Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blog Hop for Artists

Paintings in process in my studio
So what's a Blog Hop? It's a way to introduce new artists and their blogs to my readers.

My friend Ruth Armitage invited me to participate and directed me to answer some questions about my work. I'm happy to oblige. Thanks, Ruth.

Ruth is an energetic and creative woman who specializes in painting in watermedia. Many who live in the Northwest will recognize Ruth's early watercolor work with its focus on family photographs. She's currently working on colorful watermedia paintings that are abstractions of her memories of the family farm. When I study her large paintings I recognize fields, streams, roads, clusters of farm buildings, crop circles and so much more. She's added acrylic paint to her tool kit along with stencils and stamps and the results are amazing and are garnering her national awards and recognition. See her work here: Ruth Armitage.

Here are my answers to some rather tough questions:

How does my creating process work?

            I start work by writing. I enter my studio and go either to my computer or to my easy chair, pick up a journal and start writing, thinking about what I intend to do that day. I state my intention for the day’s work and even if I don’t stick to my first intention it still gives me a starting point. I find it’s easiest to work in series and I have several going at once… maps, family history, faith are a few series ideas on a list I made several years ago. I enjoy designing interesting composition and sometimes work on a series of non-representational pieces using papers I’ve created.

            Once in a while I need to build up my stash of collage papers so I clear off my big design table, get out different types of white paper and watermedia paint and have fun painting the papers using many different methods of surface design I learned or developed over the years of working as a textile artist. I also generate papers using stencils and stamps and simple printing techniques. The resulting papers feature unique colors, combinations, visual textures, and patterns that are unavailable elsewhere. That’s why I call myself a “collage painter”. I paint with papers I’ve created.

Painted paper file

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

            Unlike most collage artists I rarely use appropriated images in my work. It’s easy to get into trouble when using images torn from books and magazines and the resulting work tends to seem rather impersonal. I’ve lived a long time, (I’m in my mid-70s), and my life has been interesting enough that I have lots of memories of travel and experiences that produce all the stories I need to create a body of personal work. Memories are the stuff I build on, making my work unique to me. I have a strong background in design and color and am a stickler for producing pieces which are structured on good design. After decades of working with paper, paint, and textiles I find that composition seems to happen naturally, almost without thought.

What am I working on?

            This summer I’m concentrating on drawing. I believe that good drawing skills empower an artist to make better work no matter what her/his preferred genre. I enrolled in the first session of Sketchbook Skool which started in April, and am now working on the second session. I’ve become obsessed with daily drawing and my skills are improving.

Drawing - Watercolor Table
            At the same time I’m working on a series of collages which feature my big collection of old road maps, mostly of the sort that were free at gas stations all across the country. I also use AAA maps and maps collected on foreign travels. I cut the maps into strips, tear them into sections (often along the original folds line where they naturally tear), combine them with painted papers, or use the pattern of lines within a map as the inspiration for a painting.

Shredded maps and spray inks
 And now to introduce you to the three artists who've agreed to join me on this blog hop:

1.  Judy Wise: Though I haven't actually met Judy I've followed her blog for years, having seen her incredible art journals on line. Judy is an amazing woman who works primarily in encaustic and is known for her book, Plaster Studio which was published by North Light, as well as several ebooks available on her blog and website. Judy teaches both locally and internationally in Australia, Bali, and Mexico. 

2.  Barbara Loyd: I met Barbara in Athens, Greece when an art tour group met for three weeks of painting in the Greek Isles. I knew nothing about watercolor or painting and Barb knew everything. I was in awe of the skillful way she mixed color, and I'm continually amazed about her deep knowledge of color and paint. Her blog, Color in our World, is all about color, its history and its use. She taught art for many years in the Texas school system where she now lives surrounded by fields of blue bonnets. 

3.  Annie Salness: Annie is my neighbor although we hadn't met until last year when we were introduced by a mutual friend, Carol Marine. Annie has painted for years but had a major setback when a stroke left her partially paralyzed on her right side. But nothing slows Annie down for long; she taught herself to paint with her left hand and kept right on painting.  People who know her work can see no difference in her skills. She loves to paint people's pets and also enjoys commissions.

I could tell you more about these three remarkable women but the ball is now in their court and I'll leave it to them to tell you more about their own work.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Do Two Fish Make A Skool?

