Sunday, November 16, 2008

Arabian Horse

Haven't had a lot of time to work on new things lately, but I do hope to get back to more art soon.

I didn't know this before, but all Arabians, no matter the coat color, have black skin, except under white markings. Black skin provided protection from the hot desert sun. Although many Arabians appear "white," they are not. A white hair coat is usually created by the natural action of the gray gene, and virtually all "white" Arabians are actually grays. (info taken from a wikipedia article... gotta love wikipedia!)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Once upon a time, there was a little house, on a little hill, way out in the country...

I saw this a while back and thought this cartoon was particularly touching. In these troubled times, we realize what "progress" may actually bring. But let us not forget to cling to that little bit of hope...

Disney's "The Little House" - 1952

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New Painting!

I can hardly believe I got this painting done! Yesterday was absolutely crazy, as I had several errands and seemed to be on the road forever. And I thought I'd be exhausted when I got home, but somehow my creative energy was still flowing and I managed to finish this painting of a quail. It's acrylic on a 5x12 piece of plywood, and I mixed in a medium that makes acrylic brush on and blend like oil paint.

I was under the gun to finish this because I'm giving it as a birthday gift to a very good friend of mine, who loves quails.

It's very satisfying to complete a project that's been on my "to do" list for a few weeks. Plus, I proved to myself that I can paint something other than ATC's. =)

Friday, September 5, 2008

I Love Your Blogs, Too!

The very talented (and super nice) Lisa M. Griffin gave me the "I Love Your Blog" award some time back, and I am shamefully late posting it... sorry! This goes right back to Lisa, as her site is such an enjoyable place to visit. I'm also giving it to all the "Cool People with Lots of Talent" featured on my sidebar. Check them out and find out why I love their blogs so much!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

That's Sir Nils Olav to you!

This story made me smile. A king penguin received Norwegian Knighthood recently, having already received medals for good service and other honorary ranks ever since he was made an honorary member of the King's Guard in 1972 after being picked out as the guard's mascot.

Check out the full story here

And the video (in case you don't believe me):

Here's also a few penguin ATC's I recently made (I thought it would go nicely with this post)...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Star Wars Mania

In honor of the recent post by the talented Joan, here is the Max Rebo Band from Star Wars Return of the Jedi...

Check out these clips of Star Wars music I found:

If you liked that one, check this one out (this guy is brilliant!):

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Dream of Africa

Some ATC's of various sunset scenes in Africa. I've been wanting to do these for a long time. I was listening to the soundtrack of "The Lion King" on my iPod while creating these and it really helped get the creative energy going. It's always been my dream to go to Africa and take a Safari ride to see the animals. (sigh) someday...

Another Inspiring Artist - Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh

A friend recently showed me some notecards bought at the Art Institute of Chicago that depicted the work of Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh, a Scottish artist who helped originate the "Glasgow Style" of art during the late 1800's. I was immedietely intrigued! I don't recall ever seeing her work before and I am always so excited to discover (for myself) something new... even though it's like a century old.

I was most facinated by the strong, flowing lines and wonderfully strange shapes of each piece. Here's some more of her work...

Cinderella (Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh)

Label for Sheenore Fabrics (Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh)

Opera of the Winds (Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh)

THe White Rose and the Red Rose (Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh)

Oh ye, all ye that walk in Willowood (Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Brillante Award

Whoa! Katrice was so kind to have awarded me the Brillante Weblog award... She is so awesome! And her site is full of her bright, happy, colorful illos! What a perfect opportunity to highlight the work of others (who doubtless have received this award many times already). I often visit the sites of these talented artists, whose blogs inspire me for the following reasons:

1. Pati - I love seeing her recent sketches of people she sees on the subway. Each figure is so thoughtfully drawn, right down to the smallest details. And I love that Godo still makes his appearances!

2. Chickengirl - Jannie Ho is way cool! Every time she posts stuff that she buys and collects... I want to buy them too! Yeah, and her artwork is so fabulous!

3. Emila Yusof - Emila is an amazing photographer! I'm highlighting her photo blog because every time I see her crisp and clean photos, I am inspired to go outside and take pictures of bugs and rain, too! I think everything she touches turns to gold!

4. Brian Gubicza - I'm highlighting his photos, also. I think it is the neatest thing to chronicle one's first year in a new city using photographs. There is this wonderful urban beauty about each of the pics.

