Sunday, April 06, 2014

Conference Weekend (six months later)



General Conference happens every six months, on the first Saturday and Sunday in April and in October. Last Conference Saturday we were moving into our new house. That was certainly a crazy weekend.  (And then it took us a few more weeks to get everything out of the old apartment!) This time we can relax and watch the broadcast. I've mentioned that I like to have a project to work on while listening. That didn't quite happen this time--I ordered another Japanese crochet book but it hasn't come yet. I've just been working on some photo editing.

It really doesn't feel like six months.  There were things about home ownership that came as a surprise (you mean we have to pay for the sewer?) but we're getting the hang of it.  More or less.   We haven't done much yet, but we've finally figured out exactly what we're going to do with the bathroom, so hey, that's a start!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Art and Clay, Kate, and a Fish.



One of Kate's classmates had a birthday party at the Art and Clay Studio.  This place is down in Lakewood.  Apparently it's been there for a few years, but I'd never heard of it until just recently.  (I've even driven by it plenty of times and never noticed it--too distracted by the taxidermy and stained glass signs, perhaps.)



Most of the girls picked teddy bears to paint, one chose a duck, and Kate got a cute fish.



The girls all had a great time singing along with the Frozen soundtrack while they painted. And dancing around, toward the end. It was a pretty exuberant bunch. (Ah, to be young and energetic!)



This ended up being a very colorful fish.  We'll get it back in about a week, after it's been glazed and fired. Now I want to paint something too!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

My First Daffodils



It's April!  And I have daffodils!



I've always loved daffodils, and always wanted a place to grow some of my own. They are all over town right now, but I'm enjoying being able to look out the window and see my very own little host of golden daffodils, tossing their heads in the breeze.


I'm looking foward to seeing them multiply every year.  After we get the front edge of the yard fixed up I want to put in some different kinds--maybe some of those pink double daffodils. Fancy!


Kate likes them too!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tacoma Murals Project

I've applied for this: Tacoma Murals Project. The program began a few years ago, and I found out about it too late to apply, but I contacted them and got on the mailing list. So this year I'm going for it! I got all my info in a couple of days before the deadline.



They wanted pictures of fifteen works. I've done a good number of murals, stage sets, and other painting projects, but had to fill in with a couple of pencil drawings (which will showcase my versatility, I guess!)

I've been wanting to do something like this for a long time.  I've even thought of finding a muralist in the area who would let me shadow them.  I was so sad when I realized I'd missed the application deadline, when I first found out about the project.  But in the intervening time I've been accumulating experience and connections.  I love the fact that I get to use the director of Tacoma Opera as a professional reference now.  

They'll be choosing a few sites around town and matching artists up with community groups.  If I don't get picked as a lead artist I could be an assistant.  (I've never done an exterior mural before, so assisting might be a good way to start.) I should hear by April 15th!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Back to the Ol' Cutting Board.



One of the ladies that I visit teach just had a birthday, and I was feeling the creative bug, and it had been a while since I'd done some papercutting... so this happened.  I didn't intend for it to be quite this elaborate, but it was a fun project.



The cutting part took maybe about three hours.. I find it relaxing. (Kind of zen--get in the cutting zone.) I moved Doug's little work lamp over to my computer desk and sat and listened to NPR podcasts while I worked. I was able to get a lot done while Andy was at preschool, and then finished it up after he got back and we had lunch.



The finished product! I don't think I've combined paper cutting with torn edges before--it just came to me in a flash of inspiration, and I love how it turned out.  (I tore the edges before tracing my design onto the back.) 

After this I recreated the whole thing in Adobe Illustrator.  I've been trying, off and on, to familiarize myself with the program enough to be able to create cool vector graphics like I used to do in Corel Draw.  I think I'm finally getting the hang of it.  Yay!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Coming Up Spring



One of the reasons why I was in a hurry to get all that ivy out was so I could put in some daffodil bulbs before it got too cold. I ordered a 40-bulb pack from Breck's and got them in the ground right before Thanksgiving.  They are starting to come up!  It's so fun to come out of the house every day and see the leaves poking up a little higher.  Can't wait for them to bloom!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Smile--it's Mom's birthday!



