Thursday, December 19, 2013

Winter Holidays...Santa Claus...Dixie Peanut Brittle!

Just thought I'd share a little of our "beginning of Winter Holidays" in our magical place that we live.  I'm a big fan of being outdoors, so when the weather gets too cold...too rainy...too cold & breezy, I tend to spend too much time indoors.  Especially when Winter Solstice is coming and we're about to experience the "Longest Night"!  No matter how early I get up...there is never enuff time to take care of all of the children.  You know, the furry, hairy, feathery, muddy, hungry, wet, cold ones.  I spend too much time inside because it is dark I try to make it as comfortable as I can.  I've decorated the living room with Christmas collections and handmade items.  I love vintage & antique & I'm always crafting some art thing too.

Just for a little clarification....the baby on the left may be the only photo you ever see of me...I was much cuter then and prefer to remain that way.  The people on the right are my mom and her husband ( I called him Daddy died when I was young and Mama remarried after I grew up and moved away from home).  That photo is also from quite a few years ago.

This next photo I have titled:
              "The Stockings Were Hung By The Chimney With Care"

  They didn't get all dry hanging outside with the rest of the laundry and it was the best place to make sure that I had dry socks in the morning!!!

So...You're saying OK...we've covered Winter Holidays, Santa Claus, but Hey!!! What about the Dixie Peanut Brittle?

I'll just grab a piece and munch on it while I give you the recipe!  I wish Y'all could come and visit and we could make it together...what a good time we could have.  For now this will have to do...Here Goes...

You will need:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
4 cups raw peanuts with the skins on
2 Tblsp butter
2 tsp baking soda

Lightly butter a cookie sheet:

Heat sugar, syrup & water in a large saucepan to a rolling boil. 
Add peanuts and reduce heat to medium, medium low and stir.

And Stir...and stir.  You don't have to keep a constant stir on...but don't leave it alone for too long at a time.  It's going to take from 1 hour to 1 hour & 15 minutes to reach it's high temp of 290 degrees... so have a beer, cup of tea...and stir every so often.

As it cooks and you'll notice that it is getting thicker and darker and smelling cooked and brown.  Have patience until you reach 290 degrees.
When your candy has cooked enuff...turn off the burner and take the pot off the heat.
Add your butter and then the baking soda and beat with the wooden spoon!

Pour as best you will be thick as it cools...onto the cookie sheet and try to spread it evenly.  Be careful!!! the cookie sheet will get hot!!

Cool until brittle and cold...break into pieces...give some to your postal delivery person... put a little out, out of the dog & cat reaches...and hide the rest to be doled out!


Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Everything takes on a life of it's own...Pastel Pet Portraits part 2

As is everything in my life...this adventure is already going in new directions that I had no idea it would go.  I do know that I am not a straight line thinker...and definitely not anal retentive...I do get passionate about certain things and when I do I get very excited and relinquish any sort of control at all.  My art projects are always self evolving and I do not like the "technical" parts at all.  I tend to put them out of my mind and try to make them go away.  I am happiest then and my art gets a "flow" to it.

Thanks to those that were brave enuff to chose and discuss picking out backround colors.  From your comments and ideas...a whole new creature has evolved from the woo woo side of my brain.  I am irreverent about that area because I am so mystified by it that I would never try to figure it out or ignore it either.

That said, I usually don't spend much time choosing backround color not because it isn't important, but because most of the time the color pops into my head and I set up different scenarios just as a test which usually is a waste of time...I go with my first thought.

Today is a little exploration into why we may pick certain colors for our backrounds or focal points...isn't this going to be fun?

These are the two  paper colors that I chose.  Now neither one really shows how they look in the real world...what colors actually make them up and how they reflect other colors in different light...but we all know there is nothing like the real thing.  Perhaps we can all get together in person for a big party and do this sometime (kind of like a workshop without work).
The black backround was an idea from a past project that I want to go back to work on, but was not really relevant for this piece of art.
Here are a few examples of what I was doing at that time, so you know where I am coming from.  I'll clue you in later as to where we are going with this.


I was using black subjects, on the black paper and "highlighting" the lighter colors...sort of a blending of advancing & retreating into and out of the dark.  My passion is with light and & night...good & evil (just thought I would throw that last bit in :)). 
Actual "Pet Portraits" ( can we come up with a better "label"? they are more than pets!!!) are entirely something different with their backround colors.
Dash, was officially my first portrait.  When his photo arrived I knew what color the backround would be.  To my fellow you sometimes just know what the backround, or backround color will be?  Of course we have to determine that is much too difficult to paint around the foreground and can get really ugly! Ha Ha!
I personally knew this little guy and his  sweet demeanor called out for this beautiful dark blue.  The white & green emanating from him were sort of like his aura... they just showed up in the end.

