Never too Old to Learn

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During the middle of the pandemic, back in 2020, I was stuck at home like everyone else. Oddly enough, I didn’t mind too much. Being an introvert, home is my happy place and as long as I had a way to keep busy I was okay. I turned to the thing that has eased my anxiety and cluttered mind since I was a child: ART.

Wet on wet technique, great for making reflections in the water

Drawing had been a passion all my life but adulting, things like raising my children and paying the bills, had pushed this aside for many years. By 2020, my children were out of college and they, along with my husband and myself were hanging out, working from home, so I decided to jump start my creative side. This came in the form of a medium I had always wanted to try but found rather daunting: watercolor.

Portrait for a friend. Learned a lot about mixing watercolor paint with pencil and about shadows and reflections.
Learning to paint more loose.

Bless the internet and, particularly, YouTube because there were endless sources for finding the ins and outs of this beautiful art form. As a teenager and college student, I had learned about painting in acrylics and oils. Some of the ideas there did carry over but others (like the ability to “fix” a mistake by simply painting over it) did not. Needless to say, there were some frustrating moments and lots of disastrous paintings that became lots of scrap paper! Eventually, I began to get comfortable with my results. I was amazed at how much there was to learn just about this one medium. Things I needed to think about and all the exciting techniques that resulted in such different looks and styles. I still struggle with things both related to and not related to watercolor itself like finding a good composition, or the correct balance of lights and darks. I also need to learn when to stop, something very important in this medium because overworking a watercolor painting is just the worst! I’ve come to a point where I’m happy with a good percentage of the finished paintings but, even two years later, I am still finding many new adventures and new skills that I can practice.

The first painting I sold. It was fun to experiment with the pops of color.

After several months of creating and experimenting, the art work began to pile up and I was inspired to open a shop on Etsy in order to sell some of the finished pieces. So far it’s been a modest success. I will never get rich, but I’ve been able to share some pieces and create many commissioned one of a kind watercolors that have, hopefully, brought joy to the people who own them.

Playing with shadows experimenting with water

That said, I know, even as I approach my 60th year, a fact that still sends my head spinning some days, that, no matter how old I am, there is still SO much more I can learn. Possibly, that holds true for life in general, wherever or whenever you find your passion.

CuriousKatStudio

When Vacations Were a Thing

I finished this painting last week. It’s kind of a quirky subject for a still life but I’m pretty happy with the results. The photo I based it on was taken by my daughter when she was just 13. It was a lot of fun to create for a couple of reasons.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/840895152/original-watercolor-painting-morning?ref=shop_home_feat_2&frs=1

First off, the morning light coming in the window created such great shadows and highlights. Also, creating the reflections of the pillow and curtain on the glass was something I’d never tried before. I’m always much more motivated to do something if I can learn new skills and techniques. This provided some good challenges.

The second reason I enjoyed it so much were the memories associated with the subject matter. As I said, Miss Dee took the original photo a little over seven years ago when we were on a family cruise to Bermuda. This past June I was all booked to take a very similar cruise with my sisters and best friend but, I guess we know that didn’t work out. 😦 We are hoping to reschedule next year. In the meantime thinking about my last trip there was a nice distraction.

Miss Dee’s photo was taken the morning we docked in King’s Wharf on the island of Bermuda. This would have been day three of a five day cruise. We awoke to find a Tugboat tooting outside the window as it, and a few of it’s friends guided us into port. The rest of the day was just as surprising.

After enjoying breakfast aboard the ship we disembarked and began to explore. We started with a slightly scary bus ride (I don’t think there are any traffic laws in Bermuda) to Horseshoe Bay Beach on the other side of the island. We were told that it was quite beautiful and well worth the ride and it certainly was. The sand was pink and the water was warm, crystal clear and perfectly still. Being from New Jersey, I’m accustomed to dodging riptides and trying not to get knocked over by incoming waves. This was a nice change. Even more impressive though, were the rock formations that stood right off the beach. Some were like hidden little tunnels that you could swim through. After a few hours, enjoying the sun and the water, we showered in the available bathhouses which were very clean and well maintained and took a taxi into the town of Hamilton. The taxi ride was much less scary although the people who get around by scooter in Bermuda must have no fear at all! They seem to zig-zag in front of traffic without even looking.

Scrapbook Page. I can’t believe how young we all look!
Miss Dee looking super cute posing with the rocks at Horseshoe Bay.