Happy birthday to me!  I didn't think of getting pictures till after 4:00, but we still had some good light.  We've had some lovely sunny days. 



Andy's not going for this "look at the camera" thing.



That bush is covered with buds (neighbor says it's a camellia), and one flower already! Spring is on the way!

Friday, February 21, 2014

How we (and our bananas) spent mid-winter break.

University Place school district takes off the week of President's Day. Doug still had his classes, but the kids and I enjoyed some time at home. The weather was warming up, and Kate got to go over to friends' houses a couple of times, which was great and kept us from driving each other crazy!



Andy in the window light.



Baking! My friend Donna got me her friend's challa recipe. (We didn't have any poppy seeds but got some later.) Yummy!  Kate likes saying "challa."  She's got that fricative "ch" down. 



I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was hilarious, so I had to do it to our bananas. (They were, of course, the last ones to get eaten.)

I had a bit of excitement when I realized that one of my external hard drives had died. I've been using Backblaze for online backup, but I've never had to actually restore anything with it before. It worked great! It did take a while to download all my files, but I got everything back. Whew!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love Craft



We had a Relief Society activity making cards for nursing home residents, and I was asked to come up with some sample cards.  And because I'm never one to let time constraints or sanity stand in the way of a crafty idea, I carved my own stamps and made up a bunch of these letter tiles for people to use.  Anne Marie came over (she's my visiting teacher), and I put her to work. (It took us a few tries to figure out how to get a good print.) Playing with paper and paint is always fun. Doing it with a friend is even better. 



Kate made her own valentines again, and I threw something together for Andy at the last minute. (Thanks to Melany for the idea!) It was a busy couple of days.  Kate came down with a fever and had to miss her party, but I took her valentines in to her class. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's Dad's birthday!



Pics with the kids for Doug's birthday! It was just warm enough to pop outside for a few minutes without coats on.




Awwwww!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Snowy Sunday



We got snow! While much of the rest of the country has been buried, we have been persistently snow-less. (We did get a little bit back in November.)  We saw some pictures of  the snow in Portland, and by Saturday night it had made it up to our area.  Looked like about three inches total.



Kate was so excited. We have church at 9:00 this year, but she had about half an hour to play before getting ready. And of course I had to go out and get some pictures.



It started raining by that afternoon, and we were pretty much back to normal the next day.  No school closure this time.  Church was rather sparsely attended, though!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

A Night at the Opera



After all the planning meetings and weeks of work it's time for the performance! My painting contract included two free tickets. Doug, who saw the entire Ring cycle in Seattle last summer, thought somebody else should have a turn, so I took Mary McGiffin for a girls' night out. (She was my on-the-spot babysitter a few times when schedules conflicted.) It was a freezing cold night and windy, but it was great fun and we were both super excited ("Oooh, we're going to the opera!")



Photo by Glib Smaga.

They put us right behind the orchestra at first, but Noel came by and said he would find us different seats, so then we got to move to the back where we could see better.   The performance was great.  Neither of us really knew anything about the story and we enjoyed watching it unfold.  It's a lot like a Shakespeare play--love, disguises (no cross-dressing, in this one), humor, misunderstanding, drama--except that everything is sung, and it's all in Italian.  (They did have English titles projected above the stage.)   The performers were all fantastic, and wonderfully expressive.  The guy who played Figaro was especially fun to watch.




I sent in a short bio, but it was slightly altered between my email and the playbill. What I said was "A mother of two and an aspiring muralist, she and her family recently moved into a home in University Place with many invitingly blank walls." The way it came out makes me sound like a graffiti artist.

Late night!  I was feeling it the next day.  (The Rialto is a gorgeous old theater, but those seats are not comfortable.)  The performance ran almost three hours (including the intermission) and then we spent a while out in the lobby talking to JoLee and Patrick Watson of the multi-stake committee about the production of The Sound of Music that they're doing this summer.  (Patrick says he has six different sets planned, so there will be tons of painting to do!)

