SIA: “Red Rooster In The Night”

It’s that time again. Yep, time for another SIA interpretation by me! This time, Jen, over on Librarian For Life And Style, was the curator and she chose a piece by Marc Chagall, a Russian-French painter that I have never heard of. You can read more about him on Jen’s blog, who placed helpful links that you can click on to read and see more of his art.

The painting that Jen chose, Coq Rouge Dans la Nuit, or Red Rooster in the Night (English Translation) because, in her own words, it “overtly expresses love, in all its dark, swirly, enveloping beauty”. I quite agree as the painting does seem to have a sort of smooth, soft-like appearance, especially with the cerulean blue that dominates the painting, as well as the swirly shapes that are found in the painting. Lots of smooth, soft lines also attribute to this sort of “romantic feel” that this painting has. And the violin playing goat is just plain hilarious!

As Jen stated on her blog, there were several ways to go about in interpreting this painting and many ways to be creative. I however, went the obvious “lazy” route and just wore my deep blue Polo shirt, seen here:

Red Rooster In The Night SIA

As basic as this look may be, the more that I look at my shirt, the more that I see that the folds (as well as a few wrinkles, ugh…) in my shirt emulate the various shades of blue found in the painting. The way the light is hitting certain parts of my shirt make for some unintentional various shades of blue that turns out to be perfect for this SIA (go me!).

So that’s it for me. Be sure to check out Jen’s blog on Tuesday, June 6th, to see how everyone else was inspired by Chagall’s painting. Should be interesting!

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Postcard Post: “Trail Through The Autumn Meadow”

I have another Bob Ross Inspired Painting for you. I call this one Trail Through The Autumn Meadow.

Trail Through The Autumn Meadow Postcard

This one was a lot of fun to do. I painted along with my childhood art inspirer, Bob Ross, as he did his painting, called Delightful Meadow Home. You can see how he did his awesome painting by clicking here.

If you watch the video, or just skip to the end when it is completed, you will probably notice right away that I didn’t paint a “delightful meadow home” in mine. I felt that was a little too advanced for me right now and plus, I didn’t want any structures in my painting. So I left it out, as well as the fence posts that are seen in Ross’s painting. But everything else that you see, I’ve tried to do; everything from the evening sky to the pathway that goes through the meadow, right into the forest.

I’m quite proud of this one. It’s still not as good as Quiet Pond but better than Evening Forest, my previous two postcards that I’ve done last month.

I have to say too that my track record for postcard making has been pretty good lately. I painted three back in May (I only posted two of them on the blog), the most I think I’ve done in a while. Part of this is because I’ve been doing these inspired paintings quite often (this one being my third so far) and had some sort of foundation to go from. But I think I’m ready to move on to something different; something more fantasy-based, like how many of my earlier postcards were. I’ll see what I can come up with!

But for the time being, I hope that you all have enjoyed my Bob Ross Inspired Paintings as much as I did painting them. And I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the videos that I’ve guided you to watch (through the links provided) with me and helping to remember a great artist, both in the past and in the present (thanks to YouTube).

Now, go paint something!

May Book Reviews 2017

It’s time for another session of book reviews! I have to say that of all the various posts that I do here on the blog, the book review postings are probably my favorite out of all the posts. I enjoy reading through a book or two and then writing about them afterwards. But they can also be the most challenging of the posts because I can’t always remember everything that happens in the story and oftentimes, will leave out details that I was unclear on or unsure about. This would be less likely to happen if I were to just focus on only one book at a time I guess. But then, it would take me longer to get to all of the books that I wish to read, now wouldn’t it? 😉

So, while you try and figure out that little paradox, let’s move on to the reviews.

Sadly, the books that I wanted to review today are only about a third of the way read so far, so they’ll most likely be reviewed next month. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have something to present for this month. One’s a children’s novel and the other is a teen graphic novel. So with that all said and done, let’s get to it!

My Vietnamese readers may find this first book pretty interesting.

