Wednesday, September 28, 2016

One Million Stars to end Violence

Just found out about this international weaving project, thanks to Colleen Miller of Creative Collective, and tried my hand at it.  For a small craft form, quite addictive in nature, and if you want to join the cause, a worthy one, I present it here.

This is my first star, and I learned a thing or two in the process, not being the most adept at origami type of work, and getting easily confused by turns and sudden moves.  This ribbon is the kind that changes color as it moves, interesting in rl, more than in pix.

The tutorial I link is very good, very simple to follow, but since I can't move at her speed, I had to run it several times before I took off the training wheels.  

One thing to bear in mind is that you need to keep the length of the pieces proportionate to their width.  I tried with wide petersham ribbon, which did not work at all, needed pieces about twice the length shown in the video, otherwise you don't have enough to hold onto while you work.  

But ribbon the size she shows, parcel ribbon, the kind that folds and stays folded, works just fine.  And do listen to the advice about which bits to cut, otherwise you will happily cut off a point you just spent a while creating, ask me how I know this.

The, very good, tutorial on how to make these comparatively simple stars (if you look on youtube and see the amazing and much more complex ones, you'll see what I mean) is here

The project itself arose from hearing of a sudden violent death, which impelled the weaver, Maryann Talia Pau, to start a community project of teaching how to make One Million Stars to End Violence, as a gentle response, returning good for evil.

This has become a huge project, and if you want to be part of the international effort, beyond the pleasure of just making  few stars for your own fun, go here  

I plan to take my beginnings in to my stitch in this evening and see if I can do it without the tutorial entirely, not having the wifi signal where I will be.  Chances are some people there are already experts, though, knowing that many talented group. 

I can see using these for Christmas decorations, and inserting into seasonal mail, and maybe creating a wreath for the door, getting very ambitious here..or a mobile..

Monday, September 26, 2016

Plein Air with Friends and Dollivers

As promised, the Dollivers who weren't in on the baking the other day got to come out for plein air today.  They were wanting black berets made for the occasion, but I refused to do this, and they grudgingly agreed to wear regular hats at a jaunty angle to show they are artistes. Left to right Dreads, Bette Davis and CallmeMichelle

So here they are, gowned and bagged, or as they say, bound and gagged, ready to get in the car.

And we had a wonderful morning, perfect Fall weather, hoping for more plein air weeks before the season gets too cool. One of our members, Anthony, was wondering if he could find an indoor location where we could meet and continue, so we'll see.

We were also joined by a tiny bug who took up residence on my paper

really, everyone wants their moment of fame. You see him later, after I drew on this sheet.  He also served as a great model for a potential bookmark drawing.  Jeanne named him Henry, since he seemed determined to be with the group.

And my friends were patient with Dolliver antics, 

Jeanne admired them appropriately, and generally pacified them, once they realized she fully saw their Importance as Blog Characters, not to mention their great beauty and outfits. 

And  Colleen guessed Dreads' name without a prompt! this went over well.  Particularly since Dreads was all about leading Colleen through an experimental drawing of large headed figures.

Today I was drawing, not painting -- after teaching the workshop I just felt like drawing for myself, including drawing on colored paper, sheets of which I also gave out to other members this morning. 

I used pen, chalk, graphite stick and three colors of paper. Nice variety to the morning. Reading down, ink on mulberry, pencil on canary paper, ink on white paper, graphite stick on heavier paper.  Interesting to see the varying lines and weight you can get.

Plein air is the best way you can start the week. Monday morning at 10.  If you're local to the Princeton area and reading this, get in touch with me, or comment here and I'll give you exact directions.  

Anyone may join us, just show up with your materials, ready to work and share, and you're included. You'll note that I do not show pix of other artists work in full, out of respect for their ownership. You see a glimpse here and there, but the full image is not shown, unless the artist says to go ahead.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Herb fanciers rule!

Yesterday I presented a drawing workshop for the Delaware Valley Unit of the Herb Society of America, very high falutin name for a wonderful group of enthusiasts who plunged in bravely with all the drawing adventures I invited them to.

This workshop was hosted at the Holcombe Jimison historic Farm, in Lambertville NJ, see their website here with whom this chapter of the Herb Society has a cordial relationship.   The society's herb garden is a fenced area on the farm, at the moment filled with herbs of various continents, to reflect the modern population of the Delaware Valley. 

