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    Coffee Shop Mandalas

    "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.
    Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
    ~Sun Tzu

    5x8" drawing moleskine, pitt pen

    lighter pages, looser style, drawn in a coffee shop just before carpool in May


    Art on the Walls

    "Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out."
    ~ Martin Scorsese

    Do you want to know what drives me bonkers? None of the colorful art on our walls hints to the fact that I'm into creating art. The walls seem so permanent, and I can't seem to narrow down what to put up, where to put it, how large to frame it... Amy talked about this in a Creative Mom Podcast (I think it was Episode #139) and I could so relate to it.

    What of your art or photography is on display in your home?

    Does your home decor represent who you are?



    Summer Bread

    "The power of accurate observation
    is often called cynicism
    by those who have not got it."
    ~George Bernard Shaw

    the sourdough starter will ferment for 3-5 days

    electronic intervention

    bolillo dough, ready for the oven

    bolillos, hot out of the oven, yummy

    The bread making has begun. I love to bake in the summer, when we're not tied to calendars or clocks. Finished: chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter chip cookies, blueberry muffins, sourdough starter (to make sourdough bread later this week) and bolillos (mexican hard rolls). My elbow/wrists are prone to injury, so I love my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. Love.


    Crayons and Neocolors, Oh My!

    "Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up."
    ~Allen Klein

    We have a shoebox of crayons that sits unused amidst the glamorous art materials. The pastels and neocolors, even the sidewalk chalk yield more interest than the crayons. It's a really big box of crayons, contents of so many boxes graciously given to the children over the years.

    In my never-ending losing battle quest to use these crayons artistically, I found a fun project at The Artful Parent that involves crayons and hot cookie sheets, which lead to several creative experiments! We used the idea as inspiration but went on a tangent. We drew mandalas on tracing paper and melted them.

    my daughter's drawing after melting

    before melting

    I heated two baking sheets to 350 degrees F and took them out of the oven and placed the mandalas on the hot metal. The crayon melted instantly - it gets shiny for a few seconds. But it didn't spread, so it doesn't look much different! They are more translucent in the melted spots, so they could indeed be suncatchers with more crayon work. So I put them in the oven for 5 minutes, same result. 

    my daughter drew swirlies at the end

    my drawing melting in the oven

    before melting

    After taking them out of the oven, my younger daughter *carefully* drew squiggles in blue around my mandala while it sat on the cookie sheet. There's a dreamy flow of melty crayons onto the page, but I'm just not a fan of working with super hot stuff.

    With experiments, I like to refine, add a twist, change a factor, brainstorm how to improve the result...

    Off on another tangent, I wondered how Neocolor II's would react to heat. So I drew two quick and colorful mandalas in Neocolors on watercolor paper.

    One went in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I sprayed it with water every 5 minutes

    my drawing after baking

    action shot: in the oven

    before baking

    The other went out to the back porch to enjoy intense 98 degree sun for an hour. I sprayed it with water after 1/2 hour.

    after sunbathing

    before sunbathing

    Wrap-up... two experiments with great potential and hopes for vivid, melting color... didn't pan out. I might just try spraying the neos with water, without heat. That, my dears, is what experiments are all about. With each experiment, you learn something, you think of new tangents for your experiments, new uses for your art supplies, new tactics.


    Creative Risk

    "Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels;
    it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled."
    ~Michael Crichton

    Question: What's your favorite amusement park ride? Mine - wooden roller coasters!


    Neptune Mandala

    "He could go anyplace he wanted with a sense of purpose. One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around."
    ~ Anne Lamott

    When I draw, I give myself little challenges. More on this in Constraints + Creative Work and Wonderland. The goal here was to start with something other than a circle and see what could develop. I've also been giving negative space some thought, how to make use of it. So these two ideas came together in this quirky mandala. The zig zags look like a corset, don't you think? Didn't have the heart to name it corset!


    Chewy Cookies

    "Live in the sunshine,
    swim the sea,
    drink the wild air."
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Revamped Upgraded my ridiculously FLAT, CRUNCHY Tollhouse cookies to a chewier version using tips from Alton Brown's Good Eats. He altered the beloved tollhouse recipe by changing the ratio of white to brown sugar, deleting an egg white, etc. Interesting logic behind the changes. I used all purpose unbleached flour instead of the bread flour, but otherwise followed the recipe. Super yummy.


    The girls and I made 2 more batches of altered Tollhouse cookies. The first batch, we followed the chewy recipe from Alton Brown's site (linked above) with bread flour. The second batch, we used cake flour and substituted 1.5 tsp baking powder for the baking soda. The cookies made with cake flour were light and thin. Those made with bread flour were PERFECT.

    Here's what I learned about flour: All Purpose flour, Bread Flour and Cake Flour. Growing up in Pennsylvania, we used all purpose flour for the cookies. But here in Texas, my cookies have been FLAT. The linked article describes that all purpose flour purchased in the southern US is DIFFERENT than the all purpose flour in the northern US. Thus in the southern states, you should use bread flour for cookies.


    Mandala Mania

    "Our life is frittered away by detail ... simplify, simplify.”
    ~ Henry David Thoreau

    drawings in a 5x8" watercolor moleskine...

    Drew the first mandala on the last day of school at Starbucks before carpool. The second was drawn over the course of a few kids' tennis lessons. At 8am it's still feasible to sit outside the courts and draw. This is their first experience with tennis. When I was a kid, no-one took lessons in anything except swimming!

    Eden's doodle Hippie Chick is inspiring me to get out the watercolors and colorize my doodles!

    Question: What creativity have you squeezed into the pockets of your days this week?