Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Monday, July 29, 2013

Finally, a beginning...

I've been procrastinating on blogging about the class  I took in France, and now that I finally made myself dive in, I realize it was a case of overwhelm.  There are just too many aspects of the class for one blog post, though in my imagination, I had them all as one big story to tell.  Too big a story, judging by the fact I've stalled for three weeks.  Sometimes I am such a ninny, scaring myself before I even look closely at what's scaring me.  Sifting through the photos tonight, categories became obvious, chapters arranged themselves, and without further ado or avoidance, here's the first of a series I'll do over the next couple of weeks.  
Although we could drive up the street to unload, cars are parked in a little lot about a block away.  The trough in the center of the street was to bring cool water to the many coppersmiths who once inhabited these ateliers.  

Our destination, La Cascade (CLICK here and peek at the website)

Our generous, kind, talented, creative instructor, Dayle Doroshow (CLICK here to see Dayle's website).

A table full of inspiration from Dayle's own hands.  Books, dolls (some with books inside), and jewelry, made in a mix of techniques and materials, including a lot of polymer clay and textiles.

The classroom before the swarm descended. 
Class in session.  There are eight students, though a few are hidden, and one is behind the camera.  Don't worry, you'll meet them all in the next few posts.
The class was titled "Capturing Ancient France", though I'm not sure many of us delved back more than a few centuries.  Still, even if it didn't always show up in our art, the ancient spirit of the place surely seeped into our souls and was captured forever in our hearts.  

In upcoming posts, I'll share photos of my classmates and some of our adventures, both in and out of the classroom, and in so doing, hopefully give you some sense of just how magical a place the little village of Durfort is, nestled in the hills in the south of France.  Warning:  Reading these posts will make you want to go, and letting me hear you say you can't follow that dream is likely to get you an earful of Tenacity Jane.  Return here Friday morning at your own risk!

There.  All blogged, and it didn't kill me, after all.  Like I said, sometimes I am such a ninny.  I mean, really, I'm not overwhelmed at the apparently impossible prospect of finding the means and money to fly off for a class in a country whose language I do not speak, but sorting seven hundred photos and tracking down a handful of websites nearly does me in.  

My only real glitch tonight was that my old computer, which had my familiar photo editing program, has been behaving erratically, and tonight it seems to have gone dark for the final time.  Thus, I've had to face another thing I've procrastinated on, and have just learned the first steps of Photoshop.  (I know, I know, about flamin' time.)  Not to worry -- everything in these pictures was there the day the shots were taken.  The only difference is that my shots have been cropped and brightened, to enhance (enable?) your viewing pleasure.  The three at the bottom of this post were gratefully borrowed from classmates who got better versions than I did, and were kind enough to drop them into a pool we could all access, though I don't know who shot what.

Hope your Monday was fabulous, and that the rest of your week follows suit.  Catch ya back here Friday morning!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Powder and Patina

The best thing about decorating powder rooms is that they are tiny.  The worst thing about them is that they are tiny.  Easy to finish (relatively) quickly, difficult to photograph effectively.  Here's what I worked on much of the week...
Okay, a little dark, but you get the idea of the room, in general.

Tent striped ceiling in a streaky verdigris and copper, rope trim border with tassels, and color meshed walls in the same colors, with a damask stencil

Tassel detail
I also tweaked the Venice mural that I did for these folks last month, but although it took several hours and looks much more finished in person, the size of the photo on here really doesn't show the differences from the last shot I shared.  Ah well, here it is anyway, in case you missed it the first time around.
Venice revisited, now with more balconies, signs, plants, another boat in the boathouse, and some perspective issues straightened out.
Oh, oh, oh!  The other big news is that Cat was on Twin Cities Live this week (click link here), talking about Fruit and Veggies Aplenty, the book she wrote.  Our friend Lisa Fahey shot photos, and I illustrated around them.
The rhyming verse in Fruit and Veggies Aplenty will get fingers snapping and taste buds popping.  You can get it at bridgingtheuniverse.com
I'm still working on collecting photos and info for a post about my classmates in France.  Maybe next week...?  Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Heavy Metal, European Style...

Yeah, no, I'm not talkin' music.  I'm talking about the lacy eye candy one finds on seemingly every street in France and Belgium (at least in the cities and villages I visited).  Looking at some of this beautiful metal work, I could almost want to make the stuff.  Almost.  Then a trickle of sweat on my temple reminds me that it's 95 humid degrees here in Minnesota, and just walking out the door is more heat than I can handle.  After that thought, I don't even need to worry about the arm muscles required to craft wrought and cast iron.  Guess I'll just borrow the beautiful line work for future paintings and art projects.  Here's a sampling (or maybe it's a whole feast), of what I saw...

Lucie and I both liked the fence around the statue of Mannequin Pis (the little boy peeing in the fountain) more than the statue, itself.  We're kinda fond of the boxes that presents come in, too, so I guess we're just delightfully immature that way.  Ah, well.
The Balconies:

The Doors:

 The Signs:

 The End...
    (For now.  Hopefully by Monday I'll have the class photos from France sorted and I can share some really fun people and their art with you.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Guzzlicious gazpacho...really.

