Tuesday, December 30, 2008

*MY* Christmas Present

*MY* Christmas Present
Originally uploaded by spinneretta

So I got this laptop and laptop case for Christmas this year from my wonderful husband :) It's a replacement for my very old desktop, and it is SO much faster- and more convenient (I can blog after the kids are in bed!!)
I tried something a little different technique-wise on this picture. I used a watersoluble graphite pencil... and my watercolour pencils :)
It gives the picture a much more loose feel- which I am trying to get used to :)

You may have noticed my recent attempts to make my pictures in my journals- more 'art journally' :) THAT is the reason for the bright orange background- it contrasts nicely with the very plain (but pretty) black laptop :)

This is something I am thrilled about getting- because now I can actually use those great graphics programs to mess with my pictures :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

EDM #202: Draw a Cookie

These gingerbread cookies were made especially for the challenge- because there were none in the house :) The kids and DH love them- and yes, there are some gingerbread men- but only one each because I like the round ones better (and my gingerbread man cookie cutter is not such a nice one LOL).

Daybook for Monday 29th December

Peggy over at the Simple Woman's Daybook is taking a break this week, but you can still catch the previous daybook entries at her site :)


Outside my window...
It is brilliantly sunny, but a lot colder than it was yesterday :) It is still not a very cold winter though!

I am thinking...
About the things I am hoping to accomplish this year. I have a school plan to rethink, and the art ones I mention in previous posts. Hopefully I can keep my theme going throughout :)

I am thankful for...
My husband- who gave me this wonderful laptop for Christmas. All of a sudden I realise that my old machine is SLOW.

From the learning rooms...
I'm tweaking again. Rebel has requested a few things that mean I have to adjust the way I am doing things. So I will be reading the Latin Centered Curriculum again to adjust it :)

From the kitchen...
Well, I have leftover ham, so I'll make a split pea soup later. But I also have a cookie I have to draw for a challenge, so I am probably going to make some of those too :)

I am wearing...
black skirt and red, stripey blouse. My hair is back in my new hair clip (thanks to one of my sisters I think).

I am creating...
art. Lots to do on this front :D I have also promised M'Lady that we'll make her doll some clothes, and maybe her some like the little girls were wearing at Williamsburg yesterday.

I am going...
precisely nowhere as far as I know! I may have to take a walk later to help get rid of those pounds I want to lose...

I am reading...
S...L...O...W...L...Y... I have a couple of Patricia Cornwell novels and a few other books I picked up over the holidays.

I am hoping...
to get the books read!

I am hearing...
silence. The kids are playing a computer game ;) We're still on break, so that's O.K.

Around the house...
I am actually pretty up-to-date with the laundry. I have a little to fold, a little to put away and a little to wash. I have some curtains that really need to be worked on, and a few projects here and there, but this is the quiet time of year where I relax!

One of my favorite things...
is when the weather is warm over the weekend, and you can go out and enjoy a daytrip with the family!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
catch up with the rest of the laundry, read my books, plan and draw. It's a simple week for us!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
One of the wonderful entrances in Colonial Williamsburg :) I always love to see the Christmas decorations down there!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Two Challenges

In a bid to get the year off to a good start, I thought I would do the last few EDM challenges :)

EDM #201: Draw a Stapler

Something happened when I scanned these, the colour was washed out! I managed to rescue the glass picture some, but didnt manage to do the stapler ;) The stapler is a valued homeschool tool, while the glass is a beautiful one that we've had a while. I love the contrast of the blue glass with the yellow juice. I added an orange background, because my husband just loves blue and orange :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Art Goals 2009

Well Shirley over at Paper and Threads has challenged everyone to list their art goals for the coming year. I am a little reluctant to list too many, because what with homeschooling etc. I am not sure I can do LOADS :)
So I have resolved to make it simple.

Art Goals for the Year 2009

1. Draw daily.
I did really well for a while this year, but overburdened myself before burning myself out. This year I want to continue to draw regularly, but I want to make it a daily thing. It's harder to stop a habit once you start making it a part of your routine :)
2. Maintain an art journal.
This is kind of related to number 1 above. I have made a few books to start working in, and I really want to fill them :) I am beginning to attempt to compose spreads and such, but there is a way for me to go. I dont like to call them journals, I prefer notebooks, but either way, I want to maintain one ;)
3. Continue to experiment with watercolours.
I started using mine this year, and have gotten quite used to them and their ways. I really want to explore them further, and invest in some more colours :)
4. Do the EDM's- try to do all of them.
I would specify ALL of them, BUT sometimes I am unable to do them because I do not HAVE the thing to draw :) I will attempt to do them all though :)
5. Try to take a class, whether online or in person :)
I have seen a couple of ones online I like the look of, so perhaps one of those :)
I'll be sure to blog about them if I do take them :)

So there you have it- my few art goals for the new year (nothing like Shirley's ;)), but I am hoping it is few enough for me to manage :D
Anyone else care to share? :)

