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!

 

Advertisements

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 clichéd 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!

Postcard Posts: Desert Lands

For these latest postcards, I went back to when I first started making them, before I got into the watercolor paints and watercolor postcards, which are designed for the wet medium. These here are done on regular index cards, using colored pencils.

Mesa Postcard

Desert Plain Postcard

The first one, Mesa, I based off of an image I saw online and I tried to recreate it from memory. I think it came out okay but I don’t like how the actual “mesa” came out (mesas are supposed to be flat at the top, right?). But the rest of it isn’t too bad. The plants I placed in the foreground add a nice touch of color, basically balancing out the harsher coloring that the background is displaying. So it’s okay.

The second one, named Desert Plain, I thought came out much better. It’s what I originally envisioned in my mind, before I turned to online images for inspiration (shame on me!). This one is a lot less “cluttered” and the shadows for the rocks and cacti are more accurately portrayed than the ones seen in my first postcard. But one thing that both of these have in common is that I tried to create a “dusk-look”, with the sun just passing beneath the horizon, leaving the sky with a blue, yellow and orange hue, typical for desert skies when they are cloud free.

So overall, not too bad. I felt really inclined to create these more “warm themed” landscapes as it has been so cold where I’m at. Needless to say, I’m ready for some warmer weather to arrive soon, which may be the case for this week (some 60 degree temps in the forecast; whoo-hoo!). Plus, I haven’t done a desert scene since I created Pyramids, way back in 2015, seen here.  These are more realistically portrayed in my opinion.

 

January Book Reviews 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a book review on the blog (my last one being September of last year to be exact). It hasn’t exactly been a high priority on my “to do” list lately for several reasons. I keep thinking that I should just stop them all together but then I get the urge to want to write something for the blog and this is one of the first things that I can think of. And I figure that someone is probably reading it so whoever is, this is for you.

Anyway, I just have the one book to report on this time around. It’s called Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar, and it’s a historical fiction children’s novel about India in the 1940s.

Ahimsa Cover

Title: Ahimsa

Author: Supriya Kelkar

Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction

Pages: 289 (307 if you count the acknowledgements, author’s note, the small glossary and the reference page for further reading)

It tells the story of 10 year old Anjali, an Indian girl, who, with her family, works to help free India from British rule, as they occupy the country around this time. And while contentions between the British and the people of India rise high, other such contentions among the natives are also pretty heated. The book describes tensions between Hindus and Muslims as well as the people who fall into the different castes that India has. Caught in the conflict, Anjali risks losing those who are important to her; her best friend, who is Muslim, her mother who gets imprisoned for speaking out for what is right, and her friends and neighbors, many of whom frown down upon her when she makes continued efforts to bring in kids from the lowest caste, into her school. The story really helps bring the reader into Anjali’s world and allows them to see her struggle for freedom, as well as that of her whole country.

Overall, I thought the story was well written and the author really brought to life each character, particularly the main character. You get a sense of what each character is about and see a bit of character development in some of them. For example, one of the antagonists, Captain Brent, a British officer, has several encounters with Anjali. When we first meet him, he is seen as an apathetic, hard nosed kind of man. Anjali strongly dislikes him in the beginning and the feeling is mutual of him towards her. But as you continue to read, Brent seems to have a change of heart. And while still not appearing to “like” Anjali or any of the people of India, towards the end of the book, you see that he begins to respect her, which is quite a rewarding thing to see from the reader’s point of view. And thanks to some basic foreshadowing used by the author, you can see what events led up to this. And this, in turn, sort of helps solidify Anjali’s maturity and growth; earning the respect of someone who initially thought very little of her.

So it is a nice story. I read it fairly quickly and was really drawn into the story. Historical fiction generally does this to me, particularly if it’s about something that I am interested in, which I am in this case. I think the author could have carried it a bit further as I felt that it ended a bit abruptly. Another chapter or two or an epilogue would have been nice. But for a children’s book, it wasn’t bad. I give this one a 4 out of 5.

