Monday, February 24, 2014

Project 52: February: Weeks 5 to 8

Another month of my Project 52 under my belt! I'm looking forward to warmer weather (already we're feeling hints of that!) so that I can venture outside instead of having all these photos taken from the warm safety of our apartment.

Week 5: late snowy night
I almost missed this week - totally forgot! - so I just took a quick photo through the window. We had just had a dumping of snow, and I liked this car-cleaning scene.

Week 6: genuine Giesler boat coffee table
This was our big Christmas gift from my parents - still awaiting the glass cover. We don't really have a great spot for it, but I just love it so! My brothers each got one too; it was definitely the epic gift this year! Such a surprise and such a lovely, personal, addition to our homes.

Week 7: Thai-inspired hot pot fondue
It had been so long since I used my fondue pot, I just had to pull it out the other week. I love using it to boil broth the most - you just cook the raw veggies and meat directly in it. I used homemade broth with added Thai flavours (SO good), marinated chicken and a variety of vegetables (orange pepper, asparagus, bok choy and grape tomatoes). After we were done fondue-ing, we added the leftovers and some rice noodles to the broth and had soup. SO tasty!

Week 8: light-catching ornament
Another Christmas gift from my mom - so pretty!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Sketchbook Challenge

I picked up this book by Sue Bleiweiss on Amazon quite some time ago - well over a year. I browsed through it immediately, but then set it aside for our move to Etobicoke and other creative endeavours / workshops. Finally, a month or so ago, I picked it up again and was totally inspired! I can't believe it took me so long to work my way through it! The book is a series of sketchbook prompts featuring a couple of amazing artists and techniques for each one. I highly recommend it! I know for sure that I'll be paging through it again and again when I need a special dose of inspiration (and I have a few new artists to research as well!).

I challenged myself by responding to each prompt with a simple black ink doodle:

Around the same time, I was painting my "A Week in the Life" art book page and used up the leftover paint in my green sketchbook. I attempted to make an impression by pressing the pages together but the paint was already too tacky and simply tore up the thick paper. I actually love how this turned out and think it fits perfectly for the "weathered beauty" prompt:
Don't you just love when things don't go as planned but end up even better than you could have possibly hoped?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sketchbook Pages: Spring is Beautiful

I'm not one to complain about winter. In fact, I actually prefer winter over summer (assuming winter stays around -20°C or warmer and summer is hovering around 30°C or higher... layers trump sweat any day!). I'll take too cold over too hot any time of year! And truthfully, this winter hasn't been that bad compared to some (just worse than the last few years, which really did spoil us)... but still, I really am, truly, ready for spring.

There's just something magical about spring, no? The budding trees, the early blooms, the fresh, warm air, the birds chirping, the green, everywhere... it's just so refreshing. So renewing. A fresh start, even better than the one the new year affords.

I guess that's where my creative spirit was resting when I was working on this page over this past long weekend. Even though it wasn't planned and I wasn't really thinking "spring", nothing else seemed to work when it came to the finishing steps...

But let's start at the beginning, shall we?
After taping the spine (with masking tape), I felt the page needed some journaling before I started. So I wrote in all the margins with regular pen. Then I added some more masking tape, and finally doodled a bit with Neocolor II watercolour crayons for added texture. It's all about the layers for me! Finally, some gesso to even it all out before starting my favourite part:

Collage. You can see here how my initial "visualization" in the first photo differs from the end product. Mostly, the placement part is less complete than the finished piece - once everything is glued down, there are always gaps (be it in colour or patterns/placement) that need filling.

For this page, I knew I wanted to go with some yellow, so I started there. Of course, the first paper I pulled from my "yellows" folder was the neutral solid. Then the patterned brown and the "pop of colour" pattern featuring dark green and burgundy (plus the circles, brown-on-white, inside-an-envelope, recycled paper). THEN came the yellows. I was so happy with how everything fit together!

