Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year!

There is a fine blanket of white to cover up the ground and the garden and the trees. Ahh, winter. So pretty in its starkness, but so sad in its lack of color.
Fortunately, there is always color so I collected stuff to make a little still life to share the Christmas-New Year season. It's fun to set up a still life. Here is something that I did in my visual journal in water color:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Some more sketchbook time

Yesterday, I was at my sister's house for the family Christmas party. The house was beautifully decorated. Even the napkins had a Christmas theme. So as to prevent myself from gobbling all of the hors d'oevres before dinner, I got out my little sketchbook and used the picture on the napkin for my theme. Here it is:
I'm a happy snowman. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this broom, however. It might have belonged to the Wicked Witch of the West at one point.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Modern Art Afghan (reuse, recycle, reinvent)

I decided to make an afghan with yarn that was left over from previous projects and yarn that people had given to me. I chose to use the same pattern for each square and to not make two squares identical. And so, the fun began.
I made the afghan, one square at a time, and pieced them together as I made them. I was not concerned about matching the squares to each other as each was outlined in white and clashing colors would not touch. After I had crocheted for a while, I realized that I had a great variety of yarns and that I could play with textures, too. I also realized that each square told its own little story with color and texture.
Here are some pictures of the afghan:
here is a corner with the border

mid section

a closer view of the corner

a variety of squares... none identical

This is the modern art afghan.

another hat!!!

Here is a hat that I painted. I meant for it to be very vivid, with a somewhat wild background. Eventually, I would like to go into the decorated hat business!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

winter dreams

Here is a watercolor painting that I made at Stella Niagara. It is a winter scene, deep in the woods. I think that I'd like to be there!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Acrylic paint!

On Thursday, October 11th, I went to my regular twice-monthly painting class at Stella Niagara. We don't meet during the summer so this was my first painting class since June. There was a very small group at the class that day. Our project for the day was to do a mixed media project that involved watercolor paint, autumn leaves, and a Sharpie. We used the autumn leaves to make a border around the edges of the painting. You do this by getting a ruler and measuring one and a half inches in on all four sides of your paper. Then you draw the border in pencil. After you do that, you use masking tape to create an edge inside your border.
Once you have a border, you take your leaves and add paint to the underside of them. Cover the leaf thoroughly and place it on the border of the page and press down with a paper towel. Carefully lift the leaf and... voila... you've got the image of the leaf on your page! Use a variety of leaves to get different images. This border will act as a "frame" for your painting. Then, to make the leave stand out even more, paint the rest of the border in whatever color you like. I seem to prefer blue but the sky is the limit... oh wait! That's blue! Well, you can pick any color!
After you are done with the border, you can paint something on the inside of the masking tape. For the class, we painted a "patchwork quilt" of autumn scenes and things associated with autumn, such as apples, pumpkins, and skeletons.
The last step is to remove the masking tape and draw a little design in the white space that remains. It creates another nice little border effect.
So... I really enjoyed it and I decided to have a practice session. I also decided to use acrylic paint for a change. I started by making my border. Then, instead of the patchwork quilt approach, I chose to do just one image, a still life, with things that I had readily available in the house. I maintained the autumnal theme.
Here is the completed painting:
My autumn painting.

In my art class, we will make three more paintings: one for each season. The next painting will be made in January.

Reuse, recycle, reinvent... part two!

I have belonged to a variety of email groups for a number of years now. One of the email groups that I belong to is dedicated to crocheting. It is a very special group to me because it is small and I have gotten to be good friends with the other members over the twelve years that I have belonged to this group, even though I have never met any of them in person.
Sometimes, we do mystery exchanges. We are given a theme and a partner and we can create an object, using any craft medium that we prefer. So we have gone beyond crochet.
This time, I signed up to participate in a mystery exchange with the theme of Halloween. Well, I love that holiday so I was thrilled to participate. My exchange partner was Grandma Mary, the grandmother of the "list mother," familiarly known as "Mommy Lois." The only rule concerning this exchange was that we could make or buy something but we could spend no more than five dollars.
These days, five dollars is not a lot of money for craft supplies. So I decided to create something with scrap material from other projects. I gathered up the material and looked it over. Then I decided that I would make a wall hanging. I had a few ideas: nighttime, a full moon, trees, a house, pumpkins, a pond... and I began to cut material and to sew pieces onto black felt until I got...
It was a dark and stormy night, at least in my imagination. Some of the material that I use includes felt, fleece (the corners that remained from a blanket making project), yarn, cotton fabric, sequins, a button, and beads.   

