Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nature Gathered: Seasons

And here is my Seasons piece. It was hard to find a way to portray all four seasons in an interesting manner. I turned to my favorite subject and medium and found a way. Watercolor on Arches hot press paper.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Natured Gathered; Landscape Assignment

Just wanted to share my landscape for the Nature Gathered group. I used watercolor on clayboard to paint a sunset I saw recently in Chehalis, WA. This is the first time I've used clayboard and it has it's pros and cons. I had difficulty blending color on the clayboard. When using watercolor paper, I can blend and mix colors right on the paper or use glazes of color. I could not do this on the clayboard. On the other hand, it was easy to lift color off the clayboard to fix a mistake, something you cannot do generally on watercolor paper. Next time, I will try liquid acrylics on the clayboard to see if they are easier to work with on this surface.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Idaho Sunrise

I have come
to this town
to see the artist
who passes out daylillies
and calls them herself.
Reiko Nakagawa

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Artful Windows in Port Townsend

I saw the reflection behind the bunnies hanging in the window and could not resist snapping this photo.
This was taped to the window of a store.
A fairy tale sky to disappear into....
Art is the window to man's soul. Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within. Lady Bird Johnson

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Day at Sitka Center

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to get into a free class offered at the Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology in making cyanotype prints. I have worked with this process before, but always came out with pale blue prints. This time, the instructor introduced to the proper way to bath the print so that the end result is a deep indigo blue.

She also showed a method of treating the print with tea to make the print look like an old sepia photograph. While we were limited to printing local flora, one of the students brought an example of how this process can be adapted to print transparencies.

Sitka Center is located on beautiful Cascade Head just north of Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast. In the summer, they offer a variety of art classes taught by professors from local colleges and well-known fine artists. Imagine working in a studio nestled in the pine forest within view of the ocean. In the other seasons of the year, Sitka Center offers 3 months residencies to artists who want to work in the solitude of Sitka. The rent is free for the three months - the artists only have to agree to do an art-related community service and make a presentation of their art at an open house.

The residences the artists stay in

The view the artists have from their residence.

Sitka held an open house after the class and I stayed for the artists' presentations. The woman that taught my class, Sakaya Taniyokuchi, came from Japan for the residency and focused on cyantotypes and beautiful sculptures made of bark and pieces of trees in which she embedded broken, clear glass. The other artists included in the open house presentation included a local photographer who spend his residency photographing the remaining buildings in abandoned towns and other historical structures and then tells a story of how the place was named; a woman who plays several types of recorders (old-fashioned flutes) and entered playing a drum and the flute at the same time and another woman who came to Sitka to find her artistic voice and did so with drawings, cutting driftwood into small circle pieces and sewing the pieces together to form a "blanket" and making driftwood installations. It was an inspiring afternoon and I look forward to taking more classes here.


The grounds are full of art made by artists in residence

At the end of the open house, I decided to investigate a new beach nearby, Road's End. This was not a good day for the beach because when the Pacific Northwest has a rare sunny and warm spring day EVERYONE goes to the beach and it was very crowded. But this crow does not seem to mind.

And these kids seem to having the time of their life in this oh-so-cold water.....

And except for the stop-and-go traffic both going to and returning from the beach, this was a perfect day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Virginia's Eastern Shore

Chesapeake Bridge/Tunnel

On the one day I had time to snoop around in the Norfolk area, I decided to travel the 14 mile Chesapeake Bridge-Tunnel to the Eastern Shores of Virginia. I was not disappointed. You begin at the toll booth (a hefty $12 toll at that) and you are almost immediately out over the Atlantic Ocean as it enters the bay . It was amazing to be driving with water all around you. Just before you get to the first tunnel, there is a gift shop, restuarant and pier built off the bridge - there is nothing on either side but water. I had hoped to see seabirds, but the wind was blowing fairly hard and there were few birds in the air and only rock doves (read pigeons) on the rocks below.

