Friday, October 20, 2017

The Divine Miss J does it again

Another exciting parcel from my New England friend Judy T., and here's the latest, all sorts of goodies related to rug making, also some suede and leatherette fabric, which will definitely have a use chez Boud, and in a lovely tin, too.  Two jewelry pieces intended for presenting to Handsome Son, who's always making stuff.



Not wasting a moment, after she advised me that some of these items, not shown here, see below, were calligraphy pens, and where to see more info about them, I got right into grinding more ink, to do more play with pens. 


These are brass pens, in four sizes, and I tried them all, to see how flexible the nibs are, how to hold them, how to lean in on them and so on.  They're like the posh version of carpenter's pencils, in a way, in that there's a wide flat face and corners you can use.  The reservoir behind the nibs holds a surprising amount of ink, considering how big a stroke you make with it.  They're a lot easier to clean than brushes, as an aside.

Then I went on to try an actual image


There are many flaws in this, just showing you a bit of playtime.  I went from knowing zero about what these even were, this morning, before the mail came, to playing with them in a very short time.  I love this!  I know more than I knew this morning.  This is why I keep getting up each day..

More will happen with this new set of toys.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Positively the final stage for the silk book and the exhibit selection

So finally, I think the last book I'm doing for the nonce is finally done.  After the pix I showed you recently, I added in the beading I'd been thinking about, an Indian necklace.  




And liked it a lot for about three seconds.  Then realized the color balance was all off. Shape fine, color too heavy. And went back and painted the beads with a metallic gold.  




And liked it a lot better.

In rl, not seen so well in pix, the gold has echoes all over the place in this piece. And the texture works nicely, the heavier beading sort of holding down the flyaway perception of the cover. There are some threads coming out of the edge of the cover, the way silk wants to, a bit rebellious.  The shape of the beaded necklace also offsets the masses of curves and anchors them.

Pleased with this.  It's got hand dyeing, using various colorings including natural ones I made, drawing with a needle, stitching, beading, papermaking, who knows what else.  A lot of fun enclosed in this little artwork.

I'm now thinking I should name the books, since they are artworks, based on the concept of the book.  And literal books do have titles anyway.  So I'll think about that before I have to make labels.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Beaded, dyed silk posh book, iris pages

I guess this book is pretty much high end.  It's silk I dyed and beaded, with iris pages.  Currently the pages and cover are under pressure to dry the glue holding the spine edges together, and there will be a bit more stitching and maybe beaded, at the spine after that. Meanwhile just wanted you to see a work in progress. 





Front cover




Back cover
 


The clips on the far side are holding the spine together, but will be gone once the adhering and more stitching is done. Here you can see the pages in place.


The new iron is doing okay, managed to adhere the stiffening stuff without melting anything, a real concern with a new iron in contact with stuff such as silk and beads.  Though glass, they're tiny, and might just collapse under heat and pressure.  Like the artist, in fact.  But all was well.

Thanks to all the lovely blogistas who have been in touch lately with encouraging words, and cards and tokens of friendship.  Can't tell you how much it means. Especially you, Asha.  And do get your own blog up and running again.  When you do, I'll give you a shout out in here, with a link.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

StItched and beaded pages in progress

Showed some stitcher friends a couple of artists' books at a meeting last night, and while I was doing that, I realized that the beaded, dyed silk things I've been working on at stitch ins were actually pages-to-be for another artist book I've had in mind, with fabric pages and covers.

I plan to incorporate various stitchings, dyed silk, dyed cotton, and interesting items like that into it.  So, pausing only to order and await a new iron since my 25 year old one up and died this week, today I've been ironing that stiffening stuff, name escapes me, onto a couple of silk pieces.


Here you see a few of the items I've been assembling.  If you see a bit on the left of the top one, of a stitched fish, I can not claim that as my work, it's by dogonart, my sister Irene, and has been used in various incarnations for years.  Now on the side of a bag, now on the back of a jacket, and possibly has a future in a book!  I have several of her small artworks, the Canadian doll, a little pursy thing, other dolls, artist trading cards, all carefully out where I can see them.

The black stitching is of a line drawing I made in ink on mulberry, of a tiny weed I saw at the labyrinth.  The drawing is small, but is still several times lifesize.  Then I stitched it, using the drawing just as a guide, but still freehand.  Stitching, after all, is drawing with a needle.

