Saturday, September 17, 2016

On the Edge of the Town & the Sea

The sweet Gazebo down by The Harbor Walk in Belfast.
(it's my impression, not realistic...)
I sketched near "The Boathouse", (Steamboat Landing) yesterday, mid-day. 
This public park is the site of Harbor Fest, Weiner Fest, the Celtic Celebration,
 Extreme Frisbee (previous post), Arts in the Park, Summer Evening Concerts & more. 
But on this day there weren't many people & the boats in the harbor were resting quietly. 
It was calm except for an enthusiastic group from New York who kept cheering 
other people from New York who kept arriving at the Boathouse.
I think they were building something in the Boathouse garage 
while they laughed & shared stories, 
including stories about the old days in NYC.

As I left I thanked "my bench",  this public bench,
 at the edge of this public park,
at the edge of the river & bay, on the edge of the town.
On the edge of the town, which is my town, Belfast, Maine.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The French Breakfast at The Language Exchange


My old school in my old city,
 The Language Exchange in Portland
 just celebrated 20 years of the weekly French Breakfast,
 Le petit déjeuner (no English allowed!). 
I was so sad that I couldn't be there for the party,
but I sent a birthday card.
My first petit déjeuner, 15 years ago, 
marked the debut, the beginning, 
of a new era in my adult life: 
My French studies.  
Today, they are still such an important part of my life!
Merci, Valérie, et Bon anniversaire!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sweet Home Belfast Farmer's Market


At the Belfast Farmer's Market, as summer begins greeting autumn.

I arrived early & while watching vendors set up 
a woman near me said she arrives early each week
 in order to get in line to buy her elderly dad 
his favorite loaf of bread, before it runs out,
from Plymouth Pond Farm & Bakery. 
Eventually I also joined the line & while waiting
I started the above sketch.

I hung out at the market for about 4 hours. 
In between sketches I chatted 
with various friends & acquaintances 
at "my" centrally located picnic table.

Toward noon there were very few baked goods left 
at Plymouth Pond Bakery (sketch above).

Belfast Farmer's Market:
Less 
movement,
less quantity, 
less variety, 
less stimulation,
less noise 
fewer crowds

than at my old 
Portland Farmer's Market.

More 
conversations, 
more greetings,
more space,
more tranquility.

Same 
colorful, homegrown
produce & products
& vendors who smile as they
talk about their process & products
& as they exchange money
with people like me who also smile
& fill straw & cloth bags.

There was a time when I lived here 
but longed to be there.
But recently I have come Home 
to my small Belfast town,
including its Farmer's Market.

To market, to market, 
(not buying a pig)
Home again, home again
Jiggedy Jig.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Acadia Accordion Sketchbook 2

 
It was still high tourist season on Mount Desert Island but a friend & I drove over anyway. 
We found a few quiet places for sketching.

  I added 2 more panels to my Acadia accordion sketchbook (Moleskine). 
(first featured in a post on June 20)

There are still many blank pages to fill. 
And hopefully many more occasions to visit this beloved place.

What are the places to which you love to return? 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Trying New Materials

Trying new tools: Rigger brush (love it!) 
Pentel brush pen
Arranging mini palettes in miniature homemade paint boxes 
(more on that soon)
...and...
Letting ideas flow for my February 2017 art show
at The Language Exchange in Portland.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Color Mixing Charts: Photos



I'm in a process of exploring color via my watercolors.
Everywhere I go, I see color mixing charts,
including at the Deering Oaks Farmer's Market.
As Jeanne Dobie says in her book (previous post), colors sing!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Studying: Sketching and Watercolor Painting


From my small Art Learning Sketch Journal

For learning about drawing, sketching & watercolor, there are some amazing videos & books out there! Teoh Yi Chie, sketch artist, covers a wide range of related subjects with great depth. I learned from one of his tutorials about the book, Making Colors Sing by Jeanne Dobie. With it I am exploring the nature of individual watercolor paints in terms of transparency to opaqueness & how to mix colors. 

