Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's All a Blur to Me

Sometimes I quite like photos that aren't in focus...even when it doesn't happen intentionally:

Looking down on Sophie in the tub
What I DON'T like is how "blurry" my vision has been lately when it comes to painting and drawing. 

Today brought me two new (potential) opportunities:

1. Paint an army helmet for the True Patriot Love Foundation which will then be auctioned off with proceeds going to Canadian military families;
2. Paint a Muskoka chair that will be auctioned off to raise money for Neilson Park Creative Centre in Etobicoke.

I have to say that it's gotten the creative juices flowing, and I'm actually getting ideas and images in my mind that are not as frustratingly blurry as they've been for me recently.  They're almost clear, and it feels wonderful.

I haven't yet decided whether or not to do either, but given the ideas I'm getting PLUS the fact that doing either of them would help to raise money for a good cause, I am very tempted to do at least one.

I'll be sure to keep you posted ;) 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Some Treasures are Best Left for Others

Here's another fabulous vintage item that I found in 2007. 

Such a sweet face...

Selling through a trustworthy source ("Collex" in Brampton) with low mileage and only one previous owner, it was a true "owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church and back" find!  I came so close to adding it to my treasure collection.  So very close.

...and beautiful on the inside too...

It was love at first sight for me but this handsome beast would surely have only broken my heart and left me penniless on the side of the road, so I had to tear myself away and leave this treasure behind for someone else to find.

Alas, all I am left with are these photos and the splendid thoughts of what could have been (and you just never know...perhaps some day will be). 
[SIGH] ...but such high maintenance!

This Woman's Treasures

Sometimes I get a real kick out of antique markets, garage sales, thrift stores and resale shops.  I will be the first one to admit that there are often some pretty icky things in some of these places, but if you're up to the hunt sometimes there are great treasures to be found. 

People have been willing to give/donate/throw things away that I in turn have been so very happy bring home with me.  Things like these:

Detail of a leather jacket from "New to You" in Streetsville, ON

Vintage turquoise ring from "Inglewood Antique Market" in Caledon, ON
(Abalone ring in background from "New to You")

Vintage ceramic sugar container from Flamboro Antique Show

Vintage Pyrex bowl set from Goodwill in Brampton, ON
The Greatest Find Ever

Designer floral jacket: resale store in Toronto
Antique painted pressback chair: garage sale in Caledon
Scarf: resale store in Mississauga
The most priceless treasure I've ever found:
My adorable "vintage" Lucy; adopted through via "Speaking of Dogs" in 2008

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Clovers, Birds, Sea Monsters and a Dear Friend

What a perfect way to spend a Sunday!
I took a great workshop today...Encaustic for Beginners.

The workshop was done by Supria Karmakar; a talented high school friend of mine who not only is a fabulous instructor but also a lovely, lovely person in every way.   All in all, it made for a wonderful day.  If you're the least bit interested in "encaustic" and looking to have some creative fun (even if you don't think you're creative), I highly suggest that you sign up and give it a go!

This is the first of two pieces that I did in today's class...unfortunately it does not photograph well at all, but hopefully you get the idea.  I wanted to use some of the four leaf clovers I've found over the past couple of years, and so tried it here with these two little birds that are apparently hoping to get lucky in love...or maybe just lucky.  I like it, but I want to work on it some more.  It needs more contrast/detail, something...

Fortunately Supria offers shared time at her studio in Fergus.  I'll be looking into that for sure. 

"Looking for Love in All the Song Places"
(8 x 12 encaustic/collage on plywood panel)
This next one is Sigmund; an accident that happened out of melted blobs of blues, green and purple. 

Part of the encaustic process involves heat guns/irons/blow torches to fuse the medium (a stage that must be completed for each layer of wax added), and...well...this was my first time using a blow torch. 

Yep - I was a little over zealous.

I'm happy to say that no one was harmed, but I did unintentionally melt a big pool of wax on my board, and that's what ended up being the birth of Sigmund's odd little body (tipping the board up and rotating it created his fins/tentacles). 

Sigmund could use a little more work as well, but all in all I like him too...he was good messy fun!   

Sigmund: The Blue Sea Monster
(12 x 12 encaustic/collage on plywood panel)

Looking at this makes me want to play with it again!

Ah, the colours...

The Lovely and Talented Supria!

The most challenging thing about today's workshop was having to let go of preconceived ideas about the outcome.  As a beginner, limited skills/experience meant that the image changed (and changed) beyond my control with every layer that was added, so getting attached to the piece before completion was pointless...I just had to appreciate each stage and hope for the best in the end. 

It was so much fun to let go and enjoy the journey: every turn it took and every surprise around each corner. 
I even ended up liking the surprise destination.

Thank you Supria!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cheesy Biscuits With a Little Kick

I was in the mood to make some tea biscuits tonight, but wanted to do something a little different this time.  As good as they are "as is", I thought I'd try a cheesy version with a little cayenne pepper kick.

Mmmmm...can you say "YUM"?

The basic recipe that my Mother has made to accompany every amazing pot of beef barley soup she's cooked since I can remember is this:

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp white sugar
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup shortening (regular or butter flavour)
1¼ cup milk

Mix dry ingredients and cut in shortening until mealy consistency. 
Add milk
Knead just until blended, then roll out 1" thick

Cut with a sharp round cutter...take your pick - mine's about 2½ inches in diameter and my Mom uses one just over half that size.  (keep an eye on them if they're smaller as they may need less time in the oven)
Bake 12 minutes* @ 400F
(*NOTE: this timing is for my convection oven.  The original recipe calls for 15 - 20 minutes...either way, just until they begin to brown)

Tonight I added about 3/4 tsp of cayenne pepper, about 3/4 of a cup of shredded romano and some medium cheddar chopped up into tiny cubes (a bit less than 3/4 of a cup - I was just using what I had on hand)...and they're not bad!!!  In fact, they're pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

Gotta LOVE that cheese!