Sunday, July 7, 2019

Nice Day

In addition to the usual things that make Sunday special, today was just a nice day. 

I got to spend it with my Honey. Well, yes, of course I get to spend almost every day with my Honey, but having been married almost 54 years, I don’t want to take our time together for granted. He is a blessing.

Another thing that made today special was a phone call from an old friend (from my IBM days) with whom I had lost contact. I think of her often but had not been successful in my attempts to locate her/reconnect. An unexpected phone message from her resulted in a long conversation, and it was so great to catch up. REAL-life friendships are so important (and another thing I don’t want to take for granted).

Of less importance, I did finish my Eastern Bluebird (state bird of Missouri) watercolor piece. This one was a challenge, because I am only just now brave enough to try painting a piece from a reference photo (with no tutorial or teaching helps along the way). I think this is my second one. When I try something like this, that’s when I see how much I still have to learn. How in the world DO I make my painting look like the photo?! (My favorite app for copyright free photos is Pixabay.)


Yes, I am blessed, and I am grateful.

#worldwatercolormonth #easternbluebird #watercolorpractice #friendships #54years


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Enjoyable Independence Day


Although we would prefer to spend ALL holidays with our family, that’s just not possible. But, Hubby and I did enjoy a laid-back celebration of the birthday of our beloved country. We do love patriotic holidays, and we always shed some tears as we read Facebook posts with a military or veteran or patriotic theme. (My husband served as an officer in the USMC, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, and is particularly sentimental when it comes to the flag!)

Our daytime activity was mainly watching baseball, a win for the Cardinals (our favorite/only team). A snack of homemade sundaes (vanilla ice cream topped with hot caramel sauce and toasted pecan halves) was enjoyed “(because it is a holiday,” we said to each other).

In other years, with family, we might have had watermelon, but not this year. Still, it is a snack I often associate with July 4, and I especially think of my dad and brother—both crazy about watermelon, especially big ol’ Black Diamond melons! I thought of those two as I painted this quick and casual watercolor piece.



That evening, with no baseball to watch, we did the unusual for us and watched a DVD movie, “Independence Day,” one of my favorites. Don’t ask me why it’s a favorite. Well, it IS a combination of extreme patriotism and the mystery of UFO’s, always of interest to me. I know...don’t judge me.

My watercolor pieces lately have been casual and light-hearted (fun).




Today, though, I’m working on a Bluebird, painting from a reference photo. Difficult for me. Not done yet.

#worldwatercolormonth #IndependenceDay # USFlag #patriotism #watermelon #mariaraczynska #letsmakeart




Friday, July 5, 2019

Long Trek Back, Back to the Halcyon Days

It fell to my brother and me to go through many of the keepsakes that our mother left behind. Daddy passed away in 1988, and it has been six years since Mother passed. The last large box of her things has been stored at my house, and we decided it was time to do our due diligence.

On two different occasions within the last couple of weeks, my brother has made the five-hour round trip to my house, and we have risen to the challenge (that’s what we do). 


There were 60-70 manila envelopes, all organized by year, thankfully. We simply would not have been able to accomplish what we did if Mother had not divided and labeled everything like she did.


 In the end, we spent more than 14 hours of solid work (and fun!). Breaks for meals and snacks — oh, and always coffee—kept us going. But by the time we finished, we were tired—and seeing old photos and mimeographed programs when we closed our eyes!!





My brother was particularly interested in the envelopes that contained keepsakes and photos from Daddy’s time in France and Germany (USArmy Air Corps) during World War II.



It seemed daunting at first. We had thought we could accomplish our goal in one afternoon/evening, but after those first 7 or 8 hours, it became clear that a second attack would be required.

We separated out keepsakes for all our siblings and ourselves—my Hobby Room became a veritable heap of manila envelopes!

