World Traveling Postcard #3: “Cactus Grove”

Those of you that have been following along for a while know that I sort of have an affinity for desert scenes and have done several of them over the course of the blog’s lifespan (though I have yet to do a “cold desert” scene).

But here is my latest piece depicting the “infamous dry biome”.

Cactus Grove Postcard

Done in crayon, this is another one of my homemade postcards (a couple of index cards clued together) that I did while waiting for my watercolor postcards to arrive in the mail.

Of all of my desert scenes that I have done in the past, I feel that this is my best one.

See below for past “desert postcards”.

 

Desert Plain Postcard
Desert Plain
Mesa Postcard
Mesa
pyramids-postcard
Pyramids

 

As you can see, I’ve improved quite a bit since 2015. Looking at my first one, I can’t help but think how awful looking my cacti are in comparison to my latest ones. And the perspective is off on the foreground pyramid!! Geez…!

But getting back to the present…

I particularly like how I rendered the saguaro cactus, with its many “arms” extended out. I’ve never seen one in person but I hear that it’s quite a breathtaking experience from those who have.  They actually have quite an impressive lifespan, with some living as long as some trees do; 150 to over 200 years old, far outliving any of us. Ain’t nature grand? 😉

Anyway, while I liked what I’ve done with the cacti seen in the foreground, I feel like the background could have used some work. I wished I hadn’t made the ground in the far background so dark. Looking at it now, I could have just used a darker shade of green, or brown, or both, since the scene is supposed to be at “dusk”. But it’s okay for what it is I guess. At least the silhouetted cacti in the far background are cool. 🙂

And this is another “world traveling” postcard (using the Postcrossing site that I mentioned in a previous post here). This one is headed to Russia!

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Postcard Post: “Morning Glory”

Okay, first off, a little housekeeping update to note here:

I finally added a “follow” button to the blog! I’ve noticed on other people’s blogs that a “follow” button is present on theirs but not on mine. So after playing around with the settings for a bit, I finally figured out how to add a “follow” button and hopefully more people will want to follow along! Always making changes and improvements… 🙂

Okay, now that that technical triteness is now done, I have another postcard to present here!

Morning Glory Postcard

I call this one Morning Glory, due to the fact that I pictured this scene to be early in the morning, just after sunrise. A bit dramatic for a title I know, but hey, it’s my postcard!

As always, I used watercolor paints to create this image, though it was more paint involved than water. I’m discovering that the less water that I use, the richer the colors will be in the end (though I used a lot more water to create the sky and grassy areas).

I also used white-out to create the clouds and the snow on the mountain tops. It surprisingly works quite well with the watercolor paints. Who knew that there was more than one use for white-out besides correcting one’s mistakes? 😉

 

SIA: “Melancholy Courtesan”

After the barrage of postcard posts that I’ve been doing lately (and trust me, I have more waiting to be published), I figured that it’s time to break it up and do an SIA post.

And what an exciting SIA challenge it is. Chosen by Jen over on Librarian For Life And Style, this latest challenge is a Hindu painting, painted in the 1750s of a courtesan who seems lost in thought and has a somewhat of a sad look on her face, hence the title of the piece.

I have to say that I am very much into Indian culture; artwork and history alike. I like to read whatever I can about India, be it fiction or non-fiction. I hope to share some of my fascinating finds in future book reviews as I have recently discovered a few more Indian writers that I can’t wait to read about. Very exciting stuff!

But getting back to the SIA, here is what I did for this challenge.

