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!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Vacation: St. Croix!

We just got back from vacation!  We don't go away often, but we just had a fantastic vacation in St. Croix.

Mike's sister has a house there, SolMates, which she rents out when she and her husband can't be there.  It's fabulous!  2 bedrooms.  2 baths.  Kitchen.  PRIVATE POOL!  Here's the link if you want to check it out.

One of the first things we did was a Snookah Tour via AQUAMAN.  Well, one of the first things we really did was drive across the island to Cane Bay and getting lost a few times across the way.  Mike did a fantastic job driving on the left side of the road.  I was navigator.  But there was a turn off that we just couldn't find.  It's pretty tropical down there.  Not everything is well marked.  But we found it eventually.  And THEN we did a Snookah Dive.

See the tube coming off Magoo's back?  That's his air tube.  The Snookah (also called Snuba) is a combo of snorkeling and scuba.  The air tank is on a little raft on the surface.  We were tethered to it (which was comforting for this Mom) but you could stay underwater the whole time.

It was fantastic!  I HIGHLY recommend doing this if you get a chance.

Another super fun activity was taking a tour to Buck Island, snorkeling the underwater National Park there, and spending time on the most perfect sandy beach that I've ever been too.  We did this tour via Caribbean Sea Adventures.

Our guide, Summer, took this underwater shot of Magoo and I snorkeling.

Mike got this great shot of some brain coral.  I LOVED the brain coral!  It looked like a Keith Haring painting.

The Political Line by Keith Haring
Here's the beach!  Isn't it gorgeous?

We did a half day trip, but if we go back -- or rather when we go back -- we'll definitely do a full day.  It's soooo wonderful!

Anyway, that's what I've been up to.  Fun in the sun.  I hope you've been enjoying summer too.
Thanks for dropping in!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Recent Works

Bowl of Pears                      2016                       j. c. phillipps

Hi there.

June is kinda a crazy busy month for me.  School is out.  (Magoo, I am proud to report, got straight A's all year long.)  Lots of birthdays.  My art is up at a restaurant called The Spicy Green Bean in Glastonbury.  And I'm preparing for summer art camp at the end of June.

But I have had a little time to work on some art.  The piece above, Bowl of Pears,  is a watercolor that I recently completed.  I am trying to do smaller watercolors, as I have had a difficult time selling the larger ones.  Also, if the original artwork is smaller, it will fit in my scanner, and I can get a better reproduction for prints and cards.

The work below was done for a specific show at the West Hartford Art League in the Fall.  All pieces have to be 24" X 24" and self-portraits.

Julie with Poppies                 2016                   j. c. phillipps
I thought for awhile of what direction I should go with it.  It's unlikely a self-portrait will sell.  And 24" X 24" is not tiny, so this was either going to live in my basement or I had to come up with something I wouldn't mind having around.  I played with a few ideas, but I settled on the collage mosaic because #1. I have the paper.  #2. I love mosaics.  #3 It's just stylized enough for it not to matter a whole bunch if it's an awesome depiction of me.

It went faster than I thought it would and I enjoyed making it more than I thought I would.  But, as a 44 year old woman, hunching over to place tiny squares of paper on a canvas is not easy on my back. I don't think there will be too many of these in my future.  Still, I like how it turned out.

Did you see the Tonys?  Go Hamilton!
My heart and love goes out to Orlando.
Hope you all are well.
Thank you for stopping by.
Love is love is love is love.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Celebrate West Hartford 2016

This weekend was our town fair, Celebrate West Hartford.  Mike and I let Magoo loose to create havoc and mayhem with his middle school friends, and we hit the art show.

My friend David Davis Wilson is a fabulous potter.  I could lose some serious cash in his booth, but instead, I choose to build my collection gradually.  I already had the bowl with the houses.  It's my favorite go-to snack bowl.  So I bought the one with the truck this weekend.  I call it my Town and Country set.

If I was rich and had many houses, I would buy a lot more art.  It was a really good showing this year.  Lots of wonderful crafters and art.  I love wood crafts.  I would have loved to find some smaller salad bowls, but we did find this one man, Forrest Doyle, who makes these amazing cutting boards.  

He had a ton of wonderful pieces, but we settled on this one, The Golden Ratio.  Technically, it's a cutting board, but we mounted it on the wall of the dining room because it's really too nice for the mess that we would make of it.  That said, if I'm having a fancy party and need a nice cheese board, I might put it into use.

Later in the afternoon, Magoo called to be picked up.  I met him in a parking lot and saw that he had a GIANT alien with him.

After a failed attempt to deflate it, and trying to fit it into our small car this way and that, this is what we ended up with.

You can imagine the stares and giggles we produced on our way down the street.  That kid's a sucker for inflatable aliens.

Saturday was sunny and great.  Sunday went from overcast to storms.  I hope my artist friends didn't get too soaking wet on Sunday.  (This is why I only do indoor shows.)   But it's also nice for me to be able to enjoy Celebrate West Hartford, because I do love my town and I enjoy celebrating it.

Hope you all had a great weekend!
Thanks so much for stopping by!