Friday, April 30, 2010

IF: Cocoon

She decided to knit herself a cocoon, to shelter herself from the harshness of life.

Cocoon is the Illustration Friday topic, so I am posting this digital image I have done of a French woman knitting, while she waits for a train.

On a totally non-related topic, I painted at the Blue Pig Gallery yesterday with Travis Jardon's guidance. He is a wonderful landscape painter, and landscape is a real weakness for me. Below is the first painting I did. The second one we just began, as he is showing the method he uses for layered painting, which is something I really want to learn, as I paint everything pretty much alla prima. But, obviously, we will not finish it until the first layer dries. It did inspire me to try more landscapes, although I doubt that I will ever become a 'Landscape Painter.'

9" x 12" oil on canvas.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring is the selfish season...

Spring is the child of the year. So much new growth, so many new things to deal with. We become childlike ourselves, in that we become disinterested in anything but what affects ourselves. I find myself turning my back on all kinds of things that may require any more of me; any more attention, any more work, any more effort. I have too many things calling my name as it is... my garden, spring cleaning, the tapestry on the loom and special 'festivals' that the gallery wants special subjects painted for.

Enough is sometimes just enough. Time is needed to sit on the porch and sip some sun tea. Time to play with the pets. Time to read a good book or flip idly through a pretty magazine. Time to notice and enjoy the fleeting scent of my lilacs.

I will be taking some of that time, as springtime, like childhood, is short and sweet. You may not hear from me for awhile.... just know that I am enjoying some porch time..... Or (which is more likely) I'm weeding the garden, painting the bathroom, weaving or painting in the studio, or spring cleaning.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In the garden...

I put on my biggest hat this morning, and headed out to weed the iris bed. (But shouldn't it be 'de-weed?') While I was working, I thought about doing more garden art. I love doing garden art, and have done a good bit of it, both paintings and weavings. The largest garden piece I have done was the Summer tapestry in the Seasons series, called "Tending Peace." But long before I did that tapestry, I did one called "Garden Party." It was a sort of homage to my grandmothers, who both had greener thumbs than I'll ever have.

My maternal grandmother gardened out of necessity; she filled a vegetable garden with food for a family of 11, then with enough to feed their children and even some children's children for the summers of her long life. Tho' she began it out of necessity, it turned into a passion for her. And, as a child, I was 'sent to the garden' to weed bits of it on many a summer visit, keeping me out of hearing of all the aunts' catch-up chatter.

My paternal grandmother had some vegetables in her garden, as well. But, by the time I was familiar with her garden, it was mostly flowers. I remember her gladiolas most. I thought them quite exotic. I grew them a few summers ago, and I believe I'll put some out this year, as well.

This is Garden Party, woven in 1991. It is 34x39" and is privately owned.

This is a photo of my maternal grandfather. Gardening was not his passion, but his wife's. But she somehow managed to get him involved, too, as her garden was a really huge one. He hand plowed it all up in the spring for her, and it looks like she knew how to get a hoe in his hands, as well. She outlived him by about 30 years, and I am sure she must have missed his garden help during that time.

"Tending Peace" Summer, in the Seasons series. 36"x56"

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A cat that can read is ahead of his breed!

I know... that's just silly. But I got this done, so thought I'd post it for Illustration Friday, and the topic is 'ahead' - and that's the only way I could think of to make it fit!

This is oil on canvas (gallery wrapped, so will not need framing) and is 20" x 10". I think the title will be "Guardian of Romance." This is my cat, Gus, sitting on one of his favorite perches.

("Guardian of Romance" SOLD)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Doing the Wright thing in Chicago...

One of our top proirities on our trip to Chicago was to go see some Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. Some good friends from Las Vegas met us there for the weekend, and they are also Wright enthusiasts. So, after getting our bearings on our first night there, we set out the next morning for Oak Park. We went to the Unity Temple first, which was open to the public, and photos were allowed! (upper left photo) Then we walked through the neighborhood to the Wright home and studio, past homes that were clearly designed by Wright, as well as others that were equally wonderful. We took the walking audio tour, which I highly recommend. We seem to have come at a terrific time of year for the tour. The temperature was comfortable for walking, and the gardens and trees were all blooming with early spring flowers. It was lovely!

