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The Husband’s quest for the west continues with a week-long trip to New Mexico.  Land of Enchantment.  At least that’s what their license plates say. Now why would he want to take me away from this?

cityscape - Brooklyn 11-2013Street scene, Bushwick, Brooklyn – watercolor on 140# Arches coldpress

 To this?

Cotton wood trees New Mexico 11-2013

ABQ Balloon - Nov. 2013

Rio Grande New Mexico 11-2013

Yes, I’ll admit, we had a great time and while we were there all the cottonwood trees had turned a gorgeous bright yellow.  We had perfect weather except for the trip to Santa Fe and Taos.   Luckily the weather didn’t get bad in either city until the afternoon so we did get to see some sights. The Santa Fe Museum of Art had an interesting collection including some works from famed collectors Herb & Dorothy Vogel.

We took a hot air balloon ride, which came complete with a crash landing. We rode horses down to the Rio Grande. And when I say “rode” I mean we slowly walked with a guide except for once in a while when my horse decided to trot because he thought we were going too slowly all the while I was shaking and looking for rattlesnakes.  Yeehaw!  My horse was “Chief”  and The Husband’s horse was a GIGANTIC Belgian staff horse named Bob.  Bob was the size of a 50′s Cadillac!

Before the trip to New Mexico I was lucky to take a workshop with Jean Haines.  I took the workshop because I wanted to paint more loosely.   Of course I hadn’t read any of Jean’s books and only saw a few pictures of her work so I was totally unprepared.   Luckily Jean is a wonderfully warm teacher with a great sense of humor although she did look at every photo reference I brought and hated all of them.  She does not draw at all except with her water and paint and really discouraged everyone in the workshop NOT to draw before painting.   Here are a two things I painted.  Flowers and half a dog.  half a doggie a la jean haines

Jean Haines flowers 10-2013

Central Park from Belvedere Castle

I met up with the NYC Urban Sketchers in Central Park at Belvedere Castle. Belvedere, meaning “beautiful view” in Italian was, according to the Central Park website, a “Victorian Folly” built by Calvert Vaux. Belvedere Castle has been equipped with  meteorological equipment since 1919 and records rainfall, wind and other weather information.  But for us it was the first stop of a beautiful day in a beautiful place.

I arrived at Belvedere Castle to discover that a high school art class from Memphis, Tennessee had joined us.   They were adorable and fun and thrilled to be in NYC.  They had seen Kinky Boots and Pippin on Broadway, thought Times Square was “awesome” and after leaving us were going to the Metropolitan Museum.   They also saw that some of us were using water brushes to paint.  Well, you would have thought we had just showed them electricity for the first time.  Water brushes were awesome too.  And they called me and Susan ma’am.  Which is something I think NYC brats kids should start.  I never thought I would like it, but I really didn’t mind being called ma’am.

Belvedere Castle

Urban Sketcher in the park

Tree with sketcher

Some of us stayed at Belvedere Castle while others went to the next stop which was by the Delacorte Theater to sketch the statue of Romeo and Juliet.  Then on the to lawn looking up at Belvedere Castle when a sketcher from Perth, Australia joined us. And then we all realized we were starving.  Off to Carmine’s for lunch where unfortunately I had to take my leave, but the others stayed and ate and sketched.  You can visit the NYC Urban Sketchers’ blog here. and visit some of the other sketchers sites, Joan Tavalott’s blog here.  And Mia’s website here.

Mountains 10-12-2013

Mountain exercise that I did once before here:  http://carolking.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/the-human-family-tree-and-6-degrees-of-kevin-bacon/ .  Wet in wet and lots of fun.

Annie the Beagle mix

Rescued today and brought to her forever home in New Hampshire by my friends Rob and Diane.

Audrey and Roberta – two kittens rescued last weekend by my friend Judy

 

Anyone who knows me knows I’m really not a puppies and kittens and rainbows and unicorns kinda person.  But this weekend I got to meet and love Audrey and Roberta the kittens and Annie the puppy.  What a weekend!

No rainbows, but what country has a unicorn as its national animal?  Nicola?  Can you answer that for us?

This particular buzzfeed article made me laugh.  6 castles that cost less than NYC apartments http://www.buzzfeed.com/benrosen/6-castles-that-cost-less-than-an-apartment-in-nyc

Again, if you see an ad on this post, it’s not cause I agreed to it.  Grrrr.  Wordpress!

