Category Archives: Just for fun!

Mixing and knowing about colors is well worth the effort!

Slide2Recently in a class, we could only use three colors to paint with and they were the primary colors; Red, Yellow and Blue. Only, we had to use certain ones together to get different effects. These were watercolors and I did not have all of the names Annette Paquette chose, but I saw the differences in the ones that I did have. Some made very bright colors, others dulled them done and were great for saturated color paintings.Slide1



Taken from a chart that Annette used in class.

We all know what secondary colors are with red and blue, and yellow and blue and red and yellow, but WOW, when they can be changed like this, “you wonder where the yellow went” (have to be my age to know what  that is from!) and the blue and the red.

Greens should always be mixed. in fact my word of advice to any painter, phtylo green is ONLY for mixing – there is nothing in nature that is “POISON” green (unless it is a painted sign or roof or plastic chair.). BUT – mix it with violet and get this gorgeous gray tone that is a cool color, mix it with a red and dull it down to make it a warm color.Slide4

Color can be warm (reds, yellows, oranges) or cool (blues, greens) but when you add yellows to greens and blue to greens they change temperature. Knowing about how color works, is a great advantage.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.


Slide5I helped one of our newer plein air painters with how to connect and make a painting cohesive  by using complementary colors;  like throwing a wash or glaze of red in the green tree shadows and green washes in the red (barn) shadows. There is a scary moment when you think it is nuts to do that, but, it does make everything come together. Also, saw an art exhibit by Sorrello at the San Diego Art Museum, and he said that “the Impressionists gave us the color purple,” and that is the color that I remind painters and students that adds the pizzazz to any shadow in a watercolor (add a drip of cobalt blue in a corner and voila), a fabulous painting with a few tricks of the trade, plus the bonus of the use of color knowledge.Slide6

There’s bark and then there’s California Bark with no bite.

barksOut here in California, they have trees that defy what most think of bark.  Eastcoasters have no idea that tree bark could look so different from what we are used to seeing. But they make very interesting pieces parts shots. I take pictures all the time, they are so photogenic and make for weirdo pictures sometimes.  Some have little crotchity looking things or paper like peels, some have round knobs that can look like faces and you never know what the shadows create when you shoot them. The colors are even weird, reds and golds, and the whites and rusts are the ones that blow me away. They can look like painted debarkserts or abstract art. weirdtrees

When I go out to paint, some of the trees look strange and I stop myself and ask if they are “readable”, meaning if the viewer is looking at them, would they believe they were real. Look at the root system on this one and the bark looks like Balooga whale skin (which by the way feels like kid leather gloves!). The Birds of Paradise on the tree are white and black and huge. And the paper bark peels away to the next layer. If you are a painter, try to capture bark in your neighborhood, it is fun to paint it.

redbarkAnd if you like to take photos, go see if you can find some gnarly looking knot holes and find a face or something. Gooey sap is fun to take also and insect sacks are interesting if you get up close and personel! these are good abstracts and people won’t know what it is.



Roman Wall Painting made easy!

Slide4I am taking a class from (through Yale University), on Roman Architecture which I am finding very enlightening. I always have loved Greek architecture and thought this class would just add to that, I was surprised to have discovered something that was so interesting that I had to figure a way to do something with that new-found knowledge of decoration on walls of fancy villas.Slide19

I have seen gorgeous mosaics on floors and some walls, and fresco wall art in ancient Grecian & Italian sites, but the Romans took it to mathematical heights, and I mean great heights. Look at the height and detail in the wall with the maroon background on the top left and the white one in middle right here. I cannot imagine how long these walls and barreled ceilings took to paint, but read on and you will ask Slide6the same questions I did.

When I learned about the 4 different styles that were used over the years, I decided instead of writing a paper on designing a Roman City, that I would create a Children’s Museum exhibit to expose people to this wonderful art form.

Here are a few of the principles to creating the four different styles. You can see, they divided the walls into sections. (This art was done from around 10 BC to 79 AD). The 1st style is simple, they wanted to show that they had money but couldn’t afford to import marble, so they painted walls to look like it. They added columns and architectural features to look like windows with scenes and vistas behind them in the 2nd style. Slide22In the 3rd style, they finally realized that the walls were flat and painted them so! They added paintings in the center of panels, like a framed painting. The columns were not so massive but became skinny and decorative, they were no longer headed with the Greek capitols (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian). They used still life art and mythical people in the floating paintings. In the 4th style, they used all of the above and then some. They added cages to the top layer and had buildings and scenes within them, not like a panorama, but a painting within a frame.

romanarchexI used four colors to identify each style with a wall mural showing different walls from various villas uncovered in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and well-preserved villas from the Roman Empire. Slide9What I also added was drafting tables so kids can draw buildings using real architect tools and I added a block area so they can build houses. I saw a fabulous paneled digital presentation on a wall at a fair recently and saw they can project multiple images on panels, so I included this (very expensive wall) above the block area so people can see Roman buildings and ancient dig sites.Slide21

I have updated my exhibit design by added the three column capitals to each table and using a slanted one the Romans used for the fourth table. The height will add grandeur to the whole exhibtion and I decided I could not leave out an archeological dig site showing the kids what the ruins looked like. So they will clear away dirt and unveil the ancient city underneath the photo of Mt Vesuvius.mtvesev1

Slide25(Click on any of the collages to enlarge them so you can see the details, then use the upper left arrow to go back to the blog.)

