Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Catching Up Before I'm off Again

It's been pretty quiet around the Everyday Artist blog lately, hasn't it? With three trips to Europe in three months, I've been a tad busy. I'm leaving on trip #3 tomorrow (3 1/2 weeks of teaching in Florence, Tuscany, Athens and the Greek Isles), but I've missed talking with you all and thought it would be fun to show you a little bit of what I've been up to in August and September.

European trip #1 was to Provence in June, and I'm still working on finishing up my sketchbook from our incredible week there with French Escapade. I'll be posting more sketches as I finish them, but here's a preview of one that I completed last month...

Late July and early August were taken up with our family beach vacation (see Family Fun in the Sun), then I hosted a two-day "Sketch It Now" workshop here at my home.

We had a great time playing in our sketchbooks all weekend, and the ladies created some really nice sketches, like this one...

Our sweet pup, Buckley, always enjoys my workshop events, especially when I bring down the afternoon snacks to help keep everyone's energy up...

Then it was time to pack for my trip to Sweden. My friend Riley, an American who lives in Sweden, had invited me to come over and scout out locations for a possible future workshop, so my mother, my friend Jan, and I decided to take her up on her offer. We flew to Copenhagen and spent two days sightseeing there, then moved on to the Skåne region of Sweden. We had a wonderful week filled with beautiful scenery, great food, sparkling water, amazing flowers, and lots of walking through historic towns and churches. When I got home I decided to try my hand at learning how to use the iMovie app on my new iPad, and I managed to make a movie of our trip to share with you. Here are some of the highlights of our trip....

I took a small accordion-fold travel journal along,

and penciled in a daily diary every day. I did several sketches on location, but most of it remains unfinished.

I'll have fun working on it after workshop season is over.

I hardly had a chance to catch my breath after our Sweden adventure before it was time for the August Summerhill Sketching workshop. This time my lesson was "41 Ways to Sketch a Garden". The students were presented with forty-one different sketchbook page design ideas to choose from for their plein air sketches that day. It was a lot of fun, and we all enjoyed seeing the variety of paintings that were produced.

Sketches from the August Summerhill Sketching workshop

I tried to spend as much time as I could with my grandchildren during the times I was home this summer. They love coming to grandma and grandpa's house where we take long walks...

swing on the hammock...

and fly high on our new super swing!

We have picnics and play games in a shady spot on the lawn.

That's Chloe, my grand-dog. She's related to Buckley and they almost look like twins!

And last week there was even a brand-new first-time two-wheeler for a certain birthday girl...

But life can't be all fun and games. I've had a lot of preparation to do over the summer for my upcoming trip. I bought a guidebook for Athens...

and printed out the handouts for my Tuscany workshop.

I'll be returning to Fattoria Bacio again this year and have a full class of eager students ready to sketch their little hearts out.

Then I got to work on finalizing everything for my Greece workshop.

I wanted to do a few extra lessons about how to paint the subjects we would be encountering there: blue church domes, sparkling water, bright white buildings, and rocky cliffs.

I'm really excited to share them with my students - I hope they're a help to them when we're out sketching in the gorgeous Greek Isles.

I've been a busy little bee on the home front, too. My daughter's birthday was last weekend, and I baked her, as requested, this AMAZING Chocolate Oreo Cream Cake. We all ate WAY too much of it!

I also made lemon curd and orange marmalade last month to replenish my stock in the freezer. They're my favorite toppings for toast in the morning.

We've been harvesting produce from the garden, mostly tomatoes, eggplant, basil, and pumpkins. The zinnias at the front of the garden are cleverly placed to disguise the weedy mess behind them, so the view from the house looks nice. :)

The sunflowers are blooming, a sure sign that summer is waning.

I've managed to keep up with the weeding around the house much better than I have the garden, so things still look presentable. The hydrangeas are still going strong. We're seeing new blue and lavender blossoms mixed in with older reddish ones on the bushes on the north side of the house.

The new hardy white hydrangeas that we planted on the south side of the house did well this year, and now they're all changing to shades of pink and burgundy.

The autumn sedum is a beautiful alizarin crimson color.

The marigolds have gone crazy this summer and are still covered with blooms.

The lavender that I cut back after it bloomed in July has sent out a second crop of new shoots.

Seventeen years ago, when we built this house, I dreamed of it looking like this someday, with cottage gardens overflowing with colorful perennials. I think my dream has come true! 

I've been so engrossed in my activities here at home the past few weeks that Fred wisely thought I needed a break, and he whisked me away for an afternoon of kayaking on Big Sandy Creek in Bruceton Mills, WV, last weekend.

I think the peace and quiet did me a lot of good. As we paddled along, I wasn't worrying about packing for my trip, or getting my lessons done, or weeding the garden, or any of the other hundreds of things that require my attention at home. I was completely absorbed in looking at the mirror-like reflections of trees and sky in the water. Sharing those slow, quiet hours with my husband was good for my soul.

When I return from Europe, it will be the middle of October and autumn will be well underway, so I've been savoring these last few weeks of summer. Time with family, kayaking, cooking, walking Buckley, sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee in the morning - I chose to do these things when I could have been writing a blog post. I hope you agree that I made the better choice.

I'll be posting updates on Facebook during my trip, so if you're not already a follower, please send me a friend request so you can share in the fun of my sketching adventures in Tuscany and Greece. And I promise I'll have lots of sketches to share with you this fall when I get home.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Family Fun in the Sun!

Ahhhh, the beach! It's one place where I can truly veg out and relax. I park myself in the shade with a good book and the hours pass without even noticing. Granted, when you add four grandchildren to the mix, there's less uninterrupted quiet time, but that's okay, too. They love the beach as much as I do, and it's been so much fun sharing it with them.

9" x 12" ink & watercolor in an Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook

Our beach vacations from year to year have a lot in common, and I decided to do a sketch this year showing all the family fun we have each year when we're together at the beach.

It's usually someone's birthday during the week - this year it was mine and Fred's, so we celebrated with a chocolate birthday cake with caramel frosting - yummmmmm! And we always make steamed shrimp with Old Bay seasoning for dinner one night, so I included some of those delicious little delicacies in my sketch. And we try to fit in as many visits as we can to The Fuzzy Peach for frozen yogurt sundaes.

Fred and I bought each other kayaks for our birthdays this year, and we had lots of fun paddling on the intracoastal waterway at Oak Island. Our grandkids are still small enough that they can fit in front of us in the kayak, and they loved paddling into the secret passageways among the reeds and grasses around Sheep Island. In the evening, there were so many fish and shrimp jumping out of the water that a few of them actually landed in the boat! No wonder there were so many herons wading the shallow waters.

I was feeling particularly happy and silly one day and had the brilliant idea that all the girls should wear their hair in pigtails that morning. The little girls got such a kick out of mommy and grandma having hairstyles that matched theirs.

Out on the beach, there was the usual boogie boarding in the waves, and burying kids in the sand...

And every year, the guys muster enough energy at least once during the week to build a really impressive sand castle. This year, the kids were big enough to give them lots of help, and they constructed a massive one, complete with a moat...

The games of choice during the week were card games like War, Rummy, Old Maid, and Go Fish, plus we had a few heated rounds of Rummikub.

Afternoons were spent on the shady deck, reading a book, sorting beach treasures, or painting.

And some of my favorite times were when we sat outside on the deck in the evenings, watching the sun go down and just talking with the kids, asking them questions, watching them dancing around in their pajamas, telling stories, being silly, and just being together.

9" x 12" ink & watercolor in an Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook. Drawn with a purple 005 Pigma Micron pen.

I hope I'll be doing this every summer for years to come.
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