Tuesday, March 31, 2009

3 Panels, finished...

...I think! I had such fun working on these yesterday. I can't help but show them. I painted the sides black, even before reading Tracy's blog about how she paints all her cradles black and likes to hang all her artwork without frames.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Progress on 3 Panels

Several posts ago I showed these three 6 x 6 wooden boxes that I gessoed and collaged with a variety of papers, handmade and recycled.

Yesterday, I worked on them, wanting them to both be a unit as three paintings, but also for each to be able to stand alone. First, I sketched my drawing across the three collages with watercolor pencil. Then I added first layer of paint around the elements.

My challenge will be resolving the elements into recognizable things without losing the cool look of the collage underneath.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Despite My Good Intentions....

I have to show off the finished Hippo, even though I said I was going to save the reveal for my show. So many have seen it already because I paint in a fishbowl!

I'm not sure how the rest of you out in art Blogdom work, but I am I kind of spiral painter. If you follow my blog at all, you see lots of starts all in a short period of time--then a lapse of time before I present a finish. Not only do I love spirals and put them in my art whenever, but I always have several pieces in process at once and work on them in a serial manner. I love that, because it gives me space from each work to consider the best way to proceed. Sometimes I work from a photo, but most often I paint with a subject in mind, but more intuitively about how the subject will be rendered. The subject, the composition, the materials all can speak to me so I know how continue on a piece. That sounds kooky, I know, but I don't know a better way to put it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Another beginning....

I expect that I owe a great debt of inspiration for this piece to Tracey Clarke whose work I love and follow on her blog. I just realized how reminiscent of a couple of her pieces it is. I'm looking forward to her show later this year in Fredericksburg at Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts.

Thanks, Tracey, for your thoughtful work and passion for your art.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I am showing the beginnings of a painting for my show, though I may not show it finished--I'm saving that for later! I gessoed some rescued packing crate--it measures 29.5 x 38--and toned it in my favorite midnight blue. Having already decided I was going to paint a hippo with Elizabeth birdies on its head (I'm thinking it is a She-Hippo at this point), I did a drawing in watercolor crayon and textured the hippo with my tiny hand-shaped and cut printmaking blocks. The magnificent lady is mostly submerged in a marshy place, and came up out of the water with a garland of leaves over one ear.

The photo above is not great, but you get the idea.

I still need to paint her bird-buddies. Actually, I kind of like them dark....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Two Starts

I have had these smaller sized items in my studio, ready for inspiration to strike about how to use them. One is a narrow canvas, about 4" x 12", and the other is really a set of things--3 wooden boxes meant for display with open side out, I think. They measure 6" x 6," and I saw them as surfaces for painting, so I'm working on the "bottoms." I'm trying to use all three so that they create one piece, but having each box be able to stand alone as its own work. I so admire that when I see an artist do it well, but have never tried it myself.

Today, with all of the above, I began with collage. Here, then, are the first layers for each.

I'm happy with these!

I have ideas for both works which will remain unpublished for now. Of course, they may turn into something completely different. Or, they may be work for my upcoming show. I have decided to try to keep that work secret for now. It is very hard to do, especially since my studio is in such a public place (and I like to show and tell!) For right now, it is my plan to reveal the work as a body after the show opens.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today's Work

Today, I started from the above working in acrylic. And how got you there, you ask?? I began by toning an 11 x 14 canvas board with quinacridone red, then printed over with small hand cut block prints. I painted negatively with a mixture of phthalo turquoise, permanent green light and white to create the tree. Then I went back in to paint on the branches with more red.

Today, I added fruit and leaves cut from catalogue pages from around the turn of the last century, fixing them to the board with matte medium. I printed a funny little bird--one of my own blocks--and began to add color to the fruit and bird--hansa medium, phthalo blue and black were added to the rest of the palette. I went in with a black micron pen to create dark edges around elements in the painting.

There's a lot going on, but I'm pretty pleased with it. Oh, and I forgot--along the way the sky turned from turquoise to blue--sometimes, life is like that!

Background Check!

I realized that some of what is wrong with my still life painting is that I don't know what to do with the background. I love vibrant colors and don't know how to work with neutrals. Any hints on this? This week, I went back to this small painting of a tuba that I did a couple of years ago. I took it from this:

To this:

So I wouldn't describe the background as neutral but I think it is better.

Blogger acting weird! Not my fault if the punctuation looks haywire!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Prints, I Get By

I printed the block from my last post in black and green and hand painted portions of it. I am a transplanted Texan (currently living in my second favorite state!) Mexico and its influences in culture and cuisine were an important part of my everyday life for many years. I feel like these prints have a bit of the flavor of some styles of Mexican decorative arts.

And some more birds found only in my mind!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Get By

I did a relief printmaking demo for a home school group, parents and children ages toddler through 12, on Wednesday this week. It was lots of fun. The kids were very attentive and asked great questions.

Since it was only a 30 minute demo, I decided to create an image and cut most of it before the group got there. I began by drawing in my sketchbook within the 4.5 x 6 rectangle that I had decided would be the size for this work. I am working on birds as the theme for my show in September, so I sketched out a silly bird drawing, then transfered it to tracing paper. Using the graphite from my drawing on the tracing paper, I transfered the sketch to my soft block. You see the end result in the photo below.

