Heather’s Ramblings

Archive for October 2007

Because I don’t have enough on my plate already, I decided to try my hand at oil painting in addition to my work as a jewelry designer, hot glass artist, and amateur home chef.

I did a little research on Wet Canvas and did a Google search as well on the various types of oil paint and decided I would rather use a water soluble oil paint rather than an  oil paint that required turpentine for clean up.  My dog and I both have lots of allergies and chemical sensitives so anything that allows me to create without bringing potentially aggravating chemicals into my house is great.

I came up with a general idea of the picture I wanted to paint and what paint colors I wanted to use.  I went to my local craft store and bought Winsor & Newton water soluble oil paints because that was the only water soluble oil the store carried.  I picked out my red, yellow, green and blue that I planned on and then added a tube of purple because it kept calling to me.  I bought a 12″x12″ prestretched, pregesso’d canvas and three brushes.  The brushes I got were Winsor & Newton fine hog natural bristles.  I got a #3 round, a #2 round, and a #1 filbert, these were the only sizes and type of brush they had (I live in a very small town).  I will probably order synthetic brushes at some point because I read later that the natural bristles can be damaged during the cleaning process when you use water and soap.  The water gets into the bristles and causes them to swell.  For now though, natural is fine.  Its my first painting and I don’t know any better 🙂

Here is a picture of my supplies.  The colors I bought were Alizarian Crimson, Phthalo Green (blue shade), French Ultra Marine, Dioxazine Purple, and Lemon Yellow.  A very bold, cheerful pallet 🙂

The white tray at the top held some ink blocks for the color printer at my day job.  It was going to be thrown away so I thought I would bring it home and try it as a makeshift pallet.

This is my easel.  It is a page holder that most people use to hold paper when they are working on a computer so the page is brought up to eye level.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to like oil painting so I didn’t want to buy a lot of supplies only to find I had wasted the money.  The canvas is small so it fits very nicely on this holder.

The last necessary item in my studio is my studio assistant.  Her name is Summer and she is 8 years old.

Here it looks like she is pretending to be an area rug but she’s actually performing a very important function.  She is keeping an eye on that spot of sun and making sure it does not move.

Here she is again, only this time she is telling me to stop screwing around and get to work.  Yes Ma’am!

Hmmm, I wonder if German Shepherd hair would make a good brush?  I certainly have enough hair laying around.  LOL

I started out my sketching out my idea on my canvas and deciding which block was going to be what color.  Modern art always seemed to me to be more expressive of the artists inner self and speaks to me more than still lifes or portraits.

Sometimes modern art makes me laugh out loud and strikes me as silly but there is nothing wrong with that, and if my pieces make others smile or giggle then that is ok.  When I work on a piece whether it is a bead, a bracelet, or this first painting I want the viewer to feel something.  Even violent dislike is ok because that is still a feeling.  The worst insult an artist can receive is for the viewer to be completely indifferent to the piece.

Anyway, back to my picture.  The first image is my canvas with my sketch on it and the second is the first section filled in with the Crimson.

As I was working I used my filbert brush to fill in the section with red by just brushing the red on.  I wanted to work in the impasto style which gives a picture some texture.  After filling in the entire section I went back over the section with more crimson and laid the paint on much thicker.  As I applied the paint I also went in a counter clockwise motion to create little swirls in the paint.  This is why my red section has a mottled appearance to it.  I rather like the effect.

I am really looking forward to seeing the picture when it is done.  If you are too then be sure you check in often and I will update you on my progress.


Hello all!  I’ve made more mozzarella and this time I took pictures.

It went better this time but still wasn’t perfect.

I started out by adding the milk and citric acid and heating to 88 degrees.  Instead of using milk though I tried the suggested method of using powdered milk and heavy cream.  I had a lot of problem getting the powdered milk to dissolve and I won’t be trying this method again.  Here is the milk and citric acid in the pot.  I use a large spoon with holes in it to mix my milk.  I also use this utensil to scoop out the curds so I prefer to only dirty one piece.

Cheese step 1

After the milk hit 88 degrees I added the rennet.

Cheese step 2

Then I let it set for 15 minutes.  At this stage it should have been one solid mass of curd.  Instead I ended up with a pot of what looked like ricotta cheese and whey.

Cheese step 3

Using my spoon with holes in it I scooped out as much whey as I could.

Cheese step 4

The next step was to microwave the curd and knead them into a chunk of cheese.  I microwaved and kneaded many times until the cheese was shiny and stretchy.   The salt is added during this kneaded and stretching stage.

Cheese step 5

Once the cheese was shiny and stretchy I formed it into a ball and dunked it in ice water to firm up.

Cheese step 6

At this point the cheese was done.  I stuck it in my fridge for a few days until today.  When I shredded it up and used it to make a homemade pizza.

Cheese step 7

It was delicious!

I am still not happy with my mozzarella process though.  One of these days I will get a firm mass of curds like the directions say I’m supposed to.

If anyone reading this is inspired to make cheese I would love to hear how your results turned out.