After the walking tour, we took the tour of the interior of the Wright home and studio (lower middle picture.) No photos allowed, which was disappointing, but understandable. The next day we went out to the Robie House, which is the bottom right photo. You can also go inside this house, which is in the restoration process - also no photos there.

These are incredibly designed spaces! Wright designed everything to fit together perfectly; from the rugs, the windows (all leaded glass), the light fixtures, the furniture, right down to the dishes and silverware for many of the homes. I think if you lived in one of these homes, you would almost need to just use things he had designed - anything else would look out of place. But I would have a hard time doing that. There are very few soft edges, and little or no informality. But what an amazing design process he had, and how beautifully he imagined his world! He was truly a master of his vision.

Addendum: Here are the things we are inspired by Wright to do:
Paint my bathroom (the color of which I've always disliked) and stencil Wright's 'Ginkgo Leaf' around the top. We purchased the stencil at his studio shop, under the shade of the ginkgo tree that inspired it.
Reorder my garden into a simpler, more orderly area.
Re-do the kitchen lighting. It now has hideous can lights recessed into the ceiling, which we've always wanted to replace. We will used recessed lighting with wooden screens, which I will design and my husband can make.
Make a new drafting table for the studio. This is something we've been considering, and seeing the simplicity of Wright's tables inspired my husband to try to duplicate one (with adaptations.)

Thank you, Frank Lloyd Wright!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mind boggled, body exhausted...

We are home from our trip to Chicago. I just uploaded over 900 photos into the computer, so I should have some inspiration to go on for awhile... unless I look at them tomorrow and wonder why I took them all!

My one disappointment was that the textile collection in the Art Institute was all in storage, with the exception of this one tapestry. They have stored and have been cleaning and repairing them all for an upcoming 'major exhibition' so I guess we'll all have to watch for that! This tapestry was from Flanders from 1550-1575.

I liked the big dog sticking his tongue out at the smaller dog. I guess dogs have always been dogs!

I also like this Diego Rivera painting, called "The Weaver," from 1936. It is one I had never seen before.

We came home to blooming lilac and quince bushes. I can no longer ignore the messages that my yard and garden are sending out that spring is here, and I must send some of my attention that direction. So tomorrow I will have plenty to bring me back to the lovely reality of being home again. Before that, though, a good night's sleep is a must!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's that time of year!!!!

In the spring of the year, for my birthday, we usually take a small trip. It is one of the times I love to go somewhere and gather new images, see new things, and generally be a tourist.

On these trips, as well as on the trips I take every few years with my artist friends, I like to take a sketchbook, and put it together as a journal of my trip.

I have now put together a number of these little books. They contain my small sketches, some photos, and a lot of 'stuff' that I gather and accumulate on the trip.

The 'stuff' ranges from bits cut from magazines or brochures from the area, to maps, to little bags of beach sand, to gathered leaves.

My sketchbook journals have documented trips to Alaska, Washington state, Maine, Utah, New Mexico, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Quebec, and a number of areas in Colorado.

I tell you this, because today I went out and bought a new little journal for a trip we will be taking in a few days. Thursday, we are taking the train to Chicago. We'll meet some friends there for the weekend, then will return home the next Thursday. I love traveling by train! We will have 24 hours (more or less, as time does not really exist on a train trip) on the train, both going and coming. That time is wonderful sketch and relax time. So.... I must stop sitting at this computer now, pack our bags, and ready the house for our friends who are coming to pet sit!

Next week, I will try to share a bit of my new travel journal with you. I am planning that it will be filled with all sorts of wonder and beauty... But that is what I always plan when I open a pristine new travel sketchbook.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A very young artist...

I am home from a trip to take two of my grandchildren to see the movie, "How to Train Your Dragon." We saw it in 3-D and I highly recommend it; especially if you can go with a 4-year old boy. Watching his delight in the story, and his sister's as well, was a real perk!

When we got home from the theater, I asked Milo if he would draw me a dragon. I love to watch him draw. He is the most confident artist I have ever seen! He knows what he wants, and just 'does it.' This time, he was not happy with either his first or second starts in my sketchbook, so quickly flipped to a new page and started again.

(I added my sketches later.) Below is his final drawing for me. It includes all of the important details of the dragon, "Toothless." His sister chose to draw her version in chalk on the patio, so I couldn't bring it home. She also draws very well for her age, but doesn't have quite the confidence in her work that he has. I hope he never loses that!

