Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Raisin Bread - Toasted & Buttered - Yum


I received a nice little package in the mail from my dear friend Beth.  It was a surprise.  When I opened it, guess what I found?  Well, it's not that difficult to figure out because I've got it pictured here.  Yep, Beth sent me homemade Raisin Bread, directly from her kitchen to mine.  I wonder what gave her the idea that I like Raisin Bread?  Ya think? 

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Live. Laugh. Love. Repeat.


My sweetie-pie made this on her computer and sent it to me in an email.  Look at that sweetheart smile.  I agree with her message and especially the last one ...

Live, Laugh, Love, Repeat. :)

Hope everyone has a great weekend! 


and Sarah too!

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cat Girl Comes to Town


That's my Cat Girl I'll have you know!  Today was "costume day" at Sarah's high school and she made some silly cat ears with her headband, put on some crazy eyeliner, dressed in black, and headed off to school.  Does she look happy or what?

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Deb's Stuffed Pepper Soup


By Beth Sollars
Singingirl Cooks

I've been waiting a while to do this post. This delicious soup recipe comes from my oldest and best friend, Debbie Finegan, who passed away on September 16th after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She would be beaming from ear to ear to know that her recipe is being published for all the world to see. Well, that previous statement is a bit of an exaggeration, but I imagine that would make Debbie laugh even harder.

This soup tastes just like a stuffed pepper, only better and much easier to make! I'm thinking it's right on time for the cool weather that many of you are experiencing up north.  So go out and get the simple ingredients to make this soup, and even if you never met this amazing person, send a little smile her way, up that-a-way, for I'm sure that's where she is with all the other angels.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What You Should Know About the Swine Flu


Being that this is the flu season and swine flu is on everybody's mind, I thought it was a good idea to highlight this recent story from WebMD and pass it on to my readers.  For those of you who do not receive the WebMD newsletter, I highly recommend it.  This article is long, but it answers your questions about the swine flu and what we can all do to prevent this virus from infecting us and our families.  I've added images throughout to make it more interesting and to help you get through it. 

Most importantly, stay safe, keep your hands washed regularly, and see your doctor if you think you may have the flu, any flu (but wear a face mask when you go to his office and out in public please)

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Design is Everything - the Perfect Palette


Well, today I won't be posting the Saturday Morning Skraw, but I have been drawing things up this week.

Plato once said "Necessity is the mother of invention" and working as hard and as long as I have this week in my studio, I got so frustrated and covered in paint that I decided I was going to do something about it.  You see, I have 2 palettes that I use when I paint - a hand-held palette, and a table palette with a glass top for easy clean up.  The problem I have been having is with the hand-held palette.  After searching for hours online for a palette that would solve my problem of getting oil paint on my left sleeve and arm, and the occasional stress and pain I feel in my left arm from holding the palette a certain way, I sat down and designed my own palette - one that would put an end to paint on my left sleeve and arm, one that would rest comfortably on my left hip or belt if I wanted, and one that had the correct angle at the fingers that I could place used brushes in my left hand easily.

So you can understand what I created here, let's take a look at some artist palettes:

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Pride Runneth Over


My baby girl isn't a baby anymore.  She is growing up so fast, and I am so proud of her I could burst.  She started 10th grade this year and she is doing so well - beyond my expectations, but not beyond her own. 

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sometimes You Just Gotta Get Comfortable


Our doggies have their favorite chairs, and I'm convinced that there is psychology to the chosen chair.  Take Hannah for instance - I am convinced that she prefers this chair just so that she can keep an eye on me when I'm working on my laptop.  She'll jump up into the recliner and keep an eye out on all the activity in the family room.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw ©
Drawing Lesson 5 - Simple Shapes


When I begin to draw, I always begin with simple shapes, observing first the shape of the object I am drawing.  If you confuse your brain with all of the details surrounding what it is you want to draw, you'll end up giving up.  Start small.  Start big.  But start with a shape.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

My Dream House


You know what I miss about Maryland?  The rolling hills and the beautiful countryside.  As for people, though, I love Charlotte.  I love our home here in Charlotte, don't get me wrong, we have a beautiful home, but there was just something about where we lived in Maryland that was beautiful horse country.  It was peaceful.  Anyway, in Maryland, at least our home had landscaping in front.  It took us 4 years to get green grass, irrigation, a new driveway and sidewalk, a new drainage system, having the entire home interior painted, new carpeting, yada, yada, yada, and I am hoping it won't take us another 4 years to complete the money pit we've invested so much of our lives to make a home.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Red Barn at Outlook Farm - The Finished Painting


Many of you wrote to me and expressed interest in seeing the completed painting, so here it is in all its glory.  It isn't a masterpiece, but it is a painting that I am proud of and the family that commissioned me to do the painting are thrilled with it.  I took it to Frame Warehouse to be framed - my favorite place in all of Charlotte for framing and they helped me and the "B" family find the perfect frame to set off the painting beautifully.  We are all excited to see the painting varnished and framed and ready to ship this week.

