Part-time Passion for Painting

I’ve started painting! I’m not good at it, but I started ! Here are my first two projects.  Up to last year, I still wanted to learn how to paint and was saving up to get the Bob Ross starter kit I saw for sale at Hobby Lobby.  Saving up was going to be one big obstacle as the kit was $100 and some of his other tools and brushes at least a quarter of that.   I’d like to say that my inspiration to paint comes from channeling my inner Michelangelo, Da Vinci or Raphael, but that’s not the case.  (yes I know I just named the Ninja Turtles).  I probably couldn’t even identify any of their paintings and do not hang out in art museums.  In fact one time I had to apologize to a co-worker of mine one time when I said that I ‘hated art’.  It was more of a mis-understanding of certain concepts of art. But Jared was such an art fan that to make it up and prove that I wasn’t a jerk, I visited the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Renwick Gallery, and the Portrait Gallery to show that I could appreciate art.  I found several pieces at each gallery that I could identify with.

So I guess, if I had to pick a favorite painter, it would be none other than Bob Ross.  I grew up watching him on public television and was amazed at the beautiful landscapes he could create in such a short amount of time.  I always wished I could do that too, but seemed to always take my creativity into different directions.

There was an offer on Groupon for a deal on a session at a local art studio that taught painting.  Teaching is a loose term because it’s more of step by step instruction to create a painting they chose. I was ecstatic when I found this offer and jumped on it.  I didn’t want to wait around for the right design… I wanted to go right away and signed up for that weekend class.  My friend Lisa joined me and I was happy she did.  It was so much more relaxing to have someone there to take the stress away.

This was the art studio in Sussex, WI called Uptown Art.  

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This is the painting we were learning to do.  It’s called Autumn Walk in the Park by Karen Tarlton

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Mine didn’t turn out quite the same way.  I was ok up to the point of the trees and the grass and the people.  I wish I could paint over the bottom and try again.  But all and all I’m not that disappointed and I didn’t get as frustrated as I thought I would.  Normally I’m the type of perfectionist that it has to look like the sample or its wrong.  I’m learning to get over that.  

 

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So after saying that Bob Ross is my favorite painter…. what do I do, but go on my own with my first unassisted attempt, I paint something that is very “not Bob Ross”.   I had planned on going back again to Uptown Art, but I got my dates mixed up and I missed signing up for this Van Gogh style Tree.  

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So I went to the crafts stores and assembled all that I would need to paint at home.  I think I came pretty close.  I did’t quite get all the swirls in and I decided not to put dots on the spheres, but I’m happy with it.  

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 If I don’t make it back to Uptown Art this year, I did borrow a few Bob Ross instructional DVDs and I think I will try one of those next. 

Stay tuned for future art projects! 

 

 

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The Cherry Harvest

The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

I enjoy reading historical fiction because I like to feel that I’m right there with the characters.  A friend recommended this book for me because it takes place in Wisconsin, as well as for my interest in WWII and most likely because of my fascination with the TV show Hogan’s Heroes.  So to read a book about German POWs in Wisconsin was something I would definitely try, and didn’t put it off and pushed it ahead of the books I had already started.  

What intrigues me about historical fiction is being so immersed in the story that I then want to go and find out more about the historical topic, which is what I was hoping for when I turned the first page of The Cherry Harvest.  I was rather disappointed.  

I don’t like to be too harsh of a critic because this was a nice story.  It just wasn’t the story I was looking for.  

There was a lot of sex in this book.  I wanted to read about the German POWs (or PWs as they referred to them in the book) and what it was like to have them in Wisconsin while America as still deep in the war with Nazi Germany.

Instead what I got was a story about a farm family who badly needed labor and with all the men in the area drafted into the war, including their son, they turned to the US Army to allow them the use of German PWs.  The community was not happy about this and afraid to have the Germans around dangerous, potentially deadly farm equipment.   That’s it.  I feel like the two Germans characters stay in the background and walk in and out of the book at certain times.  The setting of the Germans is central to the plot, but it doesn’t go into detail about them and their experiences specifically.  The family’s teenage daughter is tutored by one of the prisoners who proves to be intelligent and well spoken in English.  Immediately, you expect the daughter Katie to fall in love with him.  She doesn’t.  It’s the mother who does even though she resisted feelings for him because her son was risking his life fighting the Germans.  The mother, Charlotte, is not a likable character, and she ends up being the downfall of the family as a whole.

