Lanterns

12 09 2016

lanterns3

New painting based on a photo I took in San Francisco. Not sure if it’s finished or not. I HATE the area of the bottom left of the building, but that’s more or less what the photo looks like, and I’m not good enough with architecture to make it up (hence another “no rulers or measuring” painting.) Here’s the full piece:

lanterns2

Thought I’d include some process pics:

So, I below are these crappy old paintings I had sitting around (and ref photos). The blue one is an underpainting of a potato plant. Was going to be a potato forest. Will be painted over. The purple one was an assignment for a non-art class in college (a painting of a painting) and I have always hated it. I gessoed over it, and it became the lanterns!

old scrap paintings

Here are some underpainting levels:

lanterns WIP1

lanterns WIP2

lanterns WIP4

Then come the lanterns!

lanterns WIP5

lanterns WIP6

And so forth…I think I should do more traditional stuff.





Pika Pika

30 08 2016

Not even playing Pokémon Go, and it’s got me all nostalgic about Pokémon. It had been like 20 years since I’ve seen it, but that Pikachu is still so stinkin’ cute!! All I’m sayin’ is if they made a show with the characters aged up, I would totally watch it. Much nerd.

pokemon





Fun with Hue

17 08 2016

Playing with my Wacom tablet again – selfie with slightly larger-than-life eyes. My quick attempt at a random space background. Then in Photoshop wasting all kinds of time with effects. Effects are so fun!!

selfiejul2016pselfiejul2016gselfiejul2016oselfiejul2016diffclouds

The last one is my favorite for this pic: difference clouds!
And now to stop procrastinating and get back to a real painting…





The Tower on Iron Mountain

10 08 2016

Should have titled this “Bok Tower,” but Iron Mountain makes it sound more dramatic! Bok Tower gardens is just south of Orlando and is a beautiful way to spend a few hours on a sunny day. I first and last went in high school, so it’s been quite a while since I’d visited.

bok tower1

The gardens charges reasonable admission and includes an eatery, visitor center/museum, the gardens themselves, and Bok Tower (which you can look at but can’t actually go into). The area actually *is* on Iron Mountain, which seems like a misnomer if you know anything about Florida (a perpetually flat land), but it really is the highest point in the state. They charge an additional fee if you want to tour Pinewood Estate – more on that later.

bok tower4

This is the area right by the restaurant and visitor center  – pretty like everything here!

bok tower6

They’re doing a bit of new construction right now to add some cool stuff: a kids’ area, outdoor kitchen, and an edible garden.

bok tower7

This is going to be worth another visit when finished! It looks like it nearly is:

bok tower9

…and the edible garden:

bok tower12

check out this okra! Now, saying “edible garden”… I don’t think you’re supposed to just pick and eat things, but I anticipate they’ll use this stuff in their outdoor kitchen. Some yummy looking eggplant:

bok tower14

And look who we found amongst the veggies!

bok tower16

After that we began exploring gardens. They have some trails and some sections (e.g. wetlands). Ultimately, it’s not a huge area; you can see the tower from several points:

bok tower17

It’s also not too far to walk to Pinewood Estate:

bok tower18

Honestly, I didn’t know this was here. We completely missed it on my last visit. If you paid for the admission, you get a ticket and can line up for a tour, about every 15 minutes. The initial portion had a guide but after you can roam around, except you go on a directed path, and there are attendants in most rooms that will give a speech or else be available for questions. Luckily, they do allow photos inside!

bok tower21

I’m excited they did, as most estate home museums in America don’t.

bok tower22

I think the docent described it as “Mediterranean Revival” style, but am not sure. I was paying more attention to taking pictures.

bok tower23

bok tower27

They had this one super narrow staircase that was pretty cool:

bok tower25

You can walk around outside the house too and see its gardens.

bok tower28

bok tower31

I read a book that featured a moon garden as a major plot point but had never seen one, so I was excited about this:

bok tower33

However, they said it was never finished, so I guess I still don’t know what a moon garden really looks like.

After that, it was clouding up so we made a beeline for Bok Tower itself. On the way and leaving Pinewood, we saw some cool trees:

bok tower35

Winding our way through tree-lined paths, it didn’t take long to reach the tower.

bok tower36

Truly, a beautiful and unique Florida icon. Its carillon bells ring at different times of the day. Like I said, you can’t go inside but can get fairly close.

bok tower42

I didn’t get a good picture of it, but the pond is filled with koi fish.

bok tower44

bok tower47

A sundial, truly cool. The whole thing is ornate.

bok tower50

My favorite part might actually be the ironwork for the gate in front of it (there are gates to a bridge that crosses the moat surrounding the tower). It’s both creepy and cute:

bok tower51

And now to prove it really IS above sea level:

bok tower48

The view down the mountain, behind the tower:orange groves of Lake Wales. Oh, and a little local denizen we came across:

bok tower54

Bok Tower is definitely worth a visit. If you don’t live close, you can easily combine it with a visit to Orlando or the surrounding area.🙂

 





Peacocks!