I mailed the wall hanging to its new home and found out a few days later that the wall hanging was at home with its new family, proudly hanging on the door.
It was a fun project to do!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Community Mural Project!

Last week, I helped to paint a mural. The artist, Terry Klaaren, is a professional artist who has painted a wide variety of murals that can be found outside, in schools, and in other venues. The mural that I got to help work on is located on the side of a building in the Grand Island Plaza. The mural really transformed a building that was almost to the point of being an eyesore. The series of pictures in the murals depict local history and, thus, are attractive and tell a story at the same time.
Terry's wife, Dori, instructed me in the finer points of painting on the side of a building. She told me how to handle dripping paint and how to use a dry brush technique. It was fun and interesting and very different from the type of work that I normally do.
On Saturday, October 13th, Grand Island celebrated its first Taste of Grand Island. During that time, the mural was unveiled, so to speak. I don't think that the mural was ever covered up. It was, I suppose, presented. When I arrived at the Taste of Grand Island, the unveiling had already been accomplished. Terry handed me a paintbrush and asked me to sign the wall. A young girl asked me if it was OK for me to write on the wall. I said, yes, the artist handed me the paintbrush and told me to do so.
The former eyesore is now a beautiful sight!
Here are a few pictures:
A work in progress. Portraits of three famous people connected with Grand Island: Red Jacket (a leader of the Senecas), Charlotte Sidway (educator), and Charles DeGlopper (World War II hero)

Here are a few of the scenes in the mural
This is the section of the mural that I helped paint. I added mostly white paint... on the sailboats and on the water. I also got to play with green paint, and I painted in the lawn. It was a fun way to spend two hours.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Painting at Roswell Park Cancer Institute

During the weekend of September 22nd and 23rd, I was one of thirty artists who participated in Roswell Park Cancer Institute's inaugural paint out. The paint out, a "plein-air art activity," was organized by the Roswell Park Alliance Art Committee. This committee's function is to find locally created art work to hang at the cancer hospital. The intention is to create a more welcoming environment for staff, patients, and visitors.
The event was scheduled to happen, regardless of weather conditions.
I was fascinated by the corridor. It was long, colorful, but empty. There was a light at the end of it. So I started by making this sketch.

I began adding color at this point. I was using a small travel set of water color paints.

This is the completed version of the painting. It depicts the corridor, which is empty, yet not hopeless. The decorations on the columns, which seemed abstract to me, are visual depictions of cancer cells. I made sure to put the empty chair in the painting, as that represented the people and pets who had been lost to cancer.
On Saturday, it rained. Then it got windy. It was truly a dreary day. Dana Jenkins, a member of the art committee, showed me a nice, cozy indoor spot to paint. It was in an enclosed bridge between two buildings. It was a peaceful location. I made two paintings on that day. I was happy with one and a little less than happy with the other. Not so bad. My batting average was .500 for the day. Any baseball player would be thrilled with that. I was alone during the morning. In the afternoon, another painter, Bernice Smith, joined me. Her favorite media is acrylics. She brought her easel, her paints, and her energy for art. It was wonderful to have company. By mid-afternoon, however, Bernice and I were tired. She said that she had been on the roof of the parking garage for the entire morning and that she and her art supplies got soaking wet. She termed our long art adventure "combat painting."
Really big painting, done outside. Notice the ladder. It was fun to watch the artist paint on this enormous canvas.
After a night's sleep, all of the artists, including a man who was painting an enormous painting outside, felt more energetic. For me, going to Saint Louis Church in downtown Buffalo and singing with the choir, directed by Frank Scinta, was a big treat. That, too, helped to energize me.
Ahh, sunlight at last. I enjoyed the lovely weather and celebrated it with this painting.
On Sunday, I painted outside. It was sunny but windy. I felt relaxed and in a good space when I was painting.
All in all, the paint out was a good experience for me.
Here is another artist's story about the paint out: Roberta Bolt's story
Followup: On Wednesday, October 3rd, the committee offered the paintings for sale, in conjunction with the weekly farmers' market at Roswell Park. The sale ended abruptly when a huge wind kicked up and started blowing away the paintings. But, before the abrupt end, one of my paintings was sold to a doctor at Roswell Park. I believe that the painting, the one of the long, empty corridor, will have its home in Roswell Park.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pottery time!

