Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NOLA: An afternoon in the Garden District

Our excursion on Wednesday to the Garden District included a ride on the St. Charles trolley using our "Jazzy Pass". It was fun looking at the interesting architecture of the homes in the district as we rode by on the Trolley. Our first stop was to visit the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.  There were grey clouds in the sky and the drops of rain that came our way as we wandered through the cemetery. Interesting to look at the variety of graves and markers. I wandered outside the gate and SURPRISE.... across the street was the famed Commander's Palace - our destination for lunch. So, while I waited for my travel buddies I got out my trusty stool and art supplies and I sketched the bright blue building as I sat along the sidewalk. I added the paint later at home. It was another fun-filled day during my NOLA Adventure 2011!!

P.S. Yes, the stitches down the center that you see are an indication that I am half way through my journal!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

NOLA: Napoleon House

What a delightful dinner in the quaint Napoleon House! I enjoyed reading about the building's storied past while we waited for our dinner. It was a fun place for our group of painting buddies to enjoy dinner and a drink together. Next time I visit NOLA I'll have to go back! 

<<< This is page 23 in my NOLA Live! journal from my visit in 2011. >>>

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Final images from Oak Alley Plantation from my 2011 visit

During our tour of the Oak Alley Plantation we saw many interesting artifacts and learned interesting historical tidbits. We were greeted at the front door by a cheerful woman dressed in period attire. The home was finished in 1839 for a couple married in 1834. The architect was the father of Salina, the wife. The 28 Oak trees were planted in the early 1700's by an unknown Frenchman - with 14 leading up the front door and 14 leading out the back. The Oak trees provide a beautiful canopy of shade on the paths leading to and from the home.  The home was furnished with period furniture including a rare "Punka" or "Shoefly Fan", for which the slaves would pull a cord to move it during dinner. Even the beds were unusual - one was called a "Rolling Pin Bed" and the master bedroom included a "Pineapple bed" - with wood cut pineapples as a sign of welcome.  A rusted bell hung in the garden at the side of the house. The bell reminded me of our own family bell that my Father got from the World's Fair in San Francisco in the early 1900's. I was intrigued hearing about the "Courter's Candle' and took some pictures of a souvenier one in the gift shop. 

We concluded our visit with lunch in the Cafe. I enjoyed a meal of Chicken Fricasse, Buttrmilk pie, and Iced Tea. After lunch we all visited the gift shop to find a few special things to remember our visit.  It was a fascinating visit and I hope to visit again in the future. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

More images from Oak Alley Plantation

I remember walking around the Oak Alley Plantation house as we waited for our tour and feeling like a little kid as so many details caught my eyes. I wanted to capture as much of it as I could, so I took oodles of photos to sketch and paint from later on. Having a son studying architecture heightened my interest in a lot of the details, and my own love of the outdoors and gardening attracted me to the garden with all of the manicured hedges. Throughout our tour, and walking around the grounds, I kept wondering what it must have been like to have lived in this beautiful home and peaceful setting.....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

More Memories of NOLA Live 2011

The signs of Fall are starting to show, and it reminds me of last fall when I traveled to New Orleans by myself to meet up with Laure Ferlita and others for NOLA Live! What a wonderful time I had!!! My journal still has many blank and half-filled pages, but I really want to fill them all up as I have so many fabulous memories from our experience together - and I don't want to forget any of them. I'll continue to post 2-page spreads from my book. I'm a little obsessive about posting them in order from beginning to the end of the book...

Just looking at these pages in my journal rekindles my memories of visiting these three notable places - sort of like wetting or reconstituting watercolor - it all comes back to life!

Monday night we had dinner in Mother's Restaurant, a casual restaurant very popular with the locals. After dinner we enjoyed coffee and Beignets at the famed Cafe du Monde. The next day we drove out of town a bit to visit the Oak Alley Plantation. What a wonderful place to visit! This is just my first image for Oak Alley .... more to follow.  

P.S. Check out the links above that I've included for these 3 places that we visited.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A beautiful day on the bay.....

