Join me....

I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Rosie Revisited

Share the Struggle

I had a wonderful painting instructor whose pithy 
comments still come me.
"Let them see the struggle,"
she urged, whenever I got a tad tight and hung up on
photorealistic details.  "It is far more interesting to view."

Her comment played loud and clear to me this week as I worked on my "Rosie" painting below.  A friend had posed for the redeux and I was feeling uptight about making it look exactly like Monique.  A tall order for a non-portrait artist.  But as "Rosie" revealed herself on canvas I began to like the sketchy-ness of it, the moving lines, the odd colors.  When people dropped by the studio they always paid their respects to Rosie aka Monique with a variety of interesting observations and stories. 

early stages

I began to relax into it remembering (top secret here) that she was being painted on top of a painting that I was effort to remind myself that it was all play here, no huge investment other than learning energy.

So I am laying down the brush on her for now.
It may be finished unfinished.
But sharing the struggle is significant.

"Unfinished Business"
oil, 24 x 18, available unframed

A lot of folks I know are mulling over their own unfinished business and it occurs to me that too often we try to hide the struggle, to appear as if there are not hurdles and obstacles and setbacks along the way.  Let's share the struggle, it may prove much easier.  At the very least, as my instructor promised, it will be a lot more interesting.

Color Fully Yours,

Friday, November 18, 2016

Bucolic PA Farmland

I had a request, a commission so to speak (oh ok, it was
from my brother) to paint a pastoral scene such as 
he had come to love driving to work in PA.  
"I want a painting of bucolic farmland," he stated, "with
trucks and tractors, sheep, cows, barns, crops,
grass and mountains." 

Commissions are, at best, an opportunity to paint something new; at worst they are a nightmare of micro-managed ideas not easily translated to the canvas.  I sighed thinking that the number of requested ingredients did not add up to "bucolic."  But exercising artistic license (I have one you know) I made some edits, some additions and peeled my eyes for ideas.  I think we got it!

I decided to suggest some crop fields in the foreground.

the middle ground got a barn, silo and some things we will call sheep grazing

as a Florida transplant to PA my bro loves fall as much as I do, so I decided that
the bucolic scene would be in the fall, the mountains are a backdrop

here it is all together, so far he has approved but I am letting it "marinate" 
before framing in case I decide to make some tweaks 

I also want to thank my painting friend Carmen Beecher who generously gave me permission to use a photograph of hers for inspiration; her daughter lives in one of the houses at the bottom of the road and when I saw Carmen's "vacation photo" I knew it held many of the elements I needed 
for my painting.

Bucolically Yours,

Friday, November 11, 2016

Collage Therapy

Its been an exhausting, draining, demoralizing election season.
I have friends and family who made excellent arguments
for both (all) sides of the equation.  It was brutal.
While I am always optimistic, just processing the
last several months has taken so much energy.

And with depleted reserves I wasn't sure what I could concentrate on in the studio.  Voila!  I picked up an old favorite, Steal Like an Artist Journal,  and opened it up to this page:

So I had a plan to keep my hands busy while my mind wandered wherever it wanted to go.  I dug around and put the trash out on my table:

Then I got busy ripping, cutting and gluing....all therapeutic activities while waiting for the creativity muse to come by.

I turned this around by 90 degrees several times but clearly, it was too soon to get any real direction.

I kept pasting, sometimes aware of great frustration and other times mindlessly tacking things on.  I felt protective of the bee but realized that sort of defeated my original, freewheeling intention.

partial detail

I kept plodding along and then a word came to me - bam- just like that!  The word was "obfuscation."  Bingo.
Thats how I had felt all these months - obfuscated - and that was the confusing feeling I was getting right this minute from my unplanned collage.  The art was unclear, the paths were misleading and everything was made complex and disjointed.  Suddenly I had a bit of clarity.  I added my last piece, swept the remaining goodies back into the trash and stood up feeling much, much better.  This was no work of art but the block got moved, the feeling verbalized (or art-itized) and I am now ready to move forward.

trash collage, 7.75" x 7.75"

Whether the election went your way or not, I hope you agree with me that we should all be motivated to do what we can to improve the quality of life for each other and to continue to work on those issues we deem important.  Here's to no more obfuscation!

Thank you Austin Kleon,
p.s.  Click on his name for an interesting TED talk by him.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Creating a Block Print Image

In college I had an art major friend who patiently worked with me
as we created block prints for Christmas cards.
Mine was "OK" but mostly I remember the magic of printing AND
 the tedious process.  This year I decided to revisit the effort.

I have memories of it being difficult to cut into a linoleum covered block of wood so I was thrilled to see these soft cut blocks by speed ball.  Advertised as "speedy carve" they looked much easier to handle.  (I will add, now in hindsight, that the floppy rubber is easier to cut but NOT easier to print with...just sayin').

Here are some of the carving tools (conveniently sold in the same aisle as the Speedball squares).  I sketch my design out on tracing paper with a soft black pencil to the size I desire.  Keep in mind that what I carve away will turn out as the color of the paper I print onto. What I leave un-carved will be the color of my ink.

