October 6, 2014

feels like fall

fall leaves in silver and crystal
Suddenly it feels like fall. The sunlight is different. Last week, for the first time in many months, we had a few days that were actually cooler outside than inside. We still have some hot days left, and maybe a few more thunderstorms, but for the most part summer and monsoon season are giving way to autumn. Ah, my favorite time of year! But here, almost any time of year could be my favorite.

Speaking of fall, I have some fall leaves jewelry in my Etsy shop. I love working with the images of real leaves I collected when we lived in Oregon. I often pair the silver with fall-color crystals or natural stone beads, as seen in the examples here.

fall leaves earrings handmade in .999 Fine Silver, with Amber beads

fall leaf pendant with Swarovski crystal (matches earrings at top)

September 15, 2014

monsoon season

thunderhead forming
This is my second monsoon season in Arizona, and I think this one has been much wetter than last year (which around here is a good thing). It raised one of our local lakes by many feet, completely covering all the old water lines we have been able to see ever since we moved here. It is a superior alternative to the long, dark, rainy Northwest winters I was used to. I like the rain, and the thunderstorms are fantastic (something I never thought I'd say, I was scared terrified of the few little thunderstorms we had when I was growing up). And as a bonus, I get to look forward to a cool but sunny winter. A win-win!

During monsoon season, the clouds don't move in from somewhere else, they form here, before your very eyes if you're outside long enough. They create skies that may be gray, but are beautiful in their own way. But don't think the whole season is cloudy; it alternates between this and hot sunny days, which makes for a good variety.

first day of real monsoon clouds this year

monsoon season sky at sunset

another monsoon season sky at sunset

Steven playing in the rain (I joined him after this photo)

August 25, 2014

painting sneak peek

First, I just had to share the photo at left, which captures the temporary green we do get here in Prescott after monsoon season is well underway! The trees leaf out green in the spring of course, but the grass doesn't turn green until August. So different from what I'm used to, but I love it.

Early this summer, I took an inventory of my (very old) paint and such, and placed an order so I could finally get back to painting. It has been far too long since I did an actual painting on canvas, and I didn't want to wait any longer! I have done other types of painting projects in recent years, but painting pictures on canvas is entirely different and probably my favorite art form. You may recall I did some mini watercolor paintings a few summers ago, which you can see here, here, and here, which was a great way to stay connected to painting that year.

I picked out some photos I have taken of scenery around Arizona, and the first I chose to paint is a view from Route 66 in some open land between Seligman and Peach Springs from our road trip last fall (it's not based on the photos I shared in the blog post, it will be something new for you to see). I am working my way down on the canvas, here is a sneak peek at it, showing the sky and distant ridges. The full canvas is 18 x 24 inches. You'll have to wait for a future post to see the rest as it progresses!

work in progress: partial painting by Jennifer Kistler

It is slow going, and now I am waiting for another order that includes a special palette that should keep my paints wet a lot better. I love working in acrylics, but even when sprayed with water daily, my paints (including mixed colors I want to continue using in more painting sessions) just don't stay wet in my old butcher tray palette under plastic wrap. Even in monsoon season it is just too dry here! (maybe it's the altitude?) So I'm looking forward to less frustration with that. I am really enjoying painting again, and can't wait to share the finished piece!

August 20, 2014

the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, Arizona
Welcome back! After taking a break from my blog this summer, I am looking forward to sharing some photos and art in the coming weeks. My boys are back in school and I am returning to the school year routine around here.

The last Friday before school started, we decided to drive up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It was stunning, vast, and everything I expected it to be. It is so big it's hard to even comprehend what you're looking at. The layers of rock were intriguing. While we spent far more time on the buses than I would have preferred (we did the long route to the west), we were able to get out and see the Canyon from several viewpoints. We visited in the middle of a gorgeous sunny day (with some scattered clouds that occasionally created interesting shadows), which was pleasant but did wash out the view some. So I know these aren't the most spectacular photos of the Grand Canyon, but they are mine! (all but the small one and the elk photo were taken with my DSLR camera, no editing except to crop and resize.)

On our way back, we ate dinner in the historic Route 66 town of Williams, so I can add that to my list of Route 66 places visited, cool! We ate in a vintage car-themed diner, and then browsed the gift shop next door where I found a Grand Canyon photo plate for the front of my truck (now that we live in Arizona where cars only have rear plates, it was an empty spot, and I finally found something I wanted to put there).

The Grand Canyon (south rim)

we saw several young elk along the road south of the Grand Canyon

March 18, 2014

goodbye winter, welcome spring

early spring blossoms
Here in Prescott, Arizona we seem to have had an unusually mild and short winter. Which really was disappointing, though I wouldn't trade it for what much of the country has suffered (my sympathies to you all!). When it snowed in early December, we spent a mind-numbing amount of time in the CAL Ranch store for the boys to pick out good snow boots. No cold uninsulated rain boots for them this winter, they were going to play in the multiple snows we expected in comfort! And then... They never came. All I can say is, I hope we bought the boots big enough that they will fit next winter.

Since my last post, I have been busy with stuff like taking care of sick kiddos (for a total of two weeks between them, ugh), then guiding them through multiple large school projects, attending their science fair and then heritage day, and trying to wind down over Spring Break. Never have we needed Spring Break so badly as we did this year!

dramatic sky just before our only real spring rain so far

same time as photo above, looking another direction

on Aspen Creek Trail, love the tall trees up there!