The larger piece is a monotype, in silver ink, of a half cabbage (!),  and printed on a dyed cotton square then stitched.  The interior of a cabbage looks very much like the branching form of a tree, which is what it became in the stitching.

And on the back of the black and white stitched piece, the trail of white glue, making an accidental art piece in itself. 



But now it's brayered down onto the backing, a piece of stamped and dyed cotton.  This is likely to be a book cover.   If I can find the original line drawing, I'll include it in the book.  Note to self: rent backhoe to excavate moraine of old drawings.

One of my stitcher friends asked where I get all these ideas, and I vaguely said, oh they're in here somewhere.  But really that's not a good answer.  Every artwork you make opens the door to the next, and if you keep on opening doors, the supply of ideas is just about infinite.  But you have to open the doors!  I can show you where they are, as I do a lot in this blog, but still, you're the Opener in Chief for your own art. I've been opening doors for well over 70 years, so ideas are available all over the place.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Chinese calligraphy goes on, tiny steps

So today was a good time for an hour's calligraphy practice.  I found another really good guide, which I have out from the libe as an ebook, and once again my policy of looking for books for kids proves useful.

This is Chinese Brush Painting by  Caroline Self.  Really written for children, it's just about at the level I need right now.  I'm not selling this book, just mentioning it. Very approachable, with cultural and historical info woven in, and an approach that really brings you along.  My other book is fine, but I need to work a bit before I get into it further.

So, Self is not too rigid about what brushes, ink, and so on, and I find that my Western brushes are actually not so bad after all.  And she encourages beginners to mix a series of shades of the grayscale.

She says eight, but I thought, hm, three will about do it for me right now.  Especially since I'm grinding the ink, not pouring from a bottle. I really like the grinding, to get into the frame of mind for the brushwork.  But it's labor intensive to make more than a small amount.

And she recommends three containers of water, for brush cleaning. So I made my setup, ink: blackest in the stone, less black in one saucer, even less black in the other.  This is really a color range, since brush painting, and calligraphy, are not all one solid color of black.  And I set up my water, clean, inkier, inkiest.



Duncan liked the setup pretty well, sampling all the waters in turn, just checking.

And today I worked on several shapes, which turn out to be useful to write the word for eternity.  Several pages of tries. Now I'm not sure if the writer was being ironic, but in my case, yes, it could take an eternity to get this word looking like anything a Chinese reader might recognize.  

I'm guessing at best it looks like murbleflop, or bangcrash, but here and there I'm getting the feel of the brush.  I tried three different brushes in the course of this session, and three different shades of ink.  Here's the cleaner, inky and inkier water, behind the blackest, blacker, and black ink supplies.



It's a great way to regulate your breathing, and calm down, and just be in the present.  In fact, she does explain how you breathe as you work, it's part of it.  All in all, when the student is ready, the teacher appears, and she seems to have appeared just right for this student. 

And my leftover ink is now in a little jar, waste not want not. After that I went and swept leaves off the deck, feeling like a good Chinese artist, attending to life as well as art.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Miniature artist's books, many media

Just doing some foraging in the studio, because I had an idea for  miniature artists' books, and had just the things to use.



Here's a group of prints, which I ran off on my Gocco printer, long ago, said printer now being in possession of another artist, and which I printed on needlepoint canvas. 

I'm showing you the exploded book, pages all separated, and the the beadweaving which will be used to secure it all.  I wove the beads on a little cardboard loom I made.  Sold a few pieces of this sort of weaving, usually for jewelry, but had several hanging on the wall until I found a home for them.  Which I now have.


And then the assembled book, about three by three inches.


 

And this is a set of four image transfers on sheer nylon, pix of studio interior and artworks, shot with old Polaroid, and the emulsion lifted off the resulting pix and transferred and reshaped, onto the nylon.  

Other parts of this adventure found homes in mixed media artworks, a number of which are in buyers' collections in various parts of the country.  But there's always a supply which needs a home, as here.  

The cover, on the left,  is an image transfer onto silk of a mixed media stitched piece, now in a buyer's collection, the original, that is.  These pages are all about three by three inches. I have to decide how to assemble them, and what sort of back cover will support without overwhelming the pages.



 Other small books I already had in my collection, like these little notebooks, saddle stitched or assembled using paper fasteners. I painted the middle one, a landscape rendered in marbling, and the others are adaptations, one of a program from a historical sampler exhibit, the other a greeting card.  

