Selfie

It’s been a busy summer! I like a good thing when I find it… and 16 years ago I heard about a wonderful place to go to in July (when it soooo hot in Florida), up in the mountains of North Carolina and make art.

For the last 16 years, minus the summer I broke my leg, and last summer leaving early, I have spent a week at Wildacres, NC with the continuing education program of Ringling School of Art, located in Sarasota, Fl. I love it there… the location, the tranquility, the comradery, open studios and some years there have been very “memorable” events.

I was so happy to get back there this summer! I spent the week in a mixed-media with beeswax class, taught by Elena De La Ville with 12 other artists, working with paper and wax. I have always loved work with a wax element… it’s such a wonderful tactile medium that is difficult to control but has so many options as to how it is utilized. We had several assignments involving composition and one was to photograph our surrounding looking for examples of good composition, then re-create the image with our materials.

I took lots of photos on my morning walk, but the last one was an elongated shadow of myself standing on the pathway. I liked the design and the emotion of the picture…and used it to create a piece. One of my classmates pushed me to work on a series of “selfies” and I ended up creating 5 pieces.

It’s good to step out of your artistic comfort zone… although my work is definitely “out there” at times. It’s also good… even though I don’t love it, to listen to other artists about my work. I love challenges in all aspects of my life. I never want to be too comfortable in my art, but to push forward and hope to discover and relate more about who I am and what message I want to share.

The Big Easy

French quarter

Heading home from another great trip to NOLA. I have seen several signs around town that say: “New Orleans, is the most foreign city in the United States”. I haven’t been to all the cities in the US, but New Orleans is definitely different in an amazing way; the food alone is worth the trip. Food, “flavor”, art, history, architecture, and wonderful hospitality. New Orleans is like a touch of Paris with a 1 1/2 hour flight. We had great food… I think I said that… lunch at Commander’s Palace is a must-do, oysters, oysters, oysters everywhere you go. We had an oyster Rockefeller po-boy at Tableau that was amazing. Our best dinner was at Restaurant August… really amazing.

We started with their potato crisp and P&J oysters appetizer; lightly dusted with cornmeal and Parmesan and served with their house pickled vegetables. The entrees were gulf snapper in court bouillon and breaded “trout Pontchartrain” shrimp, blue crab, and wild mushrooms. We booked an early afternoon flight home to take advantage of one more meal of oysters… char-grilled oysters and an oyster po-boy at the ACME Oyster House; I don’t think you can beat the ACME for oysters! We will be back next year, trying new places and re-visiting our favorites.
Thanks New Orleans for always delivering a great time!

It’s Not Cheating

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Yes, I shoot 99% of my photography with my iphone, it works well for me. As a painter and mixed-media artist,  I rely on visual inspirations every day. Most artists will tell you they “see their world differently”, and I feel that way too. I can find inspiration looking out my window, taking a walk, books, galleries, museums and of course online. Shooting with my phone works well for me. I can scan through images when starting a new project or when I’m too tired to actually pick up a paintbrush… Sometimes I end up with a image I love so much, it becomes the art.

I love to share my newly crafted images with my family… so excited about the possiblities, like turning things PINK. It never fails, I show one of my sons what I’ve done and his exact words… everytime, because he loves to tease me,  are: “It’s Cheating”.

I like to play with images the way I push color and design in my artwork, and have three great ways to do that on my iphone.  The Apps are: Hipstamatic, Photo Toaster and my newest find… Pic Lab.

Hipstamatic
My all-time favorite, with Hipstamatic you choose you lens, film and flash options before you shoot. If you invest, as I have, in all the paks that are available… you will have a truly endless variety of combinations to work and play with. I have been using Hipstamatic since I got my first iphone. Love it!

examples of my hipstamtic shots

Photo Toaster

My friend and fellow artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills shared  Photo Toaster with me last year. I love having the post-shoot options to add filters, effects and frames. It saves time when shooting… if I see a subject I like, and get a sharp image to work with, I can alter it many ways.

images using photo toaster:

Pic Lab

THANK YOU Daily Post for sharing! I just read about Pic Lab last night and sat playing till my battery died :) So much fun! I love text… and adding text, borders, effects, shadows, did I say effects? I love everything you can do with Pic Lab. Yes… after about 2 minutes I opted for the paid version to increase the available options. It’s sort of like buying art supplies… you can never have enough.

images using Pic Lab:

These are my favorites. Hope you enjoy and give them a try. It’s not cheating.