Fishes Teapot by Jo Reimer   
I was driving home Saturday from a round of errands when I had this crazy urge to stop at Home Goods just to see if they had something I had to have. I found this teapot! I HAD to have this teapot. It needed drawing and if I didn't buy it someone who doesn't draw might buy it and then that sweet little teapot would never be famous in that special way that teapots get when someone who loves them draws them. I'm still grinning over my find and I hope you'll smile a little, too.

Sketchbook Skool is over for the summer but I'm still drawing, not exactly like a mad woman, but lots, lots for me, at least. It's getting easier. I see the shapes more accurately and feel more confident with my marks and now I can say that I have established a drawing practice, one which I intend to keep up here on out. 

Do I plan to enroll in the next session of SBS? Yes, absolutely. It's been so good for me and for thousands of others. A new session starts in October and both of the two original sessions, Beginning and Seeing, are also available.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Simple magazine collages, a beginners class

Four of  my friends were sure they couldn't make art but I proved them wrong. Using nothing but magazine pages and a fre pieces of my painted paper we made these works of art in less than two hours. I'm so proud of them.

by Joanne Isom
10 x 6"
Five friends who aren't familiar with making art spent part of an afternoon learning to make simple collages using torn magazine pages. They each experienced the shift that so often happens during the creative process, when ones original intention shifts into creating something that wasn't part of the original plan. It's usually better because it comes intuitively and from somewhere deep within.
Joan Anderson
We worked on gesso end cardboard, fast, but without confidence at first, and then the magic started to happen. Of course I helped, suggesting improvements in composition and offering encouragement when confidence faltered, but the results were spectacular.
Lois Bennett
Lois, a professional photographer, has an obvious eye for contrast and had a grand time making a mess with glue as she played with light and color.

Loie Goff
10 x 6" 
It was interesting to me to look through the collection of images my friends tore from the magazines. Each asked me to look through their images and "read" what I saw in their choices. Loie loves simplicity, spareness, and containment. That's apparent in this lovely collage. While sticking to her color scheme she chose images which speak about serenity and careful placement.

Jo Reimer
Demo collage
This is the collage I made as a demo, quickly torn papers glued to the support to form a background overlaid with  a photo and words suggest cheerfully and energetically living the best life possible at the moment.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Simple Sketching Gear

Minimizing my gear for a day of sketching in the city required leaving lots of handy tools at home, and although I packed lighter than usual I still carried too much.

 These items went into my small Ellington purse: (no longer available)
  • 7" square Stonehenge sketchbook
  • Small Moleskine sketchbook
  • Pencil bag with 2 copic multiliner SP, mechanical pencil and stump, bit of eraser and Magic Eraser, mister, Pentel waterbrush.
  • Small Altoids tin with 7 colors, metal bookmark with velcro, used to mount the tin to the top edge of the sketchbook.
  • bit of terry toweling, cuff from sock, pack of tissues- all used to wipe brush.
  • large flat waterbrush
  • 2 Inktense pencils, black and sienna
  • Small water bottle
I carried my lightweight Walkstool and used it often, but probably could have found a seat on park benches, low walls, steps, or simply stood to draw.

Personal items were packed into the outside pockets (thin wallet, keys, cell phone, sunglasses, lipstick)
My little purse was jam-packed and it wasn't exactly easy to get to things. When working in the field I want to lay my hands right on the item I need.

I didn't use:
  • the tissues or the cuff. A bit of toweling is sufficient. 
  • pencil, stump, erasers
  • the sienna pencil
  • the Moleskine sketchbook
 I drank the water but could have done without carrying it since I could get water just about anywhere.
And frankly, for sketching I didn't need the watercolor kit or the brushes. It's just habit to pack them. I'm love color but all too often I mess up a good sketch by trying add color in the field.

Next time I go out sketching  I'll leave all the watercolor gear at home and I'll take a larger assortment of sizes of pens, from an .01 to a 1.0 and a brush marker, and place my attention on drawing and leave the paint for later in the studio. After this experience, and quite a few others, I hope to pare down to carrying just a small sketchbook (whatever I'm using at the time) and my pencil case with a few pens in assorted sizes.

Monday, July 14, 2014

July Sketches

I've spent very little time working in my studio this summer other than working at my desk/computer. However, I've been drawing every day this summer and enjoying every minute of it, getting outside and really looking at the details of the world around me.

Twice I joined Rene Eisenbart to paint in local gardens. This rose was done Friday and is my first attempt at drawing and painting a rose.

