Saturday, May 1, 2021

May Day ...Celebrate

      

       The sun is out. May Day beckons one to create festive baskets for neighbors' doors. There are numerous videos and instructions to make cone baskets with ribbons, filling them with flowers, and secretly leaving on a door handle! Next year for certain! Google May Day baskets and join me next year.

       Today I want to share the birthday card part of celebrations. Every time the grandchildren had a birthday I made a card to go with their gift. At first the cards were mini journal quilts and with age have become mini posters. I rely mostly on Comic Life, a Plasq company to create since it is fast and fun. Great company to deal with. http://plasq.com/apps/comiclife/macwin/ You can try it for free. First, some quilts:


Hannah at 5


Erika at 2

    For paper cards,  open the Comic Life app, choose a page to work on, find a photo to use and write a poem that fits the grandchild this year. I find ways to insert the poem in a bubble, choosing different backgrounds, fonts, balloons. You have to be flexible, expect changes over the years but not be shy to look around for all that is offered to play with and click on. The tools are not just for comics!


And it is not too late to make a May Day basket!


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Inspiring Notions to Draw and to Paint

      Picasso says he draws like other people bite their nails. Artist John Sloan said to never graduate from drawing when you start to paint. For myself, I love to go back through journal sketches and relive times drawing such as “while making Valentines with Hannah” or “during the Democratic debates.” John Berger said that drawing absorbs him and he forgets everything else in a way that doesn’t happen in any other activity. Last night I was drawing Easter bonnets on Zoomed friends using MarkUp in iPhoto. I could neither stop nor Erase, but i learned how.

      One must have a sketchbook, paper and pen or iPad with stylus always available.This happens when I am on vacation. It is more work when I am dreaming up a painting and struggling with ideas. The Zoom photo below is not art but was fun and has potential to surprise when one has time. I drew on my iPad with an iPad stylus and also a Meko Tech universal stylus  https://www.mekotech.com/ to make Easter bonnets for our church group. What else to do with all those Zoom candids.



     Looking at art, hoping to find an idea to express the Texas electric power fiasco, I found this expression of Heaven and Hell, but didn’t make much progress toward a painting. I usually sketch a painting while painting, not before, but I tried..    


      I sketched family from photos but I know that only-from-life is better. Yes, this is a month of incompletes, but I found some great inspiration looking at Cedric Morris’s flowers. His student Joan Warburton said Morris had such close contact with his subject and deep understanding of their design that he was able to paint flowers as if they were people, with a mood and personality. 



        I hope to go at flowers with more interest and intelligence; draw in general with Picasso’s yearning; do more sketching since it is important for painting; and enjoy the meditative breaks drawing provide

 
Cedric Morris






                  


“Drawing used to be a civilized thing to do, like reading and writing. It was taught in elementary schools. It was democratic. It was a boon to happiness.”  Michael Kimmelman








Sunday, February 28, 2021

Pandemic Surprise.

Shock, surprise. What happens when we take off our masks and see each other in person? 

Every birthday I write a poem or doggerel for the grandchildren along with a small quilt, or now a card. With little information I search for photos and put them into Comic Life which enlarges and makes smaller without loss.  I collected photos from young to teen last year, but I asked Erika if I could see her favorite photo should I want to paint her. I had sent her birthday card, but when I got the photos of this year, her favorites without the mask, I saw she had grown up and I needed another card,  I returned to Comic Life. I added a flattening filter just for fun and more mystery.

The first card I created, made more sense of the "ears." Looking at the two, you can see what a difference a year has made...what I didn't see happening under the mask.We will all have plenty of visual surprises once this pandemic has passed, as it will. Click to enlarge.




Saturday, January 30, 2021

Painting the Kids and the year

      Joe handed me last year’s holiday card and said, “I want you to paint the kids!” I said, “I can’t paint the kids.” But to keep the framer happy, I primed two more 6” x 8” birch plywood panels with gesso and then a background color of orange which I paint over, sometimes letting it show through. I used Holbein Acryla Gouche for ease in drying and clean up.



     The effort is not one painting, but three portraits. Three people in one painting takes 3 times the effort of one portrait. Painting teachers always say you should be painting the entire canvas all at one time, but some of us go piecemeal when the occasion calls for it. Like Amanda Gorman who built her inauguration poem a line a day at a time, I felt today’s two panels came together very slowly. Painting felt like an idea every few days or a week. There was the election, after all. The photo had big smiles so I had to invent closed mouths. I never show teeth. I had to wait for the muse to suggest a table in front and a shelf behind.


