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, January 19, 2018

Painting with Artistic License

It took me years to realize that permission
to change things was granted when
I picked up my "artistic license."

I love to look back on my own process and see where certain decisions got made about the direction of a work.  Somethings can be changed as the closing marks are laid down but some decisions get made right up front.

photo of a parkway overlook, cropped by folding

I liked the shadows in this photo made by the light coming through the trees.  But I made some executive decisions when I laid out the piece in a black/white/grey underpainting.

Already you can tell that I wanted more sky and background and that the brightest lights would be in the sky, the edge of the largest tree and then to the road.  I liked this layout and really thought it worked fine as executed.  The bits of orange I was trying to leave were from a painting underneath.  As I choose my final color palate however I decided not to leave them.  (Perhaps I should have stopped right here?)

I did ok  keeping my middle tones together and laying out where I thought I wanted the lightest lights to go.  

Then I lost all organization and decided to abandon the piece for a bit.   I had lost most of the original lights and the darks were mostly a blackish brown which was not very interesting.  I began to lose interest when I realized I had not kept the light areas connected as they originally were.

NOT looking at a piece for a while can be as helpful as taking the time to look closely.  I would occasionally set it back up on the easel and play around a bit never really being totally satisfied.  Keep in mind that the reason it has blue tape around it is because I was painting it in the frame.  Yes! Not something I suggest you try at home but I was experimenting on top of an old piece that I could not remove from the frame so what the heck...the fact alone made me willing to take some chances.

finished?  for now.

So I'm done.  I think.  It changed a lot and I still believe the foreground could use some simplification.  But nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I used my "license" not only for permission to change the reference photo but for using up the surface of another painting.  I don't think I made a silk purse out of a sow's ear but I do want to use this reference again in a different palate - I believe my rehearsal was well worth the time.  I may even take a white marker and redesign bits of it just for future use.  And, while you cannot see it here, painting on top of another piece made for a very interesting texture.  Onward....

Using My License to Practice (art),

Friday, January 12, 2018

Olive Me Paints...Olives?

Sometimes I give myself an "assignment" 
as a challenge or a push in my painting journey.
Herewith, for several reasons, I set out
to see how many different ways I could paint

I've painted 100s of pears, a few dozen apples and several sunflowers in an effort to learn by repetitive rendering.  Most were serious depictions, some more bizarre than others but all as an intention to study the subject and find new ways of presenting it.  So when I had reason to paint lots and lots of olives I decided to leave "serious" behind and go for "different."

Each would be on 4" x 4" cradled hardboard panels I got from Cheap Joe's.  Each would be a green olive with a red pimento in it.  Therein the rules ceased.  

Let the fun begin:

gold gesso set the stage for a dramatic olive,
I think the "pimento" looks like a red hole instead of a pepper piece?
oh well...onward

can you guess where this olive is residing?
trust me, without live "models" these little buggers were hard to depict

this collage piece was fun but oh so tiny for my challenged tearing-
fingers, the further back you are the more olive-y it looks

this was my feeble attempt at a wire sculpture olive...
I enjoy "mixed media" but
you have to use your imagination to know what it is

Now this was truly experimental, the olive is painted 
with a coat of oxidizing copper paint which dries and then
is reapplied, while wet it is then sprayed with green patina aging solution
which causes it to rust into this green on copper patina.
Both of these products are made by Modern Masters.

this is started with a bunch of random designs done in acrylic,
then with a background color a design is selected and the "negative" parts painted
out to reveal the olive

couldn't leave out fabric, could I?  a little boro, a little embroidery,
a touch of quilting and olive it works together

and now a clay olive....polymer clay, which is sculpted and baked in
the oven, this is my fav pimento: red cloth stuffed and glued into the 
pitted hole

admitting that I was running out of ideas on where
to place these olives I decided they could resemble
balloons at a party...

One last 4 x 4 ideas surfaced.  I think I will stick a fork in
olive this and call it done!

So what did I learn?  (1) that I really do not enjoy painting this small...I need space, I need more real estate, I am a 9 x 12 and beyond (preferably beyond) kinda gal;  (2) I do like the exercise of thinking of multiple ways to render something, perhaps I should make more effort to do this as sketching prep before a LARGER format of something; and finally, (3) I like drama, the contrast of bright colors and the play between dark darks and light lights.  

So what did I do with so many similar paintings?  Olive them went with my love to new homes.  I'll let you wonder about just who might want such a piece.

