Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Art, Apples and Fairy Houses

Yesterday I played with japanese papers, paint and wax. My favorite is the ghoulish lady above; I like to think of her as a consumptive poet. Feverish color in her cheeks and poor handwriting. I love how the pictures talk to you as you work.

She needed a sister and so she got one.

Then I went to school and played in wax some more. I think I've figured out the difference between using a torch and a heat gun on the wax. I have more control with the flame from the torch - it's like the difference between painting with a small detail brush and a big sloppy one.

Here is my magnum opus. It's the first one John hasn't made the pickle face over. That's progress.

The farmer has an art project of his own going on outside. He's building a home for our firewood. It is 27' x 10' and already I am coveting it to store my stuff in. He ordered the roofing today. I love a man who knows how to build things. I've learned so much from him. On our first date he picked me up in a '55 black Ford pickup and HE brought the picnic lunch of fried chicken and strawberries. (we went fishing and then to Bagby Hot Springs.) He taught me where the rainbow trout hide (behind the riffles) and I pretended like I was an old fisherwoman from a 'way back instead of the thoroughly sissy city girl that I am. He saw right through me and loved my charade. Ahh, sorry. I digressed.

Here's the little conestoga wagon (actually a cloche) bearing the peppers across the prairie - I mean the garden. Our peppers are still ripening inside. They don't know it's clammy and cold outside their little home.

Autumn brings the blooms of the Maxamillion Sunflowers. Multiple heads among the blue salvia. The flowers would look beautiful in a pumpkin vase if I were the sort that fussed. Instead I'll just take a picture of them and call it good.

The walnut orchard ready for the yearly visitation of the crow-angels. I love crows. Don't you ever be sayin' bad things about crows. They know things. I especially love their piercing cry.

Here are the fairy houses I promised you. Growing under the Douglas Firs in an area of the yard that is most like a forest floor. Don't the roofs look like shingles? Tiny yurts for fairies.

And these too. Our yard is full of mushrooms. If I were a real witch I would know which ones to cook up with the eyes of newt and frogs. Blech. No worry. I would never cook a frog.

Boxes of apples. This is autumn to me. Dodging the spider webs, gathering in the apples and pumpkins, readying all for winter. The veil between the worlds grows thinner and thinner. For the next few days we in the northern hemisphere can expect visitations and spirits and spooky business too. Hope you're enjoying the fun.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New Stamp, Paper and a Thank You

Here is my slab of rubber positioned next to the thumbnail sketches I did of possible designs to carve. Every step of carving rubber is pleasing to me. So much easier than all the plywood I slaved over long ago when making woodcuts. Now I can zip out a new stamp in about an hour.

And here it is, stamped on the paper next to the sketches. The last two that I made seemed masculine to me so with the shape and the wavy lines I hoped to make this one more feminine.

I tried it out on my journal pages first thing. Yay, I like it.

So time to finish the paper I primed last night. Here is a shot of the newspaper getting a coat of house primer. I used white on several sheets to play with.

And let them dry overnight.

Then awhile ago I went in and started stamping on them with my new stamps. I was going to use all my stamps but it was so messy that I just stuck to a few.

They look like a real mess from a distance but up close are some sweet spots. I've decided to use the paper in my collages instead of using it for wrapping paper.

The one piece of advice I have for anyone who wants to try this is not to keep the paper in such big pieces.

It's a pain to get around all sides of it when it is big and floppy.

I left a lot of the backgrounds white thinking I can always go back and glaze color over them later.

If you are taking a class from me I'll bet some of this shows up in your goody packets.

So that ends the newspaper project. One thing I like is the way the paper ripples with the paint on it. Sort of like kraft paper only thinner. I love paper, don't you? I have samples of the expensive stuff all over my studio that I just take out and fondle from time to time. But *shhh* my favorite paper of all is used paper bags from the grocery store. I'm saving them up to make my next journal. Yes! You can come along and watch. I'll put it all up here when I do it.

Behold the box of wonders that arrived in the mail yesterday. My sweet angel Carla, because she is thoughtful and herself, gathered up this bundle of love and sent it to me. I wish she could have seen me opening it and admiring each item. I sat right down and glued the red chinese cut out faces in my journal and then cut out the pictures of the head sculptures she made and glued those in my journal thusly:

and painted silly bodies on them. John didn't "get" my illustration; maybe I've been reading too many cartoons out of the New Yorker magazine. At any rate, thank you dear Carla, for making my day special.

Back to the studio now to start tearing the paper bags for the journal project. I don't promise I'll get to it right away but I'm going to start collecting my materials so that when the time is ripe I'll be ready .

Friday, October 26, 2007

Amber Shellac

I had the most fun yesterday following Juju Vail's instructions in the July/August 2007 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. First I cut out 2" squares of various printed papers and glued them in my journal. Then I drew some stuff on them. My idea was to show some of the clothing styles we wore when I was in high school. I'm still going to do something with the idea. But anyhoo, when it came to the 'old' varnish part I didn't have any so I substitued Amber Shellac and I love the stuff. (needs ventilation! so many good things do.) So this is the page as it stands. Smeary graphite, paint, grey Roma paper.

I also cut a new rubber stamp. I've decided to cut one stamp or stencil a day until I have a pile of new ones to make decorated paper out of. I think I'll use double sheets of newpaper with paint, stamps, stencils, etc. That should make some cool paper to play with.