I flip the design over and rub it on the rubber, if my pencil is soft enough the design will transfer.  Often I go back over the design on the wrong side just so the image moves to the rubber.  Remove the tracing paper and sketch back in any lines that may be fuzzy or unclear, use pen or pencil, you need a clear guide to carving.  Above you can see my reverse image carved out of the rubber.

Here's a couple more designs I did.  They are like giant rubber stamps except the design is original: mine! AND they are not perfect as yes, I slip and slide while carving and often have to make adjustments. There is no way, I have found, to correct  (fill in or cover) an unwanted gouge. We call these little irregularities: charming.

Now I test the image...a lot!  Sometimes it needs deeper carving or more work to fill the page or it just doesn't print correctly.  It also helps to season the rubber and make sure there are no floating objects (dust, hair, fingerprints) adhering to the ink.  I prefer to use ink pads over paint for small prints.

Now I'm into "production." This is a card to go with honey bee soaps at a fundraiser.  See what I mean about "charming" irregularities?

Here is another design printed, embellished and packaged as a card.  Sometimes I hand write the words, other times I build words out of pre-made letter stamps.  

So it should be relatively easy (and cheap) to turn out dozens of cards, no? NO.  I am finding that the process of printing requires a lot of concentration and precision...people don't like smeared cards or crooked images.  They won't purchase upside down writing or envelopes accidentally printed sideways.  And tying all those darling little ribbons?  Not so fun.  Slippage (or "seconds") is a huge time and money-eater.  But I preserve.  If it doesn't kill me maybe I will get better at this!

Thanks for coming on this side trip with me....all in the name of creativity!

Covered in Ink,
p.s.  It just occurred to me that if I could cut a piece of wood the same size as the rubber block and glue them together I would have the ease of a stiffer printing piece?  another day.....

Friday, October 28, 2016

What Does BLUE Do for You??

Oh how I love color!  And I have my own theories
about the affect and effect of color on our
lives and emotions.  So I was thrilled to see my 
fellow blogger, Amantha Tsaros post this piece.
With her blessing I share it:


Art school can really bring out the goofy in a person. No, really. You do find the flakiest of people. But take care to not judge - you never know what you are in for. 

Highly energetic and charming misplaced California girl, Ms. P was my favorite teacher of first year. She smiled a lot and loved to laugh. She shook her blond hair and looked up at the first-day projects we had pinned across the wall. She slapped those black rimmed cat eye glasses on her face, and took it all in. “Oh, okay!’ she chirped. “I see that half of you have to redo this project."

She took no nonsense and if you did not follow directions you had to do it over. Ms. P was a friendly, sunny tower of steel. I loved her. She had high expectations. This was no flake. 

That year we learned how to communicate with our audience through shape, color and composition. Her favorite lesson - and mine - was the color experiment. She insisted that color could impact a person's mood. "Oh boy." we signaled to each other with unsubtle raising of eyebrows. "We've got a real kook on our hands." We had to choose a color as a class and we were going to live that color for the entire class. And then we would observe the results. Blue was a popular color. Everyone found it reasonable. “I’m so glad she said. One year they chose red and fights broke out.” Oh, ha ha. She was kidding, right?

The next Friday, we hustled in at 9:00 am freshly caffeinated and wielding all things blue.  We covered the room in blue paper, fabric, objects. We brought in things that felt blue: ice cubes, cold water. Things that tasted blue: original crest toothpaste, for example. We wore blue. Blue art. Blue everything. We listened to what might be blue sounds. Different shades of pure blue but never blue that had been contaminated with yellow (think teal) or red (edging to purpleness). For three hourse, we were plunged into an entirely blue environment. It was gentle rainy music and blue-blue-blue everywhere we looked. 

At noon, we emerged from the classroom blurry-eyed and exhausted. Stepping into the NYC sun I thought, “Well, its Friday. I’ll just go to my dorm.” I had planned to hang out with my classmate, K. “Yeah, I’m tired, too.” he agreed. We went back to my dorm and he slopped himself on to my bed. He looked up at my Edward Gorey poster and the wall around it. “Wow, the composition of that poster is perfect. see - that goes to that…” he examined the composition groggily. “You know. The walls of your room are light blue.....I really just need to close my eyes.”
He crashed into a dead nap. A drooly blue-inspired nap. I was too tired to care.

We found that just enough blue could soften all the hard edges in a day. 

Too much blue would slide you into an afternoon-consuming slumber.
We lost three or four hours that day - eaten up by the patient and quiet color blue. But we learned to never doubt Ms. P and we learned that we could harness the power of color to affect our environment. 

We were also really glad we hadn’t chosen red. 

Blue Blew

Dimensions: 6" x 6" x 1/8"
Surface: Panel
Framed & Ready to Hang
Free shipping to US. 
$9.95 International Shipping
Your artwork will be carefully packaged using bubble wrap and cardboard to protect the corners. I take great care in packaging the work so it will be safe and ready to delight. 

Thank you Amantha, I urge you to follow her links and her blog...she will make you giggle and smile, in all colors!
Cincerely Yours,