Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Kindness in words creates confidence, kindness in thinking creates profoundness, kindness in giving creates love." -- Lao-Tzu

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Visiting the Udvar Hazy

A few weeks ago, Hubs and I made a trip to Virginia to see family. While we were there, we visited the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport, in Chantilly, Virginia. With thousands of items on view, this museum is an amazing place; we easily could have spent days exploring it. From aviation's earliest (and shockingly flimsy-looking) aircraft to modern space flight vehicles, from a propeller fragment from a Wright Bros. biplane to astronauts' clothing, toiletries and magnetized gameboards, the Udvar Hazy has it all.

Among the many things we saw in our short visit, here were just a few of my favorites:

The space shuttle Discovery is an awesome sight as you approach it

These beautiful, sparkly "umbrellas" are actually part of a satellite system.
It may look menacing, but this aircraft is used only for surveillance.
Recognize this? It's the "spacecraft" from the current hit film Interstellar starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway
The "mother ship" used in the '70s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
A side note: the Close Encounters "mother ship" is a study in fantasy as well as tongue-in-cheek humor. Its designers included a number of improbable items on the mother ship's highly complex exterior shell, all well camouflaged to blend in with its surface features. Look very, very closely and you might spy a mailbox, a VW bus, and a cemetery plot along with other commonplace things that are very much a part of life here on Earth.

As an artist, I've always been inspired by photos of outer space -- the dazzling beauty of nebulas, the planets, the Milky Way and of course views of Earth taken from manned spacecraft. Visiting the Udvar Hazy allowed me to see the technological side of space exploration. It gave me an even greater appreciation for the vision and courage of the men and women who are its pioneers. It was a wonderfully informative experience. Thanks to Udvar Hazy, I'll never look up at the stars in quite the same way again!

Text and images ©2014 Lynn Edwards

Monday, November 24, 2014


Sometimes we can get so caught up in day to day events, we fail to remember our standing commitments. Such was the case this week, when I became (1) completely immersed in the renovation of our guest room and (2) totally captivated by my new Gelli Plate and the process of creating amazing monoprints with it. Oh, and there was also the five foot high pile of laundry I needed to tackle, along with starting the ritual of decorating the house for Christmas. (With company arriving from out of state, we're going all out on interior and exterior decorations this year.)

To make a long story short, I completely forgot to post yesterday's "Thought for Sunday." My bad!!!
When I realized my error, and acutely aware of Thanksgiving coming up later this week, I thought gratitude would make a good subject. Though "A Thought for Sunday" didn't appear on time, I hope you've still been able to derive some inspiration from it. Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

©2014 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The private and personal blessings we enjoy, the blessings of immunity, safeguard, liberty, and integrity, deserve the thanksgiving of a whole life." -- Jeremy Taylor

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Using Aerial Perspective

An essential skill for artists, especially landscape artists, is being able to convey a sense of distance. This is achieved through the skillful use of aerial perspective, which comes down to this: features in the landscape closest to the viewer will appear darker in color and more saturated than those which are further away. Landscape features appear to become successively lighter in value and more neutralized the more distant they are. One of the best examples of aerial perspective is the appearance of mountains as they recede toward the horizon. Looking at them, their colors seem to become lighter and lighter and lighter the further away they are. Of course, their colors don't actually change, they only appear to do so.

What causes this? It's due to atmospheric conditions. Dust, air pollution, humidity and other environmental factors affect the way our eyes perceive elements in our physical environment.

Here's a photograph that helps illustrate "aerial perspective":

The Blue Ridge Mountains photographed from Interstate 81 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The photo was taken through the car windshield, hence the reflections to the immediate right and left. Despite the reflections, it's easy to see how the ridge lines vary in appearance depending on their proximity to the viewer.

Notice how the mountains and ridges on the horizon in the photo appear to be increasingly lighter in value and their colors increasingly neutralized the more distant they are. Those furthest away are almost the same color as the sky, while those in the foreground are several value levels darker and considerably more vivid.

Knowing how to create the illusion of distance is essential if you paint realistically. But it's very helpful for abstract artists to master as well. If you want to create a sense of depth, aerial perspective can be applied to abstract or non objective works just as effectively. For artists working abstractly, it may not be used as frequently as it is in realism, but for artists working in any discipline it's a very good thing to know.

Text and image ©2014 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." -- Steve Jobs

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Art Destination in the Ozarks

Travel seems to be on my mind quite a lot these days. So I thought it might be fun to introduce you to some more delightful places Hubs and I have visited that are known for their charm as well as their focus on the arts. (I covered Santa Fe -- a totally amazing place -- in some posts back in October of 2013.) Today, I'd like to tell you about Eureka Springs, Arkansas, located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in the northwest part of that state.

Eureka Springs is one of the most charming little towns I've ever encountered. Its entire downtown is on the National Register. Eureka's many Victorian homes are decked out in paint schemes ranging from dignified to quirky to flamboyant. Strolling through the town's  neighborhoods during warmer months you'll see lush gardens everywhere. This is a town decorated in flowers wherever you look.
This iconic building is situated in the heart of the downtown area.

Beauty both natural and handmade

One of the most appealing things about Eureka Springs' natural assets is its many springs emanating from the limestone formations upon which the town is built. One that we came upon in the midst of all the town's "painted ladies" was in a beautiful natural grotto thick with ferns and blossoms. Benches had been placed in strategic locations to allow passersby to stop and enjoy the sheer beauty of the site. It was so peaceful and lovely I could have stayed there all day.

