Sunday, April 26, 2015

Plainsboro Artists' First Plein Air Session, at the Preserve

This morning was the first plein air meeting of the art group, at the Preserve, weather very friendly, cool but bright sunshine, and a nice turnout, who pretty much scattered all over the Preserve in search of subjects before I got them in the frame.  

Left is Art Lee, very established found object sculptor, and all around good guy, right is Donna S. the endlessly working and arranging gallery curator and director of All Things Art at the Libe. And a watercolor painter in her own right.

Been waiting all winter to see these trees again.

I spent a good morning trying to recover my drawing skills, long in abeyance, and do a bit of line and wash. I used pen, conte crayon, watercolor pencil, and  caran d'ache watercolor crayons.  Only moderately happy with results.  

 Some of the group working by the lake

Largely I spent the time remembering how to slow down and look!

Interested walkers peered over to see what was up

here's a little girl being hauled away after watching for a while, and the birds were in evidence: the swallows have returned, diving and zooming.

A handy bench provided an outdoor studio space.  

Note the denim bag, made from upcycled jeans, the pockets very useful for small items. 

So I need to draw more, but this return was fun.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Not exactly art, more like therapy, but fun anyway

The last week I've been laid low by yet another coughing sneezing shivering no good very bad cold, so, along with a marathon viewing of the original Forsyte Saga series, the old black and white one with Eric Porter, I got most of a kleenex box holder thing created.

This was strictly taken from the recipe in the needlepoint book I posted about, and was about right for my need to use my hands without involving too much brain power, since I only needed to follow instructions, not create the design, not always easy for me to follow orders, but anyway. Brain only partly operating, but I worked on it.

So here it is, the four sides joined and flat and the top, before I get around to attaching sides to top.

And here's the top balanced on the four sides. Not yet attached, just showing you the goal.  I still have to finish all the outside edges, great practice in that cross stitch that travels back and forth weaving style, and attach the top to the sides before it goes into use. As you see, it's fairly transparent in the sunlight, because I used the clear plastic sheet, so that it would be less visible in the finished product.

Very appropriate considering the kleenex use I've had this week..that's probably why I chose this one.  Seriously, this is a lot of fun, and you learn a ton of new stitches, at least I did, so there was learning to be done.  

I don't like working in yarn, and might make other items using silk or embroidery floss, just to see how it goes.  But for them as does like yarn, this really is a nice fast and portable project idea for future beach sitting, or patio sitting in a shady hat with a tall glass at the side.  

And thanks go to Liz M. a fellow guild stitcher who brought in her book and samples of her work to show us last week and set me off on this path.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Not art, but fun on a day with a cold

Coughing endlessly and really not able to do anything fine in the stitching line, sneezing, all that, so I started on a little thing I just fancied, having seen a fellow stitcher at stitch in with this book 

and some samples of her own work.  I promptly sent away for the book and some plastic canvas.  It's dead simple, great fun, 7 mesh plastic canvas, and I'm just blindly following the stitches on the diagram, most unusual for me, very restful in fact.  Big needle, big yarn, big meshes, quite a change.  I have to force myself to stop, though, before I'm completely spent. But it does involve counting, which is a good brain exercise for me, since hardly anything I make involves counting anything literally.  So this is good, using parts of the brain that have been lying idle, while the rest of it has been galloping all over on hobbyhorses.

And it's also using up some yarns that have been lying around waiting for a job to do.  Last time I used plastic canvas was waaaaay back, when I used it to teach little kids to make miniature furniture.

Of course, once done, this tissue box will probably acquire beads and other items...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The embroidery goes on, in lovely light now that the season's turned

The yellow embroidery is continuing nicely, big change from the other much more demanding work I'm doing on Big Doorway, and it feels pretty good. 

I'm working with a single strand of floss, using whatever needle it fits through.  The silk fabric is pretty forgiving so I don't have to worry about making holes in it with the needle.  I had planned on doing this work in spring and summer, because of the light levels being friendly, and because I might be able to work outside on it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Netsukes, a post script to our kumihimo workshop

At our recent kumihimo, Japanese braiding, workshop, for the embroiderers' guild, our instructor Charlene Marietti mentioned that  braiding was used among many other things, for securing netsukes to the owner's belt. 

Netsukes  were originally ivory, now not so much, ivory being outlawed for sale, often bone now I believe, small beautifully carved animal forms, little works of sculpture only a couple of inches across. A rich man's toy, in a way.

Since I have a collection (!) of three of these, I thought it would be interesting to show you what these are, some of our members not being familiar with this artform.

So here they are, showing you the upside and the underside so you can see the holes through which the braid passed, and the completion of the work on all sides of the netsukes.  They're lovely to handle and play with, like worry beads, and beautiful to see all the time.      

I'm taking this group in to our stitch in this evening, so people can play with them!                                                                                  


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Studio Transformed

Transformed. that is, from a printmaking and painting area into a textile arts place, where all the surfaces are clean and you can safely put stitching down and I can now see from the middle of the room where everything is, a huge new deal.