Olive Me thanks Olive You (for reading),

Friday, January 5, 2018

O Glory! Shibori!

My journey through the art underground surely
must come to a close...or not?!
I have enjoyed a break from the easel...almost enough
that I lust to return...I'm almost there.
Bear with's gonna be a 
Happy New Year!

Shibori  has been around since the 8th century and predates the more familiar "tie-dye" by centuries.  As with most ancient art techniques, this Japanese art of indigo dyeing has morphed and changed over the years. While the traditional use of pulled threads to provide a resist pattern has given way, in some cases, to rubber bands and clothes pins, the results are still lovely and hypnotic.  It is almost addictive: fold, clamp, dye and await in wonder the design that emerges.

Of course I had to try, did you ever doubt it? and not just once but enough times to wonder what the heck I will do with all this gorgeous printed cloth I have made.  But that's a puzzle for another day...

The easiest way to experience the joy of shibori is to go to the Dharma Trading Company website and invest @ $9 in the kit above.  It will provide all you need to get started.  They even have some instructions on site.  If you are a Pinterest fan or love search engines you will also come across myriad ways to approach the fun.

The basic plan is to fold, tie and clamp your white fabric in such a way that the indigo dye reaches some portions of the fabric while avoiding others.  The way you fold will cause the pattern to repeat itself often in differing depths of color.  I would say it is more art than science except that there is a lot of chance involved depending on your fabric choice, the amount of fabric in any one fold and your ability to dye it over and over again before succumbing to the desire of the "reveal."

 These are piles of dampened white cloth folded and awaiting the "vat."  My buddy Barbara chooses the traditional method of threads to gather designs while I hit the rubber bands and clamps.

Indigo is a fascinating dye as it reacts differently than others.  The mixing is specific and it sits and "blooms", then when ready, pieces are submerged, agitated and removed sporting a florescent green color.

As the fabric sits the dye will oxidize to the deep blue color.  Both stages can be seen on the left.  Now note the folded piece on the right.  I have added resists via the popsicle sticks, a couple rubber bands and some clothes pins on the bottom.  It leaves the pot greenish in color.

When it is fully oxidized (flipping it over is important) as in photo on L, I rinse it in clear water and then remove the resists.  What I get is the design on the right. Note the parts that have not hit the air yet.

 Resting while the air works its magic, the entire piece emerges a deep indigo and white with a cool design that is repeated around the folds.  As I got better in relating the folds to the amount of fabrics I realized that too tight a bundle allowed very little dye to get inside and make a design.

But really, there were no "bad" pieces.  The reveal is such a thrill...we oohed and ahhed with each unfolding.

For this "event" Barbara had suggested we work with bandanas (24 x 24) which we easily ordered from Dharma as well.  Who doesn't need a do-rag for a gift?  But as we worked we realized these could be cut apart and used for patches, a quilt or sewn with backings to make bags.  Barbara even gave me the idea of making a tablecloth and napkins out of the results.

It was hard to stop experimenting!  And of course, now that we had experienced the traditional indigo dye we had to play around with...RED!

procion dye, warm red
more bandanas
Did we have fun?  

So the take away for me is that (1) I loved the element of working together, Barbara and I giggled and traded lots of good ideas.  This is not always the way a painting works but it is an excellent outlet for stimulating ideas.  Also, (2) I loved the fact that I could not always predict or control the outcome - can I carry this joy of random results into my painting?  Can I let go and be happy with surprises?  And finally, (3) I loved the high contrast.  The sharp color against the stark white....the definitive lines coupled with the more blurry ones... the repeat pattern against the loss of pattern...

Not bad for a day of fun and creative fellowship.  Order a box, find a friend and dye!!

Dyeing for Color,

Friday, December 29, 2017

Collaborative Creations: SisterWork

"I can do things you cannot,
you can do things I cannot; together
we can do great things."
Mother Teresa

I am pretty certain that Mother Teresa was not referring to art when she made this statement, but the sentiment applies.  When two creative spirits merge amazing things can happen...especially when we freely recognize our own limitations and honor the abilities of another.  Such was the case when my sister, a potter, mentioned her need for some line images to me, an artist.  She was headed to a "transfer workshop" at the John C. Campbell Folk School and was not content (thank goodness) to work with publicly available "clip art."

