Monday, May 6, 2019

When you just want to draw and paint: the Self-Portrait

      The first painting I made in a class as a newly-wed in New Haven a half century ago was a self-portrait in pastel. I haven't worked in soft pastel since then. There was the allure of oil paintings on canvas that didn't need framing and were more permanent. But pastels are fast to put down on a textured board. Years ago I found boxes of Sennelier pastels labeled for figure, landscape, marine and flowers inexpensive at a rummage sale, but never dove into them. I decided it was now time.

        Also, few weeks ago, I just looked out my window and wanted to sketch the tops of trees and houses in the sun.  Since mirrors were all around, I signed the sketch, with a self portrait in pencil. After watching a free art class on the Internet, I indulged myself in ink pens and brushes for that medium. I am eager to do some ink drawings with new pens.

        Whereas some artists LOVE self-portraits and make many, others have no interest. I find it the easiest start because with the self is where the ideas begin."Rembrandt, Reynolds, Courbet and Munich have had full exhibitions dedicated to their self-portraits."* I have led small groups in self-portraiture and love to re-read all my handouts on books, work and play recommendations. I suggest a dive into the fun of a self-portrait in a new media if you just feel like drawing and painting. Of course you can always let loose and go wild!

Note: I don't usually, or ever, think of what I am trying to communicate in a drawing or a self-portrait. But, in the portrait,  the watch must say something about our age.  (click on Narratives and Self-portraits at my website)
*See The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History by James Hall

Friday, March 29, 2019

Wake up to Spring with Paula's Paintings!

       Belmont is fortunate to have a spacious art gallery in a town hall building, run by creative administrators. Not only are there a variety of shows, group and individual, but art shows pop up and are installed in the main library. Always surprises!
       Jumping into spring, the BGA called for Spring Awakening: birds, blossoms and botanicals. I had not been painting, but found past paintings w birds. Friend Paula didn't think she had something to enter, but I said, "You have lots of birds!" The juror was to be a landscape architect, botanical artist and editor of the papers of Frederick Law Olmsted who designed the green spaces in Boston.

        Paula teaches at the MFA and is a prolific artist who leaves me in the dust. I enjoyed classes with her. Her imagination, so obvious at her website, is always a thrill. I sent her photos of what I was entering and she mailed me hers. I thought you would enjoy the thrill I got when I saw her choices. They woke me up that Spring is here!

        You will want to look closely at the robins. As Paula said in an article in the Boston Voyager, "When I step out of my house each day, especially to walk my dog, I delight in the small animals I see along my way. I am also painfully aware how stressed they are by pollution, pesticides, traffic, noise and micromanaged plots of land. I am hoping my paintings can be a reminder for people to take care of animals and make better choices in how they maintain their properties and ultimately the planet."
All paintings below are by Paula Pitman Brown!


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Playing the Field

    This past month I have jumped from one activity to another.I will count or list backwards. Last night Joe wanted a "business" card. I had seen an ad on Facebook for 500 cards, $9 or so, from Vista Print that makes handsome cards for artists. I had fun putting one together for Joe and then decided to have a professional one for my mini traveling art show... not for selling but to send people to my website or blog. I decided to make my card two-sided with info on the front and a bigger painting filling the other side. I chose a stiffer paper and a few other amenities that made the purchase add up to three time$ as much. The trick is to stay at the site for a couple of hours and click on all the graphic buttons and explore and explore some more for variation and possibility. Lots of fun!

     I attended a Winter Workshop for Quilters' Connection and learned about Boro stitching, the old traditional Japanese method of slow stitching and repair. I decided to practice these stitches doing Sashiko which I have enjoyed sewing in the car on trips to NYC. For Boro stitching one might take a piece of fabric and pin a variety of little fabrics to it and stitch away freely, collaging in different colors, wild and free without a machine..Carol Ann Grotrian was the teacher and has samples at her site. I got sharper needles with a wide gold hole for thread, and at PurlSoho in NYC some more Sashiko navy patterned fabrics/white thread to work in the car home.Here is Sharon's:

      At the workshop I learned another way to make fabric postcards which are a delight to receive and send.In the afternoon I got further instruction on Instagram from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, tv personality and craft powerhouse. I have three accounts on Instagram and still learned from her. The important thing is to participate regularly on Instagram to remember all! My granddaughters are obsessed with Instagram, their brother says, so I am motivated and it is a good place to display my case, quick urban sketches.I love versatile, friendly, talented quilters.

     Joe and I were off in NYC when kids were in Egypt and stopped at The Compleat Sculptor to get a few more  tools for wax and clay. We attended the Neue Gallery's The Self-Portrait, from Schiele to Beckmann, opening day. I loved seeing some of my  favorite paintings from private collections, before viewed only in books.I found that Lovis Corinth painted himself on July 21 every birthday. Since my big one is July 20, I hope to follow that tradition. I want to do more ink, charcoal and block prints inspired by that show.I better get busy rather than typing!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Stabilizing Erika in wax and wire

       When we left the last post, Erika needed a backbone or spine. She was made only of wax and kept collapsing. Aluminum wire would solve the problem.

        First, I drew a stick figure and arrows to show the most economical direction to bend the wire. I got tweezers and wire cutters from my workshop. I inserted a bit into my drill exactly the width of the wire. The end of the shaped wire fit exactly in the hole and the stick figure stood up, firmly without glue or staples...just the pine holding it!.

sketch in bottom left of the photo

        Next, I started moving pieces of wax from unstable Erika to the wire figure for her recreation. When needed, I sliced off thin pieces of wax from the block of dark wax with a paring knife.The thin wax was easily warmed by the heat of my hand and placed where needed. No hairdryer was needed for heat. This went quickly. At this point I awaited an invitation to supper so I have Erika pose for me. I felt the first creation was not wasted in that it was a sketch of sorts.

         I could still work on this piece, but it stands and was fun. I made the wire head too large but I wanted to start another figure. The third one will also need some back bone to stand.

         I am not impassioned to sculpt, but I like to try many crafts. When I sit at my vanity table every morning, I prefer to look at the "art" to work on or adjust rather than the mirror! Sculpting for me is almost a meditative craft. It is calming and fitting for the new year. William Shatner said, "You have to create your life. You have to carve it, like a sculpture." (from Brainy Quote) It is a work in progress.