I went back Sunday evening to get all the paint cleaned up and put away (I didn't want to leave my six reds in disposable Ziploc containers sitting around for somebody else to deal with). Everything came down a lot faster than it went up.  I gave my storage closet key to Tony. He asked me "Aren't you coming back?" and I assured him that I would be happy to.  This whole experience has been very cool.  I love being able to create something and then see it used and appreciated. 

Friday, February 07, 2014

Painting Seville



I have been busy busy busy working on this for the past month--I got to do the set painting for Tacoma Opera's production of The Barber of Seville.  It's been a really fantastic experience.  Lots of work and lots of fun.

21 days
73 (and a half) hours of painting
probably about 5 hours (or more) of clean up
21 hours of travel time
numerous NPR podcasts
1 audiobook
5 runs to Home Depot
and 20 almond-butter sandwiches.
Whew! 

The genesis of this was Tacoma Opera doing The Pirates of Penzance  right after our church put it on last summer, and borrowing some of the pieces, including the rocks that I painted.  They asked for my number and got in touch with me.  (Would I like to do some painting for the opera?  Heck yeah!)  We had a meeting back in November and got started on the planning.  I met Bill the set designer, who does amazing blueprint-style plans complete with architectural handwriting, Tony the master carpenter, and Kevin the technical director/assistant stage manager/glue that holds everything together. 



Notes, plans, inspiration!  (That's Bill's skyline and a Tomie dePaola illustration from Strega Nona.)

Most of the painting happened at the Urban Grace church downtown (just up the hill from the Rialto theater).  They have a big storage closet there, and a little room on the side where I worked.  Since we moved we're now a lot farther from downtown, so it's about a half-hour drive, and I had to work around my family's schedule, but for the most part it was pretty flexible.  I just went in after Doug got home, and took along some food and something to listen to. On Saturday mornings I also got to listen to the Tacoma Youth Symphony practicing, which was kind of fun. 



The first thing I worked on was the city skyline backdrop.  I had a copy of the plans and got to enlarge it onto the panels free-hand.  (Which was fortunately not as difficult as I had feared, but did take a while!)



I probably spent more time on this than I really needed to.



Next, roof tiles. I had six 2'x8' panels to cover, and I mixed up six different colors.



I had picked up a large pointed round brush that turned out to be really good for doing these outlines. It still took me about half an hour to outline one panel, and I was bending over the whole time, so it was pretty hard on my back!



The rest of the pieces were ready to paint just a week before dress rehearsal. Kevin helped me with the base coat, which probably took about two days off my work time. We worked on these out in the big room (Urban Grace's Lower Temple). I was able to start messing around with my stucco finish effect before they were moved over to the theater, but didn't get a lot done.



Theater load-in was that Saturday. This was where it really got exciting. I enjoyed working by myself, but being on site with everyone else putting it all together was just very cool. Once the walls were secure I was able to continue putting on the stucco finish. (There were also a few things that needed another layer of base coat, and some last-minute additions that hadn't been painted at all, so there was plenty to keep me busy.)



(I took some of these with the camera on my little Samsung media player, but once I saw how they turned out I went back to lugging my big camera back and forth.)



Kevin puts up a roof panel.



More stuccoing. Lots of ladder work. I was starting to get a twinge in my leg from going up and down ladders.



Lisa Prina, who was Mabel in the church Pirates production, is playing the maid in this. She arrived for rehearsal and I got her to take some pictures for me.  (She was awesome--thanks Lisa!)
 
 

Tony the carpenter.



Kevin and Royce hang backdrop panels.



Everything came together just beautifully. Noel Koran, the general director, told me it's the best-looking set they've had. I told him how much I enjoyed working on it, and he said, "Well, it won't be the last time, if I have any say in it." I would love to make this a regular thing. (They only do three productions a year, and the next one is Madame Butterfly, which they've done before and already have a set for, but there will be more in the future.) The hours were kind of hard on my family, so it's probably a good thing that I'm not running off and painting all the time! I'll have to ask Doug if he's up for it again. He's been a great support through all this. 

Here are some rehearsal photos where you can see the set in various stages of completion.  (I ended up taking out that red railing in the background--it just didn't look right.)  Can't wait to see the performance!