Month: November 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Snowman Window Painting

Recently, the high school Art Club, of which I am a member, (and presumably the middle school one as well) was asked by some business owners in the town center to paint store windows. The guidelines for the designs were very simple. They wanted something that was cheery and Christmas-themed. I would normally say that it was simply to be winter-holiday-themed, but this is Arizona. Let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve just about finished the project now, and I suppose we’ve done about ten designs, some of which span multiple windows. I only personally painted two designs, though there are several other designs I made that were used. The painting below was designed and executed by me, I’m happy to say. I’m pleased with the outcome, given that I was taken by surprise by the streaky and rather trying nature of the paint we used.

The top image is the initial design.

I’ll take a picture sometime of the second painting I did, which was also a three-panel deal, but took considerably more effort. Both, however, involve circles, which honestly take up most of the time; the second most laborious task is probably going over the colored parts in layers to make it less streaky. I was usually spared this, since other people would usually come to fill it all in for me. Planning it all out is important, and was my first task; uneven circles that are obviously not purposefully uneven can really ruin the aesthetic.



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Friday Fitness Hike

Last Friday’s hike started from the Tom’s Thumb Trailhead. We hiked a route that took us up to the East End, the highest point in the McDowells. When we finished, Bill and I hiked into the Rock Knob Trail into McDowell Mountain Park.

The trail crosses some large boulders. This was a difficult spot for Linda.



Frank scrambles up a steep section to take a look at the views.


Frank, Allen, Bill, and Janet hike ahead of me. Bob and Linda are even further ahead!


This is a view of the Thumbnail Pinnacle. Bill told me that some people call it Lizard Rock.


A view of Thompson Peak and another, closer, peak.



Yet another view of the Thumbnail Pinnacle. It looks very different from this vantage point.


Janet and Allen on their way to the upper ridge that will lead us over to the East End.


Allen poses on a large boulder along the way.


The Thumbnail was out of sight for a while after we gained the ridge. But I noticed that it was momentarily visible again as we made our way towards the East End.


Frank gets a good view from a boulder at the crest of the ridge.


I think this is the most difficult part of the hike. A short but loose descent leads down to a good trail.


A view from the East End:


Bill, Janet, Frank, and Allen at the summit. Frank is signing the summit log.


Another view of the summit. The fountain (in Fountain Hills) can be seen behind the rocky ridge that we had to hike to get over to the summit.


Another view in the same direction. I was off of the summit at this point and took a few more photos prior to descending to the Tom’s Thumb Trail.


A view of Gardener’s Wall, Tom’s Thumb, Troon Mountain, and Pinnacle Peak:


Descending from the East End:


A view of Glass Dome and Tom’s Thumb:


Bob, Frank, Bill, Janet, and Allen hike the trail which goes past Gardener’s Wall.



Another view from the Gardener’s Wall Access Trail:


Late afternoon on the Pass Mountain Trail




Friday Fitness Hike


Friday’s hike started from the Wagner Trailhead. We did a ten mile hike using all or parts of the Wagner, Granite, Pemberton, and Delsie trails. We also hiked the wash adjacent to the Bluff Trail.

I arrived early so that I could get a shot of the sunrise.


Once the sun was up, I took several other photos using my tripod:


I think I did seven or eight edits of this image before I finally got one that I liked. I’m still learning to use Dan Margulis’ Picture Postcard Workflow (PPW). I learned a lot from working on this one.



These are the leaves and berries of a hackberry bush.


George, Jill, Deanne, Sandy, Linda, and Janet joined me for the hike. This photo below was taken at the point where George and Jill continued their hike on the Granite Trail while the rest of us headed up the Bluff Trail Wash.


A rock formation in the wash:


We saw two tarantulas on our hike. This is the first one, which was in the wash:


Our route took us through these large boulders:


This is a senna flower. The color is a more intense in this photo than it is in real life.


We saw a Queen of the Night plant along the Pemberton. We also saw two of them on the Delsie Trail, one of which we had never noticed before.


This is a globe mallow flower. I tried to be more accurate with the color on this one:


We saw the second tarantula on the Pemberton Trail. Sandy was worried that the tarantula would be run over by a mountain bike. In this shot she’s about to pick up the stick that she used to divert the tarantula off the trail. It took several tries; the tarantula was very stubborn.


Here’s a shot of the tarantula safely off the trail:


Coyote Canyon

Photos from last Sunday’s hike of Coyote Canyon. Thanks to Linda for leading this hike!

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View of local cathedral outside the Prado Museum in Madrid.  According to our guide Elena, lots of celebrities get married here.

Exterior of the Prado Museum in Madrid.  Jamie Sunshine survived the jet lag on day 1 of our trip far better than I did!  By this time, we had been touring for about 7 hours straight after arrival.

The Prado Museum has a shady, restful entrance area where you can contemplate life after viewing some of Europe’s finest art.

Statue to Francisco Goya near the entrance to the Prado.  Poor Goya deserves a tribute.  He started painting cheerful pastoral art, moved on to portraits of the Spanish royal family, and ended his career with a lot of dark, paintings depicting the nightmares of war.  Napoleon’s invasion proved to be a traumatizing experience, although it resulted in inspirational art.

Performance artists at Puerta del Sol Plaza.  The “G.I. Joe” guys in the foreground welcome a tip for allowing tourists to pose with them.  The pair of guys in the background portraying “Petrified People of Pompeii” managed to stay perfectly still for hours…not so much as a blink out of them!   If you seek a tip, I guess this is the place to do it since it’s in the heart of old Madrid at a main stop on the metro system.


Puerta del Sol is a main intersection of pedestrian and vehicle traffic in central Madrid.  People come to relax, shop, do business, eat, and change metro lines on their way through the subways running under Madrid.  Those who want a stage to attract attention, like musicians, amateur magicians, and actors, use this as a public stage.


The statue of the bear climbing up the tree is a symbol of the municipality of Madrid at the edge of Puerta del Sol.  The city seal (and all city taxis) bear this same symbol.  An Apple store is just a few steps away from here.


In addition to entertainment, Puerta del Sol is a hub for protests and demonstrations.  Students saw a protest by workers who just lost their jobs in a recent closing of a local Coca Cola plant. (All very orderly and non-violent, but unemployment has been high in recent years.)


Flamenco night at Las Carboneras Tablao Flamenco.  Three dancers, one singer, and a great guitarist performed traditional flamenco in a private show for our tour group.  I had initial doubts about this at first, thinking it might be kitschy, but was very pleasantly surprised at how serious the performers were.  Although gypsy flamenco artists in Andalucia in southern Spain are well-known, this is a very popular club.  You can hear the performers warming up before the show and they are all business on stage.  Gypsy, Moorish, and Jewish singing and dance traditions blended over many centuries into a uniquely Spanish art form.

This guy has serious dance boots!








La Plaza de toros — bull ring in Madrid.  Bullfighting season is over by October, so this site was hosting a technology/software convention the day we visited.  It might surprise some people to know that not all areas of Spain are fans of this sport (or art form, depending on your point of view).  It is popular in many regions but not in Catalonia in the northeast.  In terms of pure fan favorites, soccer (futbol) rules.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember who is commemorated in this sculpture, except to say that he was the most famous matador of the 1980’s.  Alas, he died very young…in his 20’s….guess how?  In any event, his memorial statue is quite dramatic.  Even Spain has its protests again bull fighting from animal rights advocates these days.


We stopped at this monument to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (seated in the central area), the author who wrote the first modern novel about Don Quixote de la Mancha, and his faithful side kick Sancho Panza. Cervantes himself had experience as a soldier and prisoner of war.


Close up–Cervantes and his literary creations depicted in bronze at his feet.


Fountain Hills High School students enjoying the sights in Madrid during the fall 2014 trip.


Fountain Hills High School students posing near the Cervantes monument.   Students were treated to tapas and a musical “tuna” serenade later in the evening.

A charming musician playing at the park outside the Spanish Royal Palace.


Entrance gate to the Spanish Royal Palace in Madrid.


View of the interior courtyard within the royal palace area.  This side faces a cathedral.


Ceiling fresco in the grand entrance hall to the Spanish Royal Palace.  This is the only interior room that allows photography–the throne room, reception halls and dining room do not, sadly.  The Spanish monarchy no longer lives at this palace.  They have opted for more a more modest residence and use this only for official state business.  Juan Carlos abdicated in favor of his son Felipe in June of 2014 in this palace.

Foyer in the palace below the fresco.

Contessa “standing guard” in the royal palace courtyard.


Marie posing in the courtyard of the royal palace.


View of the city of Madrid from the palace.


Fountain Hills High School students and chaperons enjoyed the tour of the palace and the armor exhibit in its adjacent armory museum.


Panoramic view of the Spanish Royal Palace.

Sculpture of Diego Velasquez, one of Spain’s most famous painters, outside the Prado Museum.  Velasquez’s masterpiece, Las meninas, portrays la Infanta Margarita, a Spanish princess of the Hapsburg line.  You have to be patient to see it because, despite its enormous size (the canvas occupies an entire wall), there are equally huge crowds waiting to view it.

Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s hike started from the Trailhead Staging Area. George, Jill, Bob, Sarge, Janet, Bill, Amy, and I hiked the Scenic Trail. When we got back to the Pemberton, George, Jill, and Amy returned to the trailhead for a 4.5 mile hike. Bill, Janet, Bob, Sarge, and I went the other way on the Pemberton, returning via the Lariat, Granite, Wagner, and Tortoise trails for an 11.2 mile hike.

I’ve added a new element to my photographic workflow for this week’s photos, but I’m not very good at it yet. I think that some of these have a reddish cast. I’ve decreased the saturation in areas of a few of them where it’s especially bad, but it’s still noticeable.

Our hike started at 8:00am, so the sun was well up when we started. I thought about getting out early for a sunrise shot, but I would’ve had to show up well over an hour before the hike began. This is a view from the Scenic Trail at the beginning of our hike.


George and Amy arrive at the top of the hill on the Scenic Trail.


Amy and I both took this shot. From left to right are Kevin, George, Jill, Amy, Bill, Janet, and Bob, with Sarge in front.


This is the small petroglyph along the Scenic Trail.

Brittlebush flowers:



Yet another view from the Scenic Trail. My camera battery died at around this point.