Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

Christmas project, originally uploaded by Az~Kate.
A watercolor portrait I painted as a Christmas gift for some dear friends. We had a wonderful busy Christmas eve and Christmas day with family. We are very blessed.

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done,
In sending His belovèd Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon the morn
There was a blest Messiah born.

~from The Wexford Carol

Here are some of the other Christmas crafts I've done this year (most of my free time has gone to finding and trying gluten free recipes to replace our traditional favorites, which I'm happy to report I was fairly successful at accomplishing... been an interesting and challenging battle to get a grip on our son's gluten intolerant diagnosis.  I've learned a lot and am frustrated with the lack of  knowledge within the 'standard' medical practitioners... who missed the signs along the way.  I am hoping that we'll get more clarity with some genetic testing and that we can find a doctor in our area to order the tests so our insurance will help pick up the tab!).  Still need to get my cards or newsletter out! ;)

Hand made book-marks...

Wooden angel ornaments with fluttering wings and feet for the grand-darlings...

And clay bisque ornaments for my son and his new bride... the figures have a slight resemblance to the real people; my son wears trendy frames like the snow man, his black formal skinny tie, and blushes easily (notice the 'kiss' from his bride on snow man's cheek.  ;)  His bride, our new daughter in love, is known for her big beautiful 'cheesy' grin and long luscious locks (recently a portion of which were donated to 'locks of love').  This is the first Christmas we've not spent with one of our 3 sons... a little bittersweet for mom. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

quick and small

nj lovebird, originally uploaded by Az~Kate.

If I'm happy with the pages appearance after I add the journaling, I'll add a photo of 'after'. ;)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October Clouds

This morning, at day break, I looked out to the east and saw this glorious sunrise...

Also this...


and this...

and this...

I couldn't stop staring at the beautiful heavens.

But the Painter of Skies was not finished crafting wispy, gold, lilac and azure beauty.

The evening brought this autumn surprise...

 and this...

 and this...

and for the finale, in the west, He painted this...

Quite the day of amazing clouds.

 The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
 Day after day they pour forth speech;
   night after night they reveal knowledge.
 They have no speech, they use no words;
   no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
   like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
 It rises at one end of the heavens
   and makes its circuit to the other;
   nothing is deprived of its warmth.

(Psalm 19:1-6)


students, originally uploaded by Az~Kate.

My drawing classes are going well. I have 3 classes and 12 great students who are fascinating young people. :) Preparing each class' lesson and homework sheets is time consuming this first year. Hopefully I'll get better at making decisions and creating my forms. So many changes this year, it's overwhelming, really.   But I am embracing this new season by God's grace, and these kids make it much easier, they are all delightful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ghosts of children past...

Recently I've come across the 'ghosts of my children past' here and there.  Opened an old box of craft supplies to find a ziplock of markers with one son's names written across it, lest his brothers dare use his markers!  Or in the back of a cupboard an old lunch bag with 'Jared' written in faded Sharpie black.  Discovering a silly drawing of a gruesome scene sketched in papermate blue ink on wide ruled paper in an old stack of notebooks ...  the remnants of children who no longer sketch, draw or take lunch bags on field trips anymore.

I've mentioned my hatred of this new 'empty nest' stage before... perhaps not in as vehement words, but there it is... I do hate it.  It's not that I'm not happy, thankful and blessed that our sons have grown into mature men who are living honorable lives, pursuing their passions, each with a strong work ethic and each very responsible and accomplished.  I do... what I hate is the loss of my closest companions / friends. (I don't believe in parents being their children's 'friends' when they are young, they need love and discipline and family fun and play, yes, of course!  The friendships I feel we have/had grew as they matured into young men.

Now, I feel that they may not actually consider me *their* close friend, I am just mom, they are stuck in relationship with me.  They didn't choose me.  Now, I feel like I'm 'out of sight & out of mind'.  They are busy with their lives, I know this... but I miss them. Every second of every day.  I miss impromptu long talks, debates, sarcasm and silliness.  I miss their quiet presence and sometimes noisiness somewhere in the house. 

 Apparently what passes for appropriate communication with us, is a brief check in every couple weeks or several weeks, in some cases.  One has been asked to come for occasional homemade lunches... never happens.  One calls only with a quick question or request, usually.  One is experiencing the busiest and most self-reliant time of his life, and has tried to give us (sort of) regular catch up time via skype, but I wish for more.  So I wonder what I did or am doing wrong. What makes them choose to avoid me? I think there must surely be something.  Communication is easy for me, I desire honesty above all, so I wonder why they can't honestly tell me if I've done something to creep them out.  Yet maybe there is nothing... maybe they just don't realize how deeply my life is rooted in them and don't realize my mama heart is shriveling and throbbing with communication drought inside my soul.

