Maybe my kids and I listen to too much Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings while washing dishes. Or perhaps we're just feeling that wanderlust to travel off on a proper adventure while doing our mundane daily chores? Or it could be that it's just that I'm just mapping out the plot line for novel numero two (pictured above), so my head is fixated on the setting of my book in the Kent countryside...
But if you happen to be as much of an Anglophile as we are, then July's 1st Friday of the Month Book Review was written especially for you...click here to pop on over to six children's book titles with British connections, that will whisk you off to jolly old England for half-a-dozen reads that are truly the bee's knees.
And one fantastic recent discovery with a fun British flare, is the interview with one of my favorite English historians-- Lucy Worsley--regarding her new biography, Jane Austen at Home, Just search Lucy Worsley: Audible Sessions: FREE Exclusive Interview. Did you know there's an entire series of free interviews on Audible?
Just type in "audible sessions," if you do have an audible account, and you'll find a score of fascinating interviews that delight readers and writers alike. (And no, I'm not advertising for Audible.com, this is just something cool I stumbled upon recently, and thought you might dig it too).
P.S. The two pics below illustrate just two of the fun interviews awaiting for a taste of England if you're wanting a little jaunt over the pond about now. Enjoy!
Another Painting-in-a-Day Challenge...
Matt set up this time lapse video while we were watching a day of general conference for our church last spring. This makes it look like the easiest twenty-nine seconds of a cake walk ever. Ha ha. I wish! My entire body was tense by the end of the twelve-hour stint. Those shoulder muscles twanged for days.
But regardless of my inexperience and lack of confidence, every painting process is an extraordinary adventure! The fire weed blossoms didn't turn out as nicely as the original blooms looked (on a cousins/sisters' trip to Prince Edward Island six years ago), they never do, right? But if you want to see the larger version of the piece, click here to jump to the Oil Painting Gallery.
The Four-hour Challenge? Maybe Sixteen...
The prospect of painting makes me giddy. I love it! But it's also tedious, and takes time to set up the model, mix and match the colors to skin tones, and fabrics, and still find enough day light hours leftover to have the sun illuminate the subject after all the fuss. I'll admit, all of these elements (on top of stopping to feed oneself, and one's family) make for some burning in the shoulders. But seeing a rough sketch change and morph into a developed painting is so thrilling. More than anything, painting is just absolutely satisfying--watching a favorite subject appear that wasn't on the canvas hours before.
Recently, I signed up for a free month of Bluprint. No, Bluprint has no idea I'm doing this (being the teensy ant in the termite mound of the art world that I am), so they did not endorse my free advertising on their behalf. Bluprint is just the only way possible to watch the series "Portrait Artist of the Year." Have you seen this cool sensation?
Sky Arts invites thousands of artist throughout the UK to submit their own self portraits (created in any medium) for the acceptance of a panel of three judges. Only a handful of artists are selected to paint a model in four hours. My husband and one of my daughters challenged me to paint a portrait in the same narrow window of time. I accepted the test, a little nervous to prove myself to them, as four hours is no time at all in which to wrap-up a painting in oils. (Especially after just getting back into the rhythm after a sixteen year hiatus...)
So I set up my model--that very daughter who was timing me--along with her inquisitive pet bunny, Jack. And having watched a few episodes of the show with me, my daughter clicked the timer on her watch and said, "Artist you may now begin!" Off I went--in a mad flurry of pigments and stubby, cheap brushes. At the half way point, when I was feeling I'd hardly just begun, my daughter's timer went off again, and she said, "Artist, you are now half way there!"
"No! I can't be!" The searing pain in my shoulders was settling--I could've fried eggs on my trapezius muscles! And then after what felt like only thirty more minutes, Micah announced (in a slightly British impersonation of Joan Bakewell): "Artist, your four hours is up. Put your brushes down!" WHEW!!! So after four hours of painting nonstop, this is only as far as I progressed (ha ha!):
No face! But no worries. My husband and daughter were understanding. But I felt so determined to finish the portrait in one day. So I foolishly threw a few precious hours of sleep out the window (all while needing to get up at 5 with teens the next morning--UGH!), and felt at least a little better to complete the painting in one day--sixteen hours total. Oh well! Four times longer than the Portrait Artist of the Year painters. Doh! I've got a ways to go with practicing speed and proficiency!
So my goal is to complete at least two portraits a week until I can achieve a finished piece in four hours. Two friends have agreed to let me paint them in the coming weeks, and I'll be hounding more of you good people to pose, over the months and years. So maybe soon, I'll have more delightful portraits to post.
Here's a progression of shots of making the painting. The first one is staining the canvas with a nice middle-tone brown liquid made of two parts mineral spirits to one part Holbein Titanium white and burnt umber (so as to judge the color spectrum more clearly on the canvas).
Next it's time to arrange the model while my canvas is warming/drying in the oven (I try to avoid baking canvases except for when I forget to stain them the day before! EEK! Don't try this at home, folks. *Head shake...*). Then we arrange the pose by using a computer monitor with an enlarged photo, a printed copy of the photographed model taped to the easel, and the patient model in front of me for quick reference for an hour or so while I mix colors. Also below, you'll see a progression of shots as the piece was being painted, and as more color fills the pallet to block in areas of detail:
At the end of the four hours, I hadn't even reached the face yet. But that, my dear friends, is thepièce de résistance--getting to the dessert after the meal--saving the focus of the painting for last. Anyway, here's the finished piece after sixteen hours. Painting my daughter was a blast! And she actually liked the end result. Next time I'll go with less garish colors for the back drop, and just do a head study. Anyway, that's the process of living and learning. Now back to work for all of us!