Most of the participants were inexperienced in drawing, though great gardeners and cooks, and since the focus was to learn to draw their own herbs, they were interested in pursuing these new skills.

We did the introductory modified contour drawing, using live herbs I'd brought in, picked from my own tiny herb area, drawing within a 5 in by 8 in golden rectangle, failsafe shape to work in.  

Then we moved on, still in golden rectangle mode, to shaded drawing and highlighting, using their own pencils, plus access to my selection of charcoal, carpenters' pencils, graphite sticks, pens, chalk,  and the use of the kneaded eraser.  I had brought various sorts of paper, including some wonderful Indonesian mulberry paper, plus drawing paper and colored sheets, too.  So some people ventured into white drawing on colored background, and others used chalk for highlights, and kneaded eraser to lift out light sections.  

Finally we went to two small golden rectangles, 3 in by 5 in, to use the nondominant hand to make another herb drawing.  Much to their surprise, the results were very very good!  it's hard to believe before you try it, but I love to see the pleasure on the face of a participant who realizes they can draw well with the other hand.

And people went home with bits of kneaded eraser plus mulberry paper, and other sheets, to try at home, and their golden rectangles, which you will have realized were index cards, which happen to be the right proportions.

I have such respect for beginners who plunge in and just try everything, and listen up, and are interested in the history of what we're doing, and why it works, and why there are no drawing police surrounding the building.

Then at the close, I shared my own artist books and portfolios, stuffed with small drawings of plants, in ink largely, and paintings of all kinds of scenes.  And I suggested they try making an Xbook like the one shown here if they're interested in creating a garden journal with picture and drawings of their own herbs, including the society's herb garden at the location where we were.  

Since the members of the society study herbs, history, uses and cultivation, I thought it would be great to pursue a practice of drawing them, so as to be very familiar with the shape and identity of any herb they ever draw.  True of anything you draw -- you never forget what it looks like.

No pix of the event, too totally engrossed in teaching and learning and sharing and showing, to pick up a camera.  I usually feel that all my attention should be on what we're doing together rather than recording it,  also it's better if people don't feel they're under observation, but if I get any pix of drawings from the participants, I'll share them here with permission. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the big tree, eight foot ficus benjamina is back in the house after a wonderful summer out of doors, during which she improved her foliage dramatically, good for the winter until she goes out again next summer. She's about 35 years old and touching the ceiling now. 

Surrounding her are rescued plants, one abandoned, which is now four flourishing plants, after surgery, one a collection from a grieving mother who wanted me to take the plant arrangement from her son's funeral and care for it -- now four times its original size -- and great grandchildren of earlier houseplants of mine.  All making a microclimate, with the help of a bit of light.  I have several other collections, in other rooms, but this is a nice focus of one corner of the living room.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Social butterflies

Just fooling about with the idea of the butterfly I saw yesterday, here in ink and wash on Arches hotpress. About 5 inches square more or less.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

More painting, with help from butterflies

I did a  few small experiments using Arches hotpress paper, very smooth, lovely surface, very expensive, very unforgiving.  It's better for me as a drawing surface, but every now and then I like to try painting.  

These may become printed on silk organza, to be layered into other artworks.  Or sit in a portfolio. All depending.   

And after a convo with a friend last evening, I thought you might like to see the sum total of my painting gear.  Here.  Plus paper not in the picture

I take it all out with me, since there's not much, and these brushes have served me well for years and years.  In fact the round one is beginning to wear out, too bad, since the handle is just right for me.  I often use the blunt end to mark into the wet paint, interesting effects.  And the pilot pen is always with me.  

The busted open tube is aureolin yellow, which had dried in the tube, so I cut it open and went right on using it.  You did know you could do that, right? no need to toss expensive tube watercolors if they've gone hard.  They're still viable, if a bit dryer.

The day being beautiful, perfect walking weather, I went out after I'd painted and set up some bread to rise.  And on the way home, I saw a couple of these:

Great Spangled Fritillaries, they are!  sounds like a curse from a fairytale, but they are wonderful to see.  Very fast flyers, not possible to get a pic, even if I'd been ready, which, full disclosure, I was not.  The image on the page is about lifesize, approximately 3 plus inches across.