Melancholy Courtesan SIA

Not bad I must say. My attire matches the neutral colors in the painting (light blue and beige), and the background around me matches the subtle pinks and greens that are also found in the painting. Pretty simple. And of course, I did my best to mimic the pose of the woman in the picture. 😛

What you’ve probably noticed the most is the change in backdrop that I’m using, which plays a pretty big role for this particular challenge. Because of my limited attire when it comes to these challenges, I often have to use other elements in my photos to help keep them interesting. And in this case, the wall behind me, as well as the floor served this very purpose quite well! I’m actually sitting in the “lobby” area around the corner from my apartment. See, each floor has a sort of “mini-lobby” with a small table and two chairs that sit in front of the elevators. And to the left of me (my right in the photo) is the hallway that leads to apartments. On the opposite side of me, are windows, which makes for great outdoor lighting (without actually being outdoors). And in front of me are the elevators (though I moved the chair I’m sitting in over a little so as not to get the full length mirror in my shot (yeah, we have a full length mirror in the lobby of each floor too). One day, I plan to give you all a virtual tour of my place so you can see what it looks like. I actually already took the photos of all the major places in the building some time ago. I just haven’t felt like uploading them all yet. If you all prompt me to do it, I may do the tour sooner rather than later (hint, hint!).

But anyway, that’s what I came up with for this SIA. Don’t forget to check out Jen’s blog this coming Wednesday to see the round-up and see how everyone else went about in interpreting this piece. It will be fun! Join us!

World Traveling Postcard #2: “Trees”

I’ve been on a postcard making frenzy lately. I got three made last weekend and I plan to make at least that many this coming weekend too. And like what?! Two posts in one week on just postcards?! Yep, the blog is finally living up to its name and you’ll be seeing a lot more postcards from here on out for a while.

Okay, so this is another “World Traveling” postcard (technically, they’re all world traveling because my friends that I send them all to all live in different countries) that’s on its way to the Czech Republic.

Trees Postcard

I gave this one a simple title, Trees, because it mostly depicts, well… trees. Truthfully, I’m not all that pleased with how this one came out. I based it off of a photo I saw in one of the children’s books I was working on processing at work but I find it too simple, appearance-wise. I think the trees came out okay (I’m still working on painting them properly) but there’s nothing really exciting here to make it stand out. The only really cool thing here are the reflections of the background trees seen on the water’s surface (love that “wet-on-wet” technique), which makes for a nice effect. But that’s about the only thing going for this postcard.

Postcard Post: Nature VS Man-Made

Quiz time. Where would you rather go to spend your free time, a nice lake near a forest of trees with beautiful mountains in the background, or some smelly, hot steel made oil rig, complete with enough petroleum to keep 10 or more gas stations running for a year?

Yeah, I figured that you would chose the former. I would too. But still, you have to admit that an oil refinery makes for quite an interesting subject for postcard art. And that’s what I’ve done with my latest pieces seen below.

 

Forest By A Lake PostcardOil Refinery Postcard

Could these two places be any more different? Perhaps the second one is the future version of the first image? Hmmm…

Yeah, I’m kind of stuck on the whole “past vs. future” thing right now as the second season of the super awesome TV show, Timeless is currently running and I’m totally into it. I thought season one of the show was total “kick butt”, “off the charts” good. But season two is like 10 times better and I’m on the edge of my seat each week to see what happens next. 😛

*Ahem*, well, back to the art now.

Both of these I did for friends of mine and I have to say that I’m quite proud of both. The first one, Forest By A Lake, was done with basic crayon, while the second one, Oil Refinery, was done with watercolor paint.

Part of the reason for the difference in media is that I made Forest By A Lake first and was done on a few index cards (glued together to create the “thickness” of a postcard) as watercolor paint doesn’t work so well on that kind of paper. My watercolor postcards that I ordered hadn’t come in the mail yet so it was all I had to work with.

But once they did, I was able to get back into my watercolors again (like visiting an old friend) and of course, I had to pick a rather “interesting” subject to paint first hand. Not to worry though. I also did a few “forest-like” scenes in watercolor as well, which I will feature later on.

So overall, not bad. What I really like about the second postcard is how I was able to show a “depth of field” by making the “oil containers” in the background light and faded by using a “wash effect” to make them appear further away. It makes you feel that this place is huge (and not one you want to find yourself lost in!).

Check out the larger images below.

