Category Archives: fine art

Kentucky Tourism

Well, this is my second time visiting family in the Blue Grass State. I have friends in Ohio and Indiana as well, so this journey from the Pacific Northwest allows me to catch up with a lot of people the old fashioned way (face to face!) Sure that may not be as trendy as Facebook , but I prefer face to face interaction. In addition, we don’t text each other while sitting on the couch. We actually talk to each other. I know I know… I am so 1950s.

Anyway, we have seen some of the basic sights in the area, and yes there is more than just Kentucky Basketball! But it is out of season for horse racing, otherwise we may have gone to see a horse race in the horse racing capital of the world. But we did make it to Berea College and toured part of the campus. For those of you who follow my blog regularly, you know that creating a free college is one of the more dynamic goals I have listed on my bucket list. Berea College is a mostly free college. Students do not pay tuition, but they do pay for books, room, and board. It serves over 1500 students, and is a respected college.

In addition to seeing part of the campus, we also visited some of the art shops run by local artisans.

Old Town Artist Village in Berea Kentucky

One of those artists in Berea Kentucky was Jimmy Lou at Hot Flash Beads. We were given a demonstration of how she created these beads. It was a fun experience because not only did we see the beads being made, we were also able to ask questions about the process.

We also stopped in at a weaving shop, and a glass blowing shop.

weston studio glass At Weston Studio Glass, we were able to talk to Michelle Weston. Just like Jimmy Lou, we were given a demonstration of the glass blowing process and were able to ask questions along the way. It was really a fun experience, and the glass art was exceptional. Each one is individually made, making it instantly unique.


And then, of course, we included fishing on our trip. My wife and I are unable to catch fish in Oregon. When we went fishing with her dad in Kentucky, we caught two turtles which we threw back, a tree branch which we threw back, three small fish which we threw back. We caught and kept one decent sized crappie, one decent sized catfish, and one large catfish. So, we will not starve 😉

We have had an interesting difficulty with one-day fishing licenses while in Kentucky. When we were here two years ago, Wal-Mart told us that no one in the state sold one day fishing licenses. We went to a bait shop by the lake, and were sold a one-day license. So this time, we went to the bait shop by the lake for our one day fishing license. And guess what? His machine was broken that day. So we went to Meijer, which was able to sell us a one-day fishing license.

Moral? Um… I guess call around the day you want to go fishing in Kentucky to see which store can sell a one-day fishing license.  Regardless, we enjoyed fishing!

Sunrise: Kentucky Fishing
This is the lake we went fishing on.

Book Cover Design – What would you do?

Have you used 99 Designs for your book cover design? I expect to finish writing a novel later this year. It is a fantasy/science-fiction story for young adults. I plan to publish it independently as an eBook but still need an attractive cover for display.

For those who do not know, 99 Designs is a website that hosts graphic design contests. The way it works is that an author submits a written description of how they would like to the cover to look. Then graphic artists from around the world submit designs in a cover design competition. After two or three weeks the author ends the contest and chooses a winning design.

It sounds pretty cool. Plus I love writing… so seeing my work in print, even as an eBook, would be great.

Have you used 99 Designs or someone else for your book cover design? What was your experience like? I am a graduate student so publishing an indie eBook is a big financial commitment for me … you know… like $400.

Have you ever had a book published (or self published)? What was your experience like? Thoughts?

My First Time Oil Painting in OVER 20 Years

Below is a french painting easel.

french painting easel, oil paint tools,
This French Painting Easel was a birthday gift from my beautiful wife 🙂
Oil Paint is like playing with really expensive playdough
Oil Paint is like playing with really expensive play dough on a wooden palette
Don't store your paint brushes down in a jar of water
Don’t store your paint brushes down in a jar of water … I was actually cleaning them here, but I need to figure out a better way to do it

Getting back into oil painting has been on my bucket list for a long time. And today… I finally re-engaged with my inner van Gogh. This was a 6″ x 6″ canvas board for me to practice with and begin the road back to where I once was as an oil painter. It was frustrating, and fun… and it looks like I have a few months at least to return to my former glory days. But this was great for a first attempt after twenty years!!

Did I murder a smurf? What's up with all the blue paint on my hand??
Did I murder a smurf? What’s up with all the blue oil paint on my hand??
6" x 6" canvas, wet on wet (alla prima)
6″ x 6″ canvas board, wet on wet (alla prima)
blobs of oil paint on the canvas... painting fail, abort mission, abort abort
Blobs of oil paint on the canvas… total painting fail!! Captain, abort mission!! Abort abort!!
Oil painting mountains
Oil painting mountains, check. Hmmm… but what could fix this? Maybe a happy little tree??
Okay... looking better, oil painting adventures with mountains and trees
Okay… looking better
Mountains, 6" x 6" canvas, wet on wet (alla prima)
Mountains, 6″ x 6″ canvas, wet on wet (alla prima)

So, this was my return to oil painting. It has been on my bucket list for over a year to get back into painting, and today I finally returned. A year from now I hope to be doing bigger and better things. But after a twenty year hiatus I am happy with this work.

Have a wonderful day 🙂

Happy Little Trees and The Joy of Painting

Wednesday night I opened a (belated) birthday present from my beautiful wife. It was not her fault it was over a month late. Hobby Lobby had shipped the wrong item, and then gave her the run-around trying to get the correct item. The box arrived last week… and my wife’s mom and pop were in town for nearly a week. After her parents left town I opened the present. This time, the present was what my wife had ordered… and something I have wanted for a long time: A French Painting Easel.

french painting easel, oil paint tools,
This French Painting Easel was a birthday gift from my beautiful wife 🙂

Now I can finally re-engage my dream of oil painting, heavily influenced by Bob Ross. I grew up watching his show… and I remember him saying “Happy Little Tree…” or “Happy Little Clouds” while he painted amazing landscapes in what seemed like only minutes.

Searching for Bob Ross and the Joy of Painting, http://www.ishism.comI have been telling myself for the last couple years that I was going to get back into oil painting. Well… now I have the books, and I have the easel. So this weekend I am going to the Material Exchange Commission for Community Arts (MECCA) to get some supplies. MECCA sells all kinds of used arts and crafts materials. Whatever I am unable to find there, I will purchase at a a different store new. Then next week, during one of my breaks from foster parenting and graduate school studies… I will begin oil painting.

Getting back into oil painting has been on my bucket list for a long time. Now I am a big step closer. I hope whatever dreams your bucket list holds, you are able to make them happen.