So, before I ship it out the door, I wanted to share it with all of you.  Here again, is the process I used to complete the painting ...

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Teacher Vision and Busy Autumn Fingers


I love Teacher Vision.  I can count on them to send me great newsletters filled with information and projects for my children.  I can count on them to provide me with a slew of assignments, subjects, and reading for me and my children.  It is a great website and I recommend it not only for homeschooling parents, but for certified teachers too!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Georgia O'Keeffe - An American Inspiration


I adore the work of Georgia O'Keeffe.  It is beautiful, magical, original, and simply feminine.  The other evening I watched a story about her life on Lifetime television and received a renewed sense of artistic inspiration.  She is an inspiration to all women who want to express themselves artistically, freely, and independently and in her day was considered a remarkable woman, paving the way of independence and self-expression to woman around the world.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw © - Drawing Lesson 4 - Two-Faced


Two-Faced.  If you get red flags about a so-called "friend" or someone else - run like hell.  Believe me, if they talk about others negatively behind their back - be sure that they are doing the same to you.  That's what you call "two-faced," "back-stabber," or "Ali-cat."  They'll act like a friend and then trash you behind your back.  I don't know about you, but I have no use for people like that.  They are ignorant, insecure, and shallow.  In the meantime, a great stress reliever is drawing and this seemed like an appropriate subject ...

The Two-Faced Drawing:

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cardamom and Orange Butter Cookies


By Beth Sollars (Singingirl Cooks!)

A couple of weeks ago when I bought that really expensive jar of cardamom for the Indian Inspired Dinner, I vowed to find ways to use it. After reading a little about this exotic spice and the ways in which it makes baked goods so delicious and curries so fabulous and coffee so spicy tasting, I started not to feel so bad that I had put my Pug's favorite treats on the back burner for this jar of cardamom.  Just Kidding!!! I'll have people calling the Pug Rescue Society for saying that.  Since I had made my Aunt Rose's cookie recipe in the past, I knew that with just  a touch of cardamom, it would send them over the top awesome. So, on with the recipe for Cardamom and Orange Butter Cookies, and I just know Aunt Rose won't mind that I renamed them.  If, however, you don't have cardamom, don't want to spring for the jar, or the cardamom pods and grind it yourself, then make these cookies without the cardamom. Aunt Rose did.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Accomplishments Feel So Grand


We are very proud of our girl!
Sarah has been invited to
Queen's University
to perform her "Waterfall" composition
in a winter concert at the University
on November 21st.  

The second half of the concert will include
a performance by

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Thank You Pablo Picasso


I've been struggling.  All artists go through this at some point in their career, but I felt I should talk about it.  Richard Schmid once said that you have to paint, and the more you paint the fewer "duds" you will turn out.  Now, I don't expect every painting to be a masterwork, and even my best is far from it, (and I think this one is probably one of my very best), but I keep trying, although I must admit that I am not as passionate about trying with every painting.  I don't know why that is.  Maybe laziness, maybe impatience, maybe I'm just tired.  I was passionate about painting "America's Promise."  Can you tell?

I realize that no matter what it is we are passionate about, though, sometimes we just don't feel like giving it our best.  It happens.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Progress - The Red Barn at Outlook Farm


About 2 months ago, I received an email from a reader requesting a commissioned painting of the Red Barn at Outlook Farm for her sister who was getting married there in the coming months.  I have to say, nothing makes me happier than to get a commission for a painting that I love to do - and you know me and barns.  

Since that first contact, I sought out the best possible reference image, and although it isn't the best, it is enough to create a beautiful painting.  I thought I would take this opportunity to show you how I progress through paintings like this.  I do things a little differently now and then.   So let's get started!

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Monday, September 07, 2009

What Not To Do - Or...


This year has been so discouraging that I have been thinking seriously about what options and resources are available for opening a small business.  Having been a small business owner in the past, I carry with me a bungalow of optimism when it comes to starting a business, however, I know how much energy, time, and effort goes into the building, creating, and financing of a business as well.  It's a lot of work - and that's an understatement.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

New Paintings to Share


Hello everyone!  I have some new paintings to share with you that I am going to be exhibiting at the Matthews Alive Festival this weekend together with some other paintings I have for sale.  This one is called "Rolling Acres" 8 x 16 Oil on Panel. You can click on any of the paintings to see a larger view.

