Sketchbook Abstractions and ‘Strangelings’

I continue to move paint around in my sketchbook – now I’m adding drawings on top of the background paintings.  Nothing serious — just moving the paint and charcoal around — if things are out of proportion, good!

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A Strangeling with his red heart on view.  Acrylic, charcoal.

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An angel standing on the sun.  I loved painting this sphere so I did it again on another page.

 

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I’ve been trying these matte acrylics put out by Dick Blick.  I really like them for journal work, but they might be too flat looking for paintings.

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Another little stranger wearing woad! haha.

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The background painting is fun to do.  I did this one by painting one side and laying the top page over it to create a print.  Then I drew in the figure with charcoal.

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This angry looking stranger didn’t warrant filling in with paint.  Just a charcoal drawing.

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This strangeling may be off-putting to some, but he has a pleasant demeanor, really!

I’m thinking summer has arrived in Portland – the cottonwoods are blooming or whatever it is that they do, and the air is allergy inducing!  I’ve been spending my days sewing myself some new summer things to wear.  Haven’t done that in a very long time!  My evenings I’ve spent painting these strangelings, or maybe they are changelings.  They do appear somewhat mysterious.  I haven’t been posting much this last year – life just hasn’t been very creative — but I’m always thinking.  Maybe my dry spell has worked itself out and I will soon be turning out canvases again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journals, Sketchbooks, Workbooks

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I’ve been making sketchbooks, or what I call workbooks, from leftover papers I’ve had sitting around for years.  I’m not very good at coptic binding, but I like how this binding method allows the book to lay flat when open.  There is room for improvement in my technique!

I’ve started to play with paint in the first one with the painted cover. The cover is heavy watercolor paper that I happened to have some leftover scraps. It’s about 8×12 inches. That’s as big as I like to go with journals. It has about 64 pages, counting both sides. I’m calling it “Abstractions” because I am just playing around with color and shapes.  I don’t like to use more than about 64 pages  per book – I seem to get overwhelmed artwise when there  too many blank pages!  That’s why its nice to make your own, you can choose size, paper, etc.

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This is the one in the middle – about 6 x 10 inches.  I used brown paper called “bogus rough” and gray tone paper.  It has about 64 pages counting both sides of each page.  The cover is 140# watercolor paper, which I will paint when I decide what I’ll use the journal for.

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This is the one on the right.  Its tall and narrow – due to leftover paper sizes.  You can see how nice and flat they stay open!  It has a cover made from the back of a used purchased sketch pad.

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Here’s what’s happening inside the first book.  I’m using acrylics on gesso coated brown pages.

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I wish acrylics were’nt so shiny, but they’re great for journals because they dry fast.  Sometimes the pages do stick together a little bit.  But for now, I’m just painting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sacred Life of Trees – artist’s book – Illahe Gallery in Ashland

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9×10 inches.  140 # watercolor paper with muslin glued to surface of pages.  Watercolor, acrylic, oil pastel, graphite, collage.

The Sacred Life of Trees an artist’s book I created from an idea I had about how much I love trees, and how much everyone values and loves trees.  It seems, from my research, that trees have been a source of mystery from the beginning of time.  I wanted to do a more in depth study, but was unable to complete the whole thing in time for the Illahe Gallery Invitational Artist’s Book Exhibit in Ashland, Oregon!  So I concentrated on the most loved concepts of sacred trees.

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Double page spread.

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The Tree of Life with a guarding snake, and golden fruit!

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The Apple Tree – worshipped by ancient celtic cultures for the bounty of her fruit.  Some think it was an apple tree that instigated the downfall of man in the Garden of Eden!  Maybe, maybe not.  But she is lovely!

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The quiet little Hazel Tree – also bearing life sustaining nuts.   The hazel was considered by the ancient celts to be a magical tree.  Her wood is used for making dowsing rods to find water.  A hazel wand is very strong – be sure to thank her if you take her branches!

