paintings start to look like theirs.

I took art class once a week from the same instructor for twelve years.  One day after they opened a small local gallery and I was taking a hiatus from painting I walked by the gallery and my youngest son (in his thirties) said to me: Why do all the paintings shown here look the same, even though there were four or five artists represented?”  It was at that moment I decided to take classes from a variety of different professional artists.

Art Classes

Adding a Puppy to your home

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I used to love my nice quiet mornings.  Wake up at will, make coffee, feed the cat and then check email or write on my blog.  Head out to my art studio to paint.

How would I know that getting a puppy would change my entire life?  My serene home now has a kennel by the front door, a 17-foot fence to block off the living room, a crate in the laundry room and a jillion dog toys and bones and a bed floating throughout the rest of the downstairs spaces. The doors to any other rooms are closed and there is a gate to close off the upstairs.  In the back yard is another kennel for potty training.

The guilt of leaving the dog in the crate makes me jump out of bed the minute I wake up.  Goodbye, leisurely mornings.

The cat constantly teases the dog, so the dog is always chasing the cat.  Keep in mind the cat weighs more than the dog.  This is most likely the first time I have ever regretted that our cat was declawed.

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Our puppy came from “Farmland” and she, as you can see, is adorable, but buying from a store has some additional challenges.  She has Giardia which is not fun. She started getting diarrhea about day three, so we have been to the vet several times.  I don’t think I need to describe in more detail, but we did move the in-house kennel from the nice light gray wood floors to the tile by the entry.  The liquid medicine is not her favorite, so this morning, I am not sure if more went down her throat or all over the floor.  I am wondering how you could mix it with peanut butter so she likes it.  No, I think I will just let my husband have this joy (job) for the next few days.

I read that giving her rice and boiled chicken might help diarrhea, so I made up several batches.  The first two batches went well, but the third was a little more stuck together.  Well, it became a toy, and as she played with it, batting it throughout the dining room, kitchen and hall as it deteriorated in small clumps.  It only took a half-hour to sweep and vacuum it all up, while both the cat and dog chased me trying to eat it.

So my quiet and serene morning began, by running the dog outside to pee, coming in, noticing more pee on the wood floor, that she must have snuck that in earlier when my husband let her out at 5 AM; feeding the cat, chasing the ball of rice-chicken around the house, cleaning up poop in the entry, cleaning the chicken/rice more and then I finally got to make a cup of coffee.

As I am making the coffee, the dog makes a run at the 17-foot fence, knocking it over and scaring itself.  Uprighting a 17-foot fence is not the easiest thing to do, but I did and it is now held in position by two of my dining room chairs.

It’s an hour later and I finally get my first cup of coffee.

I turn seventy this week, and though I am generally high energy, I wonder if I have enough to deal with a cat and a new puppy at this age.

I have actually had a couple painting classes and done a little Urban Sketching, just no time to post.

Adding a Puppy to your home

Old in Art School

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When I saw the title of this book, I was immediately attracted to it. This is the year I turn seventy. At sixty-two I completed my Ph. D. in Business Marketing, not in art, although I did finish my BA in Art in 1971 and my MA in Art (although with an emphasis in interior design) in 1985. I understand going back to school when a little older is all about attitude. I laughed at the beginning of the book, as the author described the other students, the attire, the classrooms and the fear of failure, but as I listened on to the audio-book I liked it less and less.  One of the reviews of the book described how I innately felt perfectly:

“I was excited to dive into this book, hopeful for little nuggets of wisdom for my similar journey and perhaps a laugh or two in self-reflection. Instead, the reader encounters a self-indulgent, needy author who repetitively presents an inventory of her resume ad nauseam. She used this book to disparage other students all while trying to impress the reader by spewing supercilious comments and including very little about the process or art school. This book had so much potential but was so disappointing.” 

It is interesting to think that no matter how successful you were in what you did before, no one in your art classes knows that or cares about that. I had a little of that this weekend when I took a tonal painting class of street scenes.  I love the work of the man that taught the class and I learned quite a bit in the class. Mostly I learned I don’t like doing a tonal painting.  I love painting with color! Color kept creeping into my paintings in the class and I kept getting in “trouble” for adding too much color.    Sometimes in life, it is just as important to know what we don’t like, as much as what we love.

When I sat down to write my blog, I thought I would look at the artwork of the author of the book before I wrote a lot about it. Viewing her artwork, the first thought that crossed my mind was that she wrote this book, not about her real art school experience, but to promote herself and her art. Her background is in writing and history, so she knows how to write about history, but in this book, she makes being older a roadblock, not an advantage. She has gotten quite a bit of attention over the book, and thus her art. What is totally missing in this book, are all the other wonderful artists that started their art life later in life. She is certainly not alone!

Maybe I should write about starting and stopping art in your life. You start as a child and my case went on to study it in college. Then you start a career, get married, have children (oops no time for art), and in my case was widowed at a young age and raised my sons on my own and don’t have much time for art till your children are grown and have lives of their own.

When she started talking about how you have to dress to be a successful artist, I started losing interest.  Moving forward to discuss the philosophical side of the history or artists (in her opinion) I began wondering if I wanted to bother to listen to the rest of the book.

The book made me think about my own tonal experience. You can enjoy viewing art that you do not enjoy attempting. You can be award-winning in other fields and not art, and still enjoy painting. I have had many art shows, but never entered a contest with my art.

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The class was a learning experience. We worked on these small the first afternoon after watching a demo in the morning. The one on the top right was the first one with the second below and the third in ochre tones.

We moved forward painting in a slightly larger format the second day after another morning demo. My green trees are too green for tonal painting, but as I said I like “color”.

Street scene from Terry Miura Class.jpg The last and/or third day we had options of what we could paint.  I chose to paint a facade of a building, as I used to do a lot of rendering in interior design school, and as an interior design college professor.  I am still working on the facade and realized when I stood back and looked at it, I had added a shadow to the awning, and now I had shadows coming from two directions.  I will try to make the correction and add it to the post. The building and the cafe next door need names too!

I heard once, and again in this class: “If the painting is not selling, add a dog.” I think this painting may need a dog-walker with several dogs. I think it is better to laugh at oneself, that try to be pompous about what you cannot do.

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As always, I walked away having learned something new, met new people that love art and enjoyed the camaraderie of painting with new and old friends.

I will continue to listen to the rest of the book and hope it gets better, but reading several reviews I don’t think that will be the case. It makes me want to write a funnier book on a similar topic. One of the other reviewers wrote: “More of a self-congratulate memoir of past achievements than a book of more recent achievements. Disappointing … could have been much more.” 

It could have been written in a much more positive manner and encourage those of us over twenty to try different things.

Old in Art School