 My sister Amy (who possesses a range of talents) remembered this drawing I did many years ago for which she wrote a poem.  In her mind she saw the drawing upon a vase.  Could we go there?


But the in-between story is one of experiments on both our parts...

I got busy doing some black and white line drawings of a variety of objects.

Some she requested, others I just wanted to do.

She took a pile of these along with a beautiful bounty of cups, bowls and vases she had prepared especially for this workshop.  They were in several stages of completion depending on the technique they would use to move these designs onto them.

Her "homework" waiting to be packed for class

Julie Hearne of Turning Point Pottery in Brasstown, NC planned to teach 4 transfer methods in the 2.5 day workshop but I am only going to share one (and that even briefly) here.  The "water slide decal" method involved a computer, photoshop, a printer with "magnetic ink character recognition" toner, transparencies and a bucket of distilled water.  The general idea is to size the image and print it onto the water slide decal transparency (available from Beldecal for $1.00 per page).  There is iron oxide in the ink toner.  Then you soak the transparency in the distilled water and slide it into place on the pottery.  Fire to cone 04 and.....

if the glaze plays well with the iron oxide....
if you understand photoshop and how to size and how to sharpen and how to whiten whites...
if your initial glaze does not darken too much hiding the image...
if you don't mind black lines in some cases and sepia colored ones on others.....
well then,
You will have a beautiful pot with an image permanently embedded.

(The secret to this alchemy is no secret: practice, test, repeat!  But we are full-out, balls to the walls kind of creators and the joy was in forging ahead and taking notes later...if we remembered them!)

Amy made a page of transparencies from a colored drawing I did

I wasn't at the workshop but Amy took enough notes and photos for us to hopefully re-enact the process down the road.  She became intrigued with the possibilities of using script and I can see all kinds of special drawings for use-specific pots.  I don't throw pots and she doesn't draw lines but oh my, imagine the trouble we can get into working together?!

More show and tell:

the image

the water glasses

the drawing made into water slide decals

the bowl interior (they wind around the sides also)

and some pasta bowls....

 I have never imagined my doodles or drawings being used as pottery decoration and now it is hard to get the thought out of my head.  I have painted pots before and become very frustrated as I could not see the true colors beneath the chalky finish of the glazes (admittedly I should have spent more time practicing, testing and repeating).  But this process is a single color effect....and now I want to know: can we layer them, can we combine with texture, can we make strips and chains of a long image to wrap around, can we....I love thinking "can WE..."

Even if you do not have a sister close enough to play with find a 'sister in creativity' and bite off a project, something that involves both of you adding a little something that the other one cannot.  It can be one of you cooking and the other doing the flowers for a dinner, maybe one of you writing the poem and the other one illustrating or typesetting it, one dyeing fabric the other making a bag from it.  The whole idea is to engage two brains...not competing but working together.  I guarantee you will see something emerge that you did not anticipate...the creativity gets dialed up several notches just by throwing ideas around (if you are cooking with brussel sprouts could I also use them as florals?)

I'm a huge fan of collaboration.  Go for it.  Let me know what comes of it.


p.s. My sis, AmyH does not have a website (yet) or I would direct you to it.  If you have any questions you need to run by her just send them to me and I will forward to soon as she completes her ocean sail through the Bahamas and Haiti she will reply.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas

We all have different definitions about
what makes the season jolly.
For me it is the special effort we make to spend time
with friends and family.
It is also the sensual pleasures of the season: 
the smells, the colors, the lights, the decor and of course, the food.
These are the only gifts I seek.

the neighborhood displays make me smile

I'm hoping our bird friends are warm and cozy

we love putting our Christmas tree up outside on the deck

even Mother Nature decorates

warm and toasty inside, warm hearts all year long

to you and yours a very
Merry Christmas

Thank you for reading my blog and supporting my art endeavors.  I look forward to sharing new adventures and color filled journeys in the year to come.  Peace,


Monday, December 18, 2017

New Day Reveal

I can think of at least a dozen reasons I FORGOT
to post the final photo of the
Community Painting done for the infusion room
at the Seby B. Jones Cancer Treatment Center...
but I will skip them and present instead:

"New Day"
acrylic, 36" x 24" on cradled board
a community collaboration

Thank you to those of you who asked.  This IS the final rendition, sealed, framed and delivered.  I think the colors, the thoughts and the touch of whimsy turned out even better than I imagined.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programing.  Enjoy this beautiful season of cheer.