Thursday, June 30, 2011

Basement Treasures...Sonja's Dog

After the one day basement flood in April, I decided that I would wash the floor down really well before replacing what I had had to move to higher spots. Last week the day came when I had a long enough empty spell in the day to wash the first section using a squeegy sponge mop and soapy water with bleach added.

As I was scrubbing away, I decided that this would be a good time to thoroughly clean and dump throughout the basement. I haven't done this for at least fifteen years. Periodically, I sort and dump in one section or another of the basement but, more has been added to the basement than has been dumped. I decided to allow six months for the job. That was being realistic. I moved everything to one side of my studio and started in.

I scrubbed the floor. That wasn't hard. But the next day I began sorting and dumping. Lots of paper items filled two wastebaskets in short order.

But then I started clearing off the library table Tom and I brought back after Tom's parents died. The table sat in their living room for all the years I knew them.

Cujo was still sitting on the table after I sorted through everything else.  Cujo has been sitting there for over twenty years. He was Sonja's high school Senior Science Independent Project. She boiled the remaining flesh off a decomposing dog found along the road and glued the bones together. The vet where she worked allowed her to use his burn barrel to boil the dog. She said the process was very smelly. I never checked out the process. I was glad the boiling wasn't being done in our backyard. She wrote a long paper on the construction of a dog skeleton and received an A on her project. Tom made the case. At the junior fair portion of the county fair that summer, she was awarded Reserve Champion.

She teaches high school science now. I'm hoping that she will someday take Cujo to school for a permanent display. Till then, he sits in the basement. I can't bring myself to dump him.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Plein Air Painting...Friday, June 24

On Friday, Marsha and I agreed to meet at Lost Creek Reserve to paint. Lost Creek Reserve is now the site of the Main Office of the Miami County Parks District. The offices are in a beautiful 1890's farmhouse.

As I turned in the long lane that leads to the public parking, I met Donna. I was pleased to see her. She is another friend and fellow artist. We haven't seen one another for a long time. She had come to paint, too. She brought her eight year old granddaughter, Hayley, with her. Hayley had a bag of painting supplies, too.

Marsha and Hayley decided to work on the big front porch. There were comfortable chairs to sit on. As it turned out, there were a few sprinkles of rain during the time that we had our plein air session so being on the roof-covered porch was fortuitous.

Here is a close-up of Marsha's painting in progress. She took a photo so she could finish up at home.

Donna elected to paint from the front seat of her van. This was a good choice, too, because of the rain.

Here Donna is working on her second sketch of the day.

I chose to make a sketch using, first, pencil, and then, a Micron Pen No. 08. This swing is on another of the house's porches. (There is a third porch as well.)

Hayley and I were ready to stop before Marsha and Donna, so, while they spent another forty minutes finishing up, Hayley and I walked down to Lost Creek which gives the park its name.

The creek was swollen from recent rains. Hayley said it looked more like a river than a creek.

Hayley was intrigued with the sycamore seed balls she found.

She found other treasures,too which she carried back to show her grandma. After this picture was taken, she ran back and deposited her treasures under a sycamore tree near the area where she had found them.

For me this was an ideal morning. I sketched, and I walked in the woods with a young friend.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Treven

Treven in 1995

Treven in 1996

Treven in 1997

In 1997 my youngest sister had a big family reunion in her backyard. She had all kinds of toys and activities for the children. The ball bat was one of Treven's favorites.

We had another soccer player in 2000.

Treven in 2004

By 2004, Treven and his family were living in Virginia. They came back to visit. Since I taught children's art at the time, my basement studio was full of art supplies. Treven still likes art today. I have seen some beautiful drawings, Manga style, that he has drawn. His mother told me he recently did an outstanding self-portrait in art class.

Treven in 2005

This was the year Treven and his siblings played at a nearby park while Tom, Treven's dad, and I caught up on life events as we watched the children enjoy themselves.

Treven in 2008

By this time Treven and his family had moved to North Carolina. There were all kinds of health issues being dealt with in his family.Tom was having some health issues as well so neither Treven's family or Tom and I were up to traveling. As a result, we didn't get to see him for a couple years. I am happy his mother kept us supplied with pictures. We saw him via telecommunicating which helped us keep in touch also.

Treven in 20010

Tom and I were happy when he was healthy enough to travel again. Our first long trip was to North Carolina. The second year we visited the family, we spent the afternoon at a fund raiser for a church camp for families. Rid'em, Cowboy.