 

Forest By A Lake Postcard
A nice, relaxing lake…

 

 

Oil Refinery Postcard
Gasoline anyone?

 

World Traveling Postcard: “Forest Path”

It’s been a while since I wrote about postcards, with my last post being in late February. For a while I hadn’t been coming up with very many ideas for any new postcards. And I haven’t heard back from any of my pen pals who usually send me postcards so I haven’t had much motivation to make any new ones, not even for the blog.

But now I’m back on my postcard passion as I’ve found a new motivation to try and make at least one per week. I’ll tell you more about that towards the end of this post, which will explain the title that I chose for it as well. Right now, let’s get to the postcard.

Forest Path Postcard

I call this one Forest Path. This one’s pretty self explanatory. Done in both crayon and color pencil, I consider this to be an “abstract sketch”. As you can probably tell from looking, I used many rapid marks and pencil lines to make out the trees and grassy areas and filled in the rest of the image using crayon. This was definitely one of my quickest pieces as it took me about half an hour, or less, to make it. In terms of speed, I’d say it’s not bad, though not one of my best works. Overall, it’s okay. It conveys to viewers what it is I think. Isn’t that what art is supposed to do?

So now let’s get to the part as to why I did this piece.

As I mentioned above, I haven’t had much motivation in making new postcards lately. However, last week, I was watching a couple of videos on YouTube about pen pals and letter writing (yep, I’m a total YouTube junkie, I admit it). And I came across a video that mentioned a site called “Postcrossing.com”. It’s a site that’s dedicated to individuals who love postcards, which of course, I do. You can read all about it by clicking here. But to give you a quick description of it, basically, this site allows you to send postcards all over the world and receive postcards from all over the world, simply by using the mail. In this day and age where social media pretty much rules the world (I personally think it’s highly overrated), sending things like letters and parcels through the mail seems like something out of the stone age. But I have to say that I really enjoy it and have enjoyed it for the past 4 years or so. It’s more fun than wasting time on a lot of the social media sites these days, that’s for sure.

Anyway, to participate in the postcard exchange, you sign up on the site, and request to send a postcard. The site will randomly select a person that’s also signed up on the site and give you their address, along with a postcard ID, which you need in order to receive postcards. It changes with each one you send out so you have to make sure that you write it down each time (on each postcard that you send out).

Next you just mail it like you would any other postcard. When your person receives it, they register it (using the ID number that you write on the postcard, which is why it’s important to write it on there) and that qualifies you to receive a postcard from another random person from somewhere else (not the same person that you sent your postcard to). It’s completely random so it could come from anywhere in the world! And once you receive it, then you must register that postcard using the ID number that (hopefully) the sender wrote down, which will allow them to receive a random postcard from someone else. And that’s it, the process starts over again. It’s pretty straight forward once you get used to it. I have yet to receive any postcards yet, but I’ve only been on the site for a week now. I figured that I would give this a try as it sounded interesting. And doing this will give me a good excuse to keep the blog updated with new postcards, so that’s a benefit that I can take advantage of as well. We’ll see how it works out. I’ll be showcasing more postcards here and telling you where they are headed. This one for instance, is on it’s way to Germany. I am hoping that the person I sent this to will like and enjoy it!

Look forward to the next postcard!

 

SIA: “Farewell at the Bridge of the Hanging Rainbow”

This post makes me both happy and sad. I’m happy that I’m participating in another SIA challenge, which I think is pretty cool, subject-wise. But I’m sad because Erin is hosting this week’s challenge, and this will be her last SIA that she will host. 😩 So it’s sort of a “bittersweet” kind of thing, if I may use a clichĂ©d term.

But anyway, let’s move forward here.

So Erin chose a scroll called Farewell at the Bridge of the Hanging Rainbow, from the Ming Dynasty (the era in China between the 14th and 17th centuries for those of you keeping score). Appropriately chosen as to why Erin chose this particular piece (seen by the title), the inscription on the scroll is well written and perhaps best wraps up our friend’s final challenge. You can check it out on her blog at Loop Looks.