Hamilton, the Capital city, is a quaint little colonial town with lots of historic Stone buildings, restaurants and shops to explore. We had a snack then took a walk through the Queen’s Gardens in the center of town. The tropical flowers were amazing! I’d never seen such bright beautiful colors. Miss Dee took some very nice photos there too. By late afternoon, we were all getting tired and decided to head back to the ship for dinner. No taxi or bus was needed though. Kings Wharf Royal Dock Yard was just across The Great Sound from Hamilton so we were able to take a water taxi back to the ship. That was a lovely way to end the day.

Hamilton
Beautiful Queen’s Gardens

The next day we took an excursion on a glass bottom boat. It was really incredible to see all the fish, Coral and even a few sunken ships below the blue water off Kings Wharf. The tour guide was so informative about the various fish and sea creatures we saw. I also learned that Bermuda isn’t actually one continuous landmass but instead a collection of 181 different islets and small islands. There were snacks and sodas served during the two hour tour and the D-man and I even received a complimentary cocktail with coconut rum as part of the excursion packet.

Such blue, blue water!

Even though we still had two days left on our cruise, we were a bit sad when the ship left dock at two that afternoon. It felt like there was so much more of Bermuda to explore. When Mr D graduated from college last year we chipped in with his grandparents and sent him and his girl on the same Cruise that we had taken. They saw some things there that were new since we had been there. I’m hoping, if I get to go next year, I’ll see even more. By then, maybe vacations will be a thing again. 🙂

Summer Art

My sister is a crafter and a beach lover. Each year she combines these loves by taking part in a huge craft fair on the Wildwood boardwalk. This New Jersey shore town is a big tourist destination and the crowds insure she has lots of sales. Months ago when we started quarantine she suggested I use my abundant spare time to paint more pictures of the beach, the Jersey shore in particular, that she could add to her already beach themed inventory. So I did. Well, needless to say, this year, the crowds at the Craft Fair will be much small if it takes place at all. As a result, I’ve got all this Summer Art with no place to go!

I’ve always been a beach baby and every vacation I ever had as a child took place in Wildwood or one of the other towns along the coast. It’s my happy place so spending my time thinking about it and creating art representing it really wasn’t much of a hardship. When I think about it, it was more likely a form of therapy. Painting in general, has become my form of stress reduction during this crazy time.

Circumstances have decided that I won’t be sharing my beach paintings with the good people of Wildwood this summer so I thought I’d share a few here. I hope you all have a place that makes you feel as peaceful and centered as sea makes me feel. This quote which has been on my kitchen memo board since the summer began, says it all…

Smell the Sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly!

Sunrise in North Wildwood
This was inspired by a photograph of my brother-in-law and his granddaughter.
West Coast beach art-Sunset over the Santa Monica Pier. This was from a photo I took during my trip to Hollywood.
Morning walk along the beach in Ocean City, NJ

All images available at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CuriousKatStudio?ref=search_shop_redirect

Extremely Puzzling

Welcome! Here we are well into our third week of self-isolation. I feel so fortunate that my family and friends are safe and well fed and that the only challenge we have is finding ways to fill our time. We’ve been doing pretty well so far. My daughter and I lean towards “introvert” so we are more content than the men but they too have found ways to keep busy with movies and walks and little projects.

Last week, in search of a diversion, I was rummaging around in the Attic and came across this:

This belonged to my mother originally. I brought it home when my sisters and I were cleaning out and dividing up mom’s things after she passed away. She and I both had a love of trivia and puzzles so this was right up our alley and we did attempt to finish it back when it was new. However, this particular puzzle proved too much for us and we were never able to quite finished it. We could have used the poster that came with it but that didn’t seem fair. Some of the quotes were so obscure that we eventually gave up.

Luckily, Miss Dee and I now have the advantage of Google!

Yes, I admit, we cheated. That “enclosed poster with all the answers” has long since disappeared and some of these quotes are really challenging. For example:

“She believed in nothing; only her scepticism kept her from being an atheist”

Perhaps there are some of you out there who could easily attribute that saying to Jean-Paul Satre but I’m just a chick from Jersey with a degree in Fine Art. This guy is way outside my range of knowledge. I did great on the movie quotes and D-man and Mr D were a big help when it came to American Wars or Politics. Miss Dee even figured out some of the more current quotes but since the puzzle was copy written in 1994, four years before she was born “current” was a relative term.

Whatever method we used, we still had fun matching the quotes with the proper person and it has provided a great distraction, helping to fill some of the unstructured hours. We even learned some new stuff. Now we are down to fitting the actual pieces together, harder than you would think since they are all the same size and you only have slivers of images on the edges to try and match up. It may get to the point where we give up and move on but for now I’ve been adding a piece here and there. Who knows, with at least another month in front of us, we might get it finished.

What’s been keeping you busy?