Friday, September 23, 2016

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

I read this book for the following category in my 2016 Back to the Classics Reading Challenge:

 A 19th Century Classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.

I had wanted to read this book for a long time, ever since seeing the movie version several years ago. It was a good story, but much too long. And don't get me wrong, I actually like long novels. But this one just made me feel that the author was being paid by the word. There were many MANY asides, or editorial comments, that seemed to go on and on. I kind of liked some of them at first, but after reading 680 pages, I just wanted to read about the characters.

The book is a portrayal of life and manners in London in the early 19th century. The story is about Becky Sharp, a woman of no money or breeding, who tries to escape her place in life as governess to Sir Pitt Crawley's two young daughters. It follows her and several other characters over the course of about fifteen years. I rate it 3 out of 5.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Polka Dots

Polka Dots

My quilt guild is doing a challenge. In May, we were to bring one yard of polka dot fabric. We then tore it in half, kept half, and passed the other half around until the music stopped (think musical chairs but with fabric). We repeated this several times until we ended up with 5 different polka dot fabrics in successively smaller sizes. We are to make something with these 5 fabrics and bring it to the December meeting. We can add additional fabrics as desired. This is a sneak peak at my quilt, which I finished a couple of days ago. Four of my 5 fabrics show up in this sneak peak - orange with purple dots, black with multiple color dots, gold with purple and brown dots, and pink with white dots. My 5th fabric is green with white dots, very similar to the pink. It didn't have to be quilted for the challenge, but I was having so much fun with it that I just kept working and got it done.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Digital Scrapbook Layouts

In addition to sketching last week, I also completed 3 digital scrapbook layouts.

Devil's Den State Park 2015

Journaling reads, "We enjoy seeing the Williams here each fall. It has become a nice tradition we look forward to."

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Journaling reads, "We had planned on seeing both Zion and Bryce National Parks in addition to Cedar Breaks National Monument, but right after lunch on our drive there, Glen got violently ill and we ended up spending the night in Frisco, Colorado (he may have been served garlic at the B&B in Estes Park). The next day, Glen felt better and we had just enough time to see Cedar Breaks. We were really glad we did. It was spectacular; like nothing either of us had ever seen before."

Black Mesa

In 2012, we met our son, daughter-in-law, and her family at Black Mesa, the highest point in Oklahoma.

Journaling reads, "Glen and I hiked halfway up the mesa, as we planned, while the rest of the group (Ira, Billie, Parker, Holden, Catherine, Cooper, Bryan, Kyle, Jacey, Jessica, Brian) made the whole 8 mile hike in very hot weather. At right is the whole group as we started the hike. Below is Brian and Jessica (and me) shortly before Glen and I stopped. At bottom right is the group going on after we stopped. I sketched a bit when we stopped."

Friday, August 12, 2016

Sketches from Colorado

As I said in my last post, my husband and I spent last week in Colorado. We always enjoy our time there, and this year was no exception. We stayed in a cabin on Spring Creek, between Gunnison and Crested Butte. I took photos and sketched while my husband fished, we hiked, played games, read, did some site seeing, went to a play in Gunnison, and shopped at an art festival in Crested Butte. We've been going to this area for 31 years now, so we obviously love the area. Here are my sketches from the week:

Colorado Page 1
Page 1

Colorado Page 2
Page 2

Colorado Page 3
Page 3

Colorado Page 4
Page 4

Colorado Page 5
Page 5

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Imaginary Visit to a Tulip Festival

Even though I haven't posted much, I did keep up pretty well with my lessons in Laure Ferlita's class. At least until the bonus lesson Laure provided because of some computer glitches she had. I still plan to do that bonus lesson at some point; it just won't be for the class. Anyway, I wanted to post the remainder of the lessons that I did complete:

Imaginary Visit to a Tulip Festival
Lesson 2

Imaginary Visit to a Tulip Festival
Lesson 3

Imaginary Visit to a Tulip Festival
Lesson 4

I always enjoy Laure's classes, and this one was no exception. The only reason I didn't get the bonus lesson completed was that we spent last week in Colorado, staying in a cabin with no internet access. I did do some sketching, which I'll share in my next post. And we had a really good time, so it's all good.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Howard's End by E.M. Forster

