Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What a Little Paint Can Do ~ An Ikea Table Revamp

We love eating outside in the summertime ~ the shadows grow long in the late afternoon light, 
kids are tired and happy from swimming and playing, and dinner on the patio is relaxed and easy. 
At least until something crazy and normal interrupts the stillness.

A few years ago we bought this Ikea Nordano patio table and it has served us well. 
It seats four when the sides are folded down and ten when they're extended. 
Great for everyday and for bigger gatherings.

However, those short years have not been kind to our table. 
The finish was so stained and faded and dirty, that lately I began to bargain hunt for a replacement. 
But I just couldn't justify spending any money on something that would actually be 
less functional for us than this worn out table.

So, I decided to appreciate the ugliness as an opportunity to experiment. 
It really couldn't get any worse . . . could it?


I worked on one of the chairs first--just grabbed a leftover sample pot of green paint from the garage and started slapping it on. I was quite pleased after distressing it a bit.

A few months later I finally got around to tackling the table.

After painting the bone dry wood and sanding it a bit to show 
that we're embracing imperfection around here, I think this table has a few summers left in it.

Just have to paint the other chairs and the revamp will be complete.

I'm looking forward to easy meals (and the normal crazy) enjoyed outside this summer.

Domestically Speaking

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Hydrangeas ~ Southern California Style

Scott and I have always been cheap frugal, and our wedding was no exception. 
We were married in July of 2000 in this garden (no decorating budget required) 
and we used potted hydrangeas as table centerpieces.

Skip ahead almost eleven years and here is one of those little lovelies now:

It's beautiful when it's blooming, but I kind of love it just before the buds open.

Over the years I've collected other hydrangeas and, through trial and error, 
I've figured out how to keep them thriving through the Southern California summer.

 I've discovered that my hydrangeas do well in full shade. 
They love this north-facing side of my house, under the eaves where it's shady all day long.

Full disclosure: this is what hydrangeas look like in the winter. 
You really have to embrace the cycle of the seasons. 
Personally, I love to see the dramatic transformation from rotten sticks to lush abundance.

In January I clean up my skeletal hydrangeas and prune off any dead or unwanted twigs.
Don't prune them too hard or you'll get rid of all the little buds. 
Hydrangeas bloom on old wood.

I picked up this "shooting star" hydrangea at Trader Joe's a few years ago.

These variegated lace-cap hydrangeas were a Mother's Day gift a while back.

In the spring I water them every few days, but in the summer they need a drink daily.
 I've found that they all do well through the summer as long as they remain shaded. 
Even direct morning sun will leave them scorched.

Ahhh . . . summertime.
It's almost here!

Monday, May 23, 2011

May Mantle

Elements of design I'm loving lately . . .


{wood tones, the patina of age, touches of gold}


{plants, uncluttered spaces, shades of green}




{a few significant things}

The Lettered Cottage

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hanging Lantern ~ Turquoise is the New Neutral

 Well, it took a week, two electricians, two blown dimmer switches, 
two trips to Lowe's and quite a bit of puzzled head-scratching.

(Such is life when your house is almost 100 years old 
and your wiring has been improvised by many owners.)

But, my flea market find lantern now hangs happily above the dining room table.

I think I like how the antique brass patina blends with
the wall color . . . turquoise is the new neutral, right?

I think I like how the glass reflects light
and keeps the lantern from being too visually heavy.

Yep, I think I like it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

66 Words

For the last year and a half my church has been studying the book of Isaiah. 
We've traced redemptive history as God pleads with his rebellious people, 
disciplines them in their sin, foretells of his ultimate mercy and judgment 
and gives glimpses of the coming Messiah--

the suffering servant, 
the man of sorrows, 
the conquering king, 
and the glorious redeemer.

As we've neared the end of Isaiah, artists and creative types were invited to participate in a project
called 66 Words--an art show featuring one artistic work for each of the 66 books of Isaiah. 
Each work is entitled with just one word taken from the passage it represents. 

The end result, we hope, is an evening that encourages reflection on the preaching and teaching we've received over the last year and a half, and an opportunity to view the varied interpretations of each chapter--literal, symbolic, abstract, realistic--oil, watercolor, collage, sculpture, and on.

The Isaiah in 66 Words project offered me three specific challenges:

First, the risk of creating something worth showing to others as "art." 

Second, the chance to rediscover oil painting and to grow in my technical ability. 

And third, the difficult task of studying a passage of scripture 
and somehow representing something about it in a way that points to truth 
and doesn't trivialize the word of God.

I was randomly assigned Isaiah 9
A passage often quoted at Christmastime, it forms the text of some of Handel's Messiah, 
For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
   and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 And it's the prophecy quoted in Matthew 4:12-16 at the beginning of Jesus's earthly ministry,

Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”

In my artistic sensibilities I gravitate toward simple, realistic representation,
but as I reflected on this messianic passage I definitely wanted to suggest meaning
and not attempt to narrate the passage in literal images.  

In the ESV verse one reads,
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. 
In the former time he brought into contempt 
the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, 
but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, 
the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
After studying and re-reading several times, the phrase 

". . . he has made glorious the way of the sea." 

began to stand out.

This phrase refers to a literal place and yet that place and the phrase itself 
are suggestive of so much that is at the heart of redemptive history...

                                 The way of the sea is Galilee.

                                                     God has made a way for his people and for the nations.

                                                                          The way is Jesus.

                                                                  Jesus is glorious.

                                                         God's redemption of his people is glorious.


So my painting depicts a land and a way, close to the sea.

 I hope the image gestures toward the glorious way 
that God has made for those whom he has redeemed.


The art show and orchestral concert celebrating and reflecting on Isaiah
take place here on Sunday, May 22nd.
Click the link for details.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mission in Oil

Recently I've been rediscovering oil painting. 
It's been fifteen years since my brief introduction to oil painting in an art class in college. 
Last month I pried the caps off those old tubes of paint and started experimenting. 
And it has been so much fun!  

During a recent visit to Santa Barbara I snapped some pictures for painting inspiration. 
My mom and I walked (as we often do) up to the Mission, whose recognizable facade is usually viewed from this vantage point from the beautiful rose gardens at the foot of a wide lawn in front of the Mission.


  I've found that photos that are less beautiful--less picturesque--and less busy--
tend to work better for artistic inspiration for me.  
I think I feel more free to interpret when the original image is not something 
I'm trying to re-create in all of its photo-perfect detail. 

So I walked down into the overgrown field to the side of the lovely gardens 
and captured this glimpse of the familiar landmark:

And here's my interpretation:

The Santa Barbara Mission in Oil:

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