Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tuesday - The Start of Creativity

(Griddle with a palette of wax colors.)
The last time I was at Anderson Ranch, I created portraits of each of the four of us. Each image featured a photo of the person, along with some other images, text and textures, that gave you an idea of that person's personality, or at least the kinds of things each person liked. This time I decided I would make a new set of portraits. I originally thought I would include much of the same kind of images, text, etc. However, I have decided to be really brave and push past my usual comfort zone, as well as forgo the usual kinds of things I use in my art. I am breaking out of my own imposed boundaries. I hope it goes well. My fingers are crossed. I have made each of our images black and white, then printed them on rice paper. I have attached them to a base that has 1 1/2" thick sides. I will decorate the backgrounds with colored wax and who knows what else.

On Tuesday, we began to get to the creative stuff. I was excited for this part since it would help give me an idea of what I could do with my images. In the world of encaustics, some of it is the art of altering photos and some of it is about painting or creating images with colored wax, transferred images, etc. I really have very little idea about how I wanted to treat the images I had mounted so far.
(Mia's Sample - Color overlay, graphic image transfer, script added by scratching/gouging and filling in with oil stick color, gouging and filling with colored wax)

On Monday we dealt with super smooth Epson paper that created very crisp, clear and saturated images - just the kind of thing I love. I printed up a photo Ellie took from the local amusement park, and photos of Ellie, as well as Ethan, painted for Day of the dead. On Tuesday, we began printing on a specially prepared rice paper. The images are warming, softer, a very different look.
(An unaltered image of Ethan that I created using techniques in Photoshop.)

The first stage is to prep the cradle (wooden frame or box (often with thick edges, such as 1 1/2", piece of wood, etc.) by taping the edges with painter's tape and painting the main surface with regular gesso if you are going to use an image (so that the color of the wood does not show through) or with encaustic gesso if you are going to paint a picture with the wax and no base image. Using regular gesso will not allow the wax to adhere well enough. Then, if you are using a photo or image, you need to glue it to the substrate (the frame/box). This is done by applying a very thin layer of Noro paste to the back of the image, letting it dry, and trimming it a bit later. If you are using rice or mulberry paper it needs to dry for at least a half day.
Next, you prepare the main surface by painting on a layer of medium which is composed of 8 parts bees wax and 1 part Damar resin. You start this process by making sure your piece is level. In our case, we used small levels and old pieces of matt board to achieve this.
After you apply the medium you let it cool and then fuse it using heat from a heat gun or a torch. (Using the torch the first couple of times was a bit scary. Mia promised that after you've used it about ten times, you will become comfortable with it; she was right.)

We learned about several ways to transfer images and then we set to work. Mia had more wonderful and inspiring samples of what we could do.

I love the bits of color at the edges of the Jesus and Barbed Wire Heart pieces you see above so that is what I went for.

I used my lino cutting tool to gouge random lines in the base medium, painted wax color on top of those marks and fused them. I did several layers of this process.

Then I took a clay working tool and removed the excess on the surface.

It was interesting to see the way various people use their time. Some folks prepped every base they were given, purchased more and prepped those, too. Then they began finding images. Some people prepped a few surfaces, picked, printed and mounted images and then started the whole process over again. A few of us prepped, printed and began altering just a few pieces. That is what I opted to do. I wanted to get my hands into the creative stuff. By the end of the night (which was about midnight - I want to make sure I get as much done as I can humanly do) I was feeling like I was lagging behind. I still have so many prints that I could make, and I have not even picked the images yet. I want to make sure that I get that done soon.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The First Day of Encaustic

I hardly slept a wink last night. My brain was racing.

Dinner last night was fabulous and I enjoyed chatting with the cooks.

Today we all hit the ground running. I've only ever seen encaustics, but have never done it before, so I was not sure how to plan out what I hope to create. R&F, a great encaustics supply company provided us with 9 panels and luscious encaustic paints. Today we taped the edges of the panels, prepped the surfaces with gesso.
We learned how to make the base medium, worked with some of our images in Photoshop, printed those images, learned how to glue them down, trim then and then we began applying the wax and resin medium.

