Saturday, January 20, 2018

LJAB Days 19 and 20

The Little January Art Book is getting a bit disorganized and unwieldy, and with ten more or so days to go, I'll have to figure out a way to bind it, or subdivide it or something.

Meanwhile, Days 19 and 20.  Indoor scenery, fireplace with fake insert glowing happily, graphite stick.

And my staghorn fern, pilot pen fine point black

If you're interested in any technical points about these drawings, read on.  Both run deliberately off the side of the paper at least once.  This creates negative space within the picture plane, and gives stability and interest to the subject.  It's what we learned from nineteenth century Japanese woodblock prints, masterly design.

Both subjects are placed off center from top and bottom.  In the top drawing, the foreground is larger than the top part of the drawing. This draws you in, and situates your eye wrt the subject, brings you in close.  As befits a fireplace. And the soft graphite stick takes the hard edge off the feeling of the drawing.

The fern drawing has a lot more air above it, because that allows movement in the subject, again it fits the concept of the living plant reaching for light.  And the shelf drawn under it anchors it in space, as well as giving a nice straight-line contrast to the curves of the leaves. The sharp pen lines pick up the architecture of the plant.

You never want a subject to be floating in the middle of the paper like a raft in a quarry.  And you do want to see the entire page as your picture plane, not just a place to put a drawing onto.  Preschool kids are very good at this, worth looking at their drawings to see. Especially if they draw a house.  And nearly every child makes a point of putting a doorknob on the front door, so you can open the imaginary house!

 Preteens, though, get tense and perfectionistic about drawing. That's often when people just stop drawing. Other priorities in their lives.

I remember after one adult drawing class years ago, after two hours of concentrated work, one man looked up and said, gads, I never knew how tiring art is!  I thought you just sort of doodled.  I'll be lucky to get home before I fall asleep driving.  He was very happy with his output, though.

People refreshing their art or coming to it as beginners in midlife do get a surprise at how much planning and decision making go into even a small, comparatively simple, work.  But they also find what a satisfaction it is to try it. Even if you do need a little lie down after.  The creation and decision making and initiative required to make art are a great reason to keep it in the school curriculum.  Artists get the job done!

While I'm at it, a litmus test for a real artist, any age, as opposed to a wannabe is just that.  Do they do the work. Without being pushed along. Real artists hit their deadlines, show up on time, have ideas, are open to new ideas. Just a little PSA for my peeps here!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Day 18 Change of pace to graphite rubbing of block

Today, I thought I'd change things up a bit. I love doing rubbings, have done my share of gravestone rubbings in this historical region, and this is a small one.  It's a carved wood block I made for printing.  Rubbing done with graphite stick.  I've also made this in stitching black on white cotton fabric.  As well as printing out the image on paper.

This is where it pays to have thin paper to work with.  It lends itself to rubbing very well.  And this plain old printer paper is sturdy enough not to tear in the process.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Day 17, LJAB, teatray on a winter afternoon

Teatray on a winter afternoon, English Breakfast tea, American recipe banana bread warm from the oven, Wedgwood antique pitcher, Chinese teapot and cup.

 Pilot pen, black, fine point

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Day 16 drawing, and no, I'm not forgetful at all

So, having taken one day off from the Little January Art Book, I came back with a different sort of drawing today. 

This is really fun to do.  I laid down a ground of graphite, rubbing the stick back and forth to create an even grey ground.  Then I used the corners of a kneaded eraser to remove parts of it.  This is what kneaded erasers are for, by the way, not for erasing lines or anything. They're an art tool for lifting out areas you want to emphasize.

Then I used the tip of the graphite stick like a pencil to add some definition.  And rubbed over the background with my fingers, to soften the gray out.

This is a sort of trompe l'oeil, where you can't quite tell if the areas are convex or concave. And they change while you're looking at them.  This happens to me all the time in real life anyway.

And to prove I am not at all forgetful, I noticed this when I glanced out of the kitchen window to see that the salt truck must have passed because of an impending storm.  

