At the end of May we took a vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Smokey Mountains are so beautiful and the atmosphere was very restful. Gatlinburg has always been known for it's Arts and Crafts community, but sadly this community is starting to dwindle down. Only the most dedicated artists and crafts people still remain. We toured the shops and studios of a variety of artists, from a man that did detailed sculptures (of bears and other animals) using a chain saw, jewelry designers, and artists working on canvas paintings (while we looked on and asked questions). It was nice for me to be able to observe other artists at work and to talk shop, although I'm sure my family was a little bored. If you are looking for a restful vacation spot, then consider the Smokies. The blue smokey haze coming off of the mountains in the morning is breathtaking. the scenery in the Smokey Mountain park is beautiful, there's Dollywood in nearby Pigeon Forge and there is great food and the nicest people that I have ever met. It's been tough acclimating from Smokey Mountain time where everything is at a slower pace and no one rushes about, to the DC area where everything is a constant rush and we are driven by the clock.
With all of the rain that we have had lately, my beautifully maintained flower and vegetable gardens have become a haven for weeds. The thistles have over taken my plants, so I have been dodging the rain and attacking the weeds. Sadly my department store "Wellingtons" finally gave out and completely fell apart. I spend so much time in the gardens that I opted for a really good pair of Wellingtons. I ended up with Hunter boots from England and love them (after all they are good enough for Her Majesty). I seriously doubt that Her Majesty wears hers for gardening and mowing the lawn.
While I was in Gatlinburg, we drove to nearby Pigeon Forge, where Brittany and I visited the Dixie Darlings Cross Stitch shop. The shop is large and impressive with lots of floss, silk threads and wool for stitching, and a variety of cloth in various sizes and thread counts. In addition there are numerous kits and rows and rows of cross stitch patterns. I ended up buying the hard to find 14 count Aida cloth in the Haunted color for the Headless Horseman cross stitch pattern. While there I saw some small Laurel Burch kits by Mill Hill. I love Laurel Burch's cats so this was a must have. I started the kit while I was in Gatlinburg and am almost finished. I was able to find one of the companion kits on line so that I can hang them as a pair once finished.
|Laurel Burch Feathered Friends|
So many interesting art instruction books have recently been published. I ended up ordering Art At The Speed of Life (Pam Carriker, not a recently published book), Creating Art At The Speed of Life (Pam Carriker), Mixed Media Portraits with Pam Carriker, Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces (Jane Davenport), and No Excuses Watercolor (Gina Rossi Armfield). I admit it, books are my downfall! Most of these books are in workshop format and I decided to work my way through the lessons at my own pace rather than to try to find time to fit classes into my busy schedule.
At the present, I am working my way through Jane Davenport's book. This book shows how to create beautiful portraits in Jane Davenport's whimsical style. The faces lend themselves to use in art journals and mixed media. Pam Carriker's book focuses on drawing portraits using the face mapping technique. She demonstrates face mapping from a photo.