Monday, August 15, 2016

Family Reunion

On Saturday, we traveled to Rhode Island for the Gordon Family Reunion.  The Gordons are my mother-in-law's family.  We spend Thanksgiving with our branch of them.  But for this party, it was an even bigger event.  There were cousins there that my husband hadn't even met.

And it would have been lovely - except for the sweltering heat.  Oh my!  The kitchen inside had an AC running, so people would be outside under the tent chatting, drinking, and eating, and they'd have to come inside for 10-minutes of AC break and to get their core body temperature down.

Magoo and I tried to play ping-pong.  Honestly, it was pathetic.  If we volleyed the ball at all, it was a great success.  It was more like this: serve - miss.  Serve - miss.  Serve - hit - miss.

But it was still a lovely time.  And when the food was eaten, those with bathing suits (including myself) journeyed into the pool.  Ahhhhhhh!  For awhile I was nicknamed "the oldest kid in the pool" but soon after other sane adults joined me.

That made all the difference to me.  I think I've said this before - because it's not unlike me to whine - but I don't like the extreme heat.  And MAN the humidity has been torture this time around.  So, before I got into the pool, I wasn't even feeling like myself.  I was oogy Julie. 

And I know I wasn't the only one.

But the pool made things better again.  And I've married into a fun family.  We had a lovely time.

Hope you're all surviving the summer heat!  (Autumn soon!!!)
Thanks so much for stopping in,

Monday, August 8, 2016

Wind and Water

There is a group showing coming up with a theme of Wind and Water.  I have a lot of water art already (all my fish paintings count) but wind is a trickier subject.  Earlier this summer I painted this piece:

Greys in the Waves           2016             j. c. phillipps
I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  It's a rather large watercolor and I really fell in love with painting horses.  Plus, it showcases both wind and water.  Boom, boom.

But I wanted at least one more piece that had both features in it.  I saw an illustration on Pinterest of a swimmer diving into a body of water and it inspired the location and style.  But instead of a swimmer going into the water, I thought I'd make a mermaid coming out of the water, her hair blowing in the wind.

Wind and Water Mermaid     2016    j.c.phillipps

I planned to do another mermaid, but then it occurred to me that it might be even cuter to give the mermaid a love interest.  So I changed the second mermaid into a sailor.  (Plus, I really love drawing little tattoos on sailor's arms.)  Ideally, if someone buys the mermaid, they will also buy the sailor.  

Wind and Water Sailor        2016       j.c.phillipps

 Ideally, if someone buys the mermaid, they will also buy the sailor.  But they are their own separate pieces and can be sold as such.

Wind and Water Sailor & Mermaid          2016        j.c.phillipps

Okay, now I think I have enough Wind and Water pieces for the show.  This is a WeHa Artists Emporium group show hosted by a lovely restaurant in Hartford BIN228.  I'll let you know when it's up and running.

Hope you're all having a good week.
Thanks for stopping in!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Experimenting with Alcohol Inks

This past week I've been experimenting with a new artistic medium: alcohol inks.  I didn't know they existed until recently, when a woman in our town artists group started hosting classes in them.  Then, another woman who carves beautiful gourds, used some on her work.

Alcohol inks product vivid, dynamic colors, which is what drew me to them.  But they are very different from watercolors or anything I've worked with before.  Very different.

Blue Brown Anemones     2016       j. c. phillipps

For starters, they only work on surfaces that are non-porous.  So watercolor paper is out.  I bought a book that claimed they work on bristol, but I tried that and it wasn't slick enough.  I've been using Yupo paper, which is very smooth and allows the ink to flow and dance over it before the colors settle.

Also, it's taken a bit of practice to learn about how the inks react to the paper, each other, and the alcohol blender solution - which is a must.

Plunge            2016            j. c. phillipps

Every time I make something, I learn a little something new about the medium and its habits.
I also try new ways to manipulate the inks.  Some work out.  Some don't.

The Cavern           2016         j. c. phillipps

But, because the paper is non-porous, I can wipe it near clear with alcohol and start fresh if need be.  That's awesome!  Because there is a big learning curve here and it's difficult to be free when you're concerned about how much the paper you're experimenting on costs per sheet.

Waterfall         2016        j. c. phillipps

It's been fun.  I'm kind of addicted.  And, it allows me to work more abstract - which I really enjoy.
These are my favorite pieces so far.

In other news:
The heat wave finally broke.  Thank goodness!  I do not thrive in heat.

Magoo and I have seen a lot of summer movies.  Here's the grades of the ones we've seen so far:
Finding Dory:  B
Star Trek: Beyond:  B+
The Secret Lives of Pets: C-
Swiss Army Man:  B
Ghostbusters: B
The Jungle Book:  A
Captain America: Civil War:  A-

Hope you're all enjoying your summer.  Happy August!
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pig Iron Open Swim

This afternoon, in the middle of a heat wave, Magoo swam in his first Open Water Meet, the Pig Iron.
His event was the Half Mile.  He was pretty nervous and pretty excited.

When we got there, we met up with his coach, Julie.

Julie had already swam the three-mile, the two-mile, and the mile.  The woman is a machine.  She was going to swim the half-mile as well to keep pace with Magoo.  Before the race, she took him out into the water to warm up and talk strategy.

And then, with the rest of the swimmers doing the half-mile, they were off.

