Thursday, December 22, 2022

Starting over and learning new tricks

      Good advice for keeping the brain healthy is to learn something new daily. At my art show back in the mid-nineties, when son Jim bought a painting (Vanity in Aspic) to encourage my getting into computers, I had zero interest.  Thanks to him, I bought a Mac computer and Adobe Photoshop among many other software. I took off two years to teach myself to use a computer and worked through a thick book Adobe sent along with their software. I didn't learn everything. Just what I wanted to know. Through the years I found the easier and less expensive Photoshop Elements and Comic Life were enough, all I needed. Trouble is, they take time to learn. Plus, inspired by a friend, I also want to practice piano more and color!  This requires maturity!

     In the last two weeks, I have been trying to master the updated Adobe Photoshop Elements/Premiere.  I need to view all the many free tutorials online, ask questions to go beyond my present success, which is little. But my blog is overdue and I am determined to post. There must be some value in my fun so far. I like some of my photos and got off a Christmas card. See below. "Fortune befriends the bold." (Emily Dickinson)

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Boring is in the eye of the beholder

       At birthdays and Christmas time, the fun is in making, choosing and buying gifts for others rather than handing over money or getting something for ourselves. In fact, recent research shows we have more happiness giving than receiving: The Joy of Giving Lasts Longer Than the Joy of Getting – Association for Psychological Science – APS. On a smaller scale, I like to personalize gifts by making them, even though I am sure others might prefer to receive something more professional, just as the children want money.

       Although I have been to the easel and sketchbook, I haven't followed through big time in paint and pencil. But a couple of weeks ago, near Halloween, I wanted to take some wine to people who had us to a meal to check out a retirement village. Joe found a seasonal wine and I grabbed some Halloween fabric to make a wine bottle cover. I am a fanatic to use a carrier for wine when it is a hostess gift or otherwise. I found several different patterns online and created bags quickly  There are all sorts of styles, so Google wine bag tutorials to find a style for your scraps. Don't expect to excite someone. The fun is in the making and giving.…  Also "measure twice, cut once" so your pumpkins won't be upside down.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Doodle for your Noodle

     How about an art of no expense, training and preparation. Grab a pencil and block of note pads to start marking during your next Zoom meeting. It is possible that concentration, memory and happiness will increase.

    Smart people continue to insist they can’t draw. That must not be the case since if you put a crayon in any child’s hand they move it around to create shapes and images. 

    Doodles are underestimated as art or a path to. A doodle is a drawing made by a person whose attention may be elsewhere. There are many conscious and laborious doodle also. But I am interested in the mindless moving the pencil around on paper that changes by mood. You may develop a style thinking differently every time you approach and dive into the paper. Different things are on your mind, so just add them or parts to the paper. Lately i start with circles and lines, triangles and square. I add darks and sometimes erase. I never know where I will go next. Then sometimes I mark up the other Zoomers. Who know where it will lead. Have fun.  

     Click to enlarge. I drew the first batch on 3-inch square note blocks and the 2nd batch of doodles were drawn on 4-inch note blocks. Visit Doodles Wikipedia for more.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Inspiration all around

       Plantings have experienced a drought this August, but my heart soars with the inspiration in my painting world. Tomorrow, I will enjoy a members' look at the Obama portraits which have arrived at the MFA BOSTON. Last weekend, Joe and I made a rare 5-minute run into Harvard Square to see two major big portraits at the Harvard Art Museum, free on Sundays: See below: Kehinde Riley and Kerry James Marshall were a major surprise. The sculpture in a surrealism show and a new Jacob Lawrence series were a treat as well (click to enlarge photos)

       On-line I read an essay by Kerry James Marshall "I Paint Pictures Too" which led me to the Cezanne show at the Art Institute of Chicago, closing.  Picasso famously said that  Cezanne is the father of us all. Here, Marshall and other artists were explaining why. I wanted more details, especially since a classmate of mine was reporting as well. Rich. I found the catalog Cezanne on-line. Then I spotted the Still Life tome on our Harvard jaunt and was struck by the novel ways objects around us in the house and yard can be expressed freshly by Australian artists.  Of course a major treat will be a run to NYCity to see the Robert Colescott show at the New Museum. I got to meet him one day in Soho, and he is a favorite artist. The catalog is well written. All three books have super illustrations. I keep them out on the dining room table.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Painting, one way or another

      June was the month to paint the house. Joe has done it before but this time we hired painters others on our block used.  The painters came fast and covered the house, but left as other clients signed them up, leaving many "painter holidays" which happen in every paint job. So we have been taking care of those in July. I liked the colors of paint on the Baker's historic home in Chestnut Hill and was able to find at Benjamin Moore to lift the personality of our house. We had to choose a new door color as well.  

        To go with the Benjamin Moore Aura Custom light yellow shingles and Gingersnap trim, we chose Newburyport blue and a dark chocolate accents for doors. The deck became Behr's Cordovan Brown and  Atlantic Blue. The blue was opposite on the color wheel from yellow, so it seemed a "go." Heretofore window and roof trim has been light, enlarging the house visually. But our new trim  darker than the shingles, calmed down the house, and I love it.  Unfortunately some of the thick primer lost some shingle markings. Nothing is perfect. Not all was primed or covered including the lower backs of the front porch columns. Easy to forget with the covering bushes. Also, we wanted coordinated back basement windows and door trim to go with the rest of the house. We were pretty fast making decisions/choosing colors, but some thoughts and fixes come over time. We need touchup over the back porch door and bits elsewhere.