So many newspaper articles of their children and grandchildren winning awards and scholarships and accolades (we talked about how we just took it for granted, all the successes in our family, due in large part to our parents’ encouragement and guidance). So many letters from people in their churches that Daddy pastored, and from the professional world (Daddy was also a teacher and Director of Teacher Certification for the Missouri Department of Education)! So many greeting cards and church program bulletins. So many years’ worth of memories. 

We made several interesting and fun discoveries. In addition to the envelopes, there were a couple of very old photo albums. These nice 8x10 studio pictures of our parents’ senior pictures and their wedding picture were amazing (also some studio pictures of Daddy in military uniform). 



R.V. and Leona Wilson
1945



Leona Cox (we saw a photo that had this 8x10, in a frame, sitting on Daddy’s footlocker while he was in military training in Florida, before their marriage.)
1945



R.V. (“Red”) Wilson
1945

I framed these to add to my bookshelf where I already had some family and  heritage photos.


#heritage #family #familyhistory




Saturday, June 22, 2019

Rainy Days

We have had some rainy days and several thunderstorms this week here in Missouri. That’s one of my excuses for staying in and not doing much! 

The other excuse is that I tweaked my back on Tuesday, and it is not better yet. It’s ridiculous how many little movements I normally take for granted—like bending over and picking up something that I have dropped, or putting on my socks and shoes, or lifting Sassi (who is better now) up on the sofa for her nap...I’m trying to take care of myself, but I’m not very good at slowing down.

Here are a couple of art pieces that have been therapeutic for me while “recovering.” Both of these were from lessons by my favorite teacher, Maria Raczynska.




I think one reason I enjoyed these pieces is because the colors are soothing to me...

#watercolorpractice #seahorse #icecream #WinsorandNewton #MariaRaczynska

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

June in Missouri

We have been sticking fairly close to home in recent days, since our little Sassi Girl has not been feeling well. She is 16 now and really pretty perky for her age (it’s all relative, now isn’t it?). 



We did venture out on a little road trip on Father’s Day, to join our daughter’s family (about 2 hours away) for church and lunch. Sharida and Greg and Dawson brought along a surprise for us—Evan and his girlfriend Katie, up from Texas to visit Sharida and Greg for a few days.



I am continuing with my watercolor practice, some days encouraged, some days not so much, but I press on.



I followed a tutorial in a Skillshare class for this little hummingbird.




Another Skillshare tutorial, this poppy.



And this little ladybug from a lesson by my favorite artist/teacher, Maria Raczynska.

#watercolorpractice #FathersDay #SassiGirl #tinytoypoodle #MariaRaczynska #ladybug #poppy #hummingbird


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Wonder Forest

We have so many woodland creatures in our Wonder Forest (5 acres where our home is located, in Troy, Missouri). I think maybe animals are one of the more difficult subjects to paint, but I am drawn to them. Here are a couple of paintings finished today.


Raccoon (though they are cute, we aren’t thrilled when they try to get to the bird feeders!)


Tufted Titmouse

#watercolorpractice #wonderforest #titmouse #raccoon #MissouriWoods



Thursday, June 6, 2019

Golden Retriever Watercolor


This handsome guy reminds me of our Samson, our first golden, our outside pet while we were living in Licking, Missouri, many years ago. 

This painting was inspired by Sarah Cray at Let’s Make Art, although I didn’t actually follow her tutorial for this one. Sometimes I do better just winging it.

Golden retrievers are special dogs. My brother and his wife have two. Goldens are sweet and live to please their people.

Still learning about watercolor, and at some point I will probably focus in on a more limited subject matter, but for now, I’m bouncing around like a ping pong ball—flowers, fruit, dog, bird, whatever...but it does keep me interested, and that may be the most important thing right now!

#watercolorpractice #goldenretriever #letsmakeart #WinsorandNewtonCotmanWatercolors #ArchesColdPressedPaper


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Missouri Summer: Here and Now


Well, we did have some beautiful spring days, though interspersed with thunderstorms and tornadoes in the area. But I do believe summer has arrived here in our neck of the woods in Missouri. I can tell, because I just stepped out on the upper deck to look at some flowers, and the heat/humidity practically took my breath away. Yep, that’s summer in Missouri.