I read this book for the following category in my 2016 Back to the Classics Reading Challenge:
9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title.  It can be the name of a house, a town, a street, etc. Examples include Bleak House, Main Street, The Belly of Paris, or The Vicar of Wakefield.
The story concerns the relationships between three families; the Wilcoxes, who are pragmatic and materialistic members of the middle-class, the Schlegels, who are idealistic and intellectual members of the middle class, and the Basts, who are aspirating members of the lower class. When Mrs. Wilcox bequeaths Howard's End (her beloved country home) to Margaret Schlegel, Mr. Wilcox disregards her bequest. For me, the book had a slow start, and I might have given up on it if it had been longer (it was only 246 pages), but I ended up liking it by the end. I rate it 3 out of 5.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lord Peter Views the Body by Dorothy L. Sayers

I read this book for the following category in my Back to the Classics 2016 Reading Challenge:

12. A volume of classic short stories. This must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. It can be an anthology of stories by different authors, or all the stories can be by a single author. Children's stories are acceptable in this category also.

I am not a big fan of short stories; I much prefer novels. I had planned to read a different collection for this category (Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson).  I got almost 2/3 of the way through it, but I found I just didn't care enough about the characters in those stories to finish it. I probably would have stopped reading it earlier, but it was what I had with me when I was out of town, so I kept reading, hoping it would get better; it didn't.

I have read the first three Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L. Sayers and enjoyed them, so I figured there was a pretty good chance I would like the short stories too, and I did. It contained 12 stories, and I liked them all, although the last one, The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba, was my least favorite. The reason I prefer novels to short stories is there is so much more time to fully develop a story and the characters. But I am already familiar with the character of Lord Peter Wimsey from the novels I've read, and the stories, although short, were well developed enough to be enjoyable to me. I rate it 4 out of 5.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Imaginary Visit to a Tulip Festival

It's been a long time since I've gone on an Imaginary Trip or Visit with Laure Ferlita, but that's exactly what I'm doing now. This time it's an Imaginary Visit to a Tulip Festival, and we're in the Skagit Valley in Washington state. Here is my first sketch:

Imaginary Visit to a Tulip Festival

In case you don't know about Imaginary Trips, you can read more about them here.  Laure is the guide on quite a number of Imaginary Trips; she provides photos and video lessons on sketching with watercolor in your travel journal. She is a great teacher and good friend and I highly recommend her classes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Passing by Nella Larsen

I read this for the following category in my Back to the Classics 2016 Reading Challenge:

5.  A classic by a non-white author. Can be African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, etc.

The story follows two light-skinned African American women who knew each other as children but have lost touch with each other. Irene Redfield lives in Harlem, is married to a doctor, and has two sons. Clare Kendry, on the other hand, is married to a racist white man who is unaware of her racial heritage; in other words, she is passing as white. They meet again by chance and begin to see each other again. Clare has a desire to come back to the vibrant community she left behind, and Irene is frightened of the consequences of Clare's behavior. Both women are forced to confront their lies and secret fears.

I thought the book was very well written and I rate it 4 out of 5.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

I read this book for the following category in my 2016 Back to the Classics Reading Challenge:

6.  An adventure classic - can be fiction or non-fiction. Children's classics like Treasure Island are acceptable in this category.

This is the story of Jim Hawkins, a cabin boy on a voyage to find buried treasure. As I was reading it, it seemed cliche with things such as a treasure map where X marked the spot, a one-legged pirate (named Long John Silver) with a parrot on his shoulder, tropical islands, etc., until I realized that this was the first book with all of these elements; its influence on the popular perceptions of pirates was enormous. But the pirate/adventure genre isn't one I really enjoy; I rate it 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

I read this for my Back to the Classics 2016 Reading Challenge for the following category:

8.  A classic detective novel. It must include a detective, amateur or professional. This list of books from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is a great starting point if you're looking for ideas.

