Arizona Sketches

We flew from cold and dark Alaska to sunny Arizona earlier this month. I sketched in the sun every day. A friend I met on Facebook, Stacy Egan, invited me to join her sketching group in Tucson. What an enjoyable and friendly group! We met at the train station and roasted in the sun to sketch this cool, old train.

Tucson Train

I realized as I photographed these following images that there is a thread here. They are all passages: a door, a window, a gate. Last weekend my mother went through a passage from life to death. She had been at the doorway for so long, slipping away from us in bits as Alzheimer’s slowly took her from us. I believe with all my heart that she is with God now and that she was so very glad to go from here to be with Him. From this life to eternity.  During this Thanksgiving week, I am thankful for having had a wonderful mother.

Tucson Red Door web Tucson Blue Window Brick Doorway web

Esperanza Villa web

The Art of Peach Pie

Although I usually post about sketching and art related items, this one might be a stretch and I’m probably breaking some “Rules for the Blogger” because this one is really more about food than art.  Rules haven’t slowed me down yet and my desire to share something delicious with you overrides rules. The recipe follows…

Peach Crustade

Peach Crustade

Although the title of this post is “The Art of Peach Pie”, this is a recipe for a crustade, which is a fancy name for pie without the pie pan. Peaches are at the end of their season, but try it with apples or pears mixed with cranberries,  or use blueberries or blackberries. Once I cleaned out the fridge of wizened fruit with this recipe.

6 cups fresh peaches, pitted, and sliced (I left the skins on for added color)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, instant tapioca or tapioca flour

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

In large bowl, mix peaches, sugar and cinnamon. Allow to sit for about 20-30 minutes. While it sits, mix the crust. This recipe for crust comes from Natalie, who is a dear lady in South Africa. She used this recipe to make marvelous little meat pies.

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup cold butter, diced into small cubes

Pinch salt

Place the flour, butter and salt in a food processor, and pulse while adding just enough cold water to make it form a soft dough. You may also use a fork and knife. Reserve about 1/2 cup dough. Roll the rest onto a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, using flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rough 14 inch circle. It went over the edges of the foil for me. I rolled mine out on the counter, then transferred it to the baking sheet.

Using a straining spoon, scoop peaches, without juice, onto the middle of the crust. Push them out to about 2 inches from the edge. Fold crust over peaches, allowing it to gather roughly. Add tapioca or flour and lemon juice to peach juice using a whisk and pour into saucepan. Heat gently over low heat and stir constantly until it just begins to thicken. Don’t even think about letting it boil! If it gets too thick you will have a glob. Add butter and stir. Pour over peaches in crust.

Roll remaining crust on lightly floured board to a little more than 1/8″. Using a round cookie cutter, cut circles. Some of these will be peaches and others leaves. For the peaches, use the cookie cutter to make a classic peach dent by lifting it and making a dent with the rim of the cutter off-center in the circle. Make leaves with more circles by cutting them twice with the cookie cutter. Think Venn Diagram and you can make leaves. Place on filling.

Brush crust with milk and sprinkle generously with turbinado or raw sugar.

Bake @ 375 for 50 minutes to an hour, until crust is golden and peaches are bubbly. I’m not going to tell you how many this serves because if you really like it, you might want a really big piece. Or you might have teenagers in the house…Best served warm.

Recipe adapted from this website:

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/11/5488744/recipeold-fashioned-peach-pie.html

Sketching a Lake Before Freeze-up

The lakes in interior Alaska have begun to freeze and the swans are getting ready to take the last flight out before their feet freeze in the ice. I stopped at Eureka Summit and sketched part of the Chugach Range. I could have used two more pieces of paper in this panorama to sketch what I was looking at through the windshield. Snow hasn’t fallen on lower elevations. The colors are from dry grasses and leaves.

Eureka Summit- Mile 130 Glennallen Highway, Alaska

Eureka Summit Mile 130 Glennallen Highway, Alaska

I’m going to post sketches available for sale on this blog and they can be purchased using PayPal. Message me if you are interested. The price will be in the title or it will be marked sold.

On Saturday I took four children to a birthday party fifty miles from our house. After I dropped them off, I escaped to a quiet lake nearby and sketched this view. A gentle breeze was blowing and birds were flitting about in the trees. It was marvelous.

Lake at Mile 143, 7" x 9" $50.00

Lake at Mile 143, 7″ x 9″watercolor/pen $50.00 (postage paid)

Waiting for the Blink

Portraits have been a love/hate relationship for me. When I’m painting them, time just flies by. The brush nudges a cheek into existence and with just a dot and swirl, there is an eye and I almost expect to see a blink. I often say, “Well, hello!” I honestly don’t know if other artists have this response. I don’t wait for it and I don’t expect it, but it almost always happens. That is the love part.

The hate part is that it might not work. This isn’t a problem unless it is a commission. In one commission, I had a parent ask if I could take off some fat and add some hair to her child. What child did she want me to paint? Another commission, the parent gave me a handful of photos and said to paint anything that moved me. I did. They said my painting looked just like the photo, but not like the child. “Can you make her look more like a monkey?” You meet all kinds.

This year I’ve joined some amazing artists from around the world in a special small group on Facebook. We post sketches online and the only obligation is to interact and exchange positively. We can’t just “like” an image. We are encouraged to say what works and what might need some tweaking. Sometimes there will be a challenge to sketch an “assignment” and they are always fun. Last week some of us sketched a portrait based on photos from their Facebook page. I chose Laura. This sketch took a little less than three hours from paper to “hello”.

"Laura" 10.5" x 7" watercolor

“Laura” 10.5″ x 7″ watercolor

Autumn in Alaska

Snow is creeping down the mountains in the North as the earth tips away from the sun. I find myself leaning toward the equator. Mornings are stunning this time of year as the golden aspen leaves sing against the brilliant blue sky.

Anthracite Ridge

Anthracite Ridge, behind our house.

Our greenhouse produced lots of beautiful tomatoes this year. I brought this clump in and sketched them. A red tomato just glows, doesn’t it? I didn’t try to stay in the lines with this one. It sits contentedly in my sketchbook, but I’ll carefully cut it out if you would like it. For sale here, on my Etsy site.

The last tomatoes from our greenhouse.

“How Do You Like Them Tomatoes?” 7″ x 9″ watercolor

Sketching the Change of Season

The Sketch Project was quite an accomplishment and your kind words of encouragement helped so much. Thank you for cheering me on. The sketches will be on display in Cape Town, South Africa during the month of October. They will return to Alaska, then finally land in Kihei, Hawaii where the buyer lives. Amazing how such a piece of art can get around.

Seeing that I was able to sketch every day with such great response, I’ve decided to sell one sketch a week. I haven’t done this before and I will admit I’m a bit nervous. I’m not nervous about sketching, but the commitment of getting the image up for sale on a regular basis. It isn’t really that big of a deal if I look at it one sketch at a time, so with that confession, I’ll show you this week’s sketch. This is an original and I’m not planning on making prints because that is a commitment I don’t even want to look at right now. Here is the link to my Etsy store if you would like to purchase it. I’m going to put it on Facebook tomorrow, but I wanted to give my blog friends first opportunity. I’m going to keep the cost low on these because I want you to have a chance to buy them and it will motivate me to sketch and sketch.

"South Fork Sketch" 5" x 8.5" original watercolor and ink sketch

“South Fork Sketch” 5″ x 8.5″ original watercolor and ink sketch

The leaves are turning and some have blown off the trees. Last week I took this photo.

Sept 20 1 web