Friday, May 22, 2015

Picnic on the Grass or The Individualists!

     Many artists have painted picnics on the grass: Manet, Seurat, Picasso, Bonnard. I wanted to create another family portrait and remembered a spontaneous walk to a Hudson River Pier around the time of Hannah's birthday a few years ago. Early spring, the wisteria was in bloom. Click on the photos to enlarge.

      I have worked on this painting between trips this May and am setting it aside after more touchups. I took an encaustic painting off my wall in order to take Picnic's photo since the canvas fit exactly in the frame and frankly could use some help!

      Everyone has a space on the mix of blankets. I had to invent son and father Bill who was still at the law office as well as add the dogs. Molly, the Beardie, is deceased. I created a new Linda as well, working on Seurat's masterpiece. Seurat, I recently remembered, painted little frames around his paintings, on the canvas. I forgot and added birthday ribbons.  I didn't choose to follow Manet and paint a nude in w the children. Picasso did a clever take-off on Manet's painting. You can Google these artists and their Picnics.

      Enjoy some of the photos. A good time was had by all. It was cool and windy. I wonder if sleepy David ever got out of the stroller. Jim kept the pizza moving. It took a pediatric surgeon to light the candles and a young mother could enjoy the break. My next goal is a family portrait around a table, maybe at holiday time See you next month! I feel a series coming on.

      
   




Thursday, April 23, 2015

Family portrait fun

    Moving oil paint around on a canvas is fun. I decided a family portrait would be next. I put Joe driving his sport car facilitating our lives. The grandchildren are on the trunk watching a roadrunner. A southwestern landscape is on my mind because of a reunion I want to attend. I am painting with Farley beside me, wind blowing his ears. David is hanging on to Emmit, his Pug. What to do about the parents and uncles? I decided to pilfer angels from art history, to create guardian angels...not specific persons, but symbols. The license plate notes initials and ages. The flowers have meanings and refer to largesse bestowed. I started out with a toned canvas and added color. Click the photos to enlarge.


    
      Every time the Boston Marathon rolls around, Hannah is another year older. There was her soft quilted birthday card to make and the hard copy for clarity. I always think of Hannah as our prolific reader, so this year I grabbed a literary Paddington (we saw the movie) and added some of my favorite quotations about reading. I hope to stitch better next year. The batting dragged under the needle and I was running out of time.  



       In the spring,  Katie rounds up friends to make blocks for Project Hope, so I whipped up nine. I didn't have enough printed squares, so I took images from the novelty fabrics I did have and painted the blank areas with a Sharpie Rub a Dub laundry marker that doesn't bleed and Jacquard acrylic fabric paints that leave the fabric soft.  The four bottom left blocks were embellished this way.


       While I paint, Joe insists on building frames. All in the family portrait think he is a special guy to have around!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March Madness with oils, yarn and wood

      School is over, but I am cheered to be painting in oils again rather than acrylics. I changed models and Joe was the victim. Also, I worked on and added to some of the self portraits (last blog) and did a painting that only the children, their mother and I like. I wanted to paint them in front of the stage set of our house which they love, but it was too saccharine. So,  I added above the house, part of Rousseau's The War to suggest the troubled times that hover over the world. Nothing connected or was unifying, so I took fence, windows and flowers from Rousseau's other paintings, but I couldn't paint the children in his naif style. An art teacher once said that if you try to paint in another's style, it won't work the same, because you will miss some elements that unify, make it original and fresh. Click photos to enlarge.


       For a break, Joe and I headed to NYC and ended up looking at a lot of contemporary art. What variety! I won't say "anything goes," but the thought is liberating. In the car on the drive home, I crocheted a Ninja, brontosaurus or alligator scarf for David. He had asked, "Linlin, will you make me a scarf?" when he saw my knitting the girls one. He will never use it, probably, but I stitched 2 1/2 feet from NYC to Boston. It was hard to get back to crocheting, but I kept trying and now I am fast. I was interested to see the pattern the yarn made. I tried knitting it, but the crochet made a better design.

        On return home, Joe cut back panels for the 1/4 inch plywood tile squares Beth cut for and corralled the children at the elementary school to paint for a fund raiser. Joe sanded the edges and glued them on the birch panels and evened the sides with his power saw. He varnished with polyurethane and added hangers. The class offerings will be auctioned.

