Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Little Winter Canning

We ran out of barbecue sauce.  Completely.  There was weeping and wailing and sadness.  What can I say?   We like our barbecue sauce.  A lot.

I make the sauce in large batches and a single batch will yield 7-8 pints of sauce.  Enough to last and to give some away [though this year I have been expressly forbidden to give any away.  No Sharing the Sauce, Mom.]

Well.  Okay, then.

I'll share the recipe instead.   Here you go!

Robin's Favorite Barbeque Sauce

7 1/2 cups brown sugar
6 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 rounded tablespoons mustard powder
3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons paprika [smoked paprika is really good, too!]
3 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder  or 1 entire head of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon onion powder  or 2 onions, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

This year I ran out of brown sugar, so I used 3 cups brown sugar and 3 cups of honey instead.  Perfect!  Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you can use about 25% less of it when you're substituting.

Mix all ingredients together in a large pot and bring to boil.   Ladle into clean jars; cover with lids and rings and process for canning.     Makes 7-8 pints of sauce. 

[According to the National Center for Food Preservation, you can process barbecue sauce in pint jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.   There's a link to them in the sidebar in case you want to check altitudes, etc. ]

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Blue Shadows

This is a view of a farm on Highway 157 in Greene County, Indiana.   I love all those white buildings and was so happy we were able to get some pictures this month.   It was high on my list of subjects to paint.

So paint it I did.   This was enormously satisfying.   It only took one draft to get the winter feeling right.   I am looking forward to painting this farm again in different seasons.

Limited palette:  burnt umber, raw umber, cobalt blue, Fr ultramarine blue.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

More Demolition

This is the basement floor, behind the stairs.   Or what's left of that section, anyway.  The tool you see to the right of the green bucket is a rotohammer.   Eric used it to demolish the slab there so that he can pour a footer to hold the columns that will support the next part of the house re-do.

He drilled holes first into the slab to see how deep it was.   If the slab was 10 inches deep, it'd be OK.  The third test hole was only 8 inches and not where we expected it to be shallower.  He drilled a couple more just to see and noticed that the ground felt odd under the holes, so we decided he'd better go ahead and pull it all out.   Because there is nothing more fun than smashing 10 cubic feet of concrete.   Yowza.

Yes, it was a pain, but then we'd never have to wonder or worry if we made a mistake.

We rented the rotohammer and as he crushed the concrete, it went powdery.   Bad sign.   Bad concrete.  We are so lucky that the 3rd hole was weird.   If we'd left it as is and built the columns on top of this slab, there may have been problems later down the road and seriously who wants to deal with that after all the weight is on it?  Not. Us.

Turns out that the slab was indeed only about 4 inches deep, but poured over a bed of field stones.   Some of those babies were pretty big.  And it would never have been solid enough to support the beams.  This was really hard work, but worth it in the end.   Better a couple extra days of hard work than 30 years of watching a crack form under the columns that support your house..

The good news is that part of the demo is done.   He'll have to pretty up the hole and then pour a whole lot of concrete next, but he will be able to use the columns he wanted to use, plus reinforce with rebar, etc. and we will know it's constructed right for the weight it will be supporting.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Frosty Winter Windows

I have been having so much fun doing winter paintings.   A happy accident showed me how I could make 'frost' on the paint so of course I had to do a bunch of frosty winter windows.

I've done a limited edition series of these winter windows.   Each is an original watercolor with the same composition and palette. Initialed in ink on the front and signed on the back.  Matted and framed.   Framed size is 10 x 8 inches.   $75.

If you're interested in purchasing one, please email me.

...and if you're wanting a little something on that window sill, check out my other one below.

Right now our window sills are full of forcing vases with green shoots [and a couple of early blooming hyacyinths.]  So I thought I'd do a few paintings with a forcing vase in front of that frosty window.

I've done a limited edition series of this composition also.  Each is an original watercolor with this same composition and palette.  Initialed in ink on the front and signed on the back.  Matted and framed.   Framed size is 10 x 8 inches.   $75.

If you're interested in purchasing one, please email me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Violet and Orange

Last time I painted these tanks in a limited palette of cobalt, burnt sienna, raw umber and Fr. ultramarine blue.  

It was nice.   Quiet.

This time, I wanted to do a portrait orientation, focus more on the tanks in front of the silos and I wanted to punch up the color.

So I used diox violet, Mission's burnt sienna [which they say is more like a quin gold  deep], quin burnt orange and some cerulean.   Heavy on the violet.