On the watercolor practice front, my eye is taken by subjects that remind me of summer, like this watermelon work that I created following a tutorial by @Mariamorjane. She was also the inspiration for an attempt at my favorite rose:



I have arrived at a comfort level on my style, that is, not realism but not terribly loose either. I still sometimes gravitate to “cutesy,” and for that I really make no apology...it’s just my mood, some days.



I created this little bunny in a Skillshare class (online).

#watercolorpractice #mariamorjane #skillshare #SummerinMissouri






Monday, May 27, 2019

Work-in-Progress: Peace About Getting Older


This passage about the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is always convicting to me. I know that my life should exhibit these fruits (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control), but sometimes, some of the fruits are very challenging for me. For example, today I’m thinking about my “word for the year,” PEACE. Most of the time I do feel peace, as in content, absent from conflict, etc. But when it comes to the issue of getting older (notice I do not use the word “aging,”—that probably says something right there), I’m not sure I bear the fruit of “peace” with the whole idea.

At one point I went to a Christian book store and asked for books on “aging gracefully.” The only books they had to show me were basically comedy, funny things about aging. So, I thought maybe I should write a book about Aging GRACEfully, since the market is not flooded with such, that I could find. But then I realized I would need to have arrived at the place of knowing what I was talking about. Not there then. Still not there.

So, I save articles that I find that are encouraging, and I read those repeatedly. One such article was written by Brenda Rodgers, who has a blog at www.brendarodgers.com. Though still a young woman herself, she has some wisdom to offer.

Following are some of her reminders:

The media would have us believe there is little good about getting older. Youth, beauty, and vitality are celebrated and preserved. Age is pitied. But there is another perspective I can choose. It is one that values the gift of time I have on earth, not just my time as a young woman, but my time as a middle-aged and older woman, too, because in God’s economy, time sees eternity.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

At the beginning of our lives our bodies are full of strength and our souls are unwise and careless. But as we age, our bodies and souls change places. Our bodies become weak, but our souls continue to grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God, by being renewed each day. This is what carries us into our ultimate renewal—our glorification in heaven.

What I have now that I didn’t have in my younger years is perspective, maturity, and experience. I have wisdom.

It is as if the purpose of the first half of a person’s life is to create stories, and the second half is to tell them. The second half is the legacy-building years.

Viewing the later years as legacy-building years gives them even more purpose than those ambitious, determined, full-of-life years. The legacy-building years change generations and affect eternity.

The Bible encourages us to not grow weary, but to run our race of life to the very end.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Hebrews 12:1-4

The legacy years cannot be wasted.

I want to finish well. This is one of my favorite verses: “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” Psalm 71:18 ESV

#watercolorinmyBible #fruitsoftheSpirit #peace #aginggracefully #getting older #legacy

Friday, May 24, 2019

My Birthday Week

Yes, I have had several days of “celebrating” my birthday this year! And even though I can’t believe I am really this many years old, and I don’t love “aging” as such, I do realize that much that I have to be thankful for comes enclosed in the wrapping paper of years spent on this earth! So, I will rejoice and be glad, for birthdays!

One thing that made this birthday special is that our son and daughter-in-law (Mark and Kristy) flew in from Washington to spend a few days with us during my birthday week. Typically I am not with family on my birthday.





It is also the week of Kristy’s mom’s birthday. It also happened that the Cardinals were playing the Royals (Kristy’s family’s team—although Kristy is a huge Cardinals fan) in St. Louis. Cardinals games are nostalgic for us, as we attended several times together as a family when Mark and Kristy and their kids lived here. It also happens to be Spring in Missouri, a draw for Mark and Kristy, as that is something they miss out in Washington. So, they attended two games while here, one in the afternoon with Kristy’s mom and brother, and one in the evening with us.






