Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Joy of New Art Supplies

By Friday I finally chased down my Fed-Ex package from And although I haven't used my new Winsor & Newton Artists' Water Colour Compact Set yet, I've been admiring its beauty. It wasn't until today that I brought myself to opening the 14 colors wrapped in foil that made the tiny pans of color look like Pez candies.

Besides the beautiful compact set of watercolors, I purchased a Staedtler Pigment Liner set of four pens (0.1 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7 mm). Since they are waterproof, they'll be great for using with watercolors. And along with my purchase, I got a free tube of SMALT (Dumont's Blue), which is a special edition Anniversary Colour. Out of curiosity I went to and found an excellent site! There are all sorts of interesting facts about the History of Pigments and about Winsor Newton products -- one of the best brands, IMO, for watercolors.

The picture above shows how the Compact Set unfolds and has palettes above and below the pans for mixing colors, and the little water holder moves from the middle where my thumb is and attaches to the side. This is a cute and dainty feature, but I'm not sure if that little water spot will be very effective -- it's pretty tiny. But overall doesn't it look perfect for gripping and mixing it up?

After making a pile of wrappers from the half pans, I took out a sketchbook and my new pens. I ended up with a rough sketch of a plant of Shamrocks and violets with a couple little birds nearby. After I've got a decent sketch of it, I'm going to add some color! It will be fun to test out the colors. I'll be new to using the half pans -- I've just used the tubes in the past -- but I know I'm up for the challenge and change. I'll enjoy using this little set and since it is compact, it will be easy to carry with me. Who knows, maybe this spring I'll take it outside and use it? Or maybe it will eventually travel with me overseas to Paris where I can sit and sketch and paint in the park by the Eiffel Tower. A girl can have dreams, can't she? :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Battle of My Muses

My Writing Muse and my Artistic Muse are at battle with each other lately and I feel pulled in both directions at once. I want to start writing creatively again, and have done so by creating a new writing journal. But even more so I feel the need to be artistic. In the last couple of weeks I've been sketching and surfing art blogs on the net and I'm really inspired! There are some amazing artists out there on the Internet and also amazing groups for artists! So I'm poking around in that area a bit more.

I also made a order last weekend, and to my disappointment I missed my Fed-Ex delivery with my purchases today. Let me just also add that if you are a working person, Fed-Ex isn't cool. At least with UPS you can go and pick up your missed delivery; whereas Fed-Ex just continues to drive around with your order. (Bleh.) So my new watercolor set and pens are probably sitting in a dark Fed-Ex truck as I type! *Sniff-Sniff*

Besides splurging on art materials, I also made a special trip to B & N for a large Moleskine watercolor journal and I've slowly been getting out my brushes and paints. I'll be posting more pictures of my new purchases and maybe even some sketches soon!

As for my poor Reading Muse, I think she needs some Ritalin because for the life of me I just can't sit down and read lately. I shouldn't say that because I have started reading Atonment by Ian McEwan and I am enjoying it -- but for some reason I can't seem to concentrate on reading for long periods of time like I'm used to doing. So -- Creatively I guess I need to quit trying to turn pages already filled with words and write, draw, or to paint up blank pages.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Happy St Patrick's Day!!

I-rish you a very nice place to live,
I-rish God's greatest gifts he'll give.
I-rish you health, and wealth, and more--
I-rish your smilin' face were at my door!

Being Irish, I love St. Patrick's Day! My Great-Great Grandparents on my mother's side came over from Ireland and it is a dream of mine to travel to Ireland someday!

When I was little, my grandpa always made St. Patrick's Day special for me and my brother. He made us green JELL-O, Grandma even baked Chocolate Chip and Pistachio cookies, and he even recited a few Irish Limericks. Some of which we laughed at and some of which Grandma chided him for without us really understanding why.

