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Archive for the ‘Camera Art’ Category

Reflections on Home

®®New Play Area

My philosophical mother left me with many quotes on which to ponder, one of them being:  “It takes all kinds of people to make a world.”

That certainly is a fact, as each of us was created to be unique.  Each of us is an original piece of art.  Although we may have similarities we were not intended to be prints or reproductions of another human.

I try to understand other people whose style and preferences differ from mine, and it’s just plain fun to discover whom people are and what “makes them tick”.  Perhaps the best way to get acquainted with another person is by visiting in that individual’s home.  I want to believe that most people who spend considerable time in their homes have some pastime they love, some kind of a life within their walls.  This life may be reflected via the books on the shelves, the cookbooks and appliances in the kitchen, baskets and tables overloaded with crafting supplies, the presence of houseplants indoors and gardens outside the windows, a dog or cat (or both), and of course a musical instrument—perhaps more than one.  The presence of art on the walls and family photos on shelves and tables says a lot—if indeed the walls, shelves, and tables are laden with pictures which are worth a thousand words.

But occasionally when visiting a home I draw the proverbial blank.  No books, no projects, no art to reveal a period or style of interest, no messes, no pets, no plants beyond the “tastefully correct” one or two—potted in matching, stylized planters rather than those ice cream buckets and COOL WHIP® containers which frequently hold my overflow of greenery.  Not even a happily messy computer corner!  Sadly, only one piece of equipment normally characterizes the apparently wasteland homes:  that ubiquitous television.

Quite possibly, the homes which appear sterile, sans personality, may not actually be like that at all.  When one is a guest, one seldom sees all the nooks and crannies.  In the most generic of furniture store homes, there are apt to be hidden away places where the residents read, craft, make music, or whatever.  As interested as I am in people and their lifestyles, I certainly don’t want to be crass and ask to see their hidden recesses—the NO ENTRY zones of a house.  So I give my host or hostess that benign benefit of the doubt.  Certainly they have some life passion, some activity that causes them to jump out of bed each day and say “HELLO, WORLD!”  Probably my host and hostess simply have chosen not to divulge exactly whom they are and what they are about.

I accept the preference for anonymity, and I understand that I may be the odd one in today’s world.  I LOVE to share.  I love to be transparent—an open 1000 page book with loads of information on every page.  As much as I love to know, I love to be known.  And as far as I know, that’s the way life was originally intended to be!  Unlike that pair in the Garden after the fall, I have absolutely no desire to hide from God or anyone else!

Meanwhile, since Joe and I have moved into a four room condo it is easier than ever for visitors to ascertain what we are all about.  Our interests pervade every corner of our home, for all to see and enjoy.  We have never had more of ourselves on our walls, tables, shelves, and floors—and we are delighted beyond expression with the overflowing abundance of our current time of life.  Crowded, YES!  Even CLUTTERED—although to me “clutter” bespeaks random chaos, and I will have none of that.

Tidiness and order rule the day, and we can always stuff one more meaningful object into the order of our home.  Minimalist gurus (who for some odd reason find no significance in memories manifested all around them, no joy in the colors and textures of a life well-lived) will call us “hoarders”.  I call us “LOVERS OF LIFE”!  Thus the spinning wheels (which really spin beautiful yarn from luxuriously fleeced sheep’s wool) lurk behind a favorite easy chair, accompanied by baskets of wool and more baskets of yarn—plus needles and other accoutrements of knitting.

My piano hosts an assortment of music books—and musical scores printed out and taped together so that I can play without turning pages.  Our kitchen contains the necessaries—toaster, coffee pot, blender, crockpot—plus a representation of bygone eras in funky kitchen collectibles.  Our dining area buffet serves as a display area for my soap industry—while hundreds more soaps are stacked in drawers and stored in huge plastic bins under furniture and in closets.

