Monday, March 24, 2008


All 10 of the most recent Sermon Notes were installed in the Worship Center of my church in time for Easter. In these photos you can get an idea of how they look in the room. There are 5 pieces hanging on each side with one, Victorious, featured at the side front above a small side stage, very well lit by spots below and above. This was the topic of the Easter sermon. 3 other pieces on each side were also lit by a "slit spot" but the technician wasn't able to light all of them at this time. The artwork added much needed color to an otherwise drab room.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Organized chaos

"Jo, do you dare show what your studio looks like after you finished your project?" she said. I took the last of the current series to the photographer/printer today, and after that phone call with my friend I decided to take a few photos to show you what my studio looks like. It's organized chaos. While I'm working I don't bother with keeping my space tidy but once the project is finished or every few weeks, whichever comes first, set my timer for an hour or two and dive in and work as fast as I can for that brief time, sorting, filing, putting things where they belong and making the space look orderly. It doesn't last. I know all about organizing and have many books on the subject. I could teach organizational skills for the studio. I just can't do it consistently... don't see the point.
I have work stations set up and they serve me well. There a long counter along one wall where I work on collages and everything is at hand. With drawers underneath and plenty of counter space its an efficient work area. There's a paper cutter at the end of the counter, a revolving utensil rack for pens/pencils, a knife rack on the wall for scissors, and its handy to the computer and printer. As I stand here working I can look down into the main space of my home.

To the left of this counter on a lower section of counter is where my computer and printer live, along with file drawers and drawers for stencils, alphabet stamps and pads. I can swivel my desk chair and work on a large table where I usually sit to add the text to my collages.

This space is on the second floor and I have lots of big windows that overlook our back garden and the distant mountains.

Here are a couple of views of my stamping setup. I made two book makers' sewing cradles to house my most-used alphabet stamps. It eases the awkwardness that often comes with handling the tiny stamps. People have asked if I do all the text with some kind of stamp. Yes, I do a lot of it with stamps, and no, it isn't difficult but it sure is time-consuming, doing this one at a time. When a section of my own hand lettering works I prefer to do it by hand; otherwise I hand stamp, or stencil the words. Some of the text can be computer generated but I prefer the hand work most of the time.

Then the last area that's important for this work is my big 4 x 8' work table. I had it made years ago by a cabinet maker when I was doing so much work with fabric. It has 4 huge drawers and big open sections where I keep supplies. Here I'm set up for painting. The colorful surface is a large sheet of hardboard on which I work. It has gathered layers and layers of paint from many months of painting with acrylics. Someday I'll probably use it as the background for a large painting, or cut it into several smaller pieces and then start over with another piece of board.

The multi-drawered chest under the window is an antique Butterick pattern cabinet but paint supplies have replaced the patterns which used to crowd the drawers. The top is protected by a sheet of plywood and provides another work surface... or flat storage. It's a good place to lay paintings to dry.

And now as my thanks to you for hanging in for this studio tour, here is the first and the last piece in this sermon notes series.

Monday, March 10, 2008


While uploading the most recent work to my flickr album I realized I hadn't shown you yet another in the series, Forgiven. I lost control, my friend. I just threw every color I knew at this piece which has been the most work intensive of the series as well as the most emotional. This refers to the forgiving nature of Jesus and his final sacrifice.
What fun I had with this one. An early art teacher said something like, "keep changing your color as you add it to your work", and another said "make each corner different". Remembering that advice I painted the background yellow and used a variety of reds in each corner to form a yellow cross.
Then I sat down with my stamps and colored papers that had been cut into squares and torn into skinny off-kilter rectangles and stamped my heart onto paper. Then I glued the papers that refered to Jesus's forgiving nature to the arms of the cross, and laid my own sins at the foot of the cross.

Gracious and Victorious

I admire artists who do commission work but I've never enjoyed doing commissions and usually refuse... but right now I find myself working on my own commission: to get all 9 of the current pieces in the sermon notes series done by the end of this week so that they can be printed, mounted and hung in my church by Easter. I've finished 8 and have the design ready in my head for the last one.

The big challenge is that the last two are done without my hearing my pastors sermon or having any notes and I'm hoping I get it right. All I have are the titles Obedient and Victorious, a lot of Bible knowledge and a good dictonary, and a bunch of help from God. Victorious" is already done and I am the one feeling a bit of victory. I did the background for this one for Gracious and when it was finished with it's glorious colors I just knew it was perfect for Victorious.

Then I tackled Gracious and went with greens because my son opined that gracious was a green word. This one is painted. I started by painting my 140# watercolor block with a couple of different yellows... acrylic. Then I worked back on top of the dry paint with several green layers but didn't let them dry before overlaying a large leaf stencil and removing color by scrubbing over the stencil with a damp paper towel, removing much of the greens and leaving a hint of yellow leaves. Because of its simplicity of design and topic it needed a quiet layer of words which I stamped out letter by letter.

Yes, it takes a lot of time to do the work but I so enjoy this quiet time for meditation and prayer and I don't mind the work at all. However, I got so caught up in the lettering for the following piece that I didn't realize that my posture was so bad and gave myself a painful neck ache.

And here is Victorious, the Easter centerpiece.

I have one more to do, Obedient, and I'm excited about the composition I've come up with. It hasn't come together yet but I've been playing with papers and colors. I want the dominant color to be purple with splashes of all the other colors I've used, but when I dipped into my compost I couldn't find enough variety of purple paper, nor could I find the right color of purple paint or ink. However, I had an aging stash of Procion Mx dyes that I once used to dye fabric.

Fabric dyes lose their potency after a couple of years, producing less intense colors, but I had nothing to lose except time. So I pulled out the purple, magenta, and a blue and started playing. I stirred the powder into a small amount of water and poured that onto cartridge paper (standard copy paper) and spread it with a brush and squirted it with a spray bottle of water. Great color! As I continued to play I added a bit of magenta for a different hue, then added blue to more purple for a more blue-violet hue. The colors stayed intense when the papers dried, although I'm wondering whether the colors will run when I apply glue. It can't be much different than watercolor, and I'm not concerned about lightfastness.

After the papers dried I ironed them all, hoping that this was sufficient to heat set the color on the paper as on fabric. I know several watercolor artists who paint with dyes with no discernable problems. Tomorrow I'll tackle the papers and do some experimenting with water and glue and see what I have.
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