Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Commissioned Piece, Finished

The piece is ready for delivery after attaching a ribbon or piece of leather for hanging. I etch with an awl on the back of each finished painting on slate with the date and: slate recovered from St. George's Church, Fredericksburg, VA.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Commissioned Piece

A friend commissioned this piece for a mutual friend of ours. Since the receiver of the gift is a native Fred Girl and a member of St. George's, it seemed appropriate.

What you see here is a stage somewhere in the middle of the piece. I have drilled a hole in it for hanging and printed the image from one of my hand cut blocks onto the slate in white acrylic paint. The sky is blue, as it always should be during the day in Camelot, and a Carl's ice cream cone has begun to appear in the left hand corner.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pendants' Progress

I'm still finishing details on my new pendants --evidenced by the flag flying on above-- but I'm happy with these first attempts. I try to let the shape of the small pieces of slate suggest what I will paint on them. Several broke in this curved way, so they seemed to me to need beads painted on them. I am stringing them on a relatively fine cotton cord and adding glass, porcelain and wooden beads (which I had way too much fun shopping for!) Anna also donated some beautiful, large, iridescent glass beads to the cause. They are great because their holes are large enough for a double strand of the cord to pass through. Thanks, Anna.

I'm hoping to have a few finished slate pendants to debut this weekend at the open house. I could spend all my time doing these fun little pieces. Someone must remind me that I have a commissioned portrait that I need to be working on!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sample of Today's Work

Here are a few of the pieces I worked on today. Most are still in process. Some are destined to be pins, others will be pendants and still others plaques to hang on the wall. Sales have been good, so I need to work hard to have new things and plenty for LibertyTown's Holiday Open House this Saturday. More later...gotta paint!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

5 x 5 x (5), Target Gallery Show, Torpedo Factory

My work was WAAY over my head. It is the top piece on the wall there.

Thursday night, December 11, my family and Ariel, who also had work in the show, splashed our way up I-95 to Alexandria to see our work at the Torpedo Factory. The gallery was surprisingly small, but that was just right for the showing of small works that it housed. In the days before the opening, I tried to imagine what the show would look like hanging on the wall. I knew already that about 600 works had been submitted from the show and that about 240 had been selected. I sort of assumed that they would be jammed in with no space around them and would be hard to identify separately.

I was so wrong! Immediately, I was impressed with the griding on the wall, in what looked like a blue pencil. You might think that it would give a regimented look to the place, but the pencil markings were faint enough and the groupings of work were so interestingly chosen. I talked to Mary, the coordinator of the show, and incidentally, the contact we had with the Torpedo Factory for their traveling show in the LibertyTown Main Gallery in September. She said that her assistant had created the postcard for the show in a grid which had staggered boxes filled with the work. It gave her the idea to draw a grid on the walls in their gallery to hang this show. It was stunning.

The work came from 30+ states and 6 foreign countries, including Israel. In the main, work was innovative and provocative. It was inspiring, and I am so glad we went.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Soaking Rain and a Productive Day

Our earth needed a good, soaking rain. Though it made the drive up to Alexandria to the opening of 5 x 5 x (5) in the Target Gallery at the Torpedo Factory a little fraught. It was worth it! Besides having a piece in the show, which was an honor, it was the most interestingly installed show I have seen. The little pieces were placed within the squares of a grid which was drawn on all three walls of the gallery, the fourth wall being windowed. It gave a little resting space for each piece, and only some of the grid boxes were filled. It was fun to look at--much of the art was fascinating and made me resolve again to push my creative envelope. More about this tomorrow, since I couldn't take photos there with my own camera. I am depending on the kindness of Ariel, who rode up there with us, to send me the photos she took on hers

My camera battery died while taking photos of the work I had done today. Early, I cleared the decks of all the piddly stuff which must be done: labeling, inventory, packaging .... and finally got to the part I have been meaning to get to all week, which is to work on some new card designs. I used sticky fun foam and scraps of backing board and had fun playing with shapes. Then I had fun playing with colors and printed up some new all occasion cards and a few birthday ones.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Art Talks and Carol Kramer Rocks!

Stafford Schools art teacher Mrs. Miller brought her Art Talks students to LibertyTown on last Saturday. Everyone ate lunch first, since they'd already been to Belmont, and then watched a pottery demo from Dan. The groups were large, so while they waited for the demo, they split into smaller groups and talked with various artists working in their studios. The outing ended with a scavenger hunt throughout the whole building. The kids were curious and asked great questions. They were great visitors!

Desiree makes notes about one of my paintings.

Ms. Kramer teaches a Humanities 100 class at the Fredericksburg area campus of Germanna Community College. She gave her students a terrific assignment this semester. They were to come to LibertyTown and interview three artists whose work they liked. They asked how the work was created; what inspired the artist, and any other questions that popped up in the conversation. I have probably spoken to at least ten of her students within the last few weeks and have really enjoyed it. They were universally surprised to find out what kind of place it is and amazed to find the arts and artists so approachable.