Our bedroom is also my art studio, with a messy table for acrylics, collaging, etc., and another table for watercoloring.  Crammed into a bedroom corner is my writing studio with my very own laptop, printer/scanner, and voluminous files (I will always love paper).

My husband’s den is his bit of Heaven on earth with the TV, his own computer/printer/scanner, filing cabinet, posh reclining chair (suitable for snoozing on), and even a daybed for that occasional afternoon “lie down”.  Joe keeps his clothes in a dresser and closet in his den, while our enormous bedroom closet houses my clothing plus bins and shelves laden with more soap and somewhere between 600 and 800 paintings.  I tell our children they’ll have a post-humous fortune on their hands some day.  (Obviously, I’m joking!  My art is amateur stuff, paying dividends of endless and infinite fun!)

Both living room and bedroom have indoor garden areas—with tropicals in the east facing patio door, and succulents in our south facing bedroom window.  And everywhere are BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS.  Shelves groan with books, tables support the weight of them, and floors feature book towers in every room.

All of that—including a zest for collecting with a partiality for Victorian era art glass produced by our great American 19th century glass companies, English china, and most anything vintage and funky—goes a long way toward telling our guests whom we are, in this happiest of homes which I’m inviting you to tour with me today!

The above play area is a magnet for our great-grandchildren (16 children, ages 10 and under) who visit whenever they can.  And my happy little kitchen beyond.  (Actually, it’s Joe’s kitchen for the duration of my post-surgical, arm-in-sling adventure.)

Fiber studio

My fiber studio resides behind a living room easy chair.  The spinning wheels are not for “show” (although they are very beautiful, made from cherry wood).  The spinning wheels spin, and produce luxury yarns for sweaters, scarves, and hats.  Years ago, Joe made the pine dry sink for me.  It houses my collection of English flow blue china and my Grandma Kate’s English (Aesthetic Period—circa 1885) Indus wedding dishes featuring graceful birds and foliage reminiscent of the British Empire in India.

Most of the baskets in our home are homemade.  The one with the coral insert is an Irish potato basket, and below it with gorgeous ultra-marine blue/violet fleece inside is an egg basket—both crafted by moi.  The larger basket, in the style of Wisconsin Native Americans’ basketry, was woven by our daughter-in-law, Cheri Been.

make art

One of the many perks in our condo home is the fact that Joe and I each have our very own bathroom.  What fun is that!  Joe’s is the larger of the two, and it contains a shower which he loves.  (I HATE showers, probably because they remind me of that most detested of all scenarios—high school gym class!)  I have a tiny bathroom, but it contains a TUB (one of the great loves of my life).

I painted the blotchies on the upper walls, and our grandson, Tyler Been, painted the gorgeous New Mexico-ish red lower walls.  This is my Louis L’Amour bathroom—replete with cowboy pictures, and photos of family members on horseback.  As you can see on the above left, I have hung some of my own Southwestern art here as well.

TPJ 2

Here is another shot of my sweet loo.  The Civil War era folding chair is a family heirloom, with needlepoint painstakingly stitched by my mother many decades ago.  I treasure the no-longer-available glass ARIZONA TEA® bottles, plus my collections of all things horsey and Western.  (The oil painting on the left is not mine.  It was a rummage sale prize, unearthed a few years ago.)

Art 3

The messy inner sanctum of my studio is open to all who venture here, since we always have our company put their wraps on our bed.  That’s an old fashioned thing to do, perhaps dating back to when closets were not so prevalent as they are today.  To me, wraps on the bed are the most gracious way to go.

soap 5

No home photo shoot would be complete without a glimpse of my soap.  I brag about my soap way too much.  It’s excellent, and we have used nothing but my home made soap since 1976.  Today my soap is far removed from that crude stuff the pioneers made over an open fire, using fat drippings from their slaughters and kitchen grease cans.

