Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Greetings & Apologies

Well it was a busy and strange Christmas here and that is all I have to say about my absence since Thanksgiving. But I have good news...shortly this blog will be incorporated into my website and is moving to Wordpress with a shiny new look, so stay tuned. I think this will be a good thing as it will make things easier to update. Angela Holden Design is working on it for me and I am so excited to have her expertise in migrating it all to one place.

I hope you all had a great holiday with family and friends and wish you a very happy new year. My how time flies! Seems like only yesterday we were all worried about Y2K.

See you in 2013!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm in the midst of cooking here but wanted to wish all of my friends who celebrate this day a Happy Thanksgiving. I will post some new paintings and projects that are in the works soon but for now I just want to say how thankful I am for all of my friends and family both near and far. Know that I treasure you. xo

Friday, November 9, 2012

Where did October go?

I can't believe it is already November and that in the blink of an eye Christmas and 2013 will be here. October was a strange month for me for a lot of reasons which I won't go into in detail.  Let's use the term "elder care" and leave it at that. Things are better now in a lot of ways for me thanks to the miracle of therapy. 

I have been accomplishing a lot this week with Don away in Denver at a conference. I've had a lot of "me time" and made good use of it in the studio...

Four states added to the series!

Today I uploaded two Christmas card designs to the printer which will be listed in my Etsy shop next week. I'm kind of excited about them actually. Normally I struggle with the design trying to come up with something that is not the usual run-of-the-mill greeting card. I was not even going to attempt one this year until inspiration hit and was helped along with a timely discount coupon code from the printer.  

Here is a sneak preview...

The one on the left is a Photoshop manipulation of the Maine state ACEO and the one on the right a variation of my "Home Before Dark" painting. I am considering including gold and silver envelopes with these when I package them up. 

Next on the agenda is a Christmas dress for a very special little lady named Molly. :) 

In case I don't get back here before November 22 I would like to wish all of my American followers a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

We're not in Kansas anymore and other news...

Life sometimes throws us a curveball and some things just have to take a back seat to others. That said, I have not had the time or the mood to blog for a couple of weeks. But today I feel like I need to catch up here.

Today I posted the latest in the state flower series. The Kansas sunflower was one of the few that I have had to start over but I am pretty happy with what I came up with in the end. I've a few to show you that came before Kansas so I will go backwards from that.

And that pretty much brings it up to current. I am working on Kentucky at the moment. I have to admit that even thinking of Goldenrod makes my nose twitch and I don't even have allergies! 

In other news here at Olliff Studios I've been spinning nearly everyday and getting a bit better at it. It is extremely relaxing for me. I put the spa channel on Pandora and it is my form of meditation. So here are a few of the things I have spun lately...

Royal Baby Alpaca plied with Mulberry Silk...I kept picturing it in copper so...

I dyed it. The smaller skein has since been dyed black 

This is one of my first dye attempts on commercial merino and I quite like it.
Same skein but different sides. This was inspired be the sunset. 
 I have to say that this dyeing business is really fun and also a bit addictive. And in the knitting department of Olliff Studios, I finally finished the "Mama Bear" cardigan for our daughter Karin. She had a big grin on her face when it arrived so I think she loves it. The color looks great on her.  

No, I didn't spin this yarn. It is baby alpaca generously given to me by a dear friend who got it in Peru. (Thank you again Gail!) I was lucky to find a perfect button for it on Etsy:

There is a cute beret that goes with it but apparently our granddaughter Molly has commandeered it for her own personal hat collection...

And this is what is on Lola Jr. at the moment. I am still not sure I like the way it resembles camouflage fatigues though several have commented in my spinning group that it reminds them of a meadow or at least something of nature. We'll see how it plies and knits up. Either way the extra-fine merino is a dream to spin and extremely soft even if it does look like it is gearing up for combat. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Too many irons in the fire... or why I need to clone myself.

Sometimes I wish I could clone myself. I need several of "me"to keep up with all the things I want to do. Or more hours in the day. Mostly it would be nice to have an extra me to do the cleaning and cooking so I can pursue the creative stuff that is supposed to be my job now. Anyway, lately I have been dividing my time between keeping the Etsy Shop going and feeding my yarn/knitting/spinning addiction. And as if that was not enough I have decided that I need to dye my own yarn. For those that are curious here's the latest in some of those endeavors...

I am really having fun with these little guys and frankly surprised myself that I have not ditched the project due to its immensity. 

In the spinning department of Olliff Studio I have been improving my consistency and learning the differences in spinning various fibers. Alpaca spins very different than wools and I even tried "spinning in the grease" (spinning un washed wool right of the sheep) and learned how to Navajo ply which is a lot of fun. 

