Friday, September 28, 2012

Stairs that don't suck

When I was kid, I was every sort of nerd, but especially a history nerd. Still am and one of my favorite figures and  fave former Virginia governor, is Thomas Jefferson. We have at least one thing in common, hatred of stairs. Good ol'Tom designed these odd things to get up more quickly (Sally Hemmings comment deleted)
Crazy! He also made tiny, treacherous things to avoid the unsightly, space hog that can be a staircase.
 I generally find them ungainly but my Pinterest board, Stairs that don't suck is a testament to beauty in a stair.

 Notice that they are all curved and sculptural in some way.

I will always want one of these
I wonder if Mr. Jefferson would approve?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Paint a rug party II - progress

Well, I managed to get the easy part finished this week. I used outdoor craft paint and fabric medium and painted this late one night, hence the terrible picture.

I plan this cheat...

in pink for the main part of this rug.

I'll be honest, I am terrified. I fully expect to mess this up.
FYI, I think "rug" is a funny word and I am not fudging the timeline. This is actually all I have done.

Check out the progress in rug land!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New work

Just a few new paintings...
"Fibonacci came to my house" 14 x 18 acrylic on canvas by Kerry Steele

"Brass ring Sunday" 18 x 24 acrylic on canvas by Kerry Steele listed on Etsy

" To Destiny, I bend" 18 x 24 acrylic on canvas by Kerry Steele listed on Etsy
Love them? Hate them?  Tell me.
Pin what you love and I will be forever in your debt. :)

Where should it stop?

Here is another "whaddya think?" post.
We all like chinoiserie...yes?
Sometimes we feel like we cannot possibly get enough of it and we want it for our birthday with sugar on top.

via Pinterest
 It takes immense talent to create  such a confection. But really, where should it stop? Is this cake your dream or too much?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Traveling back in time...for shoes

Last week, I implored my husband to replace his tattered shoes. I have been imploring for a while and "tattered" is sugar coating the description. I knew that the lure of preppy, throwback, goodness would be hard to resist forever. I mentioned a little shoe store in downtown Fredericksburg that had Sebago Docksides and he finally relented.
We made a fun afternoon of it and had lunch at a charming place with awesome food and made our way down the street to Crismond's shoe store, in business since 1911.

Just to the right of center you can see the sign "SHOES"
This is where it got weird. We went in and a very elderly lady greeted us as she swept the floor with a fair bit of difficulty. A younger man (60ish) sat in a chair reading the paper. He was her nephew, we later learned.

Did you wear these in the '70s?

The store fixtures were decidedly vintage and it took me some time to notice, and believe, that the shoes in stock were too.
The "Hush Puppies" or "Earth Shoes" had actually been there since the 70s.

Most of the 30+ year-old shoes were in narrow sizes and $15, which was sported on a yellow square price tag. Remember those?

It was truly sad to see these forgotten bits of fashion in a store that curiously still exists.
I took the photos on my phone and thought I had better ask permission until I realized that the old lady could barely hear and more than likely did not know what a blog was.

This last crazy pair of shoes fell in the category "so ugly they are cool" and I would have shelled out $15 had they not been a size too small. I feel obligated to back for some reason. It was sad but also a sentimental journey into my childhood when sales and selling were more simple and straightforward.
Oddly, they had Sebagos in my husband's size and we bought them because they were only $50. They are $70 and up everywhere else.

He insists on wearing them with socks but at least they are presentable. Now I have to convince him to wear plaid shorts and a pink polo shirt and my work is done!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Its a painting kind of day

Today I have real chores and painting chores. Painting chores are the finish work like painting edges or framing and wiring. To make all of my tasks a bit more palatable I work a little on paintings for a bit and the do something else.
What kind of weekend fun are you mixing in?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The "paint a rug party"

Well it seems that Miss Linda has organized another blogger project.
This time the participants will paint a rug.
I am a DIYer from way back but painting rugs is new to me. I am pretty sure that I just signed up to ruin a perfectly good floor covering.

I am using the term "perfectly good" rather loosely. I have a seagrass rug that my daughter calls a "porcupine" and its has binding that is my least favorite color green.

I plan on painting the binding too. Everything else is still up in the air. I had an idea and bought the paint and fabric medium.