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Time for the Festival


Just want you all to know that I am busting my butt at the Matthews Alive Festival through Monday evening.  They'll have to peel me off the ground before the weekend is out.  I have to say, I really hate doing these festivals.  The last time I did this 2 years ago I swore I would never do it again and here I am.  I must be crazy.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What's the One Thing?


To everyone who stops by today ... I have a random question for you ...

What is the one thing you wished for that you are glad you never got? 

This question was posed on TypePad and it got me thinkin.  So, what is the one thing that I wished for that I am glad I never got?  Actually, I think I may have a few things.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

An Indian Inspired Dinner


My stomach is growling and this sounds absolutely delicious.  After looking at the pictures, though, I told Big Bear we've gotta whip this up this week.  Thank you Beth!  So, are you ready for something delicious? Howza bout Melon Curry and Kicked Up Coconut Chicken Tenders!! Here ya go ...

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw © - Drawing Lesson 3


Good morning!  Let's draw a tree together.  How about a big ol' oak tree.  Trees can be fun to draw and they really are not that complicated.  However, the more you practice drawing them and indicating the branches, the leaves, the bark, and how the light hits the tree, your trees will look wonderful.  Just remember, your impression does not have to look like mine or anyone elses impression - it just has to be your impression of the tree.  That is what makes art so wonderful and unique - is that the way you draw, the way you paint, the colors you use, and your brushstrokes are uniquely yours.  We can learn from each other, but ultimately, take what you know and what you learn and make it your own.  Be creative.  Let's give your tree some pizzazz.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fun Before the Festival


In the last 2 weeks I have been painting nearly every day preparing for the Matthews Alive Festival in Matthews, North Carolina this coming holiday weekend.  I'll be setting up a tent and showcasing my artwork to all the visitors who stop by.  I love the meet and greet and the children who walk by with their painted faces and their cotton candy.  It is always a lot of fun regardless of whether or not I sell anything.  I've been painting some little things.  Small paintings that I can complete so that I have something to sell.  I've sold a number of my paintings in the last few months and I've been commissioned to do a few as well, so I have definitely been busy in my studio. 

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Visits with Vermeer


I've had one of those weeks.  I enjoyed being able to shut down my brain for the week and not have to think about getting a story out or pulling out my camera, although I love doing those things, I had other things that were pressing - like laundry, cleaning and organizing a home office, laundry, getting my mother settled back home in her own bed, laundry, and getting my daughter ready for school that starts tomorrow.  I'm still trying to reconcile in my head that my girl is learning to drive and has her learner's permit now.  I even let her drive my Beamer while I promptly dug my nails into the leather seats.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Taking the Week Off


Hi All!  Just wanted to let you know that I am taking this week off to focus on organizing our home office and getting down to the nitty-gritty of cleaning our home.  It has been straight and somewhat clean, but it really needed the toothbrush treatment if you know what I mean.  And, I really wanted to go through all the papers we have piled in drawers and shoe boxes and organize them in addition to organizing our file cabinets in our home office.  It has been a chore.  My mother is also coming home tomorrow from Florida after a nice visit with my brother Mike and his wife Marcella.  So, I want to make sure that all the sheets are changed in her bedroom and everything is fresh and clean for her when she gets home.  I'll be back to writing on Monday and I have a lot to share.  In the meantime, feel free to mozy around my place here and catch up on any stories or recipes you may have missed. 

Thanks for stopping by and I'll be back on Monday.  I appreciate a little time off.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw © - Drawing Lesson 2


Today's drawing lesson will be "Three Pears."  Just follow along with me as we draw these three little guys the best we can.  Remember, this isn't about being perfect.  You are not trying to replicate the picture so perfectly that it looks like you traced it or took a picture of it.   Drawing is all about "what you see" and "what you can do."  No matter how advanced you are in your drawing skills, or painting skills for that matter, there will always be others who are better than you and others who are not.  And, who determines who is a better artist?  Well, don't let that voice in your head fool you.  If Picasso and Pollack had listened to what everyone was saying about their work, the art world would not be nearly as exciting or interesting.  Art is subjective.  I must admit, though, that I need to remind myself of this often to keep going myself.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Portraiture is Painful


Monet once said "Painting is painful," and I would have to agree, but as for today, and for me, Portraiture is painful - very painful.  No wonder I've been cussing more in the last week.  Trying desperately to capture Matthew's sweet personality, bright eyes, and rosy cheeks has been a chore - but well worth it.  I am anxious to finish his portrait, let it dry, and varnish it.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm a Brazilian Nut

Brazilian Nut

As you all may know, Beth and I have been friends, uh, forever, and since she hates to type (and glad she isn't a blogger), she has been making 30 second videos and sending them to me daily. They are so funny. So, Beth told me how to use Photobooth on my Mac (we both have Macs) to make these silly video emails. Well, I gotta tell ya, our videos are getting crazier every day. Our conversation this week ...

