Saturday, May 1, 2021

May Day ...Celebrate


       The sun is out. May Day beckons one to create festive baskets for neighbors' doors. There are numerous videos and instructions to make cone baskets with ribbons, filling them with flowers, and secretly leaving on a door handle! Next year for certain! Google May Day baskets and join me next year.

       Today I want to share the birthday card part of celebrations. Every time the grandchildren had a birthday I made a card to go with their gift. At first the cards were mini journal quilts and with age have become mini posters. I rely mostly on Comic Life, a Plasq company to create since it is fast and fun. Great company to deal with. You can try it for free. First, some quilts:

Hannah at 5

Erika at 2

    For paper cards,  open the Comic Life app, choose a page to work on, find a photo to use and write a poem that fits the grandchild this year. I find ways to insert the poem in a bubble, choosing different backgrounds, fonts, balloons. You have to be flexible, expect changes over the years but not be shy to look around for all that is offered to play with and click on. The tools are not just for comics!

And it is not too late to make a May Day basket!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Inspiring Notions to Draw and to Paint

      Picasso says he draws like other people bite their nails. Artist John Sloan said to never graduate from drawing when you start to paint. For myself, I love to go back through journal sketches and relive times drawing such as “while making Valentines with Hannah” or “during the Democratic debates.” John Berger said that drawing absorbs him and he forgets everything else in a way that doesn’t happen in any other activity. Last night I was drawing Easter bonnets on Zoomed friends using MarkUp in iPhoto. I could neither stop nor Erase, but i learned how.

      One must have a sketchbook, paper and pen or iPad with stylus always available.This happens when I am on vacation. It is more work when I am dreaming up a painting and struggling with ideas. The Zoom photo below is not art but was fun and has potential to surprise when one has time. I drew on my iPad with an iPad stylus and also a Meko Tech universal stylus to make Easter bonnets for our church group. What else to do with all those Zoom candids.

     Looking at art, hoping to find an idea to express the Texas electric power fiasco, I found this expression of Heaven and Hell, but didn’t make much progress toward a painting. I usually sketch a painting while painting, not before, but I tried..    

      I sketched family from photos but I know that only-from-life is better. Yes, this is a month of incompletes, but I found some great inspiration looking at Cedric Morris’s flowers. His student Joan Warburton said Morris had such close contact with his subject and deep understanding of their design that he was able to paint flowers as if they were people, with a mood and personality. 

        I hope to go at flowers with more interest and intelligence; draw in general with Picasso’s yearning; do more sketching since it is important for painting; and enjoy the meditative breaks drawing provide

Cedric Morris


“Drawing used to be a civilized thing to do, like reading and writing. It was taught in elementary schools. It was democratic. It was a boon to happiness.”  Michael Kimmelman

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Pandemic Surprise.

Shock, surprise. What happens when we take off our masks and see each other in person? 

Every birthday I write a poem or doggerel for the grandchildren along with a small quilt, or now a card. With little information I search for photos and put them into Comic Life which enlarges and makes smaller without loss.  I collected photos from young to teen last year, but I asked Erika if I could see her favorite photo should I want to paint her. I had sent her birthday card, but when I got the photos of this year, her favorites without the mask, I saw she had grown up and I needed another card,  I returned to Comic Life. I added a flattening filter just for fun and more mystery.

The first card I created, made more sense of the "ears." Looking at the two, you can see what a difference a year has made...what I didn't see happening under the mask.We will all have plenty of visual surprises once this pandemic has passed, as it will. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Painting the Kids and the year

      Joe handed me last year’s holiday card and said, “I want you to paint the kids!” I said, “I can’t paint the kids.” But to keep the framer happy, I primed two more 6” x 8” birch plywood panels with gesso and then a background color of orange which I paint over, sometimes letting it show through. I used Holbein Acryla Gouche for ease in drying and clean up.

     The effort is not one painting, but three portraits. Three people in one painting takes 3 times the effort of one portrait. Painting teachers always say you should be painting the entire canvas all at one time, but some of us go piecemeal when the occasion calls for it. Like Amanda Gorman who built her inauguration poem a line a day at a time, I felt today’s two panels came together very slowly. Painting felt like an idea every few days or a week. There was the election, after all. The photo had big smiles so I had to invent closed mouths. I never show teeth. I had to wait for the muse to suggest a table in front and a shelf behind.

       It is easy to put books on a shelf, but I was stumped for the rest of the space. No room for the pet pugs. Desperate for ideas, I studied stencils. Joe suggested hints of sports which seemed impossible. I had wanted to just use trophies, for that is what the grandchildren can seem; but then I bit the bullet, sketching stick figures atop the skinny trophies I searched trophies online. The biggest trophy suggests more. I hope I painted the affection I feel for all three grandchildren.

        I had made two sketches of my reading the newspaper every morn and thought I wanted to paint those as well. I wanted to add masks and glasses and other symbols, but the newspapers capture my 2020 world in some important way. I didn’t really want to paint all of 2020. We are starting anew!