Wednesday, February 29, 2012

my sketchbook is my constant companion

Where ever I go, I try to remember to bring a sketchbook. There is always something to draw, and it is good to get regular practice at drawing. I try to draw just about any subject, just to gain the experience at having drawn something different.
So today, I was at the Lenten luncheon at a local church. These luncheons are served every week during Lent, and most of the churches in my town are involved in setting the tables, preparing and serving the food and beverages, providing the speakers, and cleaning up. The money that is raised at these luncheons goes to a charity of the host church for that week.
The church that I attend was the host church for this week. We had a fairly large number of helpers to set everything up. As a result, we were finished with the set up early. That gave me some sketchbook time. Today, I chose to draw a bouquet that was sitting on the table. I had a limited set of colored pencils and I added some color there. Later on, at home, I added more color to the picture to get shadows and some contrast.
Here is the bouquet:
This was done in colored pencil, with a little bit of watercolor pencil thrown in.

Monday, February 27, 2012

lamp doodles and waiting for superman

Yesterday, I went to Riverside-Salem United Church of Christ's environmental chapel, where we watched "Waiting for Superman" and ate popcorn. I was eagerly anticipating seeing this movie as I had seen clips from it on evening news programs. What I was hoping for was that the movie would offer new and better ideas of how to make education an exciting process for students, their parents, and teachers. I was hoping that the movie would offer solutions to a broken system, in which some kids are left behind, while others get nonstop encouragement.
The movie brought back memories of my own days in school. Although I never went to schools that could be described as failing, I never really thrived in a school setting. Apparently, I had been "tracked." This was a process that was described in the movie. Some kids, who do well on standardized tests, are placed in a higher track. These are the kids who are eligible for "enrichment." Teachers put time and effort into creative teaching techniques to further the development of these kids' intellects. The rest of us get put on lower tracks. We just sort of go through school but we feel disconnected from the process. We may get some wonderful, inspiring teachers who encourage us but the system is not set up for inspiration if we aren't on the highest track. And now, the system is not set up for inspiration but for more and more standardized tests. No child left behind means no child left untested, again and again and again.
Anyway, in school, I was placed in various art classes, which I enjoyed. I enjoyed music and drama, as well.  But, when I was in tenth grade, I abruptly gave up art, believing that I wasn't good enough at it. I went to college and to graduate school and floundered about in the work world. I took voice lessons and piano lessons and enjoyed music but always felt that something was missing from my world. Eventually, I realized that it was art that was missing from my world. I needed color and form to complement song and story, and I needed to create. A friend, whose gift was art, got me to start drawing and painting again. She encouraged me and she acted as a mentor for me. At some point, I decided to go back to art classes because it's never too late to learn. I am so happy that I have discovered this outlet for creativity.
I would encourage you to find your own outlet for creativity. No matter what the form is... sewing, quilting, jewelry making, building model trains, etc.... if it's something that gives you a opportunity to express yourself, go for it.
When I was watching the movie, to keep me from polishing off every bit of popcorn that existed, I drew a picture of a lamp in the room. Then I drew it again and again and again, on the same page. Over and over again, I drew the same lamp. I chose the lamp as my image because I liked the idea of drawing something that shines light. By shining light on problems, we can see them more clearly and we can fix them. Shining light exposes beauty as well as flaws. The movie barely touched upon the beauty that might be found in the educational system, but it is there. For sure, there are problems, and those were enumerated in the movie. For me, the weaknesses in the educational system resulted in my belief for years that I was not very smart. But I also discovered that I could take learning in my own hands. Learning does not end when your school days are over.
After I went home, I wanted to keep enjoying that light. So I worked more with my lamps. I added color and doodles and embellished upon the picture. Here it is:
lamps everywhere, done in colored pencil, brush markers, water soluble wax pastels, and correction fluid.
 So, anyway, the movie ended, and I felt grateful that I had found my own way back into the world of color and form. I discovered the art and music within me. I am indeed fortunate that I could reconnect with these good things.
As for education, I'm not a teacher or an administrator. I don't know how to fix the educational system. All I could do is say to you, the reader, encourage kids. Or encourage adults if you observe that they have not discovered their gifts. Let them know that they are creative and smart. Be a mentor. Who knows what can happen?