I recently enjoyed a lovely day with my husband and son Sean in San Francisco overlooking the bay and sailboats that were participating in preliminary America's Cup races. It really was a gorgeous day - clear as could be. The big event is next year, but we enjoyed watching some of the preliminary races leading up to the main event. It was a great excuse for us to take a break for the day and check out the excitement. This image is painted from a photo that I snapped at the observation area at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

P.S. When I decided to paint a new image for my blog tonight - I was stumped .... what should I paint? My blog has been pretty quiet these past months and I'm  having trouble getting my momentum going again. However, I have been working on some interesting images of San Francisco as I'm just finishing up an Imaginary Trip to San Francisco trip/class with Laure Ferlita. So... a recent 'real day' in San Francisco came to mind and I looked through my photos from my special day. Having recently painted an image of the well-known bridge in Laure's class, I felt a bit of courage to tackle my own photo tonight.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Strawberry fascination

One of my many pleasures of the summer season is seeing our garden grow and enjoying the harvest. 

My son surprises me from time to time with a collection of freshly picked strawberries from the garden, which includes several types of strawberries. The strawberries that he collected most recently are of the "Loran" variety and I found them quite fascinating. I don't know if this is unique to this variety, or it was the first time I was really paying attention...... but when I saw the strawberries on the table I immediately chuckled. They looked like they were each wearing a "Granny Cap"  (like an old-fashioned night cap) with a little white ruffle at the bottom of the cap that looked like it was gathered with elastic. Looking closer I realized that this was the blossom still intact between the greenery and the stem, and the strawberry fruit. The combination of the strawberries along with their 'Granny caps' were so cute it was hard to eat them and have them disappear.

P.S. Yes.... it has been a quiet summer here on my blog, but I want to get back to posting more frequently. I miss all of my blog friends!! I hope you all had a wonderful summer.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer harvest: Nectarine - Lime Jam

You might wonder what I've been up to .... lots of excitement with a son's college graduation, two sons home for the summer, visiting the other son, and FRUIT in our backyard. We've enjoyed lots of fresh fruit, but we had more than we could consume. So, not wanting to let it go to waste.... husband and I have kept very busy.... He has been canning lots of fruit as his mother did, and I've been making jam. This year I've made Nectarine - Lime Jam from a recipe that was printed in our local paper, and I think that the lime keeps the jam from being "too sweet". 

How is your summer going???

Friday, May 11, 2012

The view from my Son's window...

My oldest son has been sharing some photos of his time in Japan. I was quite taken with this photo as it shows part of his plane (P3) contrasted with a beautiful sunset or sunrise (I can't tell which one). I felt as if the photo was calling me to paint it - and I considered it a challenge. Thinking about my son last night, as he nears the end of this deployment in Japan, got me inspired to take on the challenge and paint this image. As I was painting I was thinking of how this has been a fun way for me to keep in touch with my son despite the many, many miles between us. I can't wait to see him again!!!

P.S. I've included his original photo in case your're interested in the view that inspired this.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Martial Cottle Park

I'm very excited that a new Park, the Martial Cottle Park, is coming to an area near my home. It will focus on preserving a bit of history of the Santa Clara Valley. The valley was once promoted as the  "Valley of the Hearts Delight", after two centuries of an agricultural economy started by the Spanish missionaries. Over time the focus in the valley shifted from agriculture, including many orchards, to technology. We are very fortunate that Mr. Walter Cottle Lester generously gifted some of this special property to the County of Santa Clara in combination with the State of California for the purpose of a community park. The park is named after Mr. Lester's grandfather. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Feeling like a trip to the Beach

I'm in the mood for a trip to the beach. This image was done recently for Laure Ferlita's Imaginary Trip to the Beach class. The class sure gave me a fun way to counter the winter weather by dreaming of the beach! But, now I'm ready to go visit the beach for real!

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Orleans Adventure: Walking tour and Andrew Jackson Statue

Our walking tour took us all through the French Quarter of New Orleans. I've got so many pictures that I want to sketch, and I want to fill up my trip journal - I'm not quite half way through it. I took one shot of this Jackson statue and captured a silhouette effect against the evening sky. I really enjoyed painting it.

