Progress with Oil on Water

I’ll get to Oil on Water shortly….but first, my little project using batik. After an exciting (to me) start….I became discouraged with it and set it aside for a time. But needing something to hook on at Sunshine meetings (I can hardly carry Oil on Water to my frame, let alone haul it across the parking lot and up the elevator to where we meet), I brought the batik along and set to work. With some wise advice from Jean on how to correct the nose, I’ve been enjoying this experience with a new fibre (for me). DSCN0911.jpgWhile Jennifer Manuel ….of Fisheye Sisters (who sells the batik strips) uses the strips as is, I have found them too wide, so I’ve been cutting each one in half, and I find that much more manageable.

Another exciting event happened recently when I received a huge box of wool and various other goodies in an “ugly wool swap”. Just in case you may not know what that is….a box is started out full of one person’s “ugly wool” and is sent in turn to each participant. As it arrives, you take anything that appeals to you and replace it with a like amount of your own “ugly wool”. My goodness, it was like Christmas. I particularly had my eye out for wool which I could overdye for the background of Oil On Water.

dscn0879This huge piece of wool seemed perfect.dscn0883I soaked it (this is just half of the piece which was nearly 2 yards)dscn0887…….used  three pro chem blues…navy, brilliant blue, and national blue. 1/2 of the navy went in the dye bath, the wool was added, then the rest spotted over the top.dscn0922One piece I stirred to create a more consistent colour, the other I left purposely blotchy. (the wool is actually quite a bit darker than it appears in the photo)

Here’s my pile of “soon to be background wool” still awaiting the dye pots.dscn0930Most of it is other wool from the swap box, and the solid blue and green are from the wool Mary Lou Justason was selling from her stash at R..U.G. to raise money for the Hooked Rug Museum of North America.

As for the progress on “Oil On Water”….I’ve spent a lot of time working with the design trying to leave  it asymmetrical  but still making sure it is balanced.dscn0896On the right…I want the “flame” motif to swing down and around in a more or less continuous sweep….so I drew this….dscn0902-1…..but I’m thinking the turn from sideways to vertical is too abrupt….on the other hand I think I can tie them together with a swirling  shape much like the one on the top. The jury is still out on that decision…..so I’ve moved on to the left side for the moment.dscn0913The left top has long sweeping “stripes in a bit lighter blue than the background.

The bottom looked like this…(sorry for the huge long photo….I couldn’t get it to crop in half)dscn0894-1….so I decided to extend the little “nubbies” and create stripes similar to the top.dscn0903

My first attempt was wobbly at the top, and too fat…..so I re-drew the sweep smoothly to balance with the top.dscn0912-2….and used a lighter blue once again to create the subtle stripe….dscn0916-1…. (which shows up dark here).

If I can’t make up my mind about the bottom flames I’ll hook plain background for a few days while I ponder a decision.

As you can imagine….this piece has become progressively heavier and heavier. Since my creative juices demand that I have the whole piece available to look at, and clamping it to the top of the closet had become a two man job while I stand teetering on a chair…..Ray has made me a hoist!

He used a piece of 1″ x 4″, put a hook at the top of the closet on the wall , and a cleat further down the wall at the side  to secure it….DSCN0900.jpg

….so that I can attach it with clips at waist level then pull it up…dscn0901…I must admit it makes getting to the clothes in the closet a bit of a nuisance…..but it is oh so much easier to hang and I can dream away about how to progress while looking at the entire rug.DSCN0919.jpgNow off to hook some more background.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Inspiration

While I’ve been waiting for the “hooking bug” to attack me again, I’ve been enjoying the work of others even more than usual.  What a treat when I received an email from my friend Jean who has just returned from attending the Green Mountain School at Montpelier Vermont. (That excursion is on my bucket list.)

I admire many people in the Rug Hooking community, but two of my absolute favourites were teaching this year at Green Mountain. …..Donna Hrkman and Jon Ciemiewitz.

I have never seen a rug hooked by Donna Hrkman that didn’t take my breath away.