There are two segments of tunnels, each a mile long and with one lane of traffic going in each direction. I am not good with small, dark enclosed spaces, but managed to make it through with a death grip on the steering wheel of my rental car. The bridge views more than made up for the tunnels. It is an engineering feat to be admired. The only other bridge I have been on like that would be the highway that runs through the keys to Key West in Florida and there are several islands that connect that bridge.
Immediately after coming off the bridge, I saw a sign for a wildlife refuge. That is a mandatory turn off the road for me. I drove to the headquarters building and met up with the volunteers that were working the counter. They showed me the bird viewing window that is mirrored so you can see the birds but they can't see you....a bird nerd's paradise. I watched for a long time and added a new bird to my birdwatcher's list - a glossy ibis - brown head and neck and black body with a long curved beak and when the sun shone on him, his feathers all irridesced ergo the "glossy" name. He was in the company of Canadian Geese and a kildeer. The ibis is the speck at the left of the photo below:

Pond through viewing window

I told the couple that what I really wanted to see was a cardinal. For three years I have come to Virginia and never once seen the state bird. We don't have them here in the West, but I can remember them as a child growing up in the Midwest, all clustered around the feeder and miss their cheery red feathers. I was told that if I hiked down the nearby butterfly trail I might see one and about a mile down the trail, there he was - high in the tree, but I was able to take a photo just before he flew away. Yeah!!! On my way back to the parking lot, I came across the oriole who jumped from branch to branch showing off his beautiful colors and I obliged him by photographing his choreography.

Cardinal in the treetop

Oriole dancing in the tree
After I left the refuge I drove up the road to Port Charles, a delightful little town on the Bay full of Victorian houses and a couple of Sears and Robuck houses - the kind you ordered and then built yourself. The town is well preserved and I wish I had had more time to ramble around and photograph the houses. The streets are named after fruit and I passed a sign for "Nectarine" street and the name captured my heart. I could see myself in an old house living on Nectarine Street waking up to the sounds of the sea and making art all day long. But I had to get back to set up for Vendor night and so I said goodbye and made my way back down the highway.

Just before I reached the bridge again, I pulled off to investigate a yard full of tables filled with interesting junk. The two women who ran the shop were amused that I would want to take photos of junk. They said a woman had stopped by last year and photographed an old freezer door that had been sitting against their home "forever". The woman sent them copies of the photographs she took and they were still amused that someone would take the time to photograph the freezer door....but I got that completely.

Old Sign

All too soon I had to head back to set up for Vendor night, but this was an adventure that was worth taking. I hope to come back someday and make it up to Chincoteague Island to see the ponies I read about as a child in "Misty of Chincoteague", a 1947 book by American author Marguerite Henry.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Revisiting Virginia

I am just back from Art and Soul in Hampton, Virginia where I was blessed with the best students I could ask for in all three classes I taught. And as always, my students inspire me with the art they create - no matter what is being taught, the students art is their own, built on the skills I teach them, while retaining their own personal flair. I know that some artists worry that their art will be copied, but I have never seen a piece of art that turned out to look exactly like mine. That is the beauty of art - no two pieces ever really look the same. Art evolves - new ideas are built on the foundations of learned skills. I love the synergy between student and teacher in class as learning and skill merge to create new art. Each bird that was created from papier mache had its own shape and personality, including a "camel backed" bird that was a one of a kind species. These are some of the awesome student work from my evening needle-felting class:

Vendor night was a whirlwind of color and materials that made promises of a masterpiece to be and the fabulous art vended by the instructors made the pocketbooks empty, but still filled with the joy of finding that perfect treasure.

And I was lucky enough to find a spot in Stephanie Lee's class, Selective Seeing: Painting the Mind's Eye View. A great instructor and fabulous class, made even better by Sarah Garrity's kindness in bringing us a variety of old cupboard doors gleaned from local antique and salvage dealer's that were perfect to mount our paintings on.

Life moves a little slower here. The storms are full of bluff and thunder, but the rain washes the skies to a cornflower blue filled with big puffy cotton ball clouds. The weather was warm all but one day and the wind brought the scent of the nearby ocean to curl through the air and beckon me to visit. There is a small wooded patch of lush green trees behind the hotel that I wander, filled with the songs of robins, sparrows and finches, all drawn together by the melodious call of the mockingbird, who sings the songs of other birds and takes them as its own. And as I looked up, I saw a grumpy owl who was clearly bothered by my presence under his tree. He flew into the trees, looking much like a flying boxcar with his chunky body and huge wingspan. Just as it is here, there were the always present seagulls and crows, looking for a careless human to drop a bit of food for them to scavenge.

I rented a car to explore the surrounding area and will save those adventures for my next post! While it is good to be home, I left a bit of my heart in Virginia.