That was the most exciting part, and the most scary, too. I learned how to light and use a torch to begin the encaustic process. It is all very exciting.
One of the staff member had a small showing in the booth gallery in the dorm to highlight his ceramic teapots. There was beer, wine, snacks and music.

We took meal breaks and some of us ate together. I am loving the sense of community and inclusion in the workshop. Tonight we had roast chicken with a fruit studded rice, steamed cauliflower, salad and a chocolate beet cake topped with whipped cream.

I want to make the best of my time here, so I went back to the studio once I was done with dinner so that I could get better prepared for tomorrow. I was able to get three images adhered and one waxed with the base medium.

Last time I was here, I did individual portraits of each of us in the family. The had photos, texts, textures, etc. I am hoping to do another series of portraits this time. I was thinking that they might have some of the same elements, but after looking at Mia's (our instructor) samples perhaps I need to simplify my base images to leave space for what encaustic offers.

Here are her samples from today, all created by Mia:

My hope is that I will have something to share tomorrow.

Arriving at Anderson Ranch

I left home yesterday, midmorning, after having breakfast with my husband and packing up my stuff. I think I might have put half of my art cabinet into the backseat of my van in hopes that I will have whatever I might need once inspiration strikes at my workshop.

All of this illness has made me feel like I have been robbed of some of the best parts of summer. I had so many big plans, some of which, I've had to give up on. I look at the veggie beds in our back yard, noting every day that the only things going there right now are a lot of weeds, some volunteer sunflowers, horseradish and mint. By the time I am back home, it will almost be July and I am not sure whether it is worth planting veggies so late. I had wanted to have the basement cleaned up and two paintings finished.

However, as I arrived at Anderson Ranch, that all melted away. You see, Anderson Ranch is in Snowmass, near Aspen, and the gardens still look like late spring here. As I drove up, parked and then walked to my dorm from that main registration building, I began to experience an odd sensation. As I took in the peonies that are as of yet still tight balls of beautiful, deeply colored petals, I had a sense of their eager anticipation. I got to stand by the tiny lilac bush as breathe in their heady fragrance. The blue Columbine stand erect and smart, fresh and ready to take on the world. The Lupines hold glossy globes of raindrop from the recent, brief storm. It made me feel like I had not missed the beginning of summer; it was like getting a gift of time back. All of this also made me realize that I measure time by the plants in gardens; this is an unexpected gift from Eleanor, my beloved mother-in-law who died five or six years ago.

I got my self settled into my room (the same on I had last time) and then relaxed on the green. The first evening's meal of lasagna, Caesar salad, broccoli rabe and homemade chocolates was lovely. We sat with our classes and got to know each other a bit. I am taking the Encaustics class with Mia, the owner of Two Hands Paperie.

After dinner I took in two visiting artist lectures.
Michael Kreuger was the first to speak. He works in colored pencil and lithographs. He started with a great image that he recently finished that featured George Washington with a shopping cart and chain. Did you know that George Washington was addicted to shopping? When he died he left behind a ton of clothes and over 300,000 bottles of wine. Michael also was part of making a film about Drop City, an artists commune in Trinidad in the 1960's. It was fun to learn about that and see the animations he added to the film.

One by Sam Chung who certainly made me think about ceramics in a new and different way. I will be sure to walk through the classes he is instructing to see what people made in his class.

