Sunday, September 27, 2015

As Black As Night

Here is another watercolor painting prompted by a challenge in the Fun and Free Journaling Challenge on Facebook:  As Black As Night.

As Black As Night, Jeanne Turner McBrayer, 2015

This is inspired by the sky when we leave my brother's house in the morning to drive to Sarasota, Florida.  It is still very dark, with Orion, the moon, Venus, or other celestial bodies still visible in the sky.  The palms looks like dark shapes with ghostly trunks.

The good news is that this week the treatments will begin about an hour later, and only last for twenty minutes instead of an hour.    He will be finished with them on October 16.

We stopped at a different Amish restaurant in Sarasota on Friday morning...Der Dutchman.  Almost all of the people working there wore Amish dress.  Here are two quilts that were hanging in the sunroom, where we ate our breakfast.

My brother's sons came home from Florida State University for the weekend.  It was great to see them.  We all went to Sanibel Island on Saturday.  

Here is my husband Charlie taking a family photo for them on the beach.

That night we had a great dinner at their home, with Anna's parents attending as well.

We are so lucky to be doing this cancer treatment thing in a beautiful place with a chance to be with family.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Little Handwork

Before I left for Florida, I searched among my many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) for a project needing handwork to keep me busy.  I came across a notebook with a number of flower/nature studies that I began in an online workshop with Pamela Allen in 2010.

I remembered that these were in my project bag a few days ago, but alas, I had not packed a needle.  A trip to Target produced a tapestry needle that will do, so I have been doing some stitching.

This one is supposed to be morning glories climbing on fence posts.  I have stitched down all but the leaves and flower at the bottom center and right, using embroidery floss.

I think I must have made those fence posts when I first got my needle-felting machine.  I detect some wool roving and strips of fabric felted onto a cotton base.  The wool makes it look a little hairy, I now think!

When it is all stitched down, I will machine-quilt the piece, adding more wood grain and some veins in the leaves.  Looks like it could use some wire between the fence posts, as well.

Here are the other pieces I brought from this series.  They all were missing bits here and there.  I compared them to the photos in the original post and tried to fix them up.  I may have to add some more fabric when I get home to Raleigh.


 Perhaps a hydrangea?  It is missing about a hundred of those x-shaped petals!

Some tall blue flowers on stems.  Looks like I need a bigger piece of background fabric!

 I think this one is an abstract  version of aspen trees.  The purpose of the exercise was to observe shapes in nature, and not always make the stereotypical daisy shaped flower or symmetrical pointed leaf.

A tree...Not sure what's going on here, except maybe I was trying to utilize the botanical patterns on some commercial fabrics to make the leaves and branches.

I sat outside on Jeff and Anna's deck to work on my stitching today.  While I was stitching, there were three iguanas criss-crossing the lake.  I think the big brown one is getting amorous, and the two smaller green ones are trying to swim away from him.  Here is one of the green ones climbing out of the lake onto the grass.

We did visit a fabulous place on the way home this morning.  It is right here in Fort Myers, and my sister-in-law told us about it yesterday.

Norman Love's Chocolate Salon...oh, my goodness, Heaven on Earth!

The pastries and candies look like jewels or pieces of art.

Here is a chocolate cake with several tiers.

 We each had a pastry and coffee, and then we brought home a box of assorted truffles for our hosts, a dark chocolate bar for a fellow patient we have befriended at the Dattoli Center, and a sugar-free chocolate bar for us.  I predict more trips to visit Norman Love before we leave!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Iguana Make Art!

Here is a fun journal page that I just finished.  I am still working on the Fabulous and Free Art Challenge on Facebook.  Challenge 24 was the prompt "Sublime Stencils."

I had already made a cool background by putting either gesso or gel medium through a stencil for a dimensional effect.  Then I painted a watercolor wash over that in rainbow shades.

I loved the look, but was stumped on what to do with it until I got my inspiration here in Florida.  As I mentioned in a previous post, there are lizards everywhere here...including iguanas.  

I painted a piece of paper in dark colors with watercolor, drew an iguana shape on the back, and cut out the shape.  Then I just glued it over the background to create a negative shape.  I did not try to use specific parts of the stencil design, but am pleased with how the stencil designs help form the iguana.

Today after Charlie's radiation, I surprised him with breakfast at a French Cafe and Bakery in Sarasota called C'est La Vie.  His appetite is off, and he does not eat much except in the morning.  We enjoyed crepes and potatoes and baguette.  It is a nice place with a warm atmosphere, nice art, and great waitresses.

And here is today's sunrise.  The day started out just beautiful, but rained this afternoon.  That's okay...we're still getting over the visit with our kids and granddaughter last weekend! A good afternoon to stay inside and veg.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Journaling in Florida

I did a couple of quick journal pages last week using ephemera from a few of the Florida restaurants we have visited.

The first one utilizes the place mat from Yoder's Amish Restaurant and a brochure from Cha-Cha Coconuts in Sarasota, and a napkin from The Mucky Duck on Captiva.  I painted the background with watercolors to match the bright pastels of the artwork.

