Progress in the Studio

I've been chugging right along on these little guache paintings - here's my recent progress:
017 - dollhouse paintings

016 - dollhouse paintings

015 - dollhouse paintings

014 - dollhouse paintings

Most of these aren't finished yet, but they are getting close!  I love working on little series.  When you encounter problems within a piece, they don't seem as crippling as they do when working on a large piece.  I also love how intimate small paintings are.  

Cassie's Chocolate, Oatmeal, and Flax Seed Biscotti

For some reason I've always been intimidated by biscotti.  It looked like something I couldn't even attempt to make.  But, for some reason this last week I suddenly craved biscotti -- badly.

And then this happened:
biscotti 2
It actually looks how it is supposed to!  And tastes good to boot.  Success!
And I am sharing the recipe - this is way to good to keep to myself:

2/3 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Melted Butter (let cool slightly)
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Eggs
1 3/4 Cups Flour
1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
1/3 Cup Instant Oats
1/3 Cup Flax Seeds

1. Grease a cookie sheet- Preheat oven to 375 F.

2.  Combine Sugar, baking powder, butter, and eggs in a deep bowl and mix ( I used an electric mixer) until combined.  Then add the flour in batches - if it becomes too dense, mix it in by hand.

3. When everything is mixed together, add the Chocolate Chips, Oats, and Flax Seeds- and stir these in with a fork.  When everything is mixed up evenly, form the dough into two 9 inch long 'logs' on your baking sheet.  Once they are fairly even, flatten them with your hands so they are about 3/4" thick and 2 1/2" wide.

4.  Bake in the 375 F Oven for 18- 20 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Remove from the oven, and let cool for 30 minutes.

5.  Take a serrated knife and cut the biscotti loaves into strips about 2/3" wide.  You can do these on a diagonal to make them longer.

6.  Set your oven to 325F and arrange the biscotti on their sides - bake them again for 7 minutes on each side.  This will leave them crisp and dry.  Remove from the oven and let them thoroughly cool before serving.

Yield: Approximately 20


biscotti 3

Tiny Little Furniture

I've been making some progress on the furniture for the dollhouse these last few days.  I am looking forward to tomorrow, I have the whole day to dedicate to working in my studio!  Here is a little preview of what I've been up to:
Doll House 52
Doll House 53
The top photo is of an easel-in-progress, and the bottom photo is a side table, a couch (that is still in two pieces), and the beginning of a coat rack.  I'm starting to think I should have started a career as a furniture designer.  Just kidding.

Crocheted Vases

This semester I am taking a seminar class that focuses on globalism and we are having Guerra De La Paz as visiting artists for ten days in February.  We are going to be working on a collaborative installation centering on the idea of home while they are here.  Also, we will be using solely re-purposed materials to create this installation.
002 - Crocheted Vases
For our first project we were told to take an abject object, and give it meaning.  These crocheted vases were the result of that project.  I used old jars and bottles, and yarn from recycled sweaters to make these.  The process is pretty intuitive - All you need to do is follow the shape of the glass you are using.  To get it to fit perfectly, I tightly chained enough stitches to go around the body of the glass I was using like so:
003 - Crocheted Vases
The purpose of the tight foundation row is to keep the cover from sliding up the glass you are using.  Once you join the yarn, you can then crochet at normal tension.  Every few rows I would slip the cover over the glass and make sure I didn't need to decrease.  I just decreased as needed, and when I was finished with the cover, I added an extra row and cast off very tightly so the top of the glass was hidden.
They look nice, and even if you don't use recycled yarn, they are a great way to use up scrap yarn. 

Our next project is to begin to brainstorm ideas for furniture for the installation project.  I got assigned to do lighting.  I am currently trying to figure out a way that I can knit or crochet light covers. :)

GAA Show @ Pleasant St. Gallery

This last Thursday was the opening of the GAA show at the Pleasant Street Gallery in DeKalb.
Here are some of the pieces from the show:
My work - 'Self Portrait, Marriage' - Oil on 6x6"panels.
022 - GAA Show

Amanda Voltz:
021 - GAA Show

 Blaine Bradford:
023 - GAA Show

Steve Hoover:
024 - GAA Show

John Medina:
025 - GAA Show

Taryn Boals
026 - GAA Show

It was a lovely show, thanks to all who came out!

Dear Gouache: I love you

It was great to have this Monday off, even though we are only a week into school I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed.  Between yesterday and today I managed to get these three paintings started:
012 - dollhouse paintings
They are pretty tiny, the paper itself is 7x9".  I'm planning on doing one of these for each image that was on the wall of the dollhouse (10 total).  They kind of crack me up.  I love this kid's school picture, I'm jealous that they could pose with a gumball machine.
011 - dollhouse paintings
And, a cheerleader:
013 - dollhouse paintings
They make me smile.
And so does this guy:
031 - bobo sneaky cat
He looks so menacing, but, in truth he is the biggest sweetheart.  :)

Thoughts on Food

So, this morning while having my coffee and checking blog updates on google reader, I came across a wonderful and simple pasta sauce recipe at Smitten Kitchen. The only ingredients were whole canned tomatoes, butter, and a halved onion.  Go look at her pasta picture, how could you resist?  I couldn't.  It was a good excuse to use my much coveted new cookware as well.
So, this was lunch today:
The sauce was wonderful, so much more fresh tasting than pasta sauce from the jar.  It also got me thinking about how much I enjoy cooking.
Cooking for me has always been an adventure, I love trying challenging recipes, and also love making food for other people.  It is my way of showing them how much I care.  There is an artist, Rirkrit Tiravanija, whose artwork consists of him preparing food, such as pad thai, for visitors to the gallery - encouraging them to interact with each other while dining.  I think it reiterates how important it is to have meals together, to be with people face to face.  A slow meal with good friends is hard to top. 

