October comes lovely

October 14, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Posted in art, baby, country life, faith, family, flowers, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, socks, yarn | 2 Comments
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October comes lovely each year, whether cold and wet or crisp and windy … for me it is the most lovely month of  the year.  Our trees are at what looks to me like peak or near-peak color today.  It is rainy and dark, but the autumn leaves glow far and wide bringing a strange brightness to what would otherwise be a gloomy, moody day.

My son is visiting, and yesterday afternoon we all took a quick two-mile bike ride; Grandpa, me, little Sweet Pea in a trailer pulled by Grandpa, her mom (my daughter) and my son.  It was a spur of the moment ride because the mood overtook us and I relished in the pleasure of being here in this beautiful place where we could make such a decision on the spur of the moment and act on it in the immediate environment.

My son has been visiting for the past two weeks and we have had a relaxed and easy going time of it.  A few days after he arrived we had a beautiful dinner at Zambistro Restaurant, where a selection of my paintings hang regularly.  It was my son’s birthday last month, so we had a private five-course Chef’s Tasting dinner to celebrate his birthday belatedly.  Mike, the talented owner/chef of Zambistro, crafted a stunning dinner especially for us.  I was able to email him specifics of each person’s likes and dislikes, wishes, etc. and he created customized menus for each of us.  For my vegetarian main dish he created handmade raviolli stuffed with roasted butternut squash seasoned and topped in such a way that the dish created a powerful yet soothing taste and texture sensation that literally made me cry, it was that good.

Zambistro hosts a monthly five-course Chef’s Tasting dinner beginning each fall and continuing through winter. These dinners fill up and sell out quickly once the announcements go out in the mail, so if you would like to attend one be sure to make reservations as soon as you hear about the dinner. October’s dinner has already passed, but I am sure he will have something extraordinary planned for November.

As for October around here, I get up in each morning and look forward to day light arriving sometime later, knowing it will reveal something beautiful to behold. It might be a frosty white field and lawn streaked with golden sunlight as it filters through autumn trees, fog rising on our river, soft fluffy clouds streaking in tones of pink and lavender across the sky … lovely, and cozy.

By the way, thank you if you participated in the survey for the September Sock Yarn Give Away. Your answers will be very helpful in planning I am doing right now for knitting patterns I will be developing over the next few months. The winner for September’s Sock Yarn Give Away is Marty W. She chose “Mulled Cider” as her colorway of choice … check out photos of this pretty new Fiber Optic Foot Notes Sock Yarn colorway on my Facebook page.

I have to be on my way, but hope you enjoy today’s photo selection.

Have a beautiful October day!


The beginning of autumn

September 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Posted in art, baby, Christmas, country life, country living, faith, family, gifts, Holidays, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, socks, yarn | 2 Comments
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Cool, breezy, crisp, and clear.  There is an excitement each year as I anticipate the arrival of fall.  The lighting is very particular in autumn, shadows are long and lean, sun light is heavily speckled as it cuts its way through thinning leaves and elegant branches.

When I was getting to know my husband via email, back in early 2006, in describing the area where his farm was located, told me that more than a few days in autumn here “look like some Disney idea in technicolor of what ‘harvest season’ should look like” (please forgive the direct quote honey, but it was too perfect).  His description was very accurate, yesterday was such a day.

We have had regular rain showers over the past few weeks with sunny days of deep blue skies full of white fluffy clouds in between.  The rainfall has left our three acres of lawn a vibrant, glowing green.  The contrast of deep blue sky with vibrant green lawn is a deeply satisfying aesthethic sensation to behold.  When I see the environment shaping up into a technicolor autumn display, I cannot help but remember my husband’s description … one of many things that lured me into the leap of faith that brought me from Los Angeles to upstate New York.

As autumn has approached this year, my daughter and I have taken up our knitting needles and begun to knit with each other a daily basis.  This is truly the first time I have been able to knit this entire year.  Sweet Pea has kept us all busy as she has grown through the many stages of development between an almost one-year old and a now 18-month-old baby.  I realized recently that in a year or two it will probably be all three of us sitting together having a knit on an early autumn morning.  My, oh my … what a delight that will be!

We take daily walks about in the yard to visit the barn, the willow tree, the Sincere Pumpkin Patch …

Side Bar: The Sincere Pumpkin Patch is empty this year, but we will be “importing” pumpkins from a local farm market to populate our patch as a surprise for Sweet Pea’s before Halloween comes around this year.  Next year we will get back to growing our own again.

