Friday, September 28, 2012

Bloomington Red Cross Book Sale!

My mother-in-law, daughter, and I ventured to the annual American Red Cross Book Sale.  I'd never been before, but had always wanted to go.  You have my attention when you say the word "book."  I spent twenty bucks (more than I'd intended to), but I got quite a few books that I'm excited to read.

  1. Julie & Julia - Julie Powell
  2. Pigs in Heaven - Barbara Kingsolver
  3. The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver
  4. The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow
  5. Field of Thirteen - Dick Francis
  6. We Are Still Married - Garrison Keillor
  7. Happy To Be Here - Garrison Keillor x2 (oops).
  8. WLT (A Radio Romance) - Garrison Keillor
  9. Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen
  10. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
  11. The Road to Wellville - T. Coraghessan Boyle
And of course, I get home and realize that I bought two of the same book.  To be fair, they had different covers and I'd found them at the beginning and end of my book buying frenzy.  It shouldn't be a surprise.  Garrison is a bit of a weakness of mine.  He's rather brilliant in his creativity and improvisation.  So, perhaps I can start someone else on his writings by giving one of them away.  It was for a good cause at any rate.

So, now I have a good reading list to go into winter with.  I'm one happy girl!!  If you live in Indiana, you really should venture to Bloomington and check it out, it's pretty swell.

Monday, September 24, 2012

PaintingWell: An Etsy Shop With A Wonderful Cause.

"Copper Mine", 5x5 Inch, Oil on Art Board (my personal favorite).

I enjoy exploring Etsy for new shops and artists and artworks to ogle over.  Sometimes though, I find more than just a neat shop or piece of art.  Instead, I find a wonderful story to go along with the delightful items inside.  Thus is the case when I came across the shop PaintingWell.  The artist behind it is a cancer survivor (hence the name of the shop "painting" + "well"), and she's devoted her time, art supplies, and profits to go toward cancer research.  So far she's raised nearly $30,000!  I found this profoundly inspiring, and asked her a few questions to learn more.

"Forbidding", 5x5 Inch, Oil on Art Board.

1.  What made you decide that a shop was the best way to give back?

The answer comes in one big burst of reasons which all weigh in together. 
I found ETSY, and saw they charge so little, I had a studio full of art supplies which needed to find their destiny, I was recovering from cancer treatments well enough to have a bit of energy, and so many friends and family shared my difficulty from cancer treatments which, could and should be better.
So, my time and materials could be freely directed toward making paintings. ETSY and PayPal take so little, most of the sales price goes directly to the best cancer research institutions I can find.
It all seemed to work for a win/win!

That answer is why the shop came into being, but I'm not attached to the idea that it is the "best" way to give back. If a way comes along where I could make more of a contribution to cancer research, I would do it.

"After the Rain", 5x7 Inch, Oil on Watercolor Paper.

2.  Why did you choose landscapes for your subject matter?

The answer to this question is going to be much longer than required, but, believe me, shorter than I COULD rattle on about!
I've been saturated with Fine Art conceptualization for decades. When I began painting for this project, there were certain considerations. Style, size, energy, materials, images.
Because I had gone through years of being a cancer patient and being the sister and daughter and cousin and granddaughter and niece of cancer patients, the idea of relationship came out in a symbolic way in the early paintings.

"Change", 12x12 Inch, Oil on Canvas.

Later, as I settled into a more intuitive and personal painting process, the idea of the solidity of life, just a moment away from the unknown of non-being, crept into the work. In my landscapes, the horizon represents the transition of solid ground of a life, into the ephemeral atmosphere of change and intangibles. I approach each blank surface with an open mind and whatever "path" comes out seems to have a kind of character. 

"Path", 8x10 Inch, Oil on Canvas.

That's a bit of the process and intention.
When I imagine who the painting might go off to live with, I imagine that person will be able to look at the painting as a window. Travel into the scene. It's a resting place for the eye. The scenes are almost always untouched nature - fresh, as if seen for the first time.