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Her attention to detail and colour is wonderful, and  her subject matter is always arresting. What memories are being recalled as this veteran clutches the flag?IMG_3789

Donna’s two steam punk pieces both have the same general topic with very different outcomes and emphases. The neutral colour palette of the lower one highlights the mechanical aspects, while the vibrant colours of the other, make it almost a game to search for them within the work.

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….and aren’t those lace cuffs exquisite?

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This is not one of her works that I have seen before, and for some reason, I can’t make it larger.

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This powerful portrait should inspire me in my own neutral palette.

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This Aldzheimer’s piece has a profound effect on me every time I see it. Having watched the suffering of both my mother and mother-in-law due to this awful condition, I tear up every time I see it. The touching and sensitive way she has depicted the various cognitive abilities leaving the mind is simply genius….leaving the soul noble.

I couldn’t believe it when Jean told me Jon Ciemiewitz was also teaching at Green Mountain…..how lucky could she be! I have always heard such wonderful reports of him as a teacher, and who could not fall in love with his work.

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His use of light in that  rhino piece makes it almost photographic.

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….and here is the man himself

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….and here is lucky Jean with him.

Jean also included photos of some  beautiful antique  rugs which are on display at a gallery in Shelburne Vermont..IMG_3998

….can’t you just imagine the hooker mixing those two browns because there wasn’t enough of either one.IMG_3996IMG_4002IMG_4001IMG_3999

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I am amazed at how the reds have remained so vivid in this rug.IMG_4010

….such Christmas joy and chaos.

Thanks Jean for the pictures and the inspiration they have given me. After they arrived, I went and dyed a batch of wool, and I think I’m ready to get back to work in earnest.

…And thanks too to all who stop by and read my musings.

Directional Hooking and Eye Surgery

As I’ve worked on Hijab, I’ve become aware of just how important  directional hooking is when trying to capture the draping of fabric. The hooded section over her head needed care, but when I got to the shoulder, I had to stop and really study the photo to figure out how I could create a realistic effect.  The direction of the hooking had to be combined with the direction of the shading …..which slanted a different way. I took photos of the process so I would have  it for future reference.DSCF6996

The arch needed to gradually flatten out to a straight line at the bottom, while at the same time the dull section on the right needed to be “arrow shaped” DSCF6997

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With the hijab itself completed, I could no longer put off making decisions about the face. After lots of thought, I went back to the first face I ever did…Emma Sue. She was hooked at a wonderful workshop I attended given by Anne Boissonoit several years ago. Emma Sue would be my directional guide.DSCF2137

I printed out a copy of her to have in front of me while I hooked, then forged ahead.

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It soon became apparent however that I had a major problem!!! (I had noticed it before…but ignored it)….The left eye was too far over to the left…..there was too much space between her eyes.DSCF7003

There was nothing for it….the eye had to come out.DSCF7004

I  carefully laid the removed wool out in the order of the eye, and re-drew it (with a red marker) slightly to the right. Then hooked a new eye (adding more black to the top lid and cutting down the iris).

It’s not a huge change, but to me, it makes all the difference. Now to finish the face while I contemplate how to create that wonderful background.DSCF7008

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Winter has arrived in central Ontario. It has been snowing all day today, and is to continue most of the week. The snow boots are out, the snowblower is working, the trees are etched with white, and I’m settling in to enjoy my winter wonderland.

Thanks for stopping by.

Facing It

I’ve just begun “Hijab”.  I began by experimenting with those beautiful reds for the scarf itself. I used one eighth yard pieces and the microwave method to see what I could come up with. I began with the Jewel Tone formula #72, ( which uses prochem red, bright red, forest green and brown) then reversed the amounts of red and bright red to create a brighter version….then added some mustard to the third version  to get some yellow highlights.  (I always have to remind myself to record the variations as I go along so that I can reproduce the colours if necessary…I tend to just enjoy the process of experimenting )

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I put 1/2 of the solution in the hot water, and pour the other half over the top with minimal stirring. I added the mustard by itself in a separate step.  (These three were each done separately) Then pop it into the microwave for about 5 minutes (checking half way through).  If I choose to do larger pieces, I’lI do them on top of the stove and simmer for an hour, but for experimenting with small pieces, the microwave method is fast and easy.