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The Ogham is an ancient celtic alphabet – often referred to as the Celtic Tree Alphabet.  The marks were made vertically on standing stones, many of which, are still standing in Scotland, Ireland, England.  They are read vertically from the bottom up.  I have written the Ogham name for each tree on the right hand bottom side of the drawing.

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The beautiful Willow Tree – known as the Lady of the Moon.

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The Birch Tree – Lady of the Wood.

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The Oak Tree – royalty of all trees.  Very strong, long lived, the king of trees, in this case the queen!

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The sacred Hawthorn Tree – the wand made from a hawthorn twig is truly magical.  The ancient celts believed the tree to have healing qualities, as well.  If a hawthorn self seeded next to a natural spring it was believed that dipping a scrap from a piece of clothing in the water and tying it to the tree would bring good health, and good luck.  Many of these are still honored in this way in the celtic countries and are laden with odd scraps of cloth.  They are known in Scotland as a ‘Clootie Tree’.  A clootie is a scrap of cloth.

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Final page with a verse from Loreena McKennitt.

I apologize for the lack of quality in these photographs.  The finished product really does look better than this.

 

 

 

On My Work Table

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I have been creating patterns on fabric with rust.  I mostly used steel wool in a half and half solution of apple cider vinegar and water.  Before the steel wool fully rusted I dipped the linen into the solution and got the lovely soft gray color.  Then I lay a piece of the steel wool on it to create the subtle color change.  After the steel wool rusted I took out pieces of it and lay it on the wet muslin after a few hours the patterns shown are the result! I’m using the rusted pieces of muslin and linen for the pages of a handmade book.  Gluing them down to folded heavy watercolor paper to create signatures for a handmade book.  I intend to incorporate the rust patterns into the pages, although that didn’t happen below.

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This is one of the pages I’ve created for my book, I’m calling it “The Sacred Life of Trees.”  Using watercolor, oil pastel, pen and ink for 12 original drawings depicting the spirit that humans have given to trees through folklore, religion, and daily life.  The letter “A” is painted in bright gold paint.  I like the kind of medieval look of the gold paint – kind of like an illustrated manuscript. This is my first page so I may discard and have a “do-over.” haha

I’m creating the book for the book arts exhibit at the Illahe Gallery in Ashland, Oregon in April for their Fifth Annual Artist Books Invitational and Printmakers; Also, the “Community Press” work by community members. First Friday Art Walk April 4, 5:00 to 8:00 PM

Studio Redo 2014

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I hung some small branches with fairy lights over the window to brighten the Portland winter days before spring arrives.  You can see I stuck some stars in here and there!

I have a compulsion to clean up my studio about once a year (should probably happen more often) but once a year I take everything down and move everything out, dust the corners, wash all surfaces, put a plant in the window which will be dead by March because I forget about it, and voila a fresh studio for the year!

This year I chucked my old scarred kitchen table for a new (old) utility table, one of those heavy old things with metal folding legs, seen in school cafeterias, business back rooms, convention centers – you know – any place functionality trumps  style!  Well I found one on  craig’slist and brought it home with assistance from my architect son-in-law, who also told me about drafting table coverings! So I purchased a lovely smooth cover for from Amazon.  Now its the perfect work table!

Isn’t the top amazing!Studio Redo 2014 003 (2)Now I have no excuse not to get some art done!

My Junk wall – can’t seem to get away from all my scraps and found items – but I really did clean it up – and its now on one wall only!  As soon as I figure out how to make the printer wireless it will go on one of these shelves!

I have only a small extra bedroom for a studio – but it seems grand to me!

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I’ve room for my easel now since I moved the table to the opposite wall.  I used to drag the easel into the kitchen, but I was always running back and forth for supplies.  This is much more practical.

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The computer table got a bit of the cover from the work table too.  You can see the edge of the easel.  Also the plant in the window!

