Painting with a magnifying glass

I am a very visual person. Somebody tells me something and I see it in living color. You tell me a name and I immediately see it written (and very often I get the spelling right too). I read a book and I make my own mini movie in my head.

eye buttons


And my sight was always good. I have needed glasses for work on the computer or to see far into the distance for years but the past 6 years my eyesight was excellent and I could ditch the glasses.

Then a couple of weeks ago I noticed that I had a blurry vision in my left eye. And that did not go away. In fact, it got worse. I was doing my painting with a large magnifying glass in my left hand.

Eventually, after 3 weeks I went to the doctor who send me to an eye specialist in the hospital. Tests were done. Tests that were not fun at all.

When the results came back I was shocked. I have cataract.    Cataract?    Really?

Geez, suddenly I feel old. I know that I have my fair share of grey hair (but I will confess, it is dyed a very youthful blonde) but honestly, cataract…   Isn’t that for the old folks? I’ve only just turned 50. Give me a break will ya!

My left eye has a vision of -3,75 and I see something like this:

left eye blurry


He gave me an option of an operation or getting glasses. The way he described the operation made my stomach turn. This time I did not need to use my own imagination, he had pictures. Very graphic pictures. In color. Very detailed. And It would be done without general anesthesia!


Well, I can tell you this for nothing… if anyone coming near my eye with a scalpel, within a range of 10 feet I would kick his or her ass. This simply was not an option for me.

So I am asking about the option of having it with the general anesthesia, and he told me they would generally do this only with small children. Trust me on this; I am big very very small child. He proceeded to tell me all the risks involved with general anesthesia. Not a pretty sum up. And the way he said it…(If you ever need someone to send your guest home after you thrown a party, and the guest linger longer then wanted… THIS would be the guy to have around. 10 seconds of him talking and everyone runs out the door).

He said I could get glasses, and maybe in a couple of months time I could possibly need stronger glasses and again and again. For a couple of years I could have joy and vision with the glasses. For a full 100 percent on both eyes he said, with glasses. But then eventually I would need that operation. No way around it. Slicing and dicing will come my way. No escape.

Fine. In a couple of years time I will be brave enough to have that operation. But not now. For now I will get glasses and look intelligent.

So, because I need glasses I thought I would buy me a nice funky frame. Electric blue came to mind. Purple too. Forest green. Fire engine red. I wanted something eccentric. Because, if you got it, you flaunt it. Right? And I definitely did not want a black one. I want to stand out in the crowd.

Last week Thursday I went to the optician and he did tests as well. Pleasant ones this time and very very thorough. Turns out I have not a -3,75 but a -5,25 and also my right eye had a difference. (did my eyes get worse in the two weeks between the hospital examination and the trip to get glasses?, or did the doctor do a not so good job of it…)  And the optician said that with glasses I will have a 60 percent vision in my left eye.

Sigh … just a very deep sigh

I went to try on frames. All the colors that I wanted. And the models that I liked. One after another were rejected because either the frame model did not look on me, or the color did nothing for me. Finally there were two frames left. One was a metallic forest green one that I liked but the optician said I could not have this frame because the glass I need for my left eye would be too thick for that kind of frame.

And then there was only one. I loved this one. It looked good (I’m trusting my right eye and the girl in the shop who helped me), it felt right.

And what color is it? … drum roll please … Black.

Say what??????? (insert high pitched voice here) Yes, it is BLACK, but with turquoise accents:

glasses       source

I can pick it up Thursday afternoon. Just one more day. Hoping to ditch the magnifying glass but will keep it handy just in case. And for now I return to my painting WITH the magnifying glass.

Burning that wood, and no… it’s not a forest fire!

