Friday, December 31, 2021

Drawing on Blank Pages in the New Year

It is the end of 2021, New Year's Eve. We are in Belmont, rather than New York City because of the raging Omicron virus. In the new year, there are blank coloring pages on which to draw our lives.

Inspired by Ellen Katz and Jay Werb with their beekeeping and honey, Joe is talking about keeping a hive. I wish he would. As for me, I need to organize my life more. I could change the direction of my blog. A plan is not needed. One can just make the jump or find a better way.

For a start I want to shine a spotlight on the creative Sally Baker. In secret she made a lap quilt for her husband who is from Kentucky horse country, finishing just in time for Christmas. She said I could share the My Old KY Home with anyone I wanted. That lap quilt is so lovable, no wonder she is not tired of it after all her labor!

My heart beat to see horseshoes revealed in the quilting.The longarm quilting was done by Creative Longarm Partners in Marlboro MA. They have lots of patterns to choose from, so Sally was thrilled to see they had a horseshoe. I love her color choices and the horse variations in the blocks. The reverse or back side is clever with the roses placed after the finish line! The third photo shows how she "fussy cut" the horses from fabric.

People in Boston have been elated by the big quilt show at the MFA and the surprising history it reveals, not just technique. I recommend a visit. Pamela Reynolds in the Boston Globe wrote: "while many of the quilts on display are the traditional idealized rustic 'Americana,' many others are analytical, critical and socially aware. These are not your grandmother's quilts." She paraphrased quilter Mazloomi's saying "quilts can be a soft place for hard conversations." I must return to the show. I'd like to make a lap quilt.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thankful for Thanksgiving 2021

       Over the River (Charles) and through the towns, to grandchildren's home we go. The car knows the way, that I will say. Glad it's leaves, not snow all the way! The children's mother invited us to Thanksgiving and said I was not to bring anything. However, one has to have surprises for any event!

       First I think of novelty hats. The party store was out so I was glad to see some hats from 3 years ago Beth had saved and put out on her kitchen table.  I was tempted by the big turkey balloon, but was glad they also were out! It will be crowded enough in the kitchen.

        Usually we have a Thanksgiving tree. We write on paper leaves what we are grateful for. Then we glue them on a poster's tree created by a grandchild, or tape leaves on branches held by a vase or block of wood. I prefer what the grands make but will create and take a pile of colorful leaves, just in case. Blessings can always blow in on the tables.

        Next is the prayer. One year I found a prayer on line. I am still looking for the author artist. Many Thanksgiving prayers may be Googled online. I like Ralph Waldo Emerson's or Psalm 100. See below one that I put in little addressed envelopes on the plate at each seat. I noticed that Joe saved his.


         I was hoping to find the author of this beautiful prayer and drawing found  several years ago. Ellen Katz helped me to find Kathy Davis and the card which can be purchased at American Greeting Cards, online.

            I will take an Asian pear and arugula salad w goat cheese as well as Japanese fruit pie, a southern dish. That is your surprise. Happy Thanksgiving!    

Monday, October 4, 2021

A little gallery for family art

    Painting the grandchildren is fun for me and Joe frames the results. We give to the children and the mother is stuck with what to do with them. She has carved a corner in the living room for these little paintings with some of the family creations, some photos and prints. I also found a print of a family artist, daughter-in-law's "Uncle Abe, "Abraham Walkowitz, who was in Alfred Stieglitz's 291 Gallery in NYC. Earlier I had found prints of his Isodora Duncan works at the MFA Boston.  There paintings and photos in the shelves and walls in this corner off the living room warmed my heart when I discovered them. Next time I will edit the photos to lighter before posting. Click to enlarge to see a bit better!

You can see that the first born Hannah has been painted the most, a head, two with striped leggings and as a runner!  David is seen both painting and in a soccer match. Erika had fewer works, but probably the best as the ballerina! There are also some candy hearts on easels I gave to each one some Valentine's Day.  I need more of Erika and David. The sculptures of Einstein and other people are welcome viewers, 
 Same for the clay turtle cup.


Monday, September 6, 2021

Have fun in black and white!

     Fall is here, the time to get new pen and pencils for school! That was the best part for me in grammar school. Same today. I bought some white paint pens at Blick and some black paper to draw on. Whereas I loved etching with oil paint on canvas in the past, a la Gerry Bergstein, it is pen and paper today. So I handed a black tablet to 12-year-old grandson David, along with a white ink pen. He created this charming underwater piece. Note the surprises at the upper edge to down below. I framed it.

    The first of the year is too busy for me to accomplish anything, but these quick drawings are fun to sketch from the computer, newspaper or just out of one's head. I knocked off a few and then went back with a 30-second-dry black ink FUDE brush pen to hide what I didn't like. That was quite fun to learn what I like and don't like in this medium. More about the FABulous Fude soft brush pen in the next post.
Pentel Fude Brush Pens Unboxing Review - YouTube

Pocket Brush Pen Intro - YouTube

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Blog, Birds and a Birthday

    July brought me a long distance lens, a part of my iPhone 12 Pro Max for my birthday. Robins built two serious bird nests just outside our back door, a large one for 3 fat fledglings and a different nest nearby, too small for 4 robins born later. Of course I had to both watch/see and snap photos of the action. Although I painted the robins, the photos were better!