I always start faces with the eyes, and it always surprises me how they come to life so quickly.

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My first attempt at the nose line gave her a “hooked, witchy look”. DSCF6952

So that’s been straightened and now I’m playing with various colours to create the highlights and shadowed areas of her face.

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I still haven’t decided if I’ll dye wool to do this and have it closely related, or use leftovers and have a wider variation in the colours.

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In the meantime, I already feel as if she’s watching me.

I still haven’t finished the hooking on the background of the Graffitti, but I’ve convinced myself that I need to save that for hooking on Tuesdays with the Sunshine hookers. Hijab requires concentration and wouldn’t go well with conversation and visiting. (Aren’t I clever to have such a good reason not to hook the boring stuff and hook the fun stuff instead?)

Thanks for stopping by.

My Path of Creativity

My creative process is like a path leading to……I don’t know where.  It generally starts with a vague recollection of something I have seen and admired and wished I had hooked. This time it was a head shot of an exotic person…I remember a few that have taken my breath away, and I wanted to try something similar. My search for inspiration began.

Who could be more inspiring than Malala Yousafzai.

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I loved the colour of the sari, and those eyes are so arresting.  With Ray’s help, I “gridded” the picture so that I could draw it 3 times larger for hooking 20″ x 28″.

But then for some reason, the idea of mystery and perhaps feminine subjucation became important, so I searched further, and came up with this .

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What a wonderful background as well. Once again Ray drew a grid for me so that I could draw it to the size 18″ x 24″

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I put the photo in “Be Funky” editing program and using the ‘underpainting’ option, and now have this photo to use as a reference as I hook.

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I can’t wait to get started….lots of dyeing in my immediate future….that rich vibrant red…..how to achieve that striking aura, and the delicious background.

Then the idea of a series ” women from around the world” came to me when I stumbled on this photo and immediately fell in love with it. A totally different style and idea, but it really speaks to me as well, and I plan to hook it in some adapted form.

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I’ve been browsing photos of Chinese wedding headdresses and the costumes of women in Brittany….the options are endless.    Now if I could just hook 24 hours a day….I’d be set!

The reality is that I still haven’t quite finished the background of the grafitti.

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….and although I’ve steamed the padded binding of Signa Meus Vita, I still have to sew on the tabs (they are just pinned on in the photo.

DSCF6937…..and oh my!!! if you could see my work area! A major tidy and organization of all the wool scattered about is an absolute necessity before I start anything!

As the cold weather arrives, I always experience a “nesting” instinct, where I love the cosy refuge of home. The trees have passed their prime (although there’s still lots of colour to be seen) and we have had frost (although not yet a killing frost) so I am preparing to “snuggle in” and enjoy the delights of the upcoming winter.

An Unusual Guest

Tuesday we had our second work day to prepare items for sale and/or display at  the ploughing match this fall. Along with all the Sunshine Hookers, we had an extra guest present.

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Yes, it’s Sir John A. MacDonald himself! Isn’t he wonderful!. I’m not sure who had the idea to create him….I strongly suspect it was Linda Wilson. Luise Bishop hooked his head, and Linda and some others (sorry I should have found out exactly who) searched out the clothing and created the body. He is so life like it is eerie!. I kept looking over to the table to see who was sitting there. He will be appearing at a variety of events in the near future, including R.U.G., The Ploughing Match, the annual, and of course will play a large role in his own  200th birthday celebration next January. (Just a reminder for non- Canadians…Sir John A. MacDonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada)

He was created using this picture:

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My version of him is when he was older, and being a cartoon isn’t very flattering

His presence no doubt stirred us all on and here are pictures of the work being done for the ploughing match. Most are trivets, or mug rugs….although there are also many other items as well, which I’ll show in the next post.

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Linda’s cow makes me smile! DSCF6230

 

She is just now adding the warts to these beautiful pumpkins.DSCF6231

Liz has made trivets on a variety of subjects.

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I’d like a blue teapot like that!

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Jeanne is creating beautiful day lilies. She decided to “square out” the round corners.

