Monday, February 24, 2014

Rufus and Oscar Watch as the Smoke Man Performs Feats of Great Skill

  Here is an illustration I did for my dad. I used acrylic, tea and gouache.

   Rufus and Oscar both live in town, but when they spend too much time away from the wilderness, they get antsy. While at his day job working at the used book store, Rufus realized he had been staring out the window toward the woods when he should have been shelving books. The woods were calling to him! That night, he contacted Oscar.
  "It is time for another woodland adventure!" Rufus declared.
  Oscar, who was raised in the woods by wolves, had even more of a wild spirit then his forest-loving friend. He had been eager to rejoin the woods for a long while but patiently waited for the call of the woods to summon his friend. Oscar howled with excitement and said "I'll be ready by Tuesday!"
 While in the woods, the two friends do not pack food and instead rely on the forest to provide them meals. Whether it is fish from the stream or fresh blackberries from a thorny bush, they are grateful and delighted by their woodland meals. They make one exception to the forest-food-only rule. They always bring marshmallows with them. Rufus and Oscar not only share a love for the wilderness, they share a love for roasted marshmallows. There is nothing they love more then a campfire and crispy yet gooey marshmallows.
  It turns out that Rufus and Oscar are not the only one's with an enthusiasm for marshmallows. While on their second day in the woods, who should appear from the flickering flames of their campfire then the smoke man himself! The smoke man often feels too bashful to bring all his wispy black particles together to from his true form of a man. But he could tell that the two man huddled near him were his kindred spirits. The smoke man often feels too tongue tied to properly introduce himself to strangers, even ones he knows he is destined to be friends with. But the smoke man is very confident in his juggling expertise. So as a means of introduction, he grabbed a handful of marshmallows and juggled them. When he returned the marshmallows to Rufus and Oscar, they were cooked to perfection.
  "Why thank you kind sir." Oscar said.
  "We are very pleased to meet you!" Rufus included through mouthfuls of marshmallow.
  The smoke man blushed ans smiled.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Francine Explores the Sky on top the Roaming Bunny Cloud

  Here is an illustration I made recently for my mom! It is painted with gouache and acrylic.

     Francine is an amateur climate scientist with a particular love for clouds. She is a proud member of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Every day,  Francine stares at the sky and identifies the different types of clouds drifting above her. To a passer by she may yell, “Hey, that’s a nimbus cloud.” or “Take a look at that cumulus cloud. What a beauty!”
    One day while taking a walk with her head tilted upward toward the sky, she bumped into a stranger whose own head was tilted at a similar angle.
 "A fellow sky watcher, I see!" The petite man said after they both brushed the dirt off their pants and offered each other flustered apologies.
"Yes," Francine agreed, "Few things are more spectacular than the clouds!"
"So then, you must have visited the cloud city too?" The man asked with a wink.
"Cloud city...ummm, nooo." Francine replied, suddenly realizing that this strange little man must be off his rocker.
"Oh, the cloud city. You must go. It is the most fantastic city in all the world. Everything is made of clouds, even the inhabitants! Even the food! And of course the buildings! And the view is amazing. The ground looks more beautiful then you can possibly imagine from the cloud city."
"Oh, well, sure. I'll go, someday." Francine agreed but only out of a desire to be polite.
"By now, Ms." The man said and continued walking with his eyes still skimming the clouds above.
Francine thought "That was weird," and didn't think about it again until a week later when she saw a cloud in the sky that looked like a rabbit.
"Oh! How adorable." Francine thought. She absolutely loved when she spotted clouds that looked like other things. The bunny cloud began to drift closer to the ground. And closer and closer until Francine realized that the cloud was no ordinary cloud at all. The bunny cloud landed on the ground beside her.
"Hello there." The bunny cloud said.
"Why, hello!" Francine said with utter surprise that would soon become delight.
"Francine, right?" The bunny cloud said.
"Indeed, yes!" Francine said.
"It's time for you to visit the cloud city. Jump on my back! I'll take you there!"
With little hesitation, Francine jumped on the bunny's back. The bunny cloud floated upward back into the sky.
"Onward! To the cloud city!" Francine exclaimed, and the two drifted rapidly North, toward the wondrous cloud city.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mue Mue and a Mystery

  Here are some pictures I took a couple of weeks ago while at Volunteer Park. The first one is of a bunch of people larping! They look like they are having fun. When I was in college, there was a club that I think was themed 'medieval' and sometimes while living in the dorms I would run across large herds of Medieval club members wearing knight gear and play-battling.