Friday, December 5, 2008

LibertyTown Emporium and Small Works

Just a quick note to show the changes in the main gallery at LibertyTown, and to say that our Friends of LibertyTown came out ready to shop last night. We appreciate their warm reception to the changes and their presence last night for the preview.

We also opened Small Works by LibertyTown artists. See a sampling of those displays below.

Work by Dan Finnegan, Rita Brown and Linda George

Work by Neal Reed

Work by Pat Knock, Deb Booth, Nita Adams, Barbara Byrd, Lynette Reed, Brandon Newton, Retta Robbins. Sharon Ross, Rob Landeck, Autumn Arrowood, Dan Finnegan, Neal Reed, Carter Corbin, Beth Jordan

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Art Around the 'Burg, the Second

Such a whirlwind has been whipping around Libertytown this week! Dan and Beth (with help from Elliot) built a roomful of Ikea furniture. Said "build-it yourself" (BIY????), superstore was alternately praised and cursed all the day long. The most exciting thing that happened yesterday was the explosion of glass from a cabinet door which had already been installed. Thank goodness no one was hurt. All was cleaned up quietly and quickly, and Dan picked up a new door along with more boxes of furniture to put together. It's a big room.

Today, as the day progressed, the gallery began to take on the look of a fancy museum gift shop. Susan wafted from place to place creating magic out of the hodge podge of fine art and craft left by various local artists, including those from Libertytown.

When she is done, the place is going to be gorgeously ready for the December shoppers. Beth, Aline and I will hang the Small Works show beginning tomorrow, and then Thursday night will be a preview opening for the Friends of Libertytown. They are in for a real treat. If you are in town, join us First Friday, Dec. 5th from 5-9. The Pottery Students will be selling their work, too. Don't miss it! See the link at right for directions.

Two color reduction print shown above is Rear Window, one of my new works which will be on display.

Art Around the 'Burg

Yesterday afternoon and into the night, wonderful members of the FCCA (Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts, http:// www.fccava.org) volunteered to help the Members' Gallery Coordinator (that would be me) take in art for the annual Members' Holiday Art Show and Sale, and put it up on the walls. What would I have done "all by my onesie," as Cap'n Jack Sparrow says? Thanks to Nita, Shirley, Lynette, Darlene, Bev and Carol, folks I knew were coming, and Susan, Gary, and Lois who pitched in to help because they were asked and needed. You guys are the best!

The show looks great and will open on First Friday, Dec. 5 from 6-8:30 with food and drink . Also opening for a two month showing upstairs in the Main Gallery is The Color of Money. with entries from all over the country. Come one; come all-- 813 Sophia St., Fredericksburg, VA

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last Step, Reduction Block Print

Heat Wave 1/10 Elizabeth W. Seaver

And, we've made it to the final step of the printing process of the piece I have decided to call Heat Wave. The last color to print in a reduction print is always the darkest one. In this piece, I chose a deep, wine color which will become the shadows cast by the legs, umbrella and its spokes as they bake in the hot sun.

But first, to save the lighter red of the back four sections of the umbrella and the spokes of the front 3 sections the umbrella, I must cut away those shapes. If I didn't cut them away before I printed, the wine color would cover them. So under the shadow, the deepest red covers the sandy color, the yellow and the bright red.

Now, all that's left to do is title it. number it in its series, sign and date it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reduction Block Print Demo, Step 6

The block in step 5 shows legs, feet and three sections of umbrella carved away. Now it is time to print in the next color, a deep red. Since I want the sand to stay "sandy-colored," I cut away all of the area around the umbrella, up to the edge of the block before printing. Above, see the print after that inking.

Tomorrow, the print series is finished.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reduction Block, Step 3, 4 and 5

To recap, I finalized my drawing for my print in my sketchbook, and then, I traced it onto tracing paper.

Now, I take my block, which I have cut to the size of my drawing (or I make my drawing the size of the available block--did I mention I often like to use a soft block rather than linoleum which is much easier to cut and carve?) and turn the tracing paper graphite-side- down on top of the block.

To transfer the drawing, I color the back with pencil. When I lift the tracing paper, I should see an exact image of my drawing in reverse on the block.

Here is the print after two stages of cutting on the block. First, I removed the top layer of the block in all the places I wanted to remain white in my final print (or the color of the paper) and then printed with my first color, which was supposed to be "sand colored."

What follows is not the clean and simple step by step I had planned on, but is an example of problem solving that happens often in the creative process. That first color turned out to be browner and darker than I wanted. I compounded my color problem by cutting the three sections of my beach umbrella before I meant to.

So, to help resolve these issues, I printed over the darker brown with a yellow ink to lighten the sand and left the darker color to become the light side of my umbrella. Looking at the result, I changed the whole idea of the colors I was going to use in this image.

The block now looks like this after two stages of cutting.