19 07 2016

Been saving the best of my Charleston trip for last! I might be just a *little* obsessed with peacocks. Up until this trip in fact I thought they would make awesome pets, but I learned they can be louder than heck! So Middleton Place AND Magnolia Plantation both have peacocks. It’s amazing.🙂

30 peacock1

30 peacock5

Below, the super loud peacock call you can hear from like a mile away:

30 peacock6

And then the adorable female peacock resting on a stagecoach:

30 peacock9

So far these peacocks have been from Middleton:

30 peacock13

These next guys are from Magnolia:

30 peacock14

30 peacock15

30 peacock17

30 peacock21

Gotta love ’em!





Magnolia Plantation

13 07 2016

Just 4 miles down the road from Middleton Place is Magnolia Plantation. Compared to Middleton, it’s more crowded and landscaped with more flowers. They feel very different, and I think both are worth visiting.

30 magnolia8

Admission to the house is separate, and we didn’t go for that as we only had a few hours there. Even without the house, there is plenty to see wandering around the gardens – that’s the bulk of what you go to see.

30 magnolia9

The thing about Magnolia is that it has some of the most gorgeous bridges – some people were doing wedding shoots on them, and it’s almost impossible to get clear shots with all the people in general (not to mention hard to get a sweeping shot when you only have a 50 mm lens!)

30 magnolia13

30 magnolia16

30 magnolia19

30 magnolia24

…and in looking for all the bridges, you might stumble upon some more beautiful things like this gazebo:

30 magnolia22

…or this carved tomb:

30 magnolia33

Then there’s the Peacock Café (roof painting below), an outdoor situation with sandwiches, hot dogs, and similar. And yes, peacocks really do walk around it!

30 magnolia34

But most of the peacocks stay in the petting zoo, which was an amazing experience! You’re not supposed to pet the peacocks, but they wander around close to you, so you can get some great photos (more on that later!), plus there are deer wandering around (and yes, you can pet them!), and feed is available for purchase.

30 magnolia6

Some other animals that are in cages, like this white squirrel (below), or a pot-bellied pig.

30 magnolia3

There’s plenty more there, but our visit had to be brief. Definitely a place to stop by if you find yourself near Charleston.





Exploring Middleton Place

5 07 2016

Last post was about our hotel experience – now for the estate itself! Having the freedom to just walk over from the hotel, we spent some part of 3 full days there.

So, when you walk over from the hotel path, you have 2 options: you can walk down some steps to this little building that then feeds into the path in the picture below, or you can keep walking on the upraised hotel path, cross a little bridge, and end up closer to the main house. Obviously we did the former and were greeted with this sight!

30 middleton12

Oh, just a gator in the sun while a hapless couple walks toward it, unaware. They eventually saw it and skirted around it but said they really couldn’t see it from that vantage point. Sneaky gators!

Here’s a shot from inside the little building:

30 middleton14

It sits right on the water of the river, and is also right on the banks of the “butterfly pools” or ponds created for Middleton. Here’s a shot of the building and ponds:

30 middleton15

We walked around all this way, because that gator was on the other side of that stretch of land. Anyway, they don’t move much and tend to go back into the water if people get close. The land is tiered up, so by the time you climb to the top:

30 middleton16

So here we’re standing where the original main house was, facing onto the back side of the estate (and the Ashley River). The hotel would be basically up and to the left. The main house was burned down by Union troops right before the end of the civil war. The house had a north and south “flanker” on either side of it; one was also burned, but one survived, and that is the house museum that you can tour today.

30 middleton56

Here’s the backside of the remaining flanker, above, and the front side:

30 middleton67

Now, on one side of the flanker (and leading far up the property) are the gardens, and on the other side are the animals/stable area and a restaurant. We walked toward the animal side from the back of the house..

30 middleton19

Above, you can see the ice house (the bottom floor was used for cooling things), with the top floor being a chapel for all races to attend service in. To the right, past the water, is the hotel path that goes to the bridge. Down at the water, what did we see?

30 middleton29

Lil’ sneaky! Anyway, back up the hill toward the animals, we passed by the restaurant:

30 middleton27

…and then up and out where the animals are, first goats,  and then water buffalo!:

30 middleton25

They keep types of animals that would have been kept by the Middleton family in the 17-1800s. Apparently one of the Middleton men saw water buffalo on a trip to Asia, I think, and thought they’d be good help with rice farming (yes, rice – people always think of cotton and tobacco as the staple old Southern crops, but rice was the thing here).

