It seems like yesterday, we were walking the cobbled streets of quaint Bavarian villages acting like children given too much candy to eat. Indeed eye candy abounds from  magnificent storybook paintings embellishing stuccoed walls, Hansel and Gretel cottages, crooked chimneys spewing real wood smoke, geraniums popping up like dandelions, feather comforters hanging over timbered railings basking in the sun, bratwurst with German mustard, thick pretzels and lebkuchen cookies, centuries old store fronts beckoning us to enter and indeed we did way too many times.

Each Christmas I pull out my precious little cache of card size German Christmas books. Can't read a single word of German, but the paintings tell their story on the walls of my mind. I am so delighted to share the covers of these little tiny pieces of art and see what your mind conjures up. There was a time in my art career when I painted these types of scenes, but that was so long ago I haven't a single photo to share.

I wish I could take you inside one of these books and share each wondrous  watercolor.   
Take Joy in your own Holiday Traditions.

For those so inclinded, sketchbooks are a super way to preserve those snippets of life that we love. 
A beautiful December to All
Smiles: Sharon



OOPS I MISSED A HALLOWEEN POST, I sure did.  So I will attempt a 30 minute catch up.  that means mostly photos...throwing in a few family ones for posterity...fewer words...impossible...and no proof reading...that heads this toward disaster.  so here goes.

 it is true...one childhood is not enough...especially for halloween. we saw so many adults dressed up, and i mean dressed up. old to young to youngest, all join the fun. 
anyway this is my little attempt to bring painting into the picture. 

i never got the left side finished, anyway it tells a story of my scariest halloween as a child...story saved for another day. 

i took sooo many photos of our yard and porch, now i can't find them so obviously they are still in the camera and haven't been downloaded...such is life around here. but at least my sketchbook got a touch of ORANGE...i love orange in the fall but other times of the year not so much..orange and black were our junior high school colors and i really disliked them at that age...so juvenile.

 Good ol' harry was soooo popular....every other kid was a character from this fantastic series of books...this red robed harry is our grandson...doesn't he look like harry, or am i prejudiced and below next to the scarecrow is his sister...the littlest was Anna from Frozen...she disappeared (probably to refreshment table) so didn't get a picture.

we are still foraging for leaves, dried berries and acorns...but the pumpkin patch was the real find...we took a car full of tiny to tall, fat to skinny, smooth to lumpy pumpkins home with us. 
 the kids grandparents from "out west"came for a two week stay...what a fun time for everyone...they were a big part of our october excursions...
 somehow i managed to get a bit of painting done with an autumn palette...have a show next week so under a bit of pressure to paint and play around with the fun-sters!

kids and art just go together like cocoa and marshmallows...sweet, fun and sticky.  here we are studiously, painstakingly working on pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. no messing around, this is serious stuff to get it just right.

across the atlantic or pacific depending which way you fly are the kiddos that live in china...this is a serious holiday for the ex-pats who live there and none get into it more than their papa...

papa is concentrating on carving while YiYi sits in her princess dress amidst the seeds and pulp.  note the type of pumpkin they have....pretty cute. then it is off to the most amazing clay...love the colors.  lots of cute characters made by 12 hands.

back to north carolina,  the kiddos made lunches for some lovely women who find themselves without a home and staying at the salvation army. they were guests of a local church who give them respite, a warm place to sleep, and three meals a day. lots of volunteers are needed for such an undertaking, so our family did lunches and a breakfast. 
bags were decorated...sandwiches made...brownies...chips...and personally chosen tiny candy bars filled them to the top.  we drove them down to the church and met the ladies who are having their most beautiful weeks in a long time.  so friendly and welcoming. we left with new friends.

well if you made it this far, let me just wish you a very giving, creative, loving november.  there is always time to think of another. i know that you are finding your own ways of sharing.
smiles, sharon
ps...30 minutes turned to 60 but it was worth it.



The sun slants earlier and rises later, sending slivers of golden orange and red
across the horizon.

The last cuttings of hydrangeas are drying in baskets 
along side pods, acorns, fading roses and sunflowers.
The joy is in the finding, the foraging, the digging. 

 Berries are my favorite to find...purples, brown, red, green. They dry beautifully. I use inexpensive baskets, line with dish towel or paper towels. Cut off the really large or decaying leaves. Lay gently in basket, allow air to circulate. Then the fun begins: photographing, sketching or using in still life arrangements.  

