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focus on life: have faith

There are many of us who are religious and there are many of us who are not, but most of us religious or not have faith in someone or something. A faith that gets us through our day, a sickness or even a death. Faith is held by each of us, it is what keeps us believing that there will always be a positive outcome even if we can't see it at the time.

Bahá'i Shrine on Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel

This week's Focus on Life prompt by Sally is "Have Faith". This is the first week I've struggled with the prompt, since joining this series, but I didn't want to opt out. I couldn't think of an image that would convey or represent my idea of faith. I usually don't mention my Faith here, although I share links to it on my link list. The subject of religion seems to be fairly taboo in North American culture, at the least not something that's talked about casually. I spent all week mulling it over, and now it's the last day. :-)

The irony of it is that I'm living and serving at the spiritual and administrative center of the Bahá'i Faith in Israel, with many sacred Holy places nearby, like the Shrine (above), and yet I find my faith tested almost daily. Moving to Israel (in 2011) and adjusting to a new culture, being in such close proximity to the heart of the Bahá'i Faith, (as well as the origins of Christianity and Judaism) has a certain intensity unlike anything I've experienced.

I chose one of the doors to the Shrine of The Báb, to physically represent my Faith. I enter this door often, to pray to God for detachment, patience, perseverance, steadfastness, and strength, all of which assist me in times of tests or troubles.

One of my prayer books

"O Lord my God! Assist Thy loved ones to be firm in Thy Faith, to walk in Thy ways...  'Abdu'l-Bahá

One of the main principles of the Bahá'i Faith is to promote unity amongst all humanity, including religions, as well as races, cultures, etc. I'm really open and interested in reading everyone's thoughts on faith! Thank you for the thought-provoking prompt, Sally. You can join me to read more posts on faith at Sublime Studio.

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watercolor love: wet wash I

I had some time recently to continue playing with paint (I ignored the chores). The first background color I chose was supposed to be red, but on paper was actually hot pink.

sunset in the desert

That was a surprise, but since I didn't have a plan it didn't matter. After adding a few more colors and enjoying the process of watching them mingle together, I remembered that sprinkling salt on the wet paint could add some interesting effects. I'm not convinced that I applied it correctly, as it doesn't look like the photos in the art technique books I've seen.

That's okay. I can go with the flow! I think that's also part of the process I need to embrace more fully.

The combination of colors and paint effects remind me of the Southwest red rocks and desert back home. I'll call this little piece of paper the "Sunset in the Desert". I miss Colorado and the Rocky Mountains so much! Maybe my subconscious was speaking through the paint.  :-)


watercolor love: its a bird!

Another wonderful afternoon painting with my friend Kristine! This time it was my turn to decide what we would paint. I'd been surfing the web for more information about watercolor painting techniques and I thought the layering technique would be interesting.
We decided to try an easy tutorial on how to paint a bird, at Carla Sonheim's blog, using the layering technique. The layering is like "mixing" paint, only it's painting one color over another directly on the paper, without mixing the paint in the palette first.

As you might be able to tell, after seeing Carla's  tutorial, I didn't copy her style at all. I painted a traditional bird, following along with each technical step as instructed. It was lots of fun, but I noticed myself getting caught up in the details, and I didn't want to do that. I want my painting style to "flow" which is what attracts me to watercolors in the first place!

Once I finished the bird we consulted on what to do for a background. Kristine found a cool effect on the net, that I'll call the "blow until your dizzy" technique (because that's exactly how I felt). I loaded up my brush with watery paint and placed it along the side of the bird and blew like mad at the paint puddle to push the paint away from the bird and create the spatter drip effects. Kristine was a pro at this.

I had a great deal of difficulty, and in fact felt dizzy and the paint hadn't even moved! Kristine asked if I had wet the paper FIRST before putting the puddle down and blowing. Nooo, I didn't do that... you might be able to see my struggles with the paint, specially the right side of the paper above. By wetting the paper first the paint had a place to move to and wouldn't just sit on the dry paper. Also, I think it helps to blow very quick and sharp, directly and closely at the puddle. But I'm still experimenting and learning, so don't take my word for it!

I went over the bird and branches with ink pen, to continue practicing what I learned from my last lesson! Painting the bird was such a fun experiment and kept us busy ALL afternoon long! Not only that, the benefit of an afternoon of creatively using my brain spilled into the next day and inspired me to create several pieces of bead jewelry for the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party Challenge coming up soon!


around israel: bead shopping in haifa

I'm lucky that I can walk down the hill from my flat (on Mount Carmel) a ways, turn right and there it is. Beads! Just about everything an American beader would want is offered here! I don't know the English name of this bead shop on Allenby Street, but I do write about it in a previous post. On this trip I chatted with a friendly Russian girl, working in the shop, who hopes to open an Esty store of her own to sell her beautiful beadwork. She was very helpful and patient with my questions. I'm just going to post my bead finds here and wish you happy beading or shopping! Maybe both?

