A Spot of Tea

I never know where the inspiration for my daily drawings will come from. It could be a snippet of conversation with a friend or family member. It could be a new recipe I’ve seen on Food Network or it could be something that got mentioned on Facebook. And today’s entry is inspired by a Facebook post.

An old friend recently highlighted a site that features vintage teapots. I loved it because I used to have quite a collection of them.

However, when I downsized from my house to a small apartment, most of them had to go. I had to pick and choose what I could actually take with me to a more compact living space. But I did keep a few of my favorites.

This is a drawing of the few teapots I have left. Two are Hall collectibles, one is a Paragon from England and one is Bavarian china. They make me smile when I look at them.


Fortunately, I was able to keep more of my English teacup sets since they take up less room. Some of the ones I have are quite valuable so I can’t bear to part with them yet.


Preparing tea is not a fussy endeavor at all. It is pure pleasure. And I was reminded of that a couple years ago…

I was in Italy taking an art class and two of the other ladies there were from England. Several times a day they would have to break for a “cuppa.” Off they would go to the kitchen and plug in the electric kettle. In two minutes flat they would be sipping their refreshment and be renewed. I made a habit of joining them.

Needless to say, one of the first purchases I made when I got back home to Ohio was an electric kettle. What a wondrous thing! It heats up instantly and you can have the perfect cup of tea (or broth) in no time flat!

So, yes, I’ve given up coffee in favor of tea. I DO love coffee but it doesn’t love me. I save it for special occasions.

In the meantime, I enjoy trying out all kinds of tea.

Have a “spot” anyone?

Tasty Little Cabbages

I don’t know about you, but I grew up without ever eating a lot of vegetables.

Canned corn or green beans was about it.

Although there was that one time when my mother served cauliflower – god knows where she even got it in 1960 – and we had one of those showdowns where I sat at the table refusing to eat. And I got it served to me all the next day until both I – and it – were totally done in. I shiver to think about that!

But these days I am a true cabbage lover. A skill I acquired all on my own.

And sometimes I even CRAVE cauliflower. How weird is that?

You see, over the years I’ve been exposed to foods – and ways of cooking them – that I never knew as a kid or young adult. And boy has my taste matured!


I was in the market the other day and picked up some Prince Edward Island Mussels. (That’s another thing I never even tasted until just a few years ago!) What a buy these were! I got a whole big mess of them for under three bucks and came home to look for mussel recipes.

Now I know I can do them in a garlic-wine sauce and slurp them up with a piece of good, fresh bread. But what are the possibilities?

Hmmmm. A quick internet search led me to a recipe by Michael Symon (of The Chew) called Mussels and Brussels. Wow… here he is frying off a bit of bacon, adding some thinly sliced garlic, then the mussels and wine to deglaze the pan. The final addition is some whole grain mustard, shaved brussels sprouts and freshly chopped parsley.

My mouth was watering just thinking about it!

So back to the store I went to pick up some brussels sprouts – and some crusty bread.

Lo and behold, the produce department had full STALKS of brussels sprouts newly imported from Mexico!

They were a dollar more than the small withered ones in the plastic bags ($2.99 vs $1.99) so I stood there and gazed at them for a while.

Doesn’t it make sense that they would be more fresh since they hadn’t even yet come off the stalk? Seemed so to me…

So I picked up a heavily-laden stalk to take home.

I kept thinking to myself… what a prize!

And when I checked out, the guy bagging the groceries held up the monstrous stalk and asked “what in the world is this?”

I simply replied, “brussels sprouts still on the stalk…” as though I buy them everyday. Of course I do…

So, I got them home and prepared to make the mussels and brussels.

But first I had to take the sprouts – stalk and all – and take a few photos to sketch from. Never should I eat something so interesting without recording it in my sketchbook!

Here’s the sketch of the lovely but unusual version of the vegetable… (unusual unless you’re a sprout farmer!)

b sprouts

And I did make the mussels and brussels a la Michael Symon. It was just ok. Good, but only ok. I think in the future I will stick to the tried and true mussels in wine spiked with garlic. You can’t go wrong with that.

Of course I still have a big ole stalk of brussels sprouts left to use up! I’ve found several recipes where you stick the whole thing in the oven after dousing it with some olive oil and salt. It is in the oven right now!

I’ll let you know how it goes.

And in case you’re wondering… it DID take me longer to DRAW these sprouts than to eat them! Still, I’ve developed a taste for these delicate little cabbages. How great is that?

Progress Report

You know what they say about old dogs and new tricks…

I’m guessing there is some truth to it, but only as much as you allow. Still, it can be hard to change your ways!

I did get started on the still life I wanted to paint and the drawing process was awesome. Mark explained how to set up a couple of reference lines and then use the proportional divider to mark the position of the objects. It sure takes the guesswork out of it! And when you get done, everything is in the right place. It did take a while, and you can’t see my drawing on the stained canvas very well, but it looks promising.  Here’s that progression…

Set up the still life inside the shadow box and turn on the light in the light box positioned above. Then add a couple of strings to make both a horizontal and vertical line of reference.

IMG_3802Use the proportional divider (you can buy a cheap plastic one for $15 or so, but my son made me a beautiful one out of mahogany wood – it is a delight to use! Measure your objects with the short side and flip the divider over to transfer the measurements onto the stained canvas with the bigger side. Mark has complete video instructions for this on his website, drawmixpaint.com.

913291_2_proportional_divider_www.ward2u.comIMG_3819Then you get to mix paint! Using the color-checker (a device Mark also details on his website) mix all the color groups you need and get them onto your glass palette. They’ll last for a while since all the paints include slow dry medium. This was new to me, but the paint is literally like butter.

IMG_3836   color-checker

Start painting – dark first and gradually adding lighter sections of each object. It is best to complete one object at a time rather than jumping all over the place.

IMG_3837 Step9b

Work and work and work some more. Resist the urge to just paint without using the color checker (I didn’t!)

step 9B paint canvas covered

Get the canvas covered before you start any blending. This is hard to do!!! But if you blend now you will lose your deep shadow colors and it is near impossible to get them back. Naturally I did this, but hey – it’s my first painting with this method. I’ll have to practice more…

final 1I am (somewhat) pleased with the final result. I may go back and do a few things on it, but I sure learned a lot! For one thing… I did NOT spend enough time setting up a satisfactory still life. I thought I did because I changed it numerous times, but overall I didn’t like the dark look of it. So why would I think the painting would look any different? It doesn’t! Lesson learned… Also, the photo isn’t exactly true to the painting. The background looks pretty wishy washy here – moreso than in the actual painting.

So that’s painting number one. I don’t think I can stand to work it on much more, although I am waiting for Mark’s feedback on it. He might have something to say that will make me go back to it. We’ll see.

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