These are more functional, useful to go into your purse, and I make notes for people all the time in them. Lot of low tech friends who want me to Write it Down, not email it to them.  The book with the paper fasteners is easy to refill, just pop out the fasteners, cut paper to fit, poke little hole, slip fasteners back in. Done.  I'm including them in the exhibit to encourage people to try it out.



Then there's the bigger book, here the red onionskin paper, bound with a red beadweaving.  Onionskins largely donated by Girija J, who cooks with them a lot.  I may add a stamping or a stenciling, not sure yet.  It's still drying and pressing.

Just as well I made a lot of paper in the summer.  It's coming in handy now.

These are all going into my November exhibit, if there's room in the case, it's getting a bit full, with my ambitious progress.  And I have to write up a little something, explaining the art form. More fun for people to get the gist of what they're seeing. 

With the exception of an accordion book, most of my show is about signature books, left bound or stitched, because the materials, rather than the form, are what interest me at the moment.

I have a binder with samples of my handmade paper explaining what the materials were, iris, daylily, oriental lily flower and so on.  I'm wondering if it will be a good idea to make an actual artist's sample book, too. That could work nicely.

And there may be a book created from those transfer images I made earlier in the year, some of which have been exhibited, but not all.  It carries on that earlier interest in image transfer, this time using electronic rather than physical means to do it.

With the exception of the little notebooks I write in, all these artworks are for sale, and I'll be glad to quote to anyone who wants to own one.  Or more.  You know the old joke about fund raising: we will accept any donation, however large!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Tao of Painting

Still going on is the self teaching of Chinese calligraphy, needing to be patient with myself.  Grinding the ink is a meditative process, very calming, and I just have to accept my total beginner status at using the brushes and forming shapes.  Mine all come out a bit like bread rolls.  But I'm getting the hang of holding the brush and it's starting to feel more natural.  All I'm doing at the moment is very simple copying of shapes, surprisingly challenging.



But today I thought I'd spend half an hour in this wonderful book. The Tao of Painting.  Based on an ancient manuscript, it explains the fundamentals of Chinese painting, the structure of it, and history.  Since the shapes I'm learning have meaning way behond their physical appearance, I needed to simply know more.

And to my surprise, the writer emphasizes that the painter does have to find a way to be creative, not just using rote strokes.  Evidently the masters both observed the tradition and departed from it, all at once.  This is very Chinese!  Tao more or less means way, or path, but has a lot of metaphorical overtones, too.  But it does not mean rigid copying, which I was happy to find out.

If you can get your hands on this, do.  It's a wonderful adventure into Chinese painting, with a kind guide to lead you through it.  
The chopmarks (seals) you see on Chinese painting not only indicate the original painter, but all the collectors through whose hands the painting has passed.  It's a kind of provenance that travels with the work.  Some of the pieces in this book are simply the best there ever were, now in museums.




One of the reasons I spent a lot more than half an hour on this is that I got engrossed in the paintings.  A lot of them are extremely long horizontally, like this one, 88 inches by 13, and are scrolls. That long calm shape is amazing for your peace of mind.  There are poems on a lot of them, some by the painter, some by collectors paying tribute.  This book translates the poetry for the non Chinese reader.

 I rested this double opened page onto a bench in the sun, where the shadows of a twenty first century cherry tree can mingle with the painting of a 12th century plum blossom branch.  



And where the fallen leaves are a partnership with the acceptance in art that everything, including the painter, has a season, and dies to make way for more life.


As you scan back and forth, getting into the work, you enter into another place.  These paintings date back many centuries, and are as lively now as they were when painted.  In fact chi, the life force, is supposed to be apparent in good painting, movement and the sort of energy that never dissipates over the centuries.  Paintings of bamboo in the wind are full of movement and suggested sound, never static.

Here's an autumn scene, with leaping frogs, butterflies, all kinds of lively insects, and this one has color. 

 

Color is considered a separate issue in Chinese painting, a lot of which is in gray scale, from black to grays.  And the color has to carry meaning in the painting, beyond just a graphic sort of value.

So when I finally, after about two hours, got to my own practice, I felt the way I did when I learned to spin, as if I was carrying on a humble part of a great tradition of art.  I may never get to be a great calligrapher, well, there's no may about it, but the process of entering into the practice is what it's about.  Flow starts to happen in just a few minutes, that great feeling of being at one with the materials.  The output is not important at this stage, but learning to be with the process is.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Lily and iris book added to exhibit

Moving along with the artist books, I finished another this weekend.  This has pages from the iris paper, and the covers are from the lily flower paper.  








