Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Looking Through the Window: Layers of Time

I have finally finished this piece that has been on my drawing table for months now.  I started writing about it in a previous blog post last December 2013. The drawing is approximately 20x30" and worked on UArt 800 grit sanded paper. As I mentioned in the previous blog, I started the first layer of color with Caran d'Arche Supracolor and Derwent Intense watercolor pencils over which I added Faber-Castell Polychromos and Prismacolor colored pencils. The watercolor pencils allowed me to achieve an even tone of color, covering the ridges in the paper before I added layers of wax and oil based colored pencil.

I worked from a photograph I took in the medieval town Koszeg, Hungary. I was attracted to the patina like finish on the window frame including the rusty hinges. I was also intrigued by the layers of space showing through the window and the open window behind as well as the cracked window panes and colors and shadows of reflections in the glass. I expanded upon my photo by exaggerating the colors as well as tints and reflections in the glass panes. When I first saw this broken window in Koszeg, I knew immediately it would be a drawing. I titled this piece Layers of Time.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pet Portraits

I've started a small (8x8") pet portrait of my Yorkie, Bandit's, face close up. I'm working on a Fabriano paper in which I love. It has a textured surface with faintly impressed vertical lines that add a nice texture and pattern to the drawing. Unfortunately, I can't recall or find the name of this paper and I'm not sure if Fabriano even makes it any more. Someone gave me a few sheets more than ten years ago and I just happened to have a small sheet left. I always start with the eyes and nose because those are the most important features to capture the pet's likeness and personality.

Here are two finished dog portraits of this black lab, Ike. Sadly, Ike was hit by a car at a very young age and isn't with us any more. His owner misses him very much. But here is a nice story: the coworkers of his owner got together and commissioned me to create these 8x8" portraits of Ike as a remembrance for Ike's owner. I will be curious to find out how Ike's owner likes these two pieces when he receives them.

I worked the two drawings on white Stonehenge drawing paper and Prismacolor pencils, I cut the paper to 8 1/2 x 8 1/2". When the drawings were complete I sprayed them with two coats of Krylon UV Resistant Clear fixative. Then I attached them to two 8x8" Ampersand Cradled Claybord panels with Grafix archival double stick mounting film and then carefully trim the edges with a mat knife. I always create the drawing a little larger than the board I am mounting it to in case it moves a little. Next I spray the entire piece and edges with three coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish to seal it (or any permanent non-yellowing varnish will work). The final step is to brush on Golden UVLS polymer varnish (water based) and thinned three parts varnish to one part water. Brush carefully in order to not get bubbles and keep it consistent. I will layer on three or four more coats of the Golden varnish letting each dry at least an hour or more in between. I also put two coats on the wood edges. Or you can paint the edges.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Colored Pencil Students' Artwork

I'm very proud of my colored pencil students whom have finished and framed their artwork for the Student/Mentor exhibit at Spring Bull Gallery, Newport, RI. Here are the groupings of the different works in done in class and some on their own. Several were done from still life set ups and a few from photographs. The hats were especially fun to draw and so was the paper bag. One artist even combined colored pencil with Zentangle. They've done some wonderful work and I enjoy teaching the classes.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Handmade Accordion Book for Mentors and Students Exhibit

 During the month of March, my colored pencil students and I are part of an exhibit called Mentors and Students at Spring Bull Gallery in Newport, RI. There are also five additional instructors and students exhibiting in this exhibit in mediums including pottery, drawing, watercolor, pastel, encaustic and acrylic/oil. If you are local and have time to see the exhibit, please stop in. The gallery is open every day from noon to 5 p.m. Our opening reception was so well attended there was barely room to move in the galleries! It is exciting for the mentors to be able to share our talents with students and see our students work progress as they learn the different mediums. I am planning to stop in the gallery when it is less crowded so I can take photos of the artwork and post them.

For the Mentors and Students exhibit, I put together an accordion book filled with my small drawings. I worked on these drawings in my classes along with my students to help them see how I would approach the subjects they were working on in terms of form, value and color. In the classes we were experimenting with different surfaces and colored backgrounds.

To create the book, I cut out and glued together small sheets of heavy weight drawing paper to which I glued my small drawings, some individually on each page and some collaged together. Each little page measures 7x7" and the book is folded and tied into a neat little package. Above are photos of the book stretched out in my studio.

Exhibitng Mentors include: Gail Armstrong, Charlene Capazano, Jane Austin, Felicia Touhey, Susan Shaw and me.