This one is not so quiet.

Painting it made me really happy.   I totally channeled Wolf Khan the whole time.   [Seriously, that guy is A.May.Zing.]  I'll be doing more experiments like these.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Waiting for Spring

A couple of weeks ago, Eric and I took a drive to take some pics of the farms around here.  It's a good time of year because the snow lit everything up and the leaves are all down, so I can get pics of stuff that might be hidden the rest of the year.

I was targeting white houses and farm buildings.   On a road we hadn't driven before, I found a farm with all these silos and tanks out front.   I loved all the round shapes and it was the first painting I did with the new reference photos.

It felt great to paint this limited palette scene after working so hard on the Mardi Gras painting.

As always, I started with a rough draft to get shapes lines and colors.   This was my second attempt.   I called it good enough.   Next I want to do a close up of the tanks in front.   In some new colors.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bee Check In

I checked on the bees this week, while the weather was warm.   All 4 hives are doing fine.


Here's a pic of the cluster in #4 under the quilt box, eating away at the sugar.  They're really happy!

I have to give credit to Rusty, from HoneybeeSuite, who gave me the idea for the quilt boxes because I really think that's what's making the difference this year [and last].  

Only one of the hives had a moisture issue in the quilt and that was because I had forgotten to put shims between the quilt box and the next lid up.   The cedar chips in that box were pretty wet, as was the denim liner under the chips.

I added the shims and all should be fine now.   The bees inside were doing OK anyway.  This week the weather will be warm and I'll check the chips in a few days to make sure they're drying out.

Maybe I'll start the spring with 4 hives?  
Maybe I'll get a real harvest this year?
Maybe I've figured out the key to overwintering here?

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


© Robin Edmundson, 'Campfire', watercolor, 9 x 12 inches
If you read my last post, you saw that I had spent the last few weeks struggling with a painting for a Mardi Gras exhibit. I did 10 versions of that painting before I finally got one that would do.

Somewhere around #6 I got really really sick of Mardi Gras, so I rooted around my stack of paper and found a drawing I had done way back in the fall of a campfire scene.

So I painted it.

Notice all the humans!   I was so brave.  They actually look like people, too. [Always a good thing!]

This one is a limited palette study in indigo, raw umber and burnt sienna.  It was so nice to use other colors.  Plus, I adore painting fire and smoke.  I had a lot of fun with this one and once I was done I was ready to tackle Mardi Gras again.

Up next:  A series of winter farms and white houses.  I thought I'd take advantage of winter light and muted colors while they're here.  More limited palettes, but spring will come soon enough and then I can use all the colors again.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Girl Dancing, Mardi Gras

© Robin Edmundson, 'Girl dancing, Mardi Gras', watercolor, 10 x 8 inches
For several weeks, I've been working on a painting for a Mardi Gras exhibit in February in Bloomington, Indiana.   We could paint anything having remotely to do with Mardi Gras.  

I like a challenge and decided that as much as I love painting barns, I would do something more traditionally Mardi Gras-y. You know,  New Orleans, King's cakes, parades, confetti, masks, purple/gold/green, etc.   I did a few pinterest searches for inspiration and did a few sketches and then decided I should put actual humans in the painting, too.

Then human-s became one human.   And then she decided to dance.   In the meantime I painted nine whole studies.  Nine.  Niiiiiiine.

After #7 I realized that I was basically painting the same thing over and over and over.


So I really reached and painted #8 and #9 with different colors and light.   It. Was. Awesome.  And I realized a bunch of stuff.  Mostly I realized that my original colors were, in fact, the right ones, but I needed to treat them differently.  Soooo - I did a very nice drawing and held my breath and painted #10.   And it worked.  It's not a masterpiece, but it's done.  This painting will work very nicely for the show.

The Mardi Gras show will be at The Vault on 6th St. beginning Feb 3 through March 29, 2017 in conjuction with the Week of Chocolate.  There will be an opening on Feb 3, coordinated with the First Friday art scene in downtown Bloomington every month.   I hope you can come see it.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Door Where Once There Wasn't

Lest you thought we had stopped all work on the house, I am here to reassure you that not a single picture frame in this house is level due to the continuous sawing and pounding happening still.

Seriously.   Not one stinking picture frame stays level for more than a day.   I'd blame it on the traffic, but...there is no traffic here.