I actually transfered the drawing to two blocks the same size by the time the demo was done, so the group could see how I get my drawings onto the surface. Once I showed them the cutting technique, I demonstrated printing and correcting by making a test print.

I have printed a couple of variations of this block in my studio and have hand painted them all using acrylic paints. The second block will be a reduction cut using at least 3 colors, maybe four.

Besides the bird idea, the actual inspiration for this piece came from a very dry twig with leaves still attached. I wondered whether it was from a nandina (sp?) bush. I liked it so much, I repeated the shape several times in my drawing.

I'm afraid the twig did not survive my manipulations.

And the berries were entirely imagined by the artist.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Falling Pears, fini

Next step on this one is to let it dry completely (I'm using WindsorNewton and Maimeri-blu oil paints mixed with liquin, so it will be a quicker dry) and then stretch it. I think finished size will be 12 x 26, but I may be able to squeeze out an extra inch in either direction. I bought 13 and 27 inch strips, just in case. One thing about working with canvas fabric is that you can cut it to any size you like. Since I work more instinctively with my paintings, I find I often need to adust the composition of my work after it is complete. Stretching it myself allows for those little corrections.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Falling Pears

I have been watching this underpainting on gessoed, unstretched canvas which has been taped to my studio wall for several weeks. At the same time, I have been working on pieces to enter in a juried show at LibertyTown called Feast for the Eyes, which is all about food. It is paired with a contest on April's First Friday where the foodies and food sculptors get to create art with food. It is quite a fun event.

Yesterday, I began a painting of falling pears and leaves on the canvas from the shapes of several of my block prints used to create the underpainting. You can see them in the confusion if you enlarge the photo above.

I don't want to lose all of the visual texture provided by the first layer here, but I do need to resolve some of its impact. I am also considering how I might use collage, as well. I'll keep you all "posted!"

Monday, March 9, 2009

Woven Vase, from Gourd Workshop

Along with the gourds we worked on last weekend, we also started this piece on a ceramic base. Around reed ribs which fit into holes in the vase, we wove all kinds of fibers: yarns and hemp and reed. It is amazing the lengths of stuff that it took to fill its roundness! Many of the thinner or finer fibers we doubled or tripled in thickness before we began to weave.

I finally finished mine yesterday afternoon. I filled the vase with curly willow and set it in my studio this morning.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Autumn Song

Today's post is a creative blast from my recent past-- a garment that I collaborated to make with Tal Landeau, weaver and fiber artist. We called it Autumn Song. It was part of a show of collaborative works between members of the Fredericksburg Spinners and Weavers Guild and LibertyTown Artists held in October, 2008 in the main gallery at LibertyTown.

Tal and I began meeting in January, 2008, and hit it off right away. We got along so well and felt our styles and skills meshed beautifully. We enjoyed our creative meetings so much that we were in danger of missing our deadline for finishing the project as it got bigger and bigger!

We finally settled on creating a Tibetan folklore vest. The pattern required sewing together strips of material. We decided that Tal would hand weave and dye in the shibori fashion, part of the garment, and I would print in fabric paints on commercial fabric that she dyed as well.

The above piece is the back focus panel.

This is the front center panel.

Here is a selection of the dyed and printed strips drying on the rack before assembly.

We also wanted the garment to be reversible, so we bought a lining fabric and used it matte-side-out. I used oil bars, especially meant for use on fabric, and found and created surfaces for rubbings to decorate the lining.

This rubbing was created with the stem of a live plant that I liked the shape of. I sealed it in a sticky plastic wrap so that I could place it under the cloth for rubbing without getting plant juice on the fabric!

The darker red pattern was made by rubbing on a wooden, jointed placemat. The flower and leaf shapes I made with fun foam stuck onto scraps of mat board, and the gold patterning was made by rubbing over a honeycomb cardboard packing material.

The final garment is hanging on the wall of my studio. It is pinned back so you may see the lining. You may also see Tal's gorgeous dyed handwoven on the front of the vest in the picture below. Tal also put the entire garment together. We made our deadline just under the wire!

We are currently working on another garment which has been commissioned of us. It is going more slowly than we had hoped, as we are trying to fit this into two very busy schedules!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Renovations, the second

I added some definition of the background, since I decided that the still life was in the window of a high rise.

I added splashes of sparkle to my foreground and cooled out the background, and as far as a I know, the renovations are complete. Just the sweeping up to do....

Note: I think this just must be one of those experimental canvases. If one were curious, one could x-ray the layers of paintings on this particular canvas and find quite a few. Personally, I love to look at paintings- other people's paintings-where I can see all the added depth of layers of work.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


This is a 16 x 20 piece from several years ago done in acrylics. I liked its folds and cloth-like appearance, but as a painting, it didn't work. I put it away in my" future renovations" pile.

What, don't you have a pile like that?

Last week, I took it out of the pile and began to rework it. I decided I "saw" a bottle lurking in the curtains there.

Painting negatively, I isolated the beginnings of a still life, preserving some of what I really liked about the painting, but re-framing it radically.

More next post.