Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Celebrations

Oh, it is so satisfying to finish a quilt!  And in the same month I started it in, too.  Who'd have thought?!

The fabrics are mostly from a collection called "It's a Shore Thing" by Jack and Lulu.  It looks like they still have some of these fabrics here, by the way, in case you have fallen in love with these fabrics the way I did. 

It is now draped over the back of the navy couch in the family room, where it looks summery and festive all at the same time.  I like how this quilt and the bannery look of the triangles reminds me to celebrate a little bit every day. 

Now I suppose I should use finishing-a-quilt excitement to pull out a UFO and finish that, too.

I hope your summer is full of little celebrations, too!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Drive-About: Portland

I am still happily remembering my Pacific Northwest road trip, so here are some photos from my second destination, Portland, Oregon.  It astounded me to realize that although I've lived in California for most of my life, I'd never been to Oregon at all.  So it was fun to get into that state, and especially to see Portland about which I've heard so many nice things.  And the best part was getting to spend time with two good friends (and fellow Twelves), Terry Grant and Gerrie Congdon.

First stop was Terry's house in Beaverton, where I had the pleasure of sleeping in her studio/guest loft for two nights. It was fun to be there in person after watching the studio being built and set up on Terry's blog!  I was not surprised to find that Terry and I could talk easily (and long into the night) and that her husband Ray was a wonderful, easy-to-talk-to, and interesting guy. 

 Terry and I had a very fun day visiting some Portland sites.  I snapped the picture of the arched entry to Portland's Chinatown, above, as we were driving around the city.  I really enjoyed the International Rose Test Garden, where new rose varieties are tested and on colorful display.

We spent several hours at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, which was serene and beautiful and full of wonderfully artful details.

We did a bit of sketching there, sitting companionably side by side. (And this is where I managed to drop not one, but two travel brushes into the pond when they slid out of my pencil case and off of the bench.  Plop!) 

I tried a scene but became engrossed in sketching the patterns of window grates and details.

 From there we ventured to something on my Must-See list for Portland: Powell's City of Books.  What a fabulous (and huge) store.  And look, they even carry a certain quilt book that is a must-have for art quilters!

The next day, I met up with Gerrie and her daughter Stephanie (co-creator of the 3191 blog and books and world of gorgeousness) for lunch.  We had a delicious Thai lunch and caught up on family and creativity matters.  Amazingly, Stef had just done an article on Astoria, Oregon in the latest issue of the 3191 Quarterly, which she gave me as a guide to a future destination on my trip.  (More on Astoria later but it was very fun to have Stef's guide when I was there to see it a bit through her eyes!)

Gerrie took me to a few of her favorite spots, and we even had a funny random encounter with Project Runway winner Michelle Lesniak Franklin

We wandered into a clothing store with prints that caught our eye, and there she was. (No, unfortunately -- no Tim Gunn in sight.) We acted all cool and casual, but after we walked out, I rethought the moment, and went back in to tell her how pleased I was that she'd won.  She'd been my favorite in the season and I'd been rooting for her!  She was very funny and nice and I was glad I went back to gush a bit at her.

Gerrie took me to her local farmer's market, where she choose dinner fixings and I took photos of the beautiful vegetables.

We ate some of those asparagus with our very wonderful dinner! 

I got to see Gerrie's humongous basement studio (the full footprint of her house!) and I enjoyed seeing Mr. C again, too.  I also fell in love with her dog Scooter's expressive and lively personality.  He's larger than life, that dog. 

I feel like I barely scratched the surface of that wonderful city, but it was time to go.  Portland is now on my "have to go back" list!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

West Coast Urban Sketch Crawl

Yesterday, I ventured down to San Francisco for a day of sketching fun.  I met up with a bunch of other sketchers from all over the place, and we took part in the first annual West Coast Urban Sketchers' sketch crawl.  Actually, July 13 was World Wide Sketch Crawl Day, so there were sketchers meeting up in cities all over the world yesterday.  It was a very fun way to meet other sketchers and participate in something that felt bigger than what was going on in my own journal.

We met at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, which is a beautiful old building that has been revitalized into an active market with food stalls and shops.  On the weekends, a busy farmer's market lines the outdoor areas and more tents with arts and crafts are set up in the plaza across the street.  It's a lively, colorful spectacle.  Yesterday was remarkable as the typical morning fog had burned off early, so it was unexpectedly sunny.  Most everyone had come prepared with long sleeved shirts and jackets for the usual SF summer weather (the coldest winter I've ever spent, to paraphrase Mark Twain).  So there was a bright blue sky and fresh sea breeze.  In the midst of all of that is an ever present drummer whose lively beat feels like part of the natural rhythm of the place.

The organizers of this event (Jana, Jim, Laurie, and others) not only had a schedule and maps for everyone, but also had "swag" bags from Blick Art Supplies with charcoal, sketchbook, and acrylic paints.  Everyone scattered to draw.  I first settled across the street from the ferry building with two other sketchers, and that's where I drew the scene up above.

From there, I moved to our original meeting place in the big island plaza in front of the building, and turned away from the ferry building to paint the craft stalls across the street.  I am intimidated about adding people to scenes, but I added just a few here.  In reality the place was swarming with people. I watched as a sketcher next to me did a gorgeous loose sketch of the crosswalk and the stream of people flowing through.  It was inspiring and something I'd never have thought to even try.

From there, I wandered into the ferry building to find lunch.  It's gorgeous in there, and would have been a great place to draw if it weren't for the crowds of people.

I had a delicious mozzarella, salami and arugula sandwich from Cowgirl Creamery, and then was fortified to continue.  I wandered through the building to the back side which faces the bay.  I found a sunny bench, enjoyed my sandwich, and then set to work painting.  I bravely added some people-ish blobs, and used my artistic license to eliminate the terminal port which actually blocked most of the view of the bay bridge.  

