Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Romans 3

This will be hard to read. If anyone wants to see a larger version let me know your email address and I'll send it privately. As usual, this is 9" x 12", and is number 46 in the series.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cliff Face at Cannon Beach, Oregon

One recent day at the beach I did a quick sketch of the cliff at the north end of the beach at Cannon Beach and back in my studio I printed the the drawing four-up on heavy paper. Being a woman who like to keep busy, even in front of the TV I took out the drawing and some watercolor pencils and started fiddling with colorways, thinking about doing the piece as an abstracted design to be done as a watercolor. The pencils don't usually appeal to me, though I know that lots of people use them, especially for quick sketches. I prefer the crayons.

Here's the original drawing and my first attempts at adding color. The top two were done with the watercolor pencils as I sat watching TV with half my mind and playing with the other half. I did the bottom ones just now with watercolor paint and water.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Running on Empty

There's nothing like enjoying a few days away to gain some perspective on life and how one lives it. Over the last two weeks my husband and I spent the best part of 10 days at the Oregon coast, doing practically nothing. Oh I had plenty to work with, took so many art supplies that I was informed that I'd be rationed the next time we leave home, but I didn't use much of what I had. I managed to sketch quite a bit but nothing memorable was created. I got away from home and turned into a bit of a slug, and now, looking back, I realize that I wasted a good part of my life with nothing to show for it. I don't like that. All my life I've been She Who Makes Things but something has happened lately that I don't like... I'm not producing much. Believe me, that's going to change. And as I write this I realize that perhaps this was a time of rest that I needed, a time to re-charge, a time to shake myself up and start again. Do you ever feel like that? Do you run out of gas, finding yourself running on empty? I'm sure it's a common condition for all us creative types.

Somewhere in that time I did another of my Sermon Notes, one about Romans 2 where Paul writes about being judgmental. The scan isn't the best, nor is the work (see how self judgmental I can be!), but it'll have to do. I work on a 9" X 12" block of 140# watercolor paper and my scanner bed is 8 1/2 by 11 so it cropped off the left side.

It occured to me that you might be interested in my process for creating these pieces and let me say first that they are difficult and take a long time and hours of thought and prayer, but they are the most personally rewarding work I've ever done. A friend commented on how nice it is for me that I've found a niche... yes, a niche, and also a calling, a focus, and even an obsession of sorts. I'm rather scatterbrained about my work, wanting to try every technique, to work in many ways and themes, and most of my life I've sought a focus in my work, something to say and a way to say it, without ever finding what it is that I'm to do that is mine alone. With these Notes I've finally been shown the way I'm to work, at least for now. So I'll keep with it until, well until it's clear that I'm done.


So here's how I approach doing a piece... this is what I will be doing this morning as soon as I publish this post. The first thing I do is pray... mostly it's asking for God's help as I work.

1. gather my handwritten notes from the sermon/sermons. (I'll insert a scan at the end of this post.)
2. read the chapter in the Bible and read my notes
3. do a mind map about all elements... design, composition, color, materials, drawings, techniques, text
4. get out collage papers and play with them as I
5. listen to the sermon on my iPod, downloaded from iTunes.
6. determine which scripture to use, choose a main statement, choose supportive statements.
7. type out all text on the computer.
8. print some of text on Thai Kozo paper and spray with a fixative. Print some onto painted papers.
9. Sometimes I start by journaling directly on the white paper, private words which will be hidden with collage papers.
10. Make the art work (collage or painting).
11. Add the text using my own handwriting/printing, alphabet stamps and stencils, or printed text.
12. Sign the work. Scan it. On the back write about the work with scripture references and date. Post to Flickr and take it to my photographer. Say thank you to the real Creator.

That's what it takes to do the work and the same hold with other artwork I do... lots of planning and thinking and prayer. Sometimes the piece comes together quickly but usually I'm at it for about a week. Often the work is spread out over several weeks, and sometimes it lies fallow for a period of time until I'm ready to begin again.

This stack of paper on the right represents what I take away from church ... printed and handwritten pages of notes that remind me of the message. We don't have preaching, we enjoy listening to an excellent Bible teacher.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Journals and Journaling

I'd like to talk about journals and journaling and encourage those of you who do journal to keep on doing it and those who don't to start. As a child I kept a diary, a little red leather book with a lock, and in it I wrote such silliness, like "today Bobby winked at me", "I hate piano and I don't know why Mother makes me take lessons and practice", and "I wish I could draw a person's face that really looks like her". I don't know what happened to that first little book but I sure do wish I had it today as I'm attempting to remember my childhood days in order to write a journal of my childhood for my oldest granddaughter. I cannot for the life of me remember who I was in the 6th grade! I don't even have a picture.

But I'm really not talking about keeping a diary of events, though those are interesting in later years. I'm addicted to big girl stuff... keeping a journal or even several. I have a computer program for my PC called The Journal, and although I don't write in it every day that's where I keep health records and the more personal stuff, password protected. And I have a Garden Journal that's been many years in the making. And then there's my little Moleskine that stays in my handbag. But the journal that is an extension of my body is my art journal. It isn't the kind that has gorgeous art on every page like Teesha Moore, but it's the repository of my studio plans, where I do mind maps as a way of planning art and life.

My journal contains gallery announcements of artists whose work I like with some comments on the show. Its pages are full of sketches, ideas, photos that inspire me, lists of all kinds... it's the sort of journal that Gilbert K. Chesterton was talking about when he said "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train." My books aren't sensational but people find them fascinating. By the time I fill a book it's half worn out and then it becomes more dog-eared as I go back into it time and again seeking inspiration.

The journal pictured at the top of this post is my current one, started in January. There's not much in it yet but I'm working in it frequently. I made the book. I have a clunky machine called a Rubi-Coil that punches holes for spiral binding... a splurge when I was teaching art journaling. For the last two journals I've used a medium weight tan paper that I buy locally by the ream. The covers are 140# watercolor paper that's gessoed on both sides. I'm an ex-quilter and for this journal I cut paper squares and made a patchwork design on the cover, but I didn't like it so I troweled on a thin coat of gesso and then racked through it while it was still wet to form texture and pattern. I find that if the cover of my journal is attractive to me I'm more apt to pick it up and work in it than if it's plain.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

textures shapes and color: Notebooks and Pens

Leslie Avon Miller's collage work and writing continues to bring a breath of fresh air into my art day. For an interesting take on art notebooks see her latest post at textures shapes and color: Notebooks and Pens.
The journals to the left are some of my own old ones, created by gutting old hardback books and sewing in signatures of blank paper onto which I wrote, drew, collaged and painted. These 4 date back to 2000 and 2001 and my journals are a bit different now, not so pretty but even more useful.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sketchcrawl by Streetcar

We 4 friends met Saturday morning for our monthly Sketchcrawl, this time by streetcar. We started across from the library and rode the entire loop, up to Good Samaritan hospital and down to the new riverfront development, getting off along the way to sketch or photograph. The day was so cold (33 degrees) that we were discouraged from sitting out on a convenient bench so we took images as they came to us. I drew the buildings from the edge of the sidewalk and didn't take out my watercolors until I return home and by then I had forgotten what the colors were except for the one red brick building.

I did the little sketches on the left as I rode MAX, our local light rail, to downtown. Everyone was bundled up in black... a very Portland winter look. I've found that once people are settled they usually return to one relaxed pose, making it easier to finish a quick sketch. And of course drawing someone from the back when riding on public transportation is the easiest of all. That's Jan's head.

And drawing people as they wait in line for coffee give me lots of opportunity for quick gestural drawings.

I recently discovered the blog of a talented London artist who draws people on his long commutes across the city. He's sometimes on the bus for 3 1/2 hours and he uses his time to sketch. Have a look at Adebanji Aladi's incredible work.

These sketches are in my little Moleskine sketchbook that I carry everywhere. There are other small sketchbooks available but I prefer this one for its overall quality and durability.

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