I use the finest vegetable oils (olive being the Lamborghini of oils!) and pure, rendered tallow—all of which I purchase online from COLUMBUS FOODS in Chicago.  High grade cosmetic pigments go into the soap for color, plus quality fragrance oils.  I have online sources for these ingredients, as well.  Soap making is an expensive hobby, well worth ever drop of cash and elbow grease involved!  And we saponifiers always have a beautiful gift to offer our family members and friends—the gift of the finest soap.

Ambience (2)

Old painted furniture, dried hydrangeas, British India style shelves, platters and bowls which don’t fit in cupboards and thus are relegated to the floor, family photos, sparkling glassware including Vaseline glass with glass fruit, cookbooks, a teapot and cups and saucers (just a few of a plethora about the home), and a toy bear (also one of many) co-exist in happy harmony.

Now if you happen to be thinking, “This is really weird!” just remember:  “It takes all kinds of people to make a world!”

Margaret L. Been, 2013

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(Karen’s Garden in Waukesha Wisconsin — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑ 

Poems, by Margaret L. Been 

(Karen’s Rose Arbor — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom)

Feel the ecstacy of cloud, and rose’s beauty pain! 

Inhale the damp of ginger cool, the poignancy of rain.    

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(Our Northern Retreat — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

June unravels lush across the land . . .

beauty stakes a summer tent and Love

has seized my hand.

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(Margaret’s Condo Garden in Nashotah, Wisconsin — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Last Eon

Last eon old ladies kept gardens—

indolent sweet

lilies of the valley,

Virginia bluebells

ringing up June-wafting peonies,

wicker chaired haunts

for pausing with timeless cups

of tea, mint scented

lemonade and cookie gardens

enticing well-patched fry

from lace-curtained homes kept

by mothers.

Last eon old ladies kept gardens.

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(Walden North — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Another Walden

(In honor of Henry David Thoreau, who wrote “I had three chairs in my house:  one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.”)

Eaves sagging,

spidered shingles veiling

squirrel-hewn beams.

A one-hinged door

sashays and scrapes

the spintered floor

where field mice scamper

with their seedy stores.

Three chairs are here

for you and me

and company,

and battered cups

for toasting joy

of mislaid schemes

among the shards

of dusty dreams.

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(Our Big Elk River — digitally enhanced photo by Margaret L. Been)  ↑

The Glory that is August . . .

. . . rejoicing in gleaming paint pots

of paisleys, morning glories tripping ankles,

riotous color circles cascading brilliant orange

from coppery berry-stained arms, ruby dollops

dripping from dangling gold, cheekbones

blushing mauve, stormy drapes valancing

languid summer eyes.

Behold her richly tangled gardens

nurtured randomly with whimsical

neglect, where cicadas thrum

and chipmunks scurry—where dynasties

of rabbits glean chamomile and mint

from shards of clay, and crackled

china plates line hidden treasure paths

unearthed by robins, hidden again

in masses of sage secluding

sweet woodruff’s piney green.

Behold her star-embroidered nights

teeming with song of wind and owl

and coyotes calling out the moon,

praising the Author of August beauty—

recalling yesterday, remembering

our long forgotten dreams.

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(Up-North Trail — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

While Summer Stays

I have set a bread to rise

and gone with morning in my eyes

to find a place, while summer stays

where goldenrod lights meadow ways . . .

where birchwood’s warm obscurity

retreats from time, and beckons me

to abdicate a few last days

so haunting sweet while summer stays.

I have set a bread to rise

and gone with morning in my eyes.

______________________________________________________________________________________

(Karen and Lee’s Home in Waukesha, Wisconsin — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑ 

(Karen’s Quiet Garden — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑

I Will Sweep My Rooms

I will sweep my rooms, and tend

my cloistered gardens, brew my tea,

and one who mocked my dreams

will never know the heart of me!

