Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Deep Woods Painting

I was just looking through some old photos of paintings and found this one. It sold I think about three years ago at the Market Street Art Fair. Everyone loved it and were drawn in by the bright deep colors. If you look closely, there are gold leaf textures seemingly floating on the bottom third of the tree's branches, which form the focal point.

Now and then I think to do a series of similar deep woods paintings, but when I sit down, my hands and brushes do something else. I think I'll add it to my list.

An Artist's Desk - Poetry

Hello, Wonderful People,
You know, it seems that my desk does not often enough have PAINTING TOOLS on it, but alas, that is life for us all, methinks.

Over the years I have written a lot of poetry.  For the most part, I have cherished it myself, and shared it with only the very few whom it would most closely affect.  Recently, someone I've never met found a poem on my blog and asked if she could use it at her sister's memorial service.  It made me realize that I'm being selfish not to put these poems of life out there.  Wherever 'there' is, I'm not sure as yet.

So, my desk is covered with poetry that I'm gathering from the spider-webby portions of our computer and various other dusty places.
I've illustrated others' books - maybe it's time I do my own.  Maybe I'll put these together and illustrate them.  Hmmm....

My poetry is very meaningful and poignant, moving.  The poem shown on top of the stack is one I wrote after returning from Cuba.  Two completely separate worlds.  At the left you see a little sketch and some jotted notes - this is usually how a new painting idea comes about.

There's a paint roller by my (Paris map purchased in Paris) coffee cup - always a favorite with my students.  My art 1 students and I will be doing messy outdoor painting today - YAY!  One of my favorite things is to get messy with kids.  So much fun!  We will be painting with latex and acrylics, painting with credit cards, dripping, throwing... ahh, yes.  Springtime.

Up in the far left corner you see another stack of papers - highschool graduation requirements.  As homeschoolers we are plotting Noah's high school path.  For homeschoolers, that means planning NOW, in March, for the following school year, 2015/2016.  As a teacher, I am already taking registrations for that year as well.  Here we go again!  Another adventure!

Monday, March 30, 2015

High Wire with No Safety Net

A quote we all surely appreciate- "Plenty of alternatives exist to being an artist: an anarchist, a one-man band, a high-wire act with no safety net."  - Matthew Daub. Anybody I know agree with this? :)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Another Painting Sold - Chrysanthemum Mono-Print

Here is a lovely painting that just sold today.  I'm going to walk you through the steps I took to create it. You can click on the pic to enlarge it.

This is a Chrysanthemum Mono-Print.  It means exactly what you think.  One Print.  I couldn't in my wildest dreams create another painting like this.  It's always an adventure working in this medium, and I never quite know what I'm going to get!

My love affair with wood began six years ago when our youngest son was ten.  He wanted to take woodcarving.

My thoughts were that I could either drop him off and go waste time somewhere, or take the class with him, which I REALLY wanted to do.  Picture in your mind eight or nine little ten year old boys, and at the end of the table - ME!  Yep. :)  It was great.  I think I had the most fun, too.

It wasn't long before I realized I could carve wood blocks.  I  began ordering the blocks and dove right in. For this painting, I carved a chrysanthemum into about a nine inch square block.  We don't even want to TALK about how long it took to carve!  It's tiring work for the hands, but really rewarding and enjoyable work, and one of the few types of art I can work on while with others.

This painting was done on YUPO, which is a totally non-permeable 'paper.'  What this means is that the inks and paints I laid down had a chance to mix and do cool things before they dried.  It's basically like painting on glass - very difficult and unpredictable. This one has about three layers of color, iridescents and golds laid down for the background.  The process is messy and fun, very right-brained.  However, the technique is so iffy that this painting represents quite a number that didn't turn out.  I generally have six or seven layers and something can happen during each layer. Sometimes I have a simply gorgeous 'happening,' and the last layer ruins it.  We don't want to talk about THAT.  It's just the nature of this beast, and makes it that much more rewarding when one turns out so prettily.

Once the background was finished, I painted the woodblock and laid it on the surface.  Twice.  After several more days it was dry enough to work the top layers, giving it added texture and depth.  I adore working with warm and cool colors in this way because the cool colors recede and it looks as if the golds and warm colors are literally floating above them.  It really exudes a warm and peaceful feeling.