Playing with Grand Island Clay!

This summer, at Riverside-Salem United Church of Christ environmental chapel, a group (including me) did a great project that involved the clay soil of Grand Island.
Well. Grand Island's soil is mostly clay, a fact that annoys gardeners pretty much everywhere. So we dug some up and learned something about pottery. It was fun to do that. It reminded me of my childhood, when I played for hours in the mud and got delightfully covered with it.

Just recently, we fired the pottery in a hole in the ground. It was a fun process. Here are the pictures of the firing adventure.
Here are the pots, ready to be fired. These are most of the pots made by the group.
I made two pots. Here is one, on which I lots of fun with decorating.
Roger digs a hole. This will become our firing pit.
Here I am, ripping up newspaper, to be used for the fire.
I then place the pottery into the firing pit.
and cover it with the newspaper and other soft stuff
Roger and Carol add fire starter to the hole
The fire starts to glow and grow
Big, big fire!!!! The pottery is being fired.
More later!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent... have fun!

Thursday was my sister Vivian's birthday, and I wanted to give her a one-of-a-kind gift. And, being the Penny-Pinching Cheapskate that I pride myself on being, I wanted to spend as little money as possible. Also, I like the idea of recycling and reusing and reinventing so I decided to claim that I was being a Penny-Pinching Cheapskate to Save the Earth. That would make me sound like a Progressive Penny-Pinching Cheapskate, instead of (dare I say that terrible word?) merely Stingy.
So I decided to reuse stuff that I already possessed.
The stuff that I chose to use were:
  • donated yarn (left over from someone's craft project)
  • a piece of a worn-out laundry bag
  • a discarded bandana
  • glittery silver ribbon bought on a discount table at a craft store a long time ago because it was really cheap!
So I started by crocheting. I chose to do the entire project in black and white because I really like the work of  Victor Vaserely (1906-1997), who, from 1951 to 1965, worked primarily in black and white. He was considered to be the leader of the Op (optical) art movement. His work was geometric and an optical illusion. It appeared to be moving.  It was quite astonishing. This was my way of paying homage to Victor Vaserely and his groundbreaking work.
After I finished crocheting a basic bag, I cut up a bandana and sewed a strip around the top of the bag. I also made a pocket from the bandana and I sewed that on the side that I considered to be the "front." Then I added ribbon to give some glittery appeal to the bag. After finishing that, I crocheted a handle for the bag and a drawstring to keep the bag closed. The last little touch was to sew on a little bow to the pocket, to give the bag a more "finished look."
Here are some photographs of the bag:
This is the bag. There is no pattern for it. I just made it up as I went along.

A closer view of the top of the bag, with the drawstring pulled tight.

This is the pocket. I really like the paisley pattern of the (former) bandana and think that it adds visual appeal to the bag.

Friday, July 20, 2012

All Day Walk!

On July 19th, I took a long walk to Beaver Island State Park. I like to take the long route, along the Niagara River, because I expected a more scenic walk than I would have experienced on roads that were actually a more direct route. I wasn't disappointed. Along the way, I saw herons, goldfinches, and redwing blackbirds. I found wild garlic that looked as if it had ripened. I saw a sailboat regatta in the river. I noticed that many people were out, enjoying a warm, yet overcast day. Later on, it started to drizzle, and the feeling of wetness was welcome. By then, I was on the Spaulding Trail in Beaver Island State Park. The ground was cracked and hard from the lack of sunlight.
I also enjoyed a delicious meal at the Village Inn, which is not far from Beaver Island State Park. I ate a yummy portabella mushroom sandwich. Mmmm!
At mid day, I had painting time at the Whitehaven Cemetery. This is what I painted in my visual journal:
At the Whitehaven Cemetery, I painted this chapel with watercolor. I have a nice little travel set and a bunch of paintbrushes and an old vitamin container for water. After I returned home, I added marker for a mixed media effect. The reason that I chose this structure to paint was the interesting arrangement of stones.
Here is a photograph of the building. I didn't add all of the trees or the telephone wires. I really love those stone buildings!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Turn Against War!

