Monday, October 12, 2015

Stitching gets derailed by printmaking

So musing on that big yellow piece and the possible Dorset buttons and other things, I ended up finding my hand carved stamps and making a meadow on it instead, in archival sepia ink.

This is partly because I invited a friend to do the dollar tour of the place, including my studio, a very rare event for me, don't ask to come, the planets have to be in the right configuration for me to invite. But anyway, her take on a lot of items was very valuable, and I suddenly as a result of our chat had much better thoughts on how to make that yellow dyed linen piece.  The ingredients will find another home in another artwork once I get to sorting it. Thank you Margaret!  

Stitching may ensue on the yellow piece, but may not.  I have been drawn back into printmaking from the #printoctober activity on Twitter.  And I have plans to carve more prints with subjects I need next.

So here's that yellow piece, 20 x 16, but all different now

And a piece you haven't seen, an 8 x 10 monotype in blue dye on coarse linen overstamped with handcarved images.  There are butterfly like shapes and other natural objects in the blue dyed areas.

Quinn, you have no idea what an impact you had on me back in August when you wrote that blogpost about #drawingaugust!  from drawing more, though I always did, to #paintingseptember, painting again after a hiatus, and now to printmaking again, my lifelong love.  And learning to watermark my work.  

Well, when the student is ready the teacher appears.  Which is just another way of saying that chance favors the prepared mind, come to think of it.

On a less elevated plane, that curving shape that looks a bit like a dancer in the blue and white linen piece is in fact a carving I made based on the architecture inside a deer's nose!  just sayin'. You just never know where great design is to be found.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Healing Power of Walking and Art

After a series of contretemps too boring to go into, what with HOAs and encroaching neighbors and Amazon billing foulups, I was very happy to seize the day and go out this afternoon to Princeton University Art Museum to see the new installation, and the big exhibit of the Book of Kings, the Persian manuscript.

Here are the flyers about them

And a few views of the installation, the piece being designed and created specifically for this location, and to my mind somewhat poorly installed. The reason I'm complaining is that a sculptural installation is usually meant to be seen from all sides, being designed as a 360 experience.  This one can only be seen from three sides, impossible to walk around it and experience it.  However, since the artists, the brothers Starn, no doubt took this into consideration, I suppose they didn't attach as much importance to it as I do.

So I muttered and took a few pix. 

 The bicycles are not part of the installation, but I left them in so as to give you a measure of the size of this piece.  And the landscaper blowing leaves and grass away from the base similarly.  Also I liked the concept of life going on around the artwork anyway. The parts which look like trees propping up the structure are in fact cast metal, brilliantly created to resemble wood, until you realize they have seams where the casting was joined.

I found the whole thing awkward, because too close to the building, difficult to see, because so big, at close quarters, almost impossible to get back far enough to see better because of construction going on a few yards away and fences blocked with temporary coverings.  Let's hope this situation improves before much longer.  I did like the light shining through the glass, though, and the incidental art that happened when the sun made a shadow on the museum wall.

If you want to see a bit more info about the artists and this installation, go here

Then the other item I wanted to see, can't see too much in one visit, need to digest, was the really spectacular Book of Kings exhibit, with original four centuries old manuscripts to peer at, over several galleries,  individual pages, newly restored, framed and being exhibited before they are put back into appropriate bindings by the restorers.  There are many copies of this classic Persian work, but this is the best conserved and restored one in the US.

This was a great idea, a chance to see many pages close up, using magnifying glasses provided, because of the fineness and detail in the manuscript pages, before it vanishes into its permanent rebinding and is accessible mainly to scholars.  

The light was kept a bit dimmed, because the pages are fragile, and no photography was permitted, as usual with collections on loan. But the experience of being up close to see this amazing work, with the beautiful old script, and even additional ancient notes in the margins, was very healing after a few bumps in my own little life!

