Digital Drawing on Photographs

Allium artwork

I have a little more to share about our trip to France, but for now, here’s a little artwork.

On a recent flight from Boston to Charlotte, I took a break from reading and started fiddling around with an app (Adobe Ideas), drawing on some of my photographs. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some of these before, both pre and post-drawing.

Floral Arrangement

Fun, eh? Have a favorite?

Floral Artwork

Just finished watching the BBC adaptation of Dickens’ Bleak House. Really enjoyed it. Currently reading Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth (it’s the memoir upon which the show is based). Now watching Bletchley Circle. I seem to be in a BBC/ British kind of mood.

For more posts about  my artwork and others’, click here.

Post-Snow Days Catch Up

Yaupon Holly in Snow

Hello there! It’s been awhile. What with the snow storm and my determination to focus most of my energies on my (book) writing, I haven’t had much time to be here, and I’ve missed it.

How about you? How did you survive the weather, those of you who had it? It was the biggest snowstorm I’ve ever seen in the South, and I’ve lived here most of my life. We were without power for a few hours, not too bad, and got in a good bit of sledding. I have to admit I’m glad to be back to a normal schedule, though. Except for the fact that my nine-year-old is being buried with homework and projects in an attempt to make up for lost time. Bless her dear little heart.

In other news, the local chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, along with the Charlotte Writer’s Club, had a great panel Tuesday night on writers and authors using social media. Very informative, with very knowledgeable guests. If you live in the area, you should check out these two groups.

Meanwhile, I finished Malcolm Gladwell’s latest (David and Goliath). Very Gladwell, very thought-provoking and entertaining. And now I’m diving into My Berlin Kitchen, given to me by a friend (thanks, Christina!). I looooove it! It’s written by a cooking blogger who grew up bouncing between Berlin and the U.S. I haven’t gotten too far, so I don’t know the story yet, but her style is so warm, so genuine and earthy. You throw that in with cooking and international living, and I’m so there. I’d recommend it to anyone but especially to my German-connection friends. It’s almost like sitting down to kaffe und kuchen with you. Almost.

Also, because I had to do something when I couldn’t use my sewing machine, I’ve unraveled a sweater to re-use its very worthy yarn. Don’t cry for it, Argentina. It was a very heavy, stiff sweater, out of style, that my husband hardly wore (and never since I’ve known him). I’m thinking of reincarnating it into some throw pillow covers. What do you think? The yarn is actually pretty soft, just soooo heavy for a sweater. It’s almost like soft rug yarn.

Unraveled sweater

If you’re insane like me and are interested in unraveling sweaters, there are tons of tutorials out there about it. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a sweater with very chunky yarn. This one worked like a charm, I think because it must’ve been hand-knit, but sometimes unraveling can be more work than it’s worth. The tutorials can point you down the right path.

Lastly, I made this little piece with one of my photographs:

Sea bathing

Recognize the quote, anyone? This is where I go when I need the Calgon to take me away.

Okay, back to work. Cheers!

Embroidered Wedding Portrait

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This is the story of a wedding gift (my contribution to it, anyway) for a dear friend. I thought you might like to see the process. The picture is of my friend Jamie and her husband, who got married last June. As a surprise to the couple, her mother asked friends and family each to complete a design on a muslin square. She collected the squares and then had them made into a patchwork quilt as a gift to Jamie and her husband.

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Jamie and I go way back, and a big part of our friendship has been about shared words. Books, movies, music, poetry, television. We have a lot of inside jokes about obscure quotes. So I sifted through our collective “library” of shared references, looking for the perfect quote to decorate the wedding square. Nothing seemed quite right.

When I saw the bride and groom, though, I knew nothing could be more Jamie and Jon than their fabulous wedding outfits.

I decided to make an embroidered picture and started with the best photo I had of the event. It’s blurry but gave me a good pose to work with. I used Picasa to play with the colors and then used the “posterize” effect to get the lines of the image to show up more clearly.

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I printed the picture, traced over the lines with a Sharpie, and then transferred these to the fabric with a temporary fabric marking pen.

Embroidery

I like the back almost as well as the front:

Embroidery backside

Here’s the final:

Embroidered Wedding Portrait

If you’re interested in seeing more of Jamie and Jon’s wedding, click here.

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on my nonfiction project and just got some excellent notes on my novel from an old friend. A little sewing going on, which hopefully I can show you soon. Back to writing now!