Then yesterday I participated in the West Coast Urban Sketchcrawl. We checked in near the Roosevelt statue in the Park Blocks and fanned out to sketch whatever caught our eyes. When we gathered at noon for a group picture and Show and Tell I was blown away by the amazing work that was laid out on long tables for us to see. 

St. James Lutheran Church
My first subject was a nearby door in a church. I was struck by the contrast between the two parts of the same building at St. James, and by the mysterious non-functioning doorway and  the way the beautiful old building contrasted with the strikingly contemporary white office structure on the left.

The Old Church
When we first moved to Portland I attended this church. Now The Old Church is used as a venue for all sorts of events, especially concerts and recitals. This drawing is of the porte cochere. 

After lunch we continued to work until quitting time at 4pm. The Portland Art Museum graciously welcomed all the Urban Sketchers to draw in the galleries, free of charge! I watched others draw, including a new friend, Darsie Beck from Vashion Island, WA. Darsie has invented an amazing sketching bag that has a flap that folds out to form a platform on which to rest one's sketchbook while painting/drawing. See it at his website

Quick sketch of my yummy lunch, tied together with a strip of deli paper.

Downtown construction
My last sketch, of a new downtown building with its massive crane and nest of orange plastic construction fencing at the top. I messed up the sky something awful by starting on dry paper on a hot dry day when even the water on my waterbrush dried almost before I could use it. 

I'm posting drawings like this so that someday, maybe 5 years down the road, I can look back and see how far I've come as a result of drawing every day. We'll see. I trust the process!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Published again!

What a happy morning when I opened my email Friday to find that Mary Nasser had published an article featuring me and my map collage paintings on her blog, Mixed Media Map Art!  

I've shown you some of my map art before but in case you missed it here's one of the pieces: 

Prairie Grass - Oklahoma

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Art Illustrates a Magazine Cover

Illustrating the Cover Story

My art graces the cover of the current issue of Divinity, the alumni magazine for Duke University's Divinity School. Yes, I'm bragging, especially because it wasn't because of anything I did except for blogging about making art using my collection of road maps. 

The magazine's editor contacted me a few months ago asking if I would allow her to use four of my map collages to illustrate the leading article, "Maintaining Good Roads", in the Spring 2014 Alumni magazine. She had seen my work online. How cool is that!

If you're interested in seeing the article with other photos of my artwork or to download the article in PDF go here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Here are some recent drawings, done while on vacation. I'm drawing for several hours each day and enjoying every minute.

As I was drawing this building a man stopped to talk. He's the owner of the local bike shop, a former medical illustrator and flute player. I enjoy the people who stop to talk.

This is Mike's bike shop.

And next door is the kite shop, Once Upon A Breeze.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Drawing my kitchen

This week at Sketchbook Skool our instructor is Tommy Kane who is passionate about detailed drawings. The demo was of Tommy methodically drawing his kitchen so I decided I could do that, too, and I did. This is the one wall of the kitchen at the beach.  I was happy with my drawing until I started coloring the shiny black dishwasher. Maybe I'll just collage some paper on top of the black hole and have a place to journal.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Drawing stuffed birds and old dolls, Sketchbook Skool assignments

 I had lots of errands today, not much time to draw, and no compelling subject until I remembered my doll. My grown daughter thinks this doll is scary and won't even look at it, but then she never was one to like playing with dolls. I loved my dolls and cherished the few I owned. I only kept one, though, and only because of the dress she wore, one I made when I was nine... to match my sundress.

Golden Eagle

I had a wonderful time yesterday, drawing birds at our local Audubon Society where there are lots of stuffed animals who patiently posed as I took my time trying to nail the shapes and values. I also tried my hand at drawing live birds at the feeder and one perched on an attendants' hand.

 Another day I drew Lisa as she was giving me a pedicure. I wasn't happy with the drawing because it couldn't get the contour of her forehead and nose right, with her head down most of the time and rarely absolutely still. However, she was overjoyed and thanked me for drawing her. One never knows how something simple will touch another person.

When I started this blog its purpose was personal, to keep a record of the art I create each day. Somehow I lost my way and stopped keeping the daily record. I want to start again. While I don't complete a piece of art every day I usually do something creative whether it's painting paper, playing with my gelli plate, taking photographs, gardening,sewing, or even canning. I intend to do a better job of reporting this daily activity by sharing it here on my blog in hopes that what I do matters to someone else, too.

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