Sunday, December 31, 2017

Art Start for the New Year 2018 Brrrrr!

        After the fabulous early Christmas at 48 Stults Road, and everyone scattered, Joe and I took in some museums.

Click to enlarge

      In the spirit of family first, we headed to Salem's PEM to see the big Georgia O'Keeffe show. After all, she was head of the art department in my home town Amarillo. Someday it will be acknowledged. I was stunned by the brooch Alexander Calder made for Georgia O'Keeffe from smashed brass wire and was tempted to revisit the earrings I made from thick brass wire 50 years ago when I first saw Calder's work. I bought the fattest "gold" wire, cut off about 3 1/2" w wire cutters, twisted the wire with needle nose pliers and took a hammer to smash the shape flat atop a concrete basement floor. An anvil and better wire would have been smarter. I put on jump rings and ear clips. The procedure took only a few minutes. Gifted years ago, one person thought them gold. Pinterest has many examples and adaptations.

     Then Joe and I headed to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and later New York City, Christmas Day. Joe and David Hockney are 80 this year and Edvard Munch lived to 81. We saw lots of portraits, especially self-portraits (a good thing to paint every birthday!) I got so many ideas from Munch's paintings which had presence in subjects and backgrounds. Hockney's intelligent experiments in many media is a path close to my heart and instincts. Both had their own individual, varied style in contrast to what was hip at the time. I was also able to pick up a Kerry James Marshall catalog about his show I waited all year for and had to miss. A few more were printed HOORAY!

       In the meantime, I would say I had been very good if I didn't know better. My children gave me a 12.9" IPad Pro with Pencil which can bring a tear to the eye, but also puts the pressure on to learn the App ProCreate in more detail. Fun in my immediate future. Dog Harry's gift is the snow. He loves to romp in it. I, myself, think it is too cold to even open the refrigerator door!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mighty oaks from little acorns might grow....

watercolor/tissue collage
     Mighty oaks from little acorns grow glamorizes what I am up to now. Our little half bath is in desperate need of a dramatic fix. I had no painting to work in the high ceiling and small narrow space. However, it was good fortune that I ran across a little watercolor collage made in the early days of my marriage. Somehow, it made it out out of the smoke and fire damage. I decided to enlarge this little windmill to many times its original size and to do so in oil paint.

      Unfortunately I sketched it in charcoal on to the canvas rather than use a watered down acrylic. I want to finish it in oil, but I first decided to get the basic colors on in acrylic (hiding the charcoal) and then go over it in oils which are so beautiful. However, this means everything will have to be layered again and I may never finish.I like the paint to be beautiful close up, so I have work to do.

large version, acrylic, pre oil

two together/oil next
      In the meantime, we again got a real (tall and skinny) tree, and put it up. Target had the dearest hand-made little people and animals on sleds and in little knitted sweaters and hats for only $3 each. I got many. I could never make them in time. I put  wide ribbon on a boxwood wreath from Trader Joe's looking up how to do it online. When we got the boxwood home, we put it in a cold bathtub of water overnight and it almost doubled in fluffiness. Joe is rebuilding his cactus collection. It is fun to be home.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Eighty can be art!

    What a year! ~the election, the fire, reconstruction, and Joe became 80 on the 26th of October! No wonder our hearts accelerated. What a guy! He has been hanging paintings and photos, shades and blinds, building his workshop, walking the dog, and suffering insurance. Grass doesn't grow under his feet. He also tends cactuses or cacti! If I paint his portrait it will be he with cactus forming an 80, copying the grandchildren's idea. Joe will wear his sweater to walk the dog, read in his chair, and enjoy the photo of the grands shaping an 80 with their bodies.Over birthday dinner we enumerated his special attributes starting with the letters E I G H T Y.Eighty doesn't seem so old with Joe! It's an art.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Return to block prints for return home

     Special occasions call for special efforts. When son Jim arrived in New Haven, Ct., ecstatic Joe and Linda mailed off my linoleum block print to friends to announce our first born. I carved Psalm 127, every letter in reverse, to mail out. I loved the effect. I dug around each letter leaving what I wanted to print, squeezed out black oil printing ink on glass, inked a squeegee by rolling back and forth over the ink, rolled this inked brayer over the carved linoleum, placed some orange paper over the newly inked block, rubbed the back of the paper with a spoon back to transfer the design to paper and then set the results out to dry. I made numerous prints for mailing.Doubtless,back in 1964, I was smart enough to look up directions.

Click to enlarge photos.

        Back to our newly restored home after the fire, I had many people to say thank you to. I probably should have photographed my paintings of the fire for a card, but I wanted to make a block print! I had no tools, so I bought a little kit with Speedball's beginner's Speedy Carve pad w two blades and a handle. I drew a design of the mythological Phoenix rising from the ashes, our house cradled/circled above in plumage. Had I read the instructions from Speedball,  life would have been much easier. I probably would have purchased a denser carving pad for more careful detail, but this was fast and fun. I was not satisfied that I had enough proper contrast in the results, so I decided to "color" my prints with my favorite Holbein gouche or watercolor set.If you have the itch to try, I recommend buying Speedy-Carve Stamp Making Kit for all the instructions I could have used. In the meantime, tell me how to finish coloring these!