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Edie is making this colourful maple leaf with some of her left over worms. She too has squared the corners.DSCF6237

Fiona’s cat is in the style of a particular person? artist? toy? (which she told me) and I have now totally forgotten. Sorry Fiona!DSCF6238

Diane is making a variety of geometric trivets and mug rugs.DSCF6239

This little cat is going to be so cute.

 

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I love the colours of the background for this sheep.DSCF6242

A colourful fall pumpkin in the works here.DSCF6243

Red abstract….love it….by Helen.DSCF6244

Helen’s spiral is now finished….great fall colours.

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Teresa has made 6 colourful  mug mats and has them ready to go in groups of 2.DSCF6248

This tractor hooked by Karen is the perfect trivet for a plowing match!

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I think this rooster is trying to wake someone up!

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I love the outline style of all three of Karen’s pieces…so simple and effective.

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Gail is doing a series of sunflower mug rugs. They will make a wonderful set.

I’ll save the rest for my next post, plus tell you about my struggles doing the script on My Sir John piece.

Yeah!!! It’s finally above freezing during the day. Still below freezing at night, so the maple syrup is running, and apparently will be a great harvest this year. Yum yum…pancakes coming up.

 

 

Hairy Chores

I spent the weekend with one “hairy” chore and expect to spend the week ahead with another one.

Hooking Sir John’s untidy mop was both fun and a challenge. I used the original cartoon as a general guide, then went my own way. The challenge was to get the movement, and yet not have it look stripy. to have some “clumps” but have them still look like hair.

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I put very little detail into the pattern of the hair  when I drew it….just a general outline as a guide, and I began blindly by hooking a few black lines.

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….then adding a variety of greys. I found that even a #2 cut black was very strong, so on the left side I changed the black out for a dark grey

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Before starting the right side, I drew in some extra detail , then started with the black lines, and filled in the rest.

I used quite a variety of greys to get the effect of the hair.

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Along with a bit of white, these are the wools I used. ( note…the wool 2nd and 4th from the left is all one piece, and I didn’t use the section that has a greenish cast.  Another chore was to select greys of the same tone)

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Done….with the exception of changing the black at the bottom of the left side. It sticks out, so I’ll redo those lines in a finer cut of dark grey. (I think they must be #3 not #2).

Now my subject for the second hairy chore won’t likely be quite so cooperative!

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Under all this mess is a standard schnauzer. Poor Baxter. I haven’t groomed him all winter. He’s 12 years old now and beginning to feel the cold, so I decided to let his coat get long. I strip his coat by hand, so we have many hours ahead on the grooming table. Not terrific  fun for either of us, but I’m sure there is a handsome dog somewhere under all that hair, and I’m determined to find him!

Creating a Bottle of Hootch

One of the things that most caught my fancy when I first saw this cartoon, was the bottle of “hootch” tucked in Sir John’s pocket. What a funny tribute to his known proclivity for a “wee dram”. …..but I am ahead of myself…..I was working on his face, and then began his hair…I think the most difficult part so far….to get the shape the colours and the messiness all at the same time.DSCF6150

As I went along, I changed his ear lobes (which still aren’t right), and softened his hairline at the forehead (which I do like), then I sketched in more detail as a guide for the hair on the right.

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Then typically, I decided to try something new, and wondered if I could hook the bottle of whiskey.

In my initial efforts at hooking his jacket, I had hooked the open pocket flaps at the edges of the bottle.

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When I decided to hook the bottle, I immediately realized that this was backwards. The bottle needed to be hooked first, then the pocket worked around it. So that little piece of messy hooking came out.

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Then using a #2 cut and a variety of greys, I tackled the bottle.

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It’s surprising how long it took to hook this little bottle, and there was quite a bit of tweaking    and adding little touches here and there (there is more colour variety than shows up in this photo). When I was satisfied, I then added the pocket flaps back in,DSCF6161

While I was in the area, I went on to hook the cuffs of both the jacket and the shirt.  (his hand is another item which will require extensive renovation so it looks a bit more life-like)….but that’s another day’s project.

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Today ,March 13th ,winter returned with a vengeance. The only good part being that the old dirty snow is once again covered in a blanket of pristine white. A good day for hooking.