Nick Charles was a detective in New York until he married Nora, at which time he moved to California to manage the various businesses left to Nora by her father. They are back in New York on vacation when the secretary (Julia Wolf) of a former client of Nick's (Clyde Wynant) is murdered. Everyone assumes that Nick is working the case. He isn't too sure he wants the case, but Nora is fascinated with the idea. Nick and Nora spend most of their time drinking. I kind of liked the book, but not as much as the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers; I think the characters in Sayers's books are much more likable and engaging. I rate The Thin Man 3 out of 5.

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki

I read this book for my 2016 Back to the Classics Reading Challenge for the following category:

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language.
I was disappointed in this book. It got rave reviews, so I was expecting something great, but I just didn't see it that way. I thought it was a somewhat interesting story, but just barely interesting enough to keep me reading all 530 pages. I didn't like the writing style, and since it was a translation, I couldn't tell whether it was the author's style or the translation that I didn't like. In literature, you are supposed to "show, not tell," but I thought this was a perfect example of telling rather than showing. The book was about four sisters. The two older sisters (Tsuruko and Sachiko) were married; the two younger sisters (Yukiko and Taeko) were not. The youngest (Taeko) couldn't get married until her sister (Yukiko) got married. Much of the book was about trying to find a husband for Yukiko. It was interesting learning about the culture of Japan before the second world war, which was very traditional and appearance was everything.

Overall, I rated it two out of five.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

I read this book for the following category in my Back to the Classics 2016 reading challenge:

7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. Dystopian could include classics like 1984, and children's classics like The Hobbit are acceptable in this category also. 

The story is set far into the future, after a nuclear holocaust, in a monastery in the Utah desert. The monks preserve the written relics of their founder, an engineer, without understanding what they are. The story is told in three parts, and I liked the first part quite well, but I was disappointed in the second and third parts.  I rate it 2 out of 5.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers

This is the third Lord Peter Wimsey book in the series and the third one I've read (I like to read a series in order if possible). I've liked them all so far, including this one. The plot was good and the characters are always great, which is the main reason I read them, since I never really considered myself much of a mystery fan. The mystery in this book was whether an old woman died from natural causes or murder, and if it was murder, how. A delightful new character was introduced into the series: Miss Climpson, a genteel spinster who was hired by Lord Peter to investigate for him. I was uncomfortable reading the sections about one of the characters, who was black, because of the racism, so I kept reminding myself that Dorothy L. Sayers was a product of her time (1927). I read this book for the following category for Back to the Classics 2016 Reading Challenge:

3.  A classic by a woman author

I rate it 3 out of 5 (it would have been 4 out of 5 if it hadn't been for the racism).

Monday, March 07, 2016

Digital Scrapbook Layouts

I actually managed to complete several digital scrapbook layouts over the last month or so. I'm pretty far behind, so the pictures of New England are from the fall of 2013. Pictures of our grandson are from summer and Christmas, 2015.

Lighthouses in New England, Fall 

Journaling reads, "Portland Head Light, in Maine, is the only lighthouse we were able to tour, due to the Federal Government shut down that began the day we arrived in Providence, RI (10/1/13). The other two lighthouses pictured are in Massachussetts."

Driving Through New 

Journaling reads, "We drove through New Hampshire to Vermont on the Kancamagus Highway in the rain. The fall color was outstanding. We found a little cafe that served locally grown apples and apple cider for lunch."

Eli's Fishing 

Our 19 month old grandson came to visit in the summer of 2015 (with his parents, of course). We took him fishing, and he caught his first fish (with just a little help from his Grampa).

Christmas Tree Planting

Journaling reads, "Brian, Jessica and Eli arrived about 4:00 on 12/24/15, in time for Eli to help plant his Christmas tree, a Bosnian Pine."

opening presents

Journaling reads, "Eli had as much fun helping everyone else open presents as he did opening his own."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Even though Go Set a Watchman is set 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, it was actually written first. Since I loved Mockingbird when I read it originally many years ago, and still loved it when I read it again last month, I wanted to read Watchman. I was disappointed in it.

I've just learned from Wikipedia that Go Set a Watchman was actually more of a first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, which explains a lot. Many of the situations in Mockingbird were different in the retelling in Watchman. I believe that as Harper Lee rewrote her draft, turning it into To Kill a Mockingbird, she must have decided to make a number of changes, some small and others quite significant. Then when Watchman was published last year, no one went back to make it consistent with Mockingbird.