One of my personal goals for this May's Chicago at the Crossroads: Turn Against War walk from Madison, Wisconsin, to Chicago, Illinois, was to understand who Alice the activist and Alice the artist were and to try to find a way for these two to bond. How could I be both an activist and an artist? Could I experience both activism and art without sacrificing one for the other?
And so, I walked, carrying signs calling for the drones to be grounded and for peace to come to Afghanistan. I also brought with me a visual journal. There were many days when the miles of walking and the evening presentations on Afghanistan and NATO left me feeling too tired to draw and paint. But I still managed in the two and a half weeks of the walk to get out that visual journal and depict the world around me as I saw it.
Here are the pictures:
At the start of my journey, in Madison, I painted this picture. It is a depiction of one of Joy First's dolls. Joy designs and creates dolls that tell a story about her life and experiences. This one is of her future. She made this doll to depict her future aged self. The old lady that Joy sees herself as becoming is vibrant and energetic, with flowing white tresses and a glittery skirt. How I would love to become such an elderly lady!

This man, a wood gatherer, was part of a larger painting at the Milwaukee art museum. The architecture of that museum is stunning. The building actually looks like a giant bird. It is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, and, when you look out the back window, you can see the water, which looks as if it flows on and on, without any sign of another side. This one was done in colored pencil.

This picture was done in Jefferson, Wisconsin. We were invited to stay at a rectory there. Father Tom, who lives at the rectory, is the pastor of five churches in rural Wisconsin. This clock is one of Father Tom's most prized possessions. It was made for him by a man whose grandson was killed by a drunk driver. After the boy died, the family did not seek revenge, saying that the boy was all about love, not revenge. I did this picture in mixed media (watercolor paint and markers).

We spent a night at a Saint Mary Help of Christians church (in the church center, a separate building from the church). This is one of Father Tom's five parishes. The statue near the church's small cemetery is done in watercolor and marker.

It was a good walk, a good adventure. I saw murals in Milwaukee, with paintings of leaders of various causes, including labor and civil rights. They were big and on the sides of buildings. I was happy to see this display of the bond between art and activism. 
I'm still working at merging Alice the Artist and Alice the Activist. 
More to come later (future walks, maybe...)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My newest hat!

I just recently designed this hat. If I saw a bee of that size in real life, I would run fast enough to qualify for the Olympic team in the 100-meter dash (I need to experience terror in order to run fast!). This was a fun design, full of color and life. I hope that you like it!
I am hoping to have an etsy store... um... eventually!
This creation started its hatly life as a plain white baseball style hat.

I then drew a design on the hat, and began to embroider the large outlines.

After I finished embroidering the outlines, I painted with fabric paint. The last step was too add a clear but glittery fabric paint on top of the painted surfaces to give the hat a fun, glittery effect.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Continuing the Bring the Sketchbook Everywhere concept

Watching the world...
Today, I went to the hairdresser. While my hair was... um... percolating, I found an ad in the paper which had a scene that incorporated the view that you see here. My sister had given me a little blank book to carry in my purse. So I drew this girl, looking out at the sailboats on the lake. I don't know where it is. I liked the girl in her long, flowing dress. I chose to do the picture in ink because that doesn't smudge in the sketchbook.
Remember to take your sketchbook everywhere!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

back to the hairdresser!

In my journey as an artist, I have had several teachers recommend maintaining a sketch book. I have been doing this for approximately ten years, and I try to draw regularly. I have found that this type of practice has helped me to become a better artist. I will draw almost anything. At conferences, when I find that I'm growing bored, I'll even set up a little still life and will draw them. I've drawn my own hand and my feet repeatedly. If I don't have the usual art supplies, I'll use ball point pens and whatever paper is on hand at the time.
On Friday (April 20th), I went to the hairdresser and I did some practice from a hairdresser magazine.
Here it is:
Here she is... hairdresser lady!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Claire's hat!