Actually, there was a traffic jam once, a long time ago.  In the winter.   When, within a few minutes of each other, the gas truck and the school bus both went off the road on the hill just past us.  It stopped traffic for hours.  People still talk about it and it's been like 30 years ago.

At any rate, one of our current house projects is the moving of some doorways for...reasons.   Briefly:  We had to cut a new door from the area outside the bathroom to the living room, which used to be our bedroom so we could seal up the old door from the little hall in front of the basement stairs to the living room [which used to be our bedroom].  We'll be putting structural stuff in that hallway [that's the short version.]  Then we [and by 'we' I hope you know I mean Eric] sealed up the door that used to go from the the bedroom/livingroom to the hallway outside the basement stairs and sealed up the door that used to go from the little hallway in front of the basement stairs into the dining room, so we could move my desk in front of there so we could cut a big door where the pass-through used to be from the hallway in front of the up stairs and front door into the dining room.

I know.   It's ridiculously confusing.   The girls will be home in a little while and they'll probably get lost trying to get from the hallway into the living room.   At any rate, we can get to every room and we can also get outside.

There have been a few surprises as Eric cut into the walls - there always are with this place.   We found an old doorway in one of the walls where no doorway had any business being and for the life of us we can't figure out why it was there.  Maybe that's why they boarded it up?   We also found an electric line that had no business being there.   Not to worry, it was discovered and moved without incident.

And not coming back.
There is less dust behind the desk because we moved it and everything on and around it and the law is that if it's moved, it is cleaned, but there is more dust on the desk because sawing.   As soon as I'm done with this post, I'll be dusting.  Again.

By far the most exciting part was when Eric was taking off the last little bit in the middle left there [see last pic] and everything on the walls and desk started dancing right off whatever surface they were on.  Never a dull moment here.

The pics are of the new doorway where the old pass-through used to be just inside the front door.   Pretty nifty.

In case you were wondering, these are not where the doors will be going in the end.  They're just temporary solutions until we get more other stuff done and the old structure ripped out completely.

Also, sawzalls are the Best. Things. Ever.

I'm going to go dust now.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Geese Flying

© Robin Edmundson, 'Geese flying', watercolor on paper, 9 x 12 inches
It's true that Indiana's winter colors aren't much to get excited about, but they sure are moody.

The other day I was travelling north near the White and Eel rivers and I was lucky enough to see thousands of geese going further south.

I love seeing the birds fly and I love seeing them in number even more.   My timing was almost perfect for their morning push south toward Goose Pond in Greene County, Indiana.

Goose Pond is a huge staging area for the Midwest flyways. It's one of my favorite places.

From the car, I could see dozens of groups of birds flying in loose formations all over the sky.   It was lovely against the blue and beige clouds with the blue and beige fields. The air was so misty that everything at any distance was indistinct except all those birds.   I couldn't wait to get it on paper.

9 x 12 inches
Arches 140 cp paper
Colors:  Ochre, indigo, bt sienna, bt umber, raw umber

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Color Workshop at MoonTree Studios

I've gotten requests lately about what classes I might be teaching this year.  I'm excited to announce that I'll be doing a Color Experience at MoonTree Studios in Plymouth, Indiana.  Friday-Sunday, April 21-23, 2017; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EDT    [Note:  The facebook announcement reads CDT, because fb insists that Plymouth is in the central time zone. They're wrong.  Erg.]

If you've been waiting for a chance to learn some color theory, and then have the time really run with it, this is your chance.   We'll do a half day class on Color to jump start you, then you'll have 2 1/2 days to explore color in your own direction.   I'll be there to cheer you on, help with more color theory, brainstorm, bounce ideas off of, etc.   It'll be a small-ish group between 6-8 folks in any area of art or fiber art. $320 for the three days [$290 if you're a member of MoonTree Studios]

Here's the link to the class:  Color Experience at MoonTree

Here's the plan for the class:

Participants will enjoy the luxury of time: three days to explore color, color harmonies, and color interactions in their medium of choice--all disciplines of fiber and visual arts are encouraged to attend.The diversity of participants and media will provide inspiration to others’ color explorations.Beginning with a formal presentation of Color Theory and Color Harmonies, we’ll subsequently split off to begin our own explorations of color in our medium of focus. Robin will provide knowledge and support all along the way. We conclude each day with a show and tell to look at what others are doing with other media, share progress, ask questions, share frustrations, and brainstorm. You’ll be encouraged to experiment and explore things you haven’t tried before, and explorations will be flexible enough to allow for change in direction if desired. Our emphasis is on the color exploration, not on completing a set of products by the end of the experience. (For example explorations and materials list, see their website - link above.)