Tito on the other hand had to have a very vibrant color to match his personality as it is a bit crazy.  My choice was between bright green or blue and as soon as I got to the store, I knew it had to be this blue.  The intensity spoke to me!

Getting back to Aleutia,  I feel a calmness about her that suggests more subdued tones.  The grey paper that I decided to chose also seems to hint at a slight amount of purple strands in it that seems to radiate from her Spirit.

Jan (hope you don't mind me mentioning you to the world!!!)  suggested a light blue backround to possibly accent the Husky's beautiful eyes.  Something that I had not even thought of.  After considering it for a while, I decided that idea might be good for the matted & framed finished piece.  Perhaps even a double mat with two colors... purple & light blue.

I'm going to stop with the backround color for some of my other ideas for another discussion.  It is time to move forward and get into the actual creation.!!

Please feel free to join in with your own ideas, experiences, with your comments or emails.  This is a fun way to share all of our artistic ideas & creations and learn about and share our life experiences.

Till next time, thanks for visiting and Happy Holiday Season!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pet Portrait...Start to Finish Part 1

I thought it would be fun to share what goes on "behind the curtain" when I create a Pet Portrait.  I don't just copy what the camera's what I see, Thru My Eyes...into their eyes, their hearts, and their Spirits.

It all starts with several photographs of your companion(s).

This first photo is of a little dog in California, Tito, that I was asked to paint a portrait of for a Christmas present.   Several photos were emailed and we decided that this one would work best.

This next one is of Aleutia, a beautiful girl that is now waiting for her beloved human on the other side.  This photo seemed perfect and is a favorite.

Aleutia will be who you will be "following" as her Spirit guides me on a most emotional & rewarding journey!

When selecting the right photo, there is also conversation so that I can get to know the Spirit of my model.  Sometimes additional photos of them at play, work, with friends will also help.  Backround doesn't always play a role as it sometimes takes away from my subject.

After the photo is selected, the backround color is chosen.  I am working in dry (not oil) pastels and I use Canon Mi Tientes Pastel Paper which comes in a wide variety of colors.  Sometimes I just know the color I want to use, and sometimes I look at a few different ones.
I've been doing some work with using the black of the paper for the black of my model, and mostly using the pastels for the other colors.  What do you think?
Now, just to remind you...the floor, none of the backround will be there to divert your attention off of our beautiful girl.  The color is all that her portrait will be up against.
This is the other color paper that I have favored.  The hat that she is wearing ( it was for a photo shoot for a friend with a shop on etsy & seems to show her embarrassment along with her devotion to "whatever Mama wants") and the colors of her eyes and grey seem to go together well for me.  What do you think?

Here they are at the same time...whichever shall I pick?

Some people ask why it takes me so long from start to finish?...because I need to know that my choices are the perfect ones!
Some people ask why my art work costs so much?...because I give part of myself, a lot of emotion, a lot of energy, and that is a great toll to my very being.

This is as far as I've gotten today...Next time the paper will be chosen and the size determined while Aleutia visits me and helps me to the best of my ability to offer up a timeless treasure.

Thanks for visiting...I do get a little emotional...none of this is put on...the animals are the best thing in my life!


Monday, December 2, 2013

After the colors of Autumn turn to brown, black & white of winter

The time after Thanksgiving (for those of us in the U.S.) or the first day of December, is, to me...the beginning of Winter.  We've had cold temperatures and rain and frost and a tiny bit of snow.  The leaves now all cover the ground and when it rains or the animals & birds walk thru them, they crackle and rustle...lovely sounds that you can only hear at this time of the year.  The only bright colors are in the that the leaves are mostly gone from the trees, the winter sunsets are fabulous.  I think that is Mother Natures way of brightening up our world when all the outdoors is resting, some in a very deep sleep.

Since it is December, I can "correctly" begin my "holiday" decorating.  I like to bring the bright colors of the season that we only get a glimpse of into my home.  The reds of the berries and the beautiful Cardinals and Finches.  The greens of the evergreens, winter vines, and duck feathers.  The rainbows and golds after a rain and the sun comes out.  In keeping with the "holiday" season...I LOVE Santa Claus and have begun making a collection of this most magical being on Earth.

I plan to share often in this Quiet...Restful...Meditative time. 
Filling our home with the wonderful fragrances of home cooking & baking is another joy of my husband's and mine...Sharing them with you will be part of the Merry Season!
Thank you for letting me share!
Love & Joy!