The tree just needs to grow a little bit more over the sign and then finally... Bicycles will be allowed in the pool. Grow tree, grow!

   Last night I had a very exciting Friday night.... it involved Mue Mue and a Mystery. A mystery book, that is! Ever since Mue Mue managed to sneak out the front door the other day, he has been  extra sweet. I think he expended all his feisty energy on his outdoor adventure. So while I finished reading my mystery book, he cuddled up with me.

    Last night was when I got to that point in the book where the mystery really starts to uncoil and the puzzle pieces start clicking together. In other words, the best part of any mystery novel! I couldn't put it down. And it helped that the book was a well written novel from page one with interesting characters and plenty of motivation to turn the page.
   It is called 'The Invisible Ones' and it is by Stef Penney. All the main characters in 'The Invisible Ones' are Romany (or in Ray's case, half-Romany.) So mainly the book is a mystery, but there was also exploration into the Romany culture and identity. The basic plot was one any mystery fan has come across a thousand times before. A private detective is hired to find a missing girl. But that is the only thing ordinary about this book. The twists and turns are unexpected. But it is not just a thrill ride the entire time. It is an insightful look into the way people deal with loss, tragedy and family loyalties.
  It is a story about private eye Ray Lovell who is hired to investigate they disappearance of Rose Wood. Rose disappeared several years prior, shortly after her marriage to Ivo Janko. Ivo claims that his wife disappeared on her own accord shortly after their son was born. Lovell is suspicious of the Janko family, but can he prove that the Janko's were involved in any foul play? You will have to read it yourself to find out! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Memory of a Warm and Sunny Day

  The icy cold of Winter makes me long for a sunny beach day. Well, it is too cold to enjoy a lounge on the beach, so warming up in the memory of a good beach day will have to do! Last Summer my friend and I set our a goal to go to every Seattle beach... there are quite a few of them because Seattle has so much water: Puget Sound, Lake Union and Lake Washington, to name a few of the larger water destinations. Well, we made it to a whopping two beaches: Golden Gardens and Alki. But, to our credit, we didn't establish this goal until toward the end of the Summer, so we will probably carry on with our 'beach challenge' this upcoming summer. I never shared the pictures on Alki beach day, so here they are now. They are a reminder that Summer and warm days will come again.

The ospreys were amazing. They glided above the sound and quickly darted toward the water, talons outstretched, in hot pursuit of a fishy dinner.

This woman was sitting close to where my friend and I were stretched out on the sand. She had head phones in her ears, obviously listening to something really good because she got up and started dancing. It was really cool. She looked a little bit out of place, dancing alone on the beach, but who cares? The dancing spirit moved her, and she embraced it despite odd looks from strangers.

What is this man telling a story about?.... My guesses:  'Last time I was here, I saw a sea monster, and it's head was thisss big!" or "I fell into a bottomless pit, but luckily I grabbed onto the edge and I was hanging on for my dear life, like this!"  or "I didn't think I had any special talents, but then one day I got a great urge to fly. I lifted my arms up like this, and started flapping away like a bird. And what do you know, it worked!" Or was his story about something completely different? What do you think?

Every time I am in Alki I see really cool but slightly menacing looking motorcycle men and women. Alki must be a motorcyclist hang out! They probably like riding their bikes along the beach because it is full of great views and refreshing bursts of sea breeze.

A cute couple enjoying the beach together. From behind, they look like they should be in a movie together. It would be an indie flick about the travails and delights of young love.

A homeowner with a great love of flowers.

There is nothing that makes me want to explore what lies on the bottom of a staircase more then a sign that says 'Closed', especially since it is capitalized and underlined for added emphasis.

Does it lead to a magical underwater land?

 Alki has great views!