Inside Out & Back Again Cover

It’s called Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai. It tells the story of a young Vietnamese girl named Ha, who travels with her mother and her three older brothers from Saigon, Vietnam, to the state of Alabama in the US during the 1970s, in order to escape the war that’s currently taking place in her country. We learn of Ha’s struggles in learning how to adjust to American life, which includes, learning English, going to school (which is segregated), attending church and dealing with bullying at school. Ha’s main antagonist, whom she simply calls, “Pink boy”, makes her experience in school an even greater challenge by calling her names, like “pancake face” and shouting “Buddha” at her in a mocking tone, which the author shows by writing it like this: “Boo-Da”. As you read through the story (or listen to it in my case), you can’t help but feel for Ha and how she must put up with “pink boy’s” constant taunting, often rallying many of the other kids around him to do the same thing to her. Ha is bullied by having her arm hair pulled by some of the other kids. She is even reduced to eating her lunch in the bathroom stalls during lunchtime at school as she can’t deal with all of the noise and the laughter in the school’s cafeteria, which I can clearly understand that.  I hated lunchtime at school for several reasons, but the loud cacophony of the cafeteria was one of the major reasons for this.

But all is not bad for Ha, as she learns more about American life. She becomes friends with two students, Pam (which she pronounces as “Pem”) and Steven (which she pronounces “SSsi-Ti-Van”), as well as two teachers at school, in which she confides in concerning the bullying. And towards the end, Ha finally stands up to “pink boy” (good for her!) and he finally leaves her alone.

And I also like how she describes her first time trying fried chicken (assumed to be KFC, as she said that her family’s host brought them chicken in a paper bucket, which is one of KFC’s main trademarks, after Colonel Sanders of course) and how she didn’t like it.

This was a good story. It speaks about a sort of hope, as Ha often speaks about her missing father, whom she hints is in the Navy fighting in the war, as well as a hope of finding a better life in America. There’s a hint of sadness to the story also. A sadness that goes beyond the bullying and struggle to learn English. It has the same feel as another book that I read a while back, called The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness by Shin Kyung‑Sook. It’s not a story where you find adventure, comedic conversations or silly scenarios that will keep you laughing well into next week, but a story of silent hope and happiness for a young girl wanting to fit into the American lifestyle and have friends.

So I give Inside Out & Back Again, a 4 out of 5. Like I said, it was a good story, and I enjoyed listening to it (the reader did a superb job of telling Ha’s story), but it was a little hard to follow. It’s very short (only 2 discs in the audio version, the shortest audiobook I think I’ve ever listened to) and written in the form of a diary/journal. I had to listen to it several times before fully grasping what was happening to Ha and fully connecting her story with that of the author’s, which she based from her own experience growing up in the 1970s. But it was still good and I can’t wait to read Ms. Lai’s second book, called Listen, Slowly.

My second book for this session is one that I mentioned before.

shoulder-a-coffin-kuro-vol-1-cover

It’s Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro by Satoka Kiyuduki, a graphic novel series that shows the adventures of a girl named “Kuro” (her real name is never revealed), her bat friend, Sen, and two little “cat” girls, Nijuku and Sanju. Kuro, as she calls herself due to the fact that she wears black (“kuro” means “black” in Japanese), is on a journey to find a witch that has cursed her body and is forced to wear black unless she finds the witch and breaks the curse. Though not directly stated how exactly her body is cursed, certain scenarios in volume 1 indicate that she is different from that of ordinary people. This is seen early on, shortly after Kuro finds the cat sisters, Nijuku and Sanju, who have special abilities, one of which is the ability to both absorb and distribute colors from other objects that they touch. Nijuku tries to do this to Kuro and nearly turns all black in the process. Kuro kindly explains to them that no matter what colors they try to give to her, it will always come out black.

Another indication of Kuro’s condition is when the twins invite her to play in a nearby pond with them and she immediately declines, to which her friend, Sen, jokes that she will melt (presumably into an ink puddle), but is not 100% clear on how true this really is.

Kuro also wears bandages under her clothes and must change them from time to time, as doing this seems to slow down whatever condition she has from the curse.

The four travelers meet some interesting characters on their travels, which include, but are not limited to, a wondering traveler (who likes to try and scam people for money), a fibbing old man who tells “tall tails”, two young lovers that are united, thanks to Kuro, and a good “witch” that can “read” Kuro’s true self, saying to her that she believes that someone “forced” the black that Kuro wears on her and that it’s not her true color; her true color being tainted by the color black. Funny little “fun fact” about this is that someone actually said something similar to this to me once, I’m guessing because I wear black all of the time, ha. 🙂

While my main focus of the book reviews is not to present graphic novels, I will make an exception with this one as I really like it. Besides, it’s my blog so I make the call as to what books I want to present on it. 😉 I hope to have volume 2 up soon, whenever I finish it.