       It is easy to put books on a shelf, but I was stumped for the rest of the space. No room for the pet pugs. Desperate for ideas, I studied stencils. Joe suggested hints of sports which seemed impossible. I had wanted to just use trophies, for that is what the grandchildren can seem; but then I bit the bullet, sketching stick figures atop the skinny trophies I searched trophies online. The biggest trophy suggests more. I hope I painted the affection I feel for all three grandchildren.


        I had made two sketches of my reading the newspaper every morn and thought I wanted to paint those as well. I wanted to add masks and glasses and other symbols, but the newspapers capture my 2020 world in some important way. I didn’t really want to paint all of 2020. We are starting anew!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve framing the new year






    Thinking about framing the new year and what one wants to do next, I will say I am really enjoying getting back to painting, the easy way. Painting takes time. I once painted from 9 AM until 9 PM.  Those paintings were more interesting, perhaps. But now I like to paint for a couple of hours before or after supper. I often finish a painting in a couple of hours. Is it the Pandemic? My attitude?
      
     My secret for fun is not to care whether the painting is good or not, or people's reactions. It is fun to paint. It is good to have easy clean up and since I have books and crafts over most flat surfaces, it is good to have painting that can be done in a very small area. Remember, Paul Klee painted at his kitchen table.

      Joe picks up 1/4 inch birch plywood at the lumber yard and cuts it into 6* x 8* pieces, usually 4 or 8 panels at a time. I go over them lightly with fine grit sandpaper. I brush on Golden's' white gesso, both sides, or a corner to corner X on the wrong side. Meditatively, I gesso the side I will paint several times, lightly sanding between coats. I next apply an orange, green or sienna layer of Golden acrylic paint. This gives me a color to paint on. It unifies and gives a medium value to work against. The panels are then set aside, ready to be transformed in a short period of time.


       I lay out Holbein Acryla Gouache, two amazing Holbein hair paint brushes to apply colors, water and tissue. Anything can be a palette, but I just fold heavy white paper. The acryla gouache dries fast so I put out very little at a time. I often paint from a photo from a trip. It will be dry by bedtime and the next day I can varnish the pretty matte with Liquitex matte varnish. A brush leaves streaks, but a foam brush floats the varnish beautifully. Then another day, Joe frames.


       Joe buys 1" x 2" pine boards to frame these little paintings. He uses his table saw that he won't let me touch. The paintings sit on the notches he has created and are glued down. I am sure that painting is in the frame for my new year. I have had Jim and Colin mail me photos from the Bahamas and I have my own to work from. I have more subjects to think about. The process is fun and instructive.



Monday, November 30, 2020

Creating calms chaos.

Joe and I find creating and reading in lockdown very calming. There was the exciting election, promise of vaccines, work to be done, but we found a little time in the studio. Joe wanted to make a boot jack for his comfortable boots and I wanted to add to my six little paintings last month (the October posting). 

Joe made a template from an old plastic bootjack. After all, you need to take off boots upstairs and downstairs. He took the buffalo head from a wall clothes hanger and screwed it  on some wood and showed me a photo of a field he wanted painted atop. Afterward he varnished the bootjack several times.

I painted a beach fence scene from a Cape Cod postcard photo. Then I repeated the lonely houses from last month series, a group from Truro that reminds some of the loneliness or solitariness of the lockdown. I keep wanting to add stars to the sky that form an LED of 2020...but I have controlled myself. There is after all, a Christmas tree to be decorated and a positive attitude to keep afloat!






Joe's template for boot jack




Friday, October 30, 2020

Vacation paintings

    Recently I was reminded of a research story where a ceramics class was divided in half. One half was  instructed to make as many cups or bowls as possible in a certain amount of time. The other half of the class was instructed to make a perfect cup or bowl. The group that threw themselves into making many bowls ended up with some bowls that were beautiful. The other half didn't get started...just clay dust to show. For some reason this liberated me to make a painting every afternoon in my non spare time. Also, I dismissed any concern about what people might think.

    I had Joe saw mostly 6" x 8" pieces of birch 1/4" plywood. I sanded and gessoed the rectangles with Golden white gesso and then added orange gesso atop since I have always put a color down as a background. I like orange for landscapes but it may not be appropriate for seascapes. I think I will work on the white next time. I got some Holbein Acryla Gouche paints that dry fast but are fun to work with. Easy water clean up. With a little bottle of water for moistening, a tissue and two brushes I started on these little paintings about 4 pm and they were finished by supper time. Of course I went back to touch them up and sometimes made a mess. I worked in a tiny area on a table.

    I started with photos of our recent trip to Cape Cod, and borrowed Colin's and Susan's of Maine. I had fun not worrying about anything. I just looked on my iPhone for reminders of the sites and painted away. Some are more successful than others, of course!