      At the same time,  I took up Kathryn's new beginning art class charge to use cad red, cad yellow, ultramarine blue and black and white to paint gradations of these colors. That was fun, but I realized that the turpentine from my earlier painting life seemed a bit toxic. I did some research and think that Gamblin has made some healthy offerings for painters these days. They list these at their website re "studio safety." I will use more brushes in the future and try Gamsol. I am looking forward to making 8 or 9 blocks for Katie's quilt for Project Hope, a children's book theme, all after Easter this weekend.
Spring brings new life :*) Thanks for dropping by!




Monday, March 2, 2015

Painting Daily here ...always available model


     Ignoring the serial snowstorms, Joe drops me at the Boston MFA every Thursday to paint a series, in my case, self portraits. I love my classmates and teacher. Sadly, there are only two more classes. When I get home, I paint some more, all in acrylic. NO MORE. I am transitioning back to oils, alkyds (faster drying oils because of the resin) and maybe encaustic.  I ordered a cardboard carrier for wet paintings, and it will be a joy to return to this easier medium.

      Whereas I painted 18 self portraits, two were a different size and not included in these photos. These are all 9 x 12's, on cardboard backs of legal tablets or in the last few, on canvas boards. I won't have any problem tossing, but in deep concentration, I learned something on every effort. After class is over, I will either return to a bigger canvas and my engagement with art history subject matter (see LindaHicksweb.com) or enjoy the suggestions of Carol Marine in her book Daily Painting for a 6" x 6" painting a day. This is a fabulous book that I bought yesterday and highly recommend...relevant to many creative endeavors. Click on the photos to enlarge or scare yourself. Do you have a favorite?



         Since my blog is a storage site for my crafts that I return to see how I did something years ago, I will add that Erika had a birthday on Valentine's Day and is now nine. We gave her a small guitar (she often fiddles with Joe's). She likes to see herself on her quilted birthday card so I printed photos of her on EQ Printables, cotton lawn inkjet fabric sheets. Pardon the photography. I developed the soft birthday card in Comic Life software and sprayed the batting with a glue (bad idea). Then I simply sewed around the two photo fabric sheets, batting between, and added stick-on rhinestones. I cut the edges with pinking shears which you can see only at the bottom of the poorly cropped photo, but it looked very nice "in person" for a quick, simple, but attractive finish. I also finished Erika's crocheted scarf, "the draft dodger"!  Click on photos to enlarge.Thanks for visiting if you did!




Saturday, January 31, 2015

Making faces using paint and thread!

     Family and friends have asked me to get back to painting. When I saw Paula Pitman Brown was offering a course at the MFA Boston, I signed up. Every Thursday I drag in my Masterson Stay-Wet palette, simple canvas, brushes and paint up to the third floor. Each student is to paint a theme...and I ended up with self-portraits, after courting sunflowers, portraits of the grandchildren and animals. I have gessoed many old cardboard legal pad backs and am painting with acrylics that dry too fast. However, I don't want to be running in and out of the MFA with oil paint all over me when I try to be grown up there. The fast drying acrylics are a challenge, but I can get back to oils at home. To think I once painted 9 to 9 daily.

     Just as I had to learn crochet over again (I just down loaded a beanie pattern), I think the same goes for painting. I do find it helps to paint a bright or dark coat of paint like green, blue, orange or red on the "canvas" before starting and half the work is done! It helps unify and gives you something to work against. I have a little water spray bottle to periodically wet my paint on the palette. Today I took a break and have been playing with STITCHing some portraits.

      I did some experimentation and I believe that free-motion quilting such as in these quickie portraits require old artist sticktoitiveness. What works depends on the sewing machine. For some machines you lower the feed dogs and others you do not. On some machines,  you put the stitch length on zero and others you don't change. Most need an embroidery foot. Experiment and don't give up, if it interests you. These are my first two attempts. In the future I will use a little blue water soluble pen to draw my design. That will make me slow down. I want to read Stitch Draw by Rosie James. Remember, if you can write your name, you can draw.  It is a learned skill. As for ideas, Picasso said that painting was but keeping a diary.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Warming up by beginning over: a crocheted scarf

     Do you think the people who moved to Florida and Phoenix can appreciate the warmth when they are missing the contrast of this cold weather? I love cozying up to a fire with a book or some craft in my hands. It hasn't happened. I have been on the road for the holiday season. When Joe was driving, I crocheted, sometimes evenings with a light in the car.