Exhibiting Students include: Elisabeth Wagner, Christine Witkos, Maggie Ramey, Sherry Italiano, Suzann Andrews, Jane Berriman, Mary Jennings, Akiko Omori, Laurence Lavagne, Lara Pilla, Susan Wermuth, Lara Pilla, Norma Burnell, Carol Normandin, Adrienne Ranelli, Rayne Baer, Marisol Lagares, Libby Gilpatric, Cheery Hall, Maureen Cunningham, Patty MacLeish, Jan Goldstein, Elizabeth Sullivan, Brenda Langlais, Craig Masten, Marie Fontaine, Nina Ackmann, Sheila Turner, Diane Crane, Madeline Beaudry, Phil McAllister, Deborah Grant, Sharlie Sudduth, Ara Sadanientz, Michael Manni and Jean Patiky.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tye's Dog Portrait Finished

Here is Tye's finished portrait, size 12x12". His owner Matt took the nicest picture of Tye sitting in the snow and looking upward. I worked this piece in Prismacolor pencil on Stonehenge paper. I used a small flat bristle brush to burnish the pencil where I wanted solid areas of the fur with no texture from the paper showing through.

I created the shadows in the snow by using cool blues over warm blues and purples, then another warm blue over the top. Experiment layering warm-cool-warm-cool (or vice versa) to make colors sing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tye's Pet Portrait

While gluing and pressing my book covers for my drawing book, I started on a dog portrait commission. This is Tye and he is very photogenic and has a big personality so it's very easy to capture his personality from a few photos. In this photo, he is sitting in the snow and I particularly like the perspective of looking down at him. I have most of the fur drawn, I will need to go back, refine and punch up colors and values once I have added in the snow and shadows in the snow. This is just a portion of the drawing, it is going to be square 12x12"

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Creating Books and Book Sculpture

These are two of my book sculptures which I have entered into an open exhibit at Imago Gallery in Warren, RI. The pieces are hung quite high on the wall but still can be viewed well enough from below. I went to the opening wondering what kind of reactions I would get from people because I think they're just fun and different but as an artist, we never know how our work will be received. I was especially happy because the piece on the right in which I titled Flying Away was sold during the opening. The buyer introduced herself to me and told me she loved the piece and had exactly the right spot in her office for it. For me, to make people happy with my art is the greatest reward.

This collection of small drawings are being made into an accordion style handmade book. When I teach colored pencil to my students, I usually draw along with them. I will pick one subject from our still life and work on my drawing while I help them to work on theirs. I have quite a collection of these small drawings so I have decided to put several together into a handmade book which can be displayed. I am part of an upcoming student/mentor exhibit at Spring Bull Gallery in Newport, RI and I plan for my book to be included in the exhibit.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fly Away - Book Sculpture

Here is my second book sculpture creation. I took an old mathematical table book that belonged to my dad when he attended engineering school. I folded each page in half and creased the folded edge with a bone folder to ensure a crisp edge. When the pages are folded, they create a semi-circle pattern. Next I glued marbleized paper to the inside front and back cover to make the background more appealing.

After that was finished, I tore multiple pages out of another old book and hand colored them with watercolors, letting the two or three colors on each piece to flow and mingle together. My first attempts at watercolor were too muted, so I chose to use the brightest colors. The next step was to find and cut out butterfly, dragonfly and bug patterns in workable sizes and interesting shapes. I have to admit I spent two days cutting bugs and butterflies out of my watercolored pages. I found that too many legs or antennas could easily tear and larger bold shapes worked better. In all honesty, I have many unused bugs waiting for my next project.

I attached the butterflies to colored jewelry wire by making holes in the bodies with a small awl and weaving the wire through. Next I attached the wired butterflies to the book so they could "float" or "fly" above the book. Others I just glued to the pages of the book.

I am really enjoying this creative hiatus from my colored pencil drawings. I believe that each and every medium and art project influences another. To work in another form of art and especially in sculpture is a learning and growing experience.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Sculpture

This week I've decided to try my hand at book sculpture again but this time, taking it to the next level. I took my Great Aunt Helen Bidwell's old Toll House Cookbook turned it into a piece of artwork in homage to her. I searched on line for examples of repurposed books and how to fold and glue paper flowers. First I folded the pages in the book as I wanted them to be presented then I cut pages from another book to use for the flowers and leaves. Before cutting, I took some of the pages and watercolored them by hand and let them dry. After they were dry, I cut out the leave patterns and put the flowers together. It took almost two days to create this book but what fun and a great project for a cold winter week.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jump Starting My Creativity for the New Year!

While I am still working on the colored pencil piece of the window and also a very new piece of a nest, I've decided to energize my creativity by working on something other than colored pencil drawings. The goal is to jump start my brain into thinking in different modes of creativity and push myself to think in different ways. Where to start? I bought several books on collage, encaustic and mixed media pieces, read and reread parts and thought about how to begin for several weeks. The encaustic equipment is set up in the photo but I've decided to just start with mixed media collage and become familiar with more abstract compositions and layering materials before I start adding the wax into the mix.

I've mentioned in a previous post that I am cleaning out my parents' house (the big dig) and finding all kinds of wonderful old items that have inspired me to put them into a form of artwork. It's been cold and dreary in January but I am having fun in my studio, I've laid out all of my treasures on my work tables. Some of my treasures include old magazines, stamps, my mother's childhood piano music book and of course lots of old photos. Other than the stamps, I am using photocopies of everything in my collages so I don't ruin the original treasures.

