Happy Friday! I decided to experiment with a new contemporary print technique by ordering my first “standout” or “box mount” prints from Mpix. The two photos I chose are of contemporary themes (both taken in Barcelona) so I thought it would be suitable. I had them printed on metallic paper (great choice for vibrant colors), then mounted on this 1.5″ foam, the sides being a smooth black. I promptly received them in the mail (thanks, Mpix!) yesterday and love the look! They are so smooth, shiny, vibrant….and light! Now I just need to figure out how to attach hanging wire to them and enter them into the annual Isle of Wight Members Show….hopefully they will be accepted, even though they are not technically ‘framed’. Has anyone had experience (success or failure) using photo print mounts in an exhibition?
Archive for the ‘Home and Garden’ Category
I hope everyone is having a great week! I want to share with you the most recent addition to my oil painting portfolio, a 36″x54″ (big!) oil on canvas of a pastoral scene that I recently completed. This was created for a friend’s mom, based on the view from her house.
It’s officially Spring at the Lycke house when we turn our deck and pergola into a little colorful oasis. I went with a red theme this year, choosing red and white petunias for the hanging baskets, a bright new red pillow to contrast the blue and green pillows, and a red candle. The begonias in the potted plants are also a pinkish red. I also tried a weatherproofing spray (303 High Tech Fabric Guard) this year…hopefully this’ll keep the Sunbrella cushions drier and free from mildew this summer. I will let you know how it works out!
If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been trying to live a more non-toxic life as part of my fight against thyroid cancer. Well, I’m also an artist. As I’ve just accepted a new oil painting commission, I’m researching ways to make the painting process safer and less toxic. As many people have become concerned about the health and environmental effects of the products we use, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. So far, here are a few suggestions I’ve found:
1) Use good hygiene and cleaning methods. Definitely don’t put your brushes anywhere near your mouth. Supposedly, VanGogh ingested traces of his oil paints as he worked, and this may have contributed to his mental and physical decline. Also, try to wear gloves as you paint. I know in the past, I’ve been guilty of getting oil colors all over my hands as I paint. Even though I’d scrub my hands afterward, remnants of stubborn color would still remain. This can be absorbed into your body, along with any toxic ingredients, so you should minimize skin contact.
2) Use good ventilation. Outdoor Plein Air painting is great. If this is not an option, paint with as many windows and doors open as possible. Paint in a garage with the doors open. Or use a studio with a built-in ventilation system and/or lots of windows. Use fans and air purifiers as well. I have a small window, but also use a purifier and a fan to blow any fumes out the open window. Put a ventilation mask on if you are still concerned.
3) Check the ACMI (Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc.) labels. This is a non-profit association that tests for toxicity in paints and media. Look for the AP (Approved Product) certified nontoxic seal on your individual paint tubes (every color may be different, even within a specific brand or line of paints). Avoid the CL label which indicates that caution should be used. In general, avoid the Cadmium colors and the Cobalt colors, including Cerulean Blue. Lead White (also known as Flake White) has been banned in most countries because of its toxicity, now selling the safer Flake White Replacement color. Most major art supply catalogs and websites will indicate the labels for each paint color. For more information, see the ACMI website.
4) Avoid turpentine and most thinners and mediums. In my research, it appears that Walnut Oil is safe and a quality choice. There is also M Graham Walnut Alkyd Medium which is non-toxic, if you’d like a fast drying medium (oils such as walnut oil are not fast drying). I have a bottle of water soluble Stand Oil at home that has the AP label. There may be other limited choices, but use caution.
5) Use simple soap and water for cleaning your brushes and hands. My art professors in college suggested we use regular dish soap for washing brushes. This is easy on the budget, as well as health. I used to swirl the brushes into the palm of my hand with soap to clean them. Now I will use a clean surface, such as my palette, to swirl, to limit the skin exposure.
6) Make sure to close all paint and medium containers as soon as you are done with them and clean up thoroughly.