That’s all for now. Be sure to check out both Salazar’s and Kezzie’s respective blogs to see their latest book reviews and see what they’re reading.

Until next time!

 

For The Love Of Summer…

Okay, I need to give you all a small disclaimer here. This post has nothing to do with postcards, or SIA pictures or books. So if you were expecting any of these, you won’t find them here in this post.

While I usually write for my readers (thank you all so much for reading!), this post is more for me than anyone else.

Over the past several years, I’ve always struggled emotionally when summer came around. I hated it, and I still do to this day. Once upon a time, summer was probably one of my favorite times of the year. Summer vacation, warm weather, fun and games, you name it. What kid wouldn’t love summer, right? Well, I loved it up until a few years ago. VERY painful memories associated with this season, made it the most hated time of the year for me. I won’t get into the details, as it’s too personal and too painful and you all probably don’t want to hear it anyway.

But let me end this very short, very serious post by saying that I’m going to do my best to finally reconcile with the past and what has hurt me for so long (last year was the worst yet) and try to move on.  This doesn’t mean that I’m forgetting what happened. It just means that I’m willing to be okay with what happened (more or less) and to find the good things that summer has that I usually miss out on, as I’m usually too busy sulking. And one of these good things is the beauty that nature has during the summer months; the vibrancy, the colors; everything that makes summer, well, summer. And while technically, it’s still spring, today looked very much like how summer looks, in all of its glory.

I took these photos today while on my lunch break. I walked up to our local college campus (where I graduated) with a friend and saw how beautiful it is. So many cool angles and parts of the campus that I have never seen before. Check them out below.

So there I go. First step toward healing…

SIA: “Venus”

For this SIA, I’ve chosen a very simple look. Chosen by Salazar over on 14 Shades of Grey, this challenge involves a poster that’s part of a series of posters created for the recently discovered exoplanets (planets that are outside of our solar system, hence the prefix “exo”). You can read more about these awesome worlds both here and here. Some of these things dwarf even the “Mighty Jupiter”, the largest planet in our solar system. For those of you who know me well, I’m a HUGE astronomy buff and could probably talk all day on the subject.

But I will spare you all the lecture as I’m not feeling that great and need to retreat back to my bed. Been sick all day but needed to get this post ready for launch on Monday.

So let me cut to the chase and show you what I’ve come up with for this SIA.

Venus Poster SIA

Like I said, very simple. The poster has a very pastel look to it with lots of pinks and greys/silver colors. And since I don’t have any pink in my closet of clothing (I doubt I’d wear it, even if I had), I opted to go with the more silver-like colors that are seen in the poster, using my light gray shirt. And my black pants and tiny black logo on the shirt, cover the bit of black that’s seen in the poster. Incidentally, the logo you see is the company that my mom works for, Summa Care. I think my mom brought a few shirts home a few years back and had given me one, which I have never worn, until now. It’s way too big for me but I thought that it would be perfect for this challenge when I found it in my closet.

So that’s it for now, dear readers. Be sure to check in to Salazar’s blog on Wednesday to see how everyone else interpreted this SIA challenge.

Okay, back to bed with me…

Postcard Post: “Evening Forest”

Hey there, dear readers. Got another postcard to share with you all. I call it Evening Forest, as the bit of glow that you see in the sky behind the trees, makes me think of a sunset. Pretty simple.

Evening Forest Postcard

Like my last current postcard, Quiet Pond, seen here, I based this one off of one of Bob Ross’s paintings that he did, called Island in the Wilderness. You can watch how he did his painting here.

But unlike my last Bob Ross inspired painting, this one is somewhat disappointing. For one thing, the so-called “reflections” that I tried to do of the trees in the water (bottom right) did not come out good at all. They look more like deformed stalactites that you’d see in a cave. They are way too dark.

Another thing that bothers me about this one is the bottom left, where I’ve tried to paint the bushes that Bob did in his painting. They look more like really bad mustard stains that you can’t get out of your shirt, no matter how many times you throw it in the washing machine. Ugh….

But still, what do you expect with watercolor? It’s hard to do layering of color properly with this particular medium. Oil paint would have probably been better, if I had any. Oh well. You do the best that you can with what you’ve got.

And besides, it’s not all doom and gloom here. I really liked how I did the evening sky with the trees in front of it, fading back into the space. And the little sticks and twigs that I added along the water bank are pretty cool too I think.