There were large floating ducks in the water that marked the spots for swimmers.  Magoo had to swim across the lake, down a length of it, and then swim back.  (Below) Magoo is in the silver swim cap in front.

Here he is running out of the water and past the finish line.

I was so impressed.  Truly.  I didn't know what to expect.  It was a mixed crowd of adults and kids.  I thought he'd be in the middle or close to the end, just because it was his first race.  Imagine my surprise when he finished 8th overall in that whole group - not even his age group!  He did the half-mile in 15 minutes and 56 seconds.

(Below) He was so spent, Coach Julie had to help him stand for his photo.

But he emerged victorious in his age group.  First Place!  His father and I are so proud of him.  He really did a great job!
HUGE thank you to his coach, Julie, who was so supportive and energetic and really made this a wonderful day for him.

Thanks so much for stopping in.  I hope you are keeping cool, wherever you are.  It's nasty here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Art Camp: Almost Done

It's the final week of art camp.  It's been a great summer so far with so many fun and talented kids to make art with.  I thought I'd share some of the projects.

Last week was Picture Book Party, so all the projects linked up with picture books.  (Above) I read the campers Fish Is Fish by Leo Lionni and we painted watercolor flying fish.

I read The Dot by Peter Reynolds and the kids painted their own watercolor rainbow dots.  In an ideal world, we would have painted lots of dots, but I can only afford so much watercolor paper.  Still, this was a good project for teaching them how to use watercolors properly and how to blend them a bit.

In the mornings, I have mini lessons up.  One day it was faces.  Look what a great job one camper did making all the faces!  I love this so much!

We read The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers and made our own book eating kids with pastels.

On Friday we finished with The Grouchy Ladybug and made bug collages.  I had the kids prepare their own papers for the wings and bodies, just like Eric Carle.  They did a fantastic job.

Now we are in Week 4: Native American Wonders.  We started the week by making Native American story maps.

In other news:  It's been hot!  Like way too hot!  Like, when the forecast says it's going to be 90, I think "That's not so bad," because it's been above 90!  I do not like this at all.  But, for the next two days we are looking at 84-85, so I'm going to make the most of it.

Then it goes back to massive heat and I have to be cranky and grouchy and hole up and watch Netflix with the fan blasting on me wishing August would evaporate and it would be September already!

I hope you're able to keep your cool.  :)
Thanks for stopping in.

Monday, July 11, 2016


We have a blueberry bush.  It was here when we moved in and it's fabulous.  I love going out early in the morning with my bowl of cereal and plucking ripe blueberries to pop on top.

However, this year it's a wee bit more challenging because I have competition.

The squirrels and birds are wise to my blueberry bush and they invade it constantly.  In fact, they just hang out on wires and branches waiting for me to leave before they swoop in.

Here it is.  I have to do regular harvests to obtain any blueberries at all for myself.  I don't know why the critters are raiding it more this year than others.  Maybe it's because Java's getting older and hangs out inside more.  Or maybe they've seen how slow she pounces and no longer fear her.

I dunno.

I just know that those little buggers are stealing my blueberries.

That said, I did get a good harvest the other day, enough to make blueberry scones.  Yay!

In other news:
Magoo and I are gearing up for Week 3 of Art Camp.  Picture Book Party.  This is my favorite week! I love the crafts.

And, we have another heat wave coming at the end of the week.  I do not love 90 degree days.  But the AC is in upstairs and the Mighty Oak out back helps to keep the house at about 80-82 degrees if I lock it down early in the morning, so we'll survive.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Art Camp: Week 1

The first week of Art Camp at the West Hartford Art League is over, and they were a great group to get the ball rolling with.  My campers are going into Kindergarten and First Grade, so they are on the younger side.  Most of them are five or six.  But this past group had three four-year-olds and man-oh-man was I nervous about that.

Four-year-olds are sweet, but they are not always ready for art camp.  Some of them can't write their names.  Some of them miss Mom and Dad too much.  Some of them simply can't handle sitting still. But this group was great!  Only one girl was a little weepy and missed Mom, but she only required a small bit of extra pampering and encouragement and she was right back in it.

The theme for the week was Asian Exploration which is one of my favorites because I love the projects and the stories.  Here's what we worked on.

Day 1.  Sumi-E Brush Painting.  We did cats, snails, and mice.

Day 2.  Oriental Vase with Branches.  They blow out black ink to make the branches and dot little bits of pink for the blossoms.  Then we add a collage vase.

This isn't actually a project.  This is morning work.  Sometimes I let the kids free draw.  Other times I have lessons on table tents.  This camper did such a great face from the table tent instructions, I had to take a photo.

Day 4.  Printmaking.  Printmaking is always a big day.  It's difficult for them to understand the concept of carving their image instead of drawing it.  But once we get past that, the pulling of the prints is always a good time.

Day 5.  Wang Yani Monkeys.  I love teaching the kids about the real-life child prodigy artist Wang Yani, who was exhibiting her works starting at age five.  The campers painted some fabulous monkeys this year.

Now I am onto Week 2: African Adventure.  It's a full class.  Twelve new students.  Wish me luck!

In other news, we celebrated Fourth of July this past weekend.  Magoo and I made this cookie White House from a kit we got at Trader Joe's.  Fun!

Hope you had a great holiday (or just a great weekend!)
Thanks for stopping by!