If you want to know more (and this exhibit is there till January, should you be local enough to visit), go here

And, since it was a weekday, parking at a premium, I had to park way far away, which built in a walk, always a Good Thing!  So I got home in a much better mood, especially since I'd had sunshine all afternoon,  and, shortly after I arrived home, the skies went black and dumped a lot of rain.  I was home by then, and dry.  And smug!

Friday, October 2, 2015

October brings printmaking...

So, among all the stitching -- work on two pieces today, desultory, but oh well, teaching some goldwork for the stitching guild on Sunday, so that counts..

Anyway, October is PrintOctober on Twitter, so I thought I'd start by sending in a favorite, not new, but I really love it.  It's stamped, using my own carved stamps, on mulberry paper, and it depicts a little pod of small whales I saw from my hotel balcony some years ago -- those are the hotels along the ocean -- but seen from the whales' viewpoint.

And here 'tis


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Last paintings of September

Just a last gasp at September!  weather supposed to be rainy, but several of us showed up and had a wonderful sunny morning for working.  Rain came later, no problem at that point.

I will separate the paintings I showed you earlier.  Thanks for the input, and I think they work better as solos.  So here's today's painting and one little drawing, drawing always sneaks back in.

I am not one of those people who labor over art.  These are just the sponge brush and my fingernail, dancing over the work with very loose paint over a clear wash.  About an hour and a half total. Great fun to do, but you can't take them literally.  The drawing is the extra fine pilot pen, as usual, my fave, except on 140 lb. watercolor paper this time, as are the paintings. It's all about the changing colors as the season turns. 

And I have a little goldwork cute thing to show you, but not yet, don't want to spoil the surprise for my stitching buds.  It will all be revealed on the Princeton Embroiderers' blog
in due course. This is a little motif I designed on request, so they could learn an extra bit of goldwork or two.

And a wonderful present today, a great piece of linen, a banquet cloth,stitched, hemstitched, various cutwork forms, huge, which is even now in the dryer, after a bath in Synthropol for the stains. 

It's an old piece, given to me by a person trying to slim down her household before she moves south.  I promised pix for her once I decide on its new form and home, and will show you, too. I do like to rescue old textile pieces.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Painting and drawing in September goes on till the weather doesn't!

Wonderful weather today, sunny but not too hot, perfect for working out of doors.  I was the only person who showed up this week, but still had a good time.  This will go on till the end of September, but even if the group doesn't continue out of doors here, I think I will if the weather holds up.

 Interesting play with washes and fine pen.  Then I finished off the morning with a couple of very small drawings with fine pen on mulberry paper.  I'm thinking these little drawings might be really nice giveaways for the next Grow Your Blog caper, if I do it again next year.

Anyway, here's what transpired.  

picnic benches drunkenly falling about among the trees in the park, bottom is the pavilion where we meet, leaves and flowers blowing about in the wind.

 Looking across the canal

And looking back up the path to the entrance gate from the road. Fine pen on mulberry paper, these drawings about 5 inches a side.

The two paintings were on one  11 x 18, I think, sheet and I haven't separated them yet, in case I decide to frame them as one.  But I did take pix of each one, to help decide.  In fact, I'd welcome blogistas' thoughts on this:  should I separate the twins or leave them as a unit?  what do you think? They're different, but related, scenes. 

I have work hanging in two locations right now, with a third coming up in January, so I'm looking around to decide what to hang.  Doesn't have to be fiber art, in fact framed and glassed work is better in locations where I won't see them throughout the exhibit, and they'll be in food places, so better to take protected works.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Plein air strikes again...

Particularly nice plein air today, perfect weather, and an old friend not seen for years showed up and joined us, so I had great company while I painted.  

We sat on a bench at the side of the canal, so one painting is the view straight across the water.  With this one I painted then drew into it,  and one of the bridge further down the canal,left of where I was sitting. September yellow daisy like flowers have now joined the golden rod, and the leaves are thinning a bit now.