I am really excited.  This is a class I've wanted to do for a long time, but the timing was never right.  When MoonTree approached me last year to talk about possibilities, I realized this was my chance to do this class.  

Here are some examples of things you might do:
  • Weaver: Explore color by weaving a color gamp, then weaving a set of multicolored towels, each with a different weft. 
  • Spinner: Explore color by playing with carded batts and singles, then explore color and plying.
  • Dyer: Explore color by dyeing warps or skeins in different color harmonies.
  • Painter: Explore color by doing a set of sample cards mixing your favorite pigments [for example a series of Greens cards each with a single blue and a line for each of your yellows].   OR  Paint the same simple scene in different lights or with different palettes.
  • Knitter: Explore color in intarsia.  Do a simple motif in different colors
  • Jewelry maker: Explore the same designs with different color harmonies.
  • Scrapbooker/Papercrafter: Explore color by doing a series of layouts or greeting cards in different color harmonies.
  • Quilter: Explore color by using the same color harmony in Light, Medium and Dark in different pieced motifs for a quilt top.
  • General color exploration: Explore color by making a color notebook with clippings of colors/magazines/fibers or samples [painted, knitted, etc.] organized into color harmonies in a dedicated notebook.   Get to know your color wheel.  Complete the Munsell Student Color set pages - this alone will teach you more about color than 10 classes.

Email me if you  have questions - I'm happy to talk you through your plan for the weekend.  robin at morenna dot com.

Please come join us!   It's going to be So. Much. Fun.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!    Thanks for hanging out at my blog and for commenting on my fb posts, etc.   I love talking to you and hearing what you've been up to.

As many of you know, I do not do New Year's Resolutions.   I never, ever wait until January to set a goal or start something new....except a calendar.

Over the past few years, I've spent a lot of time looking for a calendar/planner that would meet my needs.

And the truth is, I've been a bit jealous of my sister, who is a Planner Genius.  Art Journals.  Hers are so beautiful.   And organized.  And beautiful.   And colorful.  And creative.   And beautiful.  

Mine....not so much.   And mine end up mostly un-used.

After some false starts over the years, I finally figured out this year that what I need is NOT a daily/weekly calendar.  

I think in big pictures.  Daily/weekly was keeping me bogged down in too many little details.   I need a yearly/monthly calendar and places to keep notes on the things I'm focusing on right now.  That helps me integrate the big pictures of the things I'm working on right now.
SO - I got this Avery Mini binder with the calendar insert, gave the weekly/daily stuff away and added a ton of extra dividers and note paper.

I. Love. It.

It has places to tuck notes/lists, etc.   It has a divider for every major thing I'm working on and mini sections [demarcated by those little post-its] so I can see those thing at a glance.  

I use post-its for reminders.  I color coded some things so I can find them easily on the monthly calendars.   I use the year-at-a-glance to keep track of big things like marketing cycles, annually repeating business projects, deadlines, etc.   I use the notes sections for all the research and notes I take for business, before deciding on products, tools, etc.

2017 is going to be a big year for me.   I feel better prepared already....

Friday, December 30, 2016

Snowstorm Coming

© Robin Edmundson, 'Snowstorm Coming', watercolor, 12 x 9 inches
Winter clouds have become a topic of dinner conversation around here as well as the subject of many photos emailed from job sites, highways, vacations, etc.    It's been fun.

What has been slightly less fun is mastering how to capture some of that atmosphere on paper.  The painting here was the 13th effort in 3 days.

I painted them dry.  I painted them wet.  I painted them wet and dry.  I painted them right side up and then upside down and then right side up again.   I painted with 3 different blues and 2 browns.  Big brushes.  Bigger brushes.  My regular brushes.  Fronts of papers, then backs of papers. I have a freakishly tall pile of winter cloud rejects in the studio right now.

But finally, this one worked.  I'd like to say it's because I finally figured out how to paint clouds, but I'd have to paint them 'right' every day for a month before I'd be willing to say I'd figured it out.

I'll keep practicing and they'll get easier - or at least take fewer drafts to get there.  In the meantime, I like these clouds.  I'm loving the snow specks on the barn.   And the footprints.   And the human.   [Big risk, putting that human in there.   It was the last thing I did.]

140lb cp paper, Arches
12 x 9 inches
colors:  indigo, WN burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber
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