Merino/Tencel I picked up in a lovely little shop in Piedmont

Spun & plied
Alpaca/Silk from a shop in Oakland called A Verb for Keeping Warm

half a hank spun

About 200 yards spun and plied
After I finish spinning the chocolate I am hoping I have enough to make this:

It was meant to be. The pattern is called "Deb"

Dyeing is not as productive as I would like. I finally dove in and did a little but it is intimidating… 
First dyeing attempt (sorry the lighting was bad)

I took all the bits of merino, alpaca and silk in the previous image (minus the skeins) and spun them end-to-end.
Not much yardage but it was fun to see how they spin. 
Oh...and then there is weaving. I have a small table loom that has been in storage for about 30 years. I think I wove a stupid wall hanging on it and then lost interest but I'm really glad I still have it because I suddenly have the urge to use it. More on that later. 

See why I need to look into cloning?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Catching up. Again.

The problem with finding new, fun things to do is that there is never enough time to do them all. I need to look into cloning. So, with the new spinning (and soon weaving, as we found my tabletop loom and it no longer scares me) I am having to balance the creativity in my studio. And then there are the days when I don't want to do any of it or have other stuff that calls to me from 'real life'. 

Getting back to the state flower series that I have been working on for my Etsy shop I am pleased to say that I am up to (still working on) Florida. They are getting to be more fun than I anticipated but I'm still glad I'm forcing myself to go in alpha order so as to not skip over any that I might not ordinarily be compelled to paint. Here are the latest: 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rumplestiltskin would be jealous

Yesterday I decided to try spinning some silk roving that I bought from an Etsy seller (Silk & Shine). I really *should* be practicing more on the ton of alpaca that I got almost free but I really couldn't resist the colors and the feel of this mulberry silk so I started with just a little. But… before I knew it the entire length was spun onto my bobbin! How'd THAT happen? I will tell you. The stuff is so wonderful to feel and seeing all the colors twisting into a beautiful mix just mesmerized me! Here is the result:

100% Mulberry Silk
As you can see I have much to learn on consistency of twist but as many of my fellow spinners will say "If we wanted consistent yarn we would go to the store and buy it!" Still, I would like it to me a little more even. It will even out a little when I ply it with another single so hopefully I will end up with something useable though I have no idea what I will make out of this. I may just sit and stare at it, occasionally cuddling it to my face. Seeing all those luscious colors makes me want to start dyeing my own fiber now... 

For those wondering, don't worry… I have not abandoned my watercolors. I have several in progress and am up to Colorado in the state flowers series. The last one I added to Etsy was California: 

California Poppies (watercolor, original -without text-7x10)
And with that I am back to the studio to continue with this project. I think I have mentioned that I am doing these in alpha order for a reason. If I were to choose then I might be tempted to skip the states or flowers that didn't appeal to me. This makes me do them all. It is a discipline thing. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New beginnings...

I think that is a pretty good title for when one takes on a new thing in life. A thing that you never in your wildest dreams could've imagined you might be doing. The funny thing is that I don't need another *thing* to be doing in my life. My painting and knitting and life in general keep me pretty busy as it is. As a lot of people told me after they *retired* from my last place of employment "I don't know how I had time to work!" It is true. Anyway, crazy as it sounds this new thing called to me. It got my attention through Don though. Because a few months ago as I sat next to him on the sofa in our usual evening routine of laptops, TV or music and knitting he said "I bet you are gonna want to do this soon." Or something like that. What can I say? He was right. That said, I am now the proud owner of a spinning wheel and I love it. I sometimes think I am a pioneer woman sitting there making something that anyone can go out and buy. There is something wonderful about doing that though. So let me introduce you to Lola Jr: 

Lola Jr. is a Lendrum DTC Spinning Wheel and she is lovely.
Lola Jr arrived last Thursday and to be honest I was a little intimidated but after a bit of frustration in getting her to move consistently in the right direction I conquered my fear. Here is my first bobbin of yarn (crap, by the way but you have to start somewhere):
First bobbin of yarn. Alpaca from two different animals (White is Camile and Tan is Abby)

I should stop here to say how lucky I am to have generous friends on Etsy one of whom sent me nearly 6 pounds of alpaca from some of her older animals to practice with. Camile is one of them and the other is from Outlaw which turned out much better since I am getting the hang of it now:

This is bobbin #2 with Outlaw's fleece on it. It is very soft and silky.
The things I love about spinning so far is that it is a green activity. No electricity is required and the animals grow more fleece. It is also incredibly relaxing.  I can't wait to get some yarn that is good enough to knit with. Meanwhile I'm having fun learning. Besides, who could resist a face like this?
Gigi, who lives at Riverstone Alpacas 

I would also like to thank all of my new friends over at the Facebook groups Fiber Artists and Wool Artists and Spinners and a special thanks to Joy at Riverstone Alpacas and Kate at her Woolwinding blog for her encouragement and humor and Annie at Knitsofacto for leading me to Kate.  If you are in anyway interested in fiber arts or knitting check these lovely people out! As they say...Spin on!