And here I drew then painted over it.

Unusual for me to work in company at all, so this was a new departure. She was breaking out her charcoal, first time in ages, so she had an adventure, too.  And we caught up on many years of our lives since we last met, which was way back when we rented studios in the same building.

Many interruptions from friendly bicyclers, walkers, joggers, runners, too.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Beaded and goldwork piece goes on amid painting frenzy

I seem to have two sides of my brain going at once, how unusual for me, one the more precise and planned and elaborate world of goldwork and beading, although mine is pretty freeform as I design it, and the world of loose and unplanned watercolor, where the less precise and planned and elaborate the better.

Tomorrow I go on location painting again, and this evening it's a meeting of local artists in the gallery where we have our work on display, the exhibit I showed you a few days ago. 

But for now, it's the continuation of the golden piece, one of a series of stitchings done on my dyed linen. This one is going to be named "Anonymous was a Woman" and is a little salute to  anonymous women stitchers and beaders and dyers over the centuries. 

You'll recognize the internet symbol for the anonymous poster in here, no doubt, and the references to anonymous stitching over the centuries and the elaboration of embroidered gifts and boxes.  Anyway, that's the concept.  The beading on the right side is complete, no it's not all going to be filled in.  Next I'll work within the outer frame in some way yet to be determined.

Interestingly I was stitching this precise and careful work while listening to a wonderful, and highly dramatic Kate Atkinson audiobook -- a God in Ruins. About Halifax bombers in action in WW2 and a lot of other dramatic events and human conflicts.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Painting this morning, music this's all go

This morning's painting is about lying in the tall grasses watching the Fall colors gradually come into view.  In this region, central NJ, the colors are gently, largely muted, with the gold of beech staying all winter. The margin on the painting is pure white, but it doesn't register here as white for some mysterious camera related reason.

This is largely painted, but with ink finishing, many washes and liftings took place.  It's good to work with 120 lb paper, because it allows you to continue working long after an 80 lb sheet would have pilled and collapsed.

Off to stitch now..I'll soon have something to show you, but more work needed yet.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

paintseptember, now for a face

Long time since I painted a face in watercolor.  Here's an amused lady, watching the artist struggle!  challenges here were remembering to use lost and found edges, to be very loose even in a smallish painting. 

I started with a blue wash over all the picture surface, dabbed out some features and general head shape with a kleenex, then painted. I should explain, this question came up the other day from an artist, that the copyright indication only appears on the electronic form, not on the artwork itself.  So when it seems to collide with the title it doesn't matter in real life.

The way it's working in this hot weather where I can't get out much is that some stitching happens in the morning, then it seems as if a bit of painting happens in the afternoon.

Except that early morning was taken up with hauling in big plants to the house.  The ficus now hits the ceiling and bends a little bit! And the men came to re evaluate the properties (whole township is re evaluating, this always means a rise in taxes) and had to follow me over to the condo to do the same there.  Obliging of them in fact, since it is awkward to set up different appointments with different surveyors or whatever they are.  They just clicked away at an electronic clipboard, as far as I could see. Might have been playing Sudoku for all I know..

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Review: Plainsboro Artists Group Show 2015: Local Color

The theme of the summer program and the Fall group show for the Plainsboro Artists Group is Local Color. Artists had a free hand to interpret this as literally or as metaphorically as they chose, and to add writing to their show entry.

Note the artists' signatures on the show poster, very cool.


Most entries are for sale, and there's a strong showing, 33 entries in all, with materials ranging from found objects, including racing car parts (!)to glass and tile mosaic, to handmade paper, to photography, to dyed linen using locally sourced dyes by the artist, to classic watercolor, to acrylic, to oils.

 Gallery manager Donna Senopoulos, with a watercolor and writing entry in the show, hung this disparate group of works with great understanding of how they echoed and contrasted with one another.  She shows yet again that hanging a show is an artform in itself.  

