Monday, June 27, 2011

A Gift from the Heart

Awhile back I posted about breaking the beautiful mug I'd brought back from Australia and how it broke my heart to lose it. Imagine my surprise, when a box arrived for me on Friday, containing a duplicate mug from my friend Lucy in Oz. She had remembered my post and shopped until she found the mug and sent it on to me. I had tears in my eyes when I opened that box. Your gift touched the deepest reaches of my heart, Lucy. Thank you so much!!

We always think that we need so much to be happy, and talk about how winning the lottery or a jackpot or two so that we may live the good life. But I say you are rich enough indeed when you blessed with friends who care about you and keep you in their hearts. In that respect, I am blessed many times over and I thank you all for being a part of my life!

New Encaustic Pieces

I've been playing with Daniel Smith's new Watercolor Grounds. It's much like a gesso that you can paint on any surface, but unlike gesso, it allows you to play with watercolor on almost any surface, acting as a sort of "paint-on" watercolor paper. You can use it to paint over a spot in your watercolor where you've made a mistake and try again (although I could tell where the original paper was and where the ground was). But even better, you can paint it on ANY surface (read metal, stone, wood, canvas, etc...) and then complete a watercolor over the top.

I've been using Golden's Absorbant Grounds with some success to complete watercolor on board so that it can be used under wax, but it never quite looked like a watercolor and I had to plump up the color with watersoluble crayons. But this LOOKS like watercolor when done. The above is just a simple demo piece of a summer tanager that I did not spend a lot of time on because I wanted to play with it in my encaustic class I taught last week.

And sure enough, the wax went right over the top of the painting without any problem. Oh boy, gotta think of the possibilities here!!...

The second piece is a small 4" by 4" encaustic over birch plywood using oil sticks and collage. Just a bit of fun to see what I could do with the oil sticks...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Day for the Birds

I spent the day Saturday wandering in the area of Vancouver Lake, enjoying the beautiful sunny weather and watching the river, still at flood stage from all the snow melt. Where beaches once stood, there is about three feet of water and trees stand in several feet of water. But most of all, I was looking for birds. Any birds really, but the one I wanted to see most was the little Lazuli Bunting. I've been looking for this elusive bird for two years, hoping to get close enough for a photograph or two, but never any luck. And this day was no exception, at first. I found robins, goldfinches, osprey, crows, sparrows and others too far away to photograph, but as it grew late I gave up and turned towards home.

Then I heard the familiar sound of a text message and thinking it was my son asking me to bring something home from the grocery, I pulled off the road to read the message. And when I finished, I looked up and there on the fence, not 8 feet away was a Lazuli....and my camera was on the seat and at the ready. I manage three shots before he flew away. I didn't believe it until I got home and downloaded the photos. Isn't he beautiful? The color is almost turquoise in the sun. And here's a few more shots I took...


Blue Heron



Canadian Geese and gosslings

The vegetation was beautiful, just newly grown due to our late spring. See the small spider web on the grass?

And of course, the cottonwood down, that plays such havoc with my sinuses but looks so beautiful.

Look at the beautiful pattern the reeds and grasses make in the still water standing at the roadside.

Beautiful Mt. Hood - sleeping volcano...

And two shots of Mt. St. Helens that blew her top off 30 years ago and turned the sky as dark as midnight at noon in the east half of the state.

And I had to throw in this photo of a house along the trail I was walking. This kitten, undettered by her mother hiding on the porch railing trying to get a bit of peace and quiet, desided to climb the post to get lunch. The cat to the right was hissing at her for invading his space. Just another Sunday family day...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finally, A Little Art in my Life Again

My life has changed so much since the recession began in 2008. I have a different job that requires a lot more energy for a lot less the time I get home most days, I have no energy left for art. I share my house with two young people, struggling even more with making it in this economy...but have lost my dedicated space to create art. We're all adjusting to a new world, one much different than what we dreamed for our future. I've learned to be grateful for what I do have and have learned that the key to survival when your world falls apart is learning to be resilient. And to reach out to those who are also struggling to regain their helps me to remember that this recession has been much harder on others and that my blessings outnumber my setbacks.

And I am grateful for the opportunities that present themselves so serindipitously, such as being give the chance to attend an art workshop taught by the talented Rogene Manas.

A talented collage artist, Rogene has created a process melding paper clay with tissue collage on board or canvas that has the appearence of carved wood when completed. For the class, I used a design I created and donated to the Audubon Wild Arts Show 6X6 project a couple years ago and added design features to fill the 9X9 inch board I used for the class. Once I had the design elements, I cut them out of paper clay and applied them to the board.

After the clay dried, the board was painted black before applying tissue to the background and painting over the raised paper clay areas. I used a linoleum cutter to carve away paper clay that did not look right after I painted which left clean areas on the clay that needed little sanding. The end results are at the top of this posting, although I am still tweeking the paint job a bit. This process really appealed to the 3-D artist in me!

Rogene was a super instructor and shared her techniques freely. I took the class with fellow PAC members Suzanne, Tammy, Fran and Debi and while we were in class, we talked about our art group, the Portland Art Collective and how we loved to swap materials to use in our art. On our second day of class, Rogene brought us a present in the form of a box of silk remnants from a frame store that we eagerly dug into to increase our ever growing stash of future art projects!! Including quite a few pieces of off-white silk suitable for mind is already spinning....! Thanks, Rogene!!

This is Rogene putting the finishing touches on one of her own pieces during the class. This was an inspirational class and I can hardly wait to incorporate her techniques in my encaustic projects.

The piece appearing above and below, I sketched on one of the art papers you find inside Somerset Studio. They make great backgrounds for sketching. I then scanned the sketch and turned the black and white sketch to sepia. I had planned to use this design for the class but did not get a chance to start a second piece...but look for it in the future!

And lastly, I promised in an earlier post to share with you the finished book I made with the secret Belgian binding while on my retreat with my art group last month. One of our members, the talented Lorraine, took the time to show a group of us how to create the book. I prepped my covers with Daniel Smith's watercolor grounds and created my own design for front and back, mimicing the paper used on the inside covers (wrapping paper from India) and using a poem I wrote for my winter challenge. I wasn't aware when I created the cover that the binding thread would reach so far across the edge, or I would have adjusted my design to accomodate it.

The cover is made in three pieces, front, back and spine - each is covered before binding. The cover is sewn together and then the individual signatures are sewn into the spine and the structure is held together with the tension of the waxed linen thread. The structure is sturdy and allows the book to stand open for easier use in sketching. I cover the thread endings on the inside cover with pieces of ultrasuede that I embroidered, again incorporating the colors of the inside cover papers. I can see creating many more of these books for future sketching!

But now I am going to be taking a little break from creating, as I get ready to return to .....drum roll please....Australia!! Yes, I am going back for a visit in late September to mid October and will teach a couple of classes while I am there! I am so excited to return to a country that totally captured my heart when I was last there in March 2010! I'll have more info for you soon, so stay tuned!!