Sir John on the Go

I’m surprised at how much fun I’m having hooking with mainly #3 and #2 cuts. I’ve never before used a #2 and it’s been years since I’ve hooked anything entirely in a #3.

I started with the jacket, just hooking blobs as I saw them.DSCF6124

I’m using black, a grey tweed, and a grey cashmere. It’s amazing the colour variations you can see when you really, really look.

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…A case in point is the oval pin in his cravat. When I first looked, it seemed white, so I hooked it this way.  Then I realized it didn’t look right, so I looked VERY closely, and then rehooked it this way.

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Much better. Of course I have to jump all over the place (no patience), so I tried working on his face, beginning with his lips. (I normally start a face with the eyes, but decided not to this time).

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Sometimes when you hook what you see, it isn’t just right, so I adjusted the top lip.

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I gradually worked my way upward, and then tackled the right eye. This black and white version doesn’t allow me to follow any of the steps I have learned for hooking eyes, so it was truly trial and error.

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I probably should have gone right on to the eye on the left while I was on a roll, but I took a break and went instead to the cravat.  DSCF5978

As you can see, it has very prominent white ovals on a black background, and I searched and searched looking for a wool I though might give me that effect. Then I remembered a wonderful black and  white two coloured border Jean had hooked as the outline in her Holstein cow hot pad, and thought perhaps that might work.

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It gets rather messy on the back as you alternate a white then a black loop, and the ends need to stay at the back, but as this will always hang on a wall, it doesn’t really matter, and I got the effect I was after.

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I’m stalled at this point while I dye some more black wool . I’m going to overdye some dark plum cashmere with black and bottle green, and hopefully I’ll get to that later today.

In the meantime, I’ve been having fun using brightly coloured worms to hook the Klimt motif hot pads. Again, I’m jumping around from one to the other.

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This afternoon, I’m off to the opening of the International Women’s Day Art Show at the Orillia Museum of Art and History.  I’ll check on how Emma Sue is holding up under the scrutiny!

My “Sisters” Portrait

When I went to the photo mat workshop two weeks ago, I had chosen two possible pictures to do.

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…this one….which I thought was probably the best photo, but the colours weren’t interesting.

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…and this one …which has better composition (Wendy told me that).

I decided on the second,…and got to work. I found it both rewarding and frustrating. …rewarding as I saw my sister’s face start to develop….and frustrating  trying to capture myself, and figure out how to do the background.

After trying different versions of the waitress in the upper left, I finally decided that the background bore no importance or interest in the photo and eliminated it altogether. Then came the dilemma of how to hook it.

I gathered a variety of colours, and draped them around the hooking, finally choosing to make a half frame with a small piece of dip dyed wool pink to grey, then filling in the rest. I tried the mottled pink first , but eventually took that out leaving it only as the outline around my head, and I used a spot dye and squiggles to fill in the rest.

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….here is my first finished version. I like the background….not happy with my face…nose off centre, chin too broad and lopsided, eyes still too wide, (although at this point I’d already reduced them once)

So I spent Saturday evening reworking the eyes, lips, nose and chin. DSCF5093

I extended the shadow above the right eye,  added a small strip below each eye to reduce the size, made the smile wider and the upper lip smaller, reworked the teeth, reduced the nose and centered it better, and trimmed down the chin. Did I mention that I reverse hooked the teeth? That way they sink into the mouth….a neat little trick. (not original of course….someone else at the course was reverse hooking for a special effect…I think it was Linda Wilson….and it suddenly dawned on me that it might be a great way to make the teeth more realistic…..sometimes it pays to snoop at what your neighbours are doing )

I’m still not thrilled with my face, but I think at this point it’s the best I can do with my present skills. I’m really interested in increasing my abilities in “wide” cut painterly style portraits. (well not exactly “wide” this is a 6 cut) …..and I’m looking forward to tackling another one.

HOWEVER….that’s not what I plan to do next. I’m preparing to venture into the world of primitives….for the first time.  I’ll tell you all about my plans in the next post.

Thanks for stopping by.