I spent the quiet of the evening drawing in my small sketchbook, relieved to find that I could get my head in a creative, artistic space. Sometimes when I am at home, there are so many things that I need to complete, or get done, that I cannot always clear my brain enough to relax, focus and draw.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Finally Feeling a Bit Better + Great Recipes (Frozen Coconut Limeade, Basil Lime Chicken & Parmesan Edamame

I am thrilled to say that I am finally feeling better. On Friday I went to see a specialists. He sprayed numbing stuff in my nose and throat. He then threaded a tiny camera down to my voice box. My family was very worried that I might have had cancer or lose my voice forever, but the doctor put those worries at ease quickly. It turns out that my throat is raw and red, but only suffering from acute laryngitis. He said that we could leave it to heal on its own, which would take a couple of months, or I could take prednisone, amoxicillin and omeprazole. The steroid helps the swelling in my throat, the amoxicillin wards off more illnesses (heaven knows that I have had my share of them this last seven weeks) and the other deals with acid reflux that might be making my throat issue worse. I began to feel better later that day and now I can speak (sort of). Just in time for going to Anderson Ranch for a week of intensive art workshop in encaustics.

On Wednesday Larr returned from his trip and we were so happy to have him back home. I will share photos from his adventures with Ethan and Doug soon.

When I was not resting, I made two condolence cards that I made with care in the hopes that my effort would communicate my sympathy for their loses.
Ellie just finished her first week back to work at maintaining hiking trails. She is happy to be working outside, but it was a tiring week. Kohtlon spent Saturday with us. Their day was very low key.
Saturday evening we went to our first summer party of the season over at Keenan's and Brittany's house. We had a lovely time visiting with friends, eating good food and relaxing.


Frozen Coconut Limeade
via: Smitten Kitchen Blog (modified by me)

Yield: 3 cups (we divided into 4 8-ounce glasses)

2 1/2 cups crushed or small ice cubes
1 cup coconut milk, well-shaken if from a can (I happened to have light coconut milk, it was fine.)
1/3 cup lime juice (from about 3 limes)
3 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar (more or less to taste)(we actually used about 1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar)
Lime slices for garnish

Blend every thing until it reaches your desired consistency — almost smooth. For a crunchier effect, or fully smooth, for a milkshake/creamier effect. Pour into glasses, garnish with lime and don’t forget to share.

Basil Lime Chicken
via: Goodness Gracious Blog

3 Limes (juice and zest) Divided
3 T Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 T Dijon Mustard
3 T Worcestershire Sauce
3 T Soy Sauce
6 Green Onions Chopped Divided
4 Cloves Garlic Minced Divided
2 T Chopped Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 lbs Chicken Breasts

Combine the zest and juice of 2 limes, Olive Oil, Mustard, Worcestershire, Soy, 3 onions, 2 garlic cloves salt and pepper and mix well.
Cut chicken into even cutlets and place in a gallon sized baggie.
Pour marinade over the chicken and marinate for 1 hour.
Preheat grill.
Place chicken on grill and grill for 7 minutes.
Then flip and cook until internal temp reaches 170.
Remove from grill and let meat rest.
Meanwhile combine juice and zest of one lime with extra virgin olive oil, 3 chopped onions, 2 minced garlic cloves, basil.
Slice chicken into bite-sized pieces and pour sauce over top.

Crispy Parmesan Edamame
Author: Gastromony
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 15 mins Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-4

1 cup of thawed, shelled edamame (you can usually buy them shelled)
½ tbsp of crushed green peppercorn (or regular pepper to taste)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tbsp of Parmesan cheese (grated finely)
Spread out edamame on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and drizzle over with olive oil to coat.
Sprinkle over peppercorn and salt and place into the oven, pre-heated to 200C.
Bake edamame for 15 minutes, checking every so often that they are not getting too browned.
Remove from oven and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add Parmesan cheese and coat edamame well while hot.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ellie's Trip to South Africa - The Photoalbum

As you can see here, I have created a photoalbum in Shutterfly. I love their stuff.