You can see the entire slide show on YouTube if you go to this link. Now I just have to find some museum who might be interested in hiring me to produce this! I think it is very exciting for every age. And if you can draw, it wouldn’t be too difficult to follow their patterns. (FYI: The YouTube version is not as updated as this one. Look at the map above for the changes.)


The key to my childhood dream was to see “locks” in action.

Slide1When my Mom and sister said they wanted to see the Panama Canal, I was excited. Every children’s museum that I ever visited, had me playing with locks for long periods of time. I wanted to understand how they worked. Well, I jumped at the chance to cruise through it with my Mom, my two sisters, and my daughter too.

Other than having to get up at five and get your spot on the upper decks, Slide2the heat was so intense we had to keep going inside, even at that hour. We were the biggest ship so we got in line and would be going in first. We stood in line for a long time and then when the sun came up, we got the nod.


Slide3We saw the tug get us into position, then some guys in a little row-boat, jumped in front of the boat and got wires attached to us. The train cars, or mules (since they used to be real mules) hooked on to the wires and held us securely because the sides were really close. We did hit the sides twice says my sister Norrie. You will also see a photo of us being in our cabin and looking out at the side of the locks while we were in it coming back.Slide4

Our Island Princess cruise went from Long Beach (San Pedro, CA) to five countries and entering the locks from the West, the Pacific Ocean. We turned around and came back through them so we did not fly back like most tours do.


The workers actually can walk across the very heavy doors, they weigh tons. I did not writre down the figures of how much water this all takes, but I am sure you can google that info.

The water spreads out on the side edge. We saw bubbling under a bridge next to us (see the top right of the collage with the mules). I thought the water goes from one side to the other lane but that was not true. Watching the doors open was very exciting. There was a double door on one set.


What’s in the big pot?

Slide1Oh boy, I had to share this with you immediately before I forgot how I made this. Several years ago, my daughter and I went to a special cooking class by the Cancer Institute. They made a sweet potato Moroccan soup that we really enjoyed. Since then, I keep a can of sweet potatoes in the pantry shelves just for cold days.

Well today I finally felt better, after having a case of some kind of flu all week. I wanted something soothing so I made the soup, but added some things and it was so fabulously good that I just had to share it with you. Plus, this way I keep it on record so next time I need the recipe I have it. Reminder, nothing is written in stone here, which means the amounts are
“whatever!” I do not measure anything when cooking, baking is a different story (and I rarely bake except with crescent and Grand rolls!).

                            PENNI’S SWEET POTATO SOUP

SAUTE: (in eveo)-  1/2 diced onion, 2 chopped stalks celery, and 1/4 of a red peppers, chopped. ADD: 1 can chicken broth, 1 Medium can (29 oz)  sweet potatoes (smooshed), 1/2 shredded yellow squash, some roasted butternut squash, 1 C orange juice, 3 squirts mustard, sprinkle of dried garlic, and at the end, add 1 can whole kernel corn

Another one of my favorite soups for a cool day is one I learned at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I went home and tried to cop it but missed the mark. When I went back I asked the chef what I did wrong and he said you need to use cream. Haha, I am at times lactate intolerant so I decided to use evaporated milk and it worked with a dab our sour cream at the end.

                              PENNI’S PEACH BISQUE

1 C chicken stock, 1 can evaporated milk, 1 large can peaches (juice and all) In the Blender, put the peaches and the milk, add to the heated soup. Sprinkle in parsley, garlic powder, sherry, a T butter and 1/2 instant mashed potatoes to thicken. This is good hot or cold. You can reserve a few peaches and rough cut them for garnish, with a dollop of sour cream and voila, your taste buds will thank you!

The other dish pictured above was one I did with 1/4 lb pre-cooked and deveined  shrimp that was on sale.


Shrimp, fresh whole green beans,  sliced yellow squash, and mushrooms. In a frying pan, saute until the squash slices are tender. Add some fresh green beans (I zapped the green beans earlier!) and then add the shrimp and sliced mushrooms. This was a very quick meal for the family while I was not up to cooking!

FYI: Any kind of soup enhanced with sherry, butter and instant mashed potatoes is “S’wonderful”. So do not be shy, go make some soothing soup.

Next time I will give you a quick lesson in what you can do with pre-packaged Pillsbury (or generic brands) dinner rolls.


This is a little “game” for you to play, oh deer!

Slide2Today is my first anniversary of doing this blog so I have a gift for my followers. Have fun!

From PENCIL GAMES Magazine Spring 2008.

Match the song title with the occupation below (it could be a theme song for them to adopt!)

Pictured here is “Oh Deer!”


The Man on the Flying Trapeze

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Knock Three Times

Silly Love Songs

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Roses are Red My Love

King of the Road

Wake Up Little Susie

Mrs. Brown you have a Lovely Daughter

American Pie

Bette Davis Eyes

Stand By Your Man

I Love a Rainy Night



a.   door-to-door salesman

b.    meteorologist

c.    truck driver

d.    circus performer

e.    delivery-room nurse

f.    movie make-up consultant

g.   disc jockey

h.   florist

i.    alarm-clock

j.    square-dance caller

k.   flight attendant

l.    Houston Chamber of Commerce

m.   baker

Can you make up a few more? Sure brings back lots of memories if you are from my generation (old that is!).