But there are many other things to do in this town besides visiting its natural springs! One of them is immersing yourself in art. Both times we've visited we've spent lots of time wandering through all the interesting specialty shops and galleries in downtown Eureka. The vibe in ES is funky, laid back and fun -- exactly what you'd expect in a town boasting more than 400 artists as residents.

Fantasy & Stone offers colorful, eclectic art for both home and garden.

There are so many galleries in Eureka Springs it's impossible to visit them all in just a weekend. Two we especially enjoyed, among others, were Fusion Squared Gallery and Fantasy & Stone. At Fusion Squared we saw extraordinary fused glass jewelry, all designed by owner John Rinehart. His creations are positively dazzling.  

Across the street from Fusion Squared is Fantasy & Stone. Its owner is a delightful lady with an eye for art and decor pieces that are best described as quirky. It's all very colorful and light-hearted...the sort of eclectic artwork that makes you smile just looking at it. I was especially drawn to a display of large crystal suncatchers, any of which would have looked spectacular in a window or a garden.

If you stay in one of Eureka's many excellent bed and breakfast establishments, you'll encounter beauty there as well. On our last visit to Eureka Springs, we stayed at Red Bud Manor Inn, a B&B that's a work of art in itself. Everything from our room to the grounds to the breakfasts served up by our gracious innkeeper was picture perfect.

The cheerful front porch at Red Bud Manor Inn
Red Bud's hillside garden is a hidden jewel.

Entertainment that's out of the ordinary

There's plenty in Eureka Springs to admire and enjoy. Its downtown is easily walkable and retains all of its historic charm. Catch a concert or listen to street musicians in downtown's Basin Park, and enjoy hiking, boating, rafting, wildlife watching and canoeing. The surrounding mountains lure outdoor lovers, and at any given time there's likely to be a festival or special event taking place. (When we were there, it was a gathering of antique car lovers from all over the country.)

Where else but in Eureka Springs will you find a rabbit that hands you your receipt?

The gift shop's Most Valuable Employee

Eureka Springs is a very special place. Where else will you encounter a very friendly live rabbit that presents a gift shop's customers with their receipts? The cashier at Caroline's Collectables bags the merchandise and hands the receipt to the rabbit, who in turn gives it to the amazed customer. I'm sure many people make more purchases than they intended to, just to have a chance to interact with this furry little merchant. Another example of the many surprises to be found in Eureka Springs!

Text and images ©2014 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, November 9, 2014

"If you hear a voice within you say, 'You cannot paint," then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced." -- Pablo Picasso

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Quick Tip for Cleaning Your Brushes

If you paint with acrylics, you know how hard it is to revive a nylon- or synthetic-bristle brush that was allowed to dry with paint still in the bristles. So it's important to clean your brushes thoroughly as soon as your painting session is finished. Here's a little secret: it's not necessary to use those pricey brush cleaners you see advertised in art supply catalogs. Instead, use Murphy Oil Soap, available at any grocery store. It costs a fraction of the price of those spendy cleaners, and a bottle of it will last for years.

Not only does this product do an excellent job at removing paint from the brush, it conditions the bristles at the same time. I've been using it to clean my brushes ever since I started painting. As a result I have brushes that still perform beautifully -- and look like new -- even now, 13 years after I bought them. They're my trusty workhorses; I paint with them all the time.

But wait! There's more! You can use Murphy Oil Soap to reclaim a dried out brush as well! (Obviously, the sooner you address the problem, the better. The longer you wait, the more difficult the job becomes.) Just suspend the brush over a small jar or other container filled with Murphy Oil Soap with the bristles fully submerged in the soap. It may take days of dangling in the soap for the bristles to become supple again, depending on the size of the brush and how much paint is on it. But eventually they'll soften enough to where you can work the paint particles out and rinse them away.

This rescue technique also works on house painting brushes caked with dried on latex paint. It just calls for a bigger container and a lot more Murphys.

©2014 Lynn Edwards

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Holiday Recipe That's Artist-Worthy

The holidays are almost upon us, so today I thought I'd share a favorite family recipe with you. If you and your clan love fruit, you're in for a treat if you make this. It's not only wonderfully colorful (is there such a thing as culinary eye candy??) it tastes great and compliments any holiday menu, from turkey, cornish  game hen and pork roast to ham and beef. It goes together in a hurry, feeds a crowd, and can be made ahead, too.

Baked Fruit

(1) 20 oz. can of prune plums or prunes
(1) 20 oz. can of pears
(1) 20 oz. can of chunk pineapple
(1) 20 oz. can of apricots
(1) 20 oz. can of sliced peaches

(1) 20 oz. can sweet cherry pie filling
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup sherry
3/4 cup reserved juice 

Grease a 13x10 1/2 inch glass baking dish with butter or margarine. Drain and reserve juice from the fruit. Place the fruit in the baking dish and mix together gently. Top with the cherry pie filling. 

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, stir together the butter, brown sugar, sherry and reserved juice.  (Make sure it doesn't scorch!) Pour this mixture over the fruit. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. Serves 8-10 people. This recipe makes a good side dish. It also serves as a dessert when topped with ice cream.

PS -- If you can't find 20 oz. cans, just buy the largest size available. I suggest you not wait until the last minute to shop for the canned fruit; it usually sells out fast.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, November 2, 2014

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." -- Maya Angelou