    At a meeting, I had seen Donna Jean crocheting an alpaca silk georgette scarf for her sister for Christmas and thought it pretty for crochet, a doable size. Usually I prefer knitting. Hadn't I, years ago in the 60s, crocheted Peruvian hats that Adrienne inspired? We singled crocheted, starting at the top, working down. More recently, hadn't I crocheted beaded bracelets that Anna taught me, the most difficult craft ever? Wouldn't it be cool to be like those ladies who effortlessly knit or crochet projects in meetings.

     A beginner again, I went to the LionBrand store in Chelsea, NYC, and showed the free Draft Dodger Scarf pattern I found online at Cobbler's Cabin.  A store helper picked out Superwash Merino and I had my H hook. I only used half the skein, but got two since I could not decide on a color. All I had to do was Google how to slipstitch, single and double crochet, videos on line. Let me tell you, the stitches were not so difficult as remembering to switch from single to double crochet to single to double over and over. I took out rows and rows and rows. How difficult could it be? How can I teach a grandchild if I can't conquer it myself, so I persisted. It does look like a beginner's scarf but Hannah wants it. I can't wait to start another, maybe with a bigger crochet hook.


    Google "Draft Dodger Scarf" or "Cobbler's Cabin" to look over the pattern that people in offices off-time were making for presents this season. Perhaps even a simple pattern such as this, from long ago, revived online, is good mental exercise. I start my painting class this week, but won't forget the frustrating fun of climbing this mountain. Click to enlarge photos.

P.S.  I found an inexpensive Leisure Arts book in a knitting store with instructions for the right and left handed.  I am thinking one should crochet a bit looser than I did. Still learning!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Puppet Cookies make a come-back

    About 40 years ago my creative friend Adrienne Robinson passed on a recipe for puppet cookies. I made them up and Estelle Guralnik wrote up the activity in the Boston Globe magazine and Better Homes and Gardens. Back then, my children were the age of my grandchildren today. Last week, a holiday luncheon request for a recipe made me remember puppet cookies.  I could share these animated magical cookies with the grandchildren and the recipe wouldn't be lost to the Internet! Perhaps I should have let sleeping recipes lie! That was exhausting; and it was easier in my youth.

     I made up the dough, put it
wrapped in the refrigerator overnight and sketched possible designs. You can use gingerbread dough, surely; but I combined 6 C flour, 1 C butter, 2 C light brown sugar, 1 C milk, 1 t vanilla, 1 t salt, 1 t baking powder and 1 t baking soda. I took from the fridge a handful of dough at a time to roll out on floured marble and looking at my designs, drew with a toothpick and cut out with a pointed knife shapes to place on foil-lined cookie sheet. I used a toothpick to poke holes where appendages are attached. I baked for 8 - 10 minutes in 400 degrees. After a break and cooling of the cookies, I made up a decorator frosting or royal icing of 3 healthy egg whites, 1/4 t cream of tartar and 1 lb confectioner's sugar. This dries quickly, so I put it in several small bowls with coloring and covered with a plastic wrap.

    When it was time to paint, I gathered brushes and a bowl of water to keep the brushes damp. After the icing was dry, I cut pipe cleaners about 2.5 inches long, twisting one end for the back of the cookie to go through the holes to be secured on top with gumdrops. Before securing, I carefully put a toothpick through all holes, entering from the back of the cookies, to make certain the opening was big enough.

    Once Joe and I made a gingerbread two-story with wrap around decks to celebrate son's get-away mansion in the Bahamas. We were up past midnight securing walls. For gingerbread houses, I have decided to stick with a simple kit as I did this year. Let me tell you, this is the last time I will make puppet cookies...although I can't wait for Erika to finish up Spiderman, Santa and the family dogs, painting at random, attaching appendages anywhere, when she comes tomorrow to see her treats. She broke her arm so will miss the family ski trip. "Art" will certainly lift her spirits.