Archive for August, 2009

Binding the Past

August 28, 2009

Several years ago I took a course in bookbinding and found it to be a most gratifying pasttime except I could only create books with blank sheets.  Then I found out my printer accepted and printed beautifully on Rives printmaking paper.  I started experimenting with Photoshop and old photos and printing them on the rather thick paper.  Finally, content for my books!  I took some photographs my grandfather, T.J. Eubanks had made of his family and created a book for my grandmother and then one for my mother and one for me.  Only I never finished mine and the unsewn pages sat on the shelf until today.

Today I decided to finish it.  The covers have a photo of my grandfather’s father behind a piece of glassine paper and is framed with a handprinted paper I found in an art store in Athens (Georgia, not Greece).  The signatures are sewn together with a chain stitch in waxed black thread.  If you are unfamiliar with bookbinding, a signature is the grouping of papers sewn together into the book.  I love the way this creates an open spine and how it shows off the stiches. 

I am very proud to be the granddaughter of  T.J.  He had a passion for photography.  My favorite story to tell of  him is that he devoted a room in his home to be his darkroom to develop his pictures.   Mind you, he had a wife and eight children in this five room house.  I don’t doubt my grandmother could think of many other uses for the room, but I am not sure she had much choice in the matter.

My studio, in its disarranged state, consumes our two car garage in an eight room house with only three  (at the moment) people living in it.  No car has ever rolled into the space and I can assure you, only a matchbox car would fit!   I am constantly aware of how much space I take up, how many possessions I have, how much stuff I collect.   Do you know that Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t believe in closets?  He chastised the designer and homeowner who wanted to put closets in their home for storage.  Can you imagine life without storage space?  Perhaps we would get rid of all the stuff and pare down to the necessities.  Hmmmm, that would be oil paints, canvases, pastels, books, paper, inks, pen, watercolours, glue, gesso, yarn, drawing tables, looms, easels……

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fanned-out

cover

Spline

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Here is the now completed book.  The overall size is 4 1/2″ wide x 5 3/4″ high.

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Collaborative Effort

August 26, 2009

It is not too often I would hand my pastel over to someone and say “want to have a go?”, but this is exactly what I did a couple of nights ago to my daughter.  I had started this portrait and she was standing over my shoulder.  I could hear her mentally critiquing it  and I thought, why not just let her “fix” it?  She put her talents to work and improved the likeness.  After she had two days on which to work on it, I  took back over and added my final 2 cents worth.  Suzannah hasn’t seen it yet, wonder what she will say….

You may notice one image is upside down.  This is a good exercise to do with your paintings and drawings while you are observing them.  Usually, any major errors in form and color will be glaring right at you this way.  It also helps with composition.  If your composition doesn’t work upside down, it probably isn’t working right side up either.   This trick  usually works when you observe your work thru a mirror too.  I don’t know what mirror image upside down does to a painting!  Sometimes, I like my work better upside down.  Such is the case here!

This was done in pastel on the block printed linen from a few posts back.

collaboration-pastel-upside

collaboration-pastel

Untitled

12″x18″  pastel on linen

Lounge Chair Birdwatching

August 23, 2009

Either I am just getting old and therefore enjoy pasttimes as others who fall within a similar age frame, or birdwatching has become a very popular hobby.  I am hoping it is the latter, but since I sit daily out in the backyard watching  the birds hanging out at the feeder, perhaps the former is a more apt description.  Key word there is sit.  Because that is what you have to do to watch the birds.  They soon forget you are there and you become a scientist observing wild creatures in their natural habitat all the while drinking your hot coffee snuggled in your most comfy lounge chair.

And this is my oberservation.  Female cardinals are mean.  Or at least one at my feeder is.   Maybe she had her eyes on a brilliant red male and was fighting off competition or was just plain hungry, but she kept chasing away any other female cardinal that came to the feeder.  And in the process all the other little birds stayed away too.  But I have seen many species visiting the feeder and they are all so wonderful (exception, none are wonderful for some time after watching Hitchcock’s “The Birds”). 

My favorite birds are the mourning doves.  I just love their slow movements and laid back attitude.   Study them and pigeons sometime.  The iridescent colors that shimmer on their feathers are beautiful.  Then, as an exercise in observation, sit back and try to name the colors you just saw.  You may be surprised at what you hear yourself name. Doves and pigeons will never again look like dull or dirty birds to you.

Tonight at the dinner table, ask a “Suzannah kind of question”.   If you could be a bird, what kind would you be and why?

chickadee

Cardinal

Here are two birds with ribbons done in acrylic.

More Linocuts

August 19, 2009

I have been working on a paying job!  I have been addressing envelopes for a young woman’s wedding, my first commission as a calligrapher!  It is taking some time, so the jury is still out as to whether this is a viable occupation or not!  But the envelopes are looking pretty.  If they didn’t have names and addresses on them, I would show them to you!

Instead, I will show some more block prints I did about a year ago.  These are small, 2″ x 2″ each and are printed on scrapbook paper.  I had printed some and made cards of them.  Those were individually watercoloured  and most sold at a wonderful little gallery that is unfortunately now closed.

  birdbird-nestpuppyrabbitbee

and after all those organic images, here is an old fashioned sewing machinesewing-machine

I know I should approach other galleries with my work, but have not gathered the courage.  I need to keep repeating to myself “what is the worse that can happen?” and go for  it.  Soon.

Block Printing

August 17, 2009

One artistic endeavor I keep coming back to is carving linoleum blocks and printing with them.  It is just very satisfying and easy to carve a block (really a  1/4″ thick sheet of eraser-like material; in a pinch, it works fine to erase number 2 pencil marks) and print an image over and over again.  You feel like you are accomplishing so much.

Last week I did the pastel on a printed piece of linen.  I absolutely loved the fabric (it was a sample that an interior designer was throwing out years ago), yardage of which I am sure cost a fortune and I only had enough to cover the one board!  So, being confident of my ability to do anything (a personality trait that fails me miserably at times), I decided that I could block print linen myself. 

So, using the tools of the trade,tools-of-the-trade

I created some lino blocks.   The large leaf image is based on a portion of a William Morris print.  He did the same thing with wood blocks to print his fabrics.  (“Same thing” is a slight hugh exaggeration.  Google William Morris, you will be impressed if you don’t know all about him already!)

Here are the results of my carving and printing.red-on-linen-1

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I was so excited about the results that I decided to show them to you before I painted on them.  I thought it quite worth the mess of red oil ink I had all over the place.  Ask Solomon (a little boy visiting his auntie in the neighborhood) how messy it is, he came knocking at the door in the midst of my printing and saw my red hands.  He asked, “Just exactly what are you doing?”  And although I had never met him before, he immediately wanted to come in and help me.  Apparently just the right kind of messiness for a very bored young boy!

How to come up with an original craft or how to totally wreck your studio

August 15, 2009

Recently, I was approached by my newest BFF, April Harwood, to think about teaching a crafting class for ladies at my church.  Knowing that it would be fun, I gladly accepted.  It was left to me to come up with an idea.  I thought there must be a happy medium between what I guide the preschoolers to make each week and the overly complicated Jacob’s Ladder shown in a previous post.  So, the challenge was to decide on what to make and make a prototype which could be used for marketing and to do it with a short deadline, one full week.

How to come up with an original craft idea.

Editor’s note: You can’t.  Everything has been done before as evident by the number of books published on crafting as shown in Step 3 below.  Accept that and make whatever your own. 

Step 1.  Ponder for 3 full days on it.

Step 2.  Send son to UGA, daughter to Gainesville and husband to office.  With an empty house and available time, change pondering to fretting over what to do.

Step 3.  Look thru a gazillion books for inspiration.

books

Step 4.  Tear up the studio creating a prototype.

prototype

There is a drawing board somewhere below this.  Really.drawing-board

Step 5.  Borrow from ideas of the past (thanks Catherine Moore www.characterconstructions.com ) and patterns from books.  Look at purchased books of the same sort for construction details.

Step 6.  Paint, cut, glue, iron, punch, and string together paper, cloth and ribbon to create a carousel book. 

opened-

closed

Step 7.  Hope that the ladies will want to make their own!

Stay tuned for more info on the upcoming crafting night at GracePointe Marietta.

Two days later and still using pastels

August 12, 2009

Not much to say today, just wanted to show you the latest painting on my easel. 

Pastel-on-linen-2

Untitled

12″x 16″   pastel on printed linen

If it’s Monday, I must be using Pastels…

August 10, 2009

Actually most of this was done on Sunday.  I showed it to my son and received a “Wow”; my nephew and was pleased to get an “Awesome”; and then to my daughter who said, “You need to make her neck darker”.

Oh well, she was right. 

If my last post was Esther this must be Salome.  There is no innocence about this woman.  It is a new technique for me, painting on a commercially printed linen I have mounted onto a masonite board.  I think I like it.

Pastel-on-Linen-1

Untitled

pastel  12″x12″

It’s good to be Queen

August 8, 2009

Esther was lovely in form and features according to the book named for her in the Bible. She went without any extrarraneous bangles, baubles and other such bling (if you want to translate the Bible this way) when it was her turn to be presented to the King Xerxes.  And she won his favor and became the queen.

This young woman makes me think of Esther with an innocence and beauty that needs nothing to enhance it. I hope I have conveyed that in this small portrait I painted today.

Esther

Esther

6″x6″   oil on canvas

It’s Child’s Play

August 7, 2009

Go back to your school days in home ec. and remember what it was like to cut out a garment and sew it together.  Do you recall how complicated it seemed?  Especially trying to make that tubular shaped sleeve fit into a round flat hole?

I am here to tell you that  understanding patterns and sewing a garment from one, is child’s play compared to creating a Jacob’s Ladder, a simple toy to play with but a complicated feat of engineering to create!

Today, I played host to the First Friday Play date with several sweet women who gather to make stuff.  The host has the privilege of deciding what to create.  I think my idea to create a Jacob’s Ladder was perhaps not my best.  I couldn’t explain how to make it although I had  made two as practice!   Ask any of those frustrated women in attendance!  But with silence and concentration, I managed to put one together.

And let me tell you, I am proud of myself for having figured it out!  It’s not easy!  

wm morris ladder 2

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My son, Taylor, recorded my “William Morris Ladder”  in action!

I have called it  the William Morris Ladder because of his designs which I cut from a postcard book to put on the sides.  Then I used two of his quotes to make it a “reading” book and not just a “picture” book in addition to  being an interactive toy book.   One of quotes reads “If you cannot learn to love real art, at least learn to hate sham art”.   I think this little “artistic” effort may fall into the sham category but I feel smarter for having made it!  And to those who came, thanks for your patience and good luck.