    The second robin family story is a sad one I am still trying to figure out. At first, this second nest was started in the upper half of the deck umbrella and that disappeared in the early stages. Not discouraged, the builder robin continued to create very near where the first nest had been, but not in the same spot and not so big. I worried it was half the size of the earlier one. But four eggs happened, because I saw 4 NESTlings. Later, I saw the first FLEDGling sitting below, trying to go further, prompted by mother robin's directions. She or he later worked hard to move the other two on as well . The mate had arrived days before and decisions were made. I am guessing that because one baby bird in the crowded nest must have died, possibly a broken neck, the others must be moved on for safety. After the nest was emptied and the family moved on, Joe cleaned out the area and we saw the dead nestling flat on the bottom of the nest. Very sad. I am certain that two of the fledglings did very well after their exit. I think I saw the two birds flying figure 8s near each other above our driveway. I hope a third who was the first out, did well also.

To kick start this posting, I looked for bird quotes:
"A bird that dares to fall is the bird who learns to fly."
Maya Angelou said "A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."
"Birds sing even after the storm."

I didn't know of Bob Marley's delightful Three Little Birds sung to children.
"Don't worry about a thing
Cause every little thing gonna be all right
Singing don't worry about a thing
Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Rise up this morning
Smiled with the rising sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep

Be sure to Google the song for a treat.



Saturday, July 3, 2021

Temptation of the New! Exploring.

Albert Einstein said, "Once you stop learning, you start dying." That seems a bit intense, but when brother Buddy asked me if I had worked with water mixable oils, I had to admit, of all the crafts I had not tried, that one was not tempting. He said it is such fun to work with oils but not have the smell and the cleanup. You just wash out your brush and containers with water! "Why not," said I!

Exploring online, I liked what I read about Cobra brand water mixable oils and bought a set of ten tubes. I was going to NYC to see Alice Neel before it closed at the Metropolitan Museum, Cezanne at MOMA  and the Medici Portraits at the Met, so these paints would be easy to get into and carry on the spirit. At the art store I had earlier asked a helper what had most recently excited her that the store started carrying. She introduced me to Arches paper that is gessoed. Although she suggested the gessoed paper for studies, I like the fact that Cezanne often put several paintings on one big sheet or canvas and Tanquy his dealer could be seen cutting out the assorted gems to sell, three paintings from one. I loved the oil paints.

I had read in the Times and seen photos of Cezanne's drawings and watercolors or colored pencils and thought I must be prepared for that as well. I went armed with a good 0.7 mechanical pencil with leads that were darker than usual. I loved working in a Cezanne spirit,  but of course forgot the colored pencils. I picked up a limited number at the Met. It was 95 degrees in NYC but it seemed open and beautiful again, while nightly I would color: paint and draw. When I returned home I couldn't quit. Cezanne said he sketched daily; and the late in day drawing prepared him for painting the next day.

The oil painting did not dry immediately  like my gouache paintings did, so I ordered  Daniel Smith water mixable medium that speeds up the drying. However. the water mixable oil paint lifts so beautifully and covers so well when wet, I was excited to keep working on the self portrait. I was so mesmerized drawing sunflowers one early morn in the dark with my new mechanical pencil and dark lead, I dated the drawing 2020 instead of 2021.  

And I haven't even told you about the superior drawing lessons online: Art Making at the Princeton Museum which reference their collections and take you on more trips of the mind and hand.Nor did we discuss synthetic squirrel watercolor brushes. As Michaelangelo said at 87, "I am still learning." I also like "The expert in anything was once a beginner."

Monday, May 31, 2021

Building and leaving the nests

       Spring has sprung, people are vaccinated and leaving the nests they built during the pandemic. The robins and I have been creating. I found a delightful video put out by Amanda Hilburn:  Painting a Nest With A Palette Knife - YouTube about how to paint four nests at a time using palette knives. In the past I have only used palette knives to mix paint, so this was an adventure. I had so much fun, I painted four more and plan to paint more to drop off at friends.'

       At the same time, a mother robin was building nests in several spots under the deck roof, just outside our back door. I became obsessed with photographing the building of the nest with dry grass and mud, watching the mother shape the cup of the nest where she would deliver. 
How we have thrilled daily as the birds appeared, grew and are about to fly. A wonderful video can be watched at made by a young father and his daughter. Below are my photos of our robins. Unfortunately, they fledged today before breakfast and we missed their first steps out.

      I had some very small canvases; and I put the nests in different spots on each. I used a small piece of cardboard to squeeze out my colors. I used a two-inch palette knife with a point to lay out black for the center, brown loosely around the edges, and then added a yellow gold and white, one atop the other. A little gold or white strips around the black gave depth. I went back to lay in the background and sides with titanium white, mixed a little here and there with bits of black or brown, but mostly white. I cheated a bit with a tiny brush and I touched up some of the straw. I used turquoise for the eggs, mixed with white and touched up with a little background color. I rounded off the eggs by darkening the edges. Amanda does it better. 

      I recommend you paint a nest or do as Terry Gay Puckett did and paint a totally different scene. I am trying to think how to add some of Emily Dickinson's lines on birds and nests. Google "bird nest quotes" to pick up some or write your own. Time flies. Baby robins are the size of their parents in two weeks, and sadly ready to fledge; but then it is almost two weeks more to be strong enough to fly and learn from other robins.


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