Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pears Pastel: Before & After

First, let me thank those of you who responded to my last post. I appreciate your support, encouragement and compliments more than I can say. I am looking forward to continuing on with My Little Bungalow, and it is comforting to know you are reading and enjoying the simple things I have to share. Thank you.

A few weeks ago, I showed you some of the pastel drawings in our home, including some of my work. I mentioned I was going to take the drawing of the three pears to have a new frame put on it. Well, I wanted to share with you the "before" and "after" photos. I think they are quite amazing.

Before ...

And after ...

The drawing looks so much better in its new frame, don't you think? The whole piece looks richer. It even has a slight antique quality to it.

I love how the frame's color and wood grain bring out the shadows in the drawing. The frame also complements the antique chairs in the dining room. The drawing now hangs on the wall above this chair and I think they look lovely together.

Here's detail of the new frame. It has an old look, but it's modern at the same time. I can't believe we didn't think to reframe this piece years ago!  

Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow! I hope everyone in the U.S. had a very happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

This week, as those of us in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving, I'm reflecting on how grateful I am for so many things: my loving husband, my family and friends, my health, our sweet dogs, a warm home, employment. All this at a time when so many are without and struggling to make ends meet. My husband and I are blessed, and I thank God every day for all the good things in our life.

I am also thankful for this blog, which I have enjoyed working on for nearly three years now. And I am grateful to all of you who come here to read my posts and leave nice comments. Some of you are regular visitors and commenters, which I appreciate so much. I feel as though I know some of you personally, which is one of the nicest benefits of blogging.

During the past few months, however, I've been having mixed feelings about continuing my blog. In July I was transferred into a new position at work. Suddenly, things in my life had changed quite a bit. With a heavier workload, tighter deadlines and longer days at work, I had less energy at the end of the day. On weekends, I just didn't have it in me to work on the blog. In addition, I had also been going through a period of questioning whether anyone out there (other than my family, friends and regular followers) is really interested in my simple little blog. I don't have anything super exciting to share -- no exotic vacations or exciting home renovations -- just little bits and pieces of my life. I began wondering if it was time to say goodbye to blogging. 

Then one day I received a long, lovely email from Jane, a reader in upstate New York. Her words came at just the right time and touched me deeply. Just as I was considering hanging it up, along came someone thanking me for creating my blog and telling me how much she enjoys reading it at the end of the day. She even mentioned which recipes she has tried and how her teenage daughters liked them (or not). When I read that she looks forward to more posts in November, I knew I had to continue. Not just for myself and the enjoyment I get from it, but for readers like Jane, who follow but don't necessarily leave comments.

I replied to Jane, thanking her for taking the time to write such a thoughtful email. I told her it was just what I had needed to stay motivated. Jane, I'm sending you a special "thank you" at this holiday season, when gratitude is top of mind. I'm so glad to know that My Little Bungalow brings you enjoyment, and I hope it does to many others as well.

Before I sign off, I'd like to share one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes: Ina Garten's cranberry fruit conserve. It's amazingly delicious. After Thanksgiving, I like to use it on top vanilla yogurt for breakfast. I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving!

Ina Garten's Cranberry Fruit Conserve

In a medium saucepan, combine one 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries (cleaned), 1-3/4 cups sugar and 1 cup water; cook over low heat for about 5 minutes or until the skins pop (I usually have to double the time). Add 1 Granny Smith apple (peeled, cored and chopped), the grated zest and juice of one orange, and the grated zest and juice of one lemon; cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add 3/4 cup raisins and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans. Let cool and serve chilled.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Silver Earrings

Paul and I attended a crafts fair over the weekend. It's an annual high-end show with artisans from all over the state and the region. We've attended this event several times in the past and brought home some beautiful art. But it's been years since we've attended, so I was quite excited to go. 

There were many jewelers specializing in fine pieces -- lots of shiny gold and silver, semi-precious stones, and very intricate designs. But what caught my eye was the work of a jeweler whose pieces are more organic and slightly industrial in nature. 

When I saw these silver earrings and tried them on, I loved them. My husband -- who had a business making jewelry, years before we met -- bought them for me. We both believe in supporting artists and we're willing to pay a little more for their work. These earrings will go beautifully with other similar pieces I own, like the silver link necklace I splurged on a few years ago. It is my favorite piece of jewelry (not including family heirlooms).

I did some shopping too, buying four pottery mugs, which I'll feature in a future post. Paul and I love pottery, and when he admired the mugs, I thought I'd buy them for his birthday, which is this week. The mugs join many other pottery pieces in our collection, which I've featured here and here.

What we passed on were the wooden wall sculptures by an artist from Georgia. One piece we both liked very much featured a few thousand rusty nails. The way the light and shapes moved when you looked at it from different angles was very cool. The price tag is what kept us from buying it. However, we agreed later that his pieces were too contemporary for our home and decor. They really belong in a modern home or loft with more contemporary furnishings. 

So that's how we spent our Saturday. I hope you enjoyed your weekend too. What fun things did you do?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pastel Drawings

Back in September, my husband and I attended an outdoor art festival on a lovely, warm day. Many wonderful artists -- from painters and sculptors to wood workers and jewelers -- were selling their art. Our next-door neighbor, who is a metalsmith, had a booth there and my husband bought one of her necklaces for me as a gift. 

Another exhibitor at the show was one of our favorite pastel artists. Many years ago I took two of his drawing classes. Pastels are one of my favorite mediums. I love their soft texture and rich colors -- they're great to work with. 

When my husband and I saw this drawing of the Tuscan hills at the art festival, we immediately loved it. We knew its touches of terra-cotta would go perfectly with the wall color in our dining room, which is Pennywise by Sherwin-Williams.

The only thing we didn't care for was the frame. It was thin and too brassy and didn't complement the drawing well. We purchased the piece knowing we would have it reframed. We went to our favorite frame shop and chose this Italian-made frame (how appropriate for a drawing of Tuscany!). We love that it has a hint of gold without being brassy, and the lines pick up on the detail of the field rows in the drawing.

Below is another of this artist's drawings, which we purchased many years ago. I think I'll take this drawing to the frame shop next weekend and choose a new frame for it -- something that will enhance the subject matter. A frame can make or break a piece of art. 

Below are two drawings I made in classes 12 or 13 years ago. The instructor let each student choose a drawing, which he framed for us -- apparently this style of frame is one he uses most frequently. I don't think I'll invest in new frames for either of these drawings, both of which are currently hanging in our kitchen.

So that's a little peek at our pastel artwork. This kind of makes me want to break out my box of pastels and get started on a new drawing. It's been years since I've done this type of art, and honestly, I wish I found the process more enjoyable. I'm such a perfectionist and I actually find the creative process a bit stressful. Deep down, I'd love to get back into pastels, but I need to learn how to relax, enjoy the experience and not be so tough on myself. Any artists out there with tips on how to do this?
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