Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas, sewing and a drawing

I have just returned from my Christmas trip out to Chicago to visit my sister. Above is the only drawing I am including in today's blog update. I made this sketch while waiting at Logan Airport for my flight to board. The man was looking out the window at the various activities that were going on around the planes waiting for passengers. I did make another drawing, but though this is very sketchy I prefer this one out of the two I made. 

A lot of my time prior to my leaving on my trip was taken up by sewing. Above is a photo showing the 5 bags that I finished this month to give as gifts. Two went to my niece, one to her daughter, one to my sister and I kept one. Because they were gifts I couldn't write or post about them on the blog prior to Christmas.

Out of the 5 bags two of them were ones I had started last year and never finished, the other 3 are ones that I cut the fabric for this year, using a slightly different approach.

The older method calls for more cutting and piecing before cutting the pattern out, but I like the finished look better so. With the older method I was cutting six inch strips and then sewing them together prior to cutting the pattern. For the bags I made this year I cut four pattern pieces out of 2 different fabrics and then did some mixing and matching. Since I am using half yards of fabric I need to add strips to the bottom to make the bags long enough. But I need to do that with both methods so in that way it doesn't matter which method I use. I have decided to go back to the original method for the bags I am planning on sewing this next year.

You are going to have to look closely at the above 3 images to realize what you are seeing. There are 6 objects in the above images not 3. Each scan is of 2 mug rugs that I gave to my sister for Christmas. I used her scanner for the images and the bed was a bit too small to show all edges.

My sister likes to sit at the counter in her kitchen to drink her morning tea. In the past it has been her habit to place her mug on top of a pot holder on the counter to help keep the tea warm in the cup. This year inspired by a possible exchange with friends I decided I should make her some mug rugs. They are 6 x 9 inch small quilts that can be used in place of a pot holder. Well in place of a pot holder on the counter, they can't be used as pot holders to haul hot pans out of an oven.

All of them used blocks (units) that I had hand pieced at one point or another and just never put into anything larger. For the top 4 I used four 4 patch units, selecting those with approximately the same coloring and adding some hand dyed fabrics to give me the size I needed. The bottom 2 used a couple of friendship star blocks along with some indigo dyed fabric I had purchased. I kept the quilting to in the ditch, so it was quick and fairly easy to do.  I think finishing off threads took almost as long as the actual quilting.

There is batting between the layers though I used the pillow case method of finishing the edges (sewed and turned, then stitched about a quarter inch away from the edge. I didn't see any reason to spend the time actually putting binding on these mini quilts. The opening on the turned edge was slip stitched closed prior to my quilting the pieces.

They were kind of fun to make and I certainly have enough of a stash of finished units to make more of these this coming year.

One last image, the Christmas tree in my Sister's apt. on Christmas morning. Presents are bagged in Christmas fabric bags making for a colorful display under the tree.

I did spend a fair amount of time over the Holiday drawing so will include some of those drawings in my next update. In the meantime I hope everyone who celebrated enjoyed their Holiday and are looking forward to 2014.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New ATC, another flower drawing and photographs

Just a short blog update today. Above is a new Artist Trading Card (ATC). I used the same background pattern for this as I used for one of my latest bookmarks. This background came out a bit better than the bookmark. ATC's are a bit wider than the bookmarks and I was a bit more aware of the pitfalls of drawing a basket weave pattern as a background.

This card seems to be saying more spring than Christmas or winter to me, but these were the colors I was in the mood to use. Since we are supposed to be getting at least a few inches of snow I suppose it is just wishful thinking on my part. Media is pen and ink with added colored pencil.

I have several arrangements of artificial flowers around the apt. The drawing above is one of the first I put together. It sits on the table in the kitchen/dining space which happens to get a lot of sun, so the purple flowers are getting a bit faded. I suppose it is time to get rid of them and either get something else or just let the vase be empty. Colored pencil with ink laid in on top. The actual arrangement is fuller, but somehow I think I missed that feeling in the drawing. Guess I will just have to try again another day.

A couple of photographs to end this short update, above is one of the flowers on my White Christmas Cactus. Love that touch of pink at the heart of the flower.

My miniature cyclamen is blooming. Love the intense red of these flowers. I thought I would capture the look now as when I get back from Christmas the plant will probably look a bit sad. I will bag this so it will survive, but it doesn't like being bagged so is a bit droopy for months afterword.

That it is for today, have been busy trying to get ready for Christmas so not doing a lot of drawing. In the meantime comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Cactus, apples and figures

I have a lot of plants in my Apt. and several of them are Christmas Cactus, right now I have 2 different colors blooming, a couple of pinks and a couple of whites. I did have an old large pair of Christmas Cactus that would bloom a gold/yellow color, but over this past summer the plants started failing. I have had this happen before, the main stalk just seems to dry up and the plants die. I have tried to take cuttings from the plants and I think a few have them have taken but there will be no golden blossomed flowers for me this Christmas, maybe next year.

Anyway I decided it might be fun to try and draw one of the pink blooming plants. I used colored pencils to just lay in the colors based on the shape of the plant then I went back in with pen and ink to add some lines to give shape. The drawing is quite impressionistic not my usual style and almost looks more like a water color than a pencil drawing. Still I rather like the results. Next plant to tackle is my blooming miniature cyclamen.

