Friday, February 5, 2016

A box for Serial Selfies, Winter 2015

     A  heavy snow day is a good time to update a blog. This week I entered a show entitled Unconventional Means at the Cambridge Art Association with an unconventional presentation, Serial Selfies, Winter 2015.

Top of box...painting fitted

     I entered 14 self portraits from last winter in a glass-topped box found at Michael's. The price was right and the box is a good storage place to store all those paintings from last year on card and canvas board.

     Of course, things don't always go as planned. In framing the lid underside, I broke the glass on two boxes and gave up on a glass finish. Who wants glass on oils, anyway!  In the second photo, you can see the tiny dowel framing around the top piece (to hold the painting in place wo glass). In the third photo, you'll see the tiny lattice work frame around the underside piece, secured to the top. Twelve loose flat portraits are stacked within. There is room for more!

      My blurb for the show:
During the deep snow winter of 2015, getting back to painting after ten years of art quilting, for lack of a model, I painted myself multiple times. The stacks of portraits on card and canvas board shuffling in the studio did not seem to want separate frames. Where would I put them? Then I found this box to house the flat works —the perfect unconventional frame, like the photo file on an iPhone, where the series can be presented, handled and viewed easily.

Box opened showing painting under lid and stack of 12 inside


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pochade boxes for portability

Click to enlarge photos
    If you Google "pochade" or "pochade boxes," you will find a reaching for definition. To me, the French word refers to a quick sketch or finished painting that is achieved in the box you can carry around inside the house and out. I have several boxes and many paintings that I have made. You can spend hundreds of dollars or take a bit of time to craft a box and the paintings yourself! I painted Lucy and Arthur in the living room, on the stuffed chair,  pochade box on the cocktail table. There is some invention.

     Think about the wooden cigar boxes that might be converted or the first wooden box you got filled with oils or acrylics. In my versions, all different, I like to have three slots in the top to hold wet canvas boards. I have to have a flip top  or opening on the top so that I can insert the canvas board. One needs a brace of some sort for the side to hold the top open at the proper angle for painting. To make channels for the canvas, I have found plastic pieces in architecture sections of a craft store and glued them next to each other. Joe cut channels on my first one on his big table saw that he won't let me use. He doesn't remember this because it was 30 years ago when I first read about a pochade box in an English art book and none were available (or before I was heavily into Googling). Google "pochade boxes" today to get ideas or see what is available.

     I thought of these boxes because our dear dog Farley had to cross the rainbow bridge day before yesterday, and I wondered if I had ever painted him. Yes, many times, but using an easel, not a pochade box. As the snow falls, you might enjoy the diversion of crafting a pochade box! Bon Pochade!

thinking of Farley

open top version
flip top version 


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Let it Snow...we've a playground inside

    My house is a giant playground to me, my husband and grandchildren. More books than I will ever read, more art supplies than I will use up and wood cutting tools. Nevertheless, I loved trotting into the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday evenings. Paula Pitman Brown set up still lifes and we painted in acrylics or oil...or any other subject we wanted to work on. Every so often, I enjoy the structure and routine of a class, camaraderie of students and looking at things in a new way.

    My out-of-class painting happened one night when I forced myself to paint at home. The tv reports of the Paris bombings came on so I just started painting Bones who was hanging by the easel. Then I wanted to add an eiffel tower on canvas with red, white and blue flowers, hopefully growing off the easel canvas. Toward the end of the paint sketching, President Obama was on tv in Antalya, Turkey, addressing the  G20 Summit re the terrorist attacks. I caught in paint, a few days in time. It needs more painting, but I am stopping. I will paint the differently next time in oils.

    Two of my class still lifes are the bird in frame, painted mostly in green,  and houses w violin, painted predominantly in browns made up of colors other than browns or blacks. A good visual exercise!

    In the meantime there was Thanksgiving. I suggested that Hannah paint a tree on poster board and cut out leaves for people to add what they were grateful for. She outdid herself and it was a worthy endeavor. Later when I told Joe she would like a light box (SHHHHHH), he made her one for under the tree. Note: he sprayed clear acrylic we had on hand with white paint for opacity and got a 40 watt specialty long bulb. You don't need wood but could create with a sturdy box.

    And last, but not least, Erika told Joe she wanted to make something and rummaged through his wood strips to shape a birdhouse which he and she built together. She is still painting on it but may now be finished. She painted with nylon brushes and those bottles of liquid acrylic paint one finds at a craft store.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Falling off in October!

        October may be my favorite month of the year, yet I missed posting. Supreme educator Abby ( today wrote: "Sometimes having a blog is awesome. And sometimes it feels like a prison sentence." I understood, but/and I decided to get back to the computer to post my less than dazzling accomplishments before another month goes by.

     Oversight of Hannah's Hershey Halloween costume was the winner. But looking for ideas, I only started some still lifes in a class. Also, I want to return to the ex voto paintings (on wood shaped as paper prayers) where I show my great gratitude for blessings. I started a painting of son Jim's rowing the grandchildren in Central Park. I haven't gotten anywhere, but I am delighted to get this post up at least. 

