Archive for September, 2009

Making Space for Creativity

September 29, 2009

This week I started re-reading The Artist’s Way.  ( The author suggests we “drain” our brains at the beginning of each day with 3 pages of written words.  A process meant to get the junk out. I have done that for 3 days now.   Ridding myself of  some of that clutter is probably as good an idea as de-cluttering my kitchen every so often.  I am amazed (and perhaps appalled) at what comes out.  And already I feel more creative…  at least I feel more space up there.  Cleared out brain drawers ready for something new to fill them.   The author suggests you make a date with yourself (your artist child) and fill the void with whatever inspires you.  No problem for me,  I am inspired by practically everything, it is discipline that I lack but I am working on that.

I have been painting regulary.  Here are a couple of birds, one done in the same vein as the last post, the other done during our recent rainy vacation.  I have done a couple of others, too, but I am not sure you really want to see those!  Maybe someday I will post on what is not working for me.  Maybe.  There is some advantage to being sole author and editor to your blog!

Grunge-Bird-2Grunge Bird   12″x12″

Grunge-Bird-1 Untitled  6″x6″

  These are done in acrylic on canvas.  I find that I am liking acrylic more and more.  It doesn’t behave the same as oils or watercolour, it is it’s own beast and taming it is more difficult because it dries quickly and you are constantly in a race to do something before it dries.  I do have a retarder (for the paint, smarty) and I am using it liberally.

Maybe someday soon I will do a painting that is larger than a square foot!

Who Needs Soap Opera When You Have History

September 25, 2009

In an effort to come up with creative words to add to the painting I did today, I came across a dispute between James McNeill Whistler and John Ruskin.  If you are unfamiliar with these gentlemen, Whistler was an American artist whose most familiar painting is a portrait of his mother called “Arrangement in Grey and Black, the Artist’s Mother”   better known as “Whistler’s Mother.” 

John  Ruskin was an art critic, artist and poet who influenced and supported the Pre-Raphaelites, a group of artists who created a reform movement in the Victorian era.   He later became part of the Arts and Crafts Movement advocating a return to a craftsman base society.

The basis of the argument was Ruskin’s criticism of  Whistler’s “Nocturn in Black and Gold.”   Ruskin said  “I…never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.”  That clearly didn’t sit well with Whistler who sued Ruskin for  slander.  Whistler won the lawsuit but was only awarded a farthing and the suit left him broke.  Wonder what  Ruskin would say about Jackson Pollock.

Here is a juicy tidbit about Mr. Ruskin (rated pg-13).  His marriage to Effie Gray was annulled on grounds of  “incurable impotency.”  He disputed the charge saying he was willing to “prove his virility at the court’s request.”  I am guessing the judge didn’t allow the demostration because Effie was granted an annullment and later married John Everett Millais, one of the Pre-Raphaelites.

You are probably wondering what all this has to do with this blog post.  It has to do with imitation.  I was trying to find something clever to say about imitation other than “sincerest of flattery” and came across all this which was far more interesting .

Imitation is what this painting is.  I came across an artist’s work ( )yesterday and so loved it, I attempted to imitate it.  The work is my own, the style is an attempt at his.  There are bits of my painting I am pleased with, my swirls are painted freehand, I am rather proud of them, and it was great fun and very messy pouring paint on the canvas.   Then I took sandpaper to the canvas letting the raw sienna peek thru the blue. I am being brave giving you a link to his work and then putting my painting up for view.  There really is no comparision.  I am just trying to expand my universe.


12″x12″  acrylic on canvas

Webster’s defines coxcomb as “a conceited, foolish dandy.”  Yep, grounds for libel.


small critters make excellent subjects and sometimes good eats

September 23, 2009

I saw a spider today.  It was black and had a white triangle on it.  I walked into it’s silk thread and it fell onto what I was carrying.  At first I thought it had a piece of cut paper on it, the triangle was so perfectly shaped and pristine white.

I am not scared of spiders and bugs and find it amusing that others are.  Early in our marriage, my husband would actually let a spider get away before he gathered enough courage to kill it.    My daughter has given up shrimp and lobster because of their relationship to bugs.  She said there are two kinds of people in the world; after finding out lobsters are bugs, there are those who stop eating them and those who wonder if they would like other types of bugs.

I find some of these creatures beautiful (butterflies,moths and tiny ladybugs), some  amazing (like a walking leaf or praying mantis) and admittedly some disgusting (cockroaches and crickets).  But truly, the reason I find those so vile is not the look or even coming across one, but the thought of killing one.  They have squashy guts when you kill them.  And you cannot capture a roach to put it outside, but you should a cricket, because it is bad luck to kill one.

Here are some bugs done recently.


Cicada 6″x12″

acrylic on canvas


Moth 8″x8″

acrylic on canvas


Furry Moth 7″x5″

acrylic on canvas

and a quilt I did a few years ago


Beetlequilt 13″x18″

cotton fabric and cotton and metallic threads

Having laughed and fussed at Ken so much for all the escaped spiders in our house over the years, he has become a “quick draw” with a rolled up magazine and those that evade his swat these days, deserve to live.


September 20, 2009



Three wooden characters created while on a vacation a few years ago. 

The pieces looked like the discards swept up from some toy manufacturer’s floor.  They saw me coming and put a $30 price tag on a bucket full of these.  To be honest though, my kids and I milked a week’s worth of entertainment (at least I did, not sure they would agree) making these figures by just gluing the bits together!


