Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Toast to Strong Women. Models for All Ladies

      This week, fearless women spoke truth at the impeachment hearings: Fiona Hill, Marie Yovanovitch, breathtakingly strong and articulate, reminded me of Anita Hill's testimony years ago. Recently we have seen  the strength of Nancy Pelosi, Christine Blasey Ford, Jennifer Williams, and Laura Cooper. I remember watching, without ceasing, the Hill hearings and have found it difficult to overlook Biden's heavy hand at that time.I remember staying up all night to paint Anita and the Ships of Fools for a show at the SMFA the next dayI have awaited the absent muse for a visual idea for today's strong,stirring souls.

       Where to get ideas? A meeting this week at the Quilters Connection last week reminded me of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. In the book she encourages one's writing, uncensored, three Morning Pages a day, possibly in a notebook. By the end of the week I usually have so many ideas I have to quit writing.Do you need the Muse for a creative project? Try Morning Pages. I purchased and will reread The Artist's Way, it is so good.

        I don't recommend rewarding your creative efforts with the sweets I have been baking: acorn- and leaf-shaped muffins (molds from William Sonoma), buttermilk biscuits while reading Morrison's Beloved, Jen's vanilla buttermilk cookies, and rolling pen-embossed seasonal cookies. Some goodies went to the church fair, but most to Joe and Linda. I am now off sweets and making a myriad of bookmarks for my book club exchange. Fewer calories. Google "fabric book marks" or "embellished fabric bookmarks". A lot of fun awaits.

     Hmm...the title to this post suggests a visual "toast." Maybe the muse is hovering.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Drawing on what interests you

      Recently I ran across a favorite book about Joan Brown, a California artist who painted her life. I LOVE  her catalog and that cover with images drawn from her every day! Many artists paint or draw what is going on in their lives. It is what interests them. It is not necessarily boring, trite, or unimaginative...not just a face as mine often are. That made me study two paintings that flank our king size bed, paintings from 15 years ago. I remember when the target image was hanging in a show in Cambridge, another grandmother walked in and burst out laughing when she saw it, ringing some truth to her experience.

      Another self-portrait hanging in the bedroom in a corner is this one painted on a fabric of brown values. I like to study  the lights to darks, clarity. I also wonder how I painted it so neat! Painting self-portraits is so much fun and I too often avoid doing so because uninformed people think it is a bit narcistic. It is not. The subject is an inexpensive handy model, a vehicle for self exploration. It allows role playing, intimate work, a landscape and media exploration.I encourage grands and friends also. Sometimes they draw me while I draw them.An effective artist shouldn't worry about what people think!

     This week I picked up a couple of books with ideas I am enjoying, both of which had helpful surprises for me and I have read lots of books. See photos below: The Drawing Ideas Book and Find Your Artistic Voice. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Painting a Picture

     Frankly, I have been having trouble getting back into painting. However, I wanted to take these two figures on a soccer field along with a newspaper picture of a soccer net writ large and combine. It seemed a simple task to sketch out the two 10-years-olds, move David's arm above his head, and throw on the paint.

      I scribbled out my plan w charcoal and squeezed out some acrylics on a paper palette (non-absorbent paper). With some water and a no. 6 round Princeton nylon brush, started moving paint energetically on an alizerin crimson pre-primed canvas. I cursorily sketched in the boys first and came up with the net and grass later. I used only one pointed brush, from point to side, throughout the effort. I used a fairly limited palette of white, off white, yellow, oj, red, two blues and a brown. Half-way through I told Joe a frame would help the composition so he made me one and I had two more sessions, the third after David told me to lower his arm rather than show his face.

       Feeling the grass needed something for that big green area, I thought I would connect w art history, I added bottom right, the age, name and date of the subject, using a stencil, black pointed Sharpie and some gold acrylic textile paint! I think the fact that David liked the painting and it is already up on the living room wall portrait corner will encourage me to paint more action. I also want to get back to Urban Sketching, cuz that is fast also!  (Click to enlarge)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Still movie making!

    Movie making continues from last month. I found I could Save a movie to a Quicktime video on iCloud for a limited time, or load it onto DropBox where people all over the world could see it. Friends were very gracious to brag on it.

     Surprisingly, Joe decided he wanted a movie. I suggested he make his own, that it is easy. People don't realize how simple it is or they are not so interested in the craft. Hard to imagine, for the ease and fun is what drew me in to learning and buying a computer. And Joe could choose his own music!

     I found I couldn't make Joe a movie similar to mine.I realized it has to be his relationship to me. So I chose Linda Rondstadt's Someone to Watch Over Me. I titled it "The Watchman," but will surely change it to Watch Over Me. I don't sound too liberated...but those are the facts. I didn't take it too seriously...just relaxed while dropping photos onto the line of music in iMovie (see last month's post).

     I highly recommend making a big deal out of major birthdays and a movie gets you started., The movie is so therapeutic to return to often in order to tweak it. As in editing an article, editing is never over. Plus, Linda Rondstadt has an amazing voice that is so relaxing. Sorry I lost her CDs in the fire, but they are on my computer! What an artist, she!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Making My Movie

   This is the month for a seriously big birthday. SO, to get into the spirit, I quickly created an iMovie of my life with Linda Rondstadt's singing When You Wish Upon a Star. The movie/video is for my pleasure alone, because I don't have permission to send out the song.

    First, I opened iMovie on my computer, let it load, chose Project (titled 1939-2019 or So This is Linda), and downloaded My Media (photos from Photos). I opened Audio (my music on the computer) and pulled down the Ronstadt song (a green strip). The photos and music to use arrived independently in the upper left work area. I first dragged the music down into the bottom left section and pulled the photos atop the music wherever the spirit moved me. I could view the movie as I went along on the upper right hand corner of the screen.

     I like to use the Ken Burns effect on each photo so the focus zooms in or out from and to areas of the photo you choose. The Ken Burns ability appears when you click on the photo in the strip. It is the cropping icon atop the developing movie in the upper right hand corner.This puts the Ken Burns selections on each photo. Then I sought out Transitions back at the top left near Media and Audio and dragged the first transition offered between each photo down below to make movement from one photo to the next non abrupt and natural..

     Leaving perfection behind, I started exploring Titles and other offerings on the work page. But I just wanted to get in the mood for my birthday. I tweak my"movie" every time I sit down at or leave the computer. It is so much fun. The photos are about 4 seconds long but you can shorten or lengthen at the sides of each photo on the strip. So much fun! Don'r forget to Google any questions you have for your movie.I worked on a iMac, but there are good movie making programs for other computers, such as Movavi and Adobe Premiere.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

It was for the birds (robins)!

    Joe and I noticed robins building some peculiar nests in the roof above our deck. Robin nests are pretty common here, above porches, and the stringy hay (for lack of another word) ends up strewn all over.But our retiree interest was to be of help (we never learn that creatures like independence and to make their own mistakes). So Joe went to his work room, built and returned with a shelf room extension.The robins never went into that area again, but built next door in another support area in the rafters.We will leave the extension up in case future robins want the expanded area another time. It seems more luxurious.Those nests gets crowded, however warm.For now, the fledglings, lured by mother w worm, have left their nests, taken their first awkward steps and flown to build muscles and feathers, maybe never to return.What a blessing to observe and enjoy, however short lived. They enjoyed our blueberries, raisins and captured worms which could disappear within seconds. I recommend Googling "baby robins" for further fun.

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.