Anne-Laure & her site "Watercolor sketching" with demonstrations is wonderful. I learned about her through multi-talented Blog artist, La Table de Nana, who is also generous in sharing resources. 

How the Internet has changed the nature of studying & learning! The educational systems of just a few decades ago were more limited. However, my university experiences without the Internet but with live people & campuses were also very rich. Being immersed in a culture of learning is invaluable. Learning how to learn.

What I wish is that universities in the US were free & equally available to all young people, 
as they are in some countries. But that is another subject...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Still Life with Toys


I'm grateful to have things in my home that make me happy.
(I'm grateful to have a home, for that matter). 
I recently had a realization of the fact that 
we didn't have many things when I was a child,
and that it wasn't just a matter of lifestyle, but of necessity.
My refugee parents had arrived 
just a few years before I was born.
We had a home, food, clothes (hand me downs & 2nd hand) 
& I did have a few toys which I loved so much.
I am able to have more these days.
But I try ( I try) to purchase new things
with care & moderation...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Nature Sketch Journaling

Inspired by some books about Nature Journaling which I had brought to our Sketchers' Group, I found myself recently drawn to a chaotic, even junky field of "weeds" during a foggy morning walk. The fog moistens colors & guides my eyes to objects up close, the books remind me to observe small  things. I was astounded by the Queen Anne's Lace, & by the changes she is going through as we move increasingly quickly toward autumn.

Having my portable watercolor set-up more figured out, it is easier to stop spontaneously to sketch. The water bottle hangs in a bag at my side, the small watercolor box rests on the book. As I walk, the book & pen stay out of the bag, prepared for sudden stops. 

 In Season: A Natural History of the New England Year states that the myth that New England has 4 distinct seasons is not true, because there are "as many seasons as one wants to make of them, innumerable happenings that run into each other". Changes are varied: matings, bloomings, migrations, emergences, hibernations, deaths...The Queen Anne's Lace was showing a number of simultaneous changes: One disc was slightly curling in like an upside down umbrella, others were closed up in round cage like forms with dark burgandy seeds arranged in round patterns...
Clare Walker Leslie's Keeping a Nature Journal is a "bible" on nature sketch journaling. 
All of her books are artistically & scientifically pleasing & inspiring. 
Hannah Hinchman is another guru of the nature, or illuminated journal. Leslie was one of her mentors. Hinchman talks about the magic transformation that occurs while walking & observing in A Life in Hand:
"In the early stages of a walk, colors seem only pleasant & ordinary. 
If I am outdoors long enough...all the colors begin to become more brilliant & distinct..."

Frederick Franck, in The Zen of Seeing:
"For the awakened eye, nothing remains a mere thing. It reveals itself to be, 
instead of an object, an event, in the timeless abyss of time. " 

Queen Anne's Lace, on my foggy morning definitelly became a magical event!
 Welcome to New Zealand, meant for young readers, is super inspiring with various "walks" & ways to organize observations. Lovely, colorful handlettering is an integral part of the pages. 

Clare Walker Leslie:
 "Nature offers us a thousand simple pleasures~plays of light & color, frangrances in the air, the sun's warmth on skin & muscle, the audible rhythm of life's pull & push~all for the price of merely paying attention."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Art Learning Sketch Journal

I continue to enjoy my small Art Learning Sketch Journal. 
My first entries were at the Mel Stabin workshop day 
in Camden (see entry, July 23) I added the colors later.

 
It's fun to go back to restudy the notes & to see the sketches. 
Time is proving that I got more from that day than I thought.

