Tuesday, September 30, 2014

All Hallow's Read

Fall has crept in like fog. Harvest and darkness and All Hallow's Eve clutches onto its coat tails (just one month!). I recently read of a lovely tradition begun by author extraordinaire of the fantastic and macabre, Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Stardust, etc). It is called All Hallow's Read and simply put, it is a tradition in which we give spooky, scary, fantastic books to folks at Halloween. Not in lieu of candy or other fun things but just in addition, to those who would love such a gift, to those who need a good scare, or to those in need of spark to kindle a love of reading. New books, old books, used books, second-hand, third-hand, found, lost - any book my friends. Read about it here http://www.allhallowsread.com/ and browse the scary book lists. Gaiman comments that there aren't enough traditions of book giving. I agree even though I give books quite often and looove getting them. So I encourage those who can to spread the scare, the magic, the horror of good spooky story and All Hallow's Read! (Stay tuned for my list of scary books...)
I have really enjoyed some posters for All Hallow's Read I've come across:

An artist among my favorites - Abigail Larson

Hmmm.... Anyone see a likeness....The Red Woman, Melisandre, from Game of Thrones?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dancing Darlings

Using the logo I designed for Meaningful Movements Dance Company I have fashioned some mixed media ballerina dancers for the girls in the dance company. I used watercolor and acrylic on canvas with wire and tulle for the tutu. Hoping to make many more in the coming days.

Monday, September 22, 2014

British Isles # 11: Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall is a defensive stone wall built during the rule of Roman Britain under the rule of Emperor Hadrian. It was begun in the year 122 AD and once stretched from the west to the east coast separating England to the south from the tribes of Scotland in the north. Manned forts were built along the wall for defense and patrol. Much of it remains today and can be visited. We visited a rural section at Walltown Crags where there was a small car park, no fences, no entry fee, no other people. Just sheep grazing. You cannot see the wall from the car park but it's not a far walk. Hadrian's Wall was strategically built making it a great place to view the countryside and wide vistas. That is, when it is not too foggy. We also visited Housesteads Roman Fort where you must pay to park and pay to get in. There is a small visitor center and Roman artifacts. I imagine that Housesteads is crammed full of tourists in the summer. I'd recommend Walltown for sure, though on a nice day you could probably hike from one to the other. The views from the wall are said to be amazing. While we could see a ways at Walltown a wicked fast fog moved in by the time we got to Housesteads. We passed the Sycamore Gap twice but could only see it the first time.

Sycamore Gap on Hadrian's Wall - you may recognize from the beginning of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves

Walltown Crags

Lively lambs at Walltown Crags

Walltown Crags

Housesteads Roman Fort on the Wall

Housesteads Roman Fort on the Wall

Housesteads Roman Fort on the Wall

Housesteads Roman Fort on the Wall

British Isles # 10 : The Anchor Inn

The Anchor Inn is in Haydon Bridge, UK on the River South Tyne just 5 miles from Hadrian's Wall.

Our style of travel is the ramble. Each day new places, new roads. Each night a different inn to rest our heads. There is no putting off until tomorrow what we must see and experience today. We wait for no weather. So there were many things we saw in sideways rain, in unimaginable wind, in soggy clothes. There were also a few things we skipped, surrendering to the Scottish rain and our weary bones. Such is our method. It is often as unpredictable as the weather.
Day four was rough. We were still quite jet lagged, it lashed hard rain all day, a few places we’d hoped to see were closed and we had a lot of road to cover that day to get to our next inn. Not the best of our trip, to say the least. We rolled into Haydon Bridge, England around 4 where our lodging awaited: The Anchor Inn. We could finally get fed, get dry, get rested, and get a drink. Ahh…at long last. 
The Anchor Inn was the highlight of the day (and the night).  We ate a good hot meal, had a pint, and retired to the room to rest. Sleep almost came, entirely too early. But around 9 we decided to go back down to the pub for one last pint. One pint turned into many as we struck up some lively conversations with locals until the wee hours of the morning as we might with any friends. A local named Stephen kept us quite entertained and informed, we exchanged stories, jokes, questions, and answers. It was a grand ol’ time.
Anchor in from the bridge.