Just a little Graffiti

No, I'm not going into the graffiti business. I just want everyone to know my name is Cindy.

Honestly, though, graffiti has exploded into the art world in a big way, just look at the work of Banksey or Shepard Fairey.

Below is one of Shepard Fairey's images, known all over the world.  Not only is he a graffiti artist, but has broken into all levels of the art world, creating a brisk business venture, and
even a line of clothing!

Basically, as an art teacher, I wanted my older students to at least know the origins of graffiti, whilst at the same time striking a balance of encouraging them to NOT produce it.  My kids and I actually do COLLECT it, however!  We consider it a pretty fun cleanup job.  :)

The art began on the humble 'Hello My Name Is' sticker, as you see on my desk.  I passed these out to my students while I talked so they could make a couple of their own for NOTEBOOK use!

After a short period, street artists found that these stickers needed improvement, and found their answer - at the Post Office!  Those stickers were weatherproof - you know, through wind and sun and hail....  Well, as it happened, used as graffiti stickers they proved their worth.  Long lasting and difficult to peel off.
During this period, artists were already graduating from words and their own names to pictures and more complex ideas, and quickly moved into private in-house sticker manufacturers. We've come a long way, baby.

As for me, I'll stay on the legal side and just continue COLLECTING them.  If you scroll down all the way to the bottom of my blog, you will find pictures of us traveling around Europe collecting stickers. :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Much Younger Artist

Well, we are having SERIOUS computer problems in this house!  Our 28 year old son looks at me as he clucks and shakes his head.

You may not hear from me for a while, or at least see any pictures of what's going on in this artist's life.  I was trying to load 'The continuing saga of the artist's desk,' but none of the pictures will show themselves on our computer. 

In frustration, I choose a random photo, and this is what we get - me when I was in my 30s, and our little cutie girl.  Loved that hat.  And now that we're talking about it, I wish my hair still looked like that, too.  Wow.  Endless hair!  Ah, well.

Since this is a blog about art, we ARE sitting on my piano; it's been well used and well loved.  Music is art.

And, one of the highest art forms in this world, mother-loving your kids into beautiful people.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Painting Outside

 Our back step needed paint, and today was the day.  I have a lot of small cans of house paint that were given to me, and they're namely cool colors - greens and blues.

I can do greens and blues.

Since this is our BACK porch, we're personalizing it.  Who needs an ordinary one-color step?  Boring!  I took it through a number of colors, and now we're giving it some nice footprints.

I laid mine down in green with my Sketchers that have the soles with a cool design.

Melody was next - barefoot, of course!

We decided to do our cat Calypso's prints too - she wasn't just thrilled.  As for ourselves, we dipped her in the little brown tub and Melody set her on the step.  Furry marks.  You can't even see toe prints because she's got so much fur.

As you can see, you CAN'T find any kitty prints.  We had to get the paint off her quickly so we threw her in the pool.  I know, not nice, but we do this now and again with our cats.  If they fall in, we want them to be able to get out by themselves.  At least once a year, we toss cats into the pool, guide them toward the steps, and try not to chuckle.  Okay, not true.  We laugh out loud.

Then we get a blanket, and cuddle and dry them.  Super fluffy, slightly damp, mildly offended and pool smart cats emerge.
Anyway, we were too busy to get photos of her prints!

The Continuing Saga of the Artist's Desk

Okay, here we're looking at a heavy duty staple gun, staples, and archival tape.  There are so many things involved in being an artist, and many of them do not have to do with creativity, they're just plain, hard work.

Framing.  One of my least favorite jobs.  Right down there with dusting and cleaning toilets.  Oh, wait - I'd rather dust and clean toilets.  But the job's done now.  My hands are sore and I think they'd like a little ice water soak.   But, I've got FIVE paintings framed! They'll be heading to the frame shop for wires manana.

There are a couple things coming up - namely our Gallery change out, and the Woodlands Art League Judged Show.  I've entered five paintings in that show and may put in two more.  Going for ribbons.

Back to the desk, let's see, there's a new Liquatex medium I can't wait to use - you add this to paint and it gives an iridescent touch.  Sounds like fun!

You see a stack of photos, my awesome fam on the top, and a couple others that I'll use as reference material for something, someday.