For Ellie, it was a photo-safari. For Mark and Kohlton, it was a traditional hunting safari. There are a few photographs of the animals they shot. They are not very graphic, but you may want to opt out of looking at the book if such things bother you. I hope you enjoy it.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Visit to create your own personalized photobook.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Of Piercings, Puppy's New Toy, Inspiration + Berry Trifle Recipe

Ever since she was thirteen, Ellie wanted to get a piercing in the cartilage of her ear. Larr and I were not thrilled with the idea and a friend of ours, Josh, who happened to own the most respected tattoo place in Denver, agreed with us. He talked to her about how any respectable piercing place would not do piercings for people under sixteen; the teens simply do not take good enough care of the piercings to make it reasonable. She accepted this and did not ask again until she was a few years older. She asked again when she was sixteen. We were still not ready. The idea our baby getting more holes in her body willingly just seemed like she was getting too grown up. Now that she is almost seventeen and a half, her father gave her permission. I felt a little better since we went to Sol Tribe, the one place that Josh said would be the best, and so they were.
At Sole Tribe we met Chux. He is from Chicago and is part of a group of tattoo and piercing artists that are doing a tour of different tattoo places all over the world. Chux says that he loves Colorado and will move here when he can. He is a great guy. He is both passionate and very knowledgeable about his profession. And he is very friendly. The piercing took place in a room that looked like a doctor's office. Everything was very clean and sterile. Chux showed us the small paper strip in each package of things he would use, like the needle and the stud, that proved that it was sterile as evidence of the black line to show that it was perfect and ready for use.

We looked at his Facebook and Instagram pages to see other examples of his work. Ellie likes his tattooing style. (You can see his work by looking up Chuxtime, if you like.) She says that she and Kohlton will get tattoos on her 18th birthday.

Later that day we went to see Don and see how he is doing. He had been to the Kong factory that is in Golden. He brought back some presents for the cats and Remmie. Remmie loves his new toys that includes rope, instead of stuff. Remmie loves it, as you can see. He also sent home some catnip toys for the cats. Catnip makes Moxy crazy. like an addicted druggie. He meows like crazy for more catnip every time we go near the kitchen.

We decided to go to Don's to celebrate Father's Day. While considering what we would take to the celebration, I came across this wonderful blog and cookbook.It looks really lovely.

The Forest Feast Cookbook

I made a Caprese Salad; Ellie made a really lovely and tasty Fresh Berry Trifle.

Berry Trifle
via: Today's Mama

¼ cup plus 2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 pre-made angel food cake
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups heavy cream, at room temperature
2 pints blueberries
2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced

Make a simple syrup by heating 1/4 cup sugar, the lemon juice and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.

Cut the angel food cake into 1-inch slices and spread out on a cookie sheet. Brush both sides of each slice of cake with the syrup. Cut the slices into 1-inch cubes.

Beat the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth and light. Add the cream and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and the consistency of whipped cream.

Arrange half of the cake cubes in the bottom of a 13-cup trifle dish. Sprinkle evenly with a layer of blueberries. Dollop half of the cream mixture over the blueberries and gently spread. Top with a layer of strawberries.

Save a handful of fruit for garnish and then repeat the three layers (cake, blueberries, cream). Arrange the remaining strawberries and blueberries in a decorative pattern to garnish.

Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A New Knit Hat for Ethan, The Pattern + Avacado Mac & Cheese Recipe

Ethan is a sentimental boy who appreciates and loves what people do for him. Over the years I have knit many a hat for him. When he went to live on the tall ship he did not take any of the hats for fear of loosing them. There is a saying in sailing, "If you love it, leave it at home. If you like it, tether it." I told him that I would be happy to make a new hat for him, after all, if he looses it, I would just make another one. So, once we knew Larr would be going out to visit him, Ethan put in a request for a new hat. He wanted something simple, light, warm. He wanted a loop so that he could tether it and he would love for it to have an anchor. So, I set off to fulfill his request. I tried two different ways to include an anchor in the knitting, but neither worked out. So in the end I ended up making a very simple hat knit from Malabrigo's "Chapel Stone," a worsted weight pure Merino wool. I wanted something that would fit the time period and be a bit different from his darker colored hats. I love the Malabrigo yarns and I think it was the right choice. I also sewed on a tab that would fit nicely on a carabiner he he wears.