Then I changed my mind.
I might not even use these colors.
Also, I should dispell any notion that I am going to do a "painting" on this rug. It will be a design that is appropriate for a rug. If you do see my finished product as an abstract, you will know I used it to cover up a mistake.
Check out what the others are doing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My house is neater plus goodies for design/math geeks

One of the perks of having a large family is the slave labor help from the kids. I won't bore you with my chore lists but there are more people available to accomplish them and I am insisting on the house looking presentable at all times. Note: I said presentable not perfect.

Another pleasant effect was that moving my desk into the entry hall forces me to keep it neat. I had a habit of piling on the paper and bills and closing the door. Tisk, tisk. I have always had a problem with clutter accumulating.
I think it is a lovely addition to the large but awkward space.

When it comes to proportion, I am a fan of the  Golden ratio or phi .
Here is a graphic representation, which is what I am interested in.

The trouble with it is that most ready made canvases are not in line with these proportions. Bugger! I still aim for the sweet spot as noted by the center of the spiral as my focal point or a basic 3:2 ratio for a point of intersection in my painting compositions.
Look around you with a measuring tape and take note at the eye-pleasing things that follow this ratio.

 Here is fantastic calculator so that people that are math impaired, like me, can get it done
Let me know what you find

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How do you play?

I find the differences in how people live curious, fascinating and sometimes a little horrifying. I will never understand people with "showplace kitchens" that do not cook. Also, I have come to realize that it is the norm use a formal living room or dining room space as a playroom.

Here is where my opinion is going to turn people off. I find that a room that is a mecca of pink and primary plastic completely horrifying.  I am a toy minimalist, plastic and battery-operated hater, and a fan of integrated spaces. I think that makes me weird in comparison.

My family room is is a shared family room. My three year-old has a shelf with toy bins and a the chest that holds the TV has a few additional toys and movies but all in all, it is a grown-up space... with toys in it.

Smart storage is a huge part of making it work for all of us.

I personally do not want a separate playroom. I like to have my little one near me while I cook or paint or relax (haha that last one is funny)

Do you agree or do you think I am a big meanie?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New work

"A day in September" 20 x 24 acrylic on canvas by Kerry Steele
I have finally finished a few pieces that I was working on for a while.
Last week, when I grabbed the craigslist find for Nancy Powell, I got a trove of open back frames. It was a major score since buying new frames was on my to do list. Two of them are 20 x 24 and I had no paintings that size so the one above is meant for it.

I also finished the two that I gave a sneak peek of earlier.

"Salient wave" 30 x 48 acrylic on canvas by Kerry Steele

"Brave Virginia" 30 x 48 acrylic on canvas by Kerry Steele
Sometimes I prefer a cryptic title. I would be surprised if someone guessed the theme in these two. I don't intend for them to be a diptych but below I have them pictured together.

I also finished a commission that had the misfortune of being begun during the recent chaos in my home. It took me nearly three weeks for a small one!

Lastly, here is the nautical one again.

"A wind that follows fast" 10 x 20 acrylic on canvas by Kerry Steele
What creativity have you been up to?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shortcuts for sanity

This week my Mother in-law and her girlfriend came to visit for a day before departing for a beach getaway. Last night, they returned for another night before heading back to Pennsylvania.
Our steady stream of visitors has made us pros at feeding our guests in a manner that impresses them every time and keeps us from going insane.
The menus are decadent but super easy. Monday was filet mignon with bearnaise butter and pasta with shallot, thyme and truffle butter and a baby green salad. All of the gourmet butters were purchased at Wegman's grocery. If you do not have a Wegman's grocery near you, move.

Since there were 8 for dinner the grown-ups and the wee one ate in the formal dining room and we left the teens to the kitchen table. I chose my grandmother's Metlox California Ivy plates because they are a bit festive but also dishwasher safe. This pattern and others like it are widely available on eBay.
I used antique linen napkins, napkin rings, and silver.
The napkings were not pressed and starched so the collection of mismatched antique napkins rings solved that problem and lent a more casual feeling to the table.

Thursday night's menu was salmon stuffed with creamy lobster and roasted red pepper dip (another Wegman's purchase) so I used my fish knives which are also mismatched.

The table is slightly unfussy but a step above the everyday and the menu is secretly idiot proof but our guests always think we have gone out of our way to do something fancy. Win-win.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Floor lamps?