Although I would have loved to have finished my journal on the trip, or shortly after I arrived home..... I have to say that I'm really enjoying ... s t r e t c h i n g ...... the adventure out longer as I continue to fill in my journal. Since I can't take frequent trips (limits on both time and $), it is nice to know how much I can enjoy my memories while continuing to work on my travel journal at home. I relive my travel memories at night, and it is back to work in the morning.....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Surprise

"Spring is in the Air"!! I came home recently to find a charming basket of mini-Daffodils on our kitchen table. I was thrilled that my husband had thought to surprise me with this sign of Spring. It was the perfect inspiration for another page in my journal which will be a nice memory page.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thinking of Spring and Summer

I just finished Laure's Imaginary Trip to the Beach class... and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to do another Hibiscus tonight! Lots of fun.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Postcard memories from New Orleans

During my trip to New Orleans last fall, one of the many fun things that Laure Ferlita has us do was make a postcard to send to a secret travel buddy. This is the postcard that I made and sent to my secret pal. We were to think of what our secret buddy really enjoyed about NOLA and try to incorporate some of her favorites in our postcard. Cafe Du Monde was one of the special places that we visited and I knew my travel partner would enjoy a memory of our visit there, the coffee, and of course the fresh beignets totally covered in powdered sugar!! It was a fun assignment, and extended the trip for all of us as we anxiously waited for our postcard to arrive in the mail. Great idea!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Orleans Adventure: Looking at the Architecture

During our walking tour of the French Quarter in New Orleans, our tour guide pointed out different architectural details. The three buildings side-by-side on the left page all have the same structure and composition. However they are each finished a little differently. The Creole cottages were simple and cute and the Creole Townhouses were a bit more ornate. It was fun to see the variations in styles and learn more about them.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy Birthday.....

In case you are wondering ... no, its not "my" birthday.... Today, March 6, 2012 is the 100th birthday of the Oreo cookie! The National Biscuit Company (later to be known as Nabisco) sold its first Oreo cookie on this day 100 years ago in Chelsea, New York City. Since then 491 Billion Oreos have been sold. There are even special varieties sold around the world. That is a LOT of cookies!!

I remember Oreo cookies fondly from my younger years. It was always a treat when mom would bring home a package from the grocery store. However, in recent years I can't even remember when I last bought them now that I'm older and my own boys are grown. I'll confess that I bought a package on my way home from work today to celebrate this big birthday. I hadn't tasted them in a very long time, but as soon as I started to open the package.... I recognized the familiar sweet scent of the cookies and memories of Oreos came to mind. I don't know about you.... but growing up - we had fun twisting our Oreos apart, followed by licking the frosting inside, and finally eat the chocolate cookies. Sometimes we would take them apart and reassemble them as our own "double-stuff" Oreos before the company caught on and decided to sell them as a variation.

With all the Oreo birthday festivities they have released a special package of "Birthday Cake Oreos" that have "sprinkles" inside in the cream filling. Gee... what will they think of next? I'm going to follow the advice of their new slogan, 'Celebrate the kid inside', and I think I'll go celebrate with another Oreo!!! Yum!

P.S. I added confetti to the image 2012-03-13.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New Orleans Adventure: Walking tour

I had so much fun on our walking tour of the French Quarter in New Orleans. On these pages I captured a cute shop down in the French Market area, the Central Grocery store where the Muffuletta was born, and a cute Christmas shop that caught my eye. Unfortunately all of my text didn't scan very well.... maybe I'll have to break down and use a bigger tip for writing on other pages.

P.S. These pages are from my travel journal from NOLA Live with Laure Ferlita.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The beginning of our walking tour through the French Quarter

Continuing on my New Orleans adventure ... I thoroughly enjoyed our walking tour of the French Quarter. I think it was supposed to last an hour, but we were still going at the 2 hour mark. Our tour guide was quite a character and he was full of interesting information about the area. I found it fascinating when our guide shared that this street view was Walt Disney's favorite view of the French Quarter, and that it was an inspiration for New Orleans Square at Disneyland.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Orleans Adventure: Lunch at Antoine's

Continuing to finish my journal of my trip to New Orleans last November (NOLA Live!) ... I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed our first lunch together at Antoine's. I felt pretty spoiled in the elegant setting, with delicious food, and new friends. I even had my first Martini - for all of 25 cents. Unbelievable!