You'll also see a hammer and some other tools - this afternoon was outside painting day with house paint.  My next post will tell you what we're up to out there!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


If you looked at the previous post, you would see sitting on my desk this picture.  I thought I'd give you a close up of it.
This is my boy!  We were doing what you do when you go to Walmart - trying on hats! 

My first step was to lay down the ink.  When I draw people, I generally skip the pencil step and just jump on in with the non-erasable stuff.

Once I had the design laid out I went to the watercolors.  My style, as you can see, is not a color within the lines type of style.  If so, I would take photographs and not paint.

The most time-consuming portion of this painting was definitely laying down the drawing.  It took me only a few minutes to lay in all the paint, wet and wild.  Then came the wait time - had to let it dry overnight.  Once I was at that point, I took in a fine brush for just a few details.  I think I'll call this one 'Noah.'

Friday, March 20, 2015

Continuing Sage of the Artist's Desk

Here we are again, sitting at my desk.  I've just finished some big paintings, actually about five.  Plus a couple of duds that we don't want to talk about.Yesterday I purchased four more frames and have quite a lot of framing under glass to do, one of my most difficult jobs.

In the meantime, it's finally time to play.  I sat down yesterday afternoon and decided to do some fast watercolors.  I guess one of my favorite mediums is pen and, let's say, watery paint.  In this case, it's watercolors.  Each of these began in a similar way.

Inspiration.  Need inspiration.

When I need inspiration, I often go to my picture files.  In the case of the clarinet, I have a commission to paint a tuba for someone, and it spurred me to the idea of doing an entire series of musical instruments.  Hence I've been collecting pictures of same.
This is my first musical instrument anything, and it took me I guess a couple hours.  Steps - pencil - adjust - pen - watercolor - hot pink paint pen.  At that point, I needed some more darks, so laid down a lot of blues and greens in the negative space behind the clarinet.

After that I looked at a pile of photos of family and travels.  Found this fun pic of Noah trying on a hat in Walmart.  He looked so ornery and cute that this was an easy one to choose.

This one came out fast.  I began with pen and went straight to color.  I concentrated the detail on his facial features - those that you can see - because I wanted you to look at the eye first, then face, then around the shoulder and arm, then back 'round again.

You can see my little tiny field sketch watercolor box up at the top.  I prepared a lot of watery color, wet the paper thoroughly on both sides, and laid the paint down in literally a minute or less allowing it to bleed all over.  I've never been a 'paint inside the lines' kind of girl.  Boring.  Once I had all the watery paint laid down, I took Saran Wrap and laid it on top, wrinkling it up to give that effect on the paper.  Set a few books on it and let it dry all night.

What else?  A couple photos in waiting for some more fast fun...  Oh!  the striped purse full of markers - yep.  I buy things just because I like the colors and patterns.  Snagged that one at Target.  Toilet paper... who doesn't have a roll on their desk at all times? :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Second to Final Bike

This was the painting when I had finally finished up laying down the details and building the backgrounds up.  Unifying it was very time consuming this time.

You can see in the background the photos of me on my bike.  This is normal working procedure for me.

NOW, it's time for the fun stuff!

These posts were a little backwards, look at the next post and you will see my final.

Final on Bike

 Just finished this one  *whew! *  It's a crazy, hot ride, and quite big; I think it's 24x36.

If you look closely, you can see that all the cool colors were laid down first.  Well, actually FIRST I had Noah take about 23 pictures of me on my bike!

The selection process went on for some time.  Once I narrowed it down, there were a number of sketches on paper to decide exactly which part I wanted to focus upon.

Once I'd chosen the pictures I wanted to work from, I laid down the blues, greens and turquoises.  My goal was to paint in the negative space, AROUND the subject, leaving it wild and colorful.

Allowing the first layers to dry, I took charcoal and drew in the bike and my leg.  The charcoal drawing took me several days as it was exacting.

 I think I worked on it for a week or two to get exactly the negative space I wanted painted in, bringing the subject forward and having the background recede.  As you can see, there are parts of the background darker than others, to make the painting more interesting.

At this point, adding shadows took several days as well, and unifying and finessing the entire painting.  I probably spent a week on it.