Now it looks so nice – its like a nice big sheet of clean white paper – I don’t want to mess it up, but I will and it will get messier and messier as the year progresses!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry and Bright…

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“May Your Days Be Merry “

Journal page – watercolor and oil pastel 5 x 7 inches

Wishing you all a happy Christmas!  I’m flying out to Denver tomorrow to have Christmas with my 5-year-old grandson!  He has a lot of plans this year: 1.) hoping to catch Santa in his task of stuffing stockings, so possibly sleeping under the Christmas tree Dec 24, this undoubtedly includes me as well.  2.) A visit to see Santa and we won’t tell him our plans to surprise him!  heehee

 Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year ahead!

November 22, 1963

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I was 20 years old and working in the Security First National Bank in Inglewood, California where I ran the switch board. The switchboard was a huge old thing with about one hundred cords (lines) and things called keys which opened or closed a line.  It was kind of a boring job, but I liked sitting on the platform positioned above the bank’s main floor where I could see everyone coming and going.  The bank was one of those great old fashioned bank buildings even then from the past, marble columns, marble floors, beautiful wide curving staircase to upper floors carpeted in red plush carpet.  Elevators with polished brass buttons and an Elevator Guide during the hours of 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm when the bank was busiest before it closed its business doors each day at 3:00 pm. Remember that?  Banks used to close at three pm every day.  It was an orderly world and life moved at a measured and expected pace.

I remember I was wearing a teal colored cotton dress that day, which I had bought on sale from a local dress shop.  I loved that dress because no one else had anything in that color and it complimented my eyes, or so I thought.  It was styled with a bias cut bodice, tiny cap sleeves and a full circle skirt that looked great with high heels.  My friends and I had plans to go out that evening, and I thought I looked pretty cute!

The switch board was  quiet for a Friday, and I was sort of day dreaming about the coming weekend.  An outside call came in from a man who told me without preamble that “the president has been shot.”  I looked over to the bank president’s office and I could see him in there so that wasn’t true.  Then the caller said “President Kennedy has been shot.”   I didn’t know who the caller was I just put him on hold and called the bank president’s office, and told him what the caller had said and he took the call.  After about 5 minutes he rang me and told me to announce over the PA system that the bank would be closing at 1:00 pm today.  I made the announcement and there was a flurry of voices on the floor beneath me, and then the president’s office called me again and told me to announce “President Kennedy has been shot.  The bank will be closing at one today.”  I had to make that announcement two more times in that hour.  We didn’t know if our president had been killed or just wounded.  The entire bank suddenly became very quiet.  People finished their business and left.  I could hear crying, but there wasn’t much talking.  The switchboard remained quiet except for a few inquiries asking if “it were true.”

People were standing quietly apart from one another.  There was no wailing, no falling into each other’s arms, no public display of passion and fear.  No one wanted to speculate about this news that would change our world forever, so we pulled into ourselves trying to understand.  I later head stories of how some people cheered or made disparaging comments, but I never head anything like that at the time.

I remember walking out of the bank that afternoon and thinking the light looked different outside than it had before, somehow darker than it should have been.  The streets were eerily quiet, almost deserted.  Most businesses had closed early for the day.  We were stranded in our shock and fear.  There was no Face Book, no Twitter to share personal feelings with strangers, sure that they would want to know what we thought about this. No phones we could carry around in our hands to immediately contact anyone in the world with.  We stood alone and quiet in our confusion, our thoughts jumbled and chaotic.  Many people were crying silently.

It was a short business day that day, but the longest day in our collective history, long and dark and terrifying in a way we had no point of reference to explain, no context to define what this sudden loss would mean for our future.  It was as personal as shame, a barely recognized collective guilt we couldn’t bring ourselves to voice.  An ancient sadness we had long forgotten took a hold of us.  A ghost of guilt awakened in all of us that day, a dark and shameful thing began to insinuate into our souls and our innocence was lost.