My next few layers added to the texture and depth of the background. First, since it had been a very long time since I'd used them, I pulled out my stamps and inks and put those to use (mostly arrows and chevron in green, yellow and dark grey). Then a touch of washi tape (again, following my theme, using yellows and a bit of burgundy chevron) before adding a thick layer of gel medium through a stencil for extra tangible texture. You can see that the cheap maroon chevron tape bled a bit to brown... I can't say I was disappointed. I love the added interest (plus it isn't at all noticeable in the finished piece)!

Once the gel medium was completely dry (you can tell because it goes from white to transparent), I went for some paint. I actually pulled out all my greens and yellows, but only used one colour: olive green light by Amsterdam acrylics (plus a bit of gesso). I used it straight from the bottle to darken the edges of my pages, then I mixed it with gesso to highlight the raised bits of gel medium (and then I double-highlighted with straight gesso because I really wanted that texture to pop).

To finish the page, I knew I wanted to add words - my go-to "I don't know what to do, but I know I want to finish this page" element - so I dug through my "words" envelop (filled every time I go through a magazine and cut random things out) and selected a few words. From those words, I chose these (and made one up from individual letters to complete the make-shift poem). Perfectly fitting.
So good! Simple, but so much more if you look (and touch) deeper! LOVE!

Layers:

  1. journaling (regular fine-point pen)
  2. doodles with Neocolour II (yellow, green)
  3. gesso
  4. collage (patterned scrapbook paper, solid cardstock)
  5. stamps and ink (yellow, green, dark gray - arrows, chevron)
  6. washi tape
  7. gel medium and stencils
  8. paint: olive green light (Amsterdam acrylic) + gesso
  9. collage (magazine words)
  10. paint (same as #8)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sketchbook Pages: Here and There

I have multiple sketchbooks and artbooks on the go right now because I like using each one for a slightly different purpose or project. Here are a few pages from those sources.

First, a few doodles from my everyday sketchbook (Pilot and Sharpie pens):

Occasionally I'll use this everyday sketchbook for a quick collage (patterned scrapbook paper and vintage book pages):

If I'm going to experiment with watercolour media though, I typically reach for my extra-long sketchbook with watercolour paper (Neocolor II, gelatos, watercolour pencils):

And occasionally my green sketchbook (gelatos):

Other books, like my Amber altered book, I use for more "finished" pages. I'll show you one of those tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

28 List: November and December Recipes

In the last month, I've cooked two sides from the November and December 2013 Bon App├ętit magazines - meaning I'm almost caught up! In both cases, I chose roasted veggie sides to complement a steak main (Pat's favourite meat) and made a few alterations based on ingredients I had on hand.

Oh - and sorry in advance about these terrible photos! There is absolutely no natural light here at dinner time in the winter!

November: roasted cauliflower with lemon-parsley dressing
alterations: I used green cauliflower ("broccoflower") instead of white and a pinch of Italian spice mix (I make myself with different dried herbs) instead of fresh parsley
served with: steak and sauteed greens (probably a mix of Swiss chard, beet and radish greens and possibly some spinach)
verdict: pretty good - I love roasting cauliflower, it imparts a great nutty flavour, which the lemon complements nicely. I think white cauliflower would have been better here though since it's a bit firmer.

December: sweet and sour brussel sprouts
alterations: I used sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin and a "French" spice mix (again, I mix a bunch of dried herbs for these) instead of fresh rosemary
served with: steak and rice with orzo (a favourite recipe from Ottolenghi and Tamimi's Jerusalem cookbook)
verdict: so-so - I LOVED the roasted brussel sprouts (practically melt-in-your-mouth good and not at all bitter like brussel sprouts can be) and the crunch of the seeds, but I didn't like the dressing. The red wine vinegar was too overpowering. I'll definitely be trying this again with my own spin on the dressing.

Now on to January and February!

What new recipes have you tried lately?