Putter on, fellow doodlers.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

IEA Meeting at Natasia's Studio

This month we met at the studio of Natasia Chan. Her space is on the 2nd story of a downtown warehouse; white-painted brick with a high ceiling and skylights - spacious, light and big. Located in a building full of artists' studios; paintings and art everywhere in the hallways and walls - so inspiring to be surrounded by so much intense art making. Not to mention being surrounded by other artists.

We had eleven members present, each bringing a couple of paintings to share. We are still getting to know each other and it is helpful to understand where each of us is in our search. So we shared our methods and concerns. Everyone tried to help everyone else. I learned new techniques; more than one. Wow. When people get together and share openly, everyone wins. Working together for the good of all. (On the far right is our new member, Jim Talt.

I should share some websites here. On the left in the above photo is our tireless organizer, Linda Womack. Natasia is on the stool, then Kimberly Kent and Mazarine Treyz.

On the left is Inanna McGraw and next to her the effervescent Shelly Shinjo. I met Shelly in my class at PNCA and I love her non-representational paintings. Check 'em out!

Left to right: Amy Stoner, Melinda Fellini, Andrea Benson and Shelly in the back. We are looking forward with enthusiasm to the Conference in Boston in June of 2008 and the retreat in Carmel Valley in April. Next meeting: November 16.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Settling in for Autumn

Last night on the way to class I noticed the autumn leaves blowing everywhere; swirling around the corners of the downtown buildings and golden yellow against the foggy, rainy grey streets. I had to put on my parka to cross the street for the parking meter - the wind was very cool and blowing hard. It feels like October. I'm catching up with myself after a wonderful, filled-to-the-brim summer.

I look a photo of our classroom to share with you. We meet in an old brick warehouse in the industrial area of NW Portland. I love the room with its high ceilings and smell of art supplies. I love old, old buildings with wood floors and outdated wiring. I feel at home here. I am a student and my classes have so often met in rooms like this.

Last night we learned techniques for mixing dry pigments with water and then incorporating that into the wax. After Jeff's demonstration we retired to our individual stations to ponder our slabs of plywood. Knitted brows. Holy cow, what is art? What am I doing? I don't know the answer to that. I only know that the materials fill my heart with joy and wonder. When the world is insane, art mends my heart, over and over. Music, stories, words and color.

The rains are here so we've left the remaining grapes on the vines for the birds. We have a city of birds that live with us and we feel a responsibility for them. They need to eat too. (Just leave the figs alone a while longer, please?)

Japanese Anemones, gaily bobbing in the wind. A little battered but still a welcome sight.

Our wonderful, warty squash supply. Lined up in a dry place where their stems will dry off for winter storage. Like a little army of turbaned gnomes.

Do you like roasted chilis on your eggs, your tostadas, your enchiladas and in your tamales? Mmmm, me too. John develops his own strains from seeds he's saved over the years. Muy, muy sabroso!

After we've enjoyed the radicchio, we enjoy the flowers of the radicchio. Did you know they were this pretty?

This is a variety of brown tomato that John tried this year. Tomatillos in the background. Both necessities at our house.

Do you think potatoes are pretty? I do. These are yellow finns and they taste like buttuh! I love buttuh.

Volunteer hearty cyclamen discovered among the artichokes. Notice how the new blossoms spiral up out of the undergrowth. When I'm out in the garden, smelling the soil, the rain, the vegetation, I know I am a good animal and that my home is the earth. I am home. My heart stills and I am content.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

October Joy

I cannot remember a happier time in my life. People are my inspiration and reason for living. What an empty world it would be without the saints and angels and colorful people that inhabit my reality and my imagination. They fill up all the space in my head not devoted to dithering.

Lemon Drops and Indian food at the Bombay Cricket Club with (OMG!!!!!!!) MARY ANN! You know! The stencil queen from LA. My first internet "date". Holy guacamole is she ever the coolest. We had a marvelous time sharing, laughing, cussing, eating and drinking. Now I can picture her better when I go to her blog and read about what she is doing with her hours and days. She is the champagne of human beings; bubbly, dizzifying, constantly in motion and generating new fun. I was charmed.

Oh, gosh, I love this picture of us together. I am lucky girl, happy girl, thinking about the awesomeness of Mary Ann. Love you, girlfriend!

As if that wasn't enough, there's more. Yesterday was somebody's birthday. I and a pack of other admirers gathered in the lounge of the Embassy Suites where Art & Soul is in full swing to celebrate another beautiful light-filled being. katie. Ah, katie. Happy Birthday, honored soul. Long may your days be; the world needs more just like you.

Mary Stanley came to add her love to the party.

Look what she gave to katie. A hand hooked pillow with a little person in the design that so resembles katie's spirit - light generating from her head and heart.

katie gave every person at the table a silk kimono. On HER birthday. Oh, my. Here is miss ham-i-am modelling hers. Too much.

Carla and Michael. Yup. They got kimonos too.

Lisa and Shari. Most of these teachers had put in a day of work and yet had the energy to celebrate. And some of them will be teaching again in the morning. I know how exhausting it is and I commend them for it.

Cindy and D J.

Carla, Tracie Lyn and katie. A good time was had by all.

On the more-good-news-front, I'm sending a shout out to my friends in Bellevue whose daughter has become engaged to her sweetheart and friend. I've known this young woman since she was a baby and it is lovely to trace her journey into adulthood. Her parents have guided her well and her future is promising. I love it when life is like a fairy tale.

Wishing everyone a beautiful month. Spring for the Aussies, Fall for us northerners. Make the moments good ones.