Oaxaca, Mexico: Architecture

Oaxaca street

So, in my last post I showed you some food from our trip to Oaxaca, and here I wanted to show you a little of the town and surroundings. Excuse me if I’m a little picture happy. It was hard to choose.

Above is a street in Oaxaca, to give you an idea of the town. This street happens to be a pedestrian only zone, though I guess bench-sitters get a pass, too. Hey, if I could sit on a comfy pink bench on this street right now, I would.

Below is the Santo Domingo church. Georgeous. Love the landscaping out front, too.

Santo Domingo church, Oaxaca

And I’ve fallen hard for the church’s stone walls. The subtle color variations (and size variations, which you can see less well) are making me so, so happy. I think I’m going to have to use that colorway and grid pattern somewhere.

Stone Block Wall

Up next, a convent-turned-hotel. The walls are literally three feet thick. It’s a total dream. I have a thing for thick walls and courtyard gardens.

Convent hotel

Here and there, on the former convent walls, you’ll see little bits of painting:

Floral border

Wall painting

Rose painting

And lastly, just outside Oaxaca are the pyramids of Monte Alban. From the top, the view of the area is breathtaking.

Monte Alban

Monte Alban dandelions

I’d love to show you some of the handicrafts Oaxaca is famous for, but I think I’ll have to show you after Christmas, since several that I bought are gifts for others.

Up next, hopefully I’ll have time to post a few Christmas-themed items. I’ve been trying to be really nose-to-the-grindstone on my writing projects. Back to work for me! Be well.

Oaxaca, Mexico: Food

Ancho Chile Relleno

So, the secret destination I mentioned earlier was Oaxaca (say “wah-HOCK-ah”), Mexico. I love this city! I had visited once 15 years ago and always dreamed of going back.

The capital city of the state of Oaxaca, it’s like a jewel-box deep in heart of the southern mountains of Mexico, full of stunning architecture, intricate handicrafts, and oh yes, fantastic food.

The top photo was my first meal there, an ancho chile relleno next to plaintain mash with Oaxacan cheese. Surprisingly, it was actually a lot prettier than it was flavorful, but I enjoyed trying it anyway.

Below are the appetizers from that night, including, from the back of the slate platter, cheese, guacamole, and chapulinas. Chapulinas are a Oaxacan specialty—roasted grasshoppers!

Chapulinas

Our Mexican friends told us that if you eat one, it means you get to come back to Oaxaca. It would be a lie to say they’re my favorite dish, but I was super glad I DID eat one 15 years ago. So glad, in fact, that I ate several more, hoping I will for sure get to visit again.

Below you see chiles drying at a restaurant where we ate lunch. The set up was unusual—you walk through the kitchen area up to the roof to eat. Sadly I didn’t take pics of the wonderful chicken red mole enchiladas I had.

Mole is a type of sauce involving many ingredients, including cocoa, which was first cultivated in ancient Mesoamerica. There are many different kinds of mole, and they’re not at all sweet, so don’t worry, it’s not at all like eating candy on your meat.

From the rooftop of the lunch restaurant, there’s a view of the historic Santo Domingo church, and we had great seats to see a traditional wedding celebration going out of the church, complete with dancers, costumes, and these enormous puppets that lead the way to the reception.

Chiles

Lastly, here’s a photo (from the same location) of Caldo de Piedra, or “Stone Soup.” I couldn’t actually eat it, since I can’t do shellfish, but it was fascinating to watch our chef cook it, tableside.

The rocks were heated to such a high degree that when they were placed in the bowls of raw food (shellfish and broth, veggies), the liquid immediately boiled like mad. After a few moments, the liquid cooled a bit, and the chef removed the first stones and added a second hot stone to each bowl.

Caldo de Piedra

If you look closely, you can see the beautiful handcarving on the bowls, which are made of what I gather is a kind of gourd.

Delicious foods not pictured: duck tacos, Oaxacan tamales (wrapped in banana leaves), hot chocolate, and eggs smothered in fantastic sauces. Breakfast was not to be missed.

More on Oaxaca to come. Hope you have a great weekend. It’s like 75 degrees here today. I can’t believe it’s December!

Hello Again

Sidewalk Crack Flower

Hey folks! It’s me again. Sorry to have been MIA for awhile. We had some nice relaxing days at the beach with my folks before school started. The photo above is from a favorite spot at the beach—it’s a sidewalk crack garden, world’s best!