The mountains were a wet in wet technique I did with Joan of the famed subway series.  When I need to get back to basics I know where to go.

(The answer is Scotland.)

Pulitzer fountain - urban sketcheing 9-28-2013Pulitzer Statue, NYC

I started Saturday meeting the NYC Urban Sketchers at the Pulitzer Fountain which is in front of the Plaza Hotel and Central Park.  We then moved to the entrance of the Central Park Zoo.  We didn’t go in, but sat on some benches and sketched there.  I left shortly after that to meet Jana Bouc, a fellow blogger who I only know from blogland.  She was visiting NYC with her friend Micaela Marsden another artist and urban sketcher. We met by the Conservatory Water (which I erroneously told her was called Conservatory Pond.)  Jana is as Northern Californian as I am a New Yorker.  Tall, lithe and lovely we had a wonderful time.

After chatting, sketching, and wandering the park, Jana, Micaela and I got on the subway to go downtown.  They wanted to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. We got on the Lexington Ave. express.  It was packed, but Micaela and I were lucky enough to get a seat.  Jana was standing.  As the doors closed we heard the familiar sound of someone asking for money. The man standing next to Jana gave the guy a dollar.

And then the unthinkable happened…Jana talked to the dollar-giving guy.

I was astounded.   Jana asked him if he always gives money to people begging on the subway or does he evaluate the story first and then give. The man told Jana he gives out of love and because he always gives money he gets money back.  Now he has a lot of money.  Jana then asked what he did?  His reply?  He sold da ganja.

Yep,  He sold marijuana.

Weed, Mary Jane, Waccy tobaccy. Chronic.  Grass.   He has a daughter that’s with her mother now, but he may try and get her back.  He also asked Jana what month she was born in.  She told him and he said that she was part of the tribe of Joshua.  What tribe is that?  Where is that in the bible?   Mr. Chronic said it was in the LOST BOOKS of the Bible.  Oh.  We finally got to the Brooklyn Bridge stop where Micaela, Jana and I got off and Jana’s new best friend hoped that God blessed her and continued on.

I CANNOT tell you how amused I was and Jana, I hope you don’t mind me telling that story.  I had a great time with you and Micaela and hope you visit again soon.

Here’s an article about that New York accent:  “In a really good New York conversation more than one person is talking a lot of the time”http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/newyorkcity/

falling leaves 9-23-2013Falling leaves – watercolor on 9″x12″ 140# Arches coldpress

My brother who does not read my blog emailed me the story below.   He spends HOURS in his car commuting to and from his job each day and has seen many bizarre things while driving (sitting) in traffic on the LIE, the Cross Bronx Parking lot Expressway, the George Washington Bridge and many of the other terrible NYC roads.  My brother is one of the funniest people I know and is extremely talented and creative.  He really should be writing books or screenplays or TV shows.   Hey, anyone out there need a writer for a movie?   I got a guy for you.

So I’m sitting in traffic on the Harlem river drive rolling up towards the George Washington bridge.  I look over and the guy next to me is playing a trumpet in his car.

A trumpet?   That’s ODD I think.   Coincidentally I had my slide trombone with me so we engaged in an impromptu jam session.  Until traffic starting moving again, naturally.

The above painting was a fun experiment using leaves my friend Patricia collected in Connecticut and negative painting.   We painted with Joan Iaconnetti who I’ve mentioned before who is a wonderful teacher and painter of an underground/subway series which I love.  http://www.joaniaconetti.blogspot.com/  We chatted, laughed, ate organic apples from the farmers market, followed by yummy chocolate chip cookies.   We laid the leaves out in a pleasing design to get an idea as to how we wanted the image to look.   We then removed all the leaves but the first one and painted around the edges of the leaf.  We continued to do this with leaf after leaf.  We also made sure to go back and soften any hard edges we didn’t want.   Finally we went back while a leaf section was still wet to drop in some additional color around the edges of the leaves.   I had so much fun with this I will do a second one using an autumn color scheme.  Stay tuned.