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2 Crazy Gals and a Photobooth


Well, Beth has been sending me video emails and I still can't figure it all out, but I did make this video today (a collection of 3 bad videos with bad mouth and all, and this is the only way I could get the dang thing to Beth - why?  Because my stinkin' email wouldn't send it.  So Beth (and anyone else who is interested) here is a crazy, stupid, video made by 2 50-something ladies that had nothing better to do - well, that isn't entirely true because we were trying to finish the video so we could paint.  We finally got to the studio and I live streamed from my studio but forgot to record it.  I told you I stink at this.  Anyway, here's the stupid video - for Beth...

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The Color of Cancer


As most of you may know, I stopped coloring my hair years ago.  As difficult as it was for me to accept the gray and whiteness of my natural hair, something innately told me that this was the right thing to do.  I do not regret my decision one bit and I am going to tell you why.  I am certain that hair color causes cancer.  Every time I colored my hair the thought went through my brain "What the hell am I doing!!!"  And I would sit there feeling the color and chemicals penetrate my scalp and the back of my neck with such a fury that all I wanted to do was get the crap off of my hair and off of my skin.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw © - Drawing Lesson 1


I've had so many readers ask me if I could give them lessons in drawing that I decided to start something here just for you.  I'm going to call it the "Saturday Morning Skraw" (Sketching and Drawing) and today will be the first lesson.  I'm going to start with the very basics and work up to more advanced techniques over time, but I thought this would be a good start for everyone who is interested.

I enjoy drawing in the morning right after I wake up.  I keep my sketchbook on my night table with my pencils and eraser.  It's a fun way to start the day.  You'll need a sketchbook or some white paper, a kneaded eraser, and preferably some drawing pencils (I like Staedtler or Reeves), but if you don't have them, just use a handy #2 pencil.  Let's get started!

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Friday, August 07, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees - A Conversation


I am an avid reader - if you haven't figured that out yet.  I love to read.  It takes me away to faraway places, to another time and place, to a place in my brain where I feel like I've curled up with a blanket in the comfiest chair I can find.  Well, I found the perfect book to take me away this summer - The Secret Life of Bees. 

Yes, I saw the movie with Dakota Fanning, but the book - oh, the book - it is gripping and will keep you hooked from the first page to the last.  It is the story of a little girl, Lily Owens, who breaks her black "stand in mother" out of jail (for insulting 3 of the most racist men in in town) and runs away from home.  She lost her mother when she was four and thought that she was responsible for her death.  Her father was abusive, yet I was led to believe that he was afraid and alone and just didn't know how to raise a daughter, so he took his frustrations out on Lily.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Daughter and a Driver's License


This was the summer that my baby girl took driver's education.  Every day for several weeks we drove her back and forth from her school to classes.  My fears have started to set in.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

1990 Was A Crazy Year


You all know my friend Beth, right?  Singingirl?  The cooking queen contributor here on Raisin Toast?  Well, yesterday she sent me some of the craziest pictures of both of us from 1990, and we both had a good laugh.  This one is of Beth standing behind my Harley Sportster.  "You really wanted to ride it didn't you Beth?"

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Mini-Me Muffins For Your Sunday Morning


It's like a little Mini-Me Muffin! Nothing better to do with my Sunday morning after working late last night than get up and start making muffins!!?? It's just for the thrill of the outcome kids. These are in the book "Singingirl Cooks" together with a 100 more of my favorite, delicious recipes. Our newest member of the Singingirl Cooks' team is Joe Scott and Joe Mal, who now own their very own book.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Random Sketches


Take a stroll through my sketchbook...

Below are my random 5 minute sketches.  Well, some of them may have taken me 10 minutes.  They are quick sketches - in other words, I wasn't all that concerned with accuracy as much as I was about just having fun.  They are rough, quick, and part of my sketchbook that I thought you might enjoy glancing through. 