For years now I have been affectionated with pyrography. Love the fact that you can burn into wood, creating deep burned lines and getting a wonderful smell all at the same time. After the burning you can paint it as I am not to keen to keeping it all “woodsy” in all shades of brown. You are creating your own coloring book so to speak. And I love what Sticks does, first sketch  a drawing, then burn the wood and then color it in with bright colored acrylics.  I did try some stuff myself with a borrowed pyrography machine and that worked out great.
Then I went into a long hiatus of art making, but I kept on looking at wonderful samples on the internet. And unblocking also because of reading The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. And the urge returned. The urge to make stuff. Stuff that would be just as pretty as the ones on internet – more precisely … Pinterest. Just like every one else I have become addicted.
So after a long looooooooong time, I purchased a cheap pyrography machine. And these 2 ravens is what I first came up with.
Raven 2
Raven 1
And the cheap pyrography machine was just that. Cheap. It worked. It did what it was supposed to do… burn the wood. But it also burned my fingers. And then Christmas came. And I got a money gift. I knew right away what I was going to do with that. I bought my self a “professional” machine. Well, the best I could afford anyway.
And while cruising the Pinterest boards, I saw this wonderful picture of a tiger.
LOVE LOVE LOVE the eyes. Totally fell in love with this guy (or girl, who knows)
So I thought I give it a try and first sketched on paper till I was happy with the result. Then I traced it onto a piece of wood and this is how far it has gotten today:
PicMonkey Collage Tiger face 1
Still have a long way to go before I can call this one finished but I am having fun with it. As far as the professional machine goes, I was hoping it would be the end of burned fingers…. sigh. Nope. But I am loving the process so I will continue. When the tiger is done I have a few more ideas I want to do. I think I’d better invest in some burn salve and plasters.

The lure of Victorian architecture

For as long as I remember I have had a fascination with Victorian houses. Porches, turrets, mansard roofs, nooks and crannies, hidden passageways behind the stairs, secret corridors leading you to a hidden room in the attic or cellar. Oh the treasures a Victorian house can hold. I love it all. That said… I only love the architectural features both inside and out. Most certainly NOT the interiors.

I love all the styles but my heart especially goes out to the:

Queen Anne style – for the angles, the turrets and the porches
This fine example is in Yonkers, NY and still standing beautiful to this day!Image


Gothic Revivals – for the elaborate millwork and the overall storybook styleImage

Second Empire style - they are just so very Addams Family, don’t you think?Image

 My passion for these lovely Victorian homes goes hand in hand with my other passion: Halloween. Whenever I see a “normal” Victorian house I immediately add a fallen shutter or two, broken windows, cobwebs, lack of paint, lurking eyes, a shadowy figure, some ghosts and if the garden is wild enough some tombstones.

I also like to search for the history of the houses I find and get as many pictures per house as possible. For some houses I also have details of who lived there, what they added to the house or maybe had removed. Or maybe the house was burned down or demolished or even still standing today. Some houses changed hands many a times with as many name changes. Some houses have stayed within the same family to this day (amazing when you think of it).

I love to draw and paint them too. Here is a Lazy Susan I did.Image

If these houses could talk, oh the stories they’d tell.

Foodie confessions


“Hi, my name is Renée and I am a foodie”

“Hello Renée” ( in unison the whole imaginary food addict support group greets me)

All kidding aside, I love food. I love to eat. Problem is the food I love to eat makes me fat. You won’t see me salivating over a bell pepper salad. Nope. The foods you have to eat in serious moderation, those I can eat 3 times a day plus snacks and even then you can wake me in the middle of the night for more. Pasta with a generous helping of pesto sauce. Golden chunky fries with spicy saté sauce. Grilled cheese sandwiches with lots of honey mustard. A large wholeweat sandwich spread with a large dollop of yoghurt-mayonaise, soft brie, gerkins, tomatoes and topped with potato chips. I could go on and on.

And I have.

So much so that now I am an unhealthy size 50 (Eu) / 22 (UK) / 20 (US). In weight that translates to 105 kilo / 16.5 stone / 231 pounds.

Exercise? Ha, don’t make me laugh. I cycle to and from work each day. That’s 20 minutes on a bike twice a day. That’s it. Oh, and I have to go up 2 flights of stairs to reach my apartment. My job is a 70% sitting down situation. Pretty sad huh?

But no more. That’s it. NO MORE ! Yes, I said that out loud.

I’m going grocery shopping for healthy items. Next week menu for the first 3 days will contain a healthy Greek feta salad and garlic bread, pasta with a homemade veggie tomato sauce, green beans with herbal soy bits and a little light version of satey sauce. Snacks will be frozen grapes, frozen pineapple and fresh made smoothies from soy milk with fresh or frozen fruit.

As for the exercise, I will walk (not run) in a sturdy pace around my island. That should be around 40 minutes. I’ll try and do that 3 times a week starting tomorrow. The other 4 days I shall try my hand at doing sit ups and push ups. Oh my word, what am I saying!

My goal is to drop 5 sizes and go to size 40 (Eu) / 12 (UK) / 10 (US) by summer 2014! Why summer 2014? I am saving up to go to San Francisco for 2 weeks in September or October. To celebrate my big Five O.  A milestone birthday. I would hate it if a stewardess would tell me I could not fly because of my weight. 15 months to go and counting down. Wish me luck?