On my birthday (May 23), I was pleasantly surprised by a fresh flower delivery, from Tory, with this special note attached:

“Happy birthday my sweet Mamo! I love you a bushel and a peck. You should be celebrated. Thank you for being such a wonderful, Christ-like example in my life! Love, Tory”

Made me feel very special indeed. She is a missionary in Mexico, and I’m sure it’s not that easy to arrange things like flower deliveries!!

That evening we went out for dinner to YaYa’s in Chesterfield.


After we got home, we had a very fun FaceTime with Sharida and Greg and Dawson (daughter’s family).

I also received a lot of nice birthday wishes on Facebook. It was a wonderful birthday.

#FamilyTime #Birthday

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Steven Curtis Chapman in Concert


Last evening we met Janene and David (my sister married to Russell’s brother) in Columbia, Missouri, for the Steven Curtis Chapman Solo Concert. 


Steven Curtis has been an inspiration to our large family since the early 1990’s. My brother, through his friend who works with SCC in Nashville, arranged for us to meet SCC backstage. We were ushered back during the intermission and spent a few moments taking the opportunity to express to SCC how much he had meant to us through the years. 





Steven is the most-awarded artist in Christian music history. And yet, he was just as humble and genuine backstage as he appears onstage! What a blessing! What a legacy! #SCCSOLO #ShowHope

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Yellow in the Spring

I have several “favorite” colors—among them, purple and teal are at the top. But especially in the springtime I love other colors as well—such as spring green and bright yellow. Specifically, I enjoy painting with yellow watercolor (my favorite is Winsor & Newton pro grade Winsor Lemon).

It took me a little bit of time to paint the Goldfinch that I love seeing in our Wonder Forest at the bird feeders. As a reference photo, I used this beautiful photo from the Merlin Bird ID app.


Here is my rendition, again not trying to paint with realism that would make my work be confused with a photograph, and yet, not so loose as to make it difficult to identify it as a goldfinch!



While in the yellow mode, I used a 4x6 watercolor paper “card” to quickly paint this loose watercolor lemon (to use for scrapbook embellishment). It took me about five minutes.



On another note, we have been making some minor changes around the place—put down a couple of area rugs, for example—little things that give me a “lift” (much like changing the furniture in my classroom used to do)...more work/cleaning around the house—got LOTS of Fitbit steps yesterday, at least! 

I’ve enjoyed the Bible study I’ve done the last 7 days...Hurt but not Held Back (on the Bible app). May share some things from it soon.

Beautiful spring (feels like summer) day here in Wonder Forest near Troy, Missouri!

#watercolorpractice #Winsor&NewtonPro #Americangoldfinch #wonderforest

Saturday, May 11, 2019

My Painting Style, a Pea Pod, and a Blue Fairywren

So much to learn about watercolor art...

The first thing I realized a few weeks ago when I started to delve into the nuances of this art form is that there are different “styles,” and each “artist” eventually settles into a personal style. Right away, after a few attempts, I concluded that the style called “loose” is not really for me. So many of the folks in my Facebook art groups use this style, and they just seem to have a knack of putting down a bunch of watercolor and it ends up looking like the essence of a flower bouquet (for example). It just does not come naturally, nor is it fun, for me.

On the other hand, the opposite extreme from “loose” is detailed realism. An example of this type of art is the pear I did a few weeks ago, following a tutorial from Anna Mason.


It was about the first thing I did when I started playing with watercolors, and though I successfully completed the tutorial, at that time, being so new at everything about painting, it was difficult and made me think that detailed realism really wasn’t for me either.

So, within the weeks that I have spent pretty much immersed in the learning process, my conclusion right now is that my style, for now, is sort of in-between the two extremes. Now I do not ever try the extreme loose style. But I do sometimes enjoy the attempts at detailed realism. So, I enrolled in Anna Mason’s Online School, where I am completing tutorials ranked by difficulty level (there should be something lower than “beginner,” for me, honestly). 

After the Williams Pear, the next tutorial in my “school” is a pea pod. Now, this is not something I would be drawn to paint just because I want a painting of a pea pod. But because I am in a “school” and am learning techniques, I am willing to work on something not necessarily “cute” or something I would want to frame! 

