Thursday, July 14, 2016

Back Home

We are back from two weeks in Ohio and I have a ton of things to catch up on. I'm having a little trouble recovering. (Much napping has been happening.) I was looking at this trip as kind of a dry run for taking everyone to Korea next year, and while I am feeling generally positive about it, I'm also really glad that it's next year and not any time soon.

We arrived home in time for the first Sun Sugar tomatoes. This year I bought three plants and started three from seed. It's been pretty cool and rainy since we got home, but now it's warming back up again. Should be good tomato weather.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Porch Pics with Dad

(You never know what you're going to get, photographing these kids!)  Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Going to Mount St. Helens

Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, we took a day trip out to Mount St. Helens. The day started out rainy and we weren't sure how the visibility was going to be, but Doug checked a webcam of the mountain and we decided to go for it.

Doug and Kate went to help clean the church so we didn't get on the road till about 11:00. Doug wanted to drive out through Tenino and see some of the little places that you don't get to see from the highway.  It was really pretty--very green and hilly, and the patchy cloud cover made for some nice lighting.

We stopped to visit Grandma Mary and her new husband, Ed. They have a little place out in the country, south of Chehalis.

We stopped at the first visitor's center (before you get to the actual park), where Doug got a hat pin and Kate found a cute little bat finger puppet. (She's been very interested in bats lately.)

Further up the road is the Forest Learning Center, which has a playground.  We had to stop and let the kids run around for a while.

The central feature of the playground is a big fake volcano, where kids can play "don't touch the lava!"

The view was amazing. (And the lighting made my little Mom-with-camera heart very happy.)

We drove through the reforested area, and then got into some places where you can still see the tree trunks sprawled on the ground, away from the blast.

It was after 4:30 by the time we got to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. That was where most of the people were--they have a big parking lot, and it was pretty full. The mountain was huge and impressive, looming somberly over everything. I imagine it's quite blinding on a clear day.

There were a lot of these red flowers around--I don't know what they are!

A nice man at the top of the ridge took a family picture for us.

Cool clouds on the way back (starting to get dark!)

In the tiny town of Toledo we stopped to get gas and noticed a Mexican restaurant across the street, so we decided to get dinner there.

The restaurant was right next to the Cowlitz river, so we had to go check it out after we ate. Doug stuck a hand in and pronounced it glacially cold. And Andy, of course,  found some rocks to throw in.

We arrived back home after the kids' bedtime.  Long day!  We had a couple of minor meltdowns (and one somewhat-less-minor one) but it was a good trip. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Snail Watching

Kate spent quite a while out in the rain, watching all the snails in the yard. It's like Snail City out there when it's wet.

They really like the Red Hot Poker plant!

Kate wants a pet snail. I guess it's no weirder than pet pillbugs (and possibly less likely to get eaten by the cat).

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Front Yard Flowers

The dutch irises in the front yard made a nice backdrop for our annual Children's Day pictures.  It was a really sunny day so we waited till evening and got some nice lighting. 

Andy is always looking away from the camera, or looking like he's thinking really hard.

Kate on the camera.


Kate had so much fun goofing off in the yard that she wanted to finish up her homework out there too.  I'm not complaining!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Käthe Kollwitz and The Threepenny Opera

Tacoma Opera finished out their season with a production of The Threepenny Opera. This was a very different set from anything else that I've worked on.  Noel gave me five drawings by Käthe Kollwitz
to reproduce on big panels, to display along the back of the set. The opera was written in 1928 in Germany (between the wars), and its themes of social criticism are nicely illustrated by Kollwitz's depictions of poverty and oppression.

For this show we had the use of an empty office building downtown (owned by the man who owns the Armory, I hear).  Doug checked out a laptop and projector from school, and I used that to trace the images onto the panels. I've never tried reproducing anything like this in paint before, and I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but it turned out to be surprisingly quick and easy. The fact that they were (mostly) sketchy and imprecise helped a lot.  I ended up just dry-brushing everything, and it looked just like sketchy pencil lines.

This was the one piece that was not sketchy pencil lines--more of a cross-hatch pen-and-ink technique, which was a lot more complicated to reproduce. I'm glad they weren't all like that!

I thought the girl in profile was looking a little too Dr. Seuss-y, so when Anne Marie came painting with me one day, I got her to take a look at it and figure out what it needed. (Doug often gets to fill this role when I work on things at home--it helps to have a second pair of eyes.)

Anne Marie dry-brushing stairs.  The rest of the set was all weathered gray wood.

Photo by Kate (she was having stomach pains and came with me instead of going to school that day).

This was a really nice space. There was plenty of room to spread out all my painting stuff and not get in the way of rehearsals. (It did get a bit hot and stuffy on sunny days, but other than that it was awesome.)  The ceilings were nice and high, too, so I didn't have to worry about whacking anything when turning a panel over.  They were looking for a new tenant, though, so I guess we won't be able to use it again. Alas!

Theater load-in started on a Friday instead of Saturday this time, and I was actually not painting up until the last minute on the day of dress rehearsal. There was still a lot to do, painting and dry-brushing the scaffolding that they put together, and painting the undersides of the higher platforms black so they wouldn't be glaringly visible from the audience. It was kind of a noisy set, with people running up and down the different levels, but Tony put some carpet on the higher platforms and that helped.

Photos by Peter Serko.

(That's Johann in the back.)

I went to the opening night show with Mary McGiffin and Erica Davis (Anne Marie went to a Sherman Alexie book signing and couldn't come). Mary has been to four of my six operas with me, but it looks like this was our last together, since they just found out that they're moving to Spokane. So sad! I will miss my opera buddy!

I wasn't completely familiar with the storyline, but I knew that it was pretty dark and gritty. If I were going to sum up the theme, I would say it's about how morality goes out the window when people are starving. This definitely isn't one to take kids to.  The cast did a fabulous job and everything looked amazing. 

I got to paint all three shows this season! Now I shall fill my summer with other projects.