I took a life drawing class in Sacramento last weekend, and enjoyed the experience. I had not worked in charcoal in several years. It took a while to get back into it. There were two very experienced models. We started out with five minute poses, which we erased, then went on to twenty minute poses. These are all twenty minute poses.
Commissioned Art – Yes or NO!
So a friend of an acquaintance of mine, whom I met briefly once, called and wanted me to do a portrait of her granddaughter. I told her that I did commissions, but that I was not a “Portrait Artist” per se. She looked at my work and insisted I do it for her. When I told her my prices, there was a long pregnant pause. I told her it would be $50 less if she framed it, knowing all too well it would cost her considerably more if she were to have it framed at a frame shop. She sent me the photo, and asked that I take out the toy in the hand and add a beach with palm trees in the background. I personally thought it was overkill, and let her know in a subtle manner. I did as she asked, and spent about four days on the painting. I was charging $400 unframed and $450 unframed.
I am finally learning at this point in life, not to be as trusting as I have been all my life. I did not ask for a deposit. Shame on me! I trusted she would like the finished product.
Well, it did not turn out that way. She did not like it; never came to see it in person and was pretty rude in her interactions with me.
I think I am a little upset, as I spent longer on it than I normally do on a painting, and basically wasted three days of my life. But did I really waste my time, or was this a message I needed.
I texted her back saying this was not a photograph, but was represented an image of her granddaughter. She stated she would pay me nothing, and that part is rude, but not unexpected. I added that I learned a good lesson: Don’t do commissions for someone you do not know, and get part of the money upfront. I wasted time and nice linen canvas. The thing I really cannot believe is that she could not bother to even stop by and take a look. I think she just decided she did not want to spend the money.
A family member in the interim asked me to do a portrait of her daughter, and she loved it. She did not ask for a background, which is usually nominal in a child’s portrait, but gave a photo that showed the whole head, without a huge hat.
I still do not call myself a portrait artist, and will not step out and take a chance with a total stranger. The woman who did not accept the portrait of her granddaughter did not say thank you for your time or even offer to pay for the canvas or my time.
It is one thing to accept negative comments, but something entirely different to be treated so rudely. How do I know, maybe she is just not a happy person or I did not make her grandbaby a beauty contest winner??
You can be the judge of that! I think I will just draw a mustache on the painting and deliver it to it’s proper home: The trash!
Redoing a Painting
When we were staying in Newport and having dinner, this fishing boat passed by the window. I liked the composition, but not the colors. I thought about it for a while and decided I would try to add a sunset behind the bridge. I painted this about a year ago, and still thought it looked a little dull.
Lemons are Yellow
In the backyard of our California home we have an abundant Meyer Lemon Tree. At first it does not look like you are going to have many lemons. Then they slowly start arriving. The little buds show up and they must grow and divide, as all of a sudden there are lemons everywhere.
Last year I made Limoncello, Lemon Bars, Lemon Marmalade, Lemon Chutney, Lemon Pie and etc. So in other words, if it had lemon in it or on it I made it. This year I am making the Limoncello, but little more than that! This year I will paint the Lemons, not bake the Lemons.
Curves in Photography
One thing about my blog, is that you never know what will be featured next. If you keep in mind that food, art, photography, interior design, fashion design and gardening are the things I love; that will give you a better idea what to expect to see at any time on my personal blog. If you don’t love most of those, then I am the wrong one to follow.
For the next assignment in our local Photography group we decided “Curves” would be a good topic. Here are few of my ideas for curves. I would love to know what you like the best with the topic in mind.
These were on my dining room table, and I love how the windows reflected in the curve of the vase.
This one I obviously fell in love with all the fabulous floral curves of this beautiful carnation.
Then I went into the kitchen to a slightly different direction.
I love the beautiful aesthetically roundness and color of farm grown eggs. Here were my offerings.
Leaving the yolk inside was just such a beautiful color I took another shot.
When I did a search for photographic curves, all that showed up were exquisite nudes. Since I don’t have a model and I am definitely not going to be a model I had search elsewhere.
So here is my fun work for the day! Think I will read my book.