Grandpa told us great St. Patrick's Day tales, and we always listened in awe. But what really made it magical was when the Leprechans would come and visit him every year because he was Irish. They were always making a mess and playing tricks on him. When we asked where they were, he told us they were tricky fellows who were very hard to catch site of. He even described what one looked like to us and told us a story when he actually caught one pulling a trick on him. And to our amazement one year, they even rang the doorbell and left my brother and I an Irish surprise - Green candy of all kinds! *Wink, Wink* They must have felt bad for playing so many tricks on Grandpa :)

So Grandpa was our Leprechan, but he made us believe in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow -- and for that I'll always have fond memories of his great Irish spirit!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Bookish Weekend!

The Moorhead Public Library had a used booksale this weekend. On Saturday morning it started at 10 AM and I arrived at 9:45 to find a long line already formed. While I stood in line with my mom, we heard my dad downstairs laughing and joking around with another person standing in line. He took the elevator and made it to the bottom of the stairs, while we were half-way to the basement of the library. He was in his element! He loves booksales and auctions and doesn't mind if people are pushy and rude, like they can be at sales like this.

With that many people in line, when the doors were opened it was a mad rush into the large room with the books. There were two ways to get into the book room and I quickly took the longer and less traveled route and found myself inside quickly. The sight was overwhelming! Rows of tables were bursting of books and there were many boxes overflowing under the tables. With so many people flooding in, I quickly decided that it would be dangerous to dig under the tables and tried to make my way around the tables, and that was no easy task. Mind you, I don't like huge crowds and obnoxious people. And let's face it - you have to act a bit obnoxious to stand in line at a booksale and push your way around.

As I fought the crowds I was amazed at how pushy people were and how mad they seemed as they dug through the rows of books and picked and grabbed at things they thought they wanted. I was squished on both sides and even had to turn sideways. At one point I had one older man to the left of me and one older man to the right of me, and they were both rudely trying to burrow their way to the table so they could dig at the books. And although I debated on walking away from them in disgust, I managed to laugh it off and ignore them.

After it seemed to calm down a bit, I took out my cellphone to take a couple pictures of the masses searching for treasured books. The quality of the pictures aren't the best but it will give you an idea of how squished it was at the tables. Even more amazing, people brought little kids! Not just 5 or 6 year-olds, but babies and toddlers. A couple ladies even tried wheeling strollers around, which wasn't an easy task.

The tables in the middle were full of childrens' books galore! There were loads of larger books with pictures and even young adult novels. I did quite a bit of searching for books I remembered borrowing from the library or had as a kid because I always have a couple of titles that I'm in constant search of, but no luck for me.

However, I did find a good reading copy of a Young Adult novel that I recently borrowed from the library but didn't get a chance to read - Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix - so that was one of the great treasures I walked away with!

Here is a picture of my book booty! Over both days - I went on Saturday and again on Sunday - I came away with two large paper bags of books for less than $10! I went into the sale looking for a few good Young Adult Novels, regular novels, and anything else that captured my attention.
I came away with a few childrens' books with illustrations I loved, like The Inside-Outside Book of Paris and the Girls Think of Everything book that shows great inventions created by women. I bought a few illustrated childrens books for sketching ideas. I also found a super cool book titled Costume 1066-1966 showing costume designs and history. It will be fun to try and sketch some of the drawings inside!

Two other great finds were the two volume set of Burke's Royal families of the World. Volume I is of Europe and Latin America and Volume II is Africa and the Middle East. Royalty has always fascinated me and I'll enjoy this set.

I also found a good paperback reading copy of The Alienist by Caleb Carr, highly recommended by Tickpuppy and also a book I've wanted to read for awhile!

One last really cool find wasn't a book, but a video of an old TV show my brother and I watched way back in the day called Ghostwriter!! I was psyched when I found it! It will be fun to pop it in and watch it. It was about a friendly Ghost that was only known to exist to a special group of kids that liked to solve mysteries. The kids had special pens they wore around their necks and Ghostwriter, who looked like a ball of light, would use the kids and their magic pens to give them clues they could write down in order to help solve mysteries. It was a great show on PBS!