I DO have other interests, truly.  But other than my God, my husband, our grand-children, daughter-in-loves, and my 'rarely get to spend time with her', best friend, there are NO other loves I'm as passionate about.   Art, books, nature, hiking, gardening, teaching... these other interests simply can't replace relationship with my 3 dearest sons.  Whether or not they were listening closely, I poured all my thoughts, heart, and soul into them.  I listened to theirs, reacted (too strongly, sometimes) to their hurts, dreams, and desires, taking them to heart. I wanted to see them achieve everything they dreamed of.  You truly long for your children's happiness... and when they find a portion of it, you are displaced.  I guess I did the same thing to my folks.  (Who did not have nearly as close a relationship with me as I wished.  They did not spend a fraction of the time with me as I spent with my sons.  And, homeschooling was unheard of. I can't recall one single deep talk with either of my parents until I was an adult.  Their expectations and values were different then. Thankfully we have closer relationships now, which gives me hope. Yet I would hope for a better relationship still, with my own children.)  Intimate communication is my love language...without it I shrivel up.  Good thing God speaks with me or I'd be nothing but dust by now.  Actually I'm feeling pretty dusty at the moment.  Time to to before the throne of grace.

Friday, September 30, 2011

vive la différence?

vive la différence?, originally uploaded by Az~Kate.

Redid this sketch on the smooth side of the paper, and am much happier with the result. It's now matted with a quote by CS Lewis added on the mat, and framed. I'll try to post a photo of it next week... in the meantime we have our son's wedding to attend! ;)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

baby hummingbirds sketch

baby hummingbirds sketch, originally uploaded by Az~Kate.
Since I have been too busy with preparing and teaching drawing classes (among other things!) I thought I'd re-post my flickr page of a sketch I did today. Sorry to be such a bad blogger lately!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Seasons, Back to the Two of Us

This summer brought the passing of a season that I was not looking forward to relinquishing. The season of active motherhood, homeschooling, and enjoying the final period of having our 3 boys living at home.  One by one they flew... Z  into marriage and now fatherhood, stayed close to the 'nest', thankfully!  His dear wife and 2 darling girls are a rich joy to us.  Then J left for Bible College in Portland OR, and will be wed next month, remaining in Portland (for now).  2 weeks ago we put our 'baby' on an airplane to the other side of the continent where he is attending a small private University in big, secular, New York City.  Phew!  That is a lot for this 'defined by raising boys' mama.  Thankfully it was a slowly emptying nest, but this last little fellow left with a flourish and a finality that has us proud of his courage, but feeling the sting of a very empty and quiet house. All told this season of having then raising our sons lasted from 1981 to 2011... 30 years.  We'll always be parents, I'll always be a mother, but from here on out, it will be different.  I mourn and I rejoice.

So I welcome this new season, like it or not.  I'm determined to 'like' it as much as possible. Ha ha.  My husband and I are feeling a new sense of oneness as we still have each other and are looking forward to doing some things that we've always hoped, but never been able to take the time to do.  I think both of us are a little excited about being able to focus on one another and reconnect to our 'couple-hood'.  This is good, and as it should be.

I'm teaching small art classes to homeschool kids to help contribute to the family budget.  I've been a stay at home mom for the majority of the past 30 years, so even though the classes are in my home, I feel like I'm entering the working world again!  Planning, teaching, and organizing these classes is time consuming on the front end, but it's good for me to be busy.   I hope to have more time to spend nurturing my own artistic endeavors and to hike and exercise more.

So this is how a new season begins.  Here is a quick sketch I did recently in a free booklet I found at the Asian Market.  The book is on Buddhism, but I just like how it looks as a background for my doodles.  It suits my title for this entry... The Two of Us.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Post of the Month?

Well dear followers, I have been neglectful of this little blog lately!  So, here's a super (as in covering a lot of things, but not as in 'super long') post catching up on my life over the past month.   June:  More graduation parties attended, including the one we had for our own 'baby', ending my 13 years of homeschooling.  Gardening, very succesful crop of heirloom white tomatoes and early girl reds, assorted herbs, zucchini and some chili peppers.  A wonderful day spent with my dear friend Suzie, breakfast, then browsed a large community garden, then antiquing.  Pizza and root beer floats for Father's day with our oldest and his family.  Date with hubby to see Super 8, which I highly recommend...reminiscent of ET meets the Goonies, really well done.  Different.  Had a phone consultation with a trusted naturopath and began an in depth detox with son and hubby.  (feeling marvelous now, and shed some weight)   July:  Still detoxing till the 7th, so laying kind of low, but had a terrific 4th of July with the grand-darlings, bbq, swimming, playing, fireworks, sparklers and ice cream (for the girls, we stuck to our detox diet!).  Now I'm working on my fall Drawing Classes and purchasing the 'baby's' College needs... he will go clear to New York.  Oh, and we experienced a HABOOB... the Arab word for a huge dust storm.  Not like our usual monsoon dust storms, this baby was 7000 ft. high and 100 miles wide and left a mountain of fine dark reddish brown dirt on EVERYTHING... clean up still going on!  But hey, it made Phoenix famous for a day or two.  :)
Sketches done in Nature Journal.                                                  

