Monday, April 30, 2012

Trying out Watercolor on Coarse Handmade Paper

About a year ago, I read about Khadi paper on someone's blog (sorry I really don't remember whose it was) and decided to order some with the idea of using it in a handmade book, but when it arrived, it was so coarse I didn't think it would do. I put it up on a shelf and forgot about it. That is, until this weekend. I was rummaging around in my stash of paper to find something to do some practicing on and rediscovered this paper.  First I tried a couple of still life paintings without sketching first.

This began as an apple and a pear, but I thought the apple looked more like a tomato so added a tomato-like stem. This one is in traditional watercolor with just a bit of Neocolor II in the shadow area.

This one started out as a pear, but turned into a vase, with a pear beside it and then a silver watering can behind. This one was done completely with Neocolor IIs with just a touch of water added afterward.

Last evening I decided to try a beach scene on a larger piece of the same paper. I began by thoroughly wetting both sides of the paper. I had already penciled in a light sketch. The watercolors didn't act at all like I wanted them to. I ended up putting random spots of blue and gray in the sky and then spritzing it. I then did a quick color blocking of the middle and foreground.

The horizon line needs a bit of straightening.

I've decided to treat this as an underpainting and work over it either with soft pastels or Neocolors. I think overall I like the composition, but not the colors.

Late, late last night I did some sketches on watercolor paper and a quick sketch in a journal, but those will have to wait for another day. I'm going to get a bite before exercise class and just sit for a bit and catch up on the blogs to which I subscribe.


Busy Weekend and A Guest Artist

Miss M stayed overnight with me on Saturday and was here until mid afternoon on Sunday. She was a great motivator as she wanted to do art. I have so many photos to share today, I hardly know where to begin. I suppose I should begin with a photo of the artist herself. I liked both pix so well, I decided to put them together.

And it seems logical to then segue into showing you her art. These are two renditions of her still life. She really did a good job, don't you think.

We set up a couple of still life arrangements that included a lunchbox, a wood block, and a stuffed leopard.

We drew on 8.5 x 11 printer paper which I folded "hamburger" style to begin so we would have a chance to try the sketch twice. I actually wanted to rearrange the items, but Miss M wanted them to remain the same, so I just moved to the other side of her.

Here are my sketches.

I wanted to leave the lunch box and block unadorned, but Miss M didn't think it would be complete unless I did it all.

Later that afternoon we set up  a couple of angels that I received from the bride at my nephew's wedding as a token of thanks for doing a reading during the ceremony. Miss M has sketched these many times and did again, but she took the journal home before I had a chance to take a photo of hers.

Needless to say, I had a lovely, busy weekend, which included a visit to the talent show that Miss M's big sister (Miss P) sang in, but that is another post. I also spent a bit of time trying to paint on some hand made Khadi paper and had mixed results. That, too, will be in the next post.

So today I have my conditioning class at 9:30 and my Zunba class at 6:30 pm. I hope to get a chance to do some more art in between. I sure hope you are doing fine and that you are finding time for yourself and your art - don't forget your loved ones. Maybe they would like to be your guest artist.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Still Life, Life Drawing, Self Portrait In Progress

I was cleaning up my computer desktop last evening when I happened upon a photo of the still life setup of my table partner at the class I took a couple of weeks. She gave me permission to use it. It was the cutest, most unusual setup I'd ever seen and I had a lot of fun sketching it.

If you click on it, you will get a better look at it.

Earlier in the day, I had a bunch of art supplies in the living room trying a set up of my own using the hubsters bottle of wine and an apple. First I outlined it in pencil, then I tried to add color using the Caran d' Ache wax crayons, and finally added a layer of oil pastels. I like the intense colors, but am not overly happy with it otherwise. To top it off, I had all that "stuff" in the living room when Adam and Jena arrived with Miss Z. Talk about in my own world, when I first looked out and saw a vehicle in the driveway, I thought "meter reader".

While I was taking the photos of my art for this post, I also had to fiddle a bit with the self portrait sketch. I decided the jaw line needed some work, so I made some adjustments and here is what "I" look like now.

I think it is better. Now I have to work on the eyes.