So overall, not bad. I hope to do better paintings (whether Bob Ross inspired or otherwise) in the future and maybe give my watercolors a mini hiatus and use color pencils or oil pastels (which I used a little in the end to enhance some of the green on the trees).

Hope everyone has a great week!

P.S. Like with my last post, I put this one on a timer as well so that it will go public around 7am (Eastern Standard Time), Monday morning. Since I found success in this method the last time I did it, I deem that it’s worth doing again.

SIA: growARTS Painting #2

Before I begin, I want to announce that I’m trying something totally different for this post. I’m going to try and set this post so that it publishes at a certain time on Monday, May 8th. I’ve noticed that several of my “blogging buddies” manage to post daily at nearly the same time, which I think is pretty awesome. And I’ve always wondered how they can post so consistently. So I did a little research and found out that WordPress has a handy dandy little feature that allows you to publish posts at a set time so that you don’t have to worry about being in front of your computer when you want to make a post go live.

So my SIA post will be my test, if you will, to see if this works. If it does, it should go live at around 7am (Eastern Standard Time), Monday, May 8th. Fingers crossed.

So, onto this week’s challenge.

This week’s SIA challenge was curated by Erin on her blog, over on Loop Looks. She has chosen another growARTS piece, which you can read more about on her blog.

Grow Arts SIA 3

I went with a pretty obvious choice of colors for this one; black shirt and khaki pants (sorry, no purple in my wardrobe), similar colors to what we see in the painting.

But like I told Erin when I submitted my photo, the problem that I have with my outfit is my pants looking too “baggy”, which I don’t like. They are too long for me and a trip to a good tailor might be in order. But for a quick fix, I guess I could have just rolled the bottoms of them a little. Live and learn, huh…

So there you have it. Be sure to check out Erin’s blog tomorrow to see how everyone else interpreted this latest SIA installment.

 

Postcard Postings #6: A Look At Past Works: “Fire In The Sky”

I don’t know if I ever gave this next postcard an “official title”. Like many of my earlier ones, it was more about just making them, making sure they looked good and mailing them off to my pen pal. It wasn’t until late last year when I really started to give my art names.

Fire In The Sky Postcard

So this one here went unnamed for some time. As I was looking at it earlier today and thinking of a good name for it for today’s post, quite a few came to mind, ranging from simple names like Volcano and Lava to very elaborate names like Fire Bomb Blitz and Magma Mayhem. In the end, I sort of fell in between the two and settled on Fire In The Sky. It’s simple and to the point. I decided on this name because I want the focus of the piece to be more about the light emitted from the spewing volcanoes, lighting up the dark sky in the background, as opposed to the lava that’s flowing from them.

In any kind of painting or drawing, balance is always an important factor. If you don’t have good balance in a picture, it tends to look “lopsided” or “top/bottom heavy” and it won’t “read” right to many viewers. So I try to incorporate this sense of “balance” in my postcards, particularly in the later ones as I continue to develop my technique.

And for me, the light that I show from the tops of the two volcanoes helps balance out the very “bottom heavy” look of this picture with the lava flowing on the right and the melted rock on the left. And looking at this picture that I did with colored pencils back in 2015, makes me feel very hot, like skin melting, sweaty, blistery hot. Quite a feeling to have, considering how cold it’s been here this past week. We are in the month of May, aren’t we? Sure doesn’t feel like it so far…

Have a great weekend! Hoping to get another postcard posting up next week!

April Book Reviews 2017

If you have been reading the blog long enough, then you know what time it is. Yep, it the end of the month and it’s time for some good ‘ol book reviews. I’m quite impressed with myself this time because I have two books to present this time around as I managed to finish more than one book in a month’s time, which is pretty impressive for me. Now grant that this book that I’m about to talk about is under 200 pages (and was really captivating if I might add) might have something to do with me being able to knock out two reads in one month, then fine, so be it.

And captivating this first book is indeed. It’s called A Friendship For Today by Patricia C. McKissack.

A Friendship For Today Cover

It is about a young 10 year old African American girl living in the 1950s in Kirkland, Missouri (real town name, Kirksville) and her struggles to adjust going to an all white school after her school, Attucks Elementary, closes.

