Saturday, November 16, 2019

Back to Sketching in my Small Town

I haven't been sketching much, 
but went out early in November.
How I still love the meditative quality,
the discoveries. We Sketchers met on Main St.
Even though there was a cold breeze, 
I was warmed by the sun on my bench 
outside of Fiddleheads, the Art Shop.
So interesting to see the parade of costumed passersby!
Traci's diner across the street. Traditional egg & pancake breakfasts. I used to love going there, 
but my diet has changed. 
Two of the Sketchers were there, observing out the windows.
A town planning board meeting at City Hall 
about new building construction. 
I had very little idea of what they were talking about, 
property taxes, Tiff's, zoning, 
but it's nice that it was open to the public. 
And I enjoyed some sketching.
This Slicci pen makes the skinniest line 
of any pen that I've ever used. 
I love it, except it 
doesn't reproduce well.
In the meantime, my show is over, 
but I donated two 5 X 7 pieces to the local church 
where it took place. For their Christmas sale.
I love this small town life.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Practice of Calligraphy

Sample sheets given to me by a master calligrapher/teacher.
The coloring and notes are mine.

The practice can be calming & satisfying.
But it can be frustrating, for one who is not
naturally gifted at it.

Gaye Godfrey Nicholls writes in Mastering Calligraphy:

"Calligraphers revel in the sensual, sinuous 
& arch elegance of italic..."

is about discovering the pleasure 
of watching pigments in water meet, 
fall in love, 
& create new colors on paper..."

"You watch your own hand take over & create the forms
for which you have striven for so long. "

It takes practice, she writes. Maybe 3 years, maybe 7...
It takes persistence & patience. (I say.) 
Here, perfection is sought, not just progress.
 They say to set up a center where you can leave 
your practice work out & practice everyday.
I do.
Still, I am not perfect.
I may never be. It takes acceptance.
Inbetween writing the letter "a" over & over
on lined paper,
trying to get it to be consistent,
one can play with some letter designs.
Even if the letters haven't been mastered.
It gives one something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, one can take a little break from the concentration
& precision, & play at making seasonal decorations. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Joy, Joy, Joy of Autumn

I recently skimmed through my old blog posts, 
from the beginning...May, 2012.

And I skimmed through my photo collection 
of my drawings.
I don't think this little image is posted.
It was a mini card for someone.

Tomorrow is officially the first day of autumn.
And this is truly how I feel about it! Joy! 

Notice the printing on this older image.
I have just started practicing 
an italic calligraphy alphabet. 
It's like practicing scales on the piano.
I'm looking forward to continued refinement.
The repetitive practice is soothing...
...perhaps addictive. In a good way...

Thursday, September 5, 2019

I Finished my Book!!

This is a continuation from my previous post.

 Stopping to face my situation of the too many ideas 
& projects that had started to form,
& asking for help did the trick! 
Beth wrote to Just choose one project & finish it.
Not rocket science, but it helped to hear it from outside 
my own brain which was turning somersaults! 
Organizing my space & hiding the other projects was key. 

And accepting that my finished book would not be perfect...
All along there were decisions to be made.
What to do with the wildflower cutouts that I had drawn & painted 
from photos that I had taken for my project?
I had to abandon my original idea of 
making the flowers pop up from the page, 
(something I love to do in my little handmade cards),
because I had a cover that I'd bound that I'd wanted to use.
A new stiff white paper replaced the green Mi Teintes. 
(Thanks, Fiddlehead Artisan Supply for being right in town!!)

From there on, the book seemed to make itself.
Book Arts prof. Rebecca Goodale says that there's nothing
like the feeling of you & the paper working together "as one."   
(I'm paraphrasing...)
The beginning.
It's an accordion book, but can be view one spread at a time.
The middle.
The end. 
 One of my favorite parts was writing text,
inspired by my original thoughts on my subject. 
Lots & lots of editing to keep it focused & brief.
I had written in the previous post that "there was 
so little left to do" on this book. 
Haha!...Little did I know!!!
The cover came last. 
I wanted to decorate it more, but I had a deadline.
The handmade books, the final projects 
from our Book Arts Class will be on view at USM 
during September with a lecture & reception on September 9.

The book was delivered yesterday, & I am exhilarated!

What joy to start with vague thoughts & ideas 
& to work with them 
as they evolve into concrete words & images~
Bound into a book!
I got to experience what my young art students
used to experience!

And, I finished it!!

Thank you to USM & Rebecca Goodale's 
Summer Book Arts Course!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Chaos of Unfinished Projects

I  attended a weeklong Book Arts Course at the University.
So many super workshops with accomplished artists: 
"Letters to the Page", a workshop on calligraphy as related
to the art book, began with mark making, 
loosening up on giant paper.
My cup of tea, spontaneous, direct.