Ethan called to say that the hat is the best one yet. I am not really sure that it is. I liked the multi-tone one that I knit for him in December better. I think his reaction was as much about the love of having something made specially for you by you mom, who you have not seen in many months, as it is about the hat itself. I was thrilled, of course. (I was worried that it would be too large.)

With that in mind, I am including the pattern specifics.

1 skein Worsted Weight Wool
US 5 Double Pointed Needles
US 5 16" Circular Needles
US 7 Double Pointed Needles
US 7 16" Circular Needles
US 3 Double Pointed Needles
Yarn Needle or Crochet Hook, medium size

Cast on 96 stitches onto the US 5 16" circular needles . Knit the first round, with out making a circle. This will help ensure that you do not twist the loop. Once this is done, begin knitting in the round, K2, P2 to create ribbing. Be sure to place a stitch marker at the end. Continue with K2, P2 until you have about 2" of ribbing.

Knit one or two rounds on US 5 16" circular needles, then shift over to the US 7 size circular needles. Continue until the hat is about 8 3/4" or 9". Now knit another row, placing stitch markers every 8 stitches.

Begin the reduction to create the crown at this point. Once you come to a stitch marker, knit two together (k2tog). Continue this for about 3 more rounds. Then switch to the US 5 double pointed needles and continue the reduction until you have 8-10 stitches left on the needles. Cut of the wool, leaving a very long tail. Thread this yarn threw the remaining stitches on the needles, removing the needles as you go. Pull the yarn to cinch the top.

Next, thread the yarn threw the yarn needle. Pull the yarn to the inside part of the hat and turn the hat inside out. Use the yarn and needle (or crochet hook) to stitch the yarn through the stitches at the very top of the hat. Do this in a circular fashion so that it tightens up the reduction stitches. This will help prevent holes at the top of the hat. Finished length should be about 9 1/2" long.

On Wednesday I went in to have a CAT scan. The doctor thinks that my thyroid might be obstructing my trachea, causing me to loose my voice and create a bit of difficulty breathing. The CAT scan should show us what the problem might be. Based on how I feel, I think he is most likely right. I have not had a CAT scan since before Ellie was born. It was a odd, but quick experience. The aid tapped into a vein in my arm. First she ran some saline and then some iodine, which she called a contrast. She warned me that it would feel like I had peed my pants and my did it. That alarming warm feeling spread quickly, but then went away a few minutes later. I was laid out on a moving table into the machine that told me when to breathe, swallow, hold my breathe, etc. It was over in just a few minutes. I am anxious to get the results. I am somewhat concerned, but trying not to worry. I've tried to stay away from looking thyroid problems up on the internet.

Avocado Mac & Cheese
via: Two Peas and Their Pod

10 ounces dry elbow macaroni
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh avocado chunks, for garnish, if desired

1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Salt the water and add in macaroni. Stir and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking, make the avocado sauce by placing the garlic, avocados, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

3. To make the cheese sauce, place butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. When butter is melted, whisk in flour to create a paste. Whisk in milk until smooth. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce starts to thicken. Add in Pepper Jack cheese and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy.

4. Place macaroni in a large bowl. Pour the avocado sauce over the macaroni and stir until well coated. Add the cheese sauce and stir until macaroni is coated and creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm. Garnish with fresh avocado chunks, if desired.