Here is another view of my work tables and I'm also playing with folding the pages of books, two are shown on the left. Still deciding if I would consider them finished or add something to them, for now they sit and wait.

 I was inspired by a Western Union telegram my mother received for her birthday years ago. I added it and the backs of old postcards into the background of this piece, then washed with acrylic paint. My mother (photo on the right) loved to write letters and correspond with friends, it was an important part of her life. The most difficult part is composition, how to incorporate the photos and other elements and create an interesting composition without making the piece look like just a lot of scraps glued together. This is my first collage, it's on rag illustration board which buckles a little from the acrylic and gel medium.

My second piece consists of my mothers sheet music in the background and a wedding photo of an unidentified couple in the center. I found this photo among my mother's things and I have no idea who this couple is but what struck me is how young they are and how serious. I've added an old wedding invitation I found written in German and other elements.  This piece is on a canvas panel, I like the texture of the canvas showing through in the background.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking Through the Window

It's taken me a little while to get back to work and get back in the momentum of drawing and creating. I have the tasks of taking care of my dad's estate (other side of the brain!) and cleaning out my parents' house which is bringing back many memories but also giving me more ideas for future artwork. And then the holidays came along so I have literally been working on this piece at a snail's pace. I finally have enough done to post my progress here.

The idea came from a photo I took while in Kozseg, Hungary in May of 2012. I have been thinking about this drawing and composition since that trip because I am intrigued with the different window panes and looking through the panes of glass or broken glass. I tossed around the ideas of adding objects inside such as a bird or a nest but then decided my piece might just bee too busy or cluttered. I chose to let the shapes speak for themselves.

I am working on UArt 800 grit paper. My first layer of color is gently applied with Caran d'Ache Supracolor and Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils and a little bit of water. First I laid on the watercolor pencil dry then added water with a brush to blend colors together to create an underpainting. I chose this method because the UArt paper is textured and I didn't want any of the paper showing through, especially in the very dark areas. The top two small panes and just the watercolor pencil underpainting. In the lower part of the drawing, I have added regular colored pencil on top of the watercolor pencil. I like putting grays over bright colors and light colors over dark colors, because the pencil is translucent, colors will show through one another and I am able to achieve the look I want to for the weathered and peeling paint.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Red Sneakers Completed

Quite a few months ago I started this 6x8" colored pencil drawing on Ampersand Cradled Gessobord coated with liquid Colourfix primer. My first blog entry on the drawing is here. This piece was intended to be a small study for a much larger piece that I started working on simultaneously and ended up finishing first. The blog entry for the finished larger piece is here. I am happy to have finally completed this small piece. It is worked in colored pencil and solvent. The solvent melts the pencil and fills in the grooves of the sanded surface. I am pleased with my results, the brightly colored sneakers and rich dark background.

Thank you for reading my blog. Unfortunately, this has been a somewhat unproductive year. It has been a year of change and challenges. I have been managing my dad's care for the past several years and during this past year he was hospitalized four times, in a nursing home for two months and then home again with round-the-clock care. Most recently it had been a struggle to get him to eat or take his medication and one month ago he died. Since that time, I have been reflecting on his life and my life, thinking about life growing up with both of my parents (my mother passed away 17 years ago) and now cleaning out the house and finding so many memories. Thinking of how I can incorporate those memories into my artwork. It is bittersweet.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fundraising Raffle for our New England Chapter of CPSA

Three members of our New England District Chapter 112 of CPSA have donated gicleƩ prints for a raffle to fundraise for our chapter. Our recent exhibit at a gallery, which was enjoyed by many, unfortunately depleted our funds due to the usual gallery costs; invitations, postage, opening reception. We are hoping to find our chapter out of the red soon. Please help us by purchasing raffle tickets, the information is on the poster or you can contact me. Thanks!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelbord

Here is my finished piece from the colored pencil and solvent on Pastelbord instructional video I produced for Ampersand. Here is a link to Ampersand's blog post on the two instructional videos. For this piece I worked on 8x10" Gray Pastelbord and not only do I like the textured surface for layering colored pencil but the Gray is my choice of color for many of my drawings. The cool blue/gray toned surface creates a under tone for a warmer colored drawing on top. I've taken art workshops in which instructors have suggested layering warm colors over cool colors, over warms over cools, or vice versa to create vibrant color and color harmonies.

After I chose the vibrant red pitcher to demo for Ampersand, I tried several pieces of fabric behind the pitcher to see what worked best for the background. I chose this one with the intricate leave patterns because I was attracted to the organic shapes  of the leaves contrasted with the round, smoothness  of the pitcher. I also like the contrast in the grays and blues of the leaves against the bright red and especially the movement of the background shapes which complete the composition.

I finished the piece by spraying it with two coats of Krylon UV Resistant Clear and then four coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish, letting each coat of the varnish dry at least 30 minutes before adding spraying again. This way I won't have to frame the piece under glass.