 "Comics-Based Narrative Workshop":
Triggered lots of spontaneous story ideas 
& an awareness of the art of the graphic novel.
"Cross Structure Bindings" taught hand sewing!
Not spontaneous & direct, but: 
I loved the calm & orderly process. Not chaotic!

"Printed Patterns & Accordion Books"!! 
Making large sheets using childhood crayon resist, 
but this time it was
a white China Marker under Daniel Smith watercolors!
Above, I created small panels outside of class.
(But that accordion is unfinished.)
I had a makeshift studio in my home away from home
during the week on one simple card table.
It was easier to focus, no bills, paperwork, dishes or laundry.
 In my own home my dining area has become my workspace. (It's my favorite space in the house.) 
And now the work is spreading to the living area!  Arghhh!

 It may not look that chaotic (I spiffied it up for the photos
the way you clean for guests), 
but my unfinished final project for the class exhibition, 
& other projects, are everywhere! 
My unfinished wildflower little left to do,
and yet I am stuck...
And there are so many other ideas
that haven't even begun to materialize on paper
but are swimming around in my brain.

Wouldn't the solution be to move the work
to a separate studio space?
Not sure, because a lot of the unfinished chaos 
seems to be in my head.

Sketching: One reason I love it: 
It's my direct, spontaneous response.
I don't deliberate & agonize over too many ideas & choices.  

Oh, Dear Readers, please give me some tips for
escaping this stuckness,
because I just want to finish my 3 handmade books!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Going Sketching with a Visitor from France

I went sketching with a high school art student 
from France who visited me with her U.S. host family.
Lisa, the talented and artistic owner of Brambles, 
welcomed us to sketch in her front "garden"
of ornaments, potted herbs & flowers 
such as lavender & verbena.

The steady buzzing of bumble bees  in roses 
& floral scents kept me company as I sketched.
My friend sketched nearby.

This is something that I enjoy when sketching with others:
You are together, but separate while drawing.
Then there is time for sharing.

There is a park a few steps down from Brambles, 
next to the Harbor. 
With benches, shade & boats,
it's perfect for sketching. 
While there. a windjammer, rowers, sailboats,
& my least favorite, a smelly diesel boat, came & went.

Sketching in front of well known photographer Neal Parent's Gallery, 
right in the middle of downtown, 
attracted friendly passersby.
Some even stopped to speak to my friend in French.
A city councilor, one of the early Back to the Landers 
who became entrepreneurs in Belfast in the 70's, 
stopped to tell us that he had formerly had a café 
where Neal's Gallery is today. 

Another great thing about sketching:  If you stay in one spot long enough,
you often learn more about the place.

At the toy store across the street, Scott Canon,
local educator, musician & mime
sang a little English language song with his uke,
to my French friend, who is here to leanr English.

There is not a moment, not in any season, that I don't appreciate my little town. 
Visitors & sketching add so much to my enjoyment.

Friday, July 19, 2019

No Spring Chicken

 Eight years ago, when I was selling my art at Art in the Park
a woman asked me to create an illustration
for her daughter, who was raising chickens.

I thought of it recently as I was 
writing a letter in French, and I wanted to say, 
 "I'm no Spring Chicken, you know!"

Google translates that as 
"Je ne suis pas un poulet de printemps,"
which is literal, & I knew that that was probably wrong. 
So using websites, I came up with 2 other, 
probably more accurate translations of what I meant to say.
But that's another story...

I'm not as young as I used to be. 
But I am lucky to still be able to: 
Express myself 
To dance Zumba • to wear fun clothes, 
To work/play at my art • to learn new things,
To eat well • to cultivate healthy habits,
To have old friends and to make new ones.

And on occasion, to be able to share my experience
and to help some one who IS a Spring Chicken.
I'm no spring chicken, but I am very grateful.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Draw What You Love: My New Neighbor

I have fallen in love with my new backyard neighbor:
A big hanging nasturtium. 
(En français, capucine. Po polsku, Nasturcya) 
Each day it grows new buds & blossoms. 
 There are at least 45 at this moment!
 This was not my usual very quick sketching. 
Slower, more left brain consciously accurate. 
I chose only one part of the abundant plant~ a vignette. 
You might call this a study-sketch.
I used pencil, even erasing & re-drawing. 
I was deepening my understanding of individual blossoms & leaves
and how they related to one another. 
My eyes were feasting on the colors.
By the time I finished the sketch, a gentle rain had fallen,
and configurations had changed.
I started with a preliminary contour sketch to help me focus.
I knew I couldn't draw the whole plant. 
The contour in ink was the introduction, a greeting. 
My gaze danced in & around blossoms & leaves, 
getting a feel for rhythms, lines & forms. 

While painting, I absent-mindedly tried out some colors
on this page as it was the nearest paper in sight.
And near the bottom, I seem to have been exploring 
some initial lines of nearby lupines.