I read the book for the following category of the Back to the Classics 2016 Reading Challenge:

2.  A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1966. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later.

I rate it 2 out of 5.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee many years ago and loved it. When I heard about Go Set a Watchman, which is set 20 years later (even though it was written first), I wanted to read it, but I decided to re-read Mockingbird because I didn't remember much about it. Luckily for me, it fit perfectly into one of the categories for my Back to the Classics 2016 reading challenge:

11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college).  If it's a book you loved, does it stand the test of time?  If it's a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around?
To answer the question, yes, it definitely stands the test of time. It is very well written and is the story of young Scout Finch, her brother Jem, and their attorney father Atticus Finch, who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930's. The book was written in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. It was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1962. I rate it 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Back to the Classics Reading Challenge 2016

I'm delighted that Karen K. of the blog Books and Chocolate is hosting the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge again for 2016. I'm signing up for it. I have really enjoyed participating in the challenge for the past two years. Here are the details, copied from her blog post where she announced the new challenge:

The challenge will be exactly the same as last year, 12 classic books, but with slightly different categories. You do not have to read 12 books to participate in this challenge!

  • Complete six categories, and you get one entry in the drawing
  • Complete nine categories, and you get two entries in the drawing
  • Complete all twelve categories, and you get three entries in the drawing
And here are the categories for the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge:

1.  A 19th Century Classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1966. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later.

3.  A classic by a woman author

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language.

5.  A classic by a non-white author. Can be African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, etc.

6.  An adventure classic - can be fiction or non-fiction.

7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. Dystopian could include classics like 1984.

8.  A classic detective novel. It must include a detective, amateur or professional. This list of books from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is a great starting point if you're looking for ideas.

9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title.  It can be the name of a house, a town, a street, etc. Examples include Bleak House, Main Street, The Belly of Paris, or The Vicar of Wakefield.

10. A classic which has been banned or censored. If possible, please mention why this book was banned or censored in your review.

11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college).  If it's a book you loved, does it stand the test of time?  If it's a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around?

12. A volume of classic short stories. This must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. Children's stories are acceptable in this category only.

And now, the rest of the rules:

  • All books must be read in 2016. Books started before January 1, 2016 do not qualify. All reviews must be linked to this challenge by December 31, 2016. I'll post links each category the first week of January which will be featured on a sidebar on this blog for the entire year. 
  • You must also post a wrap-up review and link it to the challenge no later than December 31, 2016. Please include links within your final wrap-up to that I can easily confirm all your categories. 
  • All books must have been written at least 50 years ago; therefore, books must have been written by1966 to qualify for this challenge. The ONLY exceptions are books published posthumously.
  • E-books and audiobooks are eligible! You may also count books that you read for other challenges.
  • Books may NOT crossover within this challenge. You must read a different book for EACH category, or it doesn't count.
  • If you do not have a blog, you may link to reviews on Goodreads or any other publicly accessible online format. 
  • The deadline to sign up for the challenge is March 1, 2016. After that I will close the link and you'll have to wait until the next year! Please include a link to your original sign-up post, not your blog URL. 
  • You do NOT have to list all the books you're going to read for the challenge in your sign-up post, but it's more fun if you do! Of course, you can change your list any time. Books may also be read in any order. 
  • The winner will be announced on this blog the first week of January, 2017. All qualifying participants will receive one or more entries, depending on the number of categories completed. One winner will be selected at random for all qualifying entries. The winner will receive a gift certificate in the amount of $30 (US currency) from either OR The Book Depository, and the winner MUST live in a country that will receive shipments from one or the other. For a list of countries that receive shipments from The Book Depository, click here.