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Angel Making Deviled Eggs


Yes, he is an Angel.  Yes, he is my son.  No, he is not a "Mama's boy."  Yes, I dote over him like crazy.  No, he doesn't say "aw, Mom" when I hug him and kiss him and pinch his cheeks and rub his ear lobes.  Yes, he is definitely a cutie pie.  No, he doesn't like math.  Yes, he does like helping Big Dad in the kitchen. And, Yes, he is going to be a heart-breaker some day - but when he does get married, he is going to make one young lady a very lucky gal - why?  Well, one reason is that he likes to cook.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Matthew's Portrait in Progress


No laughing at this video, okay?  I can't help it if my mind goes blank staring at and talking to a camera.  I would never have survived as a broadcast journalist - or an actor.  Forget it.  Me and camera's don't really mix.  Anyway, today, I was working on Matthew's portrait and in this video you see me hangin' out in my overalls trying not to totally screw things up like I did with his last portrait.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Jalapeno and Sundried Tomato Twice Baked Potatoes


For a nice, not so heavy, vegetarian, summer dinner, Beth whipped up a delicious jalapeno and sundried tomato twice baked potatoes, and now you can too!

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How to Stretch Your Own Canvas


Live from my UStream Show today, learn how to stretch your own canvas...

I'll be back on at 5pm EST today showing everyone how I sand and prime my canvas before I start the sketch.  Hope you'll stop by!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Live Streaming on UStream from Inside My Studio!


What fun!  I think.  I am live broadcasting on UStream from inside my art studio!  If you would like to stop by and see what I am painting and doing in my studio, then stop by, hang out with me, look over my shoulder at all my mistakes, listen to my music...

No commenting on my gray hair.  Ya hear me Beth?  Ya out there?  I'm not coloring my hair.

My online show is called "In My Studio" with Artist Susan Vaughn.  That's me.  Duh.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I've Got An App For That!


Who would've thought that you could be an iPhone artist?  Sure you can!  You just have to have fast fingers and a good eye for color and detail.  The iPhone is your canvas, so you can paint virtually anywhere.  Imagine making tiny paintings on your iPhone screen with a rather inexpensive application called "Brushes."  I know, I never would have believed it either, but I have that app on my iPhone and started playing with it when I couldn't sleep last night.  We were having a nasty thunderstorm and so I sat up in bed and played with my iPhone wanting to further investigate the capabilities of "Brushes."

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Drawing Lesson by Jon Gnagy - Snow Scene


Just what we need - a snow scene to cool us off from this summer heat.  I took a break today from my laundry and was snooping around the web for information on Children's book illustrators when I came across this video of Jon Gnagy.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I used to sit in front of the television and watch him draw - mesmerized by his perfection and ease of hand.  "I want to do that!" I'd yell to my Mother"Mommy! I want to draw like that!" 

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friends & Photoshop Actions


Before we moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, we lived in Woodbine, Maryland on 3 acres in a community of only 15 homes all on about 3 acres each.  It was a nice community and one of the best things about it was our neighbor Lisa and her 2 children, Alison and Conner.  Lisa and I became fast friends and so did Sarah and Alison.  Moving didn't make a difference that much except that we didn't see each other as often.  We've putted our way up and down the interstate to Maryland and back a number of times to see them and they've come to North Carolina to hang out with us too.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life for a Struggling Creative


I have a confession to make, and deep down, I know that what I am feeling is something that most artists and creative souls experience - a deep struggle with creative satisfaction, a feeling that I will never reach my full potential if I don't let myself experience the process fully.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

A Walk Through the Wetlands


No, this is not North Carolina.  No, I am not soaking up the sun and sand in Florida ... But Beth is!  Well, sorta.  Beth lives in Delray Beach, Florida and she has a high school reunion in the near future, so she wants to look hot.  Of course, that isn't going to be difficult for Beth because Beth has always been hot - and not because she lives in Florida either.  In my opinion, Beth turned 39 and never aged a day after. Lucky gal.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Is This All There Is?


What is that song?  That old one that goes "Is this all there is?"  I think I'm having one of those days where I've had too much time to reflect on my life, smile at some of the risky behavior of years past, and mope about opportunities lost that will probably never be.  Yep, it's one of those days.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

How to Make Your Own Shower Curtains


See this bolt of fabric?  I bought it 3 years ago to make a shower curtain for the children's bathroom.  I'm the Queen of Procrastination.  It's one of my personality defects.  But today, I got off my tuff and decided to do something about it.  So, I set up my sewing table and pulled out my sewing machine and set up shop in our sunroom.

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