Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good to be Loved

Isn't it good to be loved? Diahn gave me this fun award the other day. (Back at ya', babe! Thank you!) It took me a couple of days to finally figure out why I wasn't able to upload it (Attention Picassa users - see note at the bottom) -- which is probably why nobody ever gave me the "Smartest Blogger Award."

So -- now I'm to pass it on to a few folks, and think I should do it quick, before February, the month of LOVE is totally gone.

Annie of New Life Rising -- I just love her art and writing and her wonderful sense of humor. Her photography of butt shots would make a wonderful exhibition on its own.

Janey of Janey's Journey -- because, who DOESN'T love Janey? She has the best sense of color in the world.

Lin of View from the Oak -- who is always there to encourage and who also possesses a magic time machine that lets her do 28 hours worth of stuff in 24 hours. Magic, I tell you.

Teri of Teri's Painted Daisies -- who has really grown as an artist and who always encourages me, too. PLUS SHE LOVE THE PACKERS. Need I say more?

Laura of Laurelines -- who is just the best in all respects, although we are all on the edge of our seats, waiting for a drawing of a FOUNTAIN from Hawaii.

There are so many others ... just look at that list of links over there on the right. There ya' go. All those guys ...

(And, hey. If you notice that your blog is NOT listed over there, give me a bit of time. I'm working on updating my list from my bloglines, and am doing it s-l-o-w-l-y. Those little housekeeping details are not my strong point...)

Are there blogs out there that you love? Play along...
1. If you get tagged, write a post with links to your favorite blogs.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the creator of the award, Emila.

Note to Picassa users. To view and use small images, you have to click on the toolbar and check that you actually want to see small images. I dont' know why. But there you are. See, this post is not only warm and fuzzy, but educational. You ARE getting your money's worth after all!

Posted by PicasaPersonally, I think Picassa rocks!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Weedy Bay

I could just play and play with pastel landscapes right now. This one probably needs to be tweaked over the next week, but basically I'm happy with it. It's simple.

I have an idea for a self imposed landscape challenge for the month of March or April. Maybe. I'm thinking about something ...

Again, the camera seems to emphasize some colors and ignore others. In reality, it's not quite so ... purple. I mean, there IS purple, but it's more blended than it appears here. Anyone with ideas on how to photograph pastels so that they look right the first time? I don't want to mess around in a photo editing program. I'd rather spend the time on the art. :-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sun Kissed

Playing with pastels for a little bit today. The actual piece is about 11" x 14", but I really like this crop of the upper half of the piece.
Here's how today went ...

Starting with a piece of prepared mat board , with lines measured out to use a pre-cut 10 1/2" x 13 1/2" mat. (Board prepped with a mix of acrylic matte medium and very fine aluminum oxide grit, tinted with a drop or two of liquid acrylic paint. I wish I'd gone over it a second time, brushing the opposite direction with a bit more grip and matte medium, so that the surface was a little more even.) The photo is from Wet Canvas and was taken by Carlanna. First, I laid in the basic lines with a medium charcoal pencil. Now that I look at this, I wonder if I should have just stopped here... :-D

Within about 10 minutes I've laid in basic darks and lights. Again, maybe I should have stopped here, at least to consider my lower right corner ...
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One hour and 20 minutes later I'm as done as I'm willing to be right now. It was nice and fresh an hour ago, but now it feels a bit overworked. Darn it.

Can you tell that there is a path that leads up the hill, or does it just read as a stripe? There's still a lot of work to do on this one, slowly, though.... slowly!
I think it might be fun to try this in watercolor, too. It's a great reference photo -- lots to learn from it!
(And for you music lovers -- I'm listening to Cat Power's Jukebox CD. Amazing!!!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday Workshop

I attended a pastel workshop given by Paul deMarrais today. Something clicked, I think. I love that feeling. Now if I can just KEEP that clicked feeling ....

Something about pastels and the camera don't mix. For some reason neither photo is exactly right -- too much orange. The one of the cedars (top) came out okay, but none of the photos of this one of the river came out right. The orange and rich blue are not NEAR so pronounced in the original pastel. It looks better in person.

I had originally planned to work on another piece when I got home this afternoon, but MAN am I tired! I hope everyone else had a fun Saturday!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Raw Chablis

I was not EVEN thinking when I started this. Okay, maybe I was thinking, but I sure don't know about what. I've decided that I love doing detail in pen and in colored pencil, but don't enjoy it near so much in watercolor. Really. On the up side, this one was fun for playing around with a good variety of greens and nailing some interesting darks. It looks a good bit better in person, and I think it feels kind of summery, which is nice on these below freezing days. Working on it 15 -30 minutes at a time in the evenings has been relaxing. It needs to just sit on the work table for a week or so, and then I'll feel back up to finishing it.

