Wednesday, December 7, 2016

More Color Grids

I love measuring out the grid with a ruler.
I love methodically filling the boxes.
I love the linear, sequential process
as opposed to 
my more intuitive, fast, & loose sketching style.

I created a new chart because of  
two new Winsor Newton tube colors:

Quinacradone Gold 
New Gamboge 

I was curious to see how they mixed with my other colors, 
and how they differed from one another & from:

Cadmium Lemon
Winsor Yellow
Cadmium Yellow
Cadmium Orange
Burnt Sienna

Making these charts is a fine way
to get to know one's paints. 
It's not just about the colors,
but also about the granulation & irregularities
that different paints produce when mixed, wet in wet.

Doing my chart reminded me 
of doing a jigsaw puzzle.
It asked me to be patient until the end.
It asked me to work through the repetetive parts,
even if they became boring.
It asked me to pay slow, deliberate attention to the parts
and to the whole.

No doubt the effects of this study
will show up in my next watercolor sketches.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sending Pop-Ons

 Sometimes making a little picture 
with pop-on teacups,
to send to a friend, 
soothes the soul.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Making Foldable Books

 The workshop we attended (previous post)
was called "It's a Foldable World", (how cute is that)  
& was taught by artist Cynthia Ahlstrin. 
She taught us "Faux Japanese Wrap Books." 

Right at the start she emphasized 
"Handmade, not Perfect" 
 & we all relaxed.
"We're not stressing today," 
she would remind us from time to time. 
The model book I made in the class is the bottom photo. 
Above is my follow up book, made at home,
using little painted elements 
that have been hanging around,
just waiting for this!
 The interior is an accordion fold.
Don't use anything lighter than 70 pound paper.
(She gave lots of tips like this.)
These springy little gems come alive in your hands.
And they hold together without glue! 
And you can make them be cards with fewer pages
if you want!
Foldable Magic!
Say hello to my 3rd book. I'm going to be filling these
with French vocabulary, quotes & expressions
for my new series/project. 
More are already in the works.
 My very first book, done in class.
She brought such nice papers for us to work with.
Cynthia was prepared, methodical & yet spritied.
With her method, you couldn't fail! 
And she made me laugh with expressions like 
"It's about quicko-chango-form today, not about content.
Does everyone know what content means?" 
(Filling the pages was to be done on our own time.)

Thanks Cynthia & thanks to my friends for taking me there
and sharing the fun!

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Art Notes & Learning Journals

I've been filling my "Art Notes & Learning Journals"
with notes from books such as
Sketching People by illustrator, urban sketcher, 
Lynne Chapman.
The 4 X 6" Pentallic Traveler blank books
are perfect for this series.
And they have lovely colored covers... 
Pages of notes...
I always record the page numbers
from the books from which I'm noting.
And put the day's date on top of many of my journal pages...
I also use these journals for workshop & class
notes & sketches. We traveled 50 miles yesterday
for a super fun workshop 
on making "Faux Japanese Folded Books."
Inbetween the pages of directions & teacher quotes
(she was very funny!)
I sketched the scene before me.

During the ride over I noted some details
that I saw out the window.
Chapman and her book were a good influence:
Record essentials...quick is fine!
On the way back it was dark in the car.
The gigantic white full Moon accompanied us,
& I gazed without sketching...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

An Old Autumn Tree

Time away from the blog has told me: 
I needed to get back to my true purpose:
To remember why I draw.
I had gotten distracted, 
starting to think that it was 
about showing others, forgetting
my internal need for 
observing, recording, reflecting,
When I'm in my personal process,
knowing that I'm not obligated to show everything,
then I can also choose to share.

I sketched the tree out the window during breakfast
at my favorite bed & breakfast in Bar Harbor.
After, I had a lovely sketch walk 
along one of the carriage roads, 
with a friend,
a friend who is more familiar 
with what's happening in nature
than I am. 
We would stop, she would point out
what she was seeing,
give explanations,
while I sketched & wrote down her quotes. 
I too was in the mode of stopping & noticing.
Very very wonderful, a gift,
at this time of year when there is so 
much variety & change.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Autumn Changes

Changes as October hurries on. 
The leaves, blow & fly these days. 
Trees are  are partially dressed, 
arms & fingers revealing themselves more each day. 
Above, a sketch based partly on a summer photo 
of Somes Sound, Mount Desert Island, 
and partly (mostly) on memory. 
In the scene above, the trees are still
wearing their September coats. 
Completely from memory, 
that high spot I described 2 posts ago, 
on my way East, Augusta to Belfast by the horse farm.

PS. I replaced the sketch that was originally 
in the previous post.
Do scroll down to check it out...
A sketch of a sketch, the original served 
as a good reference for this one.
My own changes:
Creating more from memory,
 looking into my mind more.
I feel the change coming on of moving inward,
to a more private place. 
I have the intention to not post here for awhile...
On verra, we shall see...
I am hearing: "Follow your Heart," 
express your authentic self,
in the midst of so many distractions out there.

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 loudly discussing POLITICS 
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!

PS (I replaced the sketch that was here previously with a revised version. A sketch of the sketch...)

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.

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 painter. 
It was understood
that we would not chat but just paint & 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 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."