Here is the Haboob (Arab for dirt monster! Just's Arab, but I don't remember what it means) as it approaches our yard.  Taken from an upstairs window. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lessons 4, 5, and 6

With all the big family events spanning the whole month of May (our Anniversary, 2 son's graduations, and our grand-darling's first birthday, as well as 6 people arriving to stay with us from out of state during the month) I was WAY behind in my water color class.  I finally finished the last lesson (though there is a bonus lesson, I've yet to do!) just today, so here they are...

Lesson 4 was 'Garden Tools', I photographed my grandparents old galvanized tin watering can, which I still use daily. 

Lesson 5 was 'Critters and Creatures in the Garden' and I photographed a juvenile black chinned hummingbird in our pine tree to use as a reference, here's my little painting of her...

Lesson 6 was a tutorial on creating realistic looking water/dew drops on leaves or flower petals.  I simply sat down in front of our instructors online video and tried my best to copy her instructions, and am pretty pleased with the results. 

This class has been really valuable in helping me to gain experience with watercolors in the format of nature journaling, which I love.  Also in helping me to over come my fear of not producing a 'perfect' result.  The results no longer 'need' to be perfect, the process is so fun, and enjoyable, and I'm capturing memories and creating, it's a bonus if the painting turns out to have 'good' aspects to it too.  Don't hesitate to take a course from if you think you'd enjoy something like this too.  I highly recommend it!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Lesson 3 completed.

Desert Oasis (IVTG lesson 3), originally uploaded by Az~Kate.
Our assignment was to paint a water feature, and so I set off to the Desert Botanical Garden and sketched and painted on location for just under an hour. I finished the journal page at home. So enjoying this class!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Imaginary Gardens class lesson 2, Window Box

Our second assignment for the online watercolor journal class was to paint a window box bouquet, from life or from a reference photo.  We were to give ourselves an hour...ha ha ha!  I didn't get very far in an hour, the result you see here took me about 2 hours.  ;)  But, I'm learning a lot and getting a bit more used to the water brush, still not crazy about it.  (I think I'll like it better for water soluble inks and wc pencils)  This was painted from a beautiful picture Jared took at the Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island on his spring break in 2007.  Here's his gorgeous photo!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First assignment reworked.

For some reason I can't add a photo of my Sorrel assignment showing the changes I made in response to suggestions, so I am posting a new entry in order to do so.

Here's my page after attempts to make improvements...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Back To School... mom's turn!

So, I've mentioned here that I'm seriously trying to reawaken my artistic creativity as my emptying nest looms.  I have jumped in with both feet to an online class on creating art journals while on an 'Imaginary Trip to the Garden'.  I knew I need the accountability and visual aspect of a class, but haven't found something local, affordable and within my time constraints.  I've been eying Laure Ferlita's   online classes for the past year and drooling over her lovely watercolors, waiting for the right time to sign up for one.

I hope I haven't bit off more than I can chew, but if so... too bad for me.  I'll still grow from the work.  ;)  I need her 'Foundations' course, probably, but the timing for that one didn't work for me this spring, with both boys graduations coming up next month.  This one is just the right length...6 weeks. 

Last week we received our first assignment, to paint a wildflower, within a time limit, as if we were painting outside in a garden with time constraints.  Laure provided some photos of Violet Wood Sorrel, a lovely, fairly simple blossom. We could also provide ourselves with our own photos or local flowers, but I thought I'd stick with the offered photo.  Below are my results... I did the under drawing and painting in less than an hour and added the words later.  I have mixed feelings about the end result.. not what I wanted it to look like, but I did learn along the way.  (We are encouraged to use a travel water brush, so we'll learn to actually use this useful tool in real life on real visits to places where we want to capture the beauty)  The water brush is a tricky little thing... I hope I can stick with it and get better results.   Click on the photo to see it larger... if you dare!  Ha ha.  By the way many of my 'classmates' have been on several Imaginary Trips with teacher Laure, and are wonderful artists, it's a lovely environment, I'm so glad I'm 'going back to school'!  I've received some great suggestions on improving the page, if I get time to try those out, I'll post the results. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blooming Ocotillos

blooming ocotillos nj, originally uploaded by Az~Kate.