Rosemary, our young protagonist, faces many challenges when the new school year begins for her. Her closest and best friend, J.J. Stenson (James Johnson Stenson) is suddenly struck with Polio (remember, this story is set slightly before the Polio vaccine was fully developed) and is hospitalized, her parents’ marriage is deteriorating and fights often occur in her presence. But probably the biggest challenge of all that Rosemary must face is attending Robertson Elementary school and having to face the ongoing prejudice of being the only African American student in her class. Her friend, J.J., would have been in her class as well, if not for his sudden illness. At first, it is very difficult for her, as you can imagine. It is particularly difficult when her next door neighbor, Grace Hamilton (nicknamed, “Grace The Tasteless” by Rosemary), is in the same class as her, and is not shy or timid about displaying her racist feelings towards her. But as time goes on, both she and Rosemary begin to see eye to eye when they discover that they share many of the same troubles such as broken family relationships and being excluded by others, particularly by a little snot nosed uppity girl named Katherine Hogan, who I can guarantee that you will not like as you read about her in the story. Both Rosemary and Grace eventually become friends and start hanging out more and more. And when some of the other kids in Rosemary’s class see this, they too begin to join them and begin forming friendships with the two girls. By the end of the story, both Grace and Rosemary go their separate ways, but each takes with them a good lesson, which, from what I can gather, is that there is more to a person than just outside appearances and that they are not so different after all.

This was a nice story overall and it had a fairly happy ending. Actually, it has several small happy endings as the book has a few mini subplots that all basically focus on one theme: hope. One of these subplots is the appearance of “Rags”, a battered cat found on some railroad tracks by Rosemary and J.J. that appears to have been struck by a moving train. By all rights, “Rags” should have died, based on the grisly description of her appearance when Rosemary and J.J. find her. But Rosemary stalwartly cares and nurtures her back to health and by the end of the book, ends up having 3 kittens! Awww….!

So that’s one subplot. Another is the correspondence between  Rosemary and J.J. by letters when J.J. is being treated for his Polio illness in the hospital. They both remain hopeful that he will recover and be able to come home. And sure enough, by the end of the book, J.J. is out of the hospital. And with the help of leg braces, he is able to move around on his own again, which makes for another mini happy ending here, sort of.
There are a few more subplots in the story that you’ll see as you read the book. These were just two of the major ones that I found to be prevalent to the book’s overall theme. How many more can you find?

This was a quick read as I finished more than half of it in one day (it’s only 172 pages). The author, Mrs. McKissack, writes a small note at the end of the book, stating that much of Rosemary’s life reflected her own life growing up in the 50s and having to deal with prejudice and racism. And after reading so many memoirs and biographies the past few months, I felt that this story, though a work of fiction, was like a sort of memoir of the author. And while not as heavy on the horrible concepts of racism and segregation (this is a children’s book after all) as an adult book would probably be, it still makes a point to demonstrate that the struggles that Rosemary faced were real and that kids today need to be aware of it.

And speaking of the author, I discovered something both interesting and shocking right after I finished reading her book. I finished this book on April 16th, Easter Sunday to be exact. And as I always like to do when I finish a good book, I look up the author’s name to find out more about them. Well, to my horror, it is with great sadness that I discovered that Mrs. McKissack had just passed away a little over a week before I finished her book. She died on April 7th, 2017. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s like one chance in a million that I would pick a book randomly, out of the blue (as how I usually do, working in a library), decide to read it, and finish it shortly after the author of that book has died, without even knowing that this happened prior to my choosing it and reading it. I mean, what do you call that?!?…

Well, I hope that I am honoring Mrs. McKissack’s life by writing my review and publishing it on my blog here. It was a good story and I think that she would be pleased to know that I enjoyed it.

In closing, I give A Friendship For Today a 4 out of 5. I really liked the story and now knowing how much of Rosemary’s life reflects that of Mrs. Mckissack’s, I have an even greater admiration for this story and its powerful message. I bumped it down one rate as I feel like Rosemary’s and Grace’s relationship, though special, was too one dimensional. I think that more of their story could have been told and explored so that we, the reader, could truly get to know both girls, their similarities and differences, and really help guide their friendship into something great. But besides that, it was well written and I would recommend it to anyone, especially to young readers. Great book! R.I.P. Mrs. Mckissack…

My second book for this month, Valkyrie: The Runaway, is the second book of Kate O’Hearn’s new Valkyrie series, that I started last June (seen here), which was outstanding.