I haven't settled on my books yet, since I just found out what the categories are. But I'm pretty sure I'll be re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Wrap Up - Back to the Classics Reading Challenge 2015

I completed my challenge; I read 12 classics from a variety of categories:

2.  A 20th Century Classic - My Antonia by Willa Cather - finished 1/27/2015

3.  A Classic by a Woman Author - Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers - finished 2/28/2015

4.  A Classic in Translation - The Trial by Franz Kafka - finished 9/30/2015

5.  A Very Long Classic Novel - Middlemarch by George Eliot - finished 9/4/2015

7.  A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title - My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart - finished 2/7/2015

11.  A Classic Children's Book - My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara- finished 3/27/15
12.  A Classic Play - The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde - finished 10/12/15
My favorite book from this list was The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, which I rated 5 out of 5. This surprised me, since I don't usually read mysteries. But a couple more of my favorites this year were also mysteries: Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers and The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White. I rated those two 4 out of 5, along with The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, The Trial by Franz Kafka, Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson, My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara, and My Antonia by Willa Cather. The remaining 4 books on the list I rated 3 out of 5: Middlemarch by George Eliot, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart, and Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I really enjoyed participating in the challenge again this year and hope that Karen K. of Books and Chocolate will host it again in 2016.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

This is my 12th book for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2015, and I read it for the Classic Play category. It is the story of two young men (John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff) who both call themselves Ernest, and two young women (Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew) who will only marry a man named Ernest. Throw in mistaken identity, lies, manners, and witty language, and this is quite funny. It's a very quick read and I rate it 4 out of 5. It is also my final book for the challenge.

Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

This was my non-fiction selection for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2015. I found it very interesting, since it was originally published in 1955 (the year I was born). Much of what she had to say was a big part of the Women's Movement of the 1970's and beyond. I am sure that it would be enlightening to many women, especially young mothers who have little or no time for themselves, but I am well beyond that stage in my life. I am quite fortunate to have time alone when I need it, and to be able to travel and take workshops and classes almost whenever I want to. So the book had very little relevance for me, but I still enjoyed reading it. I rate it 3 out of 5.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Trial by Franz Kafka

What a chilling story! This was my classic in translation for the Back to the Classics 2015 reading challenge (my 10th book out of 12!). It is the story of Josef K., a respected bank officer who is arrested and has to defend himself without knowing what the charges against him are. I'd certainly heard of this story and had a general idea of what it was about. I'd always assumed that Josef K. was put in prison after his arrest, but that is not the case; his arrest consists of being questioned and having to appear in various court proceedings. But this particular court system is separate from the usual court system; most citizens have never heard of it. This leaves Josef K. uncertain how to defend himself and what is required of him. Just imagine trying to defend yourself when you don't know what the charges are!

It was originally published in German in 1925, a year after Kafka's death. In fact, Kafka had left behind a letter to his friend Max Brod with this last request: "Everything I leave behind me . . . in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread." Max Brod believed that Kafka asked him to do this because he had told Kafka that he would not honor his wishes; instead he worked very hard to get all of Kafka's works published. I rate it 4 out of 5.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Digital Scrapbook Layouts

I haven't done any scrapbooking in a long time, but I actually managed to complete two layouts last month while we were vacationing in Colorado. The first layout is from our trip to New England in October, 2013:
The Artist's Bridge
Journaling reads: 

"This bridge, built in 1872, is named the Artist's Bridge because of its reputation as being the most photographed and painted of the venerable covered bridges in Maine.

"The bridge, an 87 foot Paddleford truss, was closed to traffic in 1958 when a new bridge was built downstream. It is located about four miles northwest of North Bethel. 

"We stopped to see the bridge and I sketched it from the car, since the temperature was in the 50's. We were glad we took the short detour." 


And the second layout is from our trip to Estes Park, Colorado, in July, 2014:Estes Park 
Journaling reads: 

"Mom wanted her ashes taken to Bear Lake, the same location she placed Daddy’s ashes years earlier. We met Charlie and Pat in Estes Park in order to carry out her wishes. The top right photo is Bear Lake; the other photos were taken later the same day during our drive."


Pixel Scrapper Digital Scrapbooking

I recently joined Pixel Scrapper Digital Scrapbooking, where you can get free downloads every day. I haven't done much scrapbooking lately and I'm trying to get back into it, so I thought this might help. There are some really nice scrapbook kits and elements there, and I've already downloaded some cool stuff. I'll post some layouts as soon as I get some done (I'm WAY behind - I have tons of photos to scrap!).