So, we take our daily walks about in the yard and lately we have been able to show Sweet Pea some of the beautiful treasures that make such lovely dried decoration elements each fall: milk weed pods, the luminous money/silver dollar plant (Lunaria annua), grape vine tendrils, and willow whips; I made her a little willow whip wreath which she has studied in detail a few times since.

This year has been full of many time-consuming activities including many completed oil paintings for my show that ran this summer, home improvement and repair projects (still on-going with much work ahead for all of us), and projects for our church and community. Mostly though it has been a year devoted to family, and continues to be so. That is the way with children and grandchildren –joyful moments and times but much hard work.

Over the weekend my husband and our dear friend Roger began putting a new roof on the house here at the farm. It is a metal roof and they are doing an excellent job, in my humble opinion. I am impressed with how crisp and new and professional it looks. They have only completed one section so far–perhaps one sixth of all of the roof that must be covered–but already I feel that our home is more secure from the elements. You see, over the past few years there have been a number of leaks showing up and it will be quite a relief to know that those leaks are behind us.

My daughter and I have been working on clearing, cleaning, painting, and decorating our enclosed sun porch. This the first room in the house that I am tackling, and it was a good starting point. We are already beginning to spend time out there playing and relaxing and I just set up some of my materials for working on small oil paintings on the sun porch as well. I chose a old-fashioned looking blue for the walls and a color called “horseradish” for the trim. Everything was painted white before so the new colors are a bit warmer and more inviting.

We retrieved three wonderful, chunky old benches from storage that were built by my husband’s father many years ago from floor boards he rescued from the General Electric plant where he worked at the time. They are simple, almost like something that might have been made in a woodshop class, but I love the simplicity of their design and the fact that they were made by someone who I have come to love and respect, even though I never had a chance to meet him.

I am painting two of the benches in the horseradish color and the other, a smaller one, in the blue of the sun porch. These benches are handy to have around on the porch, easy to take out onto the lawn and, as it turns out, perfect to straddle in front of a propped up easel and sit on while working on a smaller painting.

Our little corner of the world is even quieter than usual today, and will be for the next several weeks because the bridge over our river has been torn down and a new one is being built. As of today they have completely closed the intersection at our place and so I hear … absolutely nothing in the way of traffic coming from any direction at all. It is a pleasant new quiet added to an already fairly quiet and very peaceful world. I almost wish they would never restore that bridge to service. Oh well, sigh … life goes on.

By the way, my apologies for failing to conduct an August Sock Yarn giveaway. It became an impossibility. However, September is different. We are definitely doing one this month. This month’s give away will be based on participation in a simple survey. I will launch the survey via my blog and Facebook page by the end of this week. If you are on my email mailing list I will be sending out a notification about the survey via email at that time as well. Otherwise, just come back here or check the Facebook page.

I am currently working on a new pattern to release for the Teddy Bear Tea Party blanket you see featured in photos today. This is a soft and cuddly little blanket featuring an easy to work cable design with a modified bauble border. Use the finished item as a security blanket for a baby or as a doll or teddy bear blanket. I think it would make a lovely little Christmas or other holiday gift for a baby or child, and the pattern should be available by the end of this week (if all goes well and somewhat on schedule). Meanwhile, if you are looking for knitting patterns for holiday projects be sure to visit my website or Etsy store for printed versions and online downloads.

As for upcoming patterns to look for, I have started on my Rhoda socks and a luxurious wrap … also featured in photos here today. More info is available on my Ravelry pages and Facebook if you are interested.

I hope you have a productive week as autumn begins to show itself here and there in your life.


Copyright © 2010 J. L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Moments Show Opening

June 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, family, flowers, gardening, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, socks, travel, yarn | 93 Comments
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My summer art show, “Moments”, opened this past Friday night at Shawn’s Gate Gallery in Medina, New York. The day before my husband and I along with our good friend Roger G. worked together to hang the paintings. The gallery was not air conditioned, and the summer sun was on duty in the western sky. Nonetheless, we enjoyed working together and the men did a great job of bringing my vision to life in how the paintings were hung and arranged.