"Arise", 4x6 Inch, Oil on Art Board.
3.  What inspires them?  Are they imaginary, real, or both?

To answer this question, I think the first thing is to talk a little about my practice or method.

I spend a good deal of time preparing surfaces. There's a certain tactile quality that effects my paint strokes. I've developed a primer which gives the right tooth. Then, I lay out my palette. Mixing the colors is completely intuitive. I premix colors with medium and arrange them on my painting table until there is a color composition in mounds of color. Then I usually put several surfaces on my painting wall and begin. Wherever the first strokes go, that dictates the shape and direction of the others. Color harmonies are what give character and mood to the painting. I enjoy building form and finding perspective as I go along.

Rarely will I use photographic references. 

Some of my own compositions come back, like recurring dreams, but are always a bit different.

"Gold Field", 8x10 Inch, Oil on Canvas.
4.  What goals do you have for the shop?

I don't really have any goals.

It seems a mystery and a blessing that this shop, PaintingWell, and the collective, HandmadeHelp (artists who have been impacted by cancer) have continued to be found by wonderful people who buy art so that together we may make a difference.

"Mini 220", 3-1/4 x 4 Inch, Oil on Cardboard.
So many people have been touched by cancer, and so many more will be. Yet, there are so many new and promising treatments on the horizon, it feels like grace to be given the chance to help.

I hope I didn't rattle on TOO much.
Thanks again for asking me these provocative and interesting questions. It was a pleasure and honor to look inside my work.

"Autumn Hills", 10x10 Inch, Oil on Art Board.
You rattled on the perfect amount, and I'm sure others will be as happy as I am that you did.  I really enjoyed talking with you, and learning more about your shop.  Your paintings are truly lovely, and go toward a wonderful cause.  Keep up the beautiful work, and I hope this brings lots of well-deserved attention to your shop.

An Interview of Yours Truly.

I was selected to be the first interview of her fellow Etsy Artists by the lovely Madeleine of It Must Be Nice To Be A Bird.  I'm honored, thrilled, ecstatic, and over-the-moon that she chose me.  Here is the interview.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just Another Reason Why I Don't Like The News.

Get ready for a slight rant.

Last night, on the news, they proclaimed that rice has arsenic in it.  Let's make a population panic about something that occurs in nature.  It's not as if someone is out there sprinkling arsenic on bags of rice.  Just like last week, when they told us that organic produce has bacteria on it.  Well of course it does.  Every surface is covered in bacteria (some good and some bad), but that's what immune systems are for.  The week before that it was something about the dangers of meat.  I don't understand why the media wants to scare us away from anything that resembles real food.  Let's just avoid the produce, dairy, and meat counters all together.  Instead let's buy all the refined, preserved, artificial stuff that is barely recognizable as food.  Can you honestly tell me that any of that stuff is fit to eat?

I'll stick with my arsenic-rice and my bacteria-laden produce.  I just find it sad that our diets as a population are in the state that they are.  But no wonder, we're being scared out of eating real food and force-fed the thousand-ingredient junk food.  Not failing to mention, that convenience trumps healthy every time.  I'll just shake my head silently and keep making my foods from scratch.

What I find sad is that when I want to buy any seemingly simple food at the grocery store I have to read the ingredient panel to see what 'extras' they've put into it.  Grape juice isn't just grape juice--it has ten extra ingredients for who-knows what reason.  Your turkey breasts have caramel color added.  Why?

People may make fun of me for trying to raise all of our food here on the farm, but I figure it's better than trying to sort through the ingredient panels in the store.

Sigh, end of rant.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Looking for a Recipe.

I want to try a veggie burger.  More specifically I'd like to try one that has avocados and tomatoes in it.  The MorningStar Farms variety sounds good until I read the ingredient panel.  I'm anti-soy products, and it's full of them.
I've scoured the internet looking for a from-scratch copycat recipe that I could tweak to my tastes, but haven't found a single one.  Perhaps I'll just make a turkey burger and add in tomatoes and avocado and whatnot and see what happens.  I'm sure I'll end up just coming up with a completely random from scratch version that would taste nothing like the above version, but will suit me just fine.  I'm not a vegetarian, but I do like vegetarian recipes every once in a while to up my veggie intake.

