Monday, June 30, 2014

Twelve Dancing Princesses Dining Room -- DONE!

The Twelve Dancing Princesses walking in trance-like procession across all four walls of my dining room...are completed!!!  And they have been for a few months now.  But I kept hoping to get better pictures of them than the ones below...professional pictures, though I don't know how to take the best shots.  But I figured if I wait that long, everyone might have forgotten about the project before I do my "grand unveiling." 

So instead, here it is!!  Bada daaa dummmmm!!!!

I am still having an internal argument about whether or not to add a gothic arch acorn border stencil I found online below the chair line in gold and burgundy.  I vacillate almost daily over whether I should or not.  But otherwise, the room is done!

Perhaps showing the room best of all, here's a 7 minute video tour of the room from all angles and with all the princesses featured.  Video best seen expanded to full page.

And finally, once again best seen viewed in large size, here are all twelve of the princesses!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Home and Garden Update

I've been terrible at updating my blogs.  I really need to get on that, don't I?

So what have I been up to?

First, we're shopping for a new tree for the front corner of the front yard.  This is the top contender right now, a Prairie Fire Crabapple:

Just a reminder of the goal for this new plan, this time with a photo where all I changed was the new photoshopped flowerbed in the corner:

Mom helped me convert a blanket I had tucked around the window seat in the dormer window of the bedroom into an actual slipcover for the padding.  It made a huge difference:

And the garden...the flowers are better this year than they've ever been, by far.  I can't believe how happy I am with the garden.  It's hard to explain...for the first time, I am able to sit back and really enjoy how it looks at present, instead of focusing on changing or adding or making things better.  A gardener always wants to better the garden, but I feel a sense of satisfaction too.

For instance, here's my Moss Rose and Morning Glory planter a month ago:

And today.  The morning glories will climb the latticing at back:

And then there's our ....dah dah patio set!!!  After we moved into the house, the patio set we brought with us tipped over in the first windstorm and shattered into a trillion pieces.  Ever since then,  I've been looking for a good deal on a *metal* top table and chair set.  Well, we finally found the right one on Craigslist.  We still want to replace the umbrella eventually, which was from our last set.

Note also, Chimera the cat gargoyle is out in the garden for the year now.

The lilac has grown a lovely amount this year as well, and the yellow daylilies are blooming.

Here's the new part of the fenceline flower bed, you know, the one Tom dug out for me by hand a year ago for my birthday.  It's coming in so so very nicely this year!  Sedum, roses, raspberry, coneflower, foxglove, rhododendron, astilbe...

The older part of the fenceline, also looking grand! 

Down by the gate at the bottom of the garden, I repainted the wood and iron bench a neutral white, and put it next to the new planter on its plinth.  And oh I love it!!

The shade portion of the garden, with hosta, astilbe, ferns, thornless blackberry, and more!

The thornless blackberry this year looks like it's going to have the best yield yet!

The poppies and phlox are done flowering, but I put some runner beans on the lattice.

Another view of the garden with the new patio set.

More runner beans along the lattice under the deck.


A view late in the day of the fenceline.

Purple coneflowers starting to bud, surrounded by raspberry vines.  In the foreground are the love-in-a-mist I've wanted to plant for years and finally started from seed a couple of weeks ago.  Oh I so hope they grow and bloom!


The corner of the fenceline by the arbor.  Vinca vine, raspberry, coneflower, coreopsis, some buried irises.

The raspberry vines are exploding with these half formed raspberries, taunting me.

The gayfeather plant I put in last year to replace one of my coneflowers that got asters yellow.

Look at all those flowers/baby raspberries waiting to ripen and get eaten!

More red runner bean vine on the arbor, looking good!  I think this year it might grow over the top of the arch faster than any previous year.

Hollyhocks!!  This year there's far less rust on them than in any past years.  There's some, yes, but I admit I think that's inevitable now.  This year it looks like the rust will behave well enough to enjoy the blooms for a little while.  I can't wait to see more blooms in the coming weeks!

The butterfly bush my neighbor gave me, as of the end of May....

 ...and as of today.   Hooray!

The front right flower bed, looking great!  

The front left flower bed.  My only frustration is that the window box flowers aren't growing as abundantly on this side.  And honestly I just don't get it...with no tree there now, the two boxes are growing in almost identical circumstances.  