       The real fun in painting was taking some left-over deck colors and painting tops of two old deck side tables. It was a joy greater than getting to the canvas. Same for trimming 1 1/2" the blue deck top and landing, where I used a tiny roller over a brush. Painting trim without thinking is so much fun, I just must learn that is the way to paint canvas.



Friday, July 8, 2022

Gifting a Quilt

       When I had my first baby, I was sent a wonderful quilt that I continued to enjoy with my grandchildren. Quilts carry on and pass down through the years the loving touches sewn to connect the maker with the recipient.

        I was not a quilter, but wanted to make my first grandchild Hannah a quilt for the same reason.You want to sew/sow a connection. I made a quilt from "whole cloth" the imagery reflecting me and my hopes for fun w the grandchild. I had a sewing machine for straight stitches and felt I could tie knots to connect the back through the padding to the front. I looked up on the computer how to make a border.

         Erika received the same quilt with a changed border and background. It was with horror I wondered, "Did I make David, the third, a quilt as well?"  I couldn't imagine leaving him out. I found an old photo. His was made with two big pieces of polar fleece, the edges of which were cut and tied together. "Tie blankets" from fleece! So many color and theme choics in this cozy material. All instructions are online.

     My friend Alice came to visit, creating an over-the-top hostess gift with her quilting skills. She brought dolls for the littlel girls. The quilts we finished off together. They were a big hit with me and the children.

        Katie is always creating for her children and grands. Lately she asked for their favorite T shirts. She  pinned the blocks of images from the t-shirts onto muslin to keep them anchored while she joined them to the "lattice" between each block. She then joined each row of blocks with longer lattice pieces betwen each row and backed them with flannel instead of a light filling as I did. Very cozy!

Think about quilting some gifts for friends and you may get into sewing up some love full time!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

BLOG: A graduation lap quilt to carry hugs from home and family off to college

      In May I heard grandmothers were making memory quilts for graduating seniors. I mentioned my failure to Hannah. She said I could make one for her if I wanted to. With little time left, I imagined the color blue she likes, saw some clever patterns in stores and decided I would make a book quilt for Hannah who is a phenomenal reader.

       I researched "book fabrics" online and found fabric with prints of pages of books and stacked books. Amazon mailed. Like the graduating student, I didn't know exactly where I was going but I moved with the adventure. Inspired by Katie, who was creating a 45" x 45"of life and ball game T-shirts for her grand, I decided to make a lap quilt size so the memories would fit on a dorm bed or chair to provide hugs from home and family. I would sew the fabric face to face and somehow look for gold cord for the edges. This I found at fabric discount store, Sewfisticated in Somerville which also had upholstery trim loaded with tassels that I cut to attach to suggest book marks. The trim and cord were so inexpensive, I bought more than needed. Maybe a pillow? Katie said she prefers lap quilts at  45" x 45" and she used cozy flannel instead of batting. Mine was to be 45"x 56". I got thin cotton batting Quilter's Dream that is good for hand quilting since my sewing machine was acting cranky.Joe designed the iPhone pocket and I sewed a label underneath saying "Made With Love." 


        There were many crises and mistakes figuring how to insert the ribbon of the cord between the fabrics. I watched videos and realized I needed a fancier zipper foot to ride the cord. Next time I might sew on a cord without the ribbon. I did lots of hand sewing and there is a thread made for that which slides more easily into the fabric and batting. I finished after about 7 intense days doing little else. I had blind quilted the batting to the books fabric and now had to tie surgeon knots to the three layers as invisible as possible.I grew to love the quilt and am missing it now.We are so fortunate to have the Internet and videos to fill in the gaps of what we need to know and how to solve crises. I am glad the quilt was a hit.

More "book quilts" found online. and there are others.



Friday, April 29, 2022

NYC art trip blends into Ukrainian egg play solutions

      In New York City it was good to see the Holbein paintings and drawings and return to the condo to make my own portraits .It was good to visit the New York Historical Society to see all their outreach to more diverse groups but also enjoy the paintings of the city and recent purchases to their collection. Our 3rd stop, the New Museum, was also extraordinary and where I got great inspiration: I thought I knew Faith Ringgold's work but there was more. She has been painting her world on fabric all her life. Painting what is going on in my world now is my charge, 
but I am not quite ready to show my new political drawings. The final day was a visit to the Whitney, just before the Bicentennial, The Whitney like the MFA, Gardner, ICA and other museums are making efforts to include those who have not been so present in the art world in the past. Our experience is richer for that.

      All of a sudden it was bunny time and what to bring new to the event. The awful war in Ukraine was on full force. I remembered that I once painted Ukrainian Pysanki Easter eggs. I probably didn't know where Ukraine was. I would use permanent markers to draw the symbols and patterns on eggs that had been blown or sucked out of shells  I thought it a good time to think of and talk about Ukraine and the amazing leader, Zelensky.

       First I attended a Senior Center event to paint or batik the eggs as traditionally done. I had so much fun that Joe made me some tools that I might use to let the wax paint designs and the egg be dipped into color after color like batik and the wax finally melted off for a special glowing finish. You can Google how to paint Pysanki patterns, find story books and watch the process on YouTube.  I needed tools. Joe took some paint brushes, removed the brush, drilled holes and glued cake decorating tips in the holes. If the super glue does not hold in the flames, we will need another solution like tiny wires to hold the nozzles in place. Wood pencils were inserted in handles for a cool hold.

       Two other finds were the squishy eggs to paint on. I gave the grandchildren Ukrainian pattern books but they have their own ideas. And the wildest find was the shrink wrap for Pysanki egg decoration. I ordered the shrink wrap designs online from Diximus through Amazon. You merely slip the designs on any eggs. I had wooden eggs. You boil water, turn off the fire and in slotted spoon dip the 
egg into the hot water. In two to four seconds you have gorgeous eggs.Nothing wrong with easy.




Friday, April 1, 2022

March Madness close to home

In March, I continued painting daily. Joe framed the paintings as fast as I produced. I continued to learn from free courses online.I took an humble seascape and repainted it using the composition rule of thirds, one of many seascape composition ideas you can Google to find at Pinterest.  It made all the difference in a repaint.

A trip to NYC for museum shows further inspired. Three floors of Faith Ringgold's work at the New Museum in the Bowery impressed me how she integrated all in her life, constantly, in creating her art work.   We visited Holbein at the Morgan Library and Museum and hit both the New York Historical Society (paintings of NYC and Black Dolls) and the Whitney  for more.

I enjoyed sketching the amazing Judge Brown, hopefully the next member of the Supreme Court. She made a terrific model on the screen at son's house in NYC.  Joe and I also created a bouquet for church, a new adventure. We awaited more excitement in what schools the children would choose; and we returned home with several painting ideas!

Monday, February 28, 2022

Return to the classroom

     Do you know how many free art and writing lessons are out there on the Internet. Often the free courses create a group on Facebook where you can show your work progress and make artist friends. Last month it was a stitching class. This month I checked into some painting courses. I believe in always learning and it is quite fun in a course. Nietzsche said, "The doer alone learneth!" If you go for one free course, you will hear about others, on Facebook. 'Tis good to be shadowed by algorithms for productive reasons.


     The class that excited me most was one that taught me to think about painting in smaller blocks of time on smaller canvases. Too often, in the past, I would paint from 9 am until 9 pm. I painted lots of huge paintings. Recently I have worked small. After dinner, I may decide to go in to paint for half an hour. Of course I get caught up and can't quit. Mary Bentz Gilkerson taught many things, but what I got out of her pedagogy was not to concern yourself with critiques and try to make a painting in 20 minutes. I gathered that 90 days of an activity can turn into habit. Sure enough, I paint every day now. I finally have something to report in my blog: recent paintings above and two I am still working on below. There are several other courses I tried and loved, including abstract art. I recommend your checking them out and maybe bite off a bigger involvement in learning. "It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop!" (Confuscius)

      I got started on the two paintings below, a few nights ago. I am like a beginner, learning all over.  Thomas Jefferson said, "I'm a great believer in luck, ... I find the harder I work the more I have of it." I am finding the more mistakes I paint, the more I learn. It is such fun. These below are not finished.

      Making my beginning efforts easy, I am using fast drying Holbein's Acryla Gouche. It is water based, and I used small nylon brushes. If I had it to do over, I would use a few basic colors to mix to make my colors, rather than try to buy a color for every nuance. Also, I have to move my painting posture to standing up and return to oils or acrylics, bigger brushes and more movement. Sitting so long is not wise. I anticipate painting the grandchildren on oval canvases before Easter since they are almost an egg shape.

Monday, January 31, 2022

The Internet Connects to Inspire

Facebook remembers and connects us to old memories. A self-portrait lost to the fire reappeared this week and made me look fondly at two paintings that were saved and presently flank our bed. 

The Arts Council of Princeton is back to offering more free virtual Art-Making classes based on the Princeton Universtity Art Museum collection, starting with Durer's rhinoceros. I'll be there. 

Deborah wrote that had a free five-day Stitch Camp. What fun. Day by day they gave us another step in this adventure with needle and thread, fabric and paint. The first day we made paint marks on two fabrics, then cut them up, sewed them together, embroidered, painted and appliqu├ęd. Working with Gwen Hedley while seeing the class results, it was a happy no-pressure learning experience Gwen Hedley: Stitching distress and repair - Slow stitching is meditative. Most people stitched abstractions of many emotions, but we all LOVED our process.You might visit and get to know these wonderful artists. Joe rolled his eyes, but I won't forget this adventure. It is time for me to iron and line this double pup piece for a bookmark.

Paint fabrics in two colors, all sorts of marks and more

Cut into pieces, look for connections, join and embellish

When finished, line the back and present it

No longer lost. Found hanging in plain sight!.