Very much worth your while to take a trip here if you're in central NJ any time soon!  Gallery is open all the hours the library is open, every day. And even better, since Saturday September 19th from 1-5 p.m. will be the Festival of the Arts, that's a good chance to enjoy all the outdoor and indoor events (look for the embroiderers' guild there, with work in progress and beautiful finished projects), and at the same time catch the gallery show.  

The Arts Rule in Plainsboro!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Three tiny paintings

Just for the record: these take as long as paintings twice the size, largely because all the same challenges are present and needing to be addressed, but in a smaller environment.  You can't actually dash off a tiny painting faster than a giant one.  

When I used to create miniature needlework, one twelfth scale, selling to serious adult collectors, people used to comment, oh well, that little six by eight inches rug won't take more than a couple of hours, no?  how come so expensive?  and I'd explain that it took exactly as long as a six by eight foot rug, because everything was scaled down, tiny mesh, tiny needles, fine thread.  Quite a revelation to people who had never experienced miniature work.

I'm a pretty rapid worker, but a square inch of even a simple design took upward of an hour and a more complex one about two hours.  Particularly since I was designing on blank canvas with just the aid of my plan to the side or a little drawing. And then you couldn't stitch for longer than that, because of the strain on your entire body from the focus on the work.  It was lovely, though, and very meditative.

But paintings are, to get back to our sheep, or nos moutons, very similar in demand.  And then when you make small ones, you suddenly get all these fancy ideas about experimenting...

Hence the scratching on the spiderweb piece, using a boxcutter blade

and the gold touches, probably hard to see in photographs on the others

Crown of Thorns plant, sporting a new crop of flowers
and the scratching on the Boston fern, to show light piercing through it out of doors.  

These are about postcard size, as usual I didn't measure. But I have a ways to go before I get pleased with my painting.  Drawing comes much more naturally to me.  This is because I'm interested in shapes and relationships much more than color, and painting uses color to express shapes and relationships rather than using line.  So I need to remember how to do this!

And how to crop using my tablet.  Sometimes I do better than others. I'm using somewhat low end tools, which I guess fit my low end budget and inclinations.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Just playing about, really

Turns out the hardest part of this blog at the moment is getting the watermark to work!  either Picasa or I  is/am incapable of doing it twice the same way, which involves a lot of searching and cursing, but eventually I do get there! Don't ask me why this paragraph decided to center itself.  Blogger's ways are as unfathomable as Picasa's.

And here I show you my outdoor studio setup while the weather is good.  At least for watercolor painting.  Most of the crayons in that box are just lying about doing nothing.  I use the three tubes there, and maybe two crayons.  My entire panoply of brushes and pen are set up there, and the paper is taped to delineate areas for painting.

Just as I was thinking about painting and could I get my lazy old self up to do it, the Prime delivery arrived with my new paper, 140 lb, much heavier. So I had to try it right away.  It does stand up better, though  it doesn't improve my skills...more to do in that area, I think.  A lot of it is about remembering what to do.

So I set to work and decided to make very small images, just because they're nice to give and have and so on.  No closeups until this set is done and the tape off.  And since setting up these bits and bob outside involves several trips, several openings and closings of the screen door, to keep chipmunks out and cats in, I thought I had to get this better organized. So I've coopted a nice old sheet iron teatray, which is now my watercolor setup tray. Also the tools can stay on it, high up away from cats, to dry.  And it's one trip out to get set up.

The cats love me to make art.  They purr away in the background, watching and supervising.  I think they like it because then I'm not niggling at them, brushing them and clipping out mats, and cleaning the sleep from their eyes, and generally acting like an overbusy human.

But I have been stitching busily, too, and here's the update on the golden series piece I've been on:

notice the brass chain now stitched around the periphery of the inside of the "frame" motif.  That's the same old chain that has now been used in innumerable art pieces, jewelry, you name it.  