5. Zari - She can draw things in different, cool, wonderfully different ways, but her bright personality always shines through each piece. You can always tell it's a "Zari" drawing. Truly, she is one of my favorite artists!

6. Mike Baker - I think it's virtually impossible not to be inspired by Mike's work. His use of color and character expression is just brilliant! And there's a story to tell with each illo, too. Writers need to make up stories to go with his drawings!

7. Valerie Walsh - Oh my goodness, not only are her paintings and illustrations so beautiful... but they have "heart". You can tell that each piece was lovingly created to make others happy. And I love the stories Val shares on her blog so much, that I pass them along to others too.

Okay, so these are just a few of the talented people I've been blessed to come across. Thank you so much for sharing your talent on your brillante sites!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Felt Craftyness

Feeling crafty lately with a couple of felt projects...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Purple Trees and Sometimes Blue Skies

The Jacaranda Trees are in bloom around here. I don't remember them flowering like this into the summer... but nevertheless it's nice to see.

Before I learned they were actually called Jacarandas, I thought they were just our special purple trees. But I found out they also grow in Australia, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Los Angeles...

So for some time now, the skies around the Bay Area looked like this from all the fires taking place in California (it smelled bad too)...

Then miracle upon miracle, we had a couple of days when the sky looked like this...

(Sigh) Now it's back to this...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Means...

...Going to the Fair


...The Beach

...Finding Stuff at the Beach (like this purple starfish)

Sweet Gifts

Some thoughtful gifts from friends at work...

I love sunflowers!

A package arrived with these goodies...

A beautiful handmade card (such wonderful workmanship!)...

A pair of beautiful Ukranian dolls (my friend is from the Ukraine)

The tile on the right is another gift that's sitting on my desk at work (along with a postcard of the same favorite painting)

And a heavenly treat - white chocolate cup filled with chocolate mousse and topped with a fresh raspberry... yum!!!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Artists Who Inspire Me: Chiura Obata

Today, I received a wonderful gift from a friend - a book on Chiura Obata's work! Chiura Obata, who was a professor of art at the University of California, Berkeley, was one of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans forcefully relocated from their homes and communities to internment camps in 1942. While there, he taught art classes and kept up his artwork, painting beautiful and haunting scenes even in the midst of being incarcerated. The book I have has more than 100 of Obata's sketches, sumi paintings, and watercolors from his internment period, along with letters and interviews. His art is a testimony to his artistic genius and undefeated spirit despite his circumstances.

Here's some of his work...

Topaz Mountains (Chiura Obata)

Topaz War Relocation Center by Moonlight (Chiura Obata)

Dawn, Knight's Ferry, Stanislaus County (Chiura Obata)

Evening Moon (Chiura Obata)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

That Lovable Wookie...

Here's a recent drawing of everyone's favorite wookie, Chewbacca... 'cause I just felt like posting it! I kind of like his soft and kindly expression... as he shoots someone to smithereens with his blaster. =P

Although I didn't actually use it, I found this palette on Colourlovers, called "Chewbacca". Cool huh?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Snow Leopard

Well, here is the last of the endangered animal series I did for a "Nature"-themed ATC swap. I think Snow Leopards are fascinating -- Not only are they incredibly beautiful, they are reclusive creatures so attacks on humans are extremely rare. And they physically cannot roar. Although they are supposed to be protected as an endangered species, there are no measures to adequately protect them. They are hunted for their beautiful fur, and their bones and body parts are used in Asian medicine. Their loss of habitat and food sources are caused by deforestation and dam projects. More info and links to conservation projects can be found here

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Photo Mosaic

I was browsing around Flickr and found some really cool photo mosaics that people had uploaded. Some were of specific color schemes (eg. brown and pink) and I thought that those were particularly lovely. I wanted to do something similar, but it was difficult to concentrate on specific colors right now. I do however have lots and lots of dog pictures (pets of family members and good friends), so I thought I'd start with this...

row 1(l-r) Cha-Cha, Nixon, Elvis, Queenie; row 2(l-r) Kiki, Lala, Todd, Fluffy; row 3(l-r) Todd, Walter and Cha-Cha, Millie, Kiki; row 4(l-r) Queenie, Chow-Chow, Ace, Todd

I can't begin to tell you how much of a blessing these little guys have been to our family over the last couple of very trying years. So this is just a small tribute to them. =)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Starbucks Splash Sticks... huh?