I went to Ella Sharp in the morning yesterday for the life drawing class and was able to get one quick sketch

then tried another pose using some small, lovely watercolor thingies (I can't for the life of me remember what they were called or who made them, but maybe you can tell me. In the photo below, they are circled in red.) and definitely need more practice as it is a mess.

If you click this, you may be able to see them better.

Anyway, here is my sketch using them

This is sketched of Colourfix Suede paper.

And the final life drawing attempt in pencil on sketch paper

I am hearing some "talking" in the guest room where Miss Z spent the night and haven't had my second cup of coffee yet. I'd better run. I will definitely be around to see what you've been up to later.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fun with Neocolors, Self Portrait, Dutch (not German)

I am so impressed with the response to my faux pas about the origins of the book in which I am doing my nature sketches. The reason I couldn't get a translation from the text when choosing German to English was simply that the book isn't written in German - it is Dutch. This fact was paramount in my decision to make my next sketch "Dutchman's Breeches" or more formally "Dicentra Cucullaria". I used my Caran d'Ache Neocolor II wax crayons and while it was fun, they are rather blunt so the picture lacks a bit of clarity. But then, so do I some days.....

I was having such fun with the creaminess of the wax crayons that I decided to try a self portrait with them. It is quite messy and I think I went too fast and didn't do enough blending, but I'll share it anyway and I can't wait to try it again - hopefully with better results.

I was thinking about snacking and am trying really hard not to, so I decided to use the same reference photo of myself to try a pencil sketch. I don't think the drawing is too bad - it looks like a person, but I don't seem to have caught a likeness.

I did Zumba for the second time last night - the first time being on Monday of this week. I can't believe how much more smoothly it went this time. Wow! What a workout! I am so looking forward to the next time. When I got home around 8, the hubster was watching the baseball game and informed me that the steak that I had gotten out of the freezer was still frozen solid. I made a wonderful green salad with cherry tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, dried cherries, some exquisite prime crab meat, and topped it with just a little honey mustard dressing - nectar of the gods! I was so out of it from the exercise that I couldn't stay awake and was in bed before 10.

Today I am planning to get around and drive into town to the life drawing class. I am taking some Colourfix suede paper and trying to do my sketching with some small, round, water-soluble items that I got as surprise gifts at a colored pencil class I took with Kristy Kutch. I don't remember what they are, but they are cute as can be and I also got a plastic holder with them. Does anybody know what they are?

After my life drawing, I am going to go to the dollar store and buy some hair spray - being the queen of wash and wear all my life, I've never owned hair spray before - to use as a fixative in my pastel journal so I can go on to the next page without smooshing the two finished sketches together. Maybe while I am looking around there I will find just the right thing for the niche of my altered book so I can finally cut that dang thing and get playing in the front of it by making art and collage and just generally messing about.

Miss Z is coming this afternoon and is spending the night. I am looking forward to that. She is such a joy - busy, busy, but a lovely, loving 1 year old. For now I need to get this body in motion.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yard Pix, Sketches, Nature Journal, Pastel Journey

I had a really busy day yesterday, but mostly devoted to one kind of art or another. In the late morning I went out to the north yard and sat on the bridge to try to capture the Adirondack chairs sitting under the trees. I am still having a really hard time with these chairs and think I'd better do more practice with them. At any rate, despite the fact that the wind was just about blowing be away and the wind chill was putting a serious cold in my hands, this is what I accomplished.

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By the time I got indoors, I needed some serious warming up, so I reheated some turkey vegetable soup I'd made the day before. Yummy!!

I still love my Debbie Mumm dishes.

It was a beautiful day despite the wind, so once I'd warmed up, I put a hoodie back on and headed out with the camera. I've been impatiently awaiting the arrival of the lady slippers, but realize that it really isn't time for them yet. I do have their greenery already.

And while I was walking around the horseradish that the hubster planted smiled and waved just begging to have its picture taken, so I obliged.

And then I couldn't ignore the shade garden full of lilies of the valley, Jacob's ladder, and hostas. And they are lucky enough to have a natural frame of a weathered fence and a pile of bricks.