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(Joelly and Nathaniel Mining Wild Raspberries — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Gardens are lovely

when they look as though nature made them . . .

lovelier, when nature did!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

(The selected poems are reprinted from 3 collections of poetry by Margaret Longenecker Been:  WILDERNESS AND GARDENS—an American Lady’s Prospect, published in 1974 by John Westburg Associates, Fennimore, Wisconsin; MORNING IN MY EYES, published in 1997 by Sheepy Hollow Press, Eagle, Wisconsin; and A TIME UNDER HEAVEN, published in 2005 by Elk River Books, Phillips, Wisconsin.) 

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Looking at pictures has been a popular form of recreation ever since the invention of photography, and before that throughout the centuries of capturing people and scenery via sketching and painting. 

When I was growing up, one still found stereopticons on coffee tables.  For those who do not haunt antique shops, a stereopticon was a wood and wire thingy in which a double image (often of a travel scene) was inserted into a holder.  The viewer held the stereopticon to the light and slid the wire holder until the images came together.  (If I haven’t clarified that concept, just GOOGLE “stereopticon” and you’ll see it for yourself.)

During the 1930s and early 40s we had albums of tiny photos taken with a primitive Brownie camera, and also 8 mm family movies.  Later my dad bought high tech cameras with multi dials, settings, filters, and lenses—the likes of which I could never figure out in a million years!  Then Dad graduated to making 16 mm movies, and finally to slides and a slide projector.  Slides were the “picture shows” of the 1960s.  Many an evening one had to sit and watch someone’s slides of what seemed like every single cathedral in Europe!

Joe and I skipped the video cassette stage, and kept on taking photos with a Minolta® automatic 35mm which served us well right up to a few years ago with the onset of digital cameras.  Now we can sit and view the cathedrals of Europe on friends’ ubiquitous laptop computers.  Likewise, I can potentially bore my friends to distraction with my computer full of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Nonetheless, a picture show is a fun and sharing way to spend a social hour!  At the rist of boring you to distraction (I hope not!) here are some of our family classics:

Our son, Karl, at age 13 in 1975.  When Karl was younger, he looked a lot like John Denver.  Now Karl no longer has a John Denver haircut, but guess where he lives:  you’ve got it, Denver.  (Actually, Centennial which is on the south side of Denver.)  Karl still enjoys that natural “rocky mountain high” depicted in the above New Mexico scene.  I think those are the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the background.

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The two on the right are Karl’s sons, Nathaniel and Joelly, teaching their 1st cousin-once-removed, James, how to be silly.  It seems to come naturally, even for those of us who do not live in or near the Rocky Mountains!

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Going back many years, here is my favorite wild west character.  I don’t know if he’s a cowboy, gunslinger, or U.S. Marshall, but I love him and have been married to him for nearly 58 years!

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About the same time as the cowboy photo was taken, an adventuresome kid was racing (I think it was a 2 horse power engine) around Lake Winnebago—Wisconsin’s biggest inland lake.  Life jackets were something used in the Navy; we never had them when I was growing up.  And look at that!  We wore dresses in boats, at least I did! 

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Fast forwarding to 2004, our Baby Dylan did not have his legal “temps” (and still doesn’t).  But a lot of youngsters have learned to drive on the remote sand roads of the Chequamegan National Forest in the Wisconsin Northwoods. 

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Now it’s 2007 in the picture show.  I was supine on our living room couch—recovering from a roast pork, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie dinner at the Phillips’ Cafe when this Sunday visitor dropped in.  I’ll be forever thankful that I had my camera handy!  🙂

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You’ve seen this one before and you may see it again!  Great-grandchildren! 

We have 5 more wonderful great-grandchildren not featured here.  I’ll publish the other five as soon as I get some photos of them from their moms. 

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Ooops!  Here are 2 more “classics” which recently came in from a friend.  These photos date back to 1982, when we were getting hay for my sheep.  Can you believe we did that (22 bales!) to a vehicle?  And drove the 6 or 7 miles home? 

Margaret L. Been

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Just inside the door from our snowy patio, more gardens thrive:  one on a vintage trunk which I decoupaged with wild west art and cattle brand-type symbols, and the other on a pie crust table.  Both trunk and table were unearthed at rummage sales in Price County, Wisconsin.