At the end, I added layers of oranges, reds and hot pinks in focused drips to give movement to the painting. Believe it or not, it's pretty difficult to make the drips look as though it was easy laying them down!  As these are all warm colors, they seem to float on top of the blues which adds to the depth.

Here I have close ups of several portions of the painting.  I like it!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

An Artist Desk, Continued

Here we are again looking at my desk.

I guess the most obvious is the bright pink sketchpad.  Last week I taught my two youngest groups of classes about Japanese gyotaku.  Gyotaku is an art form that developed from fishermen that wanted bragging rights!

The Japanese fishermen would take out ink and newsprint, or simply newspaper.  When they caught fish they liked, they would ink them, lay them on the newsprint, and voila! Fish prints!

The other way of doing it was simply to lay the fish on a newspaper.  The cheap, watersoluble ink would stick to the fish, and a negative space print would be made.  Fishermen would hang these on their walls to show what big fish they caught.  Today, gyotaku has become an art form.

Because I didn't want to use real fish for my sometimes squeamish students, I purchased a very nice bluegill, meant specifically for this project.  They came in many choices, but bluegills always make me happy.  After classes, I had two fish prints left, and decided to stick them into my brand new sketchpad.  One is on the inside cover (I have a deck of art cards weighing it down).  The black one you see I had done on tracing paper.  Because I enjoy layers, I wrote on the paper, then adhered the fish on top, adding paint as I progressed.

There's a little sketchpad on the right with monkeys in it.  A friend of mine is making a baby blanket and these monkeys are the main pattern.  You can see little strips of scattered material that will enhance it.  It'll be adorable.

Two new on-sale stencils on the far left.  Use these with my classes and big spray-paint-in-the-driveway events.

Top left, a picture for my picture file.  Like most artists, I have LOTS of reference material.  When I saw her I got a nice idea for painting a girl with flowers in her hair.

I've got a tiny box of Conte crayons at top; thinking about this for classes next year.  Around this time of year I start experimenting for next school year.  I've got kids that come back to me year after year, and they know I change everything so they can do so.  Art!  Such a deep and wonderful thing to go into!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

An Artist's Desk

After sitting down at my desk, I decided you might like to see what's happening in my studio.  Here's a typical day for my desk.

First you see four little cards upon which I've drawn with pens.  I've been painting backgrounds on large sheets, cutting them up, and sticking them in my purse.  When I have a moment in a waiting room or who knows where else, I'll whip out a little card and begin to draw.  I like having the backgrounds done first; makes it much more interesting.

You can see the top little card is birds on a wire; I just finished three birds on a wire paintings, and this is a continuation.  Haven't finished this little card yet, I wanted my classes to see the background first.

The second card is the front of the Portofino Plaza.  I was sitting in the car waiting for Noah to finish his dancing.  And then birds, and more birds.  I like both the bottom ones and will likely make big paintings out of them.  These little cards are a safe way to explore ideas, and they often lead to bigger paintings.

What else? The little brown sketchpad.  Always.  One in my purse.  Always.  Gotta keep my chops up.

The little container with the lumps in it is brush cleaner.  Almost gone.  Invaluable stuff.

You'll see a brush on the right with tape around the non-working end - that's charcoal.  I tape charcoal to a brush to lengthen my arm, and to keep my hands clean.  When I had to get the curve of the wheel correct, I needed to lengthen my arm so I could turn my body into a fulcrum.  I positioned (maybe) my elbow off-canvas and used my arm like a big compass.

The tape measure?  That goes with the painting below.  I'm working on a series of bicycles now, as I LOVE riding.  Put in 13 miles yesterday since the rain finally stopped.  I think I was using the tape measure to get the spokes straight.  This painting involved a LOT of proportions and measuring.  Whew!

Oh - I'm looking back at the desk again and see photographs of bikes.  This involves my working method.

Step 1 - Had Noah photograph me on my bike outside in the driveway.  He took about 30 pics before we realized there was a problem.  At least one foot was on the ground.  No action.

Finally we got the idea for me to lean against the house with my hand, and have Noah practically lay down on the cement, and the pictures immediately got better.  I worked from the best three.  You can see that I tape photos up on my bookshelf - that's very typical.

You'll see more of this painting later as it progresses toward finish-dom.  It's time to add the movement.