Treven, have a wonderful birthday. I hope to see you before the year is over. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gretchen and Ray's Art Deco Wedding

Everything was Art Deco and Trains...

from the invitation with its railroad-like logo which Gretchen and Ray designed the location, The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal the Departure Board where the table assignments were on baggage tickets the tables decorated in silver, black, and white with ostrich feathers and a silky runner and a photograph of a classic locomotive, a different photo at each table. Swingtime, a band with the big band sound of the 30s who played the romantic classics of the time.

Many of the guests wore outfits from The Drama Workshop costume collection and others wore clothing similar to the 1930s styles.

All of the couple's children were part of the wedding party. During the dinner one table of guests burst into song...a chorus of the theme from The Brady Bunch.

Gretchen's son

Gretchen's daughter

Ray's older boys

Ray's youngest son

One of their friends designed a special poster to place at the entrance to the Private Dining Rooms.

One last picture of Gretchen and Ray...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wonderful Week of Food

Tom gave me this card as he noted...two weeks before my birthday.

On June 11, friends since we met them during Tom's master's program in the early 1960's, stopped in. They moved to Florida after they retired but came back this month to visit in Ohio. We spent an afternoon catching up on what has been happening in our lives and then went out to eat at The Caroline. (Wine and cloth napkins)

On June 12, I decided to pull weeds in one of the flowerbeds. I could hardly find the plants for the weeds. The bed looks better now although there is still more grass and Gill-'or the ground to be pulled. (also called Creeping Charley or Ground Ivy) Tom was still working on the computer when I came in so I decided to surprise him with lunch even though he had told me he planned to make lunch at noon. He was NOT happy. He, Ray, and Sonja were planning to surprise me with a birthday party at noon. I was sorry I had spoiled my surprise but also glad since I was grimy from pulling weeds.

By the time I had changed clothes, Ray, Stephen and James had arrived with a cake. Sonja and Eric arrived shortly after with two buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken and a variety of side dishes.

Ted and Sean had to work and Samantha was at a friend's graduation ceremony. I was happy to see everyone who was free to come.

But the days of eating still were not complete. There was a pause on June 13 and then Tom and I were off to eat again, this time at a very, very nice restaurant, Rue Dumaine which serves American, European, and French Cuisine. Sean, our oldest grandson, is one of the chefs there. This is an expensive restaurant that we can only afford once a year at the most. The food was fantastic. I really wanted to get a photo of Sean working away but I thought that might be just a bit too grandmotherly. Here is a photo of him he gave me a couple years ago.

The waitress told us he is always working at an amazing pace. She is engaged and says Sean treats the two of them to meals he prepares on his days off.

Tom and I met friends on June 15 for lunch. This time we went to The Night Sky Cafe which is yet another type of restaurant. We met their 10 week old granddaughter.They surprised me with a birthday cake also.

This has been a wonderful week for eating. Guess I'll diet for the next two.


P.S. Here is the message on the back of the card Tom sent me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This is the photo I used as reference. You can see that the day was overcast.

I thought the painting was finished when Tom took this photo. Then I realized that I had brightened the painting enough so the lone tree should have a shadow. I also decided to deepen the blue in the sky.

Before I painted the shadow, I made a set-up using props I had on hand...a wire tree I use to teach students how tree branches grow out of the trunk, and Play Doh for the rocks. I set the props up on a table easel, a handy canvas behind them and a sheet of copier paper in front. I set a spot light on the scene and took a photo with my Finepix JZ300.

I took this photo outside in bright sunlight with my little JZ300. If I print the picture on matte photo paper it comes out close to the original but it shows up dark on the computer screen.

If I brighten the painting 5 stops and increased the contrast by 5 stops using Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8, the painting looks closer to the original on the blog.

I brightened the painting by 10 stops, keeping the 5 stop contrast increase. Now it looks more like the original on my computer when I am not on the internet. It is frustrating to reproduce a painting in another medium. And then there is the matter of an individual's eyes. Every person sees differently. What seems close to the original to one person does not seem close to another person.

Now I am reconsidering the composition. Do I want to finish the right side? My goal is to accentuate the lone tree. I was tremendously impressed with its tenuous hold on the sheer rock. If you have an opinion, I would like to have it. I am putting this painting aside for the time being and will work on something else.