The trunk features beloved African violets, overseen by a fake barrel cactus on a stool with a deer skull from our land up north.  Our friends, Mary and Bernie, found the skull so it’s theoretically theirs (finders/keepers!) but they said it didn’t fit in with their decor.  Fortunately, skulls look great anywhere we choose to put them!  (I still have a couple of cattle skulls in our northern home, for that classic Georgia O’Keeffe look.  You pay big bucks for skulls out west!)

The pie crust table provides a mini-museum for artifacts, as well as room for more indoor gardening.  Leaning against the watering can on the left, with it’s rose intact, you will notice a rather bizarre piece of work.  This gem was a Christmas gift from our grandson, Jason, and his wife, Sandy.  They “won” it at a white elephant party.  Jason and Sandy didn’t really want or need the pot, but they knew exactly what to do with their acquisition:  Give it to Grandma!  (This grandma welcomes elephants of any color!)

Resting in the shade of the spider plant, is a slab of petrified wood from (of course!) Arizona.  The white pottery mushroom behind the Native American vase was a gift from its creator, my friend Barbara.  In front of the vase, chestnuts sit in a toile box.  The nuts are part of my ever growing chestnut collection, begun years ago and replenished each autumn by the horse chestnut tree just a few yards outside our front door.  The toile box came in a nesting set, from T. J. MAX. 

The plant on the right side as you face the pie crust table is called “Candelabra”, for obvious reasons.  It’s a new kid on the plant block here.  I was attracted to it’s shape.  The plant looks like it popped off the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. 

On the floor, in a basket crafted by yours truly, you will see something very funky:  raffia paper vegies, purchased for a few cents last summer at a garage sale.  I look at the vegies and smile—not from wanting to eat them, but rather from recalling the joys of past rummages and anticipating a whole new garage season soon to begin.  (Two months, or certainly three!)

Moving from still life to live life, I finally got some snap shots of Baby Dylan, the shy one.  The sleeping beauty photo was fairly easy to procure because Dylan was zonked out on the floor.  (Like Joe and me, Dylan takes his naps seriously.)  The other picture was more fleeting.  Dylan normally hides when he sees the camera, and here I sneaked up on him; it didn’t take him long to sense the “danger” of having his picture taken and a moment later he had split!

Finally, here are some indoor friends who do not have to be watered, and do not have any paparazzi phobias.  They just sort of take life as it comes!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Yesterday I wandered through a local art gallery, and enjoyed the creativity displayed there in paintings, textiles, and pottery.  Then I came home and wandered through our condo, and was awed once again by the ambience of home art and the fun of living in a personal “gallery”.  Here is another mini-tour—this one focusing on some of the art and artifacts which comprise our home gallery.

Above is a shot of my Louis L’Amour bathroom.  Yes, Joe and I each have our own bathroom.  What a joy to have a loo of one’s own to pack with stuff!  I have named my bathroom after one of my favorite 20th century novelists.  Oddly enough, I do not at this point own a Louis L’Amour book but I’ve borrowed and read most of them from libraries.  Perhaps someday I’ll run across a L’Amour at a reasonable price.

Pictured are a few of my ARIZONA TEA® bottles with a Western theme.  The bottle with the cattle driving scene was a “once in a lifetime” find at King Sooper’s in Denver.  I’ve never seen this issue anywhere else.  Southwestern pictures, my home made soap, a bighorn sheep horn, a copper sheep bell, a bit of lace, an artificial barrel cactus, and photos of family members with horses fit nicely into this bathroom cranny. 

Meanwhile, out in my garden is a Western steer’s skull—just waiting to be cleaned up and added to the bathroom decor, Georgia O’Keeffe style.