That’s all I have for now. I’m working on a few other books right now, which I hope to be able to present next month. I hope to do better with my reading record this year so that means a review once a month, at least. Maybe I’ll be able to squeeze in a couple in one month! We’ll see. And be sure to check out Salazar’s blog, 14 Shades of Grey, who is also doing book reviews today and see what she is reading.

 

 

Postcard Post: “Along Side The Road”

It’s my first blog post of the year! Yeah, I know. I’m a bit late to be saying this, as we’re already 30 days into the new year. But it’s true; it is my first post of the year. And for this first post, I have a pretty decent postcard to share with you all. Check it out.

Along Side The Road Postcard

I call this Along Side The Road. This came about on one of the days I was at home, recovering from a recent injury. I was sitting on my couch and looking out my patio window and I see two trees. They’re sitting on some patches of grass in the middle of our building’s parking lot and they looked sort of interesting. The trees here didn’t come out to be exact copies of what I saw, but for this painting, they’re good enough.

The rest of the painting came from my own imagination. I kept building upon each element; adding in new details to try and make it more interesting, hence the telephone poles and the double yellow line, creating a more 3 dimensional space. I don’t know why, but somehow, adding these minor details makes it work. Quiz time: what season do you think this postcard represents?

So overall, not bad. Not my best work, but it gave me something to do for about an hour. Better than being bored, right?

I’ll see what I can come up with next!

In the meantime, check out my friend, Salazar’s blog over on 14 Shades of Grey. She has some pretty awesome artwork! I particularly like her beach in Batam, Indonesia. 🙂

A Brief Glance At 2017

It’s hard believe that we’ll be saying “goodbye” to another year and “hello” to a new one in a little more than 24 hours from now. Where did this year go??? Pretty wild in how quickly this year has gone by and 2018 just around the corner.

Anyway, after giving it some thought, I decided that it would be a fun idea to briefly look back at some of my most favorite posts from this year and bring them back to the surface, if you will, before we clock out of 2017. And if I’m not “breaking any rules” for posting over the weekend, then I see this as a nice review for the final day of the year 2017.

With that said, lets take a look at my favorite postcard post, SIA post, and book review post as I take us back in time with this review. Let’s go! We’ll start with postcards.

I was actually torn between two postcards, as I like them both equally. The first one, Through The Autumn Meadow, I painted back in May, and shows a picturesque scene of a trail running through a meadow. You can read more about this painting by clicking here. I’ve actually gotten quite a few comments from people at work, who say how much they like this one and I have to agree. Looking at it makes you want to run through there and play, doesn’t it? Not bad, I’d say.

Trail Through The Autumn Meadow Postcard

I also chose the postcard I call Eclipse, because it was my first experiment I did using black postcards with oil pastels and the results were phenomenal. This one of course was based off of the eclipse that occurred here in the US back in August and took me 2 months to “re-create” it as a postcard. You can read more about this one here.

Eclipse

Okay, so there are my favorite postcards. What about SIA outfits? Let’s find out.

isabella-parasole-sia-1

There were quite a few SIA challenges that I participated in this year and I liked them all. But in the end, I decided to go with this one, which is the SIA challenge that Jen hosted on her blog way back in January, which you can see on her blog, Librarian For Life And Style. She chose a lace design by Isabella Catanea Parasole, which entailed black and white intricate patterns. I chose this as my favorite outfit because 1) I’m in all black (my favorite attire!) and 2) in terms of how I was photographed, I thought that I looked the best here, as opposed to some of the other photos in which I’m sporting a similar look.

So there you have it for a favorite SIA post. And now for my favorite book.

Recently, I updated my Goodreads page (I haven’t touched it for about a year; shame on me…) and put all of my current books on the page (those I have read, those that I am currently reading and those that I plan to read in the near future).

