Thursday, April 23, 2020

Keto Chocolate Cookies



I am magic! I made okay keto cookies with no recipe! I was more craving making cookies than cookies, and was prepared to end up with a gritty mess and having discovered something that doesn't make good cookies. These came out waaaaay better than they had any right to, tasting and feeling basically like brownies. I think this is due to the cocoa butter.

Here is the recipe:
When I say a scant quarter cup I mean I scooped some with a quarter cup measuring cup. So like, an unknown amount that is less than a quarter cup. I was skeptical of the erithritol for being way sweeter than sugar, the cocoa powder for being bitter, and the coconut flower for absorbing a million times its weight in liquid.

scant 1/4 cup coconut flour
scant 1/4 cup cocoa
almost no salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp cocoa butter
scant 1/4 cup erithrytol sweetener
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Egg

Combine dry ingredients by themselves and wet ingredients by themselves, starting with the fats, and then add the dry to the wet, stir, scoop onto a lined tray and bake at 350.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

San Francisco Skyline in Oil

Middle Harbor Shoreline Park has a ton of interesting industrial views. Cranes, the long overpass-like approach of the bridge, tons of cargo containers. It was hard to pick one. But the Bay bridge curving into the San Francisco skyline pulled me in.

As you can see, it was an aggressively gray day.

A Rainbow from Black, White, Yellow, and Red

 My first two paintings of the Zorn palette were rather dark. I knew from swatching when I first heard of the palette 6 months ago that there were more possibilities. But I could not get them. So I took trying to paint from life out of the equation and just mixed a simple rainbow.

This rainbow is so calm and balanced!

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Fresh New Limited Palette (From the 1800s)

I love a limited palette. I love drawing something in water soluble ink and then coaxing a mid tone and deep tone out of it with a water brush. I love painting with just shadows. I love painting the sea and the sky with just the white of the paper, a warm blue, and a green blue. I love mixing the green of a potted plant and the terra cotta of its pot from yellow, cyan, and magenta. This basically is because I can't work all the colors at one time.

When I try and match each bit of a scene to the right thing in my paint box, the result looks artificial at best, jarring at worst. (A great tip when you've completed a painting and this happens, is to grab a little bit of one of the main colors and find somewhere to dab or smear it into the other main color. This makes it more cohesive immediately.)

 My plan to get to where I can use all the stunning colors that look so beautiful in a swatch (they make watercolors out of gemstones now!), is to learn a new to me limited palette. This has been on the to do list since summer, so 6 months, including 4 months that I took off to work on my art. Thanks to the COVID-19 quarantine, I am not only off work, but also off the gym(s), off traffic, off visiting friends and family, off shopping. I am using some of that time to learn the Zorn Palette.

I plan to work in all genres. The palette is most suited to portraits but I prefer to work from life and have no model aside from myself.

Zorn Palette Exploration Day 2: Botanical

 Having learned from day 1 that I could not coax a full range of color out of red, black, white, and yellow, I set myself up for success by choosing a subject that is already those colors. I sat in the garden observing when it was overcast and blending when it was sunny and I had to put on sunglasses. I am not trying to learn a new palette with a gray filter intermittently over my eyes.
 Lovely, vibrant, healthy succulents!
I really tried to capture the little edge highlight on each leaf. I had to paste it on thick to keep it from blending with the underlying color. Because in life it is so thin it might be something to add later with a little rigging brush, but then how do I keep track of where those highlights go? I also found it difficult to put in black shadows. I would apply the black, and doing so would blend it into the burgundy, making it disappear. I think the most successful part of this painting is the background. I did not invent it but copied it as best I could from life. The bluish gray of the wall, the light toned brown of the dirt in the background, the shaded red lip of the terra cotta, and the business of the soil in the foreground.

Zorn Palette Exploration Day 1: Landscape

 Not sure you can make anything out in this landscape painting.
 Does that help? This is the view from my window while quarantined.
Essentially there is just a learning curve to using oil paints, and I am very out of practice. It's a very different practice from watercolor, where you let the paper shine through as you swish a little accent here and there.

Having set a goal to work on my Zorn Palette skills, I realized suddenly the light was fading and I had no ground prepared and no subject. I painted directly on the watercolor paper, racing the sunset. My red was not correct (quinacridone rather than cadmium) and I overestimated my ability to coax a blue sky out of the limited palette of red, white, black, and yellow.

Compared to when I first tried oil painting 10 years ago, this is more successful. I sat and blended everything away into mud and couldn't understand how it had happened.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Japanese Shopping Service

My first order from Amazon.co.jp was super exciting. Before I ordered, I wasn't even sure they would accept an American credit card. I could not believe all the titles that were available to me, all the crafting books with amazing photos. From craft swaps I know that very small packages can end up costing a lot to ship internationally, but for two books it was only $12.40. That was 5 months ago. I was ready to put in another order but NOTHING in my order could be shipped to me. I wanted a few DVDs that are only available used, and some cans of coffee. I thought about it for a couple of days. The base price for one of the DVDs was $5, and I have wanted it for a few years. I decided to use a shopping service. There are so many fees! The service fee is separate from the percentage fee and the order fee and the item fee, plus of course double shipping. As I looked at the breakdown I reminded myself that I was buying 4 things for $40 (before international shipping), so even though the fees looked ridiculous they were fine. Today they have sent me six emails. 
It feels like at this rate I should just go to Japan, but if I do that I will of course want to have the practice.