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Middlemarch by George Eliot

I read Middlemarch for the Very Long Classic Novel category for my Back to the Classics Challenge this year, and it certainly was that (762 pages of story plus introduction, afterword, notes, and bibliography). I enjoyed it; I wouldn't call it one of my favorites, but it was still good. It was pretty much of a character study, and I found myself caring about what happened to the characters. I wouldn't have minded if it had been a bit shorter, but I never really got bored with it. It did take reading a hundred pages or more before I knew that I was going to like it though. I rated it 3 out of 5.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Documented Life Project - Week 13

Here is the second page I forgot to post awhile back:

Documented Life Project - Week 13

March Theme
Making Your Mark (Doodles & Mark Making)
March 28
Art Challenge:  Make a Custom Element
Journal Prompt:  "Ride the energy of your own unique spirit." - Gabrielle Roth

Documented Life Project - Week 12

I'm not really working on this project much anymore, but I did finish a couple of pages awhile back and forgot to post them, so here is the first one.

Documented Life Project - Week 12

March Theme
Making Your Mark (Doodles & Mark Making)
March 21
Art Challenge:  As a Focal Point
Journal Prompt:  Coming into Focus

I added a little something to the second one, so I'll post it as soon as it's dry.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bloomin' Doodles

I've discovered alcohol markers (Copics, KaiserFusion, etc.): my newest obsession! Bloomin' Doodles online class with Joanne Sharpe.




in bloomin' color



Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

This is the very depressing story of a poor farmer (Ethan Frome) who just barely survives with his suspicious, hypochondriac wife (Zeena). When Zeena's cousin (Mattie Silver) comes to help out around the house, Ethan falls in love with her. The story was a bit overly melodramatic, but fairly good and a quick read. I read it for my Classic Novella for my Back to the Classics 2015 challenge. I rate it 3 out of 5.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Joanne Sharpe's Online Class Bloomin' Doodles

I enjoyed Joanne Sharpe's in person classes so much a couple of weeks ago (you can read more about the classes I took from her here) that I signed up for her online class, Bloomin' Doodles. I'm having a lot of fun with it, but between this class, another of Joanne's classes called Artfully Inspired Life 2015, and Laure Ferlita's Imaginary Trip to New Zealand, my Documented Life Project challenge seems to have gone by the wayside. I may get back to it eventually, but then again, I may not. I'm not going to stress about it either way.

Joanne is teaching us how to turn flowers into fun, funky doodles. Here is one of my pages as an example. This is before the addition of color; it's even better once the color is added.

Lesson 3 Page 1 

Joanne recommends using an inexpensive composition book to paste inspiration photos into. I'm not too fond of composition books, so I made a book instead. I used inexpensive mixed media paper for the pages and scraps of mat board and chipboard that I had on hand for the covers. I bound it with my Bind-It-All and decorated the front cover with gelli printed papers. Here is the cover of my book.

Bloomin' Book Cover

Thursday, June 25, 2015

In Person Classes with Joanne Sharpe

Joanne Sharpe came to My Heart's Fancy in Edmond, Oklahoma, recently and taught 3 classes. I was able to take all 3 classes, and what fun that was! She taught Artful Alphabet Soup; Sketch, Paint, and Doodle Stitch; and Pockets Full of Posies. I enjoyed all 3 classes and really expected to like the second one best, since we were painting on fabric. I did like that class a lot, but I actually liked the Pockets Full of Posies the best. We made little flower paintings and then cut them up to fit into 4"X4" or 2"X2" vinyl pocket pages (the kind used by scrapbookers for photos, journaling, and/or decorations). Here are 6 pages that I did in class (they are all 4"X4" in size).

Pockets Full of Posies

I enjoyed it so much that I cut up more pages from paintings I had done previously, mostly in other classes. And I bought more vinyl pages with more sizes to do more in the future.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Wheel Spins (The Lady Vanishes) by Ethel Lina White

This book was recommended to me by a good friend. It was made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1938; the book's original title was The Wheel Spins, while the movie title is The Lady Vanishes. I enjoyed the book and plan to see the movie soon; it is available to stream on Netflix. It is the story of Iris Carr, who befriends Miss Froy during a train trip. When Iris awakens after a nap, Miss Froy has disappeared, and no one else on the train admits to ever having seen her. This is my Forgotten Classic for the Back to the Classics reading challenge. I rate it 4 out of 5.