With these precautions, you should be able to oil paint safely and enjoyably. If you know of any more safety tips with regards to oil painting, please let me know!
With a mild Winter and early Spring this year, yellow blossoms are just bursting on our deck this week. These Carolina Jasmine vines were planted about 3 years ago in our mostly shaded, partial sun backyard. The small plants were placed in the ground, and spaced according to where the vertical posts of our pergola are. The first 2 years consisted of lots of watering and training the vines to work up the sides of the deck, around the posts, and finally to the top of the pergola. Although it still has a long way to go to create a thick pretty covering from the sun, it has now grown enough that we can reap enjoyment out of our lovely yellow flowers and thick green vines. The scent and blooms this week are lovely!
I have been organizing at home since the beginning of the new year, and I found this cool empty bag that had contained authentic Spanish rice, in the back of my pantry. This bag is made from nice sturdy cloth and has a cool retro look to it, with some international flair.
I don’t have advanced sewing skills, but do know how to make pillows. In this case, most of the work was already done, as there was already stitching on 3 of the 4 sides…all I needed to do was 1) iron the fabric to get the wrinkles out, 2) stuff the pillow with stuffing from the fabric store, and 3) use matching red thread to hand sew the fourth side together.
Voila! (or should I say “Ya esta!”)
I think this unusual pillow looks rather handsome on our leather barstool…like something they might even have at Restoration Hardware, but for a fraction of the price.
In a couple more weeks, we will be starting our 2012 New Year’s Resolutions. In my online research on becoming healthier and overcoming cancer, I’ve learned about many different foods to try to incorporate into one’s diet to improve health. This post (and the next one), I’m dedicating to some foods I’ve learned about that you may want to try incorporating into your diet. Although I should specify that I’m not a nutritionist, there is a lot of positive information out there regarding these foods, which you should explore further if interested.
1) Kefir – a cultured, yogurt-style drink
Kefir is a smooth, slightly sour drink that tastes like yogurt. The name originates from the Turkish word “keif” which means “good feeling”. Hopefully this drink will have you feeling good. This beverage is easily digestible and contains many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, B2, B12, D and K, and calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It also contains probiotics, and is responsible for improving immune function and digestion issues. It can possibly improve IBS, as well as other issues, such as high cholesterol, allergies, metabolic disease, and possibly even cancer. Kefir is now commonly sold in grocery stores and is often paired with other flavorings, such as blueberry or pomegranate. I have recently seen Kefir in both Bloom and Trader Joe’s, and both versions are delicious. Kefir can be sipped from the bottle, used with cereal, or as a substitute for yogurt or sour cream in recipes. I have read you can even freeze it and turn it into ice cream.
2) Raw Honey – the real stuff
No, we’re not talking about the stuff in the plastic honeybear containers at your local Food Lion. Make sure it says “Raw” and that it’s real honey. Much of what we see in our typical grocery store is NOT the good stuff. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s sells raw honey, that has been shown to be real in this study. Real raw honey has good bacteria and contains a wealth of nutrients, including B vitamins. Honey may promote better blood sugar control and improved insulin sensitivity, and is certainly a healthier sweet alternative to white sugar, especially for diabetics and those with metabolic syndrome. Honey also improves immune function, which results in better health overall. There seem to be certain unusual compounds in real raw honey that are not found anywhere else, but may be partly responsible for the medicinal purposes of honey. For children, try buckwheat honey instead of cough syrup to improve cough symptoms. In your daily diet, try a tablespoon with your tea or coffee, as a sugar substitute in baking, or on bread in place of jelly.
Now, everyone know what beets are, but do you know how good they are for you?
Beets contain a great deal of fiber, which is good for weight loss and digestion. These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds, such as carotenoids and phytonutrients called betalains that help protect against heart disease and maybe even cancer. Some of these contain strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification functions. Certain studies even indicate that beets may have anti-tumor properties. Try marinated beets or a warm soothing borscht during your next meal.