The Quiet Life Begins Again
Summer is coming to an end and the entourage of guests is coming to an end at the same time. Entertaining my six year-old granddaughter had highs and a few lows. With little people it is interesting how perfectly behaved they can be for about two to three weeks, then familiarity begins and you are no longer a “fun” person, you are just another boring adult. You have not changed, but their perception of the environment takes a turn. You are no longer new and exciting.
Summer Camp at the Boys and Girls Club saved the day for most of the summer, as she made new friends, had lots of fun activities and great field trips. I joined them bowling in Silverdale, but decided the bus ride was a bit unruly for me, so did not sign-up for any more field trips. It was joy to watch my granddaughter bowl for the first time ever. Of the three busloads of children, the high score (using bumpers) and on my team was 99.
When my son recently came to pick her up, we decided to take her bowling. So my off we went. We discovered a ramp you can use for littler people that lines up the bowling ball and they just push it off. The one in Silverdale is hand-made wood, but worked just as well.
It certainly improved her score. She came in with a score of 98, the best of the group. The rest of us came in with scores in the 80’s. Maybe they should have ramps for all ages, especially seniors. Guess we are not a family of bowlers. The last time I personally bowled you had to keep your own score, not a plasma screen up above the alley for all to see just how bad your were. They have senior bowl three games for free on Wednesdays. Maybe I should work on improving my score, and it my be good for my arthritis as my hands were pretty sore.
This should have been the best summer ever, as my granddaughter is a joy to be around. In reflection I think I will try to only remember the joy of sharing her summer and not the heartache of some other visitors. It was a summer where I learned maybe you just need to make yourself happy and not feel responsible for the happiness of others.
My three adult sons got to spend a weekend together. It was not without its events, but they did get to spend time talking and catching up. A couple of their friends they had not seen in a while came over and they all initiated our new beach side deck. Pavers are now under the fire pit, rather than warped boards.
My husbands children arrived for the next weekend. They spent time on the new deck and added a little more initiation rites to the deck as they stayed up and talked into the night. Maybe we need to think of a way to have “smaller” fires. I wish I could say that weekend went well, but it ended on a majorly sour note.
We all see the world through our own set of blinders. We see what we want to see, how we want to see it. We can all be in the same room at the same time and have a totally different experience. Our memory of what is said and done is biased by our view of life. The bias can be small or it can be extreme. I learned a little of the extreme before I had to start blocking emails. I now know my view of the world is my view and only my view. People may understand how you see the world, but they do not see it the same way.
Next summer I think we just take a vacation. It would probably cost a lot less money than what we spent on toys, clothes, food and wine and for some reason I think it might a lot less stressful.
As our children grow into adults and become the people they are going to be our role changes and we are no longer the parent. Adapting to whatever role we have or don’t have in their lives is not as simple as one might think. We are no longer the person of knowledge that we were in their youth. As we become grayer in hair, we are perhaps grayer to them, not the lively over-active person they have always known.
One night I took my granddaughter to a local Mexican restaurant to dinner. We ordered guacamole with the chips, as they come with just salsa. I ordered two tacos and she had a quesadilla. Neither of us are big eaters, so I never order full blown meals there. When I the bill came I was charged for two orders of guacamole. I pointed it out to the waiter and realized by his expression he did not think I would notice. Telling my older neighbor about this she shared that she thinks people see your gray or white hair and think you have less gray matter in your brain.
When I started getting gray hair, I did not start getting stupid. When I started getting gray hair I did not start to get meaner, but I do stand up for what I believe in. As I get more gray hair I am seeing people view you differently than they did when you were younger. I am finally okay with that, but I do think you need to look for the humor. The other day when I was out running errands I found a sign to put by my front door. If I can match the paint, I may change the W in WITCH to a B.
As we grow older we realize the beautiful and expensive things we have collected over a lifetime are not important to anyone in our family but ourselves. It seems the times of collecting fine china, crystal and silver belong in their dark ages. The time in life when we entertained more lavishly is gone. Our family will not enjoy our collections and will sell them or donate them (not knowing the value) after we die. I have found in my personal life that not only do my step-children not value or respect what I have, but they resent that I have it at all and cannot understand why I have not sold it.