The story focused mostly about Katie falling in love with a Senator’s son who is profiting from the war and her desire to leave rural northern Wisconsin to go to college in Madison and study literature like her father attempted to do.  So the Cherry Harvest was more of a coming of age love story.  It was a good story if I were looking for a romance novel, but I wasn’t.    

I looked up another review of this book and found that the author used this non-fiction book called Stalag Wisconsin so I have already begun reading this book and the first 50 pages are already giving me what I am looking for.  

Here is the link to an article about the factual information about German Prisoners of War in Wisconsin and mentions the Stalag Wisconsin book as well.  

http://host.madison.com/wsj/entertainment/arts_and_theatre/books/state-journal-book-club-pows-helped-save-door-county-s/article_e1ed28ab-1fa8-5f43-a7b5-33e2d9292bba.html

 

Survivor

I’ve been wanting to write for quite a while, but hadn’t found the time or resources.  Tapping my fingers on my desk at work, & looking all around I wan’t going to let my 45 minute lunch to go to waste.  In that amount of time I could create a new blackout poem.  However, the only reading material I had in my desk to use was the Fleet Type Submarine Manual and the Torpedo Data Computer Manual which are not exactly choice verbiage for creating poetry.

Then I remembered I could access my Kindle Cloud reader on the computer.  Randomly, I chose from my fiction library the book Free Air by Sinclair Lewis and scrolled through with the mouse until I stopped on page 105 (because that is what time it was).  I read this book in the summer of 2015 so it wasn’t fresh in my memory.  I first skimmed the page, looking at it like a word search puzzle to see which words popped out.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a blackout poetry & usually I have to be in a particular mood when I make one.  This time, not so much of a mood came through, but more of a theme.  Nearly every day since the beginning of this year, my family has been watching past seasons of the reality TV show Survivor on DVD,  and have just completed Season 13.  Thus when I saw the name Jeff on the page of this book…. my mind immediately conjured up an image of host Jeff Probst. On the show, love or hate the castaway, it’s always an emotional episode when they have the “Loved Ones Visit.” The castaways are always surprised to see loved ones & then compete to spend time with them.  That’s what I thought of when making this…especially those who lose the challenge.

Because it was an e-book page it’s a lot wider than a photocopy of a regular book so you’ll have to click on the picture to read it full size.  In the event it doesn’t load because of the size, I typed it out below the picture.

Survivor

Shacks and tents
She ambled to the shore, feeling feeble
Three days ago she was muttering
Jeff…. homesick
Crouched on the shore, forlorn figure
Reflection of sunset
A roar, a rush
A trim figure darting-
Home
People she loved
He had shouted only, “I Miss” before she had rushed to him
Into the comfort of his arms and kissed him
Ridiculously wonderful to see you !
Must trot
See you very soon
Regret
Alone with Jeff in his cap, and his keen smile

Free Air- Sinclair Lewis

Free Air- Sinclair Lewis, Page 105 (electronic)

 

 

USS COD

In the United States there are 25 submarine museums, and with my recent vacation to Cleveland, I can now check another submarine off of the list of those that I have visited. (Click the picture for an enlarged- readable view)

As of June 12, 2016 I have toured 13 out of 25 submarines

As of June 12, 2016 I have toured 13 out of 25 submarines

 

The USS COD (SS-224) is a Gato class WWII submarine that was constructed by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut and launched into service on March 21, 1943.  COD endured 7 war patrols and a total of 221 men called her home during those 7 war patrols.  The sub was decommissioned in 1954 and placed in reserve.  The COD was returned to the Great Lakes, by way of the newly opened St. Lawrence Seaway, to serve as a naval reserve training vessel in Cleveland, Ohio where the COD resides to this day. 

USS COD

 A very busy attraction, the COD sits in Lake Erie and is a short walk from the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Indian’s Progressive Field downtown.  On the National Register of Historic Landmarks, the COD is open to visitors from May 1st through September 30th from 10 am to 5 pm.  

COD Memorial

 

Each submarine I have visited has something unique about them and is presented in different ways.  The COD’s hull and deck have been preserved.  This submarine does not have a modified visitor access door such as the COBIA or U-505 do.  Visitors to the sub have to climb down a vertical ladder through a hatch to the forward torpedo room in the same manner than the men did during the war.  