Note: Before starting this project, I played around with images from the Internet that are not mine, Comic Life, and my computer.
Also, if you use oil rather than a water based paint
as I did, your blacks won't run.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Boxes emptied, boxes renewed

   When does want to see more boxes after a move?! We are back home, and the cardboard moving boxes are emptied! However, some wooden boxes were salvaged from the fire, boxes filled with family photos. I touched up these battered book boxes with fresh paint. They will help me organize the memories. One box per person.

    Through the years, we made boxes. Jim made one for his family tree project. One doesn't want an album for all photos, but one doesn't want to toss. So I throw Bill's loose photos in the red box, Jim's in the blue box, mine in the yellow, Joe's in the green etc. They can be stacked to make an end table if you have room. I first saw these in a London living room.I bought sample paint at the paint store to renew them. Hinges aren't necessary. The big boxes have a top to fit just inside a simple construction.They could use some embellishment with fabric, ink, paint and imagination. But the photos were saved from the smoke damage.

With this August project idea about boxes, we are off to calmer seas in life!
No, life will always surprise!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Break with the week to go

    Google anything on Pinterest to find ideas solving problems, suggesting fun. Somehow I came upon all the things one can do with Altoid boxes. Since the grandchildren were toddlers, the first thing they do when hopping into our car is to ask for the mint box. We have stacks galore.

    Since a) we move back to the restored house in a week, b) the grandchildren had a day break between camp sessions, c) I needed a craft idea for my blog and d) it was still in the week of my birthday, Joe and I made a quick trip to Beth and Bill's for lunch with a birthday cake from Russo's and some items for the children to make their own portable in the pocket watercolor kits.

     Google something like "Altoid watercolor kits" and click on Images. I had put aside both large and small Altoid boxes, Dentyne Ice gum for containers, tiny watercolor paper for the lids, small pencils and brushes, a box of watercolor tubes to set the campers to creating their own individualized watercolor kits. Google Altoid kits and find a zillion more ideas for those containers.

     Erika, David and Hannah chose a minimum of red, blue and yellow tubes of paint, emptied the ICE gum containers, shortened their brushes and set to fill the "pans" with squeezed out paint to leave to dry to stick in their pockets at a later time to pull out to paint. The inside top of the Altoid container holds several small watercolor sheets awaiting their creations.

     Because of the family's recent trips, I took over two rediscovered Michener books, Alaska and The Source which I hope someone in the family gets a chance to read. After lunch we played with the Pug pups, hugged the campers good-bye, and returned to the house to gather window coverings. Let the move begin!

Troy and Poppy

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

      Our house has a new name, the Phoenix! Like the mythical bird of fiery plumage that settles in a nest to burn ferociously and rise renewed and reborn, our family home has regenerated. We will move back on time, August 1. The floors are due one more coat, the bannister a stain, a few trim moldings and paint touchups to go, but essentially, the Phoenix (formerly 48 Stults Road) will be ready on time, renewed. Matt and Diogo met with us for a last punch list, the final still to go. Town approvals are being checked off. Joe and I even went over to trim some bushes and that felt good. Yard work is not ordinarily a joyous undertaking, but it was to us, being back home and making it ours.

      If you Google images of the Phoenix, you'll note the yellow, orange and red plumage, wings and head. The shape of our house is taking similar form and colors in my thinking! I plan to paint it as a Phoenix, one described in the myths of history. The head will be the porch entrance and the two side peaks as wings. 

       The only Phoenix-like images in my past work were fabric pieces: a tame one in progress when I was working with the grandchildren to paint and stitch fabric and the other about the sunbird, not to be confused with the Phoenix. I put the word Phoenix in the blogger search at the top left of this blog page and scrolled to older postings to find these mini journal quilts.

         I am excited to be getting many of my paintings back when we move in. One-third were restored by Trefler's. I know I should paint this house Phoenix now, but one loses a lot of sleep and energy in a house rebuild. So many decisions, surprises. We have been to the house daily, trying to be helpful to speed the process, avoid delays and mistakes. We have enjoyed our unflappable contractor and skilled carpenter; and in four weeks, hopefully, will ourselves, like a Phoenix, have risen from the ashes!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Artistic Escapes While Rebuilding the House

      Much has happened this month...restoring the burnt house, getting furniture pieces to replace the dumped, working around the clock and missing sleep. This is the creative part: seeing the paint choices thrill, workers diligent, scheduling to meet a deadline. It is happening, but art is stressful.

      I will miss our temporary housing, the MEWS. The apartments have many amenities, even a coloring contest. Residents were to color signs of spring. Since this is a dog friendly place, I painted the pups sniffing the flowers, which Harry did along the Charles River! My drawn dogs, Bea and Twig, remind me of the two long-haired dachshunds who live next door with their artist owner, Laura. The charcoals are on blue pastel paper which surely will find a spot in the blue open plan on Stults Road. (Click to enlarge photos)

       I also worked on a recent painting Altered Landscape to add a string of broken pearls which disappeared at the time of our fire. I thought the necklaces symbolized other losses. Happily I found two strings of barely pink gorgeous cultured knotted pearls for five dollars each at an antique store. I think I can now let go of that painting after adding the pearls, but they could be more varied in size...always something to want to change.