     Excitement is that I downloaded an app at the library today to listen to books while I paint. Perhaps I will be more productive and expansive next month!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Vanity of vanities...something to paint

   Summer is over and school began again. I was sorry to miss our long times in Maine, but you know how summers evaporate. I have started to think about what to paint this Fall. I signed up for what I thought would be a class in Dutch painting with a Vanitas twist. In the past, with a smile, I have included in my paintings a typical symbol for the transient nature of earthly pursuits and goods or a memento mori, a reminder of the certainty of death or the shortness of life. Note the skull in the martini glass at the bottom of my huge 33rd anniversary painting, Reverie on a Quilt (Ode to Joe).

    I wasn't sure how far I could take the Vanitas theme so I started researching paintings with Vanitas additions, usually found on the fronts of paintings. I read the 12 chapters of Ecclesiastes where you find "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity," suggesting futility. I found it calming. In research on Google, I read that some in the 15th and 16th centuries had painted Vanitas paintings on the verso of portraits, not just the fronts! These might have skulls, books, candles, pipes, flowers, time pieces. I asked everyone if they knew of such paintings. They and I had never heard of such.

      Paula Pitman Brown wins the prize because she located Barthel Bruyn, the Elder for me and his 1524 Portrait of a Woman, the wife of Gerhard von Westerburg with the verso painting's comment suggesting death is the destiny of all.  Paula found references to the painting after Googling The Vanitas Still Lifes of Harmen Steenwyck: Metaphoric Realism by Kristine Koozin. Koozin wrote that CADUT MORS ULTIMA LINIA RERU is on the verso of the painting and it translates as "everything is destined to perish, death is the final goal of all." She continued, "The composition on the backside or verso as a whole is an excuse for the woman's portrait, as well as a reminder to her that the beauty of her image shown on the front side is only a transient state as indicated on the backside." Please visit the Kroller Muller museum (Otterlow, Holland) link to see this 26-year-old bride and the Vanitas painting as well. Portrait of Gertraude von Leutz – Kr├Âller-M├╝llermuseumThe Encyclopedia of Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art edited by Helene E. Roberts is where I got my first clue of this interesting painting pursuit.

       I still don't know what I will paint this Fall, but I have written my blog a few days early and entered some painting shows. Carpe Beadem will be in two shows. It is fun, however stressful,  to paint again. Thanks for stopping by! Note to myself:  Check out the tradition of grisaille paintings on the reverse of altarpiece wings and still-life objects in niches in the miniaturist style of Jan van Eyck's 15th C paintings.

Goodbye, Maine

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Blue for Books N Laps, The Wave, and Summer's loss

     Blue is the theme this month. I started a painting of a swimming group that also became a beloved book group, Books 'N Laps. How could I organize eleven people on a canvas. I laid down some blue for the exercise pool and started painting the book lovers without a composition in sight. I am till thinking, but it is the end of the month and time to post.  The history of Books 'N Laps: I once asked Martha if she swims. Had I heard of Esther Williams? We went to the pool to find it filled with exercisers. Water aerobics seemed like sissy stuff compared to laps, but we joined the group. It was not limp, but solid exercise. Later in the dressing room, when Edith responded "It is I" to me, I thought:  a good English teacher who could lead us in a book group as well. I chose the name Books 'N Laps. Many fine times, celebrations and reading followed.

      Hannah came home from camp making The Peruvian Wave friendship bracelet. She had one for each of her siblings and, in the summer, I can't turn down any new craft,  especially one resembling macrame. I grabbed photos of the kids' and her bracelet, and asked Hannah to write instructions (she demo'd a video on her phone).  Since they were on the way out of town to the other grandparents' house, I received the videos on Messages which I  need to learn to transfer to my computer somehow. In the meantime, you can find demonstrations on how to create the waves on YouTube. Get out some embroidery floss, duct tape and scissors. Google how to make friendship bracelet knots,  how to read friendship bracelet patterns and a beginner's how to weave The Wave friendship bracelet. Hannah tapes her strings to the floor or her knees and I used a clipboard. My first effort was weak, but I will try again. Thanks for stopping by! (Click to enlarge the photos)

earlier versions of Books 'N' Laps


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Another birthday, two more paintings, a new word

    Jumping back into painting, I was shocked to find I had not posted the Early Morning Dog Walk, completed a few weeks ago. Joe framed it and it is hanging in the living room. A simple painting, for me, it relaxes me as I walk by it daily. This month, I also invented a more complicated painting, Carpe Beadem, about The Beadsprouts, a group that got started after Anna taught me to bead crochet, the most difficult craft I ever encountered. The painting was complicated as well, but fun to paint.

    The dog walk painting took about two hours for two days before everyone told me to STOP.  The Beaders I worked on longer and am fixing even after taking these photos. Hannah is in my lap putting beads on her arms as she did long ago....sort of a carrying on of the craft. When older, she did visit our group to demo her origami bird.

     The little banner floating under the crocheting hands is inspired by a Medieval European speech scroll or banderole. It was a precursor of our bubbles in cartoons. Such communication goes back way before the Middle Ages.  Click on photos to enlarge, and thanks for looking!