And as it turns out, my track record for reading this year kind of sucked as I only managed to read 7 books, as opposed to the 10 that I had originally planned on. I blame my extreme obsession for working all the time for this, ha, ha.

Be that as it may, the 7 books that I did read were pretty awesome and I had a good time trying to write decent reviews for all of them. It was a nice mixture of adult and children’s books, fiction and non fiction and so on. And the book that stood out the most for me this year is…

threading-my-prayer-rug-cover

Yep, I chose Threading My Prayer Rug by Sabeeha Rehman, a book that I read back in March. I chose this book as being my favorite for several reasons. For one thing, it’s a real story about a person’s life, which always fascinates me more than a story about a fictional character. Mrs. Rehman has made quite a wonderful impression on me in how she unfolds her life in this well written book and helped give me a greater understanding of what it means to be a Muslim living in the US.

Another thing that captured my attention is the subtle, witty humor that she puts in her story that sort of makes you stop and think for a moment before continuing to read. To me, that makes a book worthwhile the read; one that makes you think and not just allows you to zip through it like it was nothing. You can read the full review I did on her book here.

Plus, I’ve had the great honor of having a consistent correspondence with Mrs. Rehman since completing her book and she is one of the nicest people that I have ever interacted with. To me, any author who takes the time to reply to their readers is A-Okay in my book. 🙂

So those are a few highlights of 2017 from the blog. My goal by the end of 2018 is to have even better posts up and reader ready so that I can have more to work with if I decide to do this again next year. But still, not too bad I suppose.

Wishing all of my readers a safe and happy New Years. Hope to see you all over in 2018!

 

 

SIA: “Roots”

I know, I know. It’s been forever since my last post on the blog. Exactly 1 month and 12 days to be exact.

I apologize for the long pause. Besides always being too busy to even sign on, to be quite frank, I just haven’t had too much motivation or inspiration to write much lately. We seem to be in the age where blogs are almost as common as say, cellphones; nearly everyone has one and no one is reading.

But despite that mini “pity party” that I just had, I continue to press on whenever I feel the need to tap out a few thoughts on my keyboard and post it for everyone to see. 🙂

And I’ll start by posting about my latest SIA idea. Hosted by Salazar over on 14 Shades of Grey, this latest one is called Roots, a photo by Miguel Vallinas.  Apparently, he has done a number of these “flower headed” people in everyday attire, which you can check out the link on Salazar’s blog to see. Looking at them, they sort of have a bit of a creepy, almost eerie look to them, but at the same time, are kind of cool and quaint. Seriously, go check them out. They’re pretty awesome!

So this is what I came up with for this project:

Roots SIA

Pretty self explanatory, right? The figure in the photo that Salazar chose for SIA is sporting jeans, which I have covered. I’m not a jeans person, but they worked out well for this challenge so there you go.

My plaid jacket is obviously to match the plaid shirt the figure is wearing, and my black shirt (I always have to include black in my outfits somehow) is to mimic the black background behind the figure in the photo. I don’t really have anything that’s beige or khaki colored (other than the one pair of khaki pants that I own but I didn’t want to use those for this one), so I had to omit that. But not too bad if I do say so myself.

Two things to note: 1) That trash that you see, in particular the cigarette butt, is NOT ours!!! No one in my family smokes (thank goodness). It came from one of our neighbor’s balconies (probably the one right above us) and is not the first time that I’ve seen it on our terrace. I didn’t think to remove it until after I took the photo and happened to see it there (darn it!).

And 2), my “books” hat is not part of the SIA look. I simply wore it because it was below freezing outside when I took the photo and I wanted to keep my head warm. Yes, winter is here in our lovely state. And it welcomed us with quite a bit of snow, which is okay with me, to a degree. Maybe it will last until Christmas? 😉

That’s all for now. Be sure to check Salazar’s blog this coming Wednesday, the 20th, to see the round-up with everyone’s interpretations!