        Next, I needed a painting for a landscape show. Although the painting in the previous paragraph would work, I started painting a sunflower-like-plant reaching for the sky from the flat grassland in Amarillo outside the Palo Duro Canyon, a miniature Grand Canyon. I photographed that flower at a 50th reunion and keep as my screen saver. I should have painted the canvas first with a strong undercoat color, but I just wanted to get started. I will pay for that impetuosity by having to spend more time on the painting to make values stronger. And what is its name, that sunflower?

        This month, I lost lots and lots of sleep worrying about how the house could possibly be finished by moving date, August 1; so in the middle of those nights I read My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout whose other books were good, with a new one on the best seller list. But when I read two thrillers by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies and The Husband's Secret, I found some books keep you awake turning pages rather than send you off to dreamland. Those books were a new type for me. I have started The Woman in Cabin 10, but Liane's books made me reflect on the perhaps unconscious desire of artists to do more than affect the world by presenting what is important to them. Note the painter's repeating the sunflower's reaching upward.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sun is shining in Boston

       The sun is finally out in Boston. The house is moving along...walls up, floors going back down, cabinets being installed, wall plastering + painting happening and the counters soon to be laid out. The choosing of wall colors shouldn't keep me awake for 4 or 5 days; but to get back to sleep, I enjoyed reading, over the past months, Bad Boy by Eric Fischl, the painter, to get a better understanding of the NY art world and the life of a professional artist today. I finished The Underground Railroad and appreciated the magical realism. I visited Appalachia with Hillbilly Elegy. I am glad the author is returning home to help. After finally finishing A Gentleman in Moscow, I think I may try Red Notice, a non-fiction thriller set in Russia that Joe enjoyed and will look at Dark Money he told me about.

       But I did not paint a bit all month, so wrapped up in 7/24 decisions on the house, while it rained outside. I hope I don't forget how! Nor did I exercise that much.  This 2008 self-portrait w black eye expresses my disappointment in not having new work to show in my blog. All the time I was thinking...just one painting or drawing a day! At least I didn't miss blogging in April.

       I have certainly been "into" color, looking at Benjamin Moore samples and others sent from Sherwin Williams, learning about the other new paint companies. I have read many new blogs on decorating, scanned books sent by Alice, and observed Laura down on my rugs scrutinizing ideas for color. Keith Smith at Foote in Brighton chose colors for me w thoughtful service you thought no longer existed. Jean and Alice worked to confirm some decisions. One never gets over the first painting mistakes one made when first married. I love advice! Decision tomorrow.

      I won't carry on further, but I just discovered myself in a subway painting by the remarkable Paula Pitman Brown (one t) up at PPB's Facebook page. Look at what is in her backpack for student still lifes and more! I took a screenshot of it so you can visit her website to see her amazing output. A teacher at the Boston MFA, Paula has Open Studio in Needham next weekend at 80 Norwich Road. Always worth a visit!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Paintings Cleaned? and Delivered to Temporary Housing

   Temporary excitement! The painting cleaner/restorers delivered 6 of my 50 or so paintings that needed to be cleaned after the fire. Insurance paid to have them removed from the frames, vacuumed and wiped. A few days after the fire I was told the paintings must go to these restorers in Newton, even though I said surely I can clean them myself. We waited and waited for the pick up, insurance payout and cleaning. I was so excited to get some of them yesterday. Last night Joe and I nailed them up only to have our fingers marked with soot or residue from the smoke. Not what we expected.

    Joe and I put Miles to Go Before I Sleep with myself surrounded by favorite artists, painted in their own styles, over the dining room table in our temporary housing. Several tables in the dining room now, with plenty of company! We draped Bounce sheets on the hanging wire, not to cover the hint of smoke smell, but maybe to neutralize the odor somehow. Seems to work a bit. The company said they can't ozone the paintings because it lightens the colors. I might risk it. They didn't feel they could remove canvas. Huh? The company volunteered to try again, but I want my paintings now! Maybe the next paintings will be cleaned better.

     The next painting was Linda and the Painting Teachers,  installed over my new little Yamaha with real piano key touch. Note the earphones so no one in our temporary apartments has to listen to me play the piano. I work from a salvaged book of son Bill's classical pieces brought to my level of expertise: Classics to Contemporaries, early grade piano pieces selected and compiled by Marie Hill.  I ordered Reader's Digest's books of songs arranged and edited by Dan Fox. Dan Fox is the name to remember. His arrangements of popular and beloved songs are wonderful and manageable. The piano is so relaxing.

      Finding more soot was not a thrill. A simple swipe along the edge of the painting to the frame seemed so easy to accomplish at minimum?...a wipe with white cloth over the painting gave a brown cast to cloth. What to do. And they recommended varnishing my paintings...over this? Maybe to cut the action? Smoke is damaging. Much to learn. Google!
I will see what I can find out at the museum.