Rock Them Fellers

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Improving on the mighty raw oyster… puhleeeese. Freshly shucked with a little splash of tabasco, it’s such an amazingly simple and sumptuous bite. From my title, you may know where I’m going with this, there is that legendary creation that most definitely comes close; Oysters Rockefeller.

Thank you Antoine’s for moving to New Orleans, most likely that contributed to your culinary exploration of  ocean creatures and choosing the oyster when the shortage of snails demanded creative solutions.  Created in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, son of the restaurant’s founder and named after John D. Rockefeller because of the ultra-rich sauce, Oysters Rockefeller continues to elicit ooos and aaaahs from food enthusiasts everywhere.

I resisted the temptation to stray from that most purist of briny goodness,  the raw or slightly steamed oyster with hot sauce on a saltine, for many, many years. While on a trip with my husband in California some years ago and driving along the coast north toward Mendocino, we stopped at an “oyster shack” to try some highly recommended West Coast oysters.  When they arrived, we asked about sauce… hot sauce, cocktail sauce… crackers? “No, we don’t have those, how about Mignonette Sauce?” I had been eating oysters all my life and never heard of it, but its delicious on oysters… shallots (on my favorites list) pepper (top of my list) and vinegar. But back to O. R.

Good food drives most of our travel plans; it’s just so important! Most of the time the reward of “finding” a great new place or exciting, delicious dish is well worth the time it takes to research and fit meal opportunities into our itinerary. I hate to admit it, and will most definitely correct it on our next trip to New Orleans, but we have never dined at Antoines. I LOVE New Orleans and the amazing food options from muffeletta sandwiches from the market to super fine dining available throughout the city.  Galatoires on Bourbon Street  has very good fellers and they surprised me when I asked for a recipe and my waiter handed me a postcard with their recipe, apparently they have been approached before. I will try that one… but I haven’t yet. Presently, my favorite place for Oysters Rockefeller is in Savannah at Vic’s On the River. I enjoyed a plate 9 days ago and that prompted my decision to cook some last night. Vic’s was kind enough to share a list of ingredients they may or may not use in their’s but no recipe. So as usual, I searched some recipes online looking for what I would imagine to be the very best representation. I ended up going with a recipe on Bon Appetit and making a few variations.

Here is the recipe… a starting point, I almost never follow a recipe exactly… I like to add my favorite ingredients where I can and make the dish my own.

INGREDIENTS
1 garlic clove
2 cups loosely packed fresh
spinach
1 bunch watercress, stems
trimmed (I didn’t use any… but added extra spinach)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted
butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Pernod or other
anise-flavored liqueur ( I used Sambuca)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground (no… I couldn’t locate mine, so I added an little extra Sambuca)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I did a Tablespoon)

1 pound (about) rock salt
24 fresh oysters, shucked,
shells reserved
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
cheese

PREPARATION
Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Finely chop garlic in processor. Add spinach, watercress and
green onions to garlic. Process, using on/off turns, until mixture is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Combine butter, breadcrumbs, Pernod, fennel and hot sauce in processor. Process until well blended. Return spinach
mixture to processor. Process, using on/off turns, just until mixtures are blended. Season with salt and pepper. DO
AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover; chill.
Sprinkle rock salt over large baking sheet to depth of 1/2 inch. Arrange oysters in half shells atop rock salt. Top each
oyster with 1 tablespoon spinach mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until spinach mixture browns on top, about 8
minutes.
ORIGINAL RECIPE on BonAppetit

It was amazingly easy! I wish I had found larger oysters, and will try to get better ones next time. We really loved this first attempt at making these at home… so fresh and bright and delicious. If you LOVE oysters, you should get to shucking and give these a try.

p.s.
My very, very favorite and unforgettable oyster dish is the wood-fired spicy roasted ones at Cochon in New Orleans… if you planning a visit you should definitely stop in!

The Goods

So many goods… Here in Savannah, Ga. Good atmosphere, sights, food, shopping. spending the weekend, loving the weather and the company:) and that it is only a 5 hour drive from home, but it’s the “Deep South”.

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