On the next page, I had already painted the sky and water and was stuck on what to do next.  The napkin from The Green Flash restaurant on Captiva Island solved the problem.  I added some green paint to the horizon and then some text with gel pens.

I have never personally seen the green flash phenomena, but it is on my bucket list to experience it one day.  

According to Wikipedia:

Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that sometimes occur right after sunset or right before sunrise. When the conditions are right, a green spot is visible above the upper rim of the disk of the sun. The green appearance usually lasts for no more than a second or two. Rarely, the green flash can resemble a green ray shooting up from the sunset (or sunrise) point. Green flashes occur because the atmosphere can cause the light from the sun to separate out into different colors. 

It was a great weekend for us, because our kids came down for a visit from North and South Carolina!  What a shot in the arm for Charlie and me.  More than halfway through cancer treatment and we were feeling in a bit of a slump.  Nothing like your loved ones showing up to improve the old attitude!

We went to Sanibel Island on Saturday and had a beautiful day.  

Little Charlie loved the warm, gentle, shallow Gulf ocean waters and all the seashells.

We rented a car for them that was supposed to be a Hundai Sonata, but instead became a Camaro convertible.  I got to ride to Sanibel in it with son Dave.  Wheee!

Feeling blessed and loved.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lizards at play

Here in Florida there are lizards everywhere...geckos, iguanas, you name it.  They seem particularly attracted to the brightly colored bromeliads in my brother's yard.  Here is a little painting in my art journal with lizards playing in the plants.

Lizard Plant, Jeanne Turner McBrayer, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Ringling Art Museum

Today after Charlie's treatment, we went back to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota to visit the art museum, which we skipped on our last visit.  Admission to it is free on Mondays.

As with everything on the Ringling campus, the landscaping, gardens, ponds, and statues are very inviting.  Here is Charlie on the bridge over the koi pond.

There is a shady garden called the Dwarf Garden.  I thought it would be featuring dwarf plants.  Nope...statues of dwarfs!

The Ringling Art Museum has a massive collection of mostly Italian art.  There are many galleries with enormous mural-size paintings with gold frames.  Most of the collection is not my favorite type of art, but there were a few pieces that I liked.  One was the Blue Madonna by Carlo Dolci from the 17th century.  The face is innocent and lovely, but what caught my eye was the intense royal blue of her veil.

My favorite painting was Maison Paysanne Yport (Peasant's Cottage at Yport,) Marcel Duchamp, 1907.  This one is quite a change from all the Biblical scenes.  It looks almost Impressionistic to me and glows with subtle color.

Check out this ornate harpsichord.  There is a remarkable landscape painting on the inside cover.

This glass sideboard with glass dishes was something very unique to see.

This guy caught my eye in the courtyard outside of the museum.  He is enormous, and is high up on a wall.  I believe it is the Statue of David.

Tomorrow will be the halfway point of Charlie's radiation therapy.  It is good to have interesting paces to visit while we are here in Sarasota every day.  It helps the time go by.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Boy on Beach Watercolor Painting

Boy on Beach, Jeanne Turner McBrayer, 2015

This painting is in my watercolor journal.  I might try to do a larger one on watercolor paper.  This time I used mask to preserve the whites in the clouds, water, and sand.  The storm at sea was fun to do.  I lifted some of the color by painting the streaks with a thirsty brush, then rubbing with a towel.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Alma Sue's Quilt Shop

Yesterday we went to breakfast at Yoder's in Sarasota, an Amish restaurant.  We have been three times now for the generous helpings of delicious homemade food.  We sat at a table under this wall of the first quilty things I have seen in Florida.

As we went around the block after breakfast, look what I found!

This area of Sarasota, called Pinecraft, has had an Amish community since the 1920's when a group came down to work in the celery farms.  I was expecting some cute little ready-made Amish things inside...but was surprised to find a regular quilt shop.

I just had to purchase a little souvenir fat quarter pack to remind me of Florida.

Not that I have seen any sea turtles or starfish here.  Sand dollars are another story.  You can scoop up dozens of them on the sandbars of Sanibel Island.

I also picked up a cute baby panel.

The quilt shop is not all that Amish...there were not one, but two, long arm quilting machines inside...and a sales clerk with both arms heavily tattooed!

When we left the shop, we saw an elderly Amish woman riding a recumbent tricycle!  Very cute.

We went back to Lido Key for a couple hours.  We were surprised to see a manatee swimming by in shallow water!  No picture, unfortunately.  These guys were more cooperative.

I spotted an iguana sunning himself next to the lake at my brother's house when we got home.  That is something we do not see in Raleigh or at our mountain pond!

When I approached him to get a better picture, he did a belly buster into the lake, and swam across to sun himself on a rock on the other side.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sunrise, Sunset...and a Rainbow

Every morning that we drive from Ft. Myers to Sarasota, we leave before dawn.  I am not a morning person.  I do not like getting up at 5:00 AM.  But here is one little gift every morning...a sunrise over the Peace River near Port Charlotte.  I like to think of it as a gift of peace for my soul.

Almost every evening, there is a gorgeous sunset reflecting in the lake behind my brother's home.

And the other day, there was a rainbow in the sky...ending right over the Dattoli Cancer Center.

My soul is grateful for these gifts.