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I call this the “lived in” sub.  The museum curator chooses to display the submarine as if it were still on active duty during the war.  It’s as if the crew were still on patrol because throughout the sub you will find personal artifacts such as towels, blankets and pillows on the bunks, stuffed bunk bags, cans of food in every nook and cranny, dishes on the tables in the Mess, clothes hanging out to dry in the Engine Room as well as photos of the men who worked in these compartments.  Seeing the sub this way brings to life the picture that this was not only a weapon of war,  but also a place of employment and a home away from home for the brave submariners.  

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Tie-Dyed Easter Eggs

A few years back I used a natural way of dying my Easter Eggs with things such as leaves and juices with varying results. (you can review that by clicking the hyperlinks). This year I went a whole new direction after I saw a video on the Internet on how to dye eggs with silk ties. (I’d post the video but I don’t know how to link it from Facebook. If you can find it outside of that leave the link in the comments).
It worked, but the desired results need a little work. Here’s what you have to do.
Your supplies are: Patterned silk ties that you don’t mind cutting up, string, white cotton fabric.

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First cut the ties into square pieces (mine aren’t exactly square for the first time but I wanted to make sure it would wrap around completely).

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Wrap the silk around the egg with the right side, bright side, pattern side on the inside.  Then generously wrap it up with string.  This will hold the material tightly to the egg.

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Then cut a square of white cotton and wrap that around as well and tie. 

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Take 4 cups of water and 1/4 cup of vinegar in a pot. Place the eggs in the water and bring to a boil then simmer for 30 min.

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This is what my eggs looked like when I unwrapped them. The pattern DID transfer. Some not very dark and not always smoother but I was satisfied and would call it a success.

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Happy Easter! !!

4LeafClover1343

Not too much to this craft project, but it was a cute and inexpensive holiday item that I managed to finish in time (i’m known for being a procrastinator and not finishing projects).

This started out as a $3 wooden shamrock.  I had a vision to paint it and then dressed it up with a yellow outline and the edge is white on top and black on the bottom.  I then painted across the front my name: 4LeafClover1343.  I know, I know…. this isn’t a 4 leaf clover, but they are few and far between.  

I’ll find some nice silk ribbon to hang it up on my door.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day !

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Homespun Harvest Quilt

I have been waiting a long time to post this, but I had to because the quilt I made ended up being a gift and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise online.

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At the beginning of January 2015, I decided to put aside my scrapbooking and cards and bring out an old project.  About 10 years ago, I saw this free pattern at Walmart and decided it was something that I wanted to make.  The pattern was a 24″x 24″ wall hanging, but I had designs to make it into a quilt so I bought enough material and first had to iron out 10 years of wrinkles before I could get started.  

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I loved this pattern because of the Autumn feel and all the harvest and rust-like colors.  I had never made a quilt like this before so it was going to be challenging to understand all the directions and geometric shapes. It involved a lot of cutting and measuring that took days in itself.  

Then I started piecing the blocks together, step by step and color by color until I had one square. 

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These first few weren’t too bad, but I really got tripped up when I came up with the left hand picture below and somehow had to turn it into a square.  You can see it ends up being a diamond shape in the center and not a square.  What I had to do was measure so far in on the outside strips and cut them off.  I then capped off what was left with a plaid triangle.  

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I made 9 blocks and you can see once I sewed them together, where they met, they created a whole new diamond pattern.  

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Traditionally, I don’t use cotton batting for the inside.  Seeing as this was such an odd size, I probably should have.  What I do is find a blanket to put inside, but because of this size I went with some plain (blaze orange) fleece cut from a bolt.  However, even the standard with of that was not enough so I had to piece it together and then trim the edges once I laid them on top of each other.  

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For the back I used an Autumn leaf print and folded it over to create an outline.  I can’t find the photo of the finished quilt, but here you an see how the edges come together. 

It was quite a huge undertaking for me and my quilting skill level.  Halfway though the project, I decided that when I finished it I was going to give it away as a gift.  The plaid patterns and Autumn colors and leaves reminded me of my dear friend Andrei and thought he might enjoy it as a Christmas gift.  He certainly did.  I hope it keeps him warm in the chilly months, and thinks of me as he wraps up in it. The one obstacle is that he lives near Moscow so I had to try and find the right way to package it up so it wouldn’t be so big of a box, as the post office loves to charge you for shape, weight and distance for international packages.  I used a vacuum space bag to flatten it as much as I could and then a slim type box.  Slightly more than a month later it arrived…. thus the posting of this blog now.  I don’t regret giving it away after all that work.  It just means now I can move on to my next project.