I had fun designing and decorating a hat for my little great niece, Claire. She is almost three months old and, to my obviously (!) unbiased eyes, the epitome of cute.
Here are three views of the baby's hat:
front view of Claire's hat

one side view

the other side view
Look for me to open an etsy shop with my hats and other usable art some time this summer. I will keep you posted.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

teatime in watercolor and acrylic

Watercolor and acrylic are definitely different media. I like them both but I've never tried to paint the same scene in both media. On March 8th, in the painting class that I take at Stella Niagara, instructor Virginia Kelley explained that we were going to make the same painting twice: once in watercolor and the second time in acrylic on canvas board.
We were given outlines to use as a basis of our paintings. The outline that I chose was of a tea set in front of a window. At least, it appeared to be a window. When I saw the original painting later, it turned out that it was actually a mirror. I drew a window. I drew the entire picture freehand before painting it. I did find that drawing was somewhat time consuming and it ate into my painting time. The instructor also noticed that, and she gave us the option of taking our canvas boards home so that we could get our sketching done before class, to give us more painting time.
Here is the watercolor painting that I did:
tea party still life in watercolor

Two weeks later, it was an unusually warm March day. I took a walk along the beautiful Niagara gorge before heading to the painting class. I had brought with me the canvas board that I had brought home after the first class. This time, I had a completed sketch and I was ready to spend my entire class time painting. For me, this was a much more relaxing approach to art. I brought with me also a set of acrylic paints. Since I had the luxury of lots of sketching time, I added a few details, including a full moon and a howling wolf just outside the window. The proximity of the wolf was probably the reason that the tea set was abandoned, even though the tea was ready to be poured. Who knows? I don't think that wolves are that scary. Nevertheless, it was fun.
Here is the acrylic painting:
tea party still life in acrylic
So, which do I like better? Watercolor or acrylic? I'm not sure. I'm still exploring. One of these days, I'll try oil paints. For sure, this was a good experiment in seeing how a composition changes, based on the medium used in portraying that composition. I might try this one next in colored pencils, to see how that works. If I do, I'll post it right here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My first hat commission!

I designed, painted, and embroidered a hat for a seven year old girl. Her aunt gave me the commission to decorate this hat. I was asked to incorporate the following elements into this hat: pink and purple, bees, and butterflies. I like all of those things so I was very happy to design this hat:
A hat to celebrate spring!

Friday, March 30, 2012

miniature collage

I made more artistic trading cards. This time, I decided that sacrificing less-than-perfect paintings to the cause was probably not a plan. So I didn't chop up any paintings. Instead, I decided to make use of the wonders of modern technology in creating my artistic trading cards.
Artistic trading cards are modeled on baseball cards. The person who is credited with making artistic trading cards popular is M. Vänçi Stirnemann. In 1996, he began holding trading sessions in Zurich, Switzerland.
There are a number of sites on the internet, as well as groups, where people who like to draw and paint or do stamping and other types of crafts can exchange artistic trading cards. Just put "artistic trading cards" in your web browser, and you'll be surprised by how many people are exchanging artistic trading cards (also known as ATCs).
So, back to the technology. I had three paintings that I wanted to use for my artistic trading card. I had color copies made of those paintings, and I dramatically reduced the size of the images. Then I cut and pasted the images onto blue card stock. I used glittery collage pauge to get the effect that I desired. Then I added the word "love" at the top to make my artistic trading card into a miniature visual journal page. The images are a display of my love of vivid color and boundless life.
So here it is: my ATC.
My representation of a world full of bright colors and intense flavor.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Alice's tea party (without the mad hatter, march hare, and dormouse)

I had fun with mixed media as I made this tea party still life. I had made a similar one in colored pencil last summer when I was doing a month-long drawing project that I called the "teacup project." I drew the same teacup every day for 30 days. I had to place the teacup in all sorts of different settings so that I would not grow bored with that bone china tea cup.
This time, I used water color paint, water color pencils, calligraphy ink, and marker to make this tea set.
Mmmm. Earl Gray, hot.
Captain Picard had good taste.
It's tea time!!!!