So all that rambling was to ask if anyone had any suggestions for a burger recipe (with or without meat) that includes tomatoes and avocados in the patty itself.  Thanks in advance.

An Etsy Round-Up: Mixed Media.

via kendrabinney.
via michelemaule.
via SweetMess.
via aprilawakening.
via JuliaJensenStudio.
Via KristenVanPatten.
via MyAntarctica.
via corid.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What a Day for a Daydream (aka 2012 diy Blog Cabin Giveaway)

An email just came into my inbox telling me to sign up for the diy Blog Cabin Coastal Retreat 2012.  

This girl isn't afraid of dreaming.  I'm signing up every day until the deadline.  Boy, the thoughts of winning a vacation home in Maine worth $700,000, it makes my head spin.  First off, I've always wanted to visit Maine:  the coastline, the seafood, the scenery, the antique shops, sigh.  Secondly, the money would change our life.  

We'd get our house finished without worrying about the money being spent.  The bank would be paid off, and Joe would have a decent start at a college fund.
2012 Blog Cabin.  Image via DIY Network.
Thirdly, we'd get to take our first ever family vacation (mind you, I'd have to pay someone to come farm-sit until we got back).  Joe seeing the ocean would be huge (you should see her when we play at the lake, I can't imagine what seeing the ocean for the first time would be like for her).

I'd also get a start on buying the old John Deere building in town and turning it into a gallery and community art space.  That's been a huge dream of mine for quite a long while, and with the extra money, I could make it a reality.  Not failing to mention, I could focus more on my artwork and photography and make it more of a career.

So, here I sit daydreaming about going to Maine to collect my prize, and where my life would take me after that.  Of course I have The Lovin' Spoonful's song in my head now, so I'll put it on here so it can be stuck in yours too.

Wish me luck, okay.  If I win, I'll put a huge giveaway on here from my shop.  So, see, I'll share the wealth.  Come on, Maine!!  And if you are the DIY Network, I would really, really, really like to win--if you couldn't tell.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Great Find: Django Reinhardt

I stumbled across this song/musician today.  I've been listening to his albums ever since on Spotify.  Great tempo to get a lot of work done.  I hope you like him too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Finding My Style.

Up until now, I've never really had a "style."  From birth until age twenty most of my wardrobe was labeled "country."  I preferred Wrangler jeans, boots, belt buckle, and a t-shirt.  It was just an easy go-to closet for my life.  Fast forward a bit, I got married, and we decided to have a baby.
A photo of me from college.

Now, I don't want to shock anyone, but pregnancy has the habit of doing a number on your body.  With my daughter I gained about fifty pounds--stretched my belly out about four foot in front of me, and I've spent the past three years trying to find some semblance of my previous body once again.  Since giving birth, I've only felt comfortable in baggy shirts, and otherwise ill-fitting clothes.  I felt deflated to put it mildly.  Nobody told me that your body didn't just bounce back, and I was oblivious to the battle I was in for.

Huge Pregnant with Joelee.

I've worked so very hard, and by some sort of anomaly of physics, my stomach went back to where it was supposed to be.

Earlier this Spring--finally feeling more like me.

So, now I find myself at a bit of a crossroads.  I severely need to throw out the clothes in my closet.  It's not such a great loss.  All but a handful of things came from the thrift stores because I knew I wasn't going to be wearing them long (never did I think three years worth of ill fitting clothes would be in my fate), and I'm the cheapest person in the world when it comes to shopping.  I'm ready to have a wardrobe that reads "put together."  One that has a good mix of artistic, cool, western, casual, vintage, and feminine, but tough.  I've been scouring Polyvore and Pinterest and I've found some inspiration.

First up, blazers.  I love the way they punch up an outfit.  This brown one is really nice, but I also like the idea of bold pink or a navy blue.