I have now completed the second beginner tutorial:



(Copyright information: Pear and Pea Pod are paintings produced using an online video tutorial at Anna Mason’s Online School.


But, as I do the detailed tutorial pieces, I give myself permission to break and do just fun pieces where I do something like paint from a reference photo. So, yesterday when I finished the pea pod (reminds me of the feeling of turning in a research paper), I watched a tutorial from a lady in Australia who was painting a little wren-like bird from her property. I was drawn to the gorgeous colors, and I have always thought wrens are so cute. We do not have this bird in America, but I wanted to paint it because of the beautiful colors. I started with her tutorial, but then I mainly used a reference photo (a real-life picture that is used as a reference for a painting). 

Along with the photo, I found this information about this beautiful bird:


“The Australasian wrens are a family, Maluridae, of small, insectivorous passerine birds endemic to Australia and New Guinea. While commonly known as wrens, they are unrelated to the true wrens of the Northern Hemisphere.” Wikipedia


So, remembering that most of the time I’m not aiming for a painting that could be mistaken for a photograph, here is my painting from the reference photo:


#watercolorpractice #AnnaMasonsOnlineSchool #superbfairywren #AnnaMasonPear #AnnaMasonPeapod #alwaysastudent


Friday, May 10, 2019

Journaling




It’s no secret among those who know me that I am a huge fan of journaling. Today I came across a quote that I had copied into one of my journals, from my study of the book Draw a Circle by Mark Batterson. He makes the case that journaling is actually a spiritual discipline. I agree. I do have one caveat to add to his quote (see below).

“The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory. Journaling is one of the most overlooked and undervalued spiritual disciplines. In my estimation, it is on a par with praying, fasting, and meditating. It's the way we document what God is doing in our lives. We have a natural tendency to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember. Journaling is the best antidote, maybe the only antidote, to spiritual amnesia.” (Mark Batterson) 

*Note: I am not a theologian, but I’m not sure I would put journaling “on a par” with praying and fasting. I would liken it to meditating, actually.

The watercolor art that I am posting today isn’t directly related to journaling, but I’ll just insert it to give the reader a break from my words!

These two pieces represent what I do as a quick break from the more serious and detailed art classes I am currently doing online (Anna Mason School). One of the works from Anna’s classes is about a 4-6 hour process. These two pieces here took about 15 minutes each. 

The little birdies are pen and ink with watercolor (sketch with pencil, then paint, then outline with pen).

The peach was done with no sketching, using the wet on wet technique, just putting down the paintbrush and painting the peach and leaves, and then dropping in more color.

#journaling #MarkBatterson #DrawaCircle #watercolorpractice #penandinkwatercolor


Monday, May 6, 2019

Beautiful Spring in MO

Such beautiful spring days we are having here in Missouri! Most days lately have been sunny and warm, but not hot—perfect for me! The trees on our five acres (mostly maples and oaks) have been totally leaved out for a few days now.

I have been doing a few pieces of watercolor art, nothing structured, just following my whims. 


This pen/ink and watercolor fuchsia flower I completed following a You Tube tutorial. These beautiful flowers are interesting, as they appear to be upside down.


This little fawn was copied from a book I have used a lot lately, called Watercolor With Me in the Forest by Dana Fox. 




This is one of the birds that always can be found at our bird feeders at the edge of our Wonder Forest, which we look down on, out our bedroom windows. It is a Tufted Titmouse, very pretty. For this piece, I found a photo on Pixabay (an app with copyright free photos) as a reference. It is my first attempt (I think) to paint something from a real-life photo, as opposed to a picture of a painting, which is my typical process (and will continue to be for awhile, as I think I will be a beginner for a long time!).