When I originally planned this show I took the actual wall measurements from the gallery and did a mock up of the walls on my computer using Photoshop. Next, I planned the paintings I would create based on how I wanted to occupy the space on the walls with my art, how much empty space I wanted, etc. I also did mock ups of the paintings and put them in position to figure out what kind of colors and subjects I wanted hanging and how they would relate to one another.

There is one painting still on my easel — a 30″ x 30″ oil of a single sunflower. I have a few more petals to complete on it and I just could not finish it in time to hang it in the show. That was a disappointment, but with a little bit of tweaking in the arrangement of the paintings the missing piece was not noticeable to the public.

I have taken a few days off, but will get back to the sunflower painting and complete it shortly.

Meanwhile I have posted six of the large, new oil paintings of Moments on my new J. L. Fleckenstein Fine Art website. As I get photos ready for the rest of the show I will post them over the coming weeks.

If you are in the Western New York area and would like to see the show live and in-person, it will continue to hang until July 28th. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Plus, right across the street is Zambistro Restaurant where several more oil paintings of mine are on display.

Some of the pieces in the show and at the restaurant are available for sale; many are available in print form in sizes ranging from 6″ x 6″ up to 8″ x 16″. We are also offering custom framing now for originals as well as prints. The frames are beautifully finished by a disabled friend of mine who is quite an artist herself. We had an Amish fellow in the area build the frames for us in unfinished red oak, then my friend gave a unique finish to each frame based on which painting or print it was intended for.

The results were so beautiful we decided that we will start framing my oil paintings in the same way, as well as offering custom framed limited edition prints of most of my paintings for sale.

The photos you see here are in order of appearance are:

1. East Wall: New Oil Paintings
2. South Wall: Four New Oil Paintings, Three Older Oil Paintings and One New Watercolor
3. North West Wall: Four Older Watercolors Newly Matted and Framed
4. South West Wall: Three Older Watercolors Newly Matted and Framed
5. South East Wall: Several Matted and Framed Limited Edition Prints

If you are interested in note cards, prints, framed prints, or originals from this show you will be able to do so offline at the gallery, in my Etsy store, or on my fine art website. Not everything is available right now, but several pieces are available along with their prints. As new items become available I will send out email alerts to those who are on my mailing list.

Of course we also have the June sock yarn give away to discuss. Again, the yarn that is being given away is hand dyed by fiber artist Kimber Baldwin of Kimber Baldwin Designs and Fiber Optic Yarn. Kimber is designing twenty four hand dyed colorways in her Moments series, Foot Notes Sock Yarn inspired by my photography and fine art. The first two colorways were announced last month (Rhoda and Jackie’s Lilacs), available on her website and in her Etsy store. Last month’s lucky winner chose Jackie’s Lilacs for her free yarn. I purchased one hank of the Rhoda colorway and I have to say that Kimber did a beautiful job creating a yarn that embodies the beauty of my Rhoda flowers (Rhoda the Tree Peony). Next week I will begin designing and knitting my very own pair of socks in the Rhoda colorway.

As for the June Sock Yarn Give Away (colorways to be announced), here is how June’s give away will work. There are three questions listed below. To be in the running for June’s Sock Yarn, you must answer all three questions correctly. Enter your answers by leaving a comment to this post. The winner will be chosen from a random drawing of those readers who answered all three questions correctly. So, here goes:

1. How did I meet my husband?
2. What is the name of one of my knitting patterns?
3. What is the title of one of the six new oil paintings I posted on my fine art website this week?

Answers must be submitted no later than midnight on June 30, 2010. The drawing will happen by July 6, 2010 and the winner will be notified via email and will be announced in a blog shortly after the drawing. The winner will get to choose between two Moments colorways announced by Kimber Baldwin at the time.

Helpful Hints for Answer the Questions:

Q1: When We Were Cowboys
Q2: I Live on a Farm Website
Q3: Moments online show at JLFleckenstein.com

I have to end off for today. There will be more announcements and photographs related to the Moments art show, including a drawing in July for a signed, limited edition print.

We have wild raspberries ripening as I write, strawberries in a great old big patch at my friend Lora Partyka’s farm waiting for me to pick for my annual strawberry preserve-a-thon, and local cherries ready to be u-picked as well. Summer is here and it is an especially abundant one here in the beautiful rural farmlands of Western New York.

Hope you have access to some delicious, ripe berries wherever you are and I look forward to sharing more with you shortly.


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