Did you ever see something that you thought was so ugly that it made you mad just looking at it?
OK, maybe I am overstating it but I had a headache (imagine that) and saw a few lamps that just bugged me. I have come to the realization that I prefer table lamps so the floor dwellers are at an immediate disadvantage when it comes to my opinion.
The first image is an offering from Horchow. I usually like Horchow but it looks like they tried to be RH for a while.
Here are the rest of the absurd lighting options I saw.

If you hate me get this for me

If have not gouged your eyes out yet, check out this one that takes aim but misses the equestrian chic look.

One last little bit of torture as I leave you chinoiserie gone wrong.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Now we are six...

This post has nothing to do with Winnie the Pooh and A.A. Milne's lesser known volume.
No this is a post about scrips and scraps and what has had me so, well, busy. The word "busy" has become rather generic and short for I don't have time for you or to explain, much like the word "nice". I just can't think of another word except "chaos".

This summer provided a steady stream of visitors and now my stepson has come to live with us... in my library. Giving up the unfinished library has not been a heartache at all but the mere thought of a sloppy teenager's bedroom inches from my front door has my blood pressure elevated. I may need a moment to vent here... The little girl next door comes here in the a.m. and I take her to the bus and retrieve her in the afternoon. I also have the new preschool dropoff/pickup schedule and my husband's long and ever changing work hours PLUS three freakin" teenagers (two of whom are not good boys) to deal with, my own self and 3000 square feet of ridiculously lovely,fortunate space to have and clean. 
Peeps, I must tell you that all of this good fortune comes with much work and when I was a young'un, I wasn't up to it  ( even though I coveted it) and I am pleased that the powers unknown to us had the wisdom to withhold such things from me until I was able to  value and care for property.
this desk is now in the entryhall

 I will spare you all the details but let's just say that this has been a bumpy transition with #6. My stepson is no stranger to me. I have known him since he was 9. He is now 17.

Yesterday (9/11) I felt like design needed to take a backseat to solemnity and a day that most of us will never  forget. I still cry when I remember that day and how close we were to the mountain in Pennsylvania where Flight 590 crashed. My Grandparents were still in Arlington, Virginia at the time and they heard the plane hit the Pentagon and thousands of car alarms go off for hours, jets scrambling and sirens with zero phone service. It is one of the many things that reminds me to be thankful for each moment with my loves.
 When I am feeling stressed, I want nothing more than to paint but when I am busy-stressy I am often too exhausted to paint.
Instead I have been coming up with less relaxed systems than I am used to, out of necessity. My house has never been so tidy and clean for so long but I feel that with just one extra mess-maker it may get out of hand if I do not approach it with a bullhorn and whip in hand.

detail of an unfinished work
detail of companion piece
I have had very little time to paint but I finished one 30 x 48 canvas and I am working on a companion piece of sorts. It is the same size canvas and mainly the same colors.
I have also completed a small nautical painting that, whether good or not, made me happy.

"A wind that follows fast" by Kerry Steele
As far as DIY things go, I work best on a deadline. I gave myself a crazy-ass deadline to paint a dresser and nightstand for my daughter's room in Annie Sloan Decorative Chalk paint.

I purchased the product at a local shop that could not have been nicer or more worried about how I mentioned the product. I guess Annie is a stickler for a trademark. No worries, Miss this is just my personal opinion. 

This dresser was an estate sale find along with the matching nightstand and both with glass tops. It was an unfortunate 1965 yellowy-orange wood color that is sure to be back in fashion in a few years. Ya know... once I get rid of it all!
My opinion of the product is... meh. I don't know what all the fuss is about. I LOVED that I did not have to prime anything but I had to scrape loose the flaky bits and clean it with a degreaser to remove the ancient wax and grime. 
I had to use two coats but I wish that I had thinned the paint with water because my major dissatisfaction was with the very visible brushstrokes.
I have painted vintage furniture with flat paint and waxed it with regular paste wax before, just like Martha showed me. I can't say that I noticed much difference this time. What am I missing? Someone enlighten me. I just don't get it.
Having said that, I may still buy more to redo my kitchen cabinets. The NO priming or sanding part makes it do-able.

NEWS.... Several art shows in Virginia including my work, details soon.
So there you have it, a little bit of everything.