Fish n Chips for me, a burger for the Mr.
Photo taken in the morning. Was much more lively the night before.
Bridge over River South Tyne

View from our room

 A big English breakfast in the morning mostly revived us and we were off to see the wall. Hadrian's Wall, of course.

Autumn Treats

Yesterday I did a bit of gathering. The Dogwood trees here and beginning to fade from green to red and their bright red berries are on display now. I collected what seemed like tons of these seed bearing berries and made a little (uh..tiny) garland with them. I used some very fine wire and a needle to string them together. You can't put the needle right through the middle because of the hard seed in the center. But because of this they hang differently in an attractive way. It was fun and looks very festive. I'm not sure how long they will last but I'll enjoy it for the time being.

Persimmons are ripening and many were ready to pluck before they fell. They littered the ground where my dog indulged in the sweet treats. I also saw a turtle with a smashed persimmon in front of him, literally, with the fruit on his mouth. So I plucked the ready fruits from the tree before they could fall. Each tiny fruit is mostly peel and seeds but what is left is a very sweet flesh that tastes like orange candy. Unripe persimmons contain a lot of tannic acid and are just awful. The tannic acid makes your mouth pucker and every bit of saliva just disappears. Ripe persimmons contain a lot of vitamin C and iron. I smashed them and then wrung them through a cheesecloth to extract the pulp minus the skins and many seeds. I smoothed this out on a baking sheet and sprinkled a bit of cinnamon and cloves and baked it at 170 for a few hours. This is called fruit leather, a kind of fruit roll up. I will not add the spices next time because they overpowered the natural flavor but it was pretty successful and I will try it again soon.

A very unripe persimmon

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Put on Your Walking Boots

It's Fall ya'll (or just a few days shy). It is time to get outside and enjoy the wonderful weather, the falling leaves, the changing colors. And walk the dogs while your at it. Here is a Fall window I recently painted for my good friend at Aurora Pet Salon.

Playful Pachyderms

Elephants, that is! Here are a few paintings I've done for nurseries.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meaningful Movements

Here is a recently completed sign for Meaningful Movements - a dance studio opened by my BFF Ashley Gassaway who is an accomplished dancer, experienced instructor, and a licensed and registered pediatric occupational therapist. Meaningful Movements is located in downtown Seneca, MO in a charming downtown building that dates back to the 1800's. Ashley instructs ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, & tumbling and offers classes for ages 2 and above. She also offers small classes for children with special needs. Ashley is offering the gift of dance, the grace of movement, and the passion for life & fun to all her dancers. So much to be proud of.
I designed and painted the sign, and Ashley and I expertly oversaw the operation as our husbands hung the sign while balancing on extension ladders. The dancer, however, I did paint while perched atop a ladder as the sun went down behind the downtown building. I am always glad to be able to lend a creative hand to friends in need.
Visit Meaningful Movements on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/meaningfulmovments

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Summering & Falling

Summer is still clinging but the bright Harvest Moon reminds us that Autumn is near. There is still heat to be had here but it comes and goes. Hopefully there are still days left to canoe a shallow creek (a little rain could make this more possible). A few of the last wildflowers are flaunting their colors before the trees take center stage.

Creeping Cypress bloom

Some variety of Goldenrod

But already you can see Autumn's colors and forms taking shape. The skeletal remains of black-eyed Susans and Queen Anne's lace, the silhouettes of spider silk, the crisp and slanting light of autumn has taken over the summer haze. Of course, I'm ready. Always falling for Autumn well before it is here or even near. I think it is the shortest of all seasons here in the Midwest. Technically they are a quarter of a year but Autumn is brief. Normally Summer seeps into its beginning and Winter eats its tail. Perhaps that is why I love it best of all: I never get enough.
I spy falling leaves of yellow from the Walnut trees
Queen Anne's lace - a decadent decay

Cicada Exoskeleton