So surprise to you all, I am not waiting to die, so they can have it. I worked hard to earn the money to buy what I have and now, or received them as gifts from loved ones, and I am going to be listing it all on Ebay, Replacements ,Amazon or with an auction house and take a nice cruise with what I may earn. (maybe take two cruises)
I bought these gorgeous, (no longer made) wine glasses when I worked at Macy’s, then The Bon Marche. I would buy them two at a time when I had a good sales month in the Interior Design Studio I managed within the store. Back then they were $160.00 each on sale with my manager’s discount. I used to love purple and now after it being my favorite color for twenty years I don’t really even like it. So almost twenty years ago I was still entertaining and setting a beautiful table. Today, some nicely stemmed Reidel wine glasses take their place on the table. These ten perfect glasses will be on sale soon.
These two beautiful Waterford Scotch Glasses were a gift from a good friend many years ago. At the time they sold for over $250 as they were a special edition one year and never offered again. My stepson took one of them to the beach and has never forgiven me for asking him not to take them for drinking booze on the beach. He will never understand that they were a gift from someone special in my life. He never thought to ask why they were special to me. He didn’t think to ask if they friend were still alive or if they died. His older sister just thinks it is stupid to keep something this valuable. Life memories that involve an object rather than a sailing trip do not register to her. It is funny that neither of them asked why I only had two? So guess what guys, they will be on the market too!
These four tiny cordial glasses made by Waterford were a wedding present to my late husband and I in 1976 from one of his partners and our good friends at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. I love the feel of them, the texture of them, the joy of putting something wonderful in them and enjoying every last sip. The memory of receiving such a lovely wedding gift always made me smile in the past, but now knowing the resentment they brought me, just by keeping something I cherish I can’t look at them ever again, and they will be sold soon.
These smaller Waterford Brandy glasses were another 1976 Wedding gift and have been lovingly cared for and used for over 45 years. I am not really sure how I feel about someone coming into my home and my treasures and treating me badly because they do not believe in collecting anything. My own son’s know the history and respect it, but my new family never asked. They assume I am a bad person because I have nice things and want to keep them nice. Is that a crime? Is it a crime that I do not want them used at the beach or around the fire pit. I have safely used them in the house for a very long time.
Now I do have a little Mesena Baccarat which is from a terrible marriage that last three months and for Heaven’s Sake I should have gotten rid of those many years ago. It is soaking right now, as it is dusty from not being used in so long.
In reality, this is what I would love to do to all the collections I have proudly collected, but I am realist. These are no longer popular and damn it felt GREAT to throw them in the garbage and hear the glass shatter. I started laughing at what I had done and did not feel an iota of guilt. Looking at the shards of glass I had the passing thought, that life has harsh edges and we can hide it in a glass of wine, but it is still there. It did my soul good.
No one in life should make you feel bad about what you have, what you like, what you nurture, what you care about and what you don’t want or need to share with them.
No one should ever think that what you have is automatically theirs or theirs to use. What happened to asking permission?
The home I live in now with my husband is not a “Family Home” although I was recently told it was. No family grew up in this house, nor is it that “lake cabin” where you went every summer. A family home is one where the family grew up in or went to every summer or winter. Ours is a home where I personally bought waterfront land, designed and built a home to live in, in any manner I chose. My sons family home was sold many years ago. It was a beautiful designed for my sons to grow up in and hopefully remember their father.
Grown children are welcome to come if they can abide by three or four rules. If they cannot, they do not need to visit. It is sad to me that some grown children (not mine) think they have the right to come in to a house now shared with a wonderful man and think their rules (or lack thereof) apply to our house. It just isn’t so.
Simple yummy meals
Simple greens are always wonderful for a Spring Dinner. These were purchased from a local farmer at a Farmer’s Market this last weekend. Add a little avocado (always good), some cherry tomatoes, and a few blueberries and you have a delicious salad. I like the Italian way with dressing, but use Champagne Vinegar instead of Balsamic, as it is a little lighter. I add a teaspoon or so of the best Olive Oil I can find. Perfection with a little freshly grated Regiano Parmesano added on the top.
*Note: I try to buy Regiano Parmesano that has the rind on two of the sides, as it has much more flavor closer to the rind. I grate it right before serving, so the flavor is fresher. I keep the rind in the freezer and throw into soups for additional flavor, just pulling out what remains before I serve. I noticed our local gourmet grocery store has started selling the rinds.