These two people were making an exercise video together. When my friend and I were walking past, we heard them speaking Spanish. Luckily, my friend speaks Spanish, so I had him translate, because I will not let my lack of Spanish language knowledge get in the way of my eavesdropping! But they were saying only things you'd expect people to say while making an exercise video. Something like 'and then lift your leg!" or "good job, feel the burn!" I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was something like that. I like that the women is wearing such a bright pink dress and such a big hat. I also like that they are making a D.I.Y. exercise video together. I imagine them as a husband and wife team.

Reading by the beach! She looks like she is having fun.

A man and his fishing pole. Probably he is catching a fish dinner to enjoy with his family.

   Alki beach has a different feel then the other beaches I usually visit in Seattle. Sometimes when I am at Alki, I feel like I am in a completely different town. I feel this way even though I can see downtown Seattle sprawled out in front of me across the water!
   My friend and I took the water taxi from downtown to get to Alki, but there are all sorts of ways to get there.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sunshine and Gloom (and Cats!)

(A fortress wall constructed out of circles, explosion of ferns and weeds through a crack in a wooden wall, a coiled fern, a water filled jam jar on green lawn.)

  I finished reading another really good graphic novel recently called "Wake Up, Percy Gloom!" by Cathy Malkasian. I loved Malkasian's other books 'Percy Gloom' and 'Temperance' so I was excited to find out that she had a new one I had not yet read!

   'Wake Up, Percy Gloom!' is a whimsical story about an odd yet kind little misfit of a man named Percy Gloom. He is a man with a good heart, a queasy stomach and a penchant for finding himself in adventures. 'Wake Up, Percy Gloom!' also follows the adventures of Percy's mother, a woman who is both younger and older than she appears.
  What I loved about 'Wake Up, Percy Gloom!' is that it is a story that is very dream-like and folkloric.The characters are ordinary enough to feel relatable but fantastical enough to take us along on magical and delightful journeys to strange lands full of strange inventions. Another thing I love about this book is all the main characters are filled with such heart and compassion. Even the harder-edged characters are not impervious to the softening effect by Percy's kind heart.

(Cats I Have Known (cats I have met when out-and-about on day-to-day sort of adventures): Beach Kitty, Cow Cat, Boat Kitty, Friendly yet Camera-Shy Kitty)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Make a Brooch using a Picture Book Image

  If you have a button maker it may be easy to collect images you find in old children's books and make them into something wearable. But this is a less easy task if you are without a button maker. This tutorial will teach you how to use images found in old books to make a wearable pin.

Step One: Gather Supplies.

* If yo do not have any old books with cool pictures, thrift stores are usually abundant with them. Of course you do not have to limit your self to old picture books. Magazine images, images printed from the internet (but print at high quality on good paper), collage supplies, or whatever your brain can come up with should work too.
*I got the wooden circles at the craft store. They came in a handy pack of six. Some craft stores also have shapes like stars or hearts.
*The dimensional adhesive I use is called 'Diamond Glaze' and I have been happy with it so far.

Step Two: Find your images.

  I decided to make five pins at once, so I needed several pictures. I looked through a bunch of 'Golden Book Encyclopedias' and found all sorts of images I was excited about using for this project.

Step Three: Lightly trace your circle over the image you want to use.

Step Four: Cut out image. Erase any pencil marks showing on your circle.

Step Five: Paint a layer of mod podge on wooden circle and glue your cut out image to the circle.

Step Six: After the mod podge has dried, it is now time to use dimensional adhesive. This creates a glossy, three dimensional seal or glaze for your pin. 

Step Seven: Let dry. I let my pins dry over night and just continued the project the next day. You can use your own discretion on how long you think it needs to dry (or, even better, use the directions on the back of the bottle. My bottle doesn't mention anything about time.). Just make sure it is dry enough so you will not leave smudgy fingerprints on your pin while you continue working on the project.

Step Eight: Now that your pin is dry, it is time to add the part that transforms this wooden circle into an actual pin... the pin back! Use a strong glue to glue the pin back onto the wooden circle. Put the pin back toward the top of your circle (on the back). If it is in the middle or toward the bottom, it may have a tendency to droop on your clothes.

Step Nine: Let dry so your pin back will be secure.

Step Ten: Hooray! You are done. Now wear your new pin!

Here are all the pins I made: