Thursday, February 16, 2017

Don't Count Your Chickens...

...before they're hatched. I thought I'd do a more precise piece of art this time. I guess I'm feeling a bit out of control as of late. Although I'm exercising, both cardio and weights and eating between 800 and 1000 calories, I'm not losing weight very quickly. This is my only way of controlling how I deal with the cancer and losing so slowly is seriously messing with my brain. I'm guessing that's why I want to micro-control my artwork today. 

In the end, I don't think the egg carton looks controlled, it looks, happily, like my style. YAY, I have a style! But the roundness of the eggs and the blocky, textured construction of the carton was going to take some serious finesse, I knew that going in.
Title: "Don't Count Your Chickens"
(Cllick to Enlarge)
I have to say, I'm absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. I ended up using buff titanium mixed with neutral tint and it gave the best kind of oatmeal-ish color. I'm just so happy that I'm tackling projects that I've put off. I really didn't think I could accomplish these pieces, I didn't think my skill had gotten to the level needed to capture egg cartons, tulips or daffodils. Who knew taking six  months off painting could improve my skill set??

On a fun note though I'll post a GREAT chicken recipe below. I've just started (at the beginning of this year) using an Instant Pot but I'm totally addicted to the appliance already, lol. This recipe is SO easy and tastes fantastic. It makes about two cups of totally delicious sauce that works out to only have 5 calories per tablespoon! Anyway, I thought a chicken recipe would be appropriate to go with the eggs... I wonder which came first? ;o)

Jenn’s Barbecue Sauce Chicken

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup ketchup (250ml) (we make our own tomato jam, low sugar)
6 pieces sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & minced (or half a small jar)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 c Splenda
1/2 c minced onion (or a 1/4 c onion flakes)
1 Tbsp minced garlic (generous)
3/4 c bone broth (you can use any broth or even water if necessary)
2 tsp smoked sweet Paprika
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp pure cranberry juice (eliminate if unavailable)
2 tsp white wine
4-5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (Kirkland)

For After Sauce & Chicken is Cooked:
1 Tbsp our mustard (use a grainy mustard)
1 Tbsp dijon (heaping)
2 Tbsp cornstarch + 1/4 c water (scant) to make slurry

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Put instant pot on sauté and cook the onion, add a little broth if it’s sticking to bottom.
  2. Mix all other ingred. except chicken in bowl and pour into instant pot after turning off sauté function. Stir until incorporated.
  3. Add chicken and immerse it all in sauce.
  4. Set instant pot on manual for 7 minutes.
  5. Let cook then wait 10 min and do an quick release.
  6. Remove chicken, turn on sauté, add cornstarch slurry. Whisk until thickened.
  7. Add the other ingred. after sauce has thickened, whisk until incorporated.
  8. Let cool. Sauce has 5 calories per Tbsp. (calories may be slightly higher if using normal ketchup)
I'll be linking to Paint Party Friday, there are some seriously good artists over there!
Best,

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ooh, Paint Porn!!

I know, don't all we artist love, just LOVE seeing the palette of other painters. I absolutely love it when my fellow artists swatch their new paint or show their new tools. I don't have new tools (I'm still coveting the Whiskey Painter's Master Palette and have for AGES but that's nothing new). I do however have new paint, some from Winsor & Newton and some from Daniel Smith. I can't help myself, I'm more addicted to color than I am hazelnut coffee, which is saying something!

About a year ago I saw Winsor & Newton's Twilight Series swatches and fell in love with the colors! Normally I tend to like Daniel Smith and Schmencke but sometimes W&N can have some spectacular colors. Their Limited Edition Twilight Series has six beautiful colors that are inspired by that special evening sky. I purchased mine from Jackson's Art Supply but Dick Blick is still carrying all the  5ml tube colors.

I purchased the Sanguine Red, Quin Violet and Aqua Green. I've been looking for that color red forever and the Quin Violet & aqua green are quite unique. Dick Blick has all of the Twilight colors in stock, here are the links for those of you who want them. (Sanguine Red, Smalt Blue, Quin Violet, Chromium Black, Cobalt Green Deep, Aqua Green). Here are a few pics to show the colors better.
(Click to Enlarge)(Click to Enlarge)
The other color I've actually re-added into my palette is Opera Pink by Daniel Smith. I originally had Opera from Holbein when I first started painting years ago. I then took it out when I found out it was really fugitive, not stable in light. I found out recently from a good friend who's a fantastic painter that if you put a lightfast color over any fugitive color then it's much more stable. She says she's never seen any fading when using this technique so YAY I get my favorite color of all time back!!! HELLO OPERA PINK!
Title: "Six Minus One" (click to enlarge)
I decided to do a painting using all of the four new colors so I could get used to them. The Aqua green is used as the base for half of the greens and the darkest green, obviously it's a great mixing color. Actually, all four colors work beautifully as mixing colors but I was extra surprised to find that Opera also seems to brighten any orange-pink-red-maroon that you add it to. I found that my dark pinks were getting a little muddy so I slapped a glaze of opera over those sections to brighten them. Opera works just like pure yellow works over any green-blue-red that you glaze with it. That's a little trick my friend and guru Tracey taught me in her Delicious Paint class. Seriously great class by the way.

Another thing I did this week is add a new section to my sidebar. I'm collecting my favorite blogs to visit. I already keep a small place in the sidebar with links where I join challenges. This new section will be friend's and fellow artist's blogs that inspire me to do art and be a more prolific and better artist. I sure hope you go and look at these blogs as I know they will inspire you also and give you a smile when you most need one. So far I have Tracey Fletcher King, Sandra Busby and Nicola McLean (no relation, I don't think, lol).

And finally, here's a quote that I read on Brenda Swenson's Blog. It resonated with me just as much as it resonated with her so I thought I'd share it.
"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed--you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men, and, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a man. You may run me for a profit or run me for ruin--it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am a habit!                                                                                              - John Di Lemme
Have a great day everyone, talk later, Eh? I'll be back with a new painting soon! 
Best,

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Daffodils For Good People

You know, I'm darn lucky. I haven't had Grandparents for a long time. My grandfather on my mom's side died when I was five. Although I was an adult when my grandmother died, she had Alzheimer's disease for many years before her death in 2003. I was never close to my father's parents as they were distant both emotionally and physically.

I feel lucky though to have met our next door neighbors, Cathy & Steven. They seem to have taken me under their wing and I have to admit, I have so missed feeling that kind of love from grandparent-like figures. It really does feel like I've inherited a spectacular set of loving grandparents and I can't even express what that caring means to me. They always ask after my health (they know I have cancer, they were one of the first people I told). They also leave us tiny little treasures on our doorstep. Like when they go to the local veggie market and bring us back some baby greens packaged up with a bow. Oh how those salads taste the best!
"Daffodils In Jug" for Cathy & Steven
After I told them about my diagnosis Cathy showed up with this Jug filled with just-starting-to-open daffodils and I had to let them see just how beautiful they looked after they fully bloomed. There is nothing more comforting than feeling the love from people older and wiser than you, especially when I'd normally be nothing to them. They love me anyway. I love them back in huge buckets full. They fill my heart with appreciation for all their caring. Who could ask for anything more?

Best,

Thursday, February 2, 2017

And Finally... I'm BACK!!!

My gosh, I can't believe it's been six months since I put art up on my blog. I'll be honest, this is the first time I've picked up a paint brush in all that time. I wanted to but I've been... well, busy doesn't even cover it. I just couldn't paint so instead I read many, many, MANY books. Let me show you my first painting of 2017 then I'll tell you why I've been away for such a long time.

(Rainbow Radishes Tied With A Bow)
As 2017 got started I had to do some serious thinking about whether I was finally gonna come clean and explain what's been going on. I couldn't make a decision because the subject matter is so personal. What I decided to do is take a page out of one of my most beloved friend's playbook and tell the truth. Several years ago Tracey Fletcher King told the blogosphere what was happening in her life and I think it helped her get through it all just because she then didn't have to use subterfuge to explain her bloggy behavior. I think sharing her situation helped her in more ways that can be expressed. So, here we go.

I found out two weeks ago that I have endometrial cancer. In the last several years I've had some serious bleeding issues but since uterine cancer usually happens to women older than me, no one was that worried so I was put on a drug to stop the bleeding until I could lose weight enough to make surgery safe.

I've had weight issues all my life and never could figure out why I couldn't lose weight. Five years ago I found out I have celiac disease and once I switched to gluten free everything I lost a huge amount of weight. But since I had been undiagnosed for 40 years, I was still terribly sick (I also had more weight to lose for surgery to be truly safe). So surgery at that point would have been dangerous. The oral medication to stop the bleeding was a stop-gap so I could improve my health and lose a little more weight. Unfortunately, losing weight on this medication was IMPOSSIBLE. In fact, I gained almost every pound I had lost all while eating about a thousand calories a day.

Six months ago I decided I had to try getting off the oral meds so I could lose weight. My Gynecologist was against it as it was a possibility that the bleeding was in fact cancer and if it was, then the medication was acting like a chemotherapy device, keeping the cancer dormant. My argument was that no matter what, I needed to lose weight, whether it was cancer or not because they can't operate without me being thinner. Since I can't lose weight on the oral medication I thought the risk was worth it I mean, I was only forty-five, my chances of cancer were low. So I stopped taking the meds and lost half of what I'd gained in the last few years.. again, lol.

But then the hemorrhaging started and it shouldn't have started so quickly after stopping the oral meds. The biopsy came back a couple weeks ago as stage one endometrial cancer. I feel very lucky that they think it's stage one except the only real treatment is surgery. They did put in a chemotherapy device when they biopsied and that should help slow the growth and prevent excess bleeding. What I have to do now is lose weight. 

So that's where I am now. I didn't want to feel alone and I knew that I had friends out there that used to like my art so I thought I'd tell the truth and feel just a little less lonely. I promise to keep you all posted, I mean, if anyone out there is hopefully still reading this, lol. I intend to do what Tracey did, paint my way through this thing to help keep my sanity. She tells me it really helps and I sure do feel better putting brush and paint to paper.

I'll be painting regularly so if you're reading this you can be sure I'll be back, no hiding anymore. I've bought some new paints that I thought I'd swatch and I know all artists love peeking in on another artist's palette, hey, paint porn! LOL. I'm so glad to be back painting, I really missed it and I missed sharing my work. Talk soon, K?

Best,

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