I had been generally brushing out and cleaning up the back seat of my car, desperately needed, and recycling cardboard boxes and stowing away their contents, and other such unconnected tasks.  And came into the house all smug, completely oblivious to the brush and shovel I'd left on the hood of the car, where I'd put it in order to be sure and remember to bring it in.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Little January Art Book, aka LJAB Drawings 13 and 14

Drawings 13 and 14 for your viewing pleasure here.  Catching up to today.

 Chinese ink, broad brass pen, fine tip crowquill.  Interesting objects get a nod here, too, aside from the dieffenbachia which is the star of the drawing.  On that top shelf at right is a Jersey Lilypad glass pitcher, pale bluish, craftsman blown at the same south Jersey glassworks as the original lilypads.  There are only a handful of the originals, all in museums. My modern one has all the hallmarks of handblown, pontil mark on the bottom, drawnup overlay of glass for the lilypad effect, all that. Great craftsmanship.

Next to it is a little china cup translated into a pincushion, lovely gift of friend Kate, who has a great touch in gifting, one I  envy.

View downstairs from halfway up, interesting because of all the angles.  Graphite stick and pilot pen. Moderate success here. And on that shelf at right is an indication of the handmade basket I use for keys and things.  Gift of Carol Q, very good basketmaker, and it's had many lifetimes, holding brushes, notes, now vital keys near the door.  Just a shoutout, not a realistic rendering.

Each drawing reminds me of something I need to do better, slow down, focus, or something I want to try next in this little book.  Interesting journey.  Unusual for me to be able to make art in January, but perhaps it's because each little page is undemanding, and I set up a structure ahead of time.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Day 12 drawing and cherry for carving and looking at

Day 12 Little January Art Book drawing up now.  Haven't done today's drawing yet, but planning on a Chinese ink and pen gesture type of thing.  Day 12 is the pilot pen still in action, need a change today. Gnarly old cherry tree branch.  This may come down if we have a heavy wet snowfall.

And out walking, now that heavy rain has washed away the snow, I was able finally to pick up some fallen cherry twigs, below left, for future whittling and carving. Once they've dried out, that is.

The fungi on them are so lovely, I think I'll work around them, not remove any bark except for the bits I carve out. 

On the right is a group of catkin branches which I hope will burst out in the house. The buds are in place.  They're in the vase from my birthday flower bouquet, so it's got a new life now.  The branches may root in the water, and if so I'll decide what to do next.  Immediately, I want to set up my knitted budgies in them, a kind of marriage of nature and artifice.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Day 11 Little January Art Book

Too lazy to get off the sofa, so I drew the bit of the living room you can see from where I usually sit

Pilot pen, fine point, black, page a bit creased, nemmind


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Drawing Day Ten, music room

Moving to another location for the tenth day of drawing, to the Nook, where I play music, do my workout, grow plants and organize my wardrobe such as it is.

This is carpenter's pencil 2B, and pilot pen finishing

Alto recorder on stand, looking a bit menacing.  It does look a bit like a snake, but that's not what I think of when I play it. Tomorrow it will get a trip to a duet session.

I think the blue effect is the result of photographing with snowlight coming in the window.  It seems to cast a lot of blue on the white paper.

And this is the start of a second signature.  The first nine days used up four folded sheets, with one two-sided one.  I'll saddle stitch them together.  Then the next sig of four folded sheets, keep them separate until drawn on, then add them in.  Final sig will finish up the month, maybe I'll add in a folded sheet.  Then the three sigs, each stitched separately, will be joined and attached to the cover of the book.  

This is a handy way of making a stitched book without being committed to a given order of pages.  I can reshuffle if it reads better in a different order, before stitching.  No need to worry about chronological order of execution. 

On another topic, but one which probably influenced the way this drawing came out, a bit distracted, proportions askew.  My dad's birthday today.  He would have been 123 if he'd lived.  He made it to about half that, though.  Relatives' birthday stay with me long after their days of death have vanished in memory, probably I prefer that.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Day NIne drawing for LIttle January Art Book

Out of the house this morning, to let the cleaners work unimpeded, and at the library I thought I'd do my Day Nine drawing, since I had the book and a pen with me, somewhere in the depths of my bag.