Partially pictured above, in the lower left corner as you face the screen, is a unique bit of home grown art:  two large clay pots joined bottom to bottom to create an hourglass effect, and mosaic tiled with Native American symbols.  I think one of the symbols is a Harley® thing.  It’s orange and black and it has wings.  This gem was purchased at an up-north rummage sale for all of $2.00.

Pictured below in the same loo are switchplate covers decoupaged by my artist niece, Nancy, who lives in Colorado Springs.  Beneath the switchplates you can faintly see a painting of sheep, probably set in the Hebrides, unearthed at some antique shop back in the fathomless mists of time.

Our neighborhood abounds in funky finds.  In fact, the hanging art pictured below was purchased from a local recycle artist who has named her business FUNKY FINDS.  On this hanging wonder you’ll see an assortment of glass bottles, bells, beads, a butterfly, and even a die left over from a board or dice game.  The herb (catmint, I think) in tandem with the art is a snippet from my garden. 

Behind the funky find is a poignant, tinted photograph of my mother at age three.  The photo was taken in 1899.  On the small shelves to the right are some of my parents’ toothpick holders, and a Royal Doulton® Mrs. Tiggiewinkle which Joe and I bought in Beatrix Potter country—the Lake District of England.

Below, you will see an answer to the question, “What does one do with those boring kitchen cupboard doors?”  In past homes I have removed them altogether, as cupboard doors make a house look new—and who would ever want that!?!  Also, I’ve been known to paint the cupboard doors, to liven things up a bit.

When we moved here and I mentioned removing the doors or painting them, I could actually see Joe wince in his chair.  Finally it was Joe who said, “Why don’t you decoupage your art on them?”  So that’s what I did, and we both like the result.

Finally, the gallery pictured below is an integral feature of most every happy home I’ve ever visited:  The Refrigerator Door Gallery.  How precious is children’s art, nestled among snapshots and assorted fragments of family life!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2010©

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Earth dragon waking . . .

stretching, yawning, jaws cracking,

breathing winds of March.

 

Margaret Longenecker Been—All rights Reserved

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A beloved treasure is our Big Elk River, just around the bend from the bay at our northern Wisconsin home.  Soon the ice will go out, and we’ll be heading north to savor the sights and sounds upriver. 

In canoeing weather we like to go up-river at least once a week, to see the changes in flora and fauna.  We watch families of ducks and geese grow from new-in-the-water to teen-ager.  We see new fawns in season, and on a few occasions we’ve surprised otters sunning on branches over the water.  I delight in the progression of wild flowers, from angelica to Joe pye-weed to tickseed sunflower and purple aster with many beauties in between—including sky blue forget-me-nots which bloom for weeks on sunny banks and mossy logs.

Ahhhh, River!  When we first moved up north I often took my paddle boat, a thermos of iced tea, and a book—and hung out on a sand bar up-river for a few hours all by myself.  Then my love, Joe, got spooked about all the bears running around, and put the kaboosh on that.

This illustration of our river is not a painting, but rather a photo—computer enhanced.  I have also achieved a similar effect with watercolor applied to Japanese masa paper, with its beautiful fractured sizing.   

A Poet’s Place

A poet’s place

where every aspen branch

drips metaphors like Dali’s clocks,

alliteration echoes angelica

artemisia anemone . . .

with stillness-saturated solitude

against the onomatopoeic thrum

of frogs.

A poet’s place

of imagery in river-clad

forget-me-nots, where figures of speech

slide otterwise from scruffy banks

of sandy streams on drowsy days,

and symbols pierce the lunar-nugget nights

in cadence with a Milky Way

of dreams.

Margaret Longenecker Been—All Rights Reserved

Published in A TIME UNDER HEAVEN—seasonal reflections and poems, by Margaret Longenecker Been

NOTE:  Below, is a watercolor which I did on masa paper.  FUN!!!!!!!!!!

A PARTING NOTE:  Please check out my friend Patti Wolf’s new blog:  http://wolfsrosebud.wordpress.com/

You’ll like it!  🙂

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