Friday, February 24, 2012

More rice paper

Here is the painting that I did in my watercolor painting class. It's on rice paper and it's done in watercolor.
Imagining spring in the middle of winter

Friday, February 17, 2012

Artistic Trading Cards

Artistic trading cards are about the same size as baseball cards. They are miniature paintings that you can trade with other artists. They were first made popular by M. Vänçi Stirnemann in 1996. He held card trading sessions in Zurich, Switzerland.
So, in the general scheme of art history, artistic trading cards are a new concept.
I first heard of them just a few weeks ago.
A few days ago, I cut up a few paintings that didn't quite work and made my first artistic trading cards, which I have sent away to "Anne in San Diego." She will send me six artistic trading cards made by other artists in exchange for the six artistic trading cards that I sent to her. The cards are sent in these handy dandy holders that are designed to keep the cards in place in the standard sized business envelope.
Here is the original painting:
This was originally a watercolor painting that I never completed. I added details by using a brush marker.
Then I cut up the painting into smaller cards. I also cut up at least one other nonworking painting to get six little cards. I used brush markers and water soluble wax pastels to create more complete paintings.
Here they are:
I adjusted this to make it look more like a city street with a leaning lightpost. Also, I added a windowbox to give color to the buidling.

On this painting, I added more detail to the tree, which had been incomplete.

I just added details to the outside of the building.

The trees and window boxes are an addition to this painting.

I wanted to make this into a typical city street scene so I added trees and details to the buildings.
I just added color with the water soluble wax pastels.
It was an interesting project. In the future, I'll try to get color copies of pictures that I do like and then paste the copies to card stock so that I don't have to chop up all of my paintings. I learned a lot from doing this project. Small can be beautiful.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beautful Bobbie

This evening, I was at the Riverside-Salem United Church of Christ's environmental chapel to hear Jon Rieley Goddard read from his new novel. It is a collection of somewhat connected stories that he wrote in daily blogging sessions over, I think, three years. His blog is at Baldy Blogs Well, his writing is entertaining, and he likes puns. That added to the fun of his stories.
I sat and listened to the stories and wondered if I should draw a picture while I was getting amused by all of those puns. I had a sheet of paper and a number two pencil. I had no idea of what to draw. Suddenly, I realized that I would like to draw a portrait of Bobbie. She is a sweet lady who says that, no matter where she goes, she is always the oldest person there.
As I drew Bobbie, I realized that I was looking at a very beautiful lady. As she listened to the story, she appeared to be very serene. Bobbie simply radates joy, and it was a pleasure to draw her portrait. After the reading, Marjorie, who was sitting next to Bobbie, pointed out that I had been drawing portrait of Bobbie. She wanted to see the picture. She showed it to Bobbie, who said that no one had ever drawn her portrait before. She wanted me to sign the picture for her. I signed it, photographed it, and gave it to Bobbie.
Here is Bobbie.
Bobbie listens intently to Jon Rieley Goddard's story. Later, she purchased a copy of his book.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sketching in the Beauty Parlor

Where ever I go, I always have a sketchbook, graphite pencils, colored pencils, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener. I never know when there might be an opportunity to make that random drawing. I've drawn pictures just about everywhere: in the waiting room at doctors' offices, in the subway station, in the bus terminal, in the library! Just about anywhere that I've had to sit and wait, I took the opportunity to draw.
Today, I had an appointment with my hairdresser, Jacquie. It was for a cut and color. While I waited for the color to set in my hair, I fetched one of those books that features really good people with even better hair. They are the haircut models. They are nice for drawing because the photographs are just of the haircut model without a lot of messy background.
So here is the haircut model that I drew today. Jacquie said that she liked the picture and she especially liked the model's lovely makeup.
Well. I never get bored!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Springtime girl

I spent much of the day at the dining room table, where I painted a green-blue background, added some stencils and the leaf stamps. This time, one of the stencils that I used was the top of a spice bottle. Well, the spice was gone but that little plastic top remained. I have a few of them. They have holes of various sizes. They eventually became bunches of grapes. Hunting through the house for objects that could be used as stencils has gotten to be fun, almost like a sport.
After I let the background dry, I painted the girl and added some collage. I used the collage pauge that Traci Bautista designed. It's pretty cool and it's glittery. So there are random glitter effects throughout the painting. I used whiteout to get that white outline effect. I also used water soluble wax pastels and brush tip markers. It's sort of like a cross between a marker and a paintbrush, and the effect is very nice.
This is the girl that I painted today. I wanted to "feel" spring, which is why I chose to use so much green, mixed with blue. I also wanted to stay with the leaf motif because it symbolizes the rebirth of nature. I would say that nature is being reborn after a long, hard winter but this winter has been very mild in my part of the world.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