Tonights main course was a recipe I found in the newest edition of Skinny One Pan Dining. Almond crusted Chicken with Fresh Spinach. It was a delight!
A couple of tips. Start the pan very hot, then lower temperature, so it does not burn, but is cooked all the way through. I used Glutton Free Panko and put it with the Almonds and the Rosemary in my little blender, so they were all the same size.
Rosemary grows like a weed in the Pacific Northwest, so I have it several places in my garden and on my deck in my potted herb garden. I just added another pot this weekend, so I could Dill and Mint.
Take it from me, do NOT plant mint in your yard, as it will take over your yard. I did this one of my first houses and it took over the whole side of the house, sort of like bamboo, or Creeping Jenny.
How to photograph what you cook.
This is a great article from America’s Test Kitchen.
5 Tips for Better Food Photography in Almost Any Setting
Hint: Natural light is your best friend.
As the director of photography here at America’s Test Kitchen, I’ve art directed more than 1,000 food photography shoots for our magazines, cookbooks, and everything in between. Some tricks of the trade can only be accomplished using professional cameras and perfectly placed lighting, but the following five tips will help you take better food photos, no matter your setup. (And here’s a bonus sixth tip: Natural light is your friend!)
1. Taste It First
I find that once I know how amazing a dish tastes then I’m motivated to show off the unique qualities that make it such a winner. Once you’re in love with the food, you can then work to highlight those special details and properties. For instance, if a dish’s crunchy texture is the thing that gets you, then try to find ways to highlight that part by getting close in on the exterior or by showing textural differences within the dish.
2. Move Around the Food
Think high, think low, look at all sides of the food, move the plate and see what happens when light hits it from different angles. Get up on a chair or ladder, get low and look right into the interior. Add multiple pieces of the food, or include elements in the frame that support the main character in a real way.
3. Make Color Happen
Even if you have the brownest or whitest of foods, add that parsley or some olive oil or use a complementary colored serving vessel. Find ways to keep dimension in a photo that could look too monochromatic. And if you’re going for the monochromatic thing, which is cool, find lots of contrast and interesting shapes to play off of—create the shapes if you have to by cutting into the food in a creative way.
4. Fight the Cold
Food that’s meant to be served hot should be photographed while it’s hot. Makes sense, right? The challenge is that food can often look like it’s not actually hot in a photo, even if it is. The best way to show hot is to let juices from meat or fruits pool on a spoon or plate. Shoot the steam coming off food by adding a dark background that allows the camera lens to capture the wafting steam. Let the light rake over the top of the food so it looks shiny with the natural oils. (It’s also okay to add a little olive oil for highlights.)
5. Interact with the Food
Pick up the tongs or the slotted spoon and break up the mound of food with a cooking or serving utensil. This allows some breathing room on the platter or plate, and can uncover nice details. This also gives the sense of scale and brings in the element of motion and possible drama, which are always nice to capture in a still photograph.
(The photographs in this post were shot by Joe Keller, Carl Tremblay, and Daniel J. van Ackere.)
What are your food photography secrets? Let us know!
Simple and simply Delish!
French Onion Soup, with a little homemade Focaccia on the side for a light dinner. I just didn’t photograph the pasta that followed and ruined the effect.
Love these little soup bowls as you can have just a little taste of soup for the first course. I often do this when entertaining or just for the two of us at home.
When I make a simple soup, I make a lot and freeze it in Mason Jars. (Just be sure to leave room at the top for freezing space) On nights I don’t feel like cooking. [You know the one that you have spent all day in the garden], it is nice to know there is something simple and good in the freezer; and just add a salad and you have dinner in ten minutes.
In the summer there is always lots of lettuce growing in my garden, so that is the time of year I love salads the most.
This last month I added a herb garden in planters on my covered deck, so I can have fresh herbs at my disposal all year, without walking out in the rain to cut them. My husband installed a drip system, so I don’t even have to worry about watering them. It is just nice!
This summer we will install a translucent wall, so they get light and we have privacy. The only disadvantage of living on the beach, is the close proximity to other houses. These little additions make fresh cooking so simple.