So this is what chose.

Farewell at the Bridge of the Hanging Rainbow SIA

I went with black and gray (two of my favorite colors) as it matches perfectly to the monochromatic tones of the scroll. The scroll is more sepia colored than gray, but I didn’t anything like that in my closet (not that I saw anyway) so gray and black will have to suffice. I am not liking the wrinkles in my shirt here, but I had little time to snap a photo so it was the best that I could do.

And that’s it for me. Be sure to check back on Erin’s blog this coming Wednesday to see the full round-up of everyone’s outfits. You still have time to submit a photo to Erin, by Tuesday night, so let’s support our friend and make this the biggest and best SIA round-up ever!

SIA: “Primavera”

I apologize for my post being late. I usually schedule the SIA posts to go live on Monday mornings. But I was too tired over the weekend to write anything lucid, so I figured it was just better to wait until I’m more focused. I’m very particular about my writing so I want to be at my best whenever I do it. But it’s a pretty simple post here, so it won’t take much effort to write.

So as I mentioned above, this is an SIA post and Salazar, over on 14 Shades of Grey, is the curator for this week’s challenge. And she chose a pretty awesome subject for this challenge; a sculpture she saw while on vacation in Cuba a few weeks back. It’s called Primavera, by sculptor Rafael San Juan. It depicts a woman’s head, with a sort of an “S” curve to her neck, and is made from recycled steel. You can read more about it, and how the artist went about in creating it on Salazar’s blog, where she provides a handy dandy link to an interview with the artist. I read it and it’s pretty awesome as to how he went about in forming his ideas for this work. Go check it out!

So here’s my interpretation for Primavera.

Primavera SIA

I’ll be the first to admit that my attire does not reflect the work at all, as I usually try to go for some element, such as color or texture. Not so with this one, but I couldn’t help but be a participant for several reasons. 1) I like supporting my friend, Salazar, and her blog, and I feel that this is one way that I can do it. 2) Salazar chose this particular piece in order to honor Women’s History Month, which I am all on board for supporting and hoping to get the word out there on that. More people need to know about it. And 3), it’s fun! I love the SIA challenges, even before I became a regular participant. And I am so grateful that the SIA team allows me to participate whenever I wish to do so (thanks Salazar, Jen and Erin!).

So back to the question; what did I base my outfit on? The answer? The title of course! The term “primavera” is Spanish for “spring”, which of course happens tomorrow, on the 20th of March. The weather may dictate otherwise but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. And to me, the light green that I’m wearing best represents the spring season. Perhaps my wearing the green here will cause spring to arrive on time this year. Who knows.

And of course, being a classical music buff, I had to listen to Vivaldi’s La Primavera from his Four Seasons violin concerti while preparing for my picture to be taken. You can hear it by clicking here. Enjoy!

Be sure to check back on Salazar’s blog this Wednesday, March 21st, to see how everyone else interpreted Primavera. And don’t forget to submit your photos to her by Tuesday night to be included in the round-up on Wednesday!

 

 

SIA: “Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray”

My first SIA post of 2018!! You all thought I dropped out, didn’t you? Nope, not at all. I’ve been out of the SIA part of blogging for a couple of reasons; in part, because of my busy schedule and lack of time to take photos and then try to create posts for them. But the main reason for my absence is simply that I’ve just felt too shy and self conscious to take any photos of myself lately. You’d think that after doing this for a while that I would be over my “shyness” and just get right into it, right? But lately, I’ve been feeling like my *ahem* outfits were too boring. I did actually think about dropping out because I felt like I was just presenting the same old stuff over and over.

However, seeing Jen’s SIA choice for this week encouraged me to stick around a little bit longer. For this challenge, she chose the painting, Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray, artist unknown. It was once credited to Johann Zoffany, a German painter who worked in England. Though he is not the true painter of this piece, looking at some of his other works that he did sort of leads you to believe that maybe perhaps he was the painter. The style it’s done in is very similar to his. You can view this painting on Jen’s blog here.