Valkyrie The Runaway Cover

I literally couldn’t put that book down. While the ending of the first one sounded like it was the end for the two main characters, the indication that a second book coming out to continue their story, excited me immensely.

In this second book of Kate’s new saga, our heroes, Freya and Archie (who is now a “ghost” living in Asgard), are sent down to Midgard (Earth) by Odin to retrieve a Valkyrie that was banished there centuries ago. But this is not so simple a task as a war between the realms (10 in all with Midgard and Asgard being two of them) is nearing. The frost and fire giants from their respective realms, wish to wage war with the people of Asgard, and Odin, the leader of Asgard, seems to constantly be in contention with those living in these other realms.

To make matters worse, the lost Valkyrie that Freya and Archie are searching for, has been living in Midgard for so long that she has started a family of her own among humans and some real “family mess” takes place when Freya discovers that she has family among them and is torn between carrying out Odin’s will and protecting her newly discovered relatives.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, not quite as excitable as its predecessor, but it is nice to see all the main characters return in this book, as well as learn about some new ones that made an appearance in the first book but were not named. One example of this is the Dark Searcher (beings who sort of serve as Odin’s “police force”) that mercilessly chased after Freya when she was in Midgard without Odin’s permission. In the first book, he killed Archie, Freya’s best friend, while trying to fight him. In this book, we learn the Dark Searcher’s name is Dirian and that his beef with Freya is only the beginning. He was dishonored (had one of his wings clipped off) and forever confined to Utgard (mentioned next) by Odin after the events of the first book. Near the beginning of the second book, he kills her! But because she was in Asgard at the time, and is practically immortal, she is revived.

We also learn that there is indeed a sort of “purgatory” or “shadow realm” that was not mentioned in the first book. It’s called Utgard (mentioned above) and is the place where the Dark Searchers, frost giants, dark elves and other diabolical denizens reside. But based on how it is portrayed in this story, it doesn’t seem to be the same as how we would think of as being a sort of “hell”, in which evildoers go to be punished. Like with Asgard and Midgard, and the other not yet known realms, Utgard is just another place where certain beings live in and is not a place of eternal torment and damnation.

So I found these elements to be quite interesting. I also learned something quite gripping that I wasn’t aware of when I was reading the first book. Many of the characters in the story are based off of actual Norse myths, which the author makes note of in her brief explanation of some of the characters and places mentioned in her books. She notes that many of the characters in her books are based off of the old Norse myths, with the exception of the Dark Searchers, whom which she claims that she could not find any reference to Odin having any sort of “police force” in the original myths, Archie of course, and a few other characters that are introduced in this book. But characters like Freya, Thor, Loki; are all from Norse Myths. And similar to the Greek Myths that many of us are probably more familiar with, these characters were made into gods and had incredible powers and interesting personalities similar to the Greek gods (Thor being compared to Zeus with their theme being thunder, or Loki being compared to Hermes as both are considered “tricksters”, etc.) And I must admit that after reading these first two books, I am finding that I want to know more about Norse mythology and will probably present a book here on the blog later on at some point. We’ll see.

One thing that bothered me about this book is how it ended. A battle was about to take place between a group of Dark Searchers led by Thor, the Angels of Death led by Azrael (the leader of the Angels) and part of Freya’s family, with her uncle Vonni (introduced in this book) as the leader. And while the battle never took place (thanks to a speech made by Vonni), the ending was so clichéd that it may as well have been a freakin’ episode of Full House (which by the way, I can’t stand to watch, though it’s better than shows like Big Bang Theory, which I hate even more). As I was reading the ending, I could just hear the sappy music playing in my head as it’s supposed to help make us feel like we’ve actually learned some moral lesson about life that our parents should have taught us in the first place. Ugghh…

So I have to give this one a 3.5 out of 5. Like I said, it’s not as good as the first one, where the focus was on Freya and her human friend, Archie, but on Freya’s uncle discovering who he really is, as he was born from a Valkyrie and has a VERY close connection to the Dark Searchers, which you’ll learn about if you read this book. And learning about Freya having a twin brother adds a bit of excitement to the mix as well, though it’s not quite as good as the Freya/Archie relationship from the first book.

Still, I look forward to the next book in the series. And if Kate’s Valkyrie series is anything like her previous one, Pegasus (which I haven’t read but there are 6 books total), then I have the feeling that Freya and Archie’s adventures are far from over. I can’t wait!