Most of us were in a retirement age group.
But one urban high school student had been brought by her aunt. 
At one point she was very focused on checking the end of her long braid for insects. 
A page of my notes from Mel's demonstration.
Bottom right: I couldn't help but notice the ducks,
in the harbor, putting on their own demonstration! 
(you can click on the image to see it better.)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Quiet Little Art Fair


For health reasons, I'm needing to spend a quiet weekend, near to home. 
A friend & I did go to a quiet little Art Fair, in a quiet little town, not too far away. 
I did not have my full energy, but viewing some quiet art did me good. 
We had stopped for a pause on a bench on Main St.
T had a locally made Blueberry ice cream cone, I sketched.
Some of you might recognize the bridge in the background...
Above, a test of a new Canson "Mix Media" sketchbook.
It is more expensive per page than my Moleskine watercolor book, 
but it's a lovely white with a nice texture.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Place of Bliss

Do you have a place (places) of happiness & bliss?
Of serenity, appreciation, & awe for this world?
A refuge, a spot you can't wait to return to?
Can one be truly & deeply in love with a place?
I believe that I bring to the worldly places 
a serenity that is within myself. Still, some places
just fill my heart...

Above: My 4 X 6" book with the plain paper was the only one
I remembered to bring. 
I learn that I don't always need fancy materials 
to experience the process of observing & recording...
(Though I was grateful I remembered 
my nice watercolor box
and a brush!)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Watercolor Sketches, Going Back In


Some one in our Sketchers Group said that watercolor is less forgiving than oils. True. But I'm learning that one can go in & modify. Above, a cloudy, rainy scene on a Maine pond. Originally the sketch was too vividly colored. I went in with a wet paper towel & softened up some parts.
This Camden Library Reading Room sketch kept bugging me. I realized that the blues were too intense & unnatural. Again, I went in with a wet brush & a wet towel & lightened them. Now it brings back nicely the memory of that day. See the tops of the windjammer masts? Unique location has that Camden Library!
 The grasses in this memory sketch originally had a weird silhouette. 
I went in lifting some blues & then adding color.

We had our 5th monthly sketch group meeting this morning. 
I get so inspired by the different journals, by the different processes, 
and by the enthusiasm & stories of the participants. 
I'm grateful to our public library for hosting us, & I'm
just plain grateful that I get to do & share this fun thing in life!



Sunday, August 7, 2016

Painting With Friends



How pleasant it is to paint with a friend (who happens to live just down the road.) "T, want to come over to my house to play?" "Yes!" In the midst of dot napkins & cards, giant pearlescent color paint dots, & 2 travel paint boxes (previous post), T made the painting below at my dining table. Pretty joyful, no? Above, part of my ongoing exploration, while thinking about a friend who told me that Cerulean blue is her favorite color.
"R, you want to go out painting?" "Yes!" Yesterday we painted in a café & then at the Library. The mutual back & forth of enthusiasm & ideas doubles the fun. I always did thrive in my teaching & library work by sharing the joy with my colleagues. But I often draw & paint alone...
I also played watercolors with enthusiastic out of state visitors last week. My energy was renewed & revived!
Dots rule! The colors above are duller because I was using up mixed color puddles left over on my palette from a more vivid painting. I made an entry in my small daily diary about painting with T.

A small, spontaneous exploration painting teaches me more about what the paint likes or doesn't like to do, & shows me some lovely color bursts. Whoosh went that yellow!
In past lives, T & I both taught art to preschoolers, (at the same time & almost in the same place!) She & my Spirit Guide Message Blocks remind me to paint the way those children did.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Buying Colors


Occasionally I take great pleasure in buying stuff that I don't really need. Toys! Colors! Frivolities that spark joy. (So are they really frivolities??)  A new paint box with "Pearlescent" watercolor pans from Rockport Blueprint (Buying local at this shop often comes with Willow's expertise in showing you stuff). Color dot cocktail napkins. A deck of E. Francis Paper mini cards. 

And~A new Cotman watercolor travel box. Yes, it's true, it's not unlike the one I have, but it has an extra snap on mixing palette. I customized the box by removing most of its Cotman color "cakes" (student grade, some streak) & filling with my own Winsor Newton tube colors ("professional" quality). 

The color strip? I recently experimented with watercolors with a (delightful!) visiting friend who wanted to try watercolor. Paint strips with a flat brush, then dab & dot & run wet colors into each other, & watch them (with fascination) do their thing. The page of rectangular color swatches?  Free from a paint company brochure. 

These little investments 
go a long way. 
More & more I believe it is important 
to receive gifts of joy that come my way. 
And to share them.