So for my first challenge of the year, I decided to do something a little different, sort of. I went to a location that I felt was more fitting for my photos! Check it out!

Dido Elizabeth Belle And Lady Elizabeth Murray SIA 1

Dido Elizabeth Belle And Lady Elizabeth Murray SIA 2

Dido Elizabeth Belle And Lady Elizabeth Murray SIA 3

There is a cluster of bushes not far from my building, which you can see from the top two photos. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to use this particular spot for SIA photos, but have never had the time (or patience) to get out there to take photos. But with a little extra time on my hands lately, I finally decided to give it a go!

As you can see, the pictures didn’t exactly come out as great as I had hoped that they would. The zoom feature on my iPod, though a nice function to have, is not exactly a telephoto lens of that of a real camera. So they came out rather blurry. But despite this flaw, I felt that the location for this particular piece was perfect! There are trees in the painting, which I wanted to include in my pictures. The “black thing” that you see on the ground is my jacket, which I took off for the purpose of taking the photos, matching the green of the trees in the painting with my dark green shirt. However, it was about 37 degrees at the time when I took these pictures so I was freezing without it! The sacrifices that I make for SIA, ha! And you can still see some of the snow that’s left over from the snowstorm we had last week. 😉

So after taking pictures on location, I decided to take a better once in my usual spot, on my balcony. And of course, I had to do my best to mimic Dido’s facial expression and hand gesture, which I thought came out very well. 😛

So that’s it for me. Be sure to check out Jen’s blog this coming Wednesday for the full round-up and see how everyone else went about in interpreting this cute, but gorgeous painting. It should be fun!

February Book Reviews 2018

It’s time for book reviews again. And unfortunately, I only managed to squeeze out one book once again. But in my own defense, I have a few others going right now so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to have more than one to present to you next month.

So with that short introduction out of the way, let’s get to it.

The book I finished this month is called Keeper of Myths by Jasmine Richards.

Keeper Of Myths Cover

Title: Keeper of Myths
Author: Jasmine Richards
Genre: Children’s Fantasy Fiction
Pages: 245 (247 counting the Acknowledgements page)

It’s part of a series from what I can tell, because this is actually the second book written by Richards and I didn’t figure out that there was a book before this one until I started reading it. But figuring that I could get the gist of the story anyway, I kept on reading.

It turns out that I should have just gotten her first book, Secrets of Valhalla, after all, as quite a few events that happened in the first book were referenced in this one and they didn’t make much sense without having read the previous content. But based on what I read here, the story consists of two friends, Buzz and Mary, who are on a mission to save Buzz’s friend, Sam, who becomes a god with the power of fire/combustion. They seem to be able to travel to difference dimensions, or realms, and befriend quite a few talking animals, who are also gods, such a squirrel and a spider. Buzz and Mary’s ultimate goal however, is to locate the keeper of myths, who happens to be closer than they realize and defeat the evil goddess, Berchta. It’s a typical “hero vs. villain” kind of story, with a few elemental plot twists  and fantasy based powers to help keep it interesting. In short, it was okay I guess.

But in truth, I was sort of disappointed with the book. The story was not terribly interesting to me (despite my interest in fantasy) and the characters were pretty one dimensional. I particularly disliked Mary’s character as I found it to be annoying and drab with the way she interacted with Buzz (though he wasn’t that much better either). This certainly wasn’t a 39 Clues or Infinity Ring kind of story (hope to talk about those soon as they’re both really good series) but parts of it did sort of feel like it was. In the end, I have to give this book a 2 out of 5 rank, mostly for the reasons I just listed. In all fairness though, I should probably read the first book in order to get the full story and then read this one again. But for the time being, I think that I will wait a while to do this and just work on finishing the other books that I currently have going. Stay tuned next month to see what else I’ve been reading!