My least one is off to kindergarten, as of this week. So far, so good. He’s happy, so I’m happy. I’m suddenly faced with plenty of nice, quiet time to think. Wow, it works wonders. Shortly I’ll be digging back into my novel writing (and other writing), but these first few days have been all about catching up on chores: organizing, gardening, errand-running.

Currently reading Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Also listening to Fresh Air podcasts while folding laundry. Loved the ones with the author of Orange is the New Black and with the showrunner for the TV series of the same name. No, haven’t seen the show, but it sounds fascinating. Another interesting podcast is with Penelope Lewis, the author of The Secret World of Sleep.

And oh, loved the one with Demien Bichir, star of the Fx series The Bridge. By the way, The Bridge, a grisly murder mystery set on the border between Texas and Mexico, is fantastic. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the writing and the acting are excellent, really riveting.

Coming up, some sewing projects and gluten-free baking we’ve done recently. Hope you have a great weekend and a relaxing Labor Day.

Introducing Dawn Hanna of Dawning Day Studios

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I’m very excited to introduce Dawn Hanna, artist and photographer. I’ve admired her work for years and am so glad she’s pursuing her art full-time these days. She was kind enough to agree to an interview, and also, to offer a giveaway to my readers! *Giveaway now closed.

spcsixwordlrDawn was born in Rhode Island but has lived in the south for many years. She’s recently left a 17 year career in social work to launch Dawning Day Studios, her photography, layout, and design business. She is a freelance photographer for Getty Images and Arcangel and has been published in Artful Blogging and Time magazine. Currently, Dawn is working on a soon-to-be-published e-book of artist self-portraits from around the world.

So, Dawn, how did you get started with photography?

I have been an artist my entire life….I think I came out of the womb staring at the colors and shapes around me. I picked up a Brownie Instamatic camera when I was 11 years old. From there, I learned how to develop and print in a darkroom (during prehistoric times…yes I am old!) in high school. In my early adult years, I worked a lot in the darkroom at The Light Factory in Charlotte and showed in juried shows here and there. Then life took its course and I found myself a mom and growing a family. I bought my first digital camera in 2007 and learned Photoshop from a dear friend of mine. Digital expanded my mind into the kind of work that I had always wanted to do and found myself totally immersed in it from that point on. I joined flickr and found daily inspiration from fellow photographers and artists who fed and continue to feed my soul on a daily basis. With the exposure and power of the internet…..I gained recognition for my work from book designers, art directors and stock photography agencies. It has been a steady and amazing growth since then.

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What do you do when you get low on inspiration?

I have found that getting in the car and traveling somewhere does the trick for me. Sometimes I think our eyes get tired or they overlook the beauty in everyday that a new perspective can regain.

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What do you recommend for someone who’s just getting started in photography?

I would highly encourage you to jump onto the many photo sharing websites such as flickr, instagram, google + or 500px and see what the world is doing with a camera these days. There is infinite inspiration on these websites and people are generous and encouraging to all. When I first joined flickr, I was scared out of my mind to put my work out there, but I will tell you that it has been nothing short of an incredible journey and led to my growth as a photographer and an artist.

What are you working on currently?

Currently, my partner and I are working on a book layout and design for an upcoming publication that is near and dear to both of our hearts. It has been a labor of love and we can’t wait for the book to be published.

Current obsessions?

I would have to say that my current obssession, like many others…is exploring the world of iphoneology. The possibilities are absolutely endless and it is so exciting to be on the beginning curve of an incredible piece of technology and artistic trend as the iPhone and iPads are.

Thanks so much for agreeing to share with us today, Dawn. You can find Dawn around the web at her Facebook page, her etsy shop, and on flickr. And seriously, follow her on Instagram. Wow!

As I mentioned, Dawn has graciously offered to give a print to one lucky reader from anywhere in the world. To enter, go to Dawn’s etsy shop, then comment here on the blog about which print is your favorite.

You have until 12 noon Eastern Standard Time on March 14, 2013 (one week from today), at which time I’ll use the random number generator to choose a winner. *Contest now closed. You won’t be added to a mailing list, but I hope you’ll like Dawn on Facebook and favorite her etsy shop.

Personally, I’m in love with the barbed wire piece. You have to go check it out!