Antoine's Restaurant originated in 1840 and is one of the great dining establishments of New Orleans. They serve amazing French-Creole cuisine. After lunch we got to take a peek in their 14 dining rooms! Amazing place.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kodak moment

A bit of sadness and nostalgia swept over me today as I read that Kodak has decided to stop making cameras. What? Even though I knew that they had lots of competition in cameras, the news still came as a bit of a surprise to me... Kodak had been synonymous with 'cameras' for so many years.

My own memories came flooding back to me of my first camera -- a little Kodak Instamatic 104. I vividly remember the bright Yellow-Gold and Black box that it arrived in and how excited I was to be able to take "my own pictures".
I was pretty proud of my little camera and it was always a big deal to take in a roll of film for developing, and go back to pick up the prints (and negatives of course). I think getting my camera was yet another step along my path towards independence - it enabled me to choose what "I" wanted to take a picture of, but with choices also came responsibility. The rolls of film with a fixed number of shots, and the cost of developing, caused me to be more mindful and selective. I had to plan ahead on a trip to ration the number of 'shots' as each roll was limited to either 12 or 24 shots and the developing cost quickly added up. Simple times!

What a difference from now! I just checked my files for 2011, and I took 8500 photos last year alone!! If that were old fashioned film, think of all the trips to the drugstore and lots of $ in developing costs!! Taking this many photos in a year would have been unthinkable back then with my Instamatic 104!!

Looking back...Kodak was founded way back in 1880, and became known for its simple Brownie and Instamatic cameras all over the world. I remember my Dad fondly talking about his Brownie camera. I was surprised to learn today that Kodak even created the first digital camera back in 1975. But, they were up against serious Japanese competition during the 1980s and Kodak wasn't able to keep up with the shift from film to digital cameras. It is a sad day for me to see them stop making cameras.

How about you? What special Kodak memories do you have? To help jog your memories.... here are some Kodak slogans I found on the web:

America's storyteller

You press the button - we do the rest

The real Kodak moment happens when you share.

Share moments. Share life.

I especially like that last one "Share moments. Share life."!!

Kodak, thanks for the good times and the memories!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tulips to brighten a cold day

Its been a very cold winter here in California, with very little rain to speak of. I'm used to green hills this time of year, but without the rain we're left with unexciting brown hills. When I saw these beautiful tulips in the grocery store, they really caught my attention. I decided to treat myself and mom to bouquets of the tulips to brighten the cold winter days. My idea sure worked for me - the tulips brought warmth like sunshine on a bitter cold day. I also had fun sketching and painting the crystal vase that my parents gave me years ago.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Twenty-five and a half hours in San Luis Obispo...

Twenty-five and a half hours in San Luis Obispo (or as the locals say "SLO town") ...

Last weekend my husband and I drove about 3 hours each way to spend what turned out to be 25.5 hours in San Luis Obispo, California. We're very attached to this sweet little town where we both attended college, and where two of our sons have attended as well. This time we went to visit our middle son, Sean, as he is finishing up his Architecture degree. Although we were only there for 25.5 hours, we sure fit a lot into our time, starting with wine tasting when we arrived at 4pm.

This page is my keepsake of our weekend. We were sad when it was time to head home Sunday evening. But, I managed to bring part of our weekend home with us - my journal page 2 bottles of wine, and "goodie bags" filled with our son's homemade Toffee Chip cookies that he made during the football game. It was a wonderful weekend and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with our son. Lots of memories to treasure!

I think Oprah and National Geographic's "Thrive" have the right idea in calling San Luis Obispo "The happiest city in America". That sounds pretty good to me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Orleans Adventure: Mardi Gras World

Its a new year.... but I am working on some unfinished business from 2011. I'm continuing to work on finishing my travel journal of my Watercolor Adventure in New Orleans with Laure Ferlita and some other special women. I posted the first two double page spreads last year (first and second), and this post contains my next set of pages.