I had to add the last photo! It's a shot of the bag my beads came in. A keeper! It'll be great for paper art.

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bead soup blog party teaser!

Wow, it's almost March 30th, when the First REVEAL of the Bead Soup Blog Party event happens! And on April 6th it'll be time for the Second Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal, which is when I post my completed pieces for my partner, Solange, and all to see!! Before then, here's a teaser of the main piece. I won't say anything else other than I've made more than five pieces so far!


focus on life: observe the curve

Everyday curves in my everyday life.

Dictionary - curve: deviation from a straight line or plane surface without sharp breaks or angularity.

My version - curve: a line that flows with a pleasing effect, creating movement, such as an arc, loop, spiral or swirl,  which can be attractive to the human eye. 

For Week 12 of the Focus on Life series, Sally's asks us to take a moment to focus on all the different kinds of curves that surround us everyday. I love the gentle flow of a curve. My eyes light up at the sight of a beautifully formed curve. I carried my camera with me for one day this week, snapping shots here and there. Thank you Sally, for a very enjoyable day of discovery, and thank you to all the friendly comments from my fellow bloggers. I really look forward to seeing your posts every week!

 Here's a few of my favorite everyday curves.

Light above my kitchen sink. Notice the curvy metal grate outside the window.

Curvy back design on dining chair at breakfast

Salt and butter dishes. Curvy lids with curvy patterns.

Three levels of curvy stairs outside my office

Curvy bowl, holding dried rosebuds from the local spice shop, in my office

My favorite fortune cookie saying, in this small dish on my bedside table.

Please visit The Studio Sublime to enjoy more curves!


watercolor love: wet wash with pen and ink

Watercolor Lesson 101 by Lori at Studio Waterstone has asked us to draw on top of our (dried) wet wash painting with an ink pen. I don't think I have the "right" pen, so I'm using a Zig Writer because I know it's waterproof and lightfast. It's an experiment, so one uses what one has! 

I don't know where I was going with the drawing, but I remind myself that it's about the mantra lately, and just keep going. I tore my wet wash painting into sections because I didn't like it the way it was. An added benefit - it made four small drawing areas which felt more manageable...and I love the torn edges!

Fantasy Forest

Fantasy Forest is from the upper left section of the wet wash paper. Other than dabbing a bit of paint on the butterfly, I did not paint any additional areas on top of the original wash.

Did you happen to notice the creature in the forest? Well, his head anyway! I actually enjoyed this lesson. I'm now staring at the second torn portion of my paper.... :-)


watercolor love: my mini travel set

Here's my little travel watercolor set I mentioned in a previous post, and a quick color test exercise. I have no idea what the color names are, but that's okay.  I brought it to Israel in case I have an opportunity to sit in the gardens and try my hand at painting flowers. I hope to learn enough about using watercolors to actually try it! 

I've heard it's better to know how to draw first, in order to paint. I'm not sure how accurate that statement is, but if I believed it, I might not try painting, because I can't draw a straight line across the page. I'm an optimist. Regardless, it's the journey of discovery that makes me happy.


i heart macro: sunflower

 Growing in my friend's garden

focus on life: the possibilities are endless

Week 11 of the Focus on Life series looks at the limitless everything! The more I thought about possibilities, the more that everything has possibilities, and that thought generated a sense of freedom!

A few friends and I spent yesterday afternoon gathered around the dining table, playing with various miscellaneous art materials.  One thought that stood out for all of us - how difficult it is to decide what kind of art project to create using the materials before us, because the possibilities are truly endless!

See more endless possibilities at The Studio Sublime


market day dish: vegetable curry stew

It's been awhile since I've shared a recipe.  I thought it was time for one more homemade soup recipe before the hot weather season. Although here in Israel it's close to 90 degrees today!

I picked up a lot of produce at the market, but without a specific meal plan. I also spotted some yellow curry paste I wanted to experiment with, inspired by a recent dinner I attended, in which the hostess served a traditional Indian meal. I ate way too much, it was that good, and I vowed to learn how to make a few Indian dishes myself in the near future.

Without a plan but a vague idea of a type of soup, I pulled out most of the produce in the veggie bin, staples from the cupboard and a few jars of seasonings. And the curry paste!

The result is this flavorful, but not spicy hot, thick soup. This recipe makes a lot. Use a big soup pot. I call it

Vegetable Curry Stew

Oil for the pan
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small can chopped roasted green chilis
1/2 c. tomato paste
1/2 c. yellow curry paste (or green for more heat)

Heat oil in pot and add all the veggies above. Saute for several minutes. Stir in the chilis and both pastes. Simmer for a few additional minutes.