And that’s all for me. Two books in one month; that’s like some sort of a record for me. Perhaps next month, I’ll try for three? No? Okay, I won’t hold my breath. But we’ll see what I can do! Be sure to tune in next month to see what I’m reading next! I’ve already got my stack of books ready to go! Hope you got yours! And be sure to check out Salazar’s and Kezzie’s respective blogs (14 Shades of Grey and Kezzie AG) to see what books they have been reading lately. Our book club is growing!!! 🙂

Two Posts For The Price Of One: SIA & Postcard

I’m going to try something a little different for this post. I’m going to combine my SIA posting with a small segment of my latest postcard that I painted. I was supposed to write about the postcard last week sometime, but I never got around to doing it, which I’m not exactly happy about, but that’s how it goes sometimes…

So let’s get right to it. Here’s what I did for this week’s SIA challenge, chosen by Jen on her blog, Librarian For Life And Style .

Jogakbo SIA

Jen chose a patchwork piece from Korea called a “jogakbo”. You can read more about this piece (as well as see a picture of it on Jen’s blog) here .

Though I like this patchwork art, it was a bit difficult for me to find the right kind of shirt to best go with this SIA (without repeating a previous look). And if memory serves me, I wore this sweater for a previous SIA challenge curated by Jen called “Capax Infiniti”, for its neutral reds and grays. So I struck out on the whole “not repeating myself” thing, but this was the closest thing that I could come up with. But ironically enough, I also wore this sweater to the museum one time and the background behind me would have been perfect for this current SIA. Check it out below!

Me In Art 2

Really makes you dizzy just looking at it, doesn’t it? It’s like standing in another dimension as it’s hard to distinguish between the wall and the floor. I actually wouldn’t mind having at least one room at home painted like this, though it’d have to be in black, gray and white. 😉

Anyway, getting back to my outfit, I couldn’t really decide what to go with for this SIA, so I took the neutral route, as those are the colors that I saw in the patchwork. And like my SIA colleagues have said before, one of the best things about these challenges is that you can interpret them any way that you wish, which makes it fun and gives you a lot of freedom. And given my lack of fancy attire, this concept works in my favor.

So there you have it folks. Be sure to check in on Jen’s blog Tuesday, April 25th for the round-up to see how everyone else went about in interpreting this piece. Should be fun!

Okay, now for the second part of my post. I’m presenting my latest postcard that I painted last weekend. Take a look below:

Quiet Pond Postcard

I call this Quiet Pond. Done with watercolor paint, I would say that this is probably one of my best postcards that I’ve done up to date. And unlike many of my previous postcards that I’ve painted, this one was done with a more “heavy” layering of the watercolor paint. What I mean by that is, I used less water and applied the paint more thickly than normal for a watercolor painting so that it appears to look more “acrylic”, as opposed to the more “washed out” look of a standard watercolor piece. I’d say that it worked out rather well, wouldn’t you say?

And I can’t take all the credit for this painting. It was inspired by one of my favorite artists of all time, Bob Ross . For those of you who may have seen some of his videos, or like me, had the pleasure of watching him live on TV back in the early 90s, you know that he would often “invite” the viewers to paint along with him as he painted during his 30 minute TV shows each week. Well, after just watching him paint all of these years, I finally decided to go ahead and paint along with him, figuratively speaking of course. You can see how I was inspired to paint this postcard by watching the same video I did, here . And what’s nice about doing it now, as opposed to back then in 1984 (I was only a year old then) is that we can do an instant replay when we need to re-watch a section that we missed, or pause with a touch of a button or screen, so that we can render the right colors in our paintings as we paint along. By the way, it took me a lot longer than 30 minutes to paint my postcard; more like an hour at best.

A lot has changed in the past 33 years. But what hasn’t changed is the love of art and how anyone (and that includes all of you reading this post) can pick up a brush and some paints and can make art too. Try it sometime. If Bob were still alive today, he’d tell you the same thing.

So there you have it dear readers; two posts for the price of one. While I didn’t really want to combine my SIA post with my postcard one, it was the best that I could do, as I don’t know when I’ll have time to post anything new on the blog anytime soon. If anyone knows how I can write posts ahead of time and post them later, I’d love to know. I’m still trying to become a good blogger and I still don’t know all of the rules yet. I’m just sort of figuring them out as I go along. Thanks for your patience and thanks for reading! See you next post.