Note-the lime juice keeps the avocado from browning. The mac and cheese is best eaten the first day, but it is still good the second day. The pasta may turn slightly brown, but not bad. If you want a milder flavor, you can use Monterey Jack or White Cheddar Cheese.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Aubrey and Andreas Suter Wedding

This last weekend, Ellie, Kohlton and I attended the Aubrey and Andreas Suter wedding. It took place in a fabulous rented private residence in Copper Mountain. It was a casual and fun wedding.
Aubrey and Andreas met when they were children at our school. They are also both AVS graduates. There were just friends while at school. I think the relationship bloomed after they became adults.
They've dated for many years. They own a ranch with a few horses, a rally care, a garden, lots of computer and techy equipment and they just recently added chickens. Neither of them are fussy or formal, so they wanted a very casual affair, and as you can see in the photos - it was indeed very casual. Ari, Andreas' brother, officiated the wedding. The actual ceremony was very short and sweet.
Afterwards there was a casual reception in the house where they offered their guest a few different kinds of home brewed beer that every seemed fond of. They also had Chipotle cater the wedding, which worked out really well.
Family and friends were there. It was a small group, but enough to make the house feel festive.
Everyone seemed to have a good time.

The house was amazing and huge. In the basement there were two bedroom, a game room complete with a pool table, a movie theater, bathrooms and a bunk bed room. The bunk bed room featured six queen size beds, each with its own cable & DVD player with headphones and a light. There were also several bathrooms. On the main floor there was an amazing kitchen, a great room, a study, a few bathrooms, a large pantry and a bedroom. There was also a porch and a hot tub. Upstairs there was a living room, a few bedrooms, a giant guest bedroom and an amazing bathroom. Since it is still mud season (the time when the snow has melted, but it is not really warm enough for summer, yet) they were able to rent the entire house for $500 a nice, three night minium. It looked like a relaxing and fun way to celebrate a marriage.

We decided to make a road trip of the affair. We brought Remmie along. We found that he is not fond of going more than 50 miles per hour in the car. At first he seemed happy to be included; he enjoyed sticking his head out of the car window, until we got going too fast. Then his joy turned to concern and he huddled in a ball in the back seat. At the hotel he was happy when we were all in the room together, but when the kids when out shopping (it is an outlet mall town), Remmie became worried. I was still fairly sick so Ellie drove. I was able to tuck myself away for a while during the reception for a nap and then I took a longer one at the hotel when the kids were out. The hotel room was a big disappointment, but we still enjoyed ourselves. I managed to sleep all of the way home since my girl opted to drive - a nice thing about her growing up and liking to drive.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ellie's Trip to South Africa -Arriving at Hunter's Hill

(Most of the photos in this post are from the Hunter's Hill website)
After traveling for two days, Ellie, Kohlton and Mark finally arrived at Hunter's Hill. Mark and Kohlton were there for a hunting safari; for Ellie it was a photo safari. This was the second such adventure for Mark and Kohlton. Hunter's Hill was by far the better resort.

Hunter' Hill is a game farm and a conservation farm. It 55,000 ( 15 x 9 miles), located in the Stormberg Mountains near Queenstown in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. They provide hunting guide to make sure that the hunts are done correctly and as humanely as possible. They have worked hard to reclaim the land from overgrazing. They have worked hard with a strategic plan to bring back species that have been on the extinction or near extinction lists.Through this program they have taken a few breeding pairs of animals and created whole herds.

Let me show you the resort:

The main compound includes the main building, the Lapa Lounge, a dinning hall, a bar, a pool, etc.

Some of the guests stay in individual stone chalets. I've included a picture of the bedroom that is similar to the one they stayed in, but I think theirs was larger. There is a sleeping space, a bathroom and a sitting area. Ellie was originally in another chalet, but they moved her mattress so that they could be together.
During one of the visits, a cape buffalo walked up to a chalet and looked in the window.

(The rest of the photos are by Ellie.)

Ellie said that the meals were amazing. The chef, Max, is a five star chef from the Congo. Each night dinner would feature meat from the previous day's hunt. Ellie says that it was all wonderful. Law prohibits the export of any of the meat, so some of it was served at the resort and the rest went to the local community.

And now for something completely different:

"Dear Kitten"

Jim Carey on Doing What You Love

Cry,Cry, Cry - Northern Cross