Simple stitching to secure pages to back.  The spine is a strip of hand dyed silk, dyed with natural materials.  






And there are a couple of stencils, one of an iris to honor the producer of the raw material, one a general floral, because flower heads went into making the cover.

Simple construction but complex meanings in this book. All the materials for the paper and the dyeing came from my immediate surroundings.  Three local gardens, including mine.

All my books are available for sale, and the eventual owner can either just enjoy them as an artwork, or add to the pages with your own drawing, writing, stamping.  As you go along let me know if any interest you, and I will quote a price.  I like to price art where people can actually own it, so don't be shy about asking.  


Most of the books will be in the November exhibit at West Windsor Library, and if any are sold, I will ask the buyer to allow me to ship them at the close of the show, usual arrangement when exhibited work is sold.   Nearer the time I'll post a complete set of pix of the books for you to see.

And, as always, I encourage you to try your own hand!  it's great fun to make your own, too. 

I have individual sheets of handmade paper, approx 8x5 inches, which you can buy if you want to embark on a project yourself.  This is paper which can be drawn on with marker, or pencil, or fine pen, or stamped, stitched and stenciled.  Not for use for waterbased media, though, it will melt!  Can be incorporated into your collage work, too.  I'll make a post with the sorts of paper and how much is available, and prices, if you're interested.  Give me a shout if so.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Chinese calligraphy, more or less

The brushes arrived, and the rice paper, and the book.  So I have no further excuses for not getting on with this.  




I did study some youtube videos to see how to use the inkstick better, and with much greater success than years ago, when I first tried it.

I had way too much water going then, and now I find it's one drop at a time..very calming, actually, and you get a tiny amount of precious ink in the well.  I did the ceremonial Opening of the Brushes, which is all about soaking the tips to remove the gummy stuff they're fixed with, so that the hairs are released to work.

And I tried, with very little success, early days, to use them with the wrist and or elbow movements prescribed.  I did get a decent black color in the ink, but my shapes leave a whole lot to be desired yet.  My hand movements are way too fast for this art form, so I need to watch that.

I think I have an ingrained inhibition against using the very tip of the brush, required in Chinese work, and pretty much banned in Western painting.  You never butt the tip of the brush into the surface in Western style, and it's only this morning I realized how I internalized that as a law of nature, when it's only a way of working.

So, great adventure continues...and you need to keep your spirits up by doing something you can actually do, after an hour of this, hence the little free strokes officially to help clean the brush, actually to play a bit.   Little grasses, often see this stroke in Western watercolor work.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Calligraphy practice is getting under way

Still awaiting the arrival of my Chinese calligraphy brushes and paper, and my own copy of the instruction book, but in the meantime I figured why not get a regular calligraphy book out and review the strokes of Western style calligraphy.


Which I did, and realized I had a couple of carpenter's pencils in my drawing supplies, perfect for this.  They're flat, so as not to roll off the roof, and you can get them in different hardnesses.  They're very comfortable to hold, at various angles, which you can experiment with.

I used to teach people to use them, because they're all kinds of experiences in one.  The lead is flat and you can sharpen it with knife, for many adult students the first time they'd used an xacto blade to sharpen a pencil,  then emery board to get a squared off end, giving you four points, to draw fine lines.  And you can use the side of the lead for a wide stroke.  And move it as you work to vary the width.  Great experience in using your hand as well as the pencil, as well as in adapting the tool to suit yourself.



So I thought I'd press them into service, with my handy giant post-its, which I ruled into big squares to work in. 


 I used a 6B, the softer one, then a 2B, harder, and more tiring for your wrist.  The softer one suits me better.  So today's output, before my wrist gave out, is on the fridge, and I can already see where to do better.



A lot of the skills from years ago started returning, though still pretty wobbly and far from elegant.  But for now, nice.

Already ideas are starting up, since I'm still in the throes of artists' books, as to how to use these shapes and forms in my upcoming books.  I'm interested in them as art shapes rather than meaningful bits of words.
 

The paper I used to catch the graphite as it rubbed off the pencil with the emery board created its own little artwork.  I took the picture quickly, and since it was loose dust, it no longer exists, really.  The mulberry paper caught it very well, so it didn't get everywhere. 