Friday, August 10, 2012


Just realized that I have not posted for a couple of weeks. My excuse is two-fold. I have been working on several paintings (including the next "state flower" which is Arkansas; shopping for a spinning wheel so that I can do yet another thing; and after today, recovering from the final part (at least I hope it is) of my surgery for the removal of basel cell skin cancer on my poor little nose. Things are good though. It was not nearly as traumatic (so far but the area is still a little numb so the jury is out on pain) as the first time. Some of you know about it and I appreciate all your kind words for my recovery. That is all for now.

I promise to come back with some more creative news. 


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Keeping up...

Lately I have found it a bit difficult to keep up here. As some of you know, two weeks ago I had some surgery which involved the removal of some basel cell skin cancer on my nose. Things are healing nicely though I still have to go back for some follow-up work on the reconstruction. I know this might be TMI but I say it by way of an explanation as to why I can't keep up with things. The recovery for all this is pretty taxing. But I will say no more about THAT.

Here are a couple of my latest paintings that had sadly been neglected because I could not muster up the energy to finish them until now. Actually that is not entirely the case. Hiking the Mist Trail had perplexed me (like it's sister Bridal Veil Creek) in that I got stuck and found myself looking at the paintings in process and scratching my head (Why did you do THAT?) as to how to finish them. But I am pretty happy with both now. Bright Creek Dawn is a made up place and part of my ongoing experimentation with the illusive Aquabord. I still like paper better but it is fun to play with new surfaces.

Hiking the Mist Trail, 12"x12" Watercolor on Arches 140# CP

Bright Creek Dawn, 6"x6" (original)  Watercolor on Aquabord.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quick post...just like these little guys

I painted this for Don for his birthday (which was yesterday) but just finished it today. It's a bit of a departure for me in both subject matter and support (it's still watercolor but on aquabord instead of Arches 140# cold press). Don gets the original but prints will be on Etsy.

Hummingbird, Watercolor on aquabord. 6"x6" Original.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Raging, yet peaceful.

When I posted this over on the Facebook Design and Art Resource group James commented that it was peaceful but still raging (the water) and I took that as a huge compliment since that was the mood I was trying to convey in this. This painting almost didn't make the cut. I wrestled it into submission though after it begged me to keep going. At an early stage I think I must have been painting in my sleep because I looked at it one day and said "OMG. Why in the world did you do THAT?" But I persevered and now I think it is my current favorite. I hope you enjoy standing along the banks of "Bridal Veil Creek" in Yosemite National Park. Don't fall in though. That water is fast and cold! ;) 

Bridal Veil Creek, 12x26 watercolor on 140# Arches CP

P.S. Thank you James!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lunar Leanings and Lake Lola…

I have noticed lately that my most popular work on Etsy (that is the ones that get the most "favorited" or put in the most treasuries) are the ones with either the dramatic skies or that contain the moon. I am fascinated by the moon myself and love gazing at the night sky on a clear night. It excites me to see the huge orb rise in the east and peak through the trees in our backyard. So, this has been my focus lately. That said, it is difficult to come up with new "moon" paintings because it is dark out and you really can't see that much of anything else. Silhouettes are fine but again, there is a limit in my mind. I came up with Moonrise on Lake Lola a couple of weeks ago. At first it was a beach-type scene but then I realized that it wanted to be a lake. After brainstorming titles with daughter Karin and grandson Colin I arrived at Moonrise on Lake Lola. While I am sure there is a "Lake Lola" somewhere, this particular one is fictitious and purely mine. You see, to my grandchildren I am "Lola". The short version of why is that a friend who is from the Philippines called me "Lola" shortly after I first became a grandma. "Lola" is grandma in  the Tagalog language of the Philippines.

I hope you enjoy your visit to "Lake Lola". Stay as long as you like. It's a peaceful place, the weather is always perfect and reservations are never needed.

"Moonrise on Lake Lola" 14 x 20 watercolor on Arches 140# CP

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Catching up

I just realized that it has been awhile since I posted here. I've been pretty well occupied with painting and knitting. The painting is going well and new stuff will be up soon I promise. I've been working on several paintings that I started after our Yosemite adventure but they informed me that they needed a nap so instead of ripping them from the boards and binning them I let them have their way and you know…I think they were right! I've also been slowly working on the ACEOs of the state flowers. Going alphabetically I have Alabama, Alaska and Arizona done. I will give you, my loyal followers the first look here. 

In other news I sent off the two prints to Honolulu to be included in the set department of Hawaii Five-O and received word today that they arrived safe and sound. Phew! It's like sending my kids out into the world. 

Today I was pleased to find that my work has been mentioned in a lovely blog called The Watercolor World! Thanks to Tanya at Galeria Surreal for that. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Set-Dressing in Hawaii!

Today two of my prints were purchased by the production designers/set-dressers for the  Hawaii Five-O television series! This is so exciting for me and even more so because they were the second to inquire in the same week. I am still waiting to hear on the other one and don't want to jinx it but I will say that the other is for a major upcoming film. Keep your fingers crossed for me that this comes through. Meanwhile, in the future you may just see this:

or this:

on a wall in Hawaii Five-O!