Have you ever held Magnolia branches with their glossy-green leaves with velvety brown undersides, in your hands? Honestly they are the texture of, well, velvet!
We are fortunate to have two trees at the back of our yard.  Year long they give us offerings of beauty.

Elena Nuez, from Spain, paints amazing designs on leaves, stones, paper. Click here to visit her website. Bicocacolors.com  She does amazing, diverse paintings on foraged and found objects in nature, as pictured below. 


Have been on a roll painting in gouache. LOVE IT ! Filling sketchbooks and pads of watercolor paper. 

In the South, BBQ is a BIG DEAL.  We went to a nifty BBQ restaurant with our daughter, husband and three Funny Bunnies.  While others had Barbie ribs, etc. I opted for BBQ tacos...yep, tacos. 
They were fabulous!
We ate outside enjoying the sweater weather temperatures, blue skies and grass for the kids to play on.
Kayla, who had been exploring, ran up to me with a handful of HUGE acorns. Wow, what a find.
We wrapped them in a paper napkin to take home.  But that wasn't good enough, she led me to a magnificent old Oak tree, laden, totally laden with thousands of acorns.  Shaking a branch they rained down on us.  Hard knocks on the head! 
Okay, this was serious foraging. 
  I left adults and tacos, to get plastic bags from the car, to fill up, of course. You would think we had found gold!  Cheers for exploring. 

Are these not amazing?  This is a sampling. We filled jars and bowls with their nutty brown goodness.
And not once did we see a squirrel...they don't know what they are missing.

Did you see the HUNTER MOON a week or so ago? We were pretty excited to see it, the Funny Bunnies and I.  Unfortunately the the kids had to go to bed before it was really high enough to see. 
I kept running outside with my camera.  This particular night was a bit cloudy, my camera couldn't focus the distance, but did get one shot.  The entire bright spot is the moon.

This morning, at 5:30 AM,  I was driving to a church to help serve breakfast to some women.
I drove STRAIGHT into sight of an enormous Crescent Moon, stark and brilliantly shining.
A perfect way to start the day...gifts from the heavens and sharing a meal with some lovely southern ladies, in need of a hands up.

This is the season of wanderlust.  A time to be in touch with nature as she settles into a new season.
I hope that you are finding some moments in your day to fill your senses with Mother Nature's free gifts to all.
Smiles: Sharon



Welcome to the World of Tim Burton !!
In Shanghai, China, no less.

And guess who was there to enjoy the colossal art of one of the most creative artists/filmmakers ever?
The Furner Family
(papa and "littlest" furner were absent)

Let us entertain you. 
Mama  Sarah and her young one's spent the day meandering the "yellow brick road" through oddities, sculptures, drawings, murals and all sorts of non-sensical fun, that only Tim Burton can conceive.

Nothing is the "last of its kind" in Burton's mind, only the beginning of another adventure.  So lets follow along while four kids have the best day trip ever.

Where does the zaniness start?  Daydreaming, Mind-Drifting, Sketching, Paper, Pencil, Watercolors and OODLES of IMAGINATION.  I bet that some of the world's problems could be fixed with an imagination like his....
(original sketches)

From this mural do you recognize any emblems, themes, designs in his public works/films?

Hansel and Gretel never had it so good.

Next time your child scribbly-scrawls on your freshly washed walls, run for the plasticine and cover it for posterity.  One never knows where the next Tim Burton might come from. 

I do believe I will make sure the Grand-Kiddies have oodles of Play doh, air clay and paper clay to mess around with.  Anything goes, freeform style...with lots of doo-dads for interest.

Have you found a wall in your home to paint with blackboard paint? So much fun for kids and adults alike.  

Office supply stores carry clear plastic envelopes that you can clip to  a clipboard.  Insert a paper design, or just make up your own art with White Board Colored Markers.  Cheaper than white boards.  So much fun. 

Lots of potential Tim Burtons out there...young and old. 

The exhibit is several levels, hours of brain-tickling fun.
But what about something to just "hang around" on?

Now that is what I call "hanging on."  

Or sliding...

Need a new friend with "eye-appeal?"

Or maybe you are more into "group activities."

 ...visions of sugar plums danced in their heads....

By now the young explorers were ready to let their own imaginations burst forth just like Tim.