Long Weekend

010 - towel progress
Making some progress on my painting series.  Got this one done on Thursday, and made some good progress on the other ones as well.  I should be able to finish them up today or tomorrow.
There are five of them total.  They are a self portrait of sorts of Nate and my everyday home life.
I hope to make some progress on my dollhouse as well.  It has been sitting untouched for a few weeks now while I've been working on the paintings.
Doll House 51
I like to work on something really intensely for a week or two, and then switch to working on something new.  I bounce back and forth between projects a lot, I think it helps me to stay focused and excited about what I'm doing. 
Well, that's all for now, hope you all have a lovely long weekend.

In the Studio

009 - towel progress
I spent a good chunk of the day in the studio today.  I plunked around on a lot of different paintings, and only managed to finish (maybe?) one of them.
008 - towel progress
My aim is to finish the rest of them from this series by Saturday.  Fingers crossed!
I've also started to do some schematic drawings of the dollhouse furniture.  Patterns maybe?
010 - dresser
They are the Paul McCobb furniture pieces that I've already made.
009 - side table
Other than that, school started yesterday.  I am taking two seminar courses, two studio courses, and teaching both Drawing II and Life Drawing.  Wish me luck!

New Scanner!

My favorite thing that I got for xmas this year was my new scanner.  It scans slides and negatives, alongside with being able to scan most of my paintings and drawing because I work so small.  Part of what I want to do once I graduate is really work on selling some of my artwork.  I think I'm either going to start a shop on Etsy or BigCartel.  In fact, I would really like to start an online co-op of artists selling prints on a BigCartel page.  I have way too many amazingly talented friends, and am sure I could figure out something.  :)
So anyways, back on track, here are a couple of scans I started with:
That is my youngest sister - taken in Governer Dodge State Park in Wisconsin.  She was about 6 or 7 at the time, now she's 16!  And driving! (ahhh!)
It was scanned from a negative, and I still need to work out some of the kinks with the negative scanner, but not bad for a first try.
This one is my first try at one of my drawings - it is one I did a few weeks back when I was subbing, and I never posted it.  It is 8 x 10 - colored pencil on pastel paper:
nude 2
Detail of how awesome this scanner is:
nude 2detail
Needless to say, I am very happy that I have one now! 
In other news I have been cooking amidst all of the pre-semester craziness.  This was my breakfast today-- Jealous?
bananna chocolate chip bread
It was good - Homemade banana chocolate chip bread.  I just used the recipe from the betty crocker cooking bible, and it turned out perfectly. 
Yesterday I got really adventurous and cooked a whole chicken in my slow cooker which we had for dinner.  I took what we didn't eat and made it into shredded bbq chicken for sandwiches, and lastly, took the bones and other unidentifiable parts and made them into homemade chicken stock which I made into orzo and veggie soup.  I was very tired at the end of that ordeal, but I had made about 6 meals worth of food for Nate and I, which was definitely worth it. 

In 2010...

Wow, 2009 was a roller coaster wasn't it?
We had some really great times, and some really low lows, but I am hopeful this next year will be really great.  Busy, and exciting, but great.
Here is a little bit of what all happened this year:

Also, I wanted to share with you that Nate got a job!!  I am so happy for him - he will be starting as an adjunct recording and music professor this next semester!  I am married to a professor! Weird!  We are both anxious and excited for this next year, we have absolutely no idea of where we will be and what we will be doing in six months, but I know wherever we'll be, it will be an adventure.  He and I have been together for almost 10 years now!  I remember 10 years ago on new years eve we spent the first half of the night in the basement of our friend's house, and the second half of the night with my family and friends.  I even got to have a glass of champagne, or two - with the parents of course.
We started dating when I was 15 and he was 16, which is crazy!  When I was younger, I was fiercely independent, and never envisioned myself marrying my high school sweetheart right out of college.  But, that is how it ended up, and I couldn't be happier. :)
Well, enough with the sappy reminiscing, I don't want to make anyone gag!

But, I do want to share some of my goals for this next year with you all: 
  • Try not to stress so much --  This is a big one for me, and it will probably be the hardest.  I tend to blow things up in my mind until the amount of work I've got to do seems crippling -- not healthy...  So lets change that.
  • Learn to paint better -- Everyone has room for improvement, and I really want to nail down my skills in oils, especially with the whole thesis show on the horizon!  
  • Make more food at home, and make better food --  By 'better' I mean - cutting out processed foods, fake sugars, and general not-so-healthy foods.  I've taken some steps this year with having my own garden, and trying to cook as often as I can, but now I just need to take it to the next level. :)
  • Thoughtful buying -- by this I mean using what I buy as a way of changing the world around me.  Trying to spend my money on things that last longer, don't go out of style quickly, and buying secondhand as often as possible.
  • Be a better blogger -- and not let 15 days go by without posting!!  whoops!!
Those are just a few, and most of them are things I've been working towards slowly but surely for years now!  I hope you all have a wonderful new year, and I wish you all the best!

Last but not least, here is a picture of Bo zonked out after our six christmas winter driving bonanza:
030 - bobo sleeping