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!