If I'd had a hairspray handy, I could have fixed it, made it permanent, but next time maybe.  You don't need to buy expensive art fixative spray, when the cheapest hairspray does the same job.  Use it for chalk, pastel, graphite, drawings, anything that might rub off or migrate onto the glass in the frame.

You might also want to try out carpenter's pencils for yourselves. Best buy them at the hardware store.  Usually once something is labeled art material, the price goes up.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Artist book capers continue, with the Daylily Book

Here's another artist's book, getting ready for November exhibit.  



This is where I used those laminated (layered) pieces I made, with the daylily dried stems enclosed in them.  I have one extra piece, which I showed the other way up so you can see the copper exterior.




the six pages are made from daylily flowers, not foliage.  That's why they're more of a golden color than the bronzy green you get with foliage.

Inside the covers is metallic gold paint, outside is copper.  Stitched with a gold thread.  And called, oddly enough, Daylily.



Posed here with the plants I got the raw materials from.  



This is the second growth of the daylilies, since all the first growth went into paper, and the flowers and stems likewise. 

This is a kind of thank you to the daylilies as well as a demo to you of what went into making this book. 

Helping a neighbor groom a houseplant today, and the big leaves we cut off came home with me to make paper eventually, once they dry.   Art sources never end.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Thanksgiving prep and giant cauliflower

Since the years of the farmshare, when I got enough corn to feed a herd in my shares, I have been very sparing in my use of it.  Like squash, of which I got waaaay too much, this year I have not touched it at all.  Lost total interest in eating it.  Maybe it will return. And this is the best corn, freshpicked at the farm a mile away, home to eat, all that.

So, since Handsome Son needs his corn at Thanksgiving, I bought a few ears and prepped them for the freezer, thereby fulfilling the charge laid on me at his birth, to be Perfect.  



I don't like prepping corn, all sticky, and that.  And I remove the kernels my own way, not by cutting vertically, which I think it a fast route to the bandaid box, but horizontally.  You get them off just fine cutting down with the ear laid flat, and you can swipe off any missed kernels afterwards.  So four ears, or their kernels, are now lying in a bag pressed flat on a plexi board, in the freezer, so when they freeze, I can shake them loose to separate, and they'll be easier to use.



And there was the first cauliflower of the season, fresh out today, absolutely enormous, and expensive.  However, it smelled wonderful, and before this picture, I'd swiped Duncan off the counter because he was enjoying the leaves, green salad for him.

I cut it into medium florets so that when I want to use it, it will be interesting as cheese cauliflower, or cauliflower cheese, and if I want soup, easy to reduce.  So it's now in the freezer, which is having trouble getting the lid down.  Cheese cauliflower is when you have the whole head or sizeable chunks of it, and baked it with a cheese sauce over.  Cauliflower cheese is when you make a sort of casserole of cheese sauce with much smaller bits of cauliflower.  Technical point there, very important, write it down.

I'm not fond of prepping, but when I come to cook I'm always glad I did, having ingredients sorted ahead of time.

Thinking maybe cheese cauliflower with roast chicken next time Handsome Son comes calling. Possibly next week.

It's a Hindu nine day festival, starting yesterday, and one of the neighbors gave me a dish of a very sweet food, with noodles and maybe condensed milk, not sure, but very sweet, and I gather it's a feast before the fasting of the nine days. It seems to coincide with the Jewish High Holy Days this year, wonder if they both do the same astronomical math to arrive at their dates. Good wishes to my Hindu readers and Jewish readers and blogistas!

One of my Indian friends remarked that they have tons of holidays in India, but people don't get scheduled vacations, so they seize on this sort of partying time to visit relatives and generally live it up.

 The odd thing is that it's the same reason the medieval Christian year in Europe had so many church festivals, since it was the working folks' only time off, and they made the most of it.  Especially the time between Christmas and the Epiphany.  No crops at that time, so once animals were cared for, you could stoke up the fire and get out the mead, I suppose.  And a lot of the festivals were centered around the agricultural year anyway.

 And while I'm sending wishes, back to the present, many thoughts to the people who are struggling with earthquakes and hurricanes, seems to be a season of disaster for so many people.  Remember, best help is money!  send if we can.  And remember them in the months to come.  This sort of cataclysm isn't over in a few days.

 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Little tribute to an old friend in art

I found out by chance yesterday, that Maureen Jordan, an old friend in art and adventures, and keen follower of this blog, had died last winter.  In her last few years, her healthy declining sharply, she had preferred to be among family, and I had respected that wish, so I wasn't aware that her life had ended.


