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 


The Girl with the Olive Complexion

Once upon a lifetime there was a little girl with a olive complexion, eyes like her Grandmother Rhoda...dark brown, pigtails, scrawny legs and arms and rag-a-muffin dresses made of tiny prints and eyelet trim. 
Who lived in a remodeled OLD Swedish Church with STEEP stairs, smack dab in the middle of a farm.
This little girl didn't have other little girls to play with, rather there were only boys who liked to climb haystacks, jump from sloping metal roofs into piles of hay, and splash through irrigation ditches.
She went along with WHATEVER....
But alone in her bedroom she lived in another world....no BOYS, no ANIMALS, no HAY STACKS,
Alone....not for long...as there was her constant IMAGINATION to entertain her.
Crayola Crayons for Katy Keene paper dolls with daring bosoms, (they were dressed cowgirl style),
old Victorian storybooks her Aunt L. gave to her...full of amazing black and white illustrations
a deep dark closet to hide out in
and pasture grass to lay flat on her back, dream on the clouds and whistle away dandelion tufts.

Pretty good childhood.

But one day, the girl with the olive complexion had somehow managed to get a package of CLOVE chewing gum. AH, the aroma, the spicy chew...yum.  She fell asleep daydreaming, no less. 
She awoke to her undone pigtails glued together with tasteless dull gray sticky GUM.

Into the deep tub.
Out with the soap, the oil, nothing budged that gum.
Chop chop chop
no more pigtails.

The little girl with the olive complexion grew up to have children of her own, a husband, grandchildren, a home, a lovely life
and there was more.
She loved to draw, paint and make things.

And out of her past tumbled images of playing in a big bathtub, her hair grown back and siblings to play with.

Smiles: Sharon



Would you be brave enough to share a photo of your bedside table, publicly?
Horrors I wouldn't. 
Truth be told, until two weeks ago I had two bedside tables next to one another!
When I finally acknowledged that it was out of control, I cleaned up my "act." 
What is left on my tidy table? There is the ubiquitous box of tissues, cups of pencils, pens, paper clips, Post-it notes, practical-utilitarian lamp, odds and ends of notebooks, forgotten to-do lists, several magazines and a stack of books.  Yes, on one table.
Of course, my tablet and phone are on top of everything !

Now why in the world would I share this...nothing cool or sophisticated, unique or clever, just every nightstand stuff.

I wanted to share one item on my table: my MAGAZINES. (Actually I don't subscribe to magazines, that gives me the excuse/reason to go to the bookstore and pick up my favorites. HMMM and maybe see something else.)

So in no order, here are my CURRENT favorites:
Click on name of magazine to go to main website, if interested.

SWEET PAUL: what can I say. This is simply a divinely fun magazine.  It captures one's imagination with inventive recipes, crafts, flowers, articles and interviews.  I believe Barnes and Noble is going to be carrying it soon.  Anthropology does. I order on the website.  The covers are delightful.  Extensive website and fun blog, instagram, etc. 

BELLA GRACE: this magazine has caught the photography world by storm. I should subscribe, it can sell out quickly. Again the theme of this beautiful magazine is thoughtful, sensitive, meaningful photography and writing.  Interactive pages where you can write you own responses to their theme. Love the feel of the paper! Quarterly. Digital back copies. 

CLICK: this photography magazine focuses mostly on photography of family, friends..people in general.   Featured photographers, how-to's, online classes, blog, instagram...lots to look at.

MARIE CLAIRE IDEES: a favorite French magazine.  Marie Clair has many magazines, but this is my very very very favorite.  Full of creativity, like none other, gorgeous photography, recipes, painting, stitching, knitting, funky furniture etc.  No, unfortunately, I don't read French, but I can figure out most things from a photograph and guess work. Quarterly, so I look for it at Barnes and Noble.  I am lucky if I find 2 in a year. I found a link on Zinio, you can see magazine there and subscribe!!!!  Hmmm I think I just might subscribe. 

WHERE WOMEN CREATE:  same format as Where Women Cook, only these particular talented ladies create with all sorts of imagination, products, handmade goods/with panache and flair. Very creative are these ladies.

WHERE WOMEN COOK: ah, here we can meet the blog world's cooking stars.  Love reading about cooking entrepreneurs, their recipes, imaginative photography.  It should a scratch and smell magazine.

Through the years I have enjoyed most of Somerset Studio magazines: Somerset Studio, Artful Blogging, Altered Couture, Art Journaling. But with time, tastes change and we move on to other reading materials. Certainly all of the printed media coupled with thoughtful writing and gorgeous photography has influenced me. 



Something new is exploding forth.
Time to do a bit of paint-exploration.
Actually I have been all over the place trying new techniques and color combinations. 
This painting has been so much fun. 

Photos just don't show the details, however, this painting is based on an underneath abstract design. The yumminess comes with all of the mediums used.  Acrylic for all base work, charcoal sketching (messy), overlays of soft pastel (the coolest part), crayon (just to be kid-like), graphite scribbles (hidden messages?) and splotches of ink (being clumsy).  

REPEAT, over and over with the various mediums until I had to say, ENOUGH!  

WILD FLOWERS, 24x30, Gallery wrap
One more in a similar style, but more bold and unusual color combination. This one goes a step further with the use of an abstract stencil. The background pink is a bit lighter, and I love the play of red against the pink.  This is a very fun, expressionist way of painting.  More on the easel...