#watercolor #WonderForest #tuftedtitmouse #fawn #fuchsiaflower #springtimeinMO






Friday, May 3, 2019

Notebook Entry: Project Status

For years I have kept a notebook. Who knew, at the time, that keeping a Planner would become all the rage. For me, the habit began in the mid-1980’s, after reading Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman by Anne Ortlund. One of the many things I record in my notebook is a fairly frequent “inventory” of the status of all my projects.

Yes, I say all my projects, because they are legion. So, it helps to keep a record of where I am, as regards the projects. At different points in time, I am more or less obsessed with certain of the projects. So, it’s not that I do all of them every day. My projects include (but are not limited to) family history, scrapbooking, Bible art journaling, life journaling (I have my life story, hundreds of pages in Word documents, more recently updated with the Day One app), organizing and maintaining two homes, cooking, baking, piano, and art (for awhile it was mixed media but now almost exclusively watercolor, as I am just learning).

So I have always found it helpful to make lists in my notebooks, because writing it down somehow makes it feel less overwhelming. I suppose I feel that if I can write down what all I need to do, it then becomes doable. 

Current status:
Scrapbooking - I had gotten quite behind with my annual scrapbook for 2019, as I had taken on a project of doing a separate scrapbook of our great grandson’s first year. I finished that while we were still in Washington (he turned one in March), but after we returned to Missouri, I had all the many pictures from January through April to organize, edit, print (some) and put in the scrapbook. I would like not to get that far behind again, because it was quite a chore to get those four months finished. I am up to date now, as of a couple of days ago.

Art/craft supply and studio organization - This was a biggie, as I reorganized the studio with my watercolor art supplies, cleaning out mixed media supplies (a much messier hobby) and making my work area much more pleasant. I also filled several boxes with craft supplies I no longer use from my hobby room storage closet, to give away. Whew!

So now, in terms of art, I am free to enjoy watercolor. I admit to a bit of an obsession with wildlife right now, and especially birds, as we so enjoy watching them at our feeders, out our bedroom bay windows (looking down on the feeders and the woods). A couple of days ago we saw our first Indigo Bunting of the season. Today, the Grosbeaks returned. We are enjoying using a new (to us) app, Merlin Bird ID, that our son told us about.


This little Carolina wren took my eye, in a painting by watercoloursbyrachel. We have these wrens in our Wonder Forest. One of them has built a nest in a little house we have nailed to a tree, right under our bedroom windows that look out over the woods. My rendition of this wren is a poor copy of Rachel’s work, but I am learning, and with this attempt I did learn that the quality of the watercolor paper does make a huge difference (my first time to use Arches cold press paper).

So, these days, I keep myself busy with projects, but we also spend time keeping up with our families in Missouri and Washington, our church involvement, watching Cardinals baseball, and going out and about in our woods and our community.

#CarolinaWren #ArchesWatercolorPaper #notebook #journaling #projects


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Today’s Bible Study


Today I want to share a devotional thought from the five-day Bible study I just completed through the Bible app. These are not my words, but they are for me.

The Safety of God's Presence

If you’re a parent, your arms were (or are) the place of safety for your children. When they got hurt, or when they felt sick or afraid or anxious, they would raise their arms for you to pick them up. Your presence could make monsters disappear and boo-boos feel all better, and little wounded spirits would be healed.

Take a moment to remember how it felt when your toddler (or any child) would grab you around the neck and hold on for dear life.

That’s what God’s presence can do for you.

All the spiritual disciplines and religious activity won’t change you or heal your fear and anxiety if they don’t help you enter God’s presence.

And worship is the way you get there.

In true worship you lose sight of what’s around you and see only Him. Whether alone or with other believers; in nature, church, or your own home; in silence or with music; your heart is stilled, cleansed, healed, transformed.

In the presence of God, evil leaves the way darkness leaves when you turn on the light.

When you are troubled, run into His arms through worship. Grab on to Him and hold on as if your life depended on it.

Because it does.

 “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.””

‭‭John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭CSB‬‬

And here is a picture of the little one who always brings a smile to my face and makes me feel all better (our great grandson):



#BibleApp #BibleStudy #OvercomingAnxiety #DevotionalThought