Documented Life Project - Weeks 10 & 11

Documented Life Project - Week 10

March Theme
Making Your Mark (Doodles & Mark Making)
March 7
Art Challenge:  As A Layer Element
Journal Prompt:  Surviving the Elements

I was actually able to finish TWO page spreads yesterday, because I had forgotten that I had worked on a background several weeks ago that was almost done. All I had to do to complete it was to add a few more marks and figure out a focal point. An advertisement in a magazine provided what I was looking for.

Documented Life Project - Week 11

March Theme
Making Your Mark (Doodles & Mark Making)
March 14
Art Challenge:  Borders
Journal Prompt:  "Borderline feels like I'm going to lose my mind."

One of the nice things about an acrylic paint background is that if you don't like it you can always cover it up. This page started with dark red and blue paints that were applied with an old credit card; it was very dark and quite ugly. I decided to cover it with gesso, which ended up covering more than I intended. I applied the yellows and pinks with a brush and a brayer. I added marks, the images from a catalog, the writing and the borders and am quite satisfied with the result. The borders are from a couple of sheets that I gelli printed, tore down to size and sewed together on my sewing machine.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Update on Challenges

I am participating in two challenges this year:  the Back to the Classics reading challenge, and the Documented Life Project (an art journaling challenge).

I'm doing well with my reading challenge; today, I finished my 7th of 12 books. I'm feeling really good about this challenge, both because I'm on schedule and because I'm reading books I'm enjoying.

The Documented Life Project, however, not so much. I completed 8 out of the first 9 challenges, but since we're up to challenge number 22 this week, you can see that I'm really far behind.

This is what I wrote on my blog when I decided to participate in the challenge:  "I probably won't be able to participate every week because I'll be doing some traveling this year.  I imagine that other things will probably get in the way as well, but I plan to do what I can."

I really thought I would be further along than this by now. Oh well, I'm not giving up; I'm going to try to work on a page spread today.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Art Walk Greece 2015 - Part 3

Monday, May 4, started early again. Our ferry to Naxos left Amorgos at 6:00 am, and we had to have our luggage outside our door by 4:30 am; it was about a 45 minute drive to the port and our hotel had a light snack for us before we left. Carlo arranged for us to be picked up in Naxos by the Naxos Resort Beach Hotel. They served us breakfast and kept track of our luggage for us so that we could relax and/or explore the town.

4 Hours in Naxos

Then back to the port in the early afternoon for our second ferry of the day to Mykonos. This time it was a "Master Jet," which was much faster than our earlier ferries. After we'd had time to settle in, Carlo took anyone who was interested on a walking tour of the area.

Tuesday morning, May 5, several of us took a bus to Platis Gialos Beach with Carlo and then walked to Paranga Beach. In the afternoon we had our sketching class on the veranda of our hotel, overlooking the windmills of Mykonos.

Windmills in Mykonos

Most of us took a boat to Delos on Wednesday, May 6, where we had an English-speaking guide. Delos is one of the most important mythological, historical and archeological cites in Greece. The excavations in the island are among the most extensive in the Mediterranean. In ancient times, Delos was believed to be the birthplace of the god Apollo and his twin sister, the goddess Artemis, making the island sacred. After the tour, we had some time to visit the Archaeological Museum of Delos.


Our last full day in Greece, Thursday, May 7, we visited the Mykonos Folklore Museum (according to Wikipedia: "the oldest house on the island houses a collection of 19th-century furniture, jewellery, ceramics, embroideries, marble sculptures, tombstones and a variety of other trinkets. The museum also pays tribute to Mykonos' traditional nautical roots with models of 19th-century Mykonian ships, maps and an anchor and canons used during the Greek War of Independence.") and Panagia Paraportiani (the Church of Our Lady) (again, according to Wikipedia: "The building of this church started in 1425 and was not completed until the 17th century. This impressive, whitewashed church actually consists of five separate churches attached all together: the four churches (dedicated to Saint Eustathios, Saint Sozon, Saint Anargyroi and Saint Anastasia) are all on the ground and constitute the base of the fifth church that has been built on top of them."). I sat in the hot sun to get the view of the church I wanted for my sketch (I usually try to avoid the sun, but sometimes one must sacrifice oneself for one's art).