Carroll Street Bridge 9-15-2013Late afternoon on the Carroll Street Bridge – watercolor on 140# Arches

Guggenheim start 9-15-2013The Guggenheim – first wash

Flossie and her portraitFlossie and her portrait

I completed the Carroll Street Bridge painting and taking the advice of some of my blogger acquaintances I was careful not to overdo it and muddy it up. There are, at most, two to three washes of any color in this painting.  I’m pleased with it and may try it again.  I accidentally bought some Arches hot press paper.  Never having used hot press, I have no idea how it takes watercolor.  I am looking forward to trying something new.

Lest you think I’m just laying about eating bon-bons I also started a new painting of the Guggenheim museum.  Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright it’s interesting both inside and out.

Also, I posted a portrait of my brother-in-law’s kitty, Flossie.  She’s a beauty. She’s not Siamese, but something like that.  I did her portrait when she was a young kitten.  As you can see her face got a little darker.  I guess she’s out in the sun not using 50 SPF sunscreen.  I have no idea who is holding her up next to her picture, but Flossie doesn’t look that happy.

I’m off to the gym.  I don’t want to go, I’d rather nap.  But I just read yet another article on how the best thing for an aging brain is exercise.  I thought the best thing for an aging brain is chocolate.   I’m also reading “Drop Dead Healthy” by A. J. Jacobs. I’m only up to Chapter 5, The immune System.  I can tell you I’m already stressed by reading this book.  I do none of the things that are supposed to make me healthy. And high stress levels can make you sick or cause you to gain more belly fat.  (I already knew about belly fat since that seems to be every other ad on Facebook or Gmail or yahoo, or, you get the idea.)  But Mr. Jacobs does make me laugh and that’s good for you. I particularly liked the section where he talked about getting some raw cacao which was “certified organic, raw, low fermentation, non-fumigated, fair traded, strict farming standards, training and equipment provided, fair wages, profit reinvestment plan, purity tested, cruelty free, free range cacao.  Ok, the last two I made up.  But still.

Mr. Jacobs also has a treadmill desk where he wrote his book while walking. Apparently sitting is bad for us.  Since I sit at a desk all day I’m clearly doomed.  I wonder if the City will pay for a treadmill desk so I can walk and fill out paperwork at the same time.  I’m gonna go with no.

Finally, I would like to say that if you see an ad on my blog, I did not approve it. I guess WordPress needs to make money so they are putting ads on blogs on their own.  I could, of course PAY for the ads not to be there.  Ugh.

Chelsea water towers 8-18-13Chelsea water towers 13 1/2 ” x 10 1/4 inches on Arches 140# coldpress

If you think you’re experiencing deja vu, you’re not.  I’ve done this painting before here. I think I like some of the first painting better, but for sure I like the sky in this one much better.  The buildings are a bit more wonky (a highly technical artist word) but so is everything in NYC.

In the post where I had originally showed the first time I did this painting I noticed that I had done a short review of some recent plays that I had seen. So, to continue the tradition, here you go:

  1. Kinky Boots – it won the Tony this year so I was expecting more.  It’s a cute musical with lots of drag queens.  It was fun and enjoyable although my theatre going buddies did not agree with me.
  2. Matilda – Ugh, I still have a headache from those kids screaming singing.  My theatre going buddies once again disagreed with me on this one.  They liked it more than Kinky Boots.  I was not blown away by either one, but would take Boots over Matilda.
  3. Pippin – I had seen it the first time it was on Broadway, but really only remember Bob Fosse’s dancing.  I went not expecting to like it but I really did like it a lot.   The circus setting was lots of fun and Andrea Martin stole the show.  The night I was there Paul Shaffer, Martin Short and Eugene Levy were all there.  Martin Short and Eugene Levy performed with Ms. Martin in the Second City (SCTV) troupe.  And my friends brought a huge bag peanut M&Ms which of course we opened before the show started.  We know the rules.
  4. Here Lies Love – The Filipino Evita.  It was the story of Imelda Marcos and not once did they mention shoes.  I really enjoyed this show.  My theatre going buddies were mixed, but mostly they liked it.   This is not a Broadway show, but was at Joe Papp’s “The Public Theatre”.  Since it was a much smaller venue, the audience was on the floor and the performers on a few stages on either side of the audience and also in the middle. Some of the stages moved and at the end we could all go on the stage and dance.  Needless to say my sister and I were the first ones up there to shake our booties.

