Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"It Doesn't Matter"...It's Quilted!

After almost a week back at our Raleigh home, I felt more rested.  Yesterday I drove up to our North Carolina mountain cabin, and today I decided to see if my poor, neglected Gammill long arm machine would crank up after more than four months of sitting idle in the basement.  Yes, indeed, what a good ole' horse!  I saddled up a little quilt top that I finished a long time ago.

Here it is on the machine with only the very top quilted.

The top is called It Just Doesn't Matter!  I read about how to make it here on Del's blog.  An instructor named Rachel Maus taught her how to piece the top using orphan blocks, strips, scraps, etc.  You can see some of the settings I tried after constructing the 9.5" squares on this old post.

Anyway, I ended up using no sashing, but adding a black dotted print border.

I used a lime green thread with free-motion "artistic" quilting on the long arm.

The backing is a cheerful cherry print.  I am thinking that this will be a table topper, and either side of the quilt could be used.

It has gotten very cold up here in the mountains, and the basement is still unheated.  One of our last projects in the basement was insulating between the joists, and I think that made a big difference.  I was quite comfortable quilting with just a small space heater.

We hope to get the gas company out here to move the kerosene monitor from our "Penthouse" garage apartment to the basement.  It would heat the whole basement easily, and we can put a much smaller one in the Penthouse.

Charlie is still worn out, but he came up here last week for the annual deer camp, his favorite time of year.  He did not even hunt, but enjoyed being around his son, grandsons, brothers, and other assorted friends and relatives who gather for deer camp.  Most of them went home Sunday.  We will be eating Thanksgiving dinner with our neighbors Ricky and Mary, who also live up here on the family compound.  We are feeling lucky to be done with all treatment in time for the holidays.  There's no place like home!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dramatic Skies Class with Tom Lynch

Last weekend was Art of the Carolinas...a Raleigh trade show and artist instruction conference sponsored by Jerry's Artarama.  I have attended quite a few lessons over the past few years.  In fact, that is how I got started on watercolors.

This year we were away for all but the last day.  I signed up for a Sunday afternoon class with one of my favorite art instructors, Tom Lynch.  The title of the workshop was Dramatic Skies, Clouds, and Sunsets. Here is the photo used for the class information page.

Tom Lynch artwork

I probably was too worn out from the trip to Florida for hubby's surgery, but I did learn some neat tricks.  I think I need to do them again when I am not so wiped out.

We were not aiming for finished paintings in this class, but rather practice of new techniques.

Here is a colorful sky created by letting three different colors of wash blend together.

Here is a big fluffy cloud.  I need to add some more color to this one, I think.

 This one is a fail.  The top one got too dry before the colors could blend.  The bottom one got too wet and got a big water blossom.

The sunlit mountains are a technique I will probably use again.  We did the dark strokes first, then added a wash of orange/gold on top.  The dramatic dark sky also got a little too wet but I like the contrast.

Tom is a good instructor, and I would love to take a more intense class with him.  Perhaps when we are finished getting my husband's cancer treated, I can take a week long class.  Maybe in Tuscany some day?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fun With Lettering

I knew I would have some "sitting-around time" in Sarasota last week, so I downloaded two Joanne Sharpe videos from Interweave to play with.  I had brought along a small journal, some watercolor pencils, an Aquarelle water pen, a small watercolor palette, and a few black markers

Volume 1 deals with the elements of art.  Here are my attempts to work on the lessons.

Volume 2 deals with making coloring-book style letters that can be colored in with crayons, markers, pencils, paints, or whatever you like.

I like the floral doodles of my letter A.

The B is for Beach is probably my favorite.

 Butterflies used to form a letter C.

I have another one started but not colored yet.  It was fun to have something new, quick and not too hard to work on while playing the waiting game in Florida.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Back to Florida

This week it was time for Phase 2 of my husband's cancer treatment in Sarasota, Florida.  Most of our time has been spent on doctor and hospital visits and pre-post op exams.  We are now out of the hospital after a rough night.  I am glad to say that all went well.  I thank God every day for Dr. Michael Dattoli, a prostate cancer expert who has figured out a way to save men's lives from this disease.

He met us at the Sarasota airport!  (That's him in blue on the left on this electronic sign at the airport.)

We did have a couple of nice times this week.  The best was on Tuesday when we drove to Nokomis to meet my brother Jeff and his wife Anna for dinner.  First we went to the North Jetty beach and enjoyed a brief walk just before sunset.

Then we ate at Pop's Sunset Grill.  It was great to see Jeff and Anna again.

The restaurant is on The Inter-coastal Waterway, and it was lovely to watch the boats and birds as the sun set.

This shore bird landed on a roof above us and enjoyed watching us (and our seafood dinners!)

We go back to Raleigh tomorrow, grateful for the chance for healing in this beautiful place.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

More Lucky Stars

I got a little time on our mountain weekend to cut and sew a few more Lucky Stars blocks.  Here they are, laid out on my kitchen counter!

These are my two favorite.  I love the blue/yellow combination.  I fussy-cut the big sunflower on the left block.

I played with a few of the sashing strips.  This is going to be so colorful!

Sewing in the cabin is somewhat challenging because I don't have a dedicated sewing area.  It has been a long time since I have had to drag everything out, clear the dining table, find extension cords, etc.  On top of that, I got a new iron and a new sewing machine for Christmas that I have only used about twice, and I was referring to the manuals for awhile before I got going.  But that's okay.  It was a rainy mountain day and I got to do one of my favorite things.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lucky Stars

Guess what, quilters?  I've been sewing!

My good friend Marcia collected lots of fabrics from travels to France and Italy, back when her mother was still alive and an active quilter.  Marcia has now given me the bin of fabrics, and we went shopping last spring for background fabric to make the Lucky Stars quilt pattern by Atkinson Designs.  Then life intervened when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, and this project was put on the back burner.  It has rained the past few days, and I thought I would finally get started on this project for Marcia.

The fabrics are in cheerful primary colors with some greens and golds.  There are both Provincial prints and some fabrics that are solid or that read as solid.  There are also some other fabrics from her mother's stash that I think will blend well with this project.

The background fabric is a pale yellow cotton.  I wish we had chosen one that did not have a right and wrong side.  I have already had to unsew a few blocks because it is hard to tell the right side of the fabric.

After you sew the stars blocks, you trim them down to 9.5" square.  I have not done that yet, since my square ruler is in the mountains (I think...will have to look this weekend.)  

This is meant to be a Fat Quarter pattern.  You cut strips from each fat quarter, then subdivide to make both squares and rectangles.  The longer strips will form a sort of double sashing around each block.  I have not sewn the sashing strips yet, just placed them around the stars to get an idea how the top will look.


Now I have made about eleven stars.  To make a king size quilt calls for 122.  Yikes!  I guess I will get faster as I have more strips and pieces cut in advance.

I also painted two more maple leaves to go with the series I began earlier.  This time I traced around the actual leaves and built up the color more slowly.  I also scratched some veins into the wet paint with a craft knife.  I added a little bit of shadow around the leaves to give a little depth.

Getting there!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Maple Leaf Studies

Yesterday I practiced painting maple leaves.  What could be prettier this time of year?


Influenced again by artist Bob Burridge, I am trying do series of paintings.  I brought in some maple leaves from the yard and put them up on the drawing board with some 5" x 7" papers.

 I sprayed some watercolor paint  to get the mottled effect.  

On the next one you can see the drips from the painting above it on the board.  I kind of like it!

I think I got the colors right, but feel like the paintings are a bit overworked.  I think I will try it again, and seek a lighter touch.