As a challenge to myself I hauled out a bowl I particularly like added a couple of apples and set out to draw them. I am much happier with the results above than I was with the drawings I made on Thanksgiving. At least these look like apples in a bowl and the results aren't too lopsided.

Above are some drawings from a short pose figure drawing session a couple of weeks ago. Top 3 are short 2 minute poses, bottom grouping of 3 are longer poses, 5 to 10 minutes. Not totally happy with these drawings, faces could be a lot better on the longer poses, but I think with the short poses I caught the energy of the pose, always a goal.

The last image is another of the photographs I made during my visit to Houghton's pond. There was one seagull that day at the pond, I think it had found something to eat, but not sure just what, there are fish in the pond (it is stocked). Anyway I just like this photo of the flying gull and its reflection in the water. The green in the background are the white pines that grow so abundantly in this area.

Above is a photograph I made a couple of years ago of my golden blossomed Christmas Cactus. Made when the plants were healthy and blooming,  not a common color, and I won't be happy if I lose the plants entirely.

That is it for today, per usual comments are always welcome and I hope everyone's holiday shopping is going well.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Figures, a bookmark and a drawing

Been working on another bookmark. Course right now all that is finished is the main design, still needs some work before it is finally finished. It may have to wait a bit as I need some sunlight to pick the embroidery floss color for the tassel. I will probably go with a red orange.

The inspiration for this was my memories of poppies blooming in the late spring, love those large bright orange flowers. They are such a splash of color. I added tulips in the front of them though in reality tulips would be finished by the time the poppies start blooming. I wanted another flower shape and was feeling a bit tired of daisies/sunflowers. Besides using tulips let me pick up the orange of the poppies.

It was fairly quick and fun to draw, have to start thinking about what to draw next. Oh yes done with pen and ink first then added color via colored pencil, back to my more usual method of working.

Since I made such a mess of the basket the other day I though I would try my hand at another symmetrical object. This ink bottle was at hand and seemed a good choice. Still some errors but I am happier with this drawing than I was with the basket.

I have a small blooming Christmas Cactus maybe I will give that a go next.

From a couple of weeks ago, we had another couple modeling short poses for us. I don't have a lot of drawings that I liked from that session, but above are the five I consider my best effort. Top pair are short poses of about 5 minutes. Bottom grouping of three drawings were 10 minute poses.

Not sure why I felt so off that evening. Probably focusing too much on details, like faces and not looking at the overall image. The male of this couple is quite slender so not the easiest figure to draw.

As a close another photograph from my visit to Houghton's Pond last Saturday. Our weather this week has been not wonderful (read no sun) and I have been busy trying to get stuff pulled together for Christmas. Winter landscapes are so stark mostly browns and greys with a few pine trees to add hints of green.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sketches, a new ATC and some DrawingTools

Above is a new Artist Trading Card (ATC) that I finished over the weekend. It didn't come out quite the way I was envisioning it when I started, which I suppose means that I need to make another one that may be more in line with my concept, except at this point I am not sure what the original concept was. I hope I am not the only person who looses track of the original concept once they start working. Sometimes that is a good thing, but with this card I am not so sure.

Thanksgiving day I spent with friends and while listening to the chatter I spent some time sketching, these two drawings are a result. Hmm, all I can say is that I think I need to spend a lot more time drawing from life. I am not totally thrilled with either the basket or the cup. Though the cup drawing is a bit better than the basket.

Above is a cup of tea with a teaspoon in it. Course the cup did have a design on it, but there was no way I was going to attempt that.

My friends family includes several fairly young children, and of course they were interested in my drawings and supplies. Since I use some tools that aren't familiar to them there were quite a few questions. It occurred to me that I might include some of the information I shared with them here on the blog. So the above image is some of my standard drawing tools. On the left a kneaded eraser, bottom middle is a clutch pencil holder, above that is the 2 mm "lead" that fits the holder, and on the right is a pink pearl eraser.

Because of cost and ease of  "sharpening" I prefer to use clutch pencils with 2mm leads. Course the tool used for pointing the leads can get a bit messy to haul around so I keep one in a plastic bag, but I don't think it is quite as messy as a regular pencil sharpener. I also use kneaded erasers which most of the kids had never seen before. One young boy wanted to insist that it was a piece of clay since that was what he was familiar with. The kneaded eraser is used to lift a bit of graphite when things have gotten a bit too dark. I also like Pink Pearl erasers, but those are fairly common so no comment was made about those.

For the clutch pencils I have several different hardness, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 2H, 3H, and 4H, each in its own holder. I prefer the Staedtler Mars carbon  leads as they seem to be the best quality. For the really soft grades (above 4B) I use regular wooden pencils. The softer the graphite the darker the line you can get, a 2H is more grey than black, though graphite is never truly black but only a dark grey. For best lifting with a kneaded eraser I find that it needs to be warm so I tend to hold it in my opposite hand when I am doing work where I will be using it.

Saturday was a beautiful though chilly sunny day with a few clouds. I drove up to the Blue Hills Reservation and walked around Houghton's Pond. Above is a photo of the pond that I made that day. I find it interesting that clouds in photographs at this time of year even in early afternoon have some pink/lavender color to them.

The pond looks so still and calm reflecting the trees, clouds and sky. There were some ducks on the pond, but since I hadn't brought my field glasses I am not sure of the species, all I know is they weren't mallards as some of them were diving under the water and mallards don't dive. As you can see there were no beach goers there that day.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.