All this communing with nature, reminded me that I wanted to start a journal with a nature theme and try my hand at some botanical sketching - nothing formal, but I am drawn to things that don't move when you try to sketch them. I had a lovely book written in German with a leaf image on the front that seemed to be a good candidate. I wanted to know its title to see if it would fit with the theme, but every translation software that I tried just gave me back what I entered. Does anyone know what this says?

The title doesn't appear on the front cover and I love the leaf pattern.

Here is the first page of the "Nature Journal". I think it is a spent dandelion, but it wasn't identified by a name just a number. I found it on Wet Canvas.

And, finally, I tried my hand at another pastel in my Merrill Reader, but this time I used Portfolio oil pastels. I am quite pleased with this one and will try my hand at the Mungyo soft pastels on the next one with the hope of doing a better job than on the flowers that were my first entry in this book. I need to get some fixative so I can turn the page and not have these two get two familiar with each other. I think I will just buy some hair spray as Phil suggested.

I do love pears.

Another busy day today. I am on my way to my daughter's house to get Miss P to school and then I have my exercise class. I am hoping to spend some time with art after that, and then I am going to go to the Zumba class again - two left feet notwithstanding.

I hope you have a great day and that I will see you again tomorrow.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Soft Pastels, Fab Find, and Zumba

I recently purchased a set of 30 Mungyo soft pastels and have decided to use a book that I made with signatures made from Mi Teintes paper as I've been told that paper is a good choice for working with pastels. I made the book using the covers from a 1920 edition of a teachers guide for a Merrill Reader.

This repurposed book was for sale at Faint Heart Art, but I appropriated it for my own use.

Here is the first attempt of a group of tulips in my front yard. 

I think it needs more variation of color in the reds.

I don't have any fixative and I've read in Jackie Simmonds blog that Spectrafix is a good, non-toxic one to use, so will see if I can find some. If you don't know Jackie, her blog is actually called Jackie Simmonds Artyfacts and is loaded with some wonderful art and great tips, and she isn't just a pastel artist, she uses and shares info about lots of other media.

I am working on my altered book - at least in my mind, I am. I have my niche pages glued together and am trying to find "something" to put into my niche so I can decide what size the niche needs to be. I found the most fabulous fish yesterday in a second hand store and thought it was just the thing. Tell me, isn't he the most wonderful find!

I'm sorry that he is on such an awful paper towel background, but the color of the background is too close to the metal of his body for an easy "magic wand tool" clean up.

I am so very disappointed to find that my niche is only about 3/8" in thickness and this little cutie is closer to an inch. I know he is going to be a wonderful addition to my supplies, but am not sure how I am going to use him yet. I only know for sure that he will not fit in the niche for this book. I know, Elizabeth, I was supposed to find my "treasure" for the niche before deciding how thick to make it. Lesson learned!

I think you already know that I am somewhat a glutton for punishment when it comes to exercise. Well the proof of that was to be found yesterday. I attended the usual exercise in the morning, came home took a shower and went about my business until evening, and then went to the same place for a Zumba class. I discovered a few things about myself, some that I already knew. I don't know how to do the chacha. I don't know how to do the morenge merengue (nor do I know how to spell it) or the samba either. I'm also not very good at isolating my hips to move them about in a salsa kind of way.

On a more positive note, I met some more really nice people, I had a load of fun, I worked my butt off (actually I need to work off the "stuff" in my middle more than that), I worked up a good sweat and an appetite, and I am definitely going again. I arrived home to grilled chicken and half an avocado, so I made myself a large salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, avocado, chicken and dried cherries. Delish!!

I don't have a set plan for today, but do know that the treadmill is calling. I also have just a bit of housework to do. I will be working in my art room with something - after all my muse is here and I hate to ignore her for fear she will take another road trip and leave me all by myself.

I hope you are having a wonderful day and that you are making time for yourself and your creativity.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Tiger Lily and Altered Book

I began to add the darks to the middle parts of the tiger lily petals and wasn't at all pleased with how they looked, but left them alone to dry without fussing. The next day when I checked on it, I was tempted to trash it, but instead I began to work with other media in order to "save" it. I used some Caran d'Ache Neocolor IIs on the petals and then removed the masking fluid on the stamens. All was not as I had hoped for, so I brought in the big guns. I played with my oil pastels and my stencils and then declared it done. I am not sure if it will stay in this form or if it will be broken into smaller parts for inclusion into other mixed media pieces. My girl tribe, all of whom spent the night with us on Saturday, had only positive input. I suppose I've taught them well in that respect.

It has a bit of a shine on it from the wax crayons.

While the girls were here, I got out some paper and my Portfolio oil pastels and my Neocolor II wax crayons and let them play. They wanted me to work with them, so I got some magazines to cut out more collage things for my altered book. This got them cutting too and they came up with some very nice art.

Miss 4 is again using the theme of roads - as in the road from her Mom's house to Nana's house. It is apparent this is an important, repeating idea from the use of the words "important facts" that she found in my container of collage elements.

When I explained to Miss 9 that the theme of my altered book was eating natural foods, she decided to do a mixed media piece on the same topic. I am so impressed with her art.

Yesterday I decided it was time to paste the back pages in my altered book together in preparation of the cutting of the niche. My problem is that I haven't the foggiest notion what is going to "live" in said niche. It is time to make the rounds of the dollar store and the second hand stores to see what "grabs" me.

While I was going through the closet of mixed media "stuff" I happened upon some old post cards that my Mom had given me a couple of years ago. I couldn't help sketching a couple of them that I found particularly fun. I did these on Saturday morning before the girls arrived.

I have my exercise class this morning and then I am going to try the Zumba class this evening. I hope I like it and that I don't show off my "two left feet" too well.

What about you? What are you doing today? Does it involve art in some way? Will you make time outside of your normal routine for yourself? I hope so, as you certainly deserve it. I can't wait to see what you've been up to lately.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Life Drawing and More Pears

I experienced my first life drawing class with an unclothed live model yesterday and I must admit I was a bit unsure how that was going to be. After all, I was raised a Catholic and even went to Catholic school in the late 50s and early 60s.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn't the least bit uncomfortable - after all I wasn't the one without the protection of clothing. The model was very professional and held his poses quite well. We began with a couple of short poses - I think they were 5 minutes. I did my first two sketches standing with a table easel in front of me and holding the pencil by its very end. I didn't have much control that way, but I thought that was the best way to get rough, gesture sketches. At any rate, here is what I was able to get.

Hopefully you will forgive me for those when you see the 20 minute sketches. They too were first drawn roughly with the pencil held back from the lead, but not all the way back to the end. This allowed me to be loose without totally giving up control. When I was satisfied with the overall shape, I sat down and put on my glasses to refine the sketch. I am rather pleased with how they turned out and am looking forward to the next time.

I realize the angle of the folded leg is not right and the space between the knee of that leg and the foot of the other is not right, but overall, I think it isn't bad for now.

This is my second try and the model had taken a break for a moment before resuming the pose. In doing so he shifted his posture a bit to a move leaning position and changed the position of his right hand.

I didn't stay for the entire session as I had errands to do, but I found it to be a great experience and I am hoping to take other media next time - maybe my Neocolor IIs and/or some oil pastels. I'd like to try sketching in color.

When I returned home, I cleaned up my work room a bit and then attempted to add some dark color to the tiger lily. It was a disaster. I thought that maybe spraying it with a mist of water might have given it a more painterly look and made it okay that it didn't look real, but it appears that I didn't get my little spray bottle back from the still life workshop where I was sharing it. I am going to try to lift some color today and hope to share with you how it is going in the near future. I removed the masking fluid this morning and need to soften the edges of the stamens as well.

I will share my pears with you as I am quite happy with them. The one on the left was done with colored pencil and the one on the right with soft pastels.

I've never used soft pastels before and could definitely use some pointers. It seemed that with each subsequent layer, I removed much of the previous and when I tried using my finger to blend the same thing happened. Do you know where I can find out more about using this medium?

I've got to go get my first mug of coffee and get started on this day. I have the exercise class this morning and since I missed it on Wednesday, I am looking forward to it even more than usual. I think that afterwards, the hubster and I will be making a trip into town to Lowe's for some wood crafting related items and some softener salt. I may have to see if I can find a spray bottle and a clip-on lamp.

I surely hope that you are having a wonderful day, that your muse is hovering, and that you are finding time for your art. I've been having the hardest time leaving comments on blogs and it is not just Blogger; I am having fits with Wordpress as well. Let me just tell you that I can't believe all the wonderful art out there.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Still Life Workshop

I spent most of the day yesterday at the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jackson at a Mary Rochelle Burnham still life workshop. It was offered by the Jackson Civic Art Association (JCAA), of which I am a member.

What a great facility for a workshop - a huge room with lots of electrical outlets and lots of room. We worked 2 to a table getting together up front to listen and watch demos. Most of the attendees worked in oils, a few in acrylics, and little ole me in watercolor. I got tired of waiting for my layers to dry - you will see in my works that sometimes I thought it was dry and it wasn't - so finished up with Caran d'Ache Neocolor IIs.

I got reacquainted with a couple of women I knew from life sketching class and was pleasantly surprised to find a friend from my teaching days whom I hadn't seen in a very long time. There was fruit, nuts, popcorn, and a variety of breads and bagels provided. I started my "eat only what doesn't need a label" quest the day before, so I subsisted on fruit and nuts for the day.

For our first exercise we had 10 minutes to paint one fruit with a shadow (we brought clip on lamps for that very reason). We did this three times before setting up our arrangement and painting our "real" piece of art.

Here is my practice piece:

I'm afraid I fiddled too much. It is really hard to do this kind of thing with watercolor. What I needed to do was make just a couple of brushstrokes and then leave it alone.

And here is my finished piece:

The final layers were added with the Neocolor IIs and left dry.

My friend, Lorna, sent me a link to a video of Joanne Boon Thomas painting a very loose sunflower and I can't wait to try it for myself. I would really like to learn how to loosen up in watercolor. Here is the link to that youtube video. It is definitely worth a watch. I am also looking forward to an online  class with Vinita Pappas later this month called "Loosening Up in Watercolor". I have watched her on video a couple of times and love her style.

When I got home yesterday I had a package waiting for me from Jerry's Artarama with two quill brushes and a set of 30 Mungyo Soft Pastels. I can't wait to play with them (separately, of course) and share the results with you.

Meanwhile, for this morning I am going to drive into Jackson to Ella Sharp Park to the life drawing class that is offered by JCAA. They now have a nude artist - I've never sketched a real, live nude before and am pretty sure I will feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but I think this is too good an opportunity to pass up. I will share my experience and sketches with you tomorrow. I also hope to work on the water lily and the altered book today.

I have Miss Z, Miss P, and Miss M overnight on Saturday, which I am sure will be great fun. I will try to get pix and let the older two do some art that I can share with you.

I hope you are having a great day today and that you are taking some time for yourself. Thank you to all of you for your support, especially those of you who take the time to leave comments. I know from personal experience that leaving comments through Blogger can be a pain in the *ss, and so really treasure the ones that I get.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I've made a bit of progress on the tiger lily. I applied a wash of Daniel Smith (DS) Hansa Yellow Medium with a bit of Quinacridone Coral to most of the petals and a medium green to the stem.

When that was completely I added a bit of Perylene Red to most of the flower. You will see that just after this application while washing out my brush I dripped a bit of water onto the painting. For now I just blotted it with a tissue and decided to put off dealing with it until another time.

I don't know why it looks so dark in the bottom right. It is not like that in real life.

Meanwhile, I've been working on my altered book too. Here is what I've done to the cover.

This is a watercolor on top of Daniel Smith's watercolor ground.

This is the cover with some wallpaper over the back and spine.

The inside of the front of the book with wallpaper attached.

I finally settled on a title. I decided that instead of doing my own lettering I'd search the container of cut outs from Family Circle magazine and let that dictate the name.

I just finished reading "Wheat Belly" and am going to try to eat only foods that don't require a food label to tell you what they are and this book will be a reflection of that. I am really looking forward to beginning on the inside pages, but first need to cut out my niche. I plan to do that tomorrow.

Today I am going to my daughter's house by 7:30 to get Miss 9 to school and then I have a still life class with Mary Rochelle Burnham through the Jackson Civic Art Association. I will tell you all about it tomorrow and may even have something to share.

Gotta run! I'll have to read your blogs later. I am so looking forward to seeing what you are working on.