Overall, the booksale was quite a bit of fun and a whole lot of exhausting! It is hard work to keep it together while everyone around you seems to be on a mission. This sale was like a Black Friday Booksale at times! At one point I looked down to see a grow-up woman all the way under the table sorting through boxes of books like she was trying to dig to China. When she came up for air she told one of the workers, "That was totally worth it, even if I did bump my head a few times." Oh well - whatever floats your boat, right? Out of all of the madness, it good to see people so excited about reading and excited about books!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thawing Out Creativity

It has been a long, cold winter, and as of lately Mother Nature has been playing a not-so-nice game with us Midwesterners. She makes the weather almost Spring-like with muddy slush that turns light colored cars different colors one day, and the next day she turns the weather colder than a deep freeze complete with frigid air conditioning, better known as wind-chill. Not to mention that muddy slush goes straight back to ice that makes drivers slip and slide into ditches.

So what is one icy cold girl to do? Well, I'm not turning my heat down or giving up my favorite blanket anytime soon. I'll make sure the temperatures are rising a bit before I dig out my spring clothes - but I'm also going to prepare for Spring by thawing out my creativity! I started doing that last night by watching an excellent movie - The Martian Child, starring the amazing John Cusak and an adorable little boy by the name of Bobby Coleman who plays a little boy who claims to be a Martian. This movie is actually a true story based on a short story written by sci-fi author David Gerrold. What's the true story, you ask? Gerrold adopted a Martian Child of his own and decided to write an award winning short story about it. This is a movie that truly is a heart-warmer.

Also last night I dug out the brand-new sketch book and pack of drawing pencils that I purchased a couple months ago, and I actually doodled a bit. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed putting pencil to paper! I used to spend hours drawing, sketching, and coloring. My favorite place to doodle was at my old school desk that sat in my grandparents’ living room. The desktop opened up and inside were my drawing pads, drawing books, color books.

My only belongings that didn't quite fit in the desk were all of my drawing and coloring supplies. Of course I had a few of my favorite colors inside a special box in my desk, but since my family owned an art store I was never lacking in the coloring or drawing supplies department. In fact when it came to markers, crayons, and colored pencils - they were plentiful. My Grandpa always like to keep himself busy with projects. One day he decided to help me organize my oodles of crayons. He separated them by different colors, sharpened the dull ones, and put them in separate bread bags. So I had different bags of reds, yellows, and oranges, another bag of blues and purples and greens, and other of browns, blacks, and grays. Needless to say I spent many hours being creative on paper at my grandparents' house. It kept me busy and I remember sitting and listening to the grown-ups talk.

So this is how I thawed out last night. I defrosted my creativity by watching a good movie that made me remember what it was like to be a child with no limitations. As a child, possibilities are endless and all windows are open. And for a few minutes while I sketched, I felt that connection I used to have as a kid – I connected with a part of myself that I’ve missed, and I plan on making a play date with my inner child more often.

Below is an example of my beloved desk. Although this desk is a few years older than mine was.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Thoughts and Prayers Needed for J.J.

Last Wednesday, my best friend J.J. was admitted to the hospital. Right now his illness is a bit of a mystery and he needs everyone's thoughts and prayers. Please keep him in mind and send him positive thoughts that his doctors will find what is making him sick.

J.J. - Get well soon! I'm lost without you around! You are my Cart Commander at Wal-mart. One who is not afraid of being left alone in the isle with my bright yellow purse sitting in the front of the cart while I journey to the next isle over, looking for something I forgot to pick up. I'm waiting for you so we can have a good long movie marathon - complete with our goofy commentary followed by playing Halo. Maybe Allison and Asian Chill will even be able to play? :0) Let me know what you are hungry for - I'll cook you anything you want! I'll also have a new Mix CD waiting for us so we can drive around town late at night singing on-key or off-key - it doesn't matter what we do as long as we are together having a good time - which is pretty easy for us, right? :)

With Love - Your Jenifleur

Update on 3-6-08: J.J. went home from the hospital on Tuesday night! However, still no answers. Keep him in your thoughts & prayers that he'll find out more information from his doctors and that he will get well quickly.