Ran into a technical hitch, when I realized the book was full. Oh. It would have been good to add in pages before I left home.  So I did the drawing on the back of a page, not a desirable thing, but oh well.

And once home, after doing 17,476 other things I remembered to add in pages so I won't run out on location again soon.
This is a nice project, very undemanding.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Day Eight of Little Janiuary Artbook

The last two days were invaded by animals, indoors and out. Yesterday it was the squirrel invading the bird feeder.

Indoors today, an indolent Marigold has no need to struggle for food, just stroll across to her bottomless feed dish. Pilot Pen, fine point

Just in case you think it takes a long time to make art every day, it doesn't. None of these small drawings for the Little Art Book took more than maybe two minutes, max.  You just plunge in, don't overthink.  Leap, and the net will appear!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Day Seven of Little January Artbook, hungry squirrel

Bitter cold again today, and I just didn't have the heart to deter the squirrel, busy fuelling up on suet out there.

Pilot pen, fine black. Finally found it, in the drawer where I keep my freezer labeling papers and tape.  Knew I had one somewhere.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Day Six drawing for Little January Art Book, interrupted by budgies

These knitted budgies, from Claire Garland's pattern, find it on Ravelry, take on a life of their own before they're finished. Still searching for something to draw with, I found the bag with the unfinished yellow budgie and the completed blue one.

So I had to settle for drawing with a ballpoint pen, while the birds clamored to be finished and then perched. They're the avian equivalent of the Dollivers.  And this means I found the tools to make the second blue budgie, while I was at it. Making three budgies in all, as Bertie Wooster would probably put it.

Kate H. sends me amazing links, real mental workout, and the latest, a question arising from a BBC program, tickled me no end.  In the course of looking at the listing,  of In Our Time, a BBC talky program, I found a podcast on Hokusai, one of my fave woodblock print artists (you know the Wave? and many others, that's him).

So while I was listening to this solemn discussion of the picture plane and  artistic interpretations and international influences, on and by a great artist, I was stuffing a budgie. 

Hokusai too, however, believed that you can draw just anything that's there. I knew I got that idea from somewhere.

So today's daily drawing is of the materials and detritus left after the Stuffing of the Budgie.

And here he, the budgie, not Hokusai, is posing with his elder, Budgie Firstborn.

Before they flew up and perched in this handy tree.

Actually, come to think of it, Hokusai would probably be amused at this, given that he's the guy who set a live rooster, feet dipped in red paint, to wander about a huge watercolor he'd set up, as a demo for the Shogun.  Named it Leaves in Autumn or something. He gets incongruity.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Little January Art Book Day Five Teapots

Today more hectic than planned, since I had to somehow get my car out of the snow and moved before the snowcats came to dig out the parking lot.  Incredible cold, high wind, which tires a person, also a large bag of garbage I'd left on my step and forgotten to heave over to the dumpster needed attention.  Neighbors not around so this was a solo deal today.  They probably took it to heart that I don't want to have everything done for me, since I've explained that as long as I can do for myself, I love to.  Serves me right..

I was in high anxiety in case the bag of garbage had frozen to the step overnight.  Since it was in front of the door leading to my show shovels, spades, etc., this might have been a problem.  But thanks to the generous amounts of snowmelt the maintenance people had strewn around, a lot of which is now on my floors, I was able to pick up the bag okay.

All that done, and since I was all dressed up, I fought my way out of the snowed up patio door to refill the bird feeder, they needing suet more than ever in this temp.  And almost before I'd come in one of our Carolina wrens showed up ready to dig in.  Swiftly followed by the redbellied woodpecker and all the other hungry fellers.

This weather-related exciting information is pertinent to the fact that this morning, before any of this, I finished the moebius cowl, the llama yarn, and got to wear it right away.  The openwork is very effective for trapping warmth around your face, and the moebius even more so.  So here's the finished item.

The colors are natural ones, just as they came in the course of the spinning. I'm guessing the Bolivian cooperative of women was using up ends.  So it's had its maiden outing already.

Then, while I was looking for a pilot pen, later in the afternoon, to do my daily drawing, did not succeed in finding one, I did find a ball of crochet yarn which I'd dyed in variegated blue for another project.  Enough left for a budgie! and the variegated blue perfect for feathery verisimilitude.  I have to stuff and stitch the second, yellow one, then I can get underway with this third one. Well, full disclosure, I have to find, then stuff etc, the second..No picture of the yarn, you'll see it when it's a budgie.

Anyway, what I did find to draw with was an HB graphite stick, really lovely to hold, heavy but not too much, like a pencil but much better.

So, along the lines of my policy that whatever's there is good to draw, I used the Japanese clay, left, and Chinese porcelain, right, teapots on the windowsill as my models for a rapid drawing. And it occurred to me you might like to see the scene I'd adapted it from. 

This kind of drawing, whatever's there, is the least demanding form of drawing, asking not much more than a bit of technical attention. Highly recommended. No need to wander about looking for a subject. The world's full of subjects.  And you're not trying to render a photographic version, but you are trying to convey the feeling about the subject. At least, that's the plan.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Snow Day and January Little Art Book Day Four

As they say, it's good to be a maker, because everything's copy.

Today's storm, dramatically described as a bomb cyclone, started early, and it seems to consist of high winds blowing snow sideways, but not settling as much on my car as feared. Up to now anyway. Mostly a white out, but a break now and then as here
It closed down much of the region, including my music playing and tomorrow's afternoon tea, but freed up time.

So it worked as useful material for my Day Four of the Little January Art Book.  Brush and Chinese ink, and charcoal pencil.

And the Winnowing of the Studio continues unabated. All this is usable and good stuff, but needs to go to another artist's studio, or many of them.  Offering it around locally next week, once the storm abates and we get moving again.

It's much harder to winnow art supplies because there's a greater emotional valency to them.  They all suggest new ideas, roads not taken, excitement, disappointment, satisfaction, completion, all sorts of things crop up as you try to sort.  And I use so many materials in multiple ways that they can't easily be sorted into categories. 

But it also clears a path for future work.  Just getting the old embroidery out, and the yarns and that kind of thing which I'm not working in now, is great, since they were really standing across my path.

I'm halfway around the studio at this point...I can only manage one shelf at a time.  This is all materials. Haven't got to any actual artwork winnowing yet.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Day Three of the Little January Artbook

These artworks are just the work of a minute or two.  Very undemanding, just about right for January.

This is a drawing of one the very tip of one of my houseplants which I grew from a single leaf, now huge.  Done with a carpenter's 6B pencil. If you've never used a carpenter's pencil, try it.  It's flat, so the lead gives you a wide side plus four pointed corners to work with.  This drawing was mainly done with a corner of the lead.  If I wanted big sweeping areas, I'd have used the flat of the lead. Buy it at the hardware store, cheaper than the art supply places.

On the design side, notice how I placed the image. Fairly far down the paper (remembering this is only a few inches on a side), so that the space above is activated by the movement of the plant. And there are several areas of negative space inside the image.  The paper is white, but it photographs as blue for reasons which escape me.

You can like art without knowing any of this, but I think it enlarges your enjoyment if you know a bit more about what you're seeing. 

I did this while I waited for the new washing machine to be delivered, just improving the shining hour.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Page Two, crowquill pen and Chinese stick ink

Today I managed to fit in some art in a fairly busy day.  Crowquill, that is dip, pen, the tiniest one I have, dipped in Chinese fresh-ground ink.  Just a quick drawing of the patio seen from where I was sitting.  It's page two of the Little Art Book.  White paper, but shows blue on here for some reason.

Grinding the ink always seems like a bit of a chore when you're dying to get drawing, but once the lovely smell of pine starts to come off it, it's really good.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year, new book, new leaf 2018

I was sort of mumbling and wandering about today up in the studio, partly doing a lot of winnowing ready to donate art materials that belong with someone other than me at this point, partly wondering what to make next.

January is usually a fallow time in art for me, can't make much, but I wondered if I could do a little something anyway.  And in the course of winnowing, I came across one more of the little booklets I made a while back, with the Chinese ink drawing on the cover.  And pages already installed but not stitched.

Then I remembered sister dogonart's great idea for her art group, to whom I'd sent books like this recently.  She challenged the group to make some art on page one of their books, ready for their next meeting.  And I thought what a great idea.  And now that I found a book for me, thought I could do that, too!  

What I plan is to do a small drawing or painting or something each day in January, most probably drawing, and I instantly found a charcoal pencil, and did a rapid drawing of sleeping Marigold all clumped up on the sofa.  

I fixed it with a spritz of hairspray, no need for expensive fixatives, only use hairspray on art, not hair!

So Day One of the January book, no sooner thought of than done, and thank you dogonart and the CQTeers.  This is the first charcoal drawing I've done in ages.

I think this may be an offshoot of my musings about journals.  Perhaps this is a form of journal for me.  Hadn't thought of that.  But the brain does a lot of work we don't know much about.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wood carving gets under way

I had planned on trying wine cork carving too, but I found some small blocks of cedar from a carpentry project I hired done a while back, in the course of tracking down my tools.  That "hired done" weird construction is, I now realize, exactly like the Greek middle voice.  In classical Greek there's active, passive and middle, in case you were anxious to know this. No? oh well, moving on..

I wasn't able to lay hands on the penknife I'd hoped for, in Handsome Son's "longterm storage" his term, translation: can't find it.  He lent me a couple of small tools instead, and that reminded me that I had a set of them myself.  

I unearthed a cigar box full of useful tools, xacto handles, blades, gouges, and my old engraver, and my beloved old ballpeen hammer.  And some emery boards, just the ticket for sanding in very narrow areas, no need for emery paper.

This wasn't an attempt at an artwork, just practice in carving and a bit of gouging, and some lovely hitting with the hammer.  Very satisfying.  My hands aren't up to doing this for long, but I was happy with what I'd learned anyway.  Corks will be easier, but now I have embarked on this.

Long time since I did any carving, and the old memories came back of how to do it and what might work, and what definitely won't. And just messing about with no particular goal for the piece is a good thing to do.  As you see, I didn't draw a design first or anything like that.  I rarely do, preferring the alla prima approach, posh term meaning you let the materials tell you what to do, instead of telling them what you plan.

Listened to an ancient radio serial on YouTube, a Temple detective series, which would have been better if some of the episodes hadn't been missing, including the last ones!  Probably lost long ago by the BBC.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Loose ends before the new year, mine, that is

I just heard about the snow forecast for Houston, really unusual for them, and it reminded me that I knitted a lot of pieces for use by Warm Up America, which is also based in Texas.  Right, that's been on my mind.  Enough for a small afghan already knitted.  And still sitting in the studio, waiting to go.

So I looked them up here and found that they currently have a need for knitted pieces for Hurricane Harvey survivors.  No sooner said than did.  Found the package of knitted parts, wrapped, trip to PO and now it's on its way to Carrollton, Texas, where they tell me volunteers will assemble the parts into what's needed. Arriving Monday.  If you check on that link, there are other current needs you might want to think about, too.

And while I'm at loose ends, I'm actually the opposite of those people who have many wips at any one time, can't tolerate it for long, where was I, yes,  right next to the Warm Up bag was the first of yet another pair of Aunt Maggie's slippers, which I now realize, has a destination. The yarn is from Shepherd Susie's flock, spun and hand dyed, and knits up a treat. And it now has a deadline.

All this is a way of clearing out a bit before I embark on my winter pursuits.  And my personal new year. The fall pursuit, of the Chinese ink calligraphy, is now a modest skill in my repertoire, and enabled me to do a fleet of cards and envelopes and artists' books for friends for the season.  I  learned what I needed, and now I'm looking at other artforms.

Marbling, which I did, and taught, years ago, is a re emerging interest, and I invested in a set of suitable inks.  That will be useful for art, for images on all sorts of surfaces, including wood.

Which brings me to my next adventure, whittling.  I have done a small amount of this, when I was a miniaturist, creating cabriole legs from solid blogs of balsa wood, for furniture.  But I fancy collecting fallen wild cherry branches from around here, seasoned and dry, and use them for carving with an xacto blade.  And possibly marbling, we'll see.  Always fancied carving myself a spoon, for some reason.  Or other useful objects. I'm aware that cherry is a tricky wood wrt food, though, cyanide, you know. It's why you don't give it to little birds for perches.  Some other wood probably better for a spoon.

But first I have to study a couple of books written for kids, on wood carving and whittling.  I always go first to kids' texts, because they take nothing for granted, and with an adult learner what you take for granted is often what does you in.

So here's to a good winter of content and making stuff. I should stop and give a shoutout to  Cathy Cawley, long gone on her adventures, and not now in touch, a wonderful person I used to work with.  She always liked to have a project for the summer, and I've taken on that great notion. I wonder if she still does it?  If not, she can consider it safely delegated.

Speaking of seasons, I was nabbed to be a presenter at next March's Maker's Day at the library where I had my artist books.  They're hoping for an artist book make and take, so I'll see what's easy enough for all ages, and doable in one session.  I can think back to my Artist in Residence stint last spring, where I did a different artist book every week, and see what went down well.

It's all go around here, even when I mean to just sit with my hands folded.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

oil sticks and leather bits

So the Shiva oil sticks arrived, and I had a shot at playing with them, using the leather/ette scraps from Judy, which I'd squared up a bit, thinking future little key tags or scissor tags, or phone purses, or book covers or something.

The oil sticks are a cool invention, self sealing, so  they develop a waxy skin between uses, and never dry out.  The hitch is that the skin when you first get them is pretty resistant to being rubbed or scraped off, but I did manage it.  Not as neatly as the man did on YouTube, but okay. 

I got metallics, gold, copper, blue and green with a purple that might or might not  be saturated enough. And I tried a playtime with bits of leather, just experimenting.  

The black, on the suede side, is by far the best background, no surprise there.  And I wonder if acrylic is at least as good as oilstick on this surface. Might be.  Tried a bit on watercolor paper, but not worth continuing.  Wood might be good, though.  What shows here as a kind of red is copper in rl. And the iridescence doesn't come though on pix.

I also found I'm a little bit allergic to the outgassing.  Sniffing and coughing and generally a bit sensitive, so that's an issue you might want to be aware of.  On the other hand, I am sensitive to simple white glue, too, so there's that.

Nice bit of fun here. When the paint is totally dry, I'll see what I might make with the decorated bits. This is more a decorative than a fine art kind of adventure, like decorating fabric.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Plainsboro Artist meeting

Regular meeting of the Plainsboro Artists group, large turnout last night, and a lot of art shown.  

Just a few glances here. Many more artworks in progress shown, in media ranging from modeling, to printmaking, to encaustic, to abstraction, to watercolor, to ink drawing.

 For a small town, we really have a great reservoir of art talent.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ceramic exhibit, J. Marion Simmons, Plainsboro Library Gallery

Reception today for ceramic artist J. Marion Simmons, a great technician in the art of ceramics, and in explaining it to the group. She's a member of the Plainsboro Artist Group, but this was a chance to see her work in much more depth than at the meetings. 

The artworks ranged from low to high relief monochrome wall pieces, freestanding large egg shapes with intriguing glazes, and  brightly colored glazed works.  Some are portraits from life, some refer to early art.  A real tour de force of what the ceramic artist can do.

Here's the artist talking about her art and approaches

And artist Art Lee caught in the act of photographing her in front of the outer wall of the gallery

Here she's discussing this beautiful egg-shaped piece and explaining the processes on the way to this result

And here are some of her other works

This is only a sampling, my own faves, but there are many more in
this satisfying exhibit. It will be up till late November, so if you're local, do go.