glam girl and horror movie girl

My last painting in the Doodles Unleashed workshop was done in two parts. The first part was to paint a colorful background, by using permanent markers and acrylic paint, on mixed media paper. Mixed media paper is this nice thick paper that will readily accept multiple layers of paint and/or dry media (colored pencil, marker, graphite, etc.).Also, I used stencils and handmade stampers to create interesting images in the background. I had chosen, as my theme for the series of paintings, the leaf. It reminds me of my love for gardening. The second part of the painting is to add parts of handmade collage paper, which get painted over to become part of the paper. Also, I painted in a stylized face. I did this project two times. The first girl looked like a character from a horror movie! The second girl is green and lovely, but sort of unearthly. It was a fun project, and here are the girls!
She is the green, kind of unearthly girl. The only reason that you would know that she belongs to this world is that she is surrounded by leaves of odd colors. On her neck are the words "feverish imagination." My teacher in journalism school once told me that I was possessed of a "feverish imagination." He was absolutely right!!!

This was my first painting. This girl is surrounded and covered by leaves. If she were a horror movie character, she would suddenly leap from a pile of leaves, screaming in a terrifying voice. This would cause the delightful feeling of fear that horror movie fans relish.

Monday, February 6, 2012

rice paper!

This was painted on rice paper that had been crumpled. The paper was then pasted to matboard. The purpose of crumpling the paper was to add texture to the painting. This is further emphasized by painting darker colors on the wrinkles. The paper accepts color well. I used both watercolor paint and permanent markers in this picture.

Doodles Unleashed!

This was one of the paintings that I did in this workshop. It included using actual leaves as stencils and paper doilies to create printmaking effects and white out as an outline.
This was a large painting that I cut up into four pieces.
 At the website of  Strathmore Online Workshop, there are opportunities for anyone interested in art to sign up for free workshops. This had been recommended to me by a Facebook friend. I was curious, and I decided to try it out, to see if I would like it. I had no idea if I would be capable of learning art through such an unusual method. I had always thought that an ever-present art teacher was a necessity. Yet, I discovered that I could learn something entirely new and different by watching videos on the internet and by posting my own pictures and by looking at the efforts of other students in the workshop.
Some of the other students are professional artists with years of experience; others are complete beginners in the world of painting. I am somewhere in the middle.
I had never done anything like this Doodles Unleashed concept. It is a very free technique and very creative. I learned how to make handmade stampers with a piece of foam and a ball point pen and some acrylic paint. You can use any sort of foam that you like: a styrofoam plate, a meat tray from the supermarket, etc., etc. Then you take your stamper and put a layer of colored acrylic paint and some white acrylic paint on it with a foam brush and you place it upside down on your painting, which is done on mixed media paper. Then you roll a brayer over the stamper and... voila!... you have the impression of the stamper on your painting. Since I spent so much time this fall drawing leaves in my fall foliage project, I chose to make leaf stampers. Oh, and by the way, do not get your foam brush wet! I made that mistake and, to my overwhelming sadness (OK, that might be a slight exaggeration), I discovered that the magic was gone. The stamper does not work when wet!
Another thing that I learned in this mixed media workshop was that I can use all sorts of media in one picture and get a good effect. One thing that, until now, I never imagined to be a drawing tool was White Out! Yep, that's right!!! I never liked the stuff because it was hard to write or type over it. But I can draw with it. It makes beautiful white lines on the paper, unlike paint, that tends to blend into the background and become a little (dare I say it??) gray. Here are some samples of my work and, in my next post, I'll share the stylized faces.
Oh, and by the way, the workshop was taught by Traci Bautista, who is a professional artist and author. She's written several books about her technique. One of them is called Doodles Unleashed: Mixed-Media Techniques for Doodling, Mark-Making & Lettering . I intend to buy this book. I truly loved the workshop.
Another portion of that same painting.

The third section.

Here we go. Section four. I have since cut up one of the pictures even further to make bookmarks and small cards, suitable for sharing.

This was my first painting that I did with this technique.