But anyway, otherwise I'm really happy with this side too.

 Back by the back yard gate again, with another rhododendron plant, some blackberry vines, and sweet little pink impatiens.

The coleus in the new planter is looking so great too!

When I'm sitting on the bench by the back gate, I look up and this is my view.  Not half bad, huh?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Amy Parrish

As the years of our lives go by, we learn a few life lessons, some harder than others.  One such lesson I've learned is that people don't always stay in our lives forever, even if we wish they would.  The important thing is to cherish them while they're here.

Amy Parrish and I met after I saw her photography work on another friend's page just a couple of years ago.  I contacted her on Facebook when I saw how amazing her work was, and that she lived just literally fifteen minutes from my house.  We met for the first time at a local coffee shop, and wound up spending about three hours there just talking and getting to know each other. 

Amy and her husband Ryan (also a marvelous and talented person) have decided to move to Savannah so that she can pursue a masters in fine arts/photography.  I admire her courage to make such a big decision and to change her entire life so wholly.  But man...I'm going to miss her.

Amy has a beautiful home in rural Ohio.  Her house always looked like it was ready for its close up in Country Living magazine...a sophisticated blend of rustic and contemporary.  The whole house and all its surroundings were a cohesive whole in style and artistic voice.  But as Amy actually has said of other friends of hers in the past, a true artist makes his or her entire life a canvas.  That's very true of Amy.

She is the perfect hostess, with beautiful vignettes on the food tables, stations set up for grabbing mason jars and going to pick wildflowers, or taking a mini canvas and paints to create something new.  If ever possible, I always rsvp'ed yes to her events, because I knew that even if I didn't know another soul there besides Amy, I'd still have a great time. 

She is also a phenomenal photographer, with skill that continuously awes me.  And the reason why I've mentioned these three things...her artistic eye, her kindness to others, and her technical skills, is that these are the three things that came together in her photography to make her so incredibly successful.  Families would come to her farmhouse from all around, some even flying in from other states to get their portraits done by Amy.  Because she made you feel comfortable and relaxed.  But I've had other photographers who have done that too.  Most importantly, she saw something in each person that no one else could ever captured.  She has that unteachable skill that comes from a combination of kind heart and artistic depth: the ability to see the beauty that lies in every individual.

The first time Amy and I got together to "play" and take some pictures, I not only had a ball taking them, but I was blown away by the results.  The images that resulted from that day remain some of my very favorites I've ever been a part of creating.

The first photo has been recreated by two artists as well:

Fabiano Gagliano

Elaine Silverman Sturm
And the "fox in the field" image hangs above my bed.

Last summer, Amy asked me over again to "play," this time with corn syrup, twigs, and giant leaves.  The result was a portrait of a Green Woman.  And when Amy sent me the image later the same day we took it, I burst into tears, a reaction I've never had to any image I've helped to create before.  It was a visceral reaction...Amy had captured exactly and precisely the sort of image I had always dreamed of being a part of with my amateur modeling.  It was mysterious, earthy, magical, and I adored it more than I could possibly say.  It remains, arguably, my favorite image I've ever been a part of creating.

(yes, I really was wearing those leaves)
Amy and I only had one more "play" session together, shortly before Christmas 2013.  This time we took simple profile portraits against a textured dropcloth she got in India.

When the time came to call my Grandma up on her promise to me last birthday to have portraits taken together, I could think of no one I'd rather have capture them.  Not only did I know the resulting images would be heirlooms, but I also knew that Amy's calm demeanor and the way she radiates kindness would immediately assuage my Grandma's nerves at doing something so foreign to her.  And sure enough, not only were the resulting images ones I'll treasure forever, but the experience itself was wholly pleasurable and memorable.  I'll never forget it.

Amy also pointed out two things I've never noticed in 34 years: My Grandma and I have the same hands, and we have the same unbridled smile when we laugh.

As you can see above, Amy Parrish has given me so much over so short a time.  So many memories, so much inspiration for how to be as both an artist and as a human being.  She is a truly singular soul, and I will miss her terribly when she's moved away.  Thank you, Amy, for every moment we got to spend together, both creating and just being.

Despite how much I will miss her, I am also excited to see how she grows as an artist as a result of this choice.  No matter what new direction her life takes her in, I cannot wait to continue to see the results of her expression.