Before I had gotten there, Milo had drawn a dinosaur in his little notebook to show me. I asked if I could take it home to put on the refrigerator. He said no, I could not. He said it was in his new notebook, which was 'precious' to him (yes, that was the word he used) so he didn't want to tear anything out of it. I told him I understood perfectly, as that was how I feel about my sketchbooks, too. So he let me take a picture of it to bring home. I love the alternating red and blue scales down the back! And the eye has such expression. He will start preschool next year. I hope nobody ever takes his confidence in his drawing away from him!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Update, or what's happening (or not) here...

Very little new to report, here in our little village in the west. I have a bit more weaving done, and you can now see how much more there is to do. I would like to have been able to report more done, but I have been battling with my customary 'change-of-season-multi-day-migraine,' and I just cannot make myself do much when I feel bad. Also, I can't stand my studio lighting with a migraine. I know; excuses! But I am hoping the season will settle in and the wind will calm down so I will become functional once again.

We went up to the high desert so Booker could run wild, fast, and unrestrained for a bit this morning. While there, I did a small bit in my sketchbook.

I also did this very small oil sketch the other day. I do not do very well with landscapes, so I am trying to challenge myself to do an occasional one. For some reason, landscapes bore me to death! No matter whether I do them in the sketchbook, in the studio, or even in the camera! It is beautiful where we hiked today, and I took a bucket-load of photos, all of which I proceeded to delete when we got home. I don't know what it is about landscapes. They do not thrill.

This little sketch is just 5x7". It is of moonrise over the lake at our cabin. I made the mistake of putting it on heavily textured gessoed masonite. I think landscapes should probably be on a smooth surface. No matter. If I could delete it, like I did the photos, I probably would! But it was good to challenge myself. And you are supposed to paint 99 bad paintings for every 1 good one (who said that? Picasso?) so I can count this as one more towards the good one! I'll add it to that ever growing pile!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A surprise...

When I was working at the gallery on Saturday, I picked up the new April issue of the GV (Grand Valley) magazine, hot off the press. I wanted to read an article about a fellow gallery artist, who was featured this month in it's lovely, glossy pages. To my surprise, before I came to the article, my eye landed on a very familiar image... my own painting, "The Youngest Groomsman." There are a number of reasons why this shouldn't have been a surprise, but I am just going to enjoy it being in the magazine, and add it to my resume. (Of course, I bought a copy of the magazine!) Sometimes you just realize life is to short to not enjoy it's surprises.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Illustration Friday: Dip

I haven't done anything for Illustration Friday for quite some time, so I decided today I would take the time to do a quick sketch. This is 5x7", done in oil on canvas. It is of our last lab, Wooster, retrieving a stick by taking a dip in the lake at our cabin. Good times!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Not goin' nowhere...

I'm a bit unsettled tonight. I guess it's because I didn't get to go to see my son's family this weekend, as I had planned. Mountain weather did not make it feasible. It's not a huge deal - we will go next weekend, and will actually have more time there, and I won't be going alone! But I guess the canceled plans just added to the 'confusion' I have been feeling lately. One day it is spring, the next it is winter again. I don't know what to wear, and I am going from one thing to the next, feeling like I don't know what to do, either. (Should I work a bit in the garden? No, it's snowing again.)

I have not been idle, during this unsettled time between seasons. I have worked a few minutes in the garden this week (the few minutes of spring), I have painted, I have woven, and I even went to paint with the Alzheimer's patients this afternoon, which I was going to miss had I gotten to go on my trip. The group of patients today was the most productive group I've worked with yet. They all painted something, and several of their efforts are truly wonderful! (I even took photos today, but don't feel it's appropriate to share them online.)

The photo above is one I took at the cabin last weekend. The tractor is not far from our cabin. It is obviously not going anywhere anytime soon, which is just how I felt about my day today! But the run-off will begin soon. Spring will arrive with some conviction, and even summertime, before I or my garden are ready for it! I will 'dig out' of the snow and mud seasons of my mind and will head out for the next destination, wherever and whatever that may be.

But for tonight, I'm sittin' in my jammies, eating one too many cupcakes, and not goin' nowhere.