30 middleton24

The estate is known for letting its sheep wander freely around the grounds. I was really excited about this because I thought it’d make a cool picture (and I wanted to get a selfie with a lamb, I admit), but this weekend they were kept pinned, because they were doing special events on the lawn and thought it would be too much for them. Okay…sigh… I understand.

30 middleton70

30 middleton68

This next picture was taken Sunday morning. They do a cow milking daily at 9 and again at 4, and you can go and participate!

30 middleton77

This guy gets the cow set up and then you can step in if you like… I did it for a minute, but didn’t get any pictures, plus my hands were gross afterward. He kept saying the cow was being difficult that day, but she was good during the milking – I guess because she was eating hay.

Anyway, around that stable area there are demonstrations, like a blacksmith, or candle making…

30 middleton74

Didn’t get many pics of that stuff, as I was distracted by:

30 peacock8

Peacocks on stagecoaches!!! Sleeping! I was so excited about the peacocks, you don’t even know. They get a whole post to themselves, later.

So we then walked up the grounds and to the other side. If you drive here versus walking from the hotel, there’s an area where you park and pay admission, and right outside of it’s this little market with some food and gifts.

30 middleton57

We grabbed some pre-made chicken salad sandwiches (that weren’t great, honestly) and had lunch before heading to the gardens, on just the other side of this.

30 middleton60

I believe that this was the statue they buried during the war to save it. These gardens are the oldest landscaped gardens in America, I believe. They’re very woodsy and wild, so not the flower-filled, super landscaped type I typically think of, but still nice. Because it was mostly long stretches of greenery (with some water), I didn’t take many pics. It mostly looked like this:

30 middleton64

Though in season, the azalea walk is probably really beautiful. And then they also have some areas like this, with the finely trimmed hedges:

30 middleton61

They do have this long pool where a couple swans swim about at times, but the swans were in a cage this time.😦

Some nice flower shots:

30 middleton62

30 middleton65

Didn’t get any pics of the house tour since they weren’t allowed, but the tour is worth it. Lots of good info on the many generations that lived there, and neat heirlooms too.

Hot and tired, we made our way back to the hotel path, seeing one more gator:

30 middleton79

…and a good few of the ponds:

30 middleton31

Next time… peacocks!





Inn at Middleton Place

30 06 2016

Last month, I took a 3 day weekend to celebrate my birthday, and we went up to a hidden gem just outside of Charleston, South Carolina – Middleton Place.

Middleton Place itself is an old estate (parts of it from the 1700s) that you can visit, and right next to it – actually connected to the grounds – is an Inn that just happened to offer better prices than anything in Charleston proper, admission included to the estate and gardens, and the most beautiful scenery.

30 middleton1

After a stop by Pie Society for a birthday pasty on the way up and a 4 hour drive, we checked in to the Inn and were given a map, keys, and the code to the gate. Our rooms were to the left of the Lodge (above); everything circled a grass courtyard that faced (to the right) over the Ashley River.

30 middleton8

Our rooms, the bottom far left and the bottom middle, above. Rooms were fairly big with 2 twin beds and fireplaces (!), but the fireplaces were closed in the summer. The bathrooms have good counter space and large tubs. I’m a shower person, and glad of it because after my first shower, some bugs appeared in the tub, probably attracted by water. I think the place is clean, but being on the ground and so close to the river, bugs do get in. It’s literally the 1 downside about the place.

30 middleton54

More rooms, with hammocks. Seriously the most peaceful place. Would make a great artists’ retreat.

30 middleton5

Should have mentioned that the grass courtyard also overlooks a pool, which overlooks the river – it’s gorgeous! The only pic I got of the whole thing was on my cell phone though.

If you walk down to the left of the pool (like 1 minute from our rooms!), you’ll see the kayak area:

30 middleton4

We went kayaking the next morning for about 3 hours. I didn’t get pictures, but you can see from this vantage point of the hotel pathway some of our kayak path down the river:

30 middleton53

It’s great, because the fee is reasonable, and they give you the oars, map, lifejackets, etc. and push you off, then you’re on your own. (Or we were, but they have guided tours you can do.) We went around 9 and were the first ones out there. The tide was low, and there were tons of alligators on the banks that would slide into the water as we approached. I was a bit freaked out by it! That’s one thing to watch out for; there are gators everywhere here.

Anyway, if you walk a bit further than the kayak area, you’ll find a huge mulberry tree!

30 middleton3

I’d never seen one before and was so excited. You can reach up and pick the berries and eat them (I mean, you’re probably not supposed to, but I did), and they’re SO sweet and delicious, but they do stain everything red. Go for the dark ones; those are ripe.

Walk past that, and you’ll find a clearing that’s lined with a wall of sweet-scented jasmine:

30 middleton75

You can’t really tell in the picture, but there’s tons of it, with the little white flowers. This was in mid May, so not sure if it’s still in bloom.

Back at the hotel, they do a happy hour every night in the Lodge from 5 – 7 with complimentary (included in your stay) drinks and apps. It was very worth it!