Liking the images, I carved stamps of them.  Stamping the girls and a few flowers on reproductions of old postcards, I colored them and printed them  onto laser printable cotton fabric to create these small quilted pieces.


Junior Leaguer     6″x9″  



Party Girl     6″x9″



Cool Cat   6″x9″

I think I probably got my money’s worth.

Like Daughter, Like Mother

September 16, 2009

While gazing upon the messiness that I call a studio, my mother saw a tapestry I had hanging on my bulletin board.  I guess if I called it a display board, I wouldn’t sound so junior high schoolish, would I?  (Can I write an aside on an aside?  What do you think of whenever you hear someone say “would I”?   “Hare Lip” immediately comes to my mind.  Isn’t that just horrible?!!!  I cannot even remember the stupid joke that goes with that punch line!!!  I so wish I could choose what gets erased from my memory!)

Okay, back to being an adult.

So my mother, Julia Evatt, sees this tapestry and thinks it would be a great pattern for beading.  She photocopies my tapestry and creates this wonderful little beaded necklace of the image I wove.  I strongly requested she give it to me.  And she graciously did.



2.75″x4.5″  glass beads



 4″x5.5″ cotton and wool yarn

Julia may have beaded this but she is better known for her sculptures, paintings and poetry.  I will share some of those later if she will allow it.  She would want me to tell you that her image is wider than she would have liked.  She actually beaded this on a toilet paper roll and in it’s 3 dimensional plane, what she saw and what was the reality were two different things.  Lesson to be learned, always take into account perspective.

I loved the little beaded image and now have to find just the right little black dress to  pair with it!  For more of my tapestry images (and others too!) visit  This is a blog artist, Tommye Scanlin set up for her tapestry students.  I have posted a few images there.   Visit the archives to find them.

Editor’s note:  Please forgive any insensitive remarks made in this post.  They are the direct result of having survived junior high school.

a little R and R

September 11, 2009

Off to the beach for a short holiday. 


I leave behind my disarranged studio.   Standing watch is a Toulouse Lautrec copy by Bill Robinson, a St. George and the Dragon paper automaton, a puppet from (I am guessing) Indonesia, a gourd head by Suzannah done this summer at camp, a papier mache clown head ready for a body, a beanie baby and the butterflies (and other bugs) I have been working on.

Oooh, Butterflies

September 9, 2009


The Butterfly and the Bee

Methought I heard a butterfly

Say to the laboring bee,

“Thou hast no colors of the sky

On painted wings like me.”


“Poor child of vanity! those dyes,

And colors bright and rare,”

With mild reproof, the bee replies,

“Are all beneath my care.


“Content I toil from morn till eve,

And, scorning idleness,

To tribes of gaudy sloth I leave

The vanity of dress.”


William Lisle Bowles







So why is it that we don’t read poetry like this to our children these days?  Methinks we might have better vocabularies if we did! 

This was published originally in 1915 in the book The Home Book of Verse for Young Folks, my copy dates from 1956.  The best part is that the illustrations were done by Willy Pogany (I’m not talking about the butterflies above, they are my latest works, done over the last 2 days.  Acrylic on canvas).  Mr. Pogany was a wonderful pen and ink artist whose work appears in Rendering in Pen and Ink.  I have studied the pages of this book for years, envied the talents of the renderers, and tried my best to emulate their style.

So I went looking for a link to Mr. Pogany and the first site showed not his pen and ink  work, but some wonderful color illustrations.  Check out his diverse abilities here.,w.htm

Pebble Quilting

September 8, 2009

This is a blog for show and tell.  I didn’t think that  would be difficult but it is when I am unproductive!  So that you may see and listen, I am forced to dig into the archives again and show you pieces done some time ago. These are what I call my “Pebble Quilts”. I traced my drawings onto freezer paper having broken it down into colors and values (think stained glass). Using those pieces as a pattern, I cut the fabric and glued (with washable fabric glue) them to a backing fabric. These quilts are small and some of the pieces of fabrics are as little as 1/4″.  Being so small, the skin tones of the face have only 3 or 4 different fabrics.  A larger piece can have 8 to 10 fabrics for the skin alone.

When the pieces are all placed correctly, I sew it together on the machine using little circular motions.   Rather like making a figure eight over and over again, ending up looking like bunches of pebbles.  Hence the term pebble quilts. It sounds repetitive but it is so much fun using the sewing machine in a free form motion.  Attach that darning foot, drop those feed dogs and go for it!  What freedom it is not to have to sew a straight line!


(You might recognize this face from my earlier post: The Profile)



For those who don’t sew, “Feed Dogs” is the technical name for the little grippy thingies on the sewing machine that “walk” the fabric under the needle.

Writing on Writing

September 1, 2009



I have been practicing my copperplate calligraphy style for my future career as a calligrapher.  I read up on this style of writing.  It was originally called roundhand in England and came into practice after the printing press was created.  The makers of the plates for printing had a harder time creating the block lettering (uncial and such) popular at the time (think Old English typestyles) and this was an easier engraving to make.  And since they used copper plates it became known as copperplate style.  In America, it became known as Spencerian.  Can’t remember why.

It is not really easy for me to do.  And the pen nibs break easily but my sweet husband went to Pearl’s today and bought me more.  I will keep practicing and be ready to address your invitations!  Just let me know!!!

Oh, and while seaching thru my attic, I came across Wm. Shakespeare’s signature.  Up for sell, any takers?