A Christmas Present

This is the present I gave my husband for Christmas :)

It's a picture of my daughter- in her trademark "cowgirl hat" with her "cheese" look (it's from a reference photo we took ;)).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Seasonal Creations

It's been a while since I updated here- but I am hoping to be back on track soon :) Meantime, here are some recent works ;)

I love these seasonal oranges- back in England they were a little easier to get than they are over here- I remember having them in my packed lunch for school as a child :)

These are some of the presents from the advent bags I drew below.
My simple, but effective travel kit- pens, moleskine and watercolour pencils. I just added a water brush to the set :)

Everyday Matters (I heard a J.C. Penny's advert say that BTW)- in this case, things from the bathroom ;) drawn in situ, so there is an odd angle to them.
Some of our ornaments- I knitted the gingerbread man :)

DD and I went to see the Nutcracker ballet this year. Here is the ticket and a nutcracker :)
At the last minute, we decided on handmade cards. Here are the three designs I painted and scanned. I printed them and glued each to a card. I kept the originals for this spread :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Year's Theme

Those of you who have been reading my blog long enough, or who have just known me long enough, know that a few years back, I took up the idea of a yearly theme. This idea, came from my friend Dana, for whom I am very thankful :)
This year, my new theme is a hard one. Not because it is unmanageable, but because it so goea against my natural personality :)

"Cultivating Patience: Every Second Counts".

I have known for a very long time, that patience is NOT one of my virtues. I am just not very good at being patient. I don't like to wait for my watercolour paint to dry. I hate how long it might take me to knit something- and I often make dinner at the last minute. When the kids don't 'get' something (usually something like cleaning up the living room floor), I am forced to bite my tongue, and shamefully, more than once, my patience was gone!
It's not IMPOSSIBLE for me to be patient, just hard. So when I found myself having to learn patience for things recently, or when I found out that patience really paid off, I realised that in there somewhere, was a message.
So I told my friends that I thought 'patience' was my theme. Later that day, I realised that it wasn't JUST patience I needed to learn, but appreciation of time. So often I feel like I have to do it all NOW- well with patience I get to do it all, just not at once :)

So that's my theme for next year. Of course, themes are not finite things. They kind of mingle and meld with the ones that came before, and I think you are supposed to continue improving.
Well- I am improving. This year I did well with beautiful, but simple is a work in progress ;) I managed to make great strides in my theme from last year- Hospitality. But the one from the year before- stewardship- is still eluding me. Somewhat. I did manage to start eating seasonally, and I am constantly tweaking our food to make it healthier! It's the house that needs work :) THAT is where patience comes in- learning these things one at a time, bit by bit...

Anyone else out there with themes to share? :)

And I knew in a Moment that it must be St. Nick...

Well, at least a knitted one :)

I adapted my St. Nicholas decoration from Little Cotton Rabbit's Tiny Christmas Bear Decorations- well worth the knitting! You can too!

Make the Christmas Tree Bears according to the directions here, make it the longer version with no legs. I left out the ribbon- you can keep it, just make it a little longer.
For the face, make two eyes as described, use your yarn to make a small nose, and make a straight stitch for the mouth.
For the beard, use white yarn and make small loops across the bottom of the face. You will need several rows, and the loops work best if offset from each other as you go up a row. Stop below the mouth.
Instead of ears, make a mitre. This is how I made mine:

Knit two of these.
Cast on 7 stitches. Knit 3 rows.
Row 4: Pearl.
Row 5: K2 tog, K 3, K2 tog. (5 sts)
Row 6: Pearl
Row 7: K2 tog, K1, K2 tog. (3 sts)
Row 8: Pearl
Row 9: Slip 1, K2 tog, Pass Slipped Stitch Over.

On one of the mitre pieces, embroider a cross. Sew the two pieces together. If you included the ribbon, just sew across this.

For the arms, make an I-cord as mentioned in the Little Cotton Rabbit's site- only switch colours after 5 rows, knitting 3 rows in the flesh colour. Run the ends inside the I-cord before attaching to the body.

Finally sew the mitre to the top of St. Nicholas's head- voila! A teddy-turned St. Nick :D

P.S. I used regular worsted wool on very small needles because I like the way it knits up ;)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


or at least the Advent bags my mum made.  Inside are presents for each day of advent.  One for each of the kids, and my husband's one.  My presents have yet to arrive, and I have to make a bag for them while I am at it!

I'll try to draw a few more seasonal things as I go along- I really want to document December :) I love this season :D

Monday, December 01, 2008

Picture Update!

Although I have not really been online much, I have drawn a little. Obviously my focus has been elsewhere, but I squeezed in some time ;)

"Snakey" is a toy that my kids both have. "Snakey" is a caterpillar. He chases children around and hisses like a snake. No matter how often I tell them he is a caterpillar, he always turns back into a snake.