While I was working on this sketch, a mom and an adorable little girl sat down next to me.  They were interested in what I was doing, and the little girl -- Nikko was her name -- told me shyly that she liked to draw.  I pulled out my notebook and she made this lovely princess for me:

They left, with her mother promising to buy her a child's set of watercolors so she could paint like I was.  That was a very happy encounter!

By then the back of my neck was feeling uncomfortably sunburned, so I went inside to find a cold drink.  I braved the long line at Blue Bottle Coffee and ordered a New Orleans Style Iced Coffee.  I'd never had that -- hadn't even heard of it, actually.  Here's how they describe it: "A sweet and thick iced coffee, cold-brewed with roasted chicory, then cut with whole milk and organic cane sugar."  It was delicious. 

Having an hour before our final meet-up, I wandered around the side of the building, found a patch of shade and sketched the little pier for the Tiburon ferry.  While I was sitting and sketching, I heard the most intriguing snatches of conversation as people walked by.  "But you know, that's what happens when someone dies..."  "and now that I am aware of my inner child..." "no way, I said..." It's one of the things about sitting somewhere and drawing I like best, how you hear bits and pieces of people's  conversations streaming by.

By then, it was time to meet at the Gandhi statute behind the ferry building.  We laid our sketchbooks out on the ground and had fun seeing what everyone did.  There was lots of oohing and aahing and general admiration.  

 All in all, it was a fabulous and inspiring day. 

Friday, July 05, 2013

Feeling Beachy

Some time ago -- over a year ago, I think -- I came across a collection of fabric that I just fell in love with.  Aren't those the happiest, summeriest fabrics?  I just love the little flip flops and clams and sunglasses and beach umbrellas.... I couldn't resist getting a bundle of fat quarters, and when they arrived I mixed in some other fabrics from my stash (the lobsters! the stripes!) that seemed to fit.  And I put it in a bundle in a closet for that undefined point in the future when I'd be in the mood to start something new.

Well, the right time was yesterday.  Subtle, yes, working with all of that red white and blue on a hot July Fourth?!  I'm going for simple, just a beachy banner sort of thing.  And I'm loving it. It's just what I'm in the mood to be doing.  Just look at those beachballs!  And seagulls!  Don't they make you happy? 

Which makes me think... Some people are very good about sewing their seasonal projects so that they are finished when the appropriate season comes around.  This quilt, finished, would have been perfect to have draped over the couch yesterday and all of this month.  But I can't ever get myself to work on stuff out of season.  I feel like making Christmas thing at Christmastime.  This isn't the best for planning purposes, obviously.  How about you? Do you work on summery things in the winter, and get your winter projects done in the summer?

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day, everyone! I hope you are spending the day doing whatever you enjoy.  Me, I'll be spending this very hot day inside doing some sewing and some reading, to be followed by a hot dog barbecue.  Quiet but fun.

By the way, this fabulous needlework design, "Independence Inn," is by my sister, Laura  Perin.  You can buy the pattern here!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Drive-About: First Stop

I am home from my Pacific Northwest "drive-about."  What a wonderful trip it was -- I spent time with wonderful friends, and I saw a lot of beautiful places, and I spent a lot of time in the car having a good time listening to audiobooks, singing along with music, and thinking my own thoughts.  One of the fun aspects of this trip was sketching and painting along the way.  I really enjoyed working on an illustrated journal as I went along.

It was good for me to travel alone at this point in my life.  I've not done that in ages, in over two decades, probably.  I remembered how much I enjoy driving and seeing the way the terrain changes as you go from place to place.  I loved being able to pull off and explore whatever I wanted along the way.  I loved being able to open the sunroof and let my hair blow crazily without any complaints from the back seat. I thought a lot about how I probably wouldn't have felt that comfortable doing a 2-week road trip alone when I was in my 30's -- I would have felt too self-conscious, too wistful about wanting a partner, to worried about what might happen.  Now, in my 50's, I've lost the self-consciousness, and I figure I know how to avoid and/or get myself out of most scrapes so that wasn't a worry.  And at this time and at this age, I treasured the time alone to just be me and enjoy what I enjoy.

I started my trip in Ashland, Oregon, a place I'd never been to before but always wanted to see.  It's about a 5 hour drive from home so it was not a driving day.  And Ashland turned out to be as charming as everyone has always said it is.

 The downtown area is full of cute shops and restaurants, and the surrounding streets had charming bungalow and older style homes.  Especially coming from brown, summery California, I appreciated how lush and green everything was.

I stayed at a charming bed & breakfast, Anne Hathaway's B&B.  I could have stayed for two days just sitting on the inviting porch.  It was a wonderful place to sit and sip coffee in the early morning.

 I was also amused at the stuffed moose over the front door.

I saw "A Midsummer Night's Dream" while I was there, which seemed perfect for my first OSU Theatre Festival Experience.  It was held in the outdoor Elizabethan Theater, which was a marvel all its own.  I didn't take any photos during the play (obeying the signs of course) but here's one that gives you an idea of the theater:

I checked out the three(!) fabric stores in town, and had a very fun experience at one called Quiltz which also carries needlework supplies.

 As I was roaming about, I spotted several designs by my sister, Laura Perin.  When I asked if I could take pictures to show to Laura, they got so excited to hear that I didn't just know her, I was related to her.  They treated me as if I were the sister of the queen.  They raved about how much they loved Laura's designs and made sure to show me the special bin they have for her patterns.

I can see myself returning there, now that I know how close it is and how wonderful it is.  And next year's line up of plays looks great too. 

It was a wonderful first leg for my trip.