30 middleton35

Beyond these cheeses and fruits, they had crackers and a hot dish or two each night (we were there for 2). The first night was pretty rushed, because we walked around actual Middleton Place a bit (more on that later) and then went to downtown Charleston. The second night was a Saturday, and lots of people went to the happy hour.

30 middleton9

The Lodge itself was pretty cute – 2 stories with the food area up top, this chess table halfway down, and below some games you can play, including croquet. Here’s the backside of the Lodge in the next morning’s light:

30 middleton52

They do a complimentary breakfast in the Lakehouse, which was really nice. It’s a quick walk from the rooms on a shadowy path….

30 middleton47

Oh, and do you see the umbrella stand above, with all the umbrella handles sticking out? They had umbrellas everywhere, including outside each room – which I thought was nice.

Anyway, the Lakehouse breakfast is cereals, an oatmeal bar, coffee and juices, and is self serve, and/or you can order hot items for extra charge.

30 middleton48

30 middleton51

I was content with oatmeal, because they have so many add in options! (I’m on an oatmeal kick now.) I got blueberries, pecans, walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Yum!

The Lakehouse overlooks a creek and beautiful greenery. You can sit indoors and admire the view while listening to classical music, or sit outside on the deck. We sat inside, because it was chilly in the mornings.

30 middleton50

Pretty view! We spent most of our time walking across the wooded path to the estate, which is super convenient, as you can go anytime between sunrise and sunset….I wanted to go at night, but with all the gators (they live in the estate pools and like to hang out on the grass, hard to see in the dark), I didn’t want to risk it.

I would highly recommend the Inn at Middleton Place to anyone really, understanding that it is a “woodsy” place, so some bugs are inevitable. I actually didn’t sleep well either night because of that, but it had so much else going for it, that it was way worth it.

The Inn also has horseback riding, but there was no time. Next up – Middleton Place itself!

 

 





The Florida Theatre

23 06 2016

For May Art Walk (every 1st Wednesday in downtown Jacksonville, FL), I met up with a couple friends… as always, always stuff to see during art walk, like this community painting (we contributed to the reverse side):

artwalkmay1

Or this cute/weird bird:

artwalkmay2

(Sorry for the photo qual – only had my phone.) Eventually, we stumbled on The Florida Theatre. Now, everyone from Jax knows about the Theatre; it’s been around since the 20s and is pretty famous. But honestly I hadn’t been there since a field trip when I was much younger. It’s a shame because it is SO pretty! Turns out during Art Walk they do free tours, so naturally we took advantage!

artwalkmay3

Just the entryway alone is pretty. You could get wine or whatever drink (below) and take it with you on the tour, but I needed both my hands free (one for phone pics, one to hold onto railings so my clumsy self doesn’t fall down stairs.)

artwalkmay4

You go up some stairs and then into the main area  – my favorite!

artwalkmay6

artwalkmay5

It reminds me of Epcot’s Mexico.🙂 The plaster décor is all original.

artwalkmay7

These doors are NOT original, which is impressive because in person they really look authentic. Anyway, then you get to go into the theater itself:

artwalkmay8

artwalkmay10

…You get to climb right onto the stage and see all this behind-the-scenes stuff! I didn’t get any good shots from the stage looking onto the audience because it is just so massive, it wouldn’t even properly fit into the panorama.

After this, we walked through this little door to the left to go “backstage.”

artwalkmay9

Love these mirrors! I will say, the bulk of backstage is surprisingly unglamorous. It surprised me anyway. Very plain, narrow stairs, that kind of thing. I mean, even Elvis performed there! I thought there’d be some fancy chairs or something. But these mirrors were cool, and the lights put off SO much heat!

Then we went upstairs…

artwalkmay11

I thought it was really amazing that even these garlands are original:

artwalkmay12

I mean, from the 20s! We went on the second level of the theater and got to walk all the way up. Finally, a good pic of the view!

artwalkmay14

I can’t get over these amazing lights!

artwalkmay13

iPhone pictures definitely don’t do it justice. Or show how enormous they are. We heard about how some of the seats still have the original upholstery and learned about the “ghost” seats off to the side.

Last we walked in a room used by their patrons that used to be a nursery.

artwalkmay15

The bunny in the corner there is from the original paint of the nursery.

It’s a really great tour – our guide was a wealth of info, and we loved seeing behind the scenes. Highly recommend stopping by if you go to Art Walk!

A lovely night in downtown:

artwalkmay16





Not Forgotten

20 06 2016

30 peacock22I’m still here! Sorry for the super long hiatus – I had a big birthday, left one job, started another, went on a big business trip, and then got sick, so it’s been a little cray. Posts will be coming in the next few weeks, and this pic is a little teaser of what’s to come.🙂








%d bloggers like this: