Friday, January 28, 2011

Ink Work

I love hot press watercolor paper. I have probably said this before, but because of the work I have been doing in the past few days I want to say it again. I know it is expensive, well relatively. But it is so smooth, takes ink so well, you can get it wet and not warp the paper excessively. For what I have been working on it is the perfect paper.  The only drawback other than cost is that you almost need to have access to a real art supply store to find it. Most watercolor papers sold at stores like A.C. Moore or Michaels are cold press paper and have a rough surface. Hot Press paper is almost as smooth as Bristol board, but the surface is a bit softer. Because of the smooth surface work extremely well on it.

The above bookmark is done on Hot Press watercolor paper. I used my technical pens to draw the black bits and on this piece I used my watercolor pencils to add color. The watercolor pencils were first used on the paper dry as I would use a regular colored pencil, then I added water by using a wet brush. I did go over the blue areas while they were damp with the watercolor pencil to add more color. Even so it doesn't show up as being very blue in the scan. The lettering I did by hand between ruled lines. I did use Microsoft Word to print out the word "Bookmark" using various fonts, picking the font I liked best to actually use.

The piece above is also on Hot Press water color paper. It is kind of a Zentangle, though not quite. It started life as a Zentangle but somewhere along the way I morphed it into something else, or at least I consider it something else. The black was done using my technical pens and in this case the color was added by using Inktense pencils and a brush dipped in water. I call it Mystic City. It is fairly small only four inches square. I think I will be doing some more works at this size, it is large enough to allow some details, but still small enough to be fairly quick to do. 

That is it for today. We have a new FFFC challenge this one is to use Trompe L'oeil techniques on an art quilt. I haven't yet had a chance to check out all the links that have been provided, but will hopefully get to that tomorrow then I can start to think about what I would like to do. I didn't work on the last challenge, too busy with the holidays, but this one sounds like fun.

My last comment is about the weather. I don't know what it has been like where you are, but here in MA we are suffering a surfeit of snow. We have had weekly snow storms for the past 3 weeks, each storm seems to be bringing us at least 10 inches of snow, this is not to mention the small storms that drop only an inch or two that seem to happen between the major storms. Combine this with cold temps and no melting are resulting in huge snow piles with narrow streets. The part that concerns me is that it is still only January. This is not typical weather for us here in Southeastern MA. I am crossing my fingers that we get a week long thaw soon. 

I was out today visiting one of my local parks making some photographs, they aren't wonderful, as there wasn't much sun,  but I will post one here with additonal ones on my Facebook Page. This isn't my personal page but a Fan page, you don't need to be a friend to view it. There is a link to the Fan page at the bottom of the blog. The above photo was taken at Houghton Pond and shows the pile of snow at the trail head that goes around the pond.  Per usual comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25 Drawings

Above is last nights drawing from the weekly Studio Session. The photograph isn't the best, no sun here in MA today. I will take another photograph when we do get some sun as I like this drawing and want a better image of it.

We had quite a crowd last night which considering how cold it was (single digits) outside I found surprising. But inside it was warm, which I am sure the model was grateful for. With this drawing I concentrated on finishing the face and body of the model then filled in some details esp. around her head but left some other areas more sketchy. The side of the couch which I have been detailing I left only in outline this week, the cloth drapes at the far end of the couch I just sketched in. I have been told many times by my instructors that what makes Art individual is what an artist leaves out of a drawing or painting. So I have decided that drawing all the details of what I see (well I don't actually do that though I have been putting in more than I think I need) isn't that important.

While in Chicago over the holidays my Sister and I visited the Chicago Art Institute and after checking out the Fiber Exhibit in the new American wing we viewed the Gray Collection. I didn't realize at the time that the show would only be up until Jan 2. If I had I might have steered us there first and it was I really only looked at about half of the drawings in the exhibit. I "saw" the rest, but by then my brain was on overload and I wasn't really absorbing what I was seeing.  Oh well at least we did catch the exhibit while it was on view.

The drawings the Gray's collected are amazing and reflect seven centuries of art, from Picasso to several Renaissance artists. The one thing many of these drawings had in common was the purity of line used by the artists. I am not that good, I am not yet at the point where I can draw one line and have it delineate the shape and form of a human body. Picasso was amazingly good at reducing his drawings to a few lines.

Don't get me wrong I don't want to draw like Picasso, I want to draw like me. In fact I sometimes find his drawings too spare. An artists whose drawings I really admire is Jean A. D. Ingres. He is probably more well know as a painter but his family portraits done with pencil are amazing. You can see some of his family drawings HERE, and there are books of his drawings. At first glance you think he included a lot of detail in his drawings, but look again and you will realize that often only the faces and some of the clothes are really shaded and detailed. The rest is done with a few deliberate lines. A goal for me is to learn how to use more line and more general shading in some areas of my drawings. I have been developing my skills, now I feel I need to develop a style.

This next image is my 2nd Zentangle finished. It is actually a grouping of 4 squares all originally having the same "String" placed on the square only rotated or mirrored. After finishing the first square I began to find the strings too limiting so ended up drawing/filling in other areas and ignoring them. This has been a fun exercise and I am working on another, which is sort of taking on a life of its own. I am not sure how many more of these I will do. The results can be interesting but I think I find them a bit too unpredictable for my tastes. I am finding that with pen and ink work a certain amount of planing makes me more comfortable.

Enough for today. Please feel free to comment or ask questions. Hoping everyone is staying warm and dry.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Notebooks/Sketchbooks and Drawings

Above is my drawing from Monday night. It felt good to get back to the Studio sessions. My break turned out to be longer then I either expected or wished. Though I shouldn't have been surprised, I tend to pick up some bug over the Holidays, it is an unusual year that I don't. This years bug is still with me, though I am feeling much better. The drawing isn't too bad considering, but I then did spend the break doing a lot of drawings, not of the figure but still drawing.

With my Arthouse Sketchbook done and mailed it was time for me to turn my attention to the Sketchbook Challenge. When the Sketchbook challenge was announced last month each participating artists blogged about their sketchbooks answer questions about them,  how many at one time, and what tools they preferred and when they started. I decided to answer those questions for myself. Above are some photographs of the notebooks/sketchbooks/journals I have around the Apt. The open book in Photo #1 is the oldest book I still have, it was started in 1984 and dedicated to wild flower drawings. I didn't get all that far in that book, but have kept it and enjoy revisiting it. Photo #2 is one of my 3 Quilt Journals. In these I document my quilting. I started the first one in 1986. These have been maintained in an off and on fashion and am now working in my 3rd book. Photo #3 is the Notebook from my Intaglio class last spring, in it I documented all of my plates, with sketches, proofs, techniques used etc. I will use it again if I go back to printing. Photo #4 is the sketchbook I started when I went back to school and realized just how rusty my drawing skills were. I tried to draw something every day. On days I wasn't working on class work I tried to make a drawing in this sketchbook. The final photo shows one of 3 sketchbooks I have of various sizes that I used to develop ideas for projects or just sketch/doodle. I have now added a dedicated book for the Sketchbook Challenge.  Materials used vary, colored pencils for the flowers; Pen, pencil, fabric, photographs, and pieces of paper for the Quilt Journals; Pen, pencil, and inserted materials for the Intaglio journal; finally graphite pencils for the last two. Course I have had doodle sketchbooks since I was in High School, but those are long gone. 

The Sketchbook Challenge theme for January is Highly Prized. The above page is my brainstorming what I highly prize and some quick sketches of those things, highly prized items are nature, including animals, birds, trees, plants and my drawing tools. I pulled out my new Inktense pencils to see what color would do for/to some of the drawings. This page is purely experimental.

 My next page was done with one of my highly prized Rapidograph technical pens. These are technical pens that are sort of like Micron pens, except they are refillable which the Micron's aren't. They are expensive, but if you are into technical pens, I think they are well worth the money. That said I wouldn't stick one in my purse to casually haul it around with me, I would be afraid of loosing it so I do own and use Microns. The drawing above was done using one of my Rapidograph pens in a style called Zentangle. You can follow the link to the Zentangle web site, though I found this site more informative. I fear I am not into mumbo jumbo when it comes to talking about drawing techniques which the Zentangle site does (my opinion only). Nor did I want to wait for a kit or to take a seminar to attempt one, the Squidoo site explains the general concept and how to get started. 

I found the first Zentangle fun to do so decided to do a second, the above photo is the 2nd one in progress. it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Enough for today, this turned into a longer post then I intended. I am fairly sure that the next few posts will be much shorter. Thanks for hanging in, and per usual comments or questions are always welcome.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sketchbook Project Final Post

Padlock Key
This is my final post with images from the ArtHouse Sketchbook Project I participated in. I probably should have posted these the other day, but I was so pleased to have finished my latest quilt that I decided to make that the focus of the post. So here they are, these are the final 4 images I created to fill up those last pages in the sketchbook. None of them are fantastic, and with a couple the linkage to my theme is a bit tenuous (Inside, Outside). But they got done and I mailed the book off to Brooklyn Saturday the 15 of January.

The page above shows an old fashioned padlock, open, with a key. This is one of those that are a bit of a stretch, my thoughts at the time were to show the lock as outside, with the key which would go inside the lock.

Envelope Please
 The above page is a bit more on theme, an open envelope with a folded note, the note was inside the envelope and is now outside. You only see the outside of the note, not the text that would be inside. I used colored paper to suggest the notes contents, but otherwise what the note is about is up to the viewer. 
Balls & Blocks
The original sketch for this page only had the balls and blocks on it. I added the bag in the background when I was coloring the page. Not sure why balls and blocks but I felt like it, a playful ending to my book, and I wanted to be able to use bright colors on this one. 

This is the end page, simple, a repeat of the floral design I used on the front page, a closed book and the word End.

This may be the end of one Sketchbook Project, but it isn't the end of my challenges. I am now in the process of investigating and drawing in my new Sketchbook Challenge sketchbook. The theme for this month is Highly Prized. I admit I am having problems working with this theme. Perhaps because I tend to not think in those terms about people, or things in my life. I have worked on a couple of pages which I will share, but so far I don't feel that I am successfully working with this theme.   Until next time, remember that comments are always welcome.

With this page I came to the end of my project, and today's blog post.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fractured, FFFC #51

FRACTURED - 11.5 x 11.5
Originally I wasn't going to even attempt this challenge. I had several things that I wanted to get made to give as Christmas gifts and knowing how slowly I sometimes work I didn't want to get distracted. The challenge was to use a single shape and using only that shape to make a design. We were to also keep in mind theme and repetition, along with color value and contrast. The best laid plans, right, well one evening I was sketching in one of my sketchbooks and thinking about what I would do if I were doing the challenge and the sketch labeled Design #1 in the image below began to take shape.

The image isn't my original drawing, I did spend time playing with size and placement of several of the triangles before I had a design that I felt I could work with. I am not sure if this meets the rules or not, I am using only one shape, the triangle, but my triangles are not the same, I changed sizes and even the shape of them to provide visual interest. Still I was pleased with resulting drawing and decided to go ahead and make the quilt.

My next step was to figure out how many different fabrics I was going to need to execute this design. So I took some tracing paper and colored pencils and did a color mock up, see Design #2 above. Then I drafted my freezer paper templates and went to the stash to pick fabrics. In the Design #3 image you see my original fabric selections with the prepared freezer paper templates. Next step was to iron the templates on the fabrics, cut the fabrics out and lay them out on the background.

I chose for my background fabric a solid hand dyed fabric from the stash, I think this is a Cherrywood, but I can't be totally certain. The choice was determined by how it worked with the orange fabric you see in the lower right. I really wanted to use that fabric so picked my background accordingly.  In the image above #1 is my original selection of fabrics. They all did work together but I didn't like them when I had them laid out. Back to the stash, the green was replaced with a marbleized blue, and the turquoise blue marbleized fabric replaced with a darker blue hand stamped fabric. I still didn't like it, the dark blue was getting lost against the background. Note that I was also slightly changing the layout of the triangles during this process. Then I found this beautiful hand dyed fabric that I loved, but contrast wasn't the best with the large light blue marbleized piece. So I recut the large triangle, fussy cutting it to give me a light area where I needed it for the overlap of the two triangles. This left me with an extra large light blue triangle, which I decided to use in the lower left of the piece. Image #3 shows this final layout.

Next step in the process was to glue it all down with my white fabric glue and then to create the quilt sandwich. I don't like using stabilizer so to avoid that I make the quilt sandwich and use the machine applique stitches as a quilting feature. Then it was time to decide on how to applique the pieces down. I wasn't in the mood to spend the time matching threads to use my usual narrow zigzag stitch (satin stitch) so I decided to use a different stitch and only one color of thread. For the thread I chose a King Tut black variegated called Rosetta Stone. The stitch I selected is sort of like a button hole stitch, though not quite the same as the hand stitch. On my Janome 6500 it is stitch #34 in Mode 2. In the top 2 pictures in the image above you can see my progress sewing down the pieces. Once I had them stitched down I tucked away threads and did the background quilting. I used another King Tut thread for the background, machine quilting fairly densely.

I knew that I wanted to hand quilt all the triangles. Many of these fabrics have either a pearlized or metallic finish applied to them (one reason why I selected them) so I decided to use a metallic thread for the hand stitches. In the end I used 2 different Sulky Metallic threads, sliver and copper. In the orange triangles I used a Rayon Madeira thread. After machine quilting I trimmed the quilt and applied a narrow binding which I hand sewed to the back. I took the quilt to Chicago with me to work on the hand stitching. I stitched most evenings while watching TV with my sister. I love the look of the hand stitching but it takes forever. The quilt still needs a label and a sleeve, but is otherwise finished. I know I could add beads, but I don't think it needs it. It is small only 11.5 inches square.

I think I like it, though it doesn't have a dark dark, which I usually like to include. But my attempt at including one just didn't seem to work (see the image with the dark blue fabrics) The value change there disrupted the flow of the triangles one to another, maybe if I had put it in a different location it would have worked but I am not sure. I call this quilt Fractured, but I didn't make any attempt to create triangles that would actually fit back together as something. Maybe an idea for a different quilt.

That is it for today. I still need to post the rest of the Sketchbook Project images. Yes, I did finish it Friday, and did get the book in the mail yesterday. But this is long enough. Comments or questions are welcome, let me know what you think of this little quilt.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Countdown 1 Day left

Gems of the Sea
Today is the 14th of January and tomorrow was supposed to be the mailing deadline for my Sketchbook. I should make it, I have 3 more spreads and the end page to finish and I have all of them sketched in. However I received an E-mail from ArtHouse today saying that because of weather conditions and disasters in many parts of the world they are extending the mailing deadline to Tuesday the 17th. With this extension I may revisit what I had planned to do on the final spread in the book. Currently the design isn't really relevant to my theme, but hey I figured I was allowed some latitude on the last spread so even though I have more time, I don't think I will change it.

The above page is of oysters and pearls. Pearls are the only "gem" that isn't a stone, well... I had forgotten about amber and coral, but amber is fossilized resin, and I don't really consider coral a gem stone. Anyway my drawing shows 2 oysters and a few pearls, one sitting between the halves of an open oyster shell. Pearls after all are created inside an oyster, outside is the outside of the shells.


Shoes, when I went back to school many of my art classes had me drawing shoes. I have to admit that I got a bit tired of them but when I was searching for themes for my pages it occurred to me that I could show a drawing of an indoor slipper and an outside shoe. Which is what I have done in the above spread. The black shoe looks fairly solid in the scan but in the sketchbook it shows more value variation.  They were actually kind of fun to do after not doing one for a year or so.

For this page I actually glued in another piece of paper. The idea of a scrapbook is that you assemble in one place various items, usually papers like photos, ticket stubs etc. The rest of the image is of a glue bottle opened to show the brush inside the cap. I think this spread works with my theme on several levels. I like the concept better then my execution, the bottle and cap are both a bit wonky.

Drawing Tools
 The above spread is a drawing of one of my mechanical pencils, with an extra lead and a pink pearl eraser next to it. This is a bit of a stretch, but the lead does go inside the pencil. I love my mechanical pencils, so easy to sharpen the leads when you don't have to worry about getting rid of wood. The leads do come in different hardness's, I prefer using a 2B lead for my graphite drawings but have been using a 2H for the sketchbook pages. The 2H is easier to erase and doesn't leave any remaining marks on the paper.

Tree Rings
The idea for this spread was to show a tree trunk, and then the cross section of the tree with the tree rings. I didn't realize just how weird a section of a tree trunk would look on the page, hence the scribbles at the top with the lines to indicate cut offs. This is another scan that looks darker then the original page. Not sure I succeeded with the bark on the tree trunk, but I tried.

Outlook on Blue Hill
This drawing was done from a Photograph I made last spring inside the Lookout Tower built on the top of Great Blue Hill outside of Boston, MA. The tower was built in the 1930's by the Conservation Corp and from the top you get a great view of Boston and the surrounding communities. This view is from the ground level looking out one of the open doorways to the woods and ground around the tower.

Frog Pond
Frog Pond is based on some reference photos I downloaded. This is of a frog sitting in some water in its pond.  I added some lily pads just because. Don't ask me what kind of frog it is, I really have no clue, but I love drawing frogs so this one was fun. The frog is outside but in its pond.

Bottled Cloves
This drawing I did with just pen and ink, it is of a bottle of whole cloves placed on its side with a couple of cloves spilling out of the bottle. For years (while my mother was still alive) it was a practice of mine to make cloved oranges for Christmas presents. It was always one the gifts I gave to her. They smell wonderful for an extended period of time and are fairly simple to make. When I started doing this they were also relatively inexpensive to make, though when the price of cloves began to skyrocket the gift became a bit more expensive. I didn't do anything fancy, just stuck the orange full of cloves, I placed the cloves as close together as I could get them, and then let it dry for a week or so before giving it to her. To save my fingers I started poking holes in the orange rind with a knitting needle prior to pushing in the clove. Before I started doing that my figures used to get very sore by the time I had the orange about half way done. I also used to pick the smallest orange I could find, usually a navel, as they have a thicker rind and are what is available around Christmas.

Dog House
 Above is a dog in its dog house, which of course is outside. Not much to add to this, it is what it is.

Caged Bird
Last image for today is of a parakeet in an old fashioned bird cage. I did a fair amount of research for reference parakeet images looking for a bird color I liked. When I was young my sister had a sky blue parakeet called Sky. He could actually talk, and when allowed out of his cage loved to sit on my mothers head and lean down to preen her eyebrows. One day he flew out the front door and was gone. My sister was devastated, as it was pretty much a death sentence for him. We left the cage out in the yard for several days with the door open, but he never came back.  My cage has it's wires too far apart to actually hold a bird in, but it is my drawing and I didn't want to over clutter it with wires.

This is a long post. I was going to do it yesterday, but ended up sleeping most of the day with a low grade fever and a cough. The cold is better today so I am catching up. Here in Eastern MA we had about a foot of snow on Wednesday. Thankfully I didn't loose power where I am, but the city to the south of me had major power issues caused by downed trees. Hopefully all of my readers are safe, warm and dry. Per usual comments are welcome.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Countdown 6 days left

Cracked Nuts

I am back home in MA, the flight home from Chicago was no problem at all, in fact we arrived early into Boston on the 4th. Since I  have been home I have been concentrating on getting my Arthouse Sketchbook project done. As the title says I have only 6 more days before the mailing deadline.  Here are the seven pages I have actually finished since getting home. I have 4 more sketched but not finished which will leave me with 9 pages still to do. Well there is also the back page, but I think I will do something simple on that one, like THE END. I know I will be totally out of ideas by then so something simple will be best.

The image above is walnuts with a nut cracker.  This one is mainly pen and ink with just a bit of colored pencil work to add interest. The next image is of a target with some arrows stuck into and around it.

Target Practice
The concept with the target is hitting it or totally missing (the one in the ground), inside the bulls-eye or outside.  I decided to not put one in the exact center, after all with the other two arrows so off, I don't think my archer is very good so I couldn't justify having them hit a bulls-eye.

Circle Dance
 For Circle Dance I was going to draw paper dolls in a circle, but I found it a concept easier to think up than to actually draw so my dancers became far more simple. I added color so the viewer could tell them apart. I didn't intend this drawing to represent any particular dance or event, it is whatever you the viewer want it to be.
Parachute Jump
Not sure this one really works, I had a hard time finding reference photo's and had to combine a couple.  I should have indicated a figure still on the plane, but I didn't see how I could with the size of the plane so this is what I ended up with. 

Horse Chestnut
 With this page I have gone back to food, well sort of, horse chestnuts aren't eatable, but they are a nut and a fruit so I feel they go with the rest of the foods I have done. This was actually fun to do, I love the colors of a ripe horse chestnut.

Glass of Wine
Another food related page, this one has a wine bottle with a glass of wine, and a cork. This is totally out of my imagination, so the details are probably totally wrong. Should probably have added a loaf of bread and plate of pasta to go with the wine, but I need to get these done. 

Snow fall
This one is just pen and ink, another drawing totally out of my brain, well except for the snowflakes, I did download some reference photos for those. With this page I had the most fun drawing the letters for the title. Otherwise I think it is just so so.  Course with the weather here on the east coast snow has been on the brain. Not that we got much where I live, we didn't, only a couple of inches. Most seems to have gone west of us or north of us. Don't get me wrong I am not complaining, last thing I want/need to do is shovel show.

Enough for today. I need to get back to the 4 pages that are sketched in but not finished, and I would really like a nap. I seem to have caught a cold and have been bonding with a Kleenex box most of the afternoon. Doubt I will make drawing tomorrow night, I don't want to spread this around to my fellow artists.  Still I think I will feel well enough to work on my drawings so hopefully will have another update of pages in a couple of days. Per usual comments are welcome.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3rd Sketchbook Project

Rescue Me
 I am making progress with my sketchbook, here are another 5 pages finished. If I can think up 20 more ideas I may get this done in time to send back to the Art House. Above is a fairly simple drawing, the dancer in the sketchbook is asking to be rescued from it's pages.

The Wolery
The 3 owls above reminded me of Wol (Owl) in Winnie the Pooh, so the title for this page is Owl's name for his home.
Chock full o'Nuts
When I was younger and lived in CT, (back in the 1960's) Chock full o'Nuts had stores everywhere in NYC. Since I don't like coffee I was never much interested, and I know how it used to annoy me that when I was hungry downtown on a Sat. they were about the only places open. Of course they didn't serve anything other than coffee or nuts. Not what I wanted for lunch.  Their web site says that they again have a store in Manhattan but I have no clue where.  The drawing is the remains of a bag of pistachios, a nut that we all love in my family. Need I add that I had to be fairly quick to get this drawing made as the nuts disappeared quickly.

Bats in the Belfry
My Sister suggested this one, which turned out to require more drawing than I think she thought it would, still I rather like how the bat turned out so I am not displeased.

Mock Turtle Soup Please
The last image for today is of a couple of turtles. One is hiding in his shell and the other is strolling along. The title is the turtles view of turtle soup - please have Mock Turtle instead, as mentioned in Alice in Wonderland.

Per usual comments are always welcome. The above drawings are done with colored pencil or technical pens with india ink.