Been to your local art or science museum lately.  Total inspiration where ever we live.   Most have interactive areas for kids to play and play and play....while mom's check their phones for messages...Just Kidding.

Time to say goodbye to our Shanghai Imagination Explorers.  This has been a family outing  to share with Candy Grammy. 

Off to play with chopsticks and eat dim sum.
Now who will be the first to create a chopstick collage.

Loads of love and appreciation to Mama Sarah who lovingly shares all of their adventures with me via text, email and photos.  Aren't I fortunate? 

All photos by Mama-Sarah



I don't know how much social media you visit, but I do love Instagram. On IG I can choose what I  enjoy seeing, being inspired by and interacting with. I limit my choices: A few family and friends; photographers..specifically still life, food and travel; and art related, like painting and sketching.  I have found some pretty awesome folk out there who make me want to try new things.

SO WHAT IS THE SCOOP? If you have followed me for awhile you know I am quite smitten with photography.  Many photographers inspire me to try my hand at that which appeals to me.  Combine IG inspiration and online photography classes and I am ready to GO GO GO!  KIM KLASSEN is my  online mentor, if you will.  Her passing of technical knowledge nudges me in a direction I want to aspire to, Story-line Photography.

OKAY THE SCOOP: Since it is approaching autumn one of my favorite still life "styles" are the darker, moodier, more mellow, slightly secretive images...think: walking into your dark kitchen in the middle of the night, but the moon is radiantly-shining through a window onto your vase of fresh flowers...AWE !  Last week I was determined to create my own version.

 Photographers know that the behind the scenes work and experimenting is to be kept just that "behind the scenes."  Just present the final gorgeous, inspiring image.  Then accept with graciousness the applause.  (sorry overly dramatic)

INSTAGRAM PROJECT: mellow, darkish, moody evening-tide  serving of my favorite Chai tea made with full bodied spices, milk and sugar. Definitely deep, rich and darkish like moonlight over a lake.

Well my friends, it "tain't" always what it appears to be on IG, magazines, periodicals, ads, etc.

First decision, PROPS, we all know props are V.V.Very. important, they move the story along.

Kitchen counter, lots of interesting wood textures, shiny but spotty copper tea pot, celadon green tea cup from Hong Kong 
Move them around..play..set the scene..balance..line..composition
That is the easy part, the fun, creative part. But what about that dullish gray background with crazy metal heart? Or the sterile edge of the stove peeking into our little scenario?

Here in lies the SECRET. Lighting.  
Which means (if you don't have a studio) making do with whatever one can find to manipulate the light source. 

Look closely and you will see the light is everywhere, so how to STOP and SHINE light. 
More props. Black plastic (clean) shutter to block the wall and stove.  Wedged-in white foam-core board to bounce light on to the scene.
Now that was a challenge. 

Next making the Chai Tea...if I had only done it first...

First good shot, pouring the thick tea laden with spices into cup. Hand shot, cool.  So far so good.

(more behind-the scenes)
I didn't have enough tea (due to sampling) so decided to make more to fill the cup up.
But I was distracted on the right side of the board fiddling around.
Out of no where, the acrid smell and singe-ing sound of milk caught my attention.

The pan of beautiful dancing spice, milk and sugar double-bubbled, EVERYWHERE. The white foam-core board slipped next to the hot burner, with no hot pad in sight.
Yes a mess was born from the "behind the scenes" chaos!!!!!

It didn't take much for me to be no longer interested in sipping tea. 

Moving away from the behind the scenes disaster. 
Persistance and NO FIRE won out. 

Love the last line on the script...All is well.

Obviously I did a bit of post photo processing after the work of cleaning up scorched sugar, milk and spices.

And now it is one week later and I am still cleaning the stove. Still taking pictures. 

Another IG posting, letting the light peek in through fern.   NO carrots cooking on the stove.


Perhaps you noticed that some of the above photos have a different look, coloring, lighting to them. That was done in post-editing in Lightroom using Kim Klassen's amazing Presets. 
Kim has a beautiful website, many on-line classes that are beautifully instructed and inspiring.
If you are into photography you might like to checkout this amazing resource.
I used the following KK presets:  Caramel and Mood Swing.

October is chasing us...may your part of the hemispheres be filled with glorious slanting light, deep shadows and the brisk air that awaits us in Autumn. 

Thanks for following along with me.
Smiles: Sharon