Another artist gave it to me years ago because she had no use for it, and it was good stuff.  It actually lends a nice physical weight to the fabric, too, always a good point if you're making art to hang.  And as I get into designing this piece more I expect more chain will put in an appearance.  I don't know what if anything is going inside this frame motif, which is only a part of the whole work.  When I know I'll do it, and show you!

Off to loaf about now.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

#paintseptember, wild cherry branches, awaiting better paper!

Today's small offerings, from my fruit-loaded wild cherry tree, still working on cheapish paper, 80 lb., not quite heavy enough for what I'm doing.  Two small paintings, about 8 x 10 in. I've ordered a heavier weight paper, figuring since I'm on a roll,  I'll use it.

Perfect outdoor day today, lower humidity, lovely sunshine, cheerful neighbors, holiday weekend for a lot of them.To read more, go here

This one I drew rapidly first, then just brushed a bit of a wash over the leaves and the fruit.  This would have benefited from a better grade paper, to hold the color better.

And this one I started with the painting, then touched it up with the pen drawing.  I like both ways of going, and it's interesting to vary them and see what happens.  It changes the way you see.

And I used a round sable and a flat sable, no sponge brush today.

This cherry tree has featured in many artworks -- stitchings, drawings, paintings.  It's one of those interesting models you keep coming back to.  Amazing that the old branches, broken and battered from storms and old age, are still bearing heavily.

Friday, September 4, 2015

#paintseptember goes on!

These paintings I'm doing early in the morning are more in the nature of a brief meditation.  I'd say each takes maybe 15 minutes, tops, and to be honest, that's how I like watercolor to be.  Very rapid and spontaneous, not labored over forever.  Similar to the way I like to draw, same idea, rapid, unforced.  Makes better art to my taste.  But we all know I'm not at ALL opinionated, nooooo.

 I also like a limited palette.  Today it was aureolin yellow, Hooker's green light, bit of brown caran d'ache crayon, bit of light yellow cd crayon, all done with a one inch sponge brush. Few strokes of Pilot pen extra fine to finish.  Size of each is about 8x10 in, haven't measured.  Two on one sheet of paper.

This afternoon I'm off for some fun introducing another artist to the joys of paper jewelry!  pix at eleven, as they say...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ta dah! revealing not only today's paintings, but...

But also what amounts to me as a technological breakthrough.  Thanks to Handsome Son and Quinn and my own artistic inability to let well enough alone, I have succeeded in learning to watermark my work.  Since it gets pinned and borrowed and generally moved about by other people who don't think to ask, I may as well have my watermark on there so that if that happens I can at least be credited with it.  Best I can do right now, I think.  I have a thing or two more to learn about sizing, but for now I have started. I think it's not as important what it says as the fact that it's there and it puts people on notice that I have done this.

Anyway, technological feats aside, I have been doing a couple of small rapid paintings each morning before the day gets too hot.  The birds appear around me, they like the atmosphere of peace, I think.  And the paintings are more in the nature of a meditative practice than anything else, no stress involved, just absorption. 

This is art in your pajamas!

 Sunflowers and marigolds, late, against the fence

Copper birdfeeder, courtesy of Heather, awaiting the arrival of copper birds..

It's the best kind of work, where you are engrossed, looking, acting, thinking without words, and surprised at what happens!

For those interested in the techie side of this, these were done with caran d'ache watercolor crayons, partly used as crayon, partly used as if they were pan colors, and a bit of finish work with the Pilot Extra Fine point pen.  Limited palette -- a yellow, a brown, some red, bit of orange.  On watercolor paper.  And again, full transparency, not bragworthy, just offered humbly.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Stitching is still in the picture, despite all the drawing and painting frenzy..

Working on the second of the Golden series (the first has all those Dorset buttons and the fish still patiently waiting for me to make up my mind about placement) and using another part of that linen I dyed with turmeric, and shibori-wrapped.