Here she is, on the right, one of her last outings, in 2012, at a fiberarts opening at the library gallery, good naturedly holding a Dolliver, she picked Blondie Firstborn, along with four other special friends on Dolliver duty.  

Left to right Shabnam, Girija, humble blogista, Stefi, Donna and Maureen.  Good friends don't mind posing with dolls!  All artists, the two on the left artists in food, they all had a good time fooling about.  I like to remember this party and how the rest of the crowd stood back to let us get on with it.

There are wonderful memories of her, exhibiting in groups together, taking part in the traveling artist book for the Plainsboro Artist Group, loyally encouraging and supporting each other's work.  She has a paper collage in the local Town Hall,  did exciting collages with mulberry paper, when she wasn't painting in watercolor.

We would go into Manhattan to museums, one wonderful day at the Frick where we spent hours studying Old Master drawings, a once in a lifetime collection.  We spent time at her shore house, and went out drawing and painting together.  And went to drawing groups in a nearby town, as long as she had the stamina to be up and about that long.  She was the best fun to be out and about with.

As her health declined, it was more about visiting her at home, as long as she wanted that, and taking her little baked items -- we had cooperative teas, where I brought the baked goods, she had her husband set up the tea.  

She was a great fan of anything lemon, so I always brought extra when I made lemon bars, so as to leave her a couple for the next day.  She had three daughters, all local, each with a family of her own, so there were a lot of grandchildren, but she was a tactful grandparent, only giving me the Cliff notes version of their activities!  I did look at their art, though.

All in all, some lovely memories of a lovely person.  A lot of these were already memories even during her lifetime, as she was less and less able to take part, and we did a lot of reminiscing then.

So glad to have known her, and how lucky to have had her in my life.

 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Moss painting followup

A while back, I made up some moss paint, and decorated my planter boxes on the fence with it,  for added interest there, they being ordinary cedar boxes, weathering slowly.

For weeks and weeks there was no sign of anything! it dried, and seemed to have vanished.  Then, in the last couple of days, signs of life.  The moss appears to be starting to take hold.



Just a shadow now, but this means they are starting to grow. And that the torrential rains we've had since the painting was done didn't, as I feared, wash all the moss off to land on the ground.


So I took a couple of pix, and you see the irregular shapes I painted in.  This sort of environment is better with more random markings than over-organized ones.

This being the case, I took out the rest of the paint from the freezer, thawed it and chucked it at the other fence, to form a freeform backdrop to the bare twigs of the yellow roses, anyway, that's the plan. 



 So now again, all I have to do is wait and see if it takes.  Spectator art.

You can click on the label at the bottom of this post, if I've done it right, to see the blogpost where I talked about the recipe for this paint, which I used right away after making it.  We'll see if the fungi survive the freezer.  I'm guessing they will since they are long lived in this climate where it freezes every year anyway. 

This is the intersection of art and gardening. Fun, too.  I believe you can use this paint to decorate pots, too, but mossy pots are not really my cup of tea.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Chinese calligraphy, diy style

Just to show that food is not the overriding issue in my life at the moment, though Field and Fen might lead you to suppose otherwise, go there to find out why!, I decided on a new art adventure this winter.

Last winter was about spinning and improving my yarn output, which I did pretty successfully, and added new skills to my life. Spring and summer was about papermaking and transparency work. But I always need a new horizon, since mixed media is an endless quest, and the local rec. department offerings finally had something I'd like to try.

At least that was the plan.  I signed up weeks ago, got the course title, time, date, location, etc., couldn't find any description anywhere, but never mind.  

Then I got a mysterious email to me and a list of others, all but two with Chinese names, all written in Chinese, with attachments of beautiful calligraphy in chinese...I wrote to the rec lady asking if this course was being offered in English, otherwise I wouldn't be able to make use of it.  And if the email I received actually related to it, couldn't even figure out that much.

She got back, assuring me that knowledge of Chinese was not necessary to attend the course.  I wonder now if she meant I could come, but wouldn't understand anything, including the directions on what supplies to buy.

Then another email, more lovely enclosures, and this time I wrote back to the writer as well as the rec lady explaining that unless I heard from them in English, I was very disappointed to say I couldn't use this class.  