I am my mother's daughter.  
  (Her name is Carolyn, and she is a chef.)
I went on vacation.
  (Childhood vacations are full of memories of Mom testing every dish every kid ordered, at every      restaurant)  
I did not have to cook. 
  (You know where this is going.) 
Until an eight year old got very excited about $7 a liter gazpacho.
  (A kid begs you to buy veggies and you wouldn't be intrigued?)

Technically, figuring out what made this the best gazpacho I ever tasted (okay, the only gazpacho I ever tasted that I actually liked, and I like this a lot) did not require cooking, just tasting, sleuthing, and blending.

The sample guy in the market looked pleased to have a prospective sale dragged to his table by an excited child.  We tasted, we liked, we read the ingredients, we read the price sticker.  The sample guy drooped a bit as we headed for the produce aisle.

One read through the ingredients told me there wasn't anything artificially flavoring it, and there wasn't anything different, yet somehow this gazpacho, though still tasting very fresh, had a more robust flavor than usual.  On the second mouthful, I knew it was the tomato, and I knew how to intensify that.  This recipe is classic, but with one extra ingredient.  We (said child's mother and I) turbo-boosted the tomato flavor with a little tomato paste.  Little trick, huge difference in flavor.

Both Soren, and his little brother Kai had multiple bowls of this fresh summer soup, which we served with slices of toasted peasant bread topped with mozzarella.  Granted, these kids are vegetarians, but even if yours aren't, if they aren't in an anti-tomato phase, you might try this one on them.  Especially if your weather forecast is like ours, and calling for a heat index in the triple digits over the next few days.
Guzzlicious Gazpacho

8-12 tomatoes
1-3 cucumbers (peeled, if not organic)
2 red bell peppers (seeded)
1 green bell pepper (seeded)
1-3 Tbs minced garlic
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cans tomato paste
Chop veggies small enough for blender, then blend in batches, transferring puree to a large bowl.

Add these a bit at a time, stirring well:
about 1 tsp salt
about 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar,
(or cider vinegar + sherry or port)

This fills a small punch bowl about half full,
and makes oodles of small servings,
or about 8-10 large servings

I know, I know.   I go to Belgium and come home with a recipe for Spanish soup.  I was on vacation.  Just be happy I wrote down at least one recipe.  Besides, whatever you think of Belgian gazpacho, I know my mama will be pleased.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Window dressing in Southern France

Because I paint a lot of murals of France, I took lots of reference photos while I was there.  I seem to have had a fixation on shutters.  Here are a few of the more interesting shutter shots...

It's very rare to see a house without shutters
Shutters aren't just for decoration.  Most of these buildings  date from  about the time the Mayflower sailed to the New World, so air conditioning isn't exactly easy to install.  Shutters block the sun, keeping interiors cool.
Love the hinges!
White shutters show off this fanciful dragon sign bracket

The pelmet is an unusual touch.
Lucie the mouse looks up a street adorned with many colors of shutters.  
Uh-oh!  Quick, back against the wall...
These kitties are pleased to find their third-floor shutters open, especially with a tempting little mouse down below!

Back at La Cascade, our teacher Dayle leans out the window of the studio, to see what's taking us so long.
My favorite shuttered windows.

Monday, July 8, 2013

I saw Belgium, I saw France... ;)))

Ahhh, it's good to be home!  Don't get me wrong.  I loved every minute of my time in Belgium and France, but as much fun as it was sleeping in a castle, shooting photos of Lucie the mouse, playing Pokemon and dinosaurs with small boys...
Soren and Kai got crafty with me. 

...exploring the markets, sampling the foods, and learning from and with a classroom full of accomplished artists, it always feels good to come back to the quiet, calm comfort of my own Belle Amie.  House and yard were well tended in my absence, thanks to some precious friends.

The copper cooling rivulet makes walking side-by-side a bit tricky on the streets of Durfort.
 Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to post links to some of those artists I met in Dayle Doroshow's class.  It was held in the little town of Durfort, France, an hour's drive from Toulouse, and I got lots of photos of  quirky old buildings, crumbly old shutters, intricate iron balconies...

...and gorgeous door knockers.  The whole trip was an artist's eye candy overload, and I know my Europe murals will be much enriched by having experienced the scenery myself.

I'll also show you some highlights of Lucie's adventures, both in Belgium and France.
She was much admired in her fancy robes.  I, on the other hand, was looked at like a slightly crazy tourist (shooting photos from a mouse's perspective involves a lot of inelegant belly crawling).

Okay, so the postmistress wasn't all that into it.  Still, a few badly pronounced words and hand gestures, explaining it was for a children's book, got me friendly cooperation most places, though I admit I chickened out on asking a rather serious monk to pose with her.  I still regret that one.

Lots to share from that, while I get back into the swing of painting walls and publishing the bookazine.  Speaking of that, did you see the summer issue, yet?  You can order it in print or PDF at 365being.com, single issue or subscription.