Today, I saw someone's starbucks coffee had this thing sticking out of the sip hole...

I learned this little green invention was called a Splash Stick and the purpose of it was to prevent accidental spills from the little hole on the lid. At first I thought, wow how cool... I love mermaids and the design is cute and innovative and... well, cool!

Then I went home, saw my post again about the polar bears and thought to myself... wait a minute! that little green plastic thingy is kind of wasteful isn't it? I mean, how much will be produced and then just carelessly thrown away? Besides, isn't the cup lid supposed to prevent spills in the first place? what about covering the hole with a sticker or something... what about a finger? what about being just a little more careful when you walk so you don't spill stuff all over yourself?

I would have to say this was a bad call on Starbucks part to put these things out. I wonder, too, why these splash sticks were "quietly introduced" to the Starbucks chains. I'm sure they know these aren't environmentally friendly, but wanted to come out with this gimmick anyway. What happened to being environmentally responsible?

I'm not a tree hugger or anything, but I understand that for plastic bags alone, every year billions of them are produced and less then 3% are recycled. Plastic bags are typically made of polyethylene and can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade in landfills that emit harmful greenhouse gases. In fact, the 380 billion plastic bags that Americans throw away each year are made from millions of barrels of petroleum, contributing to global warming, depleting oil supplies, and driving up costs of petroleum-based products like gasoline and energy for our homes.

You can check out more facts on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Global Warming website

They also have a few definitions posted that make explaining (and understanding) the problem of global warming a bit clearer.

Global warming
The progressive gradual rise of the earth's surface temperature thought to be caused by the greenhouse effect and responsible for changes in global climate patterns. An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse Gas
Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone (O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Greenhouse effect
The effect produced as greenhouse gases allow incoming solar radiation to pass through the Earth's atmosphere, but prevent part of the outgoing infrared radiation from the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere from escaping into outer space. This process occurs naturally and has kept the Earth's temperature about 59 degrees F warmer than it would otherwise be. Current life on Earth could not be sustained without the natural greenhouse effect.

Enhanced greenhouse effect
The concept that the natural greenhouse effect has been enhanced by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, CFCs, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3 and other photochemically important gases caused by human activities such as fossil fuel consumption, trap more infra-red radiation, thereby exerting a warming influence on the climate.

Anyway, I'm not saying I'm the perfect environmentalist or anything, but I think we can all do our part. I believe the Lord meant for us to be good stewards of what He gave us. So I've come up with some goals for myself and tips to share on being more responsible:

1. Look more carefully at stuff before throwing away and determine what can be recycled. For example, I had absolutely no idea that yogurt containers could be recycled until I looked at one closely and saw the symbol.

2. Reuse more stuff. I've gotten into the habit of taking water bottles home and refilling with filtered water. I think this is good to re-use a few more times. Better yet, I should use the kind that you just wash and refill.

3. Use less ziploc bags and use more of the food containers that you can rewash and reuse. Bringing your own lunch saves money too.

4. Carpool when possible. With gas prices these days, this is getting to be a necessity!

5. Don't take stuff that's not needed, even if free. This includes the splash sticks, extra napkins (unless you're really going to use them), free pens (that's gonna be a hard one for me), and other freebies that will certainly be thrown away soon and filling up our landfill.

Ok, well that's it for now. (Sigh) Save our polar bears!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Polar Bear

It is unbelievably sad what is happening to the polar bear population right now; and quite scary what the impact of global warming is turning out to be.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Grey Wolf

Ok, so I'm finally, finally ready to mail off those 16 ATC's I owe my friend and her ATC pals in Belgium. She was kind enough to include a wonderful card made by her son. He drew me a wolf, so I thought I'd draw one for him, too. =)

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Traditional Sauce

Ok, so I scoured the net for a traditional Bolognese sauce recipe because I wanted to attempt a traditional version. The recipe, however, uses diced pancetta -- which wasn't available at the local Food Mart. So I substituted diced ham. Probably bacon would work too. Also, it calls for wine... but since I never have wine around the house or even know what kind to use for cooking, I skipped it. There's not a whole lot of tomato in this either. They say that Bolognese is not a tomato sauce with meat. It's a meat sauce with a bit of tomato in it.