However, I would like very much to use a similar sort of image somewhere in the near future...  The two I saw were zooming about near the woods, over damp grass, where violets grow, all in perfect accord with what the butterfly book says they should.  So I guess they're also good students.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Painting again, small stuff

Too hot for outdoors, so I made the kitchen into my studio and painted four small pieces, using a damp paper, to paint wet in wet, or wet in damp.  It's fun to do, and quite unpredictable until you remember how.  These are in my $US30 price range plus $5 s nd h.

Since there's been interest in buying these small pieces, I have refrained from binding them into an artist's book, but have put them into handmade portfolios, so that they're protected, but still separate pieces to take out and see.  This is one of the ideas I'm going to bring to the drawing class next week, as a way to keep track.

 As you see, now and then a little geometric idea gets in there and I let it.  All these paintings have ideas behind them, but I don't mind what people see in there, since it's very personal.  I sometimes think that giving titles is a bit like shoving people to see it just my way, when perhaps they see it differently.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Plainsboro Artists Reception September 2016 Square One

Last evening, the reception for the Plainsboro Artists Square One Group show and awards was packed with artists, families, friends, and innocent bystanders. A lot of fun ensued as we all used the QR, quick response, codes, one under each artwork.  You see that in progress below

That's the one you aim your smartphone at and it takes you to a reference point, chosen by the artist in this case, and submitted a while back as jpegs to the gallery manager, Donna S, who arranged to get the codes created.  

Mine took the viewer to an image of the vat of daylily foliage cooking to make the daylily paper.  Others went to a quotation or poem that triggered the idea, or to an image of an earlier version or an underpainting of the work on exhibit.

Quite a few artists are low on the technology foodchain, and gallery manager Donna provided an Ipad already loaded with the QR app, so that we could explore after seeing the finished work.  Much tech education took place in a short time!  There was also a printed list of the links for people with no smartphone but willing to type the links into a search engine.  This was a whole new level of gallery going.

And the art was strong, too, great range of work.  Three awards, work shown below. 

This piece, untitled, is a watercolor on masa paper, by Allison Singer, whose code took the reader to a YouTube video of her in the process.  Use her name and masa paper as descriptors if you want to see her at work.

This two part piece, by Evie Sutkowski is a double collage, the parts different from each other but relating at many points.

This piece, entitled "The Clearing" is familiar to blogistas, and is the work I made using daylily foliage, acrylic metallics and stamping.

I wonder if you can aim your smartphone at the images in this blogpost and get to the sources?  let me know if you try and it works.  It just now occurred to me that it might.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Plein air, and some weird results!

On the way down the path to the car this morning, I saw this little friend, making pretty good speed considering, across my path.  

I wondered if this was a sign from the universe to calm down, the tortoise, or snail, will get there just as well as the mad rush. His shell is a wonderful design, shape and color working so well. And his choice of background is great, too, contrasting textures with harmonizing colors.

Weather great for working outdoors today, but the convo was so engrossing, all over the place with the state of the gig economy, the struggles of our younger generation, township planning, and the state of the weather,  that I wasn't as much into the art as usual. 

I let the brush and the colors do what they wanted, just to see what happened.  Four small paintings on one page, which I separated later.

A morning of here goes nothing!  but it's a good thing now and then to just do this without thinking about anything, just set aside all the art decisions you usually work with when you're painting. 

I can always concentrate again when I recover from the long siege of heat and humidity which may have slowed down my whole self for the moment.

It certainly took its toll on dreams. I'm having the usual masses of them, but they are so DULL!  My brain can't summon up any excitement, I guess.  Last night it was about a meeting with a town official, in life long since retired, and in the course of it referring to a run-in I'd had in another dream with another official!  I mean, when your dreams are reduced to quoting other dreams full of boring arguments,  you know your brain is a bit tired. Either that or you're following too much political news.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Plein air and paintseptember more small paintings

Today was another batch of small paintings, working on being loose in a very small image size.  

Great fun in good company with Jeanne and Anthony.  The hurricane never happened here, to misquote Eliza Doolittle, so the weather was perfect for outdoors, slight wind, sun and cloud, interesting shadows and moving foliage.