Experimenting with watercolour pencils can enliven time spent waiting in the car. Here I am trying out techniques learned from Cathy Johnson's watercolour pencil CD.

The kids collected these somewhere, and I liked them so much I had to draw them. This was the first time my watercolour pencils actually came out the way I wanted them too!

I had to get a new orange watercolour pencil since my Derwent one was not working. This is a prismacolor one. It was probably one of my better attempts ;)
Sunsets of autumn are often spectacular here in Virginia. This particular occasion, the sky was a vivid yellow, and the birch tree's lacy foliage just looked so pretty against it. This was another watercolour pencil picture- they are now permanently in my bag because I love their portability!
While knitting one evening, I found myself needing to document it :) Cooler weather brings out the woolly knits!

EDM #199: Draw your toe. OK So I drew 5 of them. There are five on each foot, I can hardly pick just one right? :) I never pass up an opportunity to draw my feet- they are great models, always do as I ask ;)

My latest read, a book of inspirations!! It's Danny Gregory's new book, a fat collection of great illustrated journals and notebooks. I think I like the commentary almost as much as the pictures, because I realise my 'weirdness' about my skectbooks is really not... ;)

After completing a summer accordian fold book, I decided to do an autumn one. This shows my very own, home-grown poemgranate :)

I call it October- because it is really October associations :) I grew the fig too... it was delicious! I hope for a few more next year! The second one never did ripen before the frost felled it!
An autumn staple... only my leaves do not reflect their true colours, which is a huge shame. The sweetgum at the left was a lovely, rich, purple-brown. My paints failed to capture that colour- the other one, a maple, was much brighter red. Oh well, I consider it a great excuse to get some more paints- I probably needed a better colour selection right? ;)

After all the cooking and eating, I managed to draw a piece of the pumpkin pie! I had really wanted to draw the turkey, but I just forgot- even to photograph it! Oh well, it certainly tasted good (even if I do say so myself ;)).
What can be more autumnal than apples? These golden delicious, sit on my table until M'Lady eats them. Or the rabbit eats them. Or both. I had wanted a nice apple themed poem to go with it, but the closest I found was a Robert Frost one about apple picking. Or loads of school-limerick kinds. NOT what I really wanted ;)

Daybook for Monday 1st December

To get the rest of the daybook entries, don't forget to visit Peggy over at the Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window... it's a chilly day. The trees are bare now and the cardinals are the only bright flashes of colour I see. There is a simple, stark kind of beauty in the late autumn, early winter.
I am thinking... that I am behind on the advent stuff. I really wish DH would get it out of the loft already! Actually I am thinking I wish he hadn't put it all there- I will hide it this year so he can't! I dont mind the tree stuff there, but not the advent stuff!
I am thankful for... long weekends. I really enjoyed our extended holiday weekend! I am also thankful for inspirational books, wonderful online communities and the gifts God gave us :)
From the learning rooms... we are starting our Advent study. I like to do the Tomie de Paola one started by Elizabeth Foss.
From the kitchen... turkey leftovers! I am considering a pot-pie today, I really love pot-pie. I also love the new microwave- I dont HAVE to remember to take out the meat anymore! Rest assured, I only use it for good things- and TV dinners one day a week ;)
I am wearing... grey skirt, green top. My hair is up, and I am waiting for the red-eyes to subside before I wear contacts again. Maybe I should try my visine.
I am creating... Christmas gifts for my secret Santa. I can't talk about them though, because she reads the blog :)
I am going... to a friend's to make the rest of the Jesse Tree ornaments on Thursday (or Wednesday). We had to delay it due to illness, but I am hopeful we'll do it this week :)
I am reading... An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory- inspiration for people who draw in journals.
I am hoping... to get some baking done. I need to make a Christmas Pudding, but I might just try Mum's new recipe... also a fruit cake with my Mother-in-Law's recipe, a request from DH.
I am hearing... the press conference with President-Elect Obama and his National Security team. It just came on the radio while I was listening to music, and I am waiting for it to finish! If it doesn't soon, I'll put on a Christmas Carol CD or find some advent ones!
Around the house... laundry (it's Monday) and some decorating with the advent decorations! I need to acquire a place to display the Jesse Tree ornaments.
One of my favorite things... is baking... I love to bake. Cookies (Biscuits), Mince Pies (YUM!), cakes, bread... I managed to make a really great roll for Thanksgiving- REALLY good! It was an adaptation of a Scottish Bap from Soups and Bread by Crescent Dragonwagon.
A few plans for the rest of the week: make some stuff for Secret Santa, bake cake and pudding, bake mince pies, make Jesse tree ornaments, decorate and get a Christmas tree next weekend :) Busy week, since I also plan to school, draw and other things ;)
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
My pomegranate that I grew :)

Sorry about the quality of the photo- it just looked a lot sharper on the camera!! (This is for Jill who asked for one ;))