Via Pinterest /
I wear a pair of FatBaby Ariat boots on a daily basis around the farm, but I'd like to find a fancy pair of dress boots to wear to town or to get togethers.  This pair is particularly lovely.

Dan Post Boots via Pinterest /
I also want to up my femininity a bit.  I like the pencil skirt silhouette and dresses that reach at least knee length (I'm a prude that way, ha).  I like the vintage style of dresses too.  Women looked so classy in the 1920s-1950s era.  That's what I'm going to strive for.

Via Pinterest (this is glamorous).
I also want to add a couple of trench coats to my closet.  I need a jacket other than my barn coats, what can I say?

Via Pinterest (Tulips and Flight Suits).

I also have to learn how to do my make-up and hair.  I know a twenty-seven year old female should already know these things, but believe me, I don't.  I can throw my hair in a ponytail or bun, and I can put on mascara, but that's about the extent of it.  On an artsy twist, I'm really digging the tied up scarf look.

Via Pinterest /

I want to grow my hair out a bit more, and learn how to do a simple tossled look like this beautiful girl's hair.

Via Pinterest /
Another feminine look that I'd like to emulate.  Love the lacy cut outs, and that it stays classy.

Via Pinterest / Style Me Pretty.

I also need to invest in some sort of a handbag.  I've made it all this time without a purse, but I'll now admit that I need to find one (that's such a mom thing to say).  This piece via Love Maegan, is beautiful, but way out of my price range.
Via Pinterest / Love Maegan.
This one is pretty swanky too, but I imagine I'll find a second-hand one instead of spending much money on one.
Via Appetite on Etsy.
So, there you have it.  All-in-all I just want an updated, grown-up look.  I'm looking for pencil skirts, blazers, blouses, dark-wash boot cut jeans, belts, camisoles, fitted tees, button-up fitted shirts, shorts (that aren't hoochie-length), ballet flats, peep toes, trench coat, dresses, pumps, dressy boots, etc., as well as some better fitting clothes to wear around the farm, and workout in.  I'm sure this new wardrobe will be built slowly, but I'm looking forward to this new version of me.  If anyone has any advice, fashion blogs I should check out, or words of encouragement to help me through this huge undertaking, I'll take what I can get.  Also any opinions or thoughts on my above choices would be graciously taken as well.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Progress on the House.

As you can see, the house has changed dramatically since the start of the project.  It was an ancient house with good bones, and Mike has turned it into a show place of a home now.  Next step is framing out the windows and doors and putting in floors.  The bottom story is almost complete!
Interior Dining Room Facing Stairs and South Room, Bottom Story, Circa 2008.

Interior, Upstairs, Circa 2008.

Exterior, Rear of the House, Circa 2008.

Living Room, Working on Foundation, Circa 2009.

Exterior, Rear of the House, Spring 2012.

Interior, Working on Painting Drywall, South Room, August 2012.

Interior, Kitchen, August 2012.

Interior, Kitchen/Entry, August 2012.

Interior, Dining Room, August 2012.

Living Room from South Room, August 2012.

Where I've Been.

Sorry for the long absence.  I've been a very busy girl this summer.  Our bottom story has been completely gutted, insulated, drywalled, and is almost done being painted.  My birthday (and numerous days before and after) was spent on the scaffolding painting primer onto our ceilings and belting out various songs way too loudly and out of tune.
Photo of me hard at work, taken by my two-year-old daughter.
I'm just about sick of painting walls, but the house looks completely different.  I just wanted to apologize for my lengthy disappearance and let you know about my house and about my 365 project for the coming year.  I've been painting a painting a day on a standard sized playing card.  Granted I'm behind already (after painting walls all day long, the last thing I've wanted to do was anything with a paintbrush).  But, I'll be catching back up as soon as the house is done being painted.

Here is an example of one of the portraits I've done:

You can find other finished pieces here, in my new shop for my original pieces:  JuliaWrightArt.

So, now that the summer is winding down, I hope to get back to work on my art, and blog, and fun stuff again.

Stick with me.