The MTV VMA awards are taking place at the Barclays Center which is a few blocks from where I live.  Earlier today I saw a few of the streets closed off but didn’t really pay attention.  Later this afternoon, I saw many more streets shut off, and tons of people gathering.  What does a native New Yorker do when she sees a crowd gathering?  Walk, nay RUN in the other direction.

My dog was camera shy this week so here’s a sunflower for the almost end of summer:

Sunflower 8-25-2013

David’s Sunflower – Watercolor and gouache on Arches 140# coldpress – SOLD

Arches National Park Utah on Masa PaperArches National Park, Utah – watercolor on  21″x 14 ” Masa Paper

Toned MasaToned Masa Paper

First WashFirst Wash

I showed the final painting to a few people before this post and not one, not two, but THREE people told me it reminded them of the Flintstones’ house.   Fred and Wilma, I’ve renovated your place.  You’re welcome.

Quin colors

A while back I got a box of Quinacridone colors from Daniel Smith.  I’ve used them on occasion, but decided to do a test of all of them on watercolor paper to see all the colors together since many of them are similar.   Here they are in all their Quin Glory.  I had started the painting at the top using some regular watercolors, but decided to add some of these colors to the mix.  I like the splash of Quin Pink in the bottom left corner of the painting.

And again, for no reason, here’s another picture of my dog.  Hey, get off the bed!

Woof

My cousins just returned from another wonderful trip to Pula, Croatia.   I can’t wait to go back there.  It got me to remembering my visit there and going through old photos.

Croatian woman 8-18-2013Croatian woman 1/4 sheet of Arches 140# cold press

Croatian woman 8-11-2013

I liked this woman who was carrying greens from the field.  It reminded me of a recent NYTimes article I read called “The Island where people forget to die.”   It’s a story about a Greek American who was diagnosed with lung cancer in his 60′s, decides to move back to the Greek Isle of Ikaria where he came from and then proceeds to continue to live another 30 years or so. According to the article that was written in October, 2012 he was either 97 or 102!  One of the keys to his long life…napping.

I love to nap.   I wonder if I will live to be 102?  Oh wait,  you also have to exercise and eat a mostly plant-based diet.  Where does chocolate fit in?

I imagine this woman carrying the greens from the field to make salad, tea, or soup.   I’m also trying not to overpaint paintings.

It’s almost mid-August and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” has been named the “song of the summer.”  It’s a super catchy tune with misogynistic lyrics.    However, the always amusing Jimmy Fallon did a cleaned up version of the song with Robin Thicke and his band The Roots using classroom instruments.  It makes me laugh and laugh.   Enjoy:

http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/video/jimmy-fallon-robin-thicke-and-the-roots-sing-blurred-lines-w-classroom-instruments/n39567/

watertower on masa 7-27-13Carroll Street water tower – 101/2 ” by 14″ – watercolor on Masa Paper

June was one of the wettest on record here in NYC.  I think it rained every day.  July was one of the hottest with temps in the 90′s and with the humidity making it feel like it’s in the 100′s.  And don’t even get me started on what it feels like down on the subway platforms.   I feel like I’ve been damp (a nicer word than sweaty) for two months.  Apparently you can’t use the word moist since a study showed that people HATE that word.  I never had a problem with moist especially when it’s paired with the word “cake”.

Well, I guess I’m mad for masa now.   I so enjoyed the first one I did here that I immediately started a second one.

Watertower on masa first wash 7-27-13

Here’s what it looked like after I toned the masa paper, drew the image and laid down the first washes.

I’ve already got another piece toned and ready to go.   Using the masa paper and toning it first is allowing me to be freer with colors.  Once the paper is toned you now must work with the toned paper and sometimes colors aren’t where you’d expect them to be since you are toning the back of the paper.

Speaking of colors, did you know that the definition of vermillion is?

a strong red that is deeper than geranium, yellower and deeper than geranium red, and bluer and deeper than average cherry red

How did I know that?  I was looking something up on the merriam-webster on-line dictionary and came across 10 definitions of colors. http://www.merriam-webster.com/top-ten-lists/top-10-words-for-unusual-colors/vermilion.html Now really, would you describe vermillion that way?   It almost sucks the life out of the color!

And for no reason, here’s a picture of my dog.

Kaiya 7-27-13And finally, why is the spacing all screwed up my my posts?   I have paragraph spacing, but when I post it all bunches up.  Ugh!  Anyone have any suggestions on how to fix it?

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