Church in Mykonos

Here is my map of all of the places I visited (except for Delos, which I didn't know I was going to visit when I made the map).


Early Friday morning, May 8, I flew from Mykonos to Athens to Philadelphia to Dallas/Fort Worth to Tulsa. I was supposed to fly from Philadelphia to Chicago to Oklahoma City, but my flight to Chicago was delayed and I was very likely going to miss my connection to Oklahoma City, so I was re-routed. Luckily, my husband was picking me up, and I was able to call him before he left for the airport (since it's about an hour and a half drive from either airport to our home). There were still delays, so I arrived home at about 3:00 Saturday morning. My luggage, however, didn't arrive until Monday, May 11. I've been lucky in my travels; this is the first time my luggage has been delayed. I was VERY glad to get it back!!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Art Walk Greece 2015 - Part 2

Even though I upgraded to a cabin, I wasn't able to sleep much on the ferry ride to Amorgos. We arrived at the Aegialis Hotel & Spa around 4:30 am on Wednesday, April 29, and fortunately I was able to get some sleep in my room. The hotel was nice enough to keep their breakfast up for us until 11:30 (it's usually put away by 10:30). We had a tour of the spa after breakfast, and many of us (including me) booked spa appointments for later in the week. We went into the nearby town of Aegialis for some shopping (where I bought a Pashmina shawl and some postcards) and lunch. Jane picked some poppies on our way back to the hotel for our painting class in the afternoon. None of us realized how delicate the poppies would be once they were picked. Even though we put them in water, they didn't last very long at all.


I also took pictures of designs that were painted into the concrete in the town and included some of those on my page.

On Thursday, April 30, we went to the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa, which is situated on the side of a cliff northeast of Chora. It was built early in the second millennium to protect a religious icon, dating from the year 812, from intruders. I counted 275 steps coming down from outside the monastery, and that didn't include the steps inside! We had planned on painting on location, but it was hot with little shade, and everyone was tired after climbing all those steps, so we changed our plans and had our lesson at the hotel after we returned. The lesson was on sketching a landscape, which was the view from the terrace of our hotel.

View from Hotel Terrace

I had my spa treatment after the lesson, so I had to finish my sketch a couple of days later. It's the first time I've ever had a spa treatment, and I loved it. I had what they called the Detox Deluxe, which included the Hydro Therapy Spa Jet (which several people nicknamed the car wash), facial, scalp massage, full body exfoliation, and full body massage. It was quite wonderful.

On Friday, May 1, we toured an Herb Distillery in Lagada. The man who ran the distillery was very knowledgeable about all the local herbs and he seemed to be a very kind and gentle soul. We ate lunch in Lagada and had a lesson on quick sketching a long narrow landscape. The idea was to set your rectangle first, then sketch only as much as would fit into the space. I didn't have time to sketch from the restaurant, so I sketched the view from my balcony later in the afternoon instead. I added the design and journaling at the bottom later. I also had a pedicure in the afternoon, which was very nice as well.

View from My Balcony

Saturday, May 2 found us in Katapola, the harbor town in which our ferry arrived (and from which it would depart on Monday May 4). We had lunch near the harbor and then painted a church on location.

Church in Katapola

Everyone approached the sketching differently, and it was fascinating to see all the differences. Some sketched the whole church, some did parts, some included trees and/or other shrubbery, some used watercolor, one used pencil only, but all were wonderful.

On Sunday, May 3, some of us went back to Aegialis for more shopping (I bought a hat). The town is close enough to the hotel to walk, but the walk back to the hotel is all uphill. In the afternoon, we made our portfolios to hold all of our pages (most of us were working on a watercolor block, so after we finished a page and removed it from the block, it was loose). I haven't finished decorating mine, so I haven't taken a photo of it yet.

Monday, May 4 we headed to Mykonos. More in my next post.