Work is busy, and that's a good thing. I was thinking today about how fortunate I am to have a job that I really love. I sometimes think I have the MOST fun job in the world. Sometimes. ;-)

Diahn and I got to meet up the other day and do goal reviews, but I'm not going to go into that now -- later on this week, okay? I got my new eliptical, and am LOVING it. It feels GREAT to be actively working out, and I'm up to 30-45 minutes and so far have stuck to doing it every day. Woo hoo! I'll be ready for a bathing suit in ... oh, phoooey ... in 2009. I'll just have to stick to wearing a swim suit only on the boat when nobody's around in 2008, I'm afraid!

(Watercolor on 140# Arches 9" x 12" block. And for those of you interested in music -- I listened to A Fine Frenzy's album, One Cell in the Sea, while I worked on this. Great music!)

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Sunday, February 03, 2008


Well, I made a big milestone today. That is, if I last another 15 minutes or so.

Two years ago today, at 2:15 in the afternoon, after over 30 years of smoking, I QUIT. I haven't had a cigarette since.

I'd been wanting to quit, and had tried several times without lasting success. This time, however, I had the _____ scared out of me, when I couldn't breathe and the doctors all thought I was having heart trouble. YIKES! I'd been miserable all that previous week, and had really cut back on smoking, but this was enough to make me STOP. For the first time, I clearly saw/felt/KNEW that the pain far outweighed the pleasure. (That's the key to changing any habit, by the way -- pain vs. pleasure -- and if you want to know more about THAT, I suggest that check into this guy's stuff. )

I did it cold turkey, too. No patches, no nicotine gum, no nothing but willpower. I still have my half a pack of cigarettes in the drawer, by the way -- and I can start back any time I want to, but I have to start with THOSE cigarettes. Needless to say, they are pretty stale and nasty by now. I hadn't smoked in the house for many years, so I didn't have the problems of adjusting my habits by the computer or in front of the TV too much. My hardest time was in the evenings, around 8 p.m. -- I figured out that what I really missed was the hot bitter taste of smoking then, so I would make a strong pot of decaf coffee and take it out into the garage, sit down in my "smoking chair", and get my hot-bitter fix. It worked for me.

Other than remembering how TERRIBLE it felt to not be able to breathe, day by day I reminded myself that EVERY day I didn't smoke really did make a difference in my health. I kept these kind of facts in mind:

  • Within 8 hours of your last cigarette, your carbon monoxide levels drop to normal and oxygen levels in the blood increase to normal.

  • Within 24 hours of your last cigarette, your risk of heart attack decreases.

  • Within 48 hours of your last cigarette, your nerve endings begin to regenerate, and your ability to smell and taste is enhanced.

  • Within 72 hours of your last cigarette, bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier. Lung capacity starts increasing.

  • Within 2 weeks to 2 months your circulation improves, and walking becomes easier

  • Within 1 to 9 months, coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath all decrease. The cilia RE-GROW in your lungs, which increases your ability to handle mucus, clean your lungs, and reduces the chance of infection.

  • Within 3-5 years your risk of dying from a heart attack decreases to that of a non-smoker.

  • Within 10 years your risk of dying from lung cancer decreases to that of a non-smoker. Precancerous cells are replaced with healthy cells. Other cancer occurrences, such as cancer of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas all decrease.

Pretty impressive, huh?

I did gain weight. So what. I knew I would, because the actual effects of nicotine on your body cause it to work harder and burn more calories. It's like you suddenly aren't burning the calories you once were. Eating wasn't a big deal -- I made sure that I didn't substitute mints and gum for the cigarettes -- I substituted nothing but my evening coffee! I increased my water intake, increased my healthy foods, decreased my processed foods. I was more interested in generally getting healthy than in whether or not I stayed skinny. Plus I had this mysterious breathing-but-not-and-heart-but-not whatever going on, and it made strenous exercise difficult. Actually, about that time, I would have said that strenous exercise was IMPOSSIBLE for me. Something was going on and I was exhausted down beyond my reserves. It was just a matter of rest and recouperate. *

Now I'm no longer the skinny girl. I'm the chunky one. I'm feeling much better though, and am ready to kick it up a notch! Remember my goal of losing 10 pounds by the end of April? Well, I've lost 2 so far. Not bad, considering that, due to really nasty weather and a fairly annoying knee problem, I haven't been able to meet my exercise goals of walking 3 times a week and doing yoga 3 times a week. Still, I'm determined, and am really blessed with a hubby who likes me the way I am, whichever way I am, but is super supportive of healthy lifestyle changes. So, in support of good health, we bought an elliptical machine this weekend (a nice chunk of change, thank you honey for the early birthday present!) and I'm ammending my goals to using it daily, also walking the 1-2 miles whenever the weather allows, and getting the doc to take a look at my knee so I can get back into yoga without modifying most of the poses and squealing "ouch" a lot.

And, I've managed to type the 15 minutes away -- so, as of right this minute -- I have been TWO YEARS -- smoke free.


(* I now think it was a case of mixed stuff -- chest wall pain, a sprained sternocostal joint, hormonal changes, and adrenal fatigue. It took a lot of research to figure all that out, and I had to do some arguing with my doc to NOT be on a bunch of medications that I know now I wouldn't have needed. Sometimes you NEED to rest, and I still believe that I was right.)