The wonderful effect of drawing, 
beside the visual & tactile pleasure, 
is the concentration, the focus, the calm that occurs in me.
I always go back to my early guiding principle,
as presented by Frederick Frank, The Zen of Seeing:
Seeing/Drawing as Meditation, back in the early 70's.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Sketching at the Local Greenhouse

The staff, the airy greenhouse & the plants 
welcomed us Sketchers
to the Aubuchon Hardware Store & Nursery. 
I asked the worker above if we would be in the way.
"No problem," she said. 
"If you get in the way, we'll just water you.
It was an idyllic spot of light, color, and happy people. 
(Except for the flies, the little black flies.)
Local professional gardener Kate pulled up in her truck. 
I'm in awe of her, her artistic talents, her knowledge,
& her strength. In the old days of my childhood
only men had trucks & tools like this!
You could spend days sketching individual plants!
 After our greenhouse visit we went for lunch
at the local café & diner. There we discussed 
our sketching experience & other matters of interest.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Maine Country Road Trips

Road trips in the countryside from Midcoast Maine. 
An idyllic corner on earth.
This is the region of many small, organic farms, 
2nd or 3rd generation of back-to-the landers:
Blackbrook Farm, Many Hands Farm, 
Sunnyside, Aqua Terra, Royal View Farm...
Many of the farms supply the food coops 
in Belfast & Brooks &
 sell their produce at farm markets and
the beloved Common Ground Fair in Unity. 

The views from the hilly roller coaster roads 
leading from Belfast to Unity, Brooks, Jackson, Monro
take my breath away!

A frequent road trip out of Belfast: Route 1 South.
Last week, like a kid on summer vacation
I was so excited to drive down to Rockport with a friend.
While she went to the doctor, I sketched out the window
of a café. Then we went to the Guini Ridge Nursery
across the road road to buy plants. 
To do a little farming of our own! 

For other posts on Farmers Markets and The Common Ground Fair, click on these in Labels.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Quebec City and Sketching People

No matter where I go to sketch, 
if there are people nearby
they will most likely enter my sketch.
In Québec Ctiy we had our annual library date 
at Bibliothèque Claire Martin 
housed in the former St. Matthew Church.
I have mentioned this church in previous posts about Québec.
The Franco American Museum includes a restored chapel.
It has lots of ornamentation, but I went right for a figure,
an elevated sculpture against a wall.
Here is the figure of me, at one of the altars.
 It's officially no longer sacred 
so tourists can wander all over the place. 

When we had our other library date 
at the large Bibliothèque Gabrielle-Roy
(see previous post)
I found a book I've always wanted to own:
Un peu de Paris by illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempé. 
He is a master of depicting human nature
through simple line drawings 
as well as nature-nature & architecture. 
He is my number one favorite illustrator
 dans le monde entier
I photographed a few pages.

 Oh the humor, the expressions, the brilliance!
 We used to watch a TV show when I was a kid,
"People Are Funny". I didn't really like the show,
but that title was a theme for my mom & me.
And People are Loveable too.
I've signed up for a figure drawing group
to hone my skills. Not a class,
just artists drawing from a model. 
I studied figure drawing in college classes 
a LONG time ago. I am anxious.
What if everyone else is a super talented,
experienced artist?? 

(I'm good about advising others
to not compare themselves,
but mon Dieu
I have to apply this attitude to myself!)

For my other Quebec City posts, put it in the search bar, 
or click on the labels, "Québec City" and "Québec" 
that are on the side. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Library in Québec & a French Translation of Love That Dog

Perhaps one doesn't think of a public library as thrilling...
but I WAS thrilled 
visiting the newly rennovated Bibliothèque Gabrielle-Roy 
in a lower, non-touristic section of hilly Québec City.
I found a French version of a favorite all-time book, 
Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech.

They totally changed the title. 
Translation is such a subjective art form. 
 They added illustrations. I did not prefer this.
The beauty of the non-illustrated original is 
in the words & the story.
They added borders & changed the location of the poem
"The Red Wheelbarrow".
I did not prefer this either.
The original book is pure & unadorned. 
The formatting & the white of the page 
work beautifully with the story, which is in verse.

Do read Love That Dog & you'll see!

(Like Jack in the story, I'm enjoying expressing my opinions!)

It's a beautiful book for adults, as well as for children.
 Poetry is the art form I least understood in school. 
The wonderful Miss Stretchberry, through Love That Dog
has helped me as an adult to understand more!
It says that Sharon Creech is an award winning author. 
But, unlike in the English version,
 it omits the information that she was a teacher. 
That is so important to this book! 
Love That Dog is used in many classrooms, 
along with her other books. It is about teaching,
finding one's voice, expressing oneself through writing,
feeling, learning, growing...

(See her website & her social media 
for more about teaching with her books.) 

My complaints aside, 
I'm thrilled that French language readers
have the chance to love this book by Sharon Creech
& that I found it at Bibliothèque Gabriel Roy in Québec!