Slowly add:

10-12 cups of vegetable or chicken broth. I used 2 boxes of the organic box style, called "no-chicken" chicken broth by Imagine.

Then add all of the following, stirring as you go:

4 white potatoes, chopped
4 fat carrots, chopped
2 c. chickpeas (I had the frozen kind, but canned is fine too)
1 c. dried soup mix, the kind with barley, lentils, peas, really small beans
dash or two of celery salt (the celery in Israel isn't very nice)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t. cinnamon
several twists of black pepper

Keep on a low boil for about an hour, stirring every so often. I keep the lid partly on.

Cook for an extra half hour on simmer, with lid completely on.

Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the hot stew (so yummy!) and top with fresh cilantro. Should freeze well.


watercolor love: mixing complimentary colors

I finally finished my color mixing chart I started in December. My favorite color shades have been the pigment mixed with 10% Ivory black...until now! I was quite surprised and delighted with the results of mixing the complimentary colors on the color wheel (the opposites). I thought they would be rather muddy, but instead I find these shades very interesting.

I do have a cute little travel set and simple chart of those colors casually painted in a criss cross pattern that I'll post soon.



watercolor love: playing around

My friend Kristine and I met for our second afternoon to play with and learn about watercolors. Her first love is oils, but when she learned I had some nice watercolors in my possession and I wanted to learn how to use them, she became very excited to show me what she knows. She's a wonderful teacher because we take our time, enjoy the moment and just go with it. Perfect!

This time Kristine shared some simple brush and water techniques to introduce the interaction between the two on paper. I learned how adding more than two colors to the mix could result in mud and that I really enjoyed the process of mixing. It's very exciting to see what shade emerges. I wonder, does that feeling go away after mixing hundreds of shades hundreds of times? I  hope not!

I started with a background wash without any pigment and dabbed bursts of colors into the wash while wet. I rolled my brush near the edge of the wet paper and watched the colors seep down the paper in little rivers. I let it dry and put strokes of color on top. I let it dry again and sprayed a fine mist of water and watched interesting patterns form. I'm looking forward to our next afternoon when Kristine returns from holiday in Budapest.

Interestingly enough, I came upon Lori's blog, Studio Waterstone and surprise! she recently started posting Watercolor 101 lessons!

I'll enjoy the best of both. Lori's inviting her readers to share their watercolor experiments, so I'll hop on over there and say hi! 


i heart macro: under my feet

This is the very center of the Persian style rug in my living room.  It's quite a small area, about eight inches in diameter, compared to the size of the rug and a wonderful example of how intricate the pattern is overall. 

See more i heart macro postings!


focus on life: all wrapped up

It's Week Ten of the Focus on Life year-long series.  Sally is inviting us to consider something "All Wrapped Up". This could be something wrapped in paper, a sandwich wrap, a blanket, or to cover or fold...wrapping up a project and so on.  

The first thing that came to mind is a blanket. I love the feel of a soft plush blanket wrapping me up from head to toe. (Okay, neck on down!) But I wasn't thinking of just any blanket, but a special blanket I packed when moving overseas, to remind me of Miss P, my BFF and (now 4 year old) granddaughter.

We spent many afternoon nap-times and story hours wrapped up together in our soft blanket, especially during the Colorado winters. She's hugging kitty (below) who also joined us during our cozy afternoons. 

When it was time for us to say good-bye, I wrapped Miss P close in my arms and didn't want to let her go. I gave kitty to her for safe keeping and the blanket traveled with me half way around the world, as a gentle reminder of those special moments we snuggled close, wrapped up tight with love.

As comforting as it is to have our soft cozy blanket wrapped around me, reminding me of Miss P and home, I'd much rather have my arms wrapped around her right now!!

Stop by Sally's blog, The Studio Sublime, to see how other wonderful bloggers interpret "All Wrapped Up".


i heart macro: orange makes me happy

Orange blossoms (I haven't identified them yet) growing outside the entrance to my office building in Haifa. Wonderful greeting to start the day!

Update:  A reader has helpfully identified this flower as a honeysuckle plant! Thank you Susan of Libellula Jewelry.


focus on life: knock knock

Week Nine and I'm late with my photo post for this week's blog hop, but better than not at all! I'm reconnected to the big wide web again after moving. I don't have a significant story about doors but I will share a few of my favorite door photos from my trip to Italy a few years ago. (I'm not sure if there is a rule about having to take the photos the week of the prompt or not..)

I spent several days in Florence (think heaven!) and made a side trip to the Hamlet of Monteriggioni in Tuscany where I fell in love with the very old and charming doors below.

Soon I will be settled and on track to post on time. To see more doors by some fabulous artists please check out Sally's blog post Focus on Life: Week 9 at The Studio Sublime

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