What a fun adventure I had at Mardi Gras World! There was to much to SEE!!! and I learned so much more about Mardi Gras than I ever would have imagined. When Laure first suggested that we all find a spot and take a seat for awhile and sketch ... I sort of blanked out -- what should I choose. I remembered the sun image as we first entered the big room (from the intro room w/King cake) - it was lying near the door and it was a happy image that appealed to me - so I chose it first (but sketched it later). Then, wandering around I spotted Leonardo... and I just couldn't focus on anything else. Leonardo touched on some special memories with my 3 sons when they were enamored with the Turtles. In some ways I think sketching and painting Leonardo was less intimidating than trying to capture a real person - even though there are similarities in the overall shapes.

I've got plans for many more pages and it will be fun to relive my adventure as I work on the remaining pages.

P.S. I plan to add the small fold-over, credit card size promo for Mardi-Gras World. I plan to stitch it into the seam between pages 6 and 7 - so all 4 sides will be visible and not take up any space on these 2 pages.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Clementines from the backyard

I thought I better capture a few of these Clementines from our dwarf tree in the backyard before we pick them and forget that we had some. I think this is the first real (although small) harvest since we planted it 10 years ago when my youngest was in 2nd grade. His teacher introduced us to Clementines and my little guy was smitten right away.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Twas a few weeks after....

Yes, one more holiday related post here. As I put away our Christmas decorations, I kept 5 ornaments out for sketching. I've captured one of these ornaments on this page and I'll save the others for later in the year when I'm thinking about holiday cards for 2012. Once I had sketched my little Santa here... I put the green pen in my hand and some silly words started flowing and filling the page. Hope you get a chuckle.

Now.... on with 2012!!!

P.S. Now I get to go paint my square on my 2012 Art Calendar!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'm going to do it again ...

Back in 2009 I adopted 2 practices that helped me focus on my art and added meaning to my year.

One practice was to make and start keeping an
Art calendar, to keep track of the days that I incorporated some 'art' in the day, and to encourage me to do more art in my days. At the end of the day, it has become a treat for me to color in a square on my simple homemade calendar if I have done something art related. The color I choose might be reflective of the colors that I painted with that day. I've punched holes in the calendar so I can keep it in my daytimer. Whenever I open my daytimer to the calendar, just seeing the colors and the reminder of 'art' makes me smile. I enjoy this so much that I've found myself thinking 'I want to do art tonight so I can fill-in a square'. It must sound silly, but, there is something motivational to me to fill in a square with a little spot of color each day. It is fun to watch my colorful calendar quilt emerge as I get further into the year.

I originally found the art calendar idea on Margaret Ann's website. Have you tried keeping an art calendar? or does it sound like an interesting idea to you? Let me know what you think of this.

You may notice the big word, Sparkle, on my calendar this year. That is my Word for 2012. Choosing a word for the year
helps me set my intentions for the year. This is another practice that I started back in 2009 (my word for 2009 was 'Bloom', 2010 was 'Clarity', and 2010 was 'Color my world'). I like to put my word of the year on my art calendar to keep it on my mind. I have found it interesting, fun, and rewarding to adopt a special word or phrase of intention for the year. The word also gives me a lens to reflect with as I go through the year. With a new 'empty nest' at home (youngest son has gone off to college), 'Sparkle' captures for me that this is a year for me to branch out more as an individual (as well as reconnect with my husband) than focusing on being a mom. Holding the word 'Sparkle' in mind encourages me to look for ways to put more art and creativity in my days. We'll see how it goes...

I originally learned of the 'Word of the year' idea from Christine Kane's website, and I've seen it mentioned on several other websites or articles since. Have you ever adopted a word for the year? what was your experience like? or does it sound like an interesting idea for 2012?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!!

The end of 2011 arrived with a spectacular sunset this evening. I guess that is sort of fitting for the 'end' or sunset of the year.

When I returned home this evening after running some errands, and as I was carrying in my bags, I was suddenly stuck by the colorful sunset in the sky. Fortunately, I thought to pause and appreciate it, and then I quickly ran in the house to grab my camera. I took a couple of photos of this view, looking down my street between the other homes. As I waited for the clock to approach midnight, I was in another world as I painted this scene to remember.

Happy New Year!!
I wish you all a wonderful year in 2012!
-- Claire