To answer Asha's recent question: all my artwork is for sale, including the small drawings and paintings you see on my blog. Mostly you need to let me know specifically what you're interested in and I'll quote you.  Very reasonable prices, since I believe everybody should be able to afford original art.

On the small drawings and paintings I did over August and now September, price is $30 per drawing or  painting plus $5 s and h, price in US $.  I don't reproduce my work, so you get a one of a kind original artwork.  Email me if you're interested.And thank you for the enthusiasm, Ash!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Preserve to see September in action

Today, the threatened hurricane having changed her mind, we had a wonderful sunny breezy day, not too hot for hiking on the Preserve and observing tiger swallowtails and silver spot skippers and dusky swallowtails and a few birds, but mid afternoon is a quiet time for birds, and there were the lovely yellow flowers that come out on the dot in early September.

A couple of huge downed trees, probably happened in the rainstorms a few weeks ago, showed interesting designs underfoot, 

The heavy rains hollowed out some roots, too, leaving great shapes, if a bit hazardous on the walking trail.

and the side of one rootbed was probably a whole world of salamanders and other animals before it was torn up.  This was about eight feet across, and must have made quite a racket when the tree came down.  

A snowy egret was out hiking, too, on the far side of the lake, too far to show you, but he took in quite a bit of territory along the lakeside on his fishing expedition.

I walked down and then up this outdoor staircase, and around here saw many butterflies zooming about.

And found a new tiny trail near the lake edge, where there's a bench in a sheltered spot that acts like a bird blind, with a path leading further around the lake toward the area where the protected wildflowers grow.

When I got home, I found these two little friends trying to open the front door.  

The one on the handle was undeterred by my opening it, just hung on and swung as it opened and closed with him still outside.  I like crickets, but the sound of one in the house is a bit tedious after the first 6,378 chirps.

I was just walking and looking and remembering, so that there's something in my head when I want to work next.  Design ideas everywhere in nature, and visual experiences in seeing trees and lake and fields as blocks of color relating to each other, not as a huge series of objects, always good to see this way.

And, browsing through the elibrary for something to download to my Kindle without a waiting list, I came by chance on a little book of notes about painting by Charles Hawthorne.  

Himself no mean painter, and clearly a gifted teacher, he was the prime mover behind making Provincetown an art hub, at the end of the nineteenth and start of the twentieth century,  and his notes say so many of the right things that I really recommend you get a look at them.

He's all about paintings being the expression of color and mass, not about a story or a set of objects, yay, I love him for this.  And how a painting is not a drawing colored in, gosh that's one of those things I often have a hard time getting across to students.  A drawing is an artwork, a painting is an artwork, the two have different aims and different effects.  Paint (and draw) what you see, not what you know..While I read I kept saying YESSSSS!  really participatory reader here, if you say good stuff like that.

The other great painter who is also a great teacher is Charles Reid, do you have to be named Charles to do this, I wonder.  Anyway, he has produced some lovely books worth your looking at, though the examples he gives are so accomplished that you might want to try Hawthorne's suggestions before looking at Reid.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Page of Paintings

Since the approaching storm, winds already here, rain to follow, changed a number of holiday weekend plans involving being out of doors, I did a page of tiny paintings indoors.  

They are fragments of memory of places I've been in Europe,  some local flowers now in bloom hereabouts, and an apple from the farm market today.  The first painting, where the top right hand blank is, was like the first pancake, hopeless, tossed out, and the rest are to stay.

These are each about 3 x 4 inches, and will be pages in an upcoming tiny artist book, about which more later..I'm thinking of a sixteen page signature, which will mean eight more tiny paintings, and a cover I have to design and make yet, I only just had the idea, so that's not ongoing yet.

Meanwhile, here is today's output. Watercolor and round brush, tube paints, cold press paper.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Paintseptember is here again on Twitter

If you're not familiar, this is an event where anyone anywhere is welcome to join (#paintseptember) on Twitter, post paintings made this month, and show them to other interested artists.  Great fun to see everyone's way of working and what they choose.  Some people paint daily, some in bumps and starts, and I decided, since today is the first, to start the month well, with two small paintings. You can join, too!  judgment free zone.

We had rain and later sun today, ending in wonderful wet sunset brilliance, so I did something about that.