More next time.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks, a personal note

You know the old saying, "Behind every successful man is a good woman." Well, I'm here to tell you that I would not be so happily employed as a working artist today, if it were not for my husband, Tres. He has encouraged me to step out to take financial and personal risks, lifted my spirits when I was discouraged, been my webmaster and internet guru, and urged me to "go for it," when many partners would have said "you can't do that."

On top of all that, he made my coffee this morning, AND he is cooking our Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, I am a lucky woman, and I give thanks for the man who has been my friend and my support as I reached out for a long-held dream.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sketchbook Project

I was trolling blogs and websites from etsy.com and found a couple of cool things. One was the blog of Michelle Moode ( see my Favorite Sites). Then she had a link for the Art House Co-op in Atlanta (also in my Favorite Sites).

They have a project going now where you email them for a sketchbook, and you fill it with "everyone we know," the theme for a touring exhibit which will go to galleries and museums around the country. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reduction Block Printing

I needed an idea for a new work, and soon. As I often do when I am searching for the next thing to work on, I flipped through my sketchbook. Now, I won't say I draw in my book every day or even every month, but I do get faithful with it every so often. As I turned pages, it fell open to the place where I had scribbled this idea several months ago for feet and/or legs sticking out from under a beach umbrella.

My scribblings reminded me that I had wanted to explore this idea, and I decided right then to do a reduction block print. I got out my tracing paper to refine the sketch that would be transfered to the actual block. I used my favorite umbrella from the three I had sketched, and then worked on legs, feet and shadows. I have discovered about myself that I love to work small, sometimes, very small. What you see to the right is the drawing when I was through making adjustments, ready to be transfered to the 3 x 3 block I had cut.

Now, you are probably wondering, "What is a 'reduction block print' when it's at home?" Here's the best way I know how to explain it to you, and then I'll quit to talk more about it in my next post: A reduction block creates a print using two or three or four, or more colors. The process is called "reduction" because each time you print a new color, you "reduce" or cut away more of the block first.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


More slate painting today and cozy conversations with other artists as I painted. Betsy, Carrol, Megan, Kerry, Lynette, Gabe, Lisa and Stephanie, not to mention Aline and Jeff...supportive, funny, creative, cool folks!

While we chatted, I finished working on a plaque about Fredericksburg, above, using my creative license with its skyline. I love steeples, and Fred has quite a few really wonderful ones. Somehow, in my paintings, they never stay where the builders put them, nor do they usually look as the architects designed them. They are themselves and mine, all at the same time.

I also got my Etsy.com site up today, a real achievement. I am just ten days beyond my goal for getting it online, but it is done! Check it out www.elizabethseaver.etsy.com.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beyond the Dunes

Beyond the Dunes, oil, 2008

Some days, all I can do in my studio is just show up and move stuff around. Showing up is important, even essential, to the process. But, right now, I'm in a creative phase, which energizes me. It makes me want to express gratitude for all the truly wonderful things in my life: loving family, great friends, the best job in the world and a spectacular place to do my work-- LibertyTown.

One particularly good thing happened this Fall. I entered work in an international call for entries at the Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria. The show is called 5 x 5 (x 5), and all work must fit into the measure of--you guessed it--5 inches by 5 inches. Beyond the Dunes was accepted by juror Elaine Levin and will be on display at the Torpedo Factory from December 11, 2008 through January 11, 2009.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blue Tree is Born, or What I did at School Today

I took four pictures in the process of painting a tree on a small piece of slate. What is not in the photos is that first the slate had to be collected from the corner of our church graveyard, washed and have its edges sanded. Then, I printed on it in white acrylic paint with a small block I made out of fun foam and mat board. Printing in white first makes the colors show up against the slate, which swamps transparent pigments. I chose my favorite pair of complements, blue and orange, as the main colors for this particular tree.

I decided to have the light coming from the right, so I added the same blue with white added in various mixtures. I mixed my orange and did the same thing on the trunk. For some reason, all the decorations run down the front of the tree like buttons on a blazer.

I added red, warm and cool yellows and a spiral as a crown to my tree.

I added spirals as snowflakes made from a soft printmaking block I cut. The rest of the tree just got made more itself with shadows and highlights. It is now ready for two coats of acrylic sealer and a pin back.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Scavenger Hunters

At LibertyTown today we were overrun with students who participate in Focus Art at Shirley Heim Middle School in Stafford County. They, their teachers and chaperones blew through the building in an hour, armed with scavenger hunt sheets and questions for the artists. They were curious and courteous--the perfect combination for a good time. Where is the printing press? Whose studio has guitars in it? Which potters make vases? All needed to be puzzled out in their short time here. The artists working in their studios chatted and explained about their processes and materials. The students had already been at Belmont where there is an exhibit called "Artists in their Studios," so we were a logical next stop on the tour. Thanks to everyone for a fun time, and I hope we will see them again with their friends and families.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Getting Started

As a person who is lucky enough to be able to create art every day, I thought it would be fun to get to share it with more people.

I rescued some slate from the roof of my historic church and am painting in acrylic on the pieces. Just today, I painted three tiny paintings. I will upload a photo when I get my USB port freed up.