Just finished in my small moleskine nature journal. A scene from my hike last week. The blossoms should be a brighter orange red, but I couldn't get the color right.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Keeping a Travel sketchbook

I made a small travel sketch book from an old calendar to journal and sketch about our recent trip to NYC

 Here are the first pages...
1) A cartoon map doodled on the plane tracking our flight.
2)The adjoining page was used as a pallette, then to record our first sights in NYC from the taxi.
3) Elphaba from the Broadway musical, WICKED, which was fabulous!  Sketched from memory and fantasy.  We checked in to our hotel, headed to Times Square, then Broadway to find the Gershwin theater; stood in line 2+ hours and luckily got 3 amazing seats from a cancelation.  Whoop!
4) Snapped a quick shot of the Empire State Building on our taxi ride into Manhattan, sketched this from the camera screen afterward.  We spent 2 days at the ESB where we were checking out a College with our son, this was the reason for the trip.  But we turned it into a mini vacation as well. 

More pages coming soon, if anyone is interested.  :)  This is my first 'travel journal'.  The pages are smaller than 4" x 6" and were sewn on top of the calendar pages.  Rough, but it works!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

pencil sketch; squirrel and wren

Finally found some quiet time to finish this sketch in my nature journal. Sorry I have not been sketching and uploading as much as I had hoped to. I believe that will be remedied soon, as we move into a less busy time of year soon. :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Good To Know!

Click on the title (I think) and you'll be taken to a page that has some 'good to know' info for those of us who care about how our produce was grown, tend to buy organic and definitely want to avoid genetically altered foods.  :)

If that didn't work, go here;

It looks like I'm on track to re-name my blog the 'once a month blog'.  Sorry. Life has been very very busy.

Hopefully I will have some time to post some photos of the few sketches I've been able to do this year.

I did just spend a wonderful few days in New York, NY, someplace I'd never been before.  Perhaps a post about that adventure will come forth soon as well.  But our son is starting 'tech week' (long dress rehearsals before the start of a theater performance) for the musical 'Little Shop of Horrors' and then production over the next two weeks, so don't count on anything right away.  :)

I am alive and well, though.  In case anyone was wondering.

Grace to you!

Monday, January 31, 2011


So here I am on the last day of January 2011, and as many things as I had thought and hoped to post here this month I come back to a familiar theme.  I've thought about what my goals, resolutions, and hopes for the year might be.  I've considered where I am at this point in my life, the changes I've walked through over the last few years in our family, the Church and more.  So many things I have wrestled with balancing, prioritizing, coming to terms with, and making decisions on.  I've looked inward and outward, desired to process life's puzzling circumstances fairly, honestly, humbly and in a way that will hopefully keep me from falling into my typical blind spots.  I've hungered for more creativity, art, sweetness and relational depths to grace my life, yet I find myself coming back to post on my 'watchword', my banner, my passion of passions; Truth, for the subject of my only significant post in this new month of a new year.  I'm sorry if I seem to beat this horse to death... it's like the biblical phrase, 'a fire shut up in my bones', I can never keep it down for long.  And I always seem to regret unleashing it, for someone whose heart burns for truth, I am a poor communicator and am more often misunderstood than heard. 

I came across some quotes by the scientist and philosopher, Blaise Pascal, and his words seemed so timely even though they were penned in the mid 1600s.  Jesse and I are studying Philosophy this year and here is a tad more about Pascal. 'Blaise Pascal, the precociously brilliant contemporary of Descartes, was a gifted mathematician and physicist, but it is his unfinished apologia for the Christian religion upon which his reputation now rests. "The Pensees" is a collection of philosophical fragments, notes and essays in which Pascal explores the contradictions of human nature in psychological, social, metaphysical and - above all - theological terms. Mankind emerges from Pascal's analysis as a wretched and desolate creature within an impersonal universe, but who can be transformed through faith in God's grace.' (from Amazon, of all places!)  Here are Pascal's thoughts which moved me to make my first and only lengthy blog post in January;

Truth is so obscured nowadays and lies (falsehood) so well established that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it.—Blaise Pascal, Pensees, #739/864.

Weaklings are those who know the truth, but maintain it only as far as it is in their interest to do so, and apart from that forsake it.—Blaise Pascal, Pensees, #740/583.

LORD, may I have the ability to recognize truth and the courage to live according to truth throughout 2011, is my prayer.

And by the way, if I were to give birth to another son, I think I'd name him Blaise. 

May 2011 be all that God wants it to be for each of us.

(I do plan to do more artwork, time will tell if I can get my 'plan' into action!)  :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Not the 'first post of the year' I'd hoped for...

blind contour and quick sketch, originally uploaded by Az~Kate.

And in addition to that title I haven't time to write anything at the moment, so I'll be back later to edit this!  Hope your year is going well so far.