We do have a sizeable Chinese population, so it would be popular for them, however, I didn't think they had intended to shut out nonspeakers.  I wonder if they never expected a Westerner to be interested, too.  Anyway, I have heard to date, and the class is this evening, nothing, crickets.

Soooo, nothing daunted, they got me interested for which I'm grateful, I proceeded to check out the library and the internet and to see what supplies I already had in the studio from long ago.

I did manage to get a great beginner's book, and to unearth my ink block and stick, and one brush which will do till I get more appropriate ones.  And I thought it would be fun to work on a giant post-it pad I was given ages ago.  


You see the back of the ink stone here.  Years ago I was doing block printing on fabric, and used it as one of my blocks, because the size and shape were just right.  Then I realized I really liked the design I'd created accidentally, and turned it into an artwork by just hanging it face-in.  It appeared in a show of mine years ago!



Then here's the ink block right side up, so you see the well the water goes in, and the slope the inkstick is rubbed on to create a well of ink.  That's the stick resting on it.  The outside is lacquered so you don't get inky fingers in the process.

Everything comes in handy sooner or later. I will need more appropriate paper for a beginner, but I already have the newsprint to protect my surroundings..

The book gives supply houses, so I can get my brushes, using the advice of the writer, and I think I'm getting set for my winter adventure.  It does take a long time to get any good at this, and it's a meditative pursuit, so that's fine.  Even grinding the ink stick down to make the ink to use is part of the meditation, not to be rushed. 

So now to study Rebecca Yue and send off for the brushes she suggests for beginning work, and look forward to some serious learning.  My goal is to incorporate the strokes into other works, to create small artworks that might get into my mailbag, which has been totally neglected for quite a while, and generally to enlarge my repertoire of art skills.  Of which patience is definitely one that needs work. 

I suspect that "easy" in this context may be a bit optimistic.  Engrossing perhaps, ready for that.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It's all go on the arts front this week

Monday I unexpectedly gave a gallery walk and talk on the current exhibit of Joy Saville's fabric constructions, My Journey Into Abstraction, at a gallery in the retirement community where the embroiderers hold their meetings.  

Up to the day before we thought, we being the embroiderers' guild, that we had a different presenter up for this, found we didn't after all, and I was asked if I could just you know, step in...good thing I knew her art and was able to say a few things.

Here's Helen H., our president doing the intro to Joy, not to me, because they already know me too well to need any info.


Some of our officers are there in the front of the audience. They are great embroiderers, from way back in their families.

If you're unfamiliar with Joy's work, go here 
to see a video of her opening in New York City last year, she's seen seated there, and many of the same pieces are in the current show for which  I did the gallery walk.  

I had never met her, despite attempts by mentor Maggi Johnson who wanted us to meet, but great surprise, she did stop in briefly before our chat, and I got to meet her finally.  I didn't do a pic, felt she might not want that at this point, a bit frail now.  She now lives in the community where the gallery is, which is how we got lucky with this show.

Then onward to the Plainsboro Artists 2017 Annual Exhibit, which I blogged about a few days ago, see here and we do try to make good food to bring.  Anyone in the show brings something edible, and I thought ah, here's a chance to make shortbread. 



Easy to eat standing up, always welcome.  The cook got to eat the edge bits. leaving the proper squares for the artists' dining pleasure. Not many of them came home.




And it took its place among a wonderful array of exotic offerings. We have a number of cultures in our group, and this mosaic of food is really part of what we're about, come to think of it. This was taken before the table was filled up as people arrived and added their dishes. 

then  some pix of artists and their work




Vimala on left, busy discussing her work, partly visible in the middle, with the painter of the moonlit scene on the left. The gentleman on the right didn't show this time but brought in a lovely painting on cedar to show us. That's what they're examining there.


one of Donna S., the gallery curator who hung the show with great expertise, and whose felted scene is in the show, next to Art Lee, whose big fabric collage is behind them, but I did pic it earlier.



and here's Annette N., a wonderful watercolor painter who has exhibited all over the region, very successfully




This is one opening where a lot of talk is about art, and people make a big point of finding each other to ask about their work, and give feedback.  Openings in general are not my cup of tea, since so often the art is ignored, but this one is a shining exception, great fun with me mates.  And there are spouses I only get to see at this event where they loyally show up, so that's a bonus.

This show is up to late September, so if you're local, stop in to Plainsboro Library -- any hour it's open, the gallery is too.  It's a strong show, well worth your trip.  Your humble blogwriter has a piece in there, too.  Just sayin.