Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Change of Scene at the Bookstore

After my university class in the "big city" of Augusta, 
I enjoy going to Barnes & Noble. 
I like to do a tour of the store & then 
relax with a latté in the café 
while going over class notes.

Yesterday 2 women were discussing POLITICS 
rather loudly in the café:
 Ack! Serenity disturbed! 
So I took my cup to a chair across from the art section. 
The change of scene had a marvelous effect. 
I never would have thought to go there 
without this disturbance! 
I ended up receiving a flow of art ideas 
for my upcoming work, 
& while there, grabbed a quick sketch. 

Change of scene: A simple tool 
for making the most of a moment.
 Profitez-en bien!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Autumn Trees Shout Out!

My twice weekly commute to French class has been more enchanting than ever.
Each time I see different mixes of colors along a 40 mile stretch of road: 
Through woods, by lakes, next to fields & farms,
with distant small round top mountains to the north, east and south.
Heading East just as you come to the hilltop Seahorse Farm,
distant views emerge, of Penobscot Bay, Blue Hill,
and the hills of Mount Desert Island,
while peaceful horses graze in rolling pastures to your right.

Wednesday, on my way home, I finally stopped at a little lakeside State Park
 to do some sketching.
The only other person there, under a shaded pavillion
was a watercolor painterand it was understood
that we would not chat but paint and draw.

Such intensity,
such vibrancy,
 these hardwoods shout out their beauty,
with arms reaching out to me, and to the sky.
Each spot along the road is different.  Some places are in full color,
 others have faded, others have more evergreens.
Still other hadwoods are only beginning to change from their summer greens.

This last shout out  of the leaves as they depart is festive.
 I am in the autumn of my life, "golden years" they say.
It does seem to be filled with days of brightness,
(as well as days of soft fog and grays...) 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Upcountry Fairs

In "big city" Portland, 
my predominant means of viewing art work 
was in privately owned galleries. 
Here, I prefer outdoor Fairs & Farmers' Markets, 
where local artists & artisans
set up their booths alongside 
harbors, rivers, or in town squares. 
Part of the fun is strolling outdoors, 
 chatting with vendors & other folks. 
Great places for sketchbook journaling!

Above, a summer Art Fair in Bucksport, 
along the Penobscot River.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Taking Sketch Notes at the Common Ground Fair

In 2014 & 2015 I did photo blog posts of the Common Ground Fair, one of my all time favorite events.
 But this year I quick sketched, & truly Sketchbook Wandered. 
It's probably what I love doing best, even though it is, well, sketchy.
We arrived early. Even waiting in the line outside the gate was enjoyable.
 The book is small, the lines are fast. I quickly add color later,
but I write/jot down some color names while sketching.
Recently, while seeing seeing some very refined & illustrative sketchbook journaling, 
I'd started to question & wonder about my process. 
But Saturday I came back to myself, doing what is most natural to me. 
This note-taking is my best way to put me in touch with my experience.
Seasonal still lifes are everywhere, 
especially at the Farmer's Market stalls.
One of the highpoints was The Gawler Family Band (Google them!). Oh, the JOY that they radiate!

There were 6 of them this year, the Mama & the Papa, the 3 musical daughters & the musical son in law.
 And we got to join them in sing alongs, musical folk tradition at it's best. 

Later on some of the family would be leading a work song workshop 
while shucking garlic.
For the first time I got to see the Vegetable Parade, a tradition since 1990!! 
People of all ages wearing exquisite hand sewn vegetable costumes! 
It's the best parade I've ever seen!! 
Sometimes just a quick second is all it takes to capture some of the magic, in this case "garlic braids". 

There is so much more to show & tell, but for now I'll say,
What a way to celebrate together & to greet Harvest Time & Autumn!!

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 quantity, 
less variety, 
less stimulation,
less noise 
fewer crowds

than at my old 
Portland Farmer's Market.

more greetings,
more space,
more tranquility.

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)
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.