It finally happened when I was working downstairs this morning and realized that I needed stuff from the third floor yet again, this was ridiculous, so it only took two trips to get both current works up there complete with threads and beads.  

So now I have an actual worktop for stitching at, where I can spread out, and have two works going at once, with room for both, under the window, good light.  I have a high sort of barstool type chair, and the edge of the worktop supports the frame nicely.

I decided to take pix before the disorganization gets under way again.  This feels very strange to me, a neat and clean studio, a contradiction in terms from my previous art lives.

It's good, though, to have a work area that is a workplace, that I can leave as is and go off and do other things, without having it in sight when I'm not working on it. That gets you mentally tired more than actually doing it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Thank you, Florence K! paper artists unite!

This post is in the nature of a thank you to Florence K., who in the course of the workshop we were both in yesterday, gave me a present of a bracelet made from paper and glass beads, by women in Uganda, who make them and all kinds of jewelry and decorative items as an earning stream.  

She'd found it at a craft show where women who go to Uganda to buy the pieces in order to resell them to US customers, were presenting a display.  Florence was impressed with the idea of both doing a good thing by contributing, and giving me a paper bead bracelet, since I'll be teaching paper jewelry to our embroidery guild next month.  Just so's you know, it was Florence who introduced me to beading...I think she has something to answer for there! just sayin'   She's a wonderful stitcher and beader and has been working on it since she was a little girl, which is, oh well, quite a few decades ago..

The bracelet's threaded on memory wire, which wraps comfortably around your wrist, making it one size fits practically everyone, even me, with my big hands!  Florence, I love it, and I'm not taking it off.  I'm out playing music this afternoon, so I will get it admired there, too!   being paper, it's light in weight, doesn't drag your wrist down though it's big enough for drama.

If you're interested in knowing more about this worthy cause, and browsing in their shop area, where there are a lot of other wonderful pieces,  take a look here

Friday, April 10, 2015

Play with your kitchen stuff...

Just a bit of  fun at the expense of cookbook authors and famous artists, and people who heart setting up still lifes with reflections and cleverly draped backcloths, and geometric references...go here

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Big Doorway grows a little, and the universe expands!

The art life has been interrupted by the work in the studio and the furniture moving and organization and the painting of the walls and the reorganization, and now finally I get to work on art.  

Here's Big Doorway, now with added dark blue serpentine threads, straight from India, curling around like vines.  There will be more of these, and beads in the openings.  And I'm introducing a thread of iridescence to the archway itself. There will be a lot more to this archway, not solid, but some kind of tracery, not sure yet.  It's good to be back.

And, since I like to exercise other brain functions, too, I've been studying yet another book on math!  

this one claims to teach the reader how to study math, but in fact, though she sprinkles math terms through the text, it's really about how to think constructively and lay down memory stores for future use, all very good stuff.  It's a great antidote to the intuitive leaping I do a lot of, provides a grounding that itself suggests other ideas.

Of course,  she casually talks about the quadratic formula, as if we all knew what that was, I googled on it, and next found quadratic equations, which were quite a revelation. Math was not a strong subject in my schooling, so I do like to find out stuff like this. Most of what I know I learned as an adult just because I was interested.

However, plunging into math on the internet led me very soon to my favorite of all, Leonardo of Pisa, aka The Other Leonardo, aka Fibonacci, whose sequence is not only easy to grasp, but is huge in its implications.  You start, some people with zero, some with one, and go one, two, add two to one, three, add three to two, five, add five to three, eight, and so on ad infinitum or until you are tired. 

This wonderful concept can be shown as a series of ever increasing boxes, and if you scribe an arc joining the corners of the boxes, you find you have a spiral.  Same spiral as the growth pattern of pinecones, sunflowers, the Milky Way, in fact the universe itself.  Tell me that doesn't excite you!   and go here  to see what I mean.

And the reason it's important in an art blog is that Fibonacci was also really examining the ancient concept of the golden section, known by several other names.  If he had been able to stretch out his calculations -- he lived in the 12th century, limited computation then -- he would have arrived at the magical golden ratio: one to one point six.  This is the proportion of many natural phenomena. The human body incorporates a lot of it.  Early architecture did, too.  And it's somehow pleasing to us even if we don't know why.

When I teach drawing I always like to give out 3x5 and 5x8 index cards for people to practice setting up drawings, using the whole surface, treating the edge of the card as the edge of the drawing. Then I point out the ratio.  Yes, it's from the Fibonacci sequence, see back there a bit at the numbers.  The cards are in the one to one point six ratio. Divide 5 by 3 and divide 8 by 5 and you'll see. Doesn't matter what orientation the piece is in, the ratio still works.

Whenever I make a piece of art, I check afterwards to see how close it is to the golden ratio, because I can be pretty sure that it will be harmonic and pleasing the nearer it is.

Just sayin!  blogistas who love zentangles might enjoy trying this out on index cards, too.