This piece will be framed or stretched as a standalone piece, and this is just the start of the idea.  The central raised ridge was stitched over a cord, and others directly onto the linen.  There will probably be more goldwork. You see that the motif is set between "pillars" of white shapes.  I think the darker areas will vanish into the stretching, though, not part of this design.  There will probably be a third in the Golden series, yet to be thought about, though the fabric is lying there ready.

These are works I can do out of the studio, since it's too hot up there right now, even with the roof fan running and the ac doing its best to get up to the third floor without much success.  That's where the cardweaving set up is, in case you wondered if I'd forgotten about it.  Noooo, but it has to wait for the weather to abate.

I did a bit of painting this morning before it got too hot, and was only mildly happy with the results, but painting goes that way -- one day stronger, one day not -- but it's good to be back in it again anyway. 

 Sedum against cedar fence

 Parts of flowers and foliage transposed into a container, but in fact growing on the patio.  The parts of both paintings that I like are the movement in them very lively as if in a wind.  Which they were at the time, in fact.  I did these with a one inch sponge brush, with two colors on the brush at once here and there, and I used the shape to create the leaves, you know, that twist of the wrist.  There was another which had only one decent passage in it, so I've cut it down and now it's a bookmark. Upcycling forever!

I like movement in art, and like to get it into my stitching, too, though that's done more subtly.  I don't like a static sort of presentation.

And I have thoughts about how to make the #drawingaugust series into a book which will allow me to remove and frame some as needed.   The current heatwave, keeping me largely in or near home, has opened up these trains of thought, so there's a good side to it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Painting September, as if I hadn't had enough!

To be honest, full disclosure, when I read about #painting September on Twitter, my heart sank at little at the thought of painting, long time since I did.

Then since I was out with my collective friends painting this morning, I figured here goes nothing, dusted off my paints last evening, what's left of them after I gave away huge amounts of material, and decided to give it a shot. Found I had a pad of watercolor paper, even.

I had to cut open the aureolin yellow, one of my favorite transparent nonstaining colors, because the tube was solid.  I cut it open and used it like pan colors, worked poifect.  And with that and a couple of other colors and a blue watercolor pencil I was in business.

 These are really strictly speaking ink and wash drawings rather than paintings.  But heck, there's color!   I used a good round sable brush and a sponge brush, one of my faves, the one inch size. And my trusty Extra Fine Pilot Pen.

Nice start to the month.  I said to one of my new art friends that joining the collective's plein air group is one of the nicest things I've done for myself in ages!  We're in a heatwave but getting out in the morning is the ticket, before the day gets too steamy.

I'm stitching away, too, some goldwork on dyed linen, but a bit too soon to be interesting to show.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Out and about, hanging a new exhibit with the Collective

Today was the first time I hung work in a group show with the local Creative Collective, and a lot of fun it was.  If you want to know more about Creative Collective, and you're in this region, central NJ, go here.   
I took in two  stitched pieces, one Flyover and one Weed, and they took their places in a huge array of styles and artforms in the gallery/barn/wine tasting area of Terhune Orchard.

Organizing getting under way. Considering there were about twenty artists involved, it was not as chaotic as you might expect!
I found recently that in addition to all sorts of fruit and flower and vegetable crops, Terhune Orchards now a thriving vineyard.  So since my art is hung right where happy people will be tasting wine at various major events in the next few weeks, this sounds like an ideal pairing.  

And no, Pam Mount, one of the owners, and an old acquaintance from YW days, is not paying me to do this!  but it's a thank you from me personally for her hosting of our work.  Nice environment, happy atmosphere all around.  If you want to know more, and you're local in central NJ, go here

Here's a brief picture tour, but there's a lot more to the place than I can show you here! it's a family owned and run farm, everyone works, and their family animals get their full credit, too!  The old white house is the family home, and there are barns and the store, and pick your own apples, and zinnias, and it's a great place to visit.

 And the Collective is a great group to hang out with.  Good day today.