Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Apron revisited and improved

Margaret, a stitcher friend, gave me this all-cotton apron a while back, white, ready for any decoration. I dyed it a while ago with turmeric, random dye, and finally today I got around to altering it to give it pockets.

Just turned up the hem, using fusible web to stitch the sides, added in two more inner seams to make three pockets, then played with stencils.  

A food related motif seemed about right, using marker. I may actually stitch those seams to reinforce them, too. 

Hanging in the kitchen, here, showing how the three pockets work.  Like a carpenter's apron.  But in use, they don't flop open. 


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Graphite study from Michelangelo head of a warrior

Today's golden rectangle drawing is from a golden age of drawing, a study I made this morning of Michelangelo's study of the head of a warrior.  

I think he used red conte, and the head is one of a number of small studies on a single page.  That's why it's facing left.  If it were the main subject, it would more probably face right.  But here it probably would be directing our attention to the center of the action.  If you want to study it for yourself, go here

It's great practice, to teeter valiantly on the shoulders of this particular giant, and explore how he modeled the face and how the tilted angle affects the shadows and proportions. See how that invisible eyebrow juts out? and how the lip turns? and the bony ridge above the eye shows as a light area?

It's a good idea now and then, not too often, to copy a master drawing.  It's like replaying a great chess match, where you can understand better the underpinnings, from having walked them yourself.  Your own drawing, or chess, really improves from doing this sort of practice. Better to do it only occasionally so you don't lose confidence in doing your own original work.

I did this in 4B graphite stick, and rubbed with my fingers to soften and model the shapes, then lifted out areas with a kneaded eraser.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Drawing again, dieffenbachia

Today's drawing is a golden rectangle 8 x 5 in, of a couple of dieffenbachia, done in graphite and charcoal, shapes lifted out with kneaded eraser.

This technique is fun to try, if you haven't before.  Just tape off the area of the drawing, then swipe your graphite stick or soft pencil back and forward to cover the entire area.  Then lift out shapes by using the corner of a kneaded eraser like a pencil, just draw the shapes you want.  Then a few touches of charcoal pencil to give a bit of definition here and there.  This is a bit like reductive monotype making, and that's fun, too.

And, as always, don't use a photograph.  That will guarantee any drawing will be dead on arrival.  Go from the actual model, in this case a giant dieffenbachia rescued years ago from the dumpster by a neighbor and brought to me, since he thinks I'm the local EMT for plants in distress.  I had to do radical surgery on the original, to result in three flourishing plants.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

More golden rectangle adventures, drawing this time

I taped up a few pages of my drawing paper with golden rectangles, 5 x 8, for a few drawings.  One drawing a day, not too ambitious.

Along the lines of just draw what's there, don't agonize over a subject, I drew the ficus and Chinese evergreen aglaonema, using a fine Pilot pen

and today used my 6B (very soft) carpenter's pencil for another corner of the living room.  

I sprayed this with hairspray to fix it, since it smudges instantly if you don't. 

Paper's white, but the ambient light affected the pix.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The CQteers made my day

After the excitement of the last few days of weather and other events, it was so great to find this in my mailbox today:

Total surprise, three wonderful art cards from the CQteers, the group in which I have honorary membership.  Largely because they meet about a thousand miles away from me.  It's the least labor intensive of all the artist groups I'm in, and as you see, they are great fiber and collage artists.

Such a treat.  I think I really have to frame this collection. But first I have to handle the pieces and look on the back for the good wishes as well as the front for the art. 

Thank you, Mary Ann, Sue, and Irene!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Plainsboro Artist Group meeting, show and tell

Big group for last evening's meeting of the Plainsboro Artist Group, and the usual wide range of art shown.  This is a knowledgeable group, and you never go home without learning a thing or two!
So here's a random showing of artists wearing their art, and showing it, too.  Works in progress, asking for feedback, completed works ready to enjoy, this is a lively group.  You'll see oils, pastels, charcoal, acrylic, poured work, knife painting, watercolor, collage and mixed media.

 They were not posing for pictures, but deep in discussion of techniques, advice, planning, and you can see their intensity!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Way to spend a late winter Sunday afternoon

Membership meeting of the Princeton Chapter EGA, and with the return of a member from the sick list, and an introduction to a potential new member and skilled stitcher, and a lot of stitching forms in progress, a lively afternoon happened.  Full disclosure: your humble blogger does not have a stitching in progress, so worked on her cashmere sock.

And brought in Mittens-sourced items for presents, which went home with half a dozen stitchers.  Rug hooks, for a member, seen below in quilt mode, who teaches many stitching forms, and has added them to her toolkit.  Bone crochet hooks to another, laying tools to another.  All went home happy.

Anyway, if you'd been there, you'd have enjoyed all these works:

Florence deciding on the background color for this artwork, and considering the dark blue

Carol almost done with another needlepoint pillow, I think a Kaffe Fassett design

Other Carol, center in great jacket, teaching today's counted cross stitch project

Lyna, modeling a great shisha stitched top

Above and below, wonderful fine needlepoint work, yes that's stitching, not a printed design!

If anyone's counting, there was an approximate 70 year difference  from youngest to oldest in today's group.  Kindred spirits don't see barriers there!

So it was fun, and I almost fell into guild blog mode here, but it's just my art blog, don't get carried away...

Thursday, March 1, 2018

More adventures in looking, picture books

I've become interested in picture book illustrators lately, not a form I want to try particularly, just to learn about and enjoy appreciating.

And I found a great book at the libe which is a kind of buffet of artists writing about themselves, showing drafts and finished works, all directed to children.  

So they write simply and in a friendly style.  It's very enjoyable for adults to browse through, too.

Especially this lovely entry towards the end. 

 I was surprised because I had been skipping the prose and looking at the pictures (!) and when I opened this, not knowing what to expect, it had the full effect on me!

I really recommend this book for just fun, no matter whether there are kids in your life or not.  You might be the kid in your life. 

The people behind this book can be found at the Carle Museum in Massachusetts, Amherst to be exact, and their website is here 
They have a blog which shows various programs they offer, mainly to children, but very good for beginning artists of any age. You can access the blog through their main website, and sign up for the RSS feed, which I have now done.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Two more little paintings, moving indoors and to the city for these

Moving away from the outdoor rural sorts of subjects in the last couple of days.  Here's a facescape 

and a cityscape

The palette, range of colors, I'm using, is mostly from the transparent nonstaining colors, aureolin yellow, alizarin crimson, cobalt and I think viridian. And a bit of burnt umber, but only a bit.

It's practically impossible to make mud accidentally with these, so I recommend them if you're wondering what colors to work with to embark on watercolor painting.   And all the paintings to date I've done with a half inch flat brush. No pencil marks ahead of time, plunge in with the brush.  Just fyi.  And the paintings themselves are perfectly rectangular, but my camera skills are imperfect so they don't always appear that way.

As to the content of these pieces, I have a good idea of what I was saying, but I don't like to impose it on the viewer. Always open to hearing what you see in any of my work, though, because that's sometimes a surprise, sometimes not, but always useful.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Making art and learning about other art

I turned in two more small paintings, sort of pleased with them.  The hitch about making art is that it never comes up to your plans, and you just have to do your best and move on, taking the learning with you.

I recently started following a lovely account on Twitter, of an illustrator who posts daily an image from an illustrator, some of whom I know, such as the Moomin creator, some of whom I'm only vaguely familiar with, and all of whom I think I need to know better.

At the moment it's about picture books, and since my own acquaintance with them is slight, other than Ezra Jack Keats, for whose major birthday celebration I led a community giant artwork based on The Snowy Day, that was great fun, where was I, oh yes, I am planning on getting to know picture books much better.  It's a whole area of art that I can explore and learn from.

Starting here with Quentin Blake, whose The Five of Us is a marvelous parable of inclusion, differences, friendship,fun, bravery, problem solving, and all done in a virtuosic ink and wash.

 Do you have picture book illustrators to recommend? I'm open to all suggestions on this.

Monday, February 12, 2018

More painting and material tips

Many hours of sleep and much dreaming later, today is a better day.  I actually managed a trip to the store and home, yay.  So, doing much better.

And I made a little landscape or two.  One per day. This is working out nicely, just enough work before I'm ready to move on.  Still working in 8 x 5 and 5 x 8.  The pix are a bit out of true, but the paintings aren't.

While I was at it, I thought you'd like to know that if you have those expensive tubes of watercolor (don't bother with the cheapies, don't buy student grade, get the best), and if said tubes have dried and gone hard you need not despair.  

You just cut them open, and with the application of water, you go right on using that pigment. It's like a pan of color, only better, because it was formulated to stay moister.  And as you see, my palette doesn't look elegant or anything, but it works a treat.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Arches history and watercolors

So, despite feeling a bit like a long wet week in Wigan, I did manage to keep my promise to myself and paint two small fast watercolors, one per day.  I had to get a new pad of watercolor paper, so I chose Arches.

I love Arches paper, though I know there are all sorts of great papers aside from Arches, but I just have a good feeling for them. I used to give out little samples of (very expensive) Arches hotpress paper, when I was introducing students to ink and wash.

When I told them Arches has been making paper since 1492, that is not a typo, they'd look at me funny, wondering what the joke was. But they really have.  So by now they're pretty good at it. 

The basic surfaces of watercolor are hot press, where the paper is run through hot rollers to finish it with a glassy smooth surface, cold press, known in the UK as "not", which is textured, and rough, which is a bit like painting on rough concrete. 

People like each for different reasons.  Mostly cold press is great for letting color flow and mix, hot press is great for ink drawing and washes, and I have never found out what the virtue of rough is, since I don't see eye to eye with it for painting purposes.

So here's the cover of the Arches pad which just arrived, all written in several languages, not, as far as I can see, including English.  That'll teach us to think everyone should speak English!

So despite feeling a bit weak and not so good with a fluey thing going on, I do feel better if I manage to make a bit of art.  This includes climbing up to the third floor to work, since that's where I've got all the doings set up ready.  Once I get there, I'm under way.

The goal with this series, all to be 8 x 5, or 5 x 8, depending on which way you see it,  measurement of height always precedes measurement of width,  is to get back my watercolor chops, and stay loose and calm with it.  At least, as usual, that's the plan! Also to start each painting with, well, here goes nothing!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

New art enterprise unfolding slowly

What with one ailment and another, today was a day of low energy. Meaning that by the time I'd set up two small paintings, I had to go rest.  I plan on a series of watercolor/marker paintings in a golden rectangle format.  In this case 5 x 8. Fibonacci rules!  Not promising myself how many, at least until I get a bit more energy going.

You may notice that this is the size of a big index card, very handy.  Because it's a shape that's friendly to art in terms of composition, it's a great size to work in if you want a series of small works, which I currently do.  And here's the fairly informal set of tools I'll be using.

Foreground are the two little palettes, aka lids from other containers, with the remnants of earlier painting sessions. They'll revive nicely with water. Nothing wasted in watercolor.  As you see, I don't mix on the palette, would rather let the colors mix on the paper.  Two brushes, one big flat, one big round.

None of these paintings will take more than a few minutes, since it's not about spending endless time fiddling and niggling at it. It's about a swift execution of the idea.  At least that's the plan.

So tomorrow, with luck, I'll attend to at least one of these. Once you've laid down the masking tape, you have to work soon, or it will wreck the paper surface when you remove it.  But the lovely clean edge of the painted area when you remove the tape is just great to see.  And this way there will already be a mat area in place. Easy for framing.

The reason I had to mark and tape and cut this paper is that typically art paper doesn't come in the right proportions.  Likewise frames.  They're designed to fit the machinery that's producing them, not to accommodate the needs of the art. So we work around that.

Do you fancy painting along a bit?  just a small painting here and there, gets your eye in and your skills working.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Final accounting for the ink drawings

This collection completes the ink drawing adventure, at least this one.  Fifteen views of trees in the wind. Empty portfolio in background.

 Now installed in a portfolio, just placed behind cords, you can rearrange, play with at will

made from an old book cover  I painted and sponged, and drew on. 

The back cover says "plein air paintings next?" the artist lady on the front cover sneaking away to think about it.

For the benefit of people who've asked, yes, I am in the process of exploring a business Paypal account.  To make it easier for everyone who doesn't want to send checks and all that.  Meanwhile, this portfolio is in my sales category. Highest offer above $50US plus $5 s. and h.   Checks welcome for now!