Here's my "on the cheap" and simplified version...

Bolognese Sauce

1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced celery
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package diced ham (about 8 oz.)
1 lb. ground pork
1 cup whole milk
1 can tomato sauce
olive oil
salt and pepper

Fry ham in olive oil for a few minutes until it sizzles. Add carrots, celery, and onions and mix and fry until vegetables are translucent. Mix salt and pepper into ground pork and add pork into vegetable/ham mix. Stir until pork crumbles and browns. There should be some liquid still in the pot from the oil, meat and vegetables. Add tomato sauce and garlic. Then add whole milk gradually, slowly mixing it in and stirring well each time.

I made only the sauce tonight to make it easy on myself. Tomorrow, I'll cook up the spaghetti and serve the dish with garlic bread.

More Recipes on a Budget

Ok, here's another one I made just the other day. I love love love this one for barbecue (and summer is just about here, so there is lots of opportunity to cook on the grill!) But this version I made for the oven.

Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken (instructions for grilled version follows)

2 lbs. chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons lemon pepper

This one can be more expensive if you buy the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. But cheaper with the bone and skin on and you just remove it yourself. Anyway, lightly season chicken with salt and pepper. Use a fork and pierce chicken all over. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon pepper and marinate chicken into this mixture for a few hours (overnight is best). When ready, put chicken in baking pan, pour marinade over, and bake in 350 degree oven for 45 min to 1 hour, checking for doneness.

For grilled version, definately marinate overnight. When grilling, use the oil/lemon juice/lemon pepper marinade to baste chicken.

Here's my side dish...

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4 large russet potatoes
1 whole bulb of garlic
olive oil
1 cup whole milk
2 - 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in large pot of water for 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, bake a whole bulb of garlic with a little olive oil drizzled on it and wrapped in foil in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. When potatoes are done, peel and mash. When garlic is done, peel and squeeze out the roasted garlic. Add to potatoes and continue to mash. Add butter/margarine and milk slowly and mash until desired consistency, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Other Passion...

Ok, so I've seemingly have gotten behind on my personal challenge to remain creative for this month. However, I will say that I've been keeping busy with some other creative endeavors this week... cooking! Yes, one can only take so much of "take out" before longing for some nice home made food.

I've been on this "Top Chef" kick for the last few weeks too. I totally love that show! They had this one challenge where the contestants are supposed to cook a family meal for 10 dollars... 10 DOLLARS!!! Wow. But they came up with the most incredible meals that I was so inspired to come up with budget menus of my own.

Ok, so here's the first one that I'll post. Not sure if they will all be under $10... but I'm trying to make them affordable, easy, as well as tasty.

Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Pork Chops

2 lb. package of pork chops
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey

Season pork chops with salt and pepper, and fry in frying pan with oil for a few minutes until browned. Not too long or else the meat will be tough. Combine vinegar and honey and pour over porkshops in pan, and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until porkchops are coated with vinegar/honey mixture. Remove from heat and serve with rice, or couscous, or scalloped potatoes. (my scalloped potatoes came from a box)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gift Tags - Day 18 of MPC

I continued making things out of photos I've taken, and just finished these gift tags.

I first used a photo of the Eiffel Tower, and then played around with color variations and special effects in Photoshop to give it this pink and grainy look. I then printed several copies of the same image on vellum paper and glued them on a soft pink metallic cardstock. I also took small slips of paper with "to and from" typed and pasted these on the back of each. Finally, I used a special tool to set the eyelets and strung a sheer pink ribbon through.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Travel-Inspired Items - Day 17 of MPC

Here's some more items I worked on last night. They can either be used as gift tags or short bookmarks. But I made them 2.5 x 3.5 in., so they will be going with the earlier batch of ATC's I made and sent to Belgium.

These are actual photos that I had taken. I cropped them, fixed the color so that each had a pink tone, and added a "grainy" effect. I also used some cute pink and brown ribbons I bought.

Travel ATC's - Day 16 of MPC

All the posts about travel inspired me to do some collaged ATC's that I completed last week. These and at least 9 more are going to a very nice and very patient group of artists in Belgium. I happened to run across their site where they posted pictures of their giant wall of international ATC's they collected some time ago. Anyway, we arranged a trade and I received a package from them weeks ago. Needless to say, I am extremely late in sending these!