Enjoy all the fresh berries at the open air markets or at your favorite grocery store.

Smiles: Sharon




Today it actually felt like SPRING was about to descend upon us, in our little corner of the world.
Birds outside were chirping and flitting about, eager to start nesting.
The air was lighter, brighter.
A small patch of earth was pushed aside by determined crocus.
The sky was robin egg blue. 
But most of all, it was warmer. Warm enough to shed gloves, scarves and winter jackets
that had bound my body way too long.  
The sun felt like warm butter, spreading delicious warmth across my bare arms.
March First, 2016
was a butter yellow sort of day, full of joy, appreciation and happy thoughts. 

It is now night, sky is blue-black, house much cooler, jacket on.
Tomorrow more rain.
This evening I cull through photos, to find sunny-buttery yellow images to bind me to these moments. 


Santa Lucia to Cotton Candy

Oh, my goodness.  I just checked my blog and Santa Lucia 
popped up!!! Am I really that far behind?
 It is now mid-February, Santa Lucia needs to move down the blog line so that I can share something more current.
So I will start with.....
Tucking Christmas decorations away, we left for China 
to visit our family who recently relocated to Shanghai.
A thousand photos later, amazing experiences, time with grandchildren, and experiencing this gigantic country could fill a book.
But for now let's start easy:

How about food!!!
Does Cotton Candy count?

Observation: If you look closely at this photo you will notice how heavily/warmly people are dressed.  We just happened to be in Shanghai when the cold had dropped to an all time low!!!  Additionally you might observe that despite the colorful display, the background is murky and gray.  Shanghai is second in pollution world wide.  Maybe that is why RED is such a prominent and joyful color and POPS against the gray.

This particular day, we double-triple-bundled up and rode an hour to visit an outdoor park.
Popping out of the car, we first encountered this smiling lady with her colorful cart. 
She was very busy spinning cotton candy.  What? Here?  China?  Winter? 
 Wow this is pretty cool!!

She was super happy to see a tribe of five eager kids, plus adults head her way.  No Mandarin needed.  Just point and smile, hold out some coins for her to choose from, and a balloon of cotton candy lands in your hands and all over one's face. 

Yes, the lady was very generous with her Cotton Candy.

Lulu was the happiest three year old within ten miles.  She made the most of her sticky-licky treat.

Pretending to be a Chinese doll, no brothers were going to get her "stuff."

Cramming it in Lulu style.  

Now this is joy in the simple things.

A peek inside the park, where another lovely lady is joyfully practicing her dance steps. 
More to come, if you love photo-peeking at fantastic destinations.

 For now, farewell Santa Lucia, and hello to new adventures.

Love is the Beauty of the Soul
St. Augustine



Santa Lucia Day

Santa Lucia
a very special family tradition that dates back
 before computers!!!!!!!!
It is such fun to know that our adult kids now share this tradition with their own "spin on  things" with their children.
Some will have Swedish Oven Pancakes with tons of berry jam and whipping cream.
Others will choose a daughter to wear the Santa Lucia crown of candles, walk around the house singing carols and end with a delicious breakfast.
I LOVE being linked generation to generation.
Santa Lucia (Ella and Lulu, helper)  

In Sweden the little boys and girls wear pastel colored gowns topped with cone shaped hats, carrying stars. The daughter, who is the chosen Lucia, is dressed in white and a wreath of garland, set with candles.

In past years I have posted a bit about this wonderful Swedish tradition. If you would like a peek back in time you can click here. There is even a recipe for Swedish Oven Pancakes.
Another fun posting when Funny Bunny Two-Two was small can be found here
Heart Thought:  in my heart, family traditions are the icing on the cake when it comes to raising a family. The cool thing is: I know that each and every one of you have special moments in your lives that you dearly revere. Wish I could listen to your stories. 

Have a great week.

smiles: sharon


Silver Brush Art Show

This has been a house of near-silence.
This has been a house of rather intense focus.
This has been a house with little social networking.
This has been a house that is NOW
Ready to Go For It !
Silver Brush Art Show this weekend.
November 13 and 14, 2015
Details below.
If you are in the area please stop by. 
If not, the new paintings are up on my website.
Sharing a few here.
Seems like I had a lot of ideas, sketches, photo references 
to pull from. As a result I ended up with a
mixture of styles, colors, surfaces: from encaustic
to oil to acrylic to mixed media grabbing anything near my easel.

Some times I wonder just how many tubes of paint I go through????
This is the Biggie 36x36 !
This one is wee, 6x6, inches that is.
Encaustic and Mixed Media...loads of fun!
Lots of flowers in this show...roses and sunflowers.

Enjoyed doing five mixed media paintings of women in various stages of contemplation.Would love to see you at the show..fabulous paintings, jewelry, clay work and photography. A portion of proceeds benefit Blessed Assurance, a local day care facility for adults.  A gift of giving.

Have a beautiful month filled with Thanksgiving.  May your blessings be bountiful. 

Thank you for the support and friendship you have given to me over the many years of painting, art shows, blogging, IG and a tiny bit of FB.

Silver Brush Show, November 13, 5:30-9:30 refreshmentsNovember 14, 9:30-4:30
Weaver, Bennett and Bland
196 North Trade Street
Downtown Matthews, NC