Ann At Home

Painting Eyeballs

Again, I post this stuff to Facebook all the time, so I feel like I’ve shared, but rarely do I put it here in the blog, which I should. So, here’s to sharing!

About eight months ago I decided to pick up a paintbrush and see if I could paint. Yes, I know that’s random, but I wanted to try. I’ve never been an artist or anything, so I had no idea if I could do this. This is my first painting. (All images can be clicked to open hugely into a new tab.)

My first attempt at painting in May 2016. Inktense on 140# cold-pressed (CP) watercolor paper. Copyright Ann Christy 2016.

Note the lack of facial features? Yeah, I wasn’t there. But I wanted to be. Here are a few more attempts.

Entitled “Tango.” Copyright Ann Christy 2016. From the story, “The Mergens.” Inktense on 140# CP.

 

Entitled “Our Lady of Fire and Vengeance” Copyright Ann Christy 2016 (From the story, “The Mergens”). Inktense on 140# CP.

 

Entitled “Delta.” Copyright Ann Christy 2016. (From the story, “The Mergens.” Inktense on 140# CP.

Note the primitive and not very realistic eyes? Well, I decided there that the only way to get better was to get better…as in focus on each feature. So, I started by focusing on eyes, which are really important for making a painting connect with a viewer. I mean, you can seriously suck at many other parts of the body, but the eyes will make or break you.

These next pictures are me practicing eyes.

Blue eye practice, October 2016. Copyright Ann Christy 2016. Watercolor on 140# CP.

 

Brown eye practice, November 2016. Copyright Ann Christy 2016. Watercolor on 140# CP.

 

Self-portrait eye practice, January 2017. Copyright Ann Christy 2017. Watercolor on 140# cold press.

 

Eye practice with Bob’s self-portrait using a phone camera. Many folks very kindly put up images of their eyes on Facebook when I asked for one to paint. I selected Bob’s due to the clarity of the photo and unusual iris patterns. January 2017. Copyright Ann Christy 2017. Watercolor on 140# CP.

 

What really surprised me was how fast a really dedicated person can make progress. I’m not a natural artist by any means. In fact, it’s very alien to me. I’m more of a science person, yet there is something undeniably soothing and satisfying about this art stuff. I’ve still never had an art class, so I don’t even know if I’m using the right brushes or materials…or even if I’m using the brushes correctly. All this is sort of a learn-as-I-go experience.

What does that mean? I think it means that anyone at all can do this. Truly. I think any person can pick up a brush and grab their medium of choice and go to town. Very quickly you’ll discover what you like (oils-no, acrylic-no, watercolor-yes) and narrow in on your particular style.

I’m excited to see what happens next.

Yeah, That’s Tasty…

I’m a total Facebook junkie. Because I post so much there, I often don’t think of making sure I post some of the same stuff to the blog here. I mean, how much do people care (outside of Facebook) what new recipe I’ve tried or what nifty prepper tip I have for the day?

One of my favorite things is eating…but also cooking the food that I eat. I’m an avid subscriber to Blue Apron, but with a twist. I try to figure out how to make the ones I really like using common ingredients or pantry staples. I even try to use prepper friendly ingredients. I mean, after all, putting such in your regular rotation is the best way to keep them fresh and replaced without waste.

Here’s one recent twist:

Blue Apron’s Crispy Catfish with Yellow Curry & Bird’s Eye Chili Sauce

Go on and take a look at it on the link (which is prettier than mine). Yeah, that looks tasty. Here are pantry friendly substitutions and recommendations that store super well for longer term (we’d call that short to medium length for prep specific).

Ingredient Replacements: Use red pepper flakes instead of the chili, any non-instant rice instead of jasmine, flour for rice flour. NOTE: They sent an American farm raised mild catfish that tastes like Basa. Don’t get Vietnamese or Chinese Basa instead, because it’s questionably raised. Any mild, flaky, white fish works. Regular catfish doesn’t work in this.

Pantry (and Prep) Friendly or No-Waste Items:

1) Coconut Milk Powder is incredibly versatile, stores well, and adds a hint of tropical sweetness and depth to dishes. The powder is vastly superior to the canned milk in terms of cost. Coconut Palm Sugar is the same, but it’s pricey compared to regular sugar, so I use it where I get the best impact, like this dish.

2) Buy fresh ginger by the pound, spend an hour mincing it all, then put it in a bag in your freezer. Break off to use as fresh ginger as needed. No more waste! Powdered will work, but fresh is best. The bigger bag linked below is a bargain compared with most spices. I also like Laxmi brand, which is smaller and cheaper, but lasts forever if stored properly.

3) There’s a joke that says, buy a new pack of yellow curry paste every time you buy a new refrigerator to keep it fresh. Yeah, it lasts. The brand I use is linked below and it comes in a plastic bag inside a plastic jar. It’s freaking delicious and adds zip to boring things (like beans and rice in prep stocks). PRO TIP: You can (under uber-clean conditions) open the packet and re-vacuum seal single use amounts for storage. I don’t do that anymore because I use it so frequently.

4) Ponzu sauce is an overlooked, but delicious, thin sauce you can use like soy sauce. It’s got a citrus kick that’s delightful.

5) You can use regular old lime juice if you don’t have a lime, but the zest is really awesome in this one. Try to use fresh if you can. I’m still waiting for someone to pack up freeze-dried lime zest that looks like zest! Dehydrated lime juice is a prepper must-have, the brand I use is below and works fine when you have no limes on hand.

6) You can substitute the kale with fresh spinach, young collards, bok choy, or beet greens. It doesn’t taste good with cabbage. Cool tolerant, fast-growing, and low maintenance leafy greens are a prepper must-have. They fill huge gaps in prep diets and offer the satisfaction that only green things do. Do you have leafy green seeds on hand? Do you?

Overall, this is rated 5 stars from me. It’s easy to source the main ingredients and many of the components are pantry friendly and easily used in a myriad of other meals. It’s quick to make, as in super quick, and well rounded with rib-sticking satisfaction levels. On the economical scale – I rate this one an 8 out of 10, which is awesome. Initial purchases of milk powder and curry paste can be high, but the number of uses each provides knocks that cost waaaaay down. The protein grams per dollar are high too.


Work In Progress

Savannah Slays (working title)

5000/ 100000 words. 5% done!

Portals - Portal Invasion #1

78000/ 78000 words. First Draft Done!

Mercy - PePr Inc novella

3000/ 20000 words. 15% done!

The Ways We End

66000/ 66000 words. 100% Done! Publishing Dec 8th! (Dark Collections 2, "And Then Begin Again" goes live on the Dec 8th too!

Strikers: Outlands

40000/ 10000 words. 40% Done!

Good News Gone Bad #1
Series of Shorts

4000 / 20000 words. Back Burner for now.

Lulu 394

60020 / 80000 words. 75% done! Back Burner for now!

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Books by Ann Christy