Category Archives: watercolor painting

Hip to paint squares?

One of my nicest Christmas gifts was a wonderfully creative book on watercolor painting. This one, Heather Smith Jones’s Water Paper Paint:

I have only just begun to explore it fully, but I had a great time over the weekend doing one of the exercises in the book, exploring brush choice, color mixing, and just the delicious joy of putting paint to paper by painting (freehand) a series of squares and rectangles. Two of these head up this post–I’ll move on to more exercise eventually, but for the moment I’m taking a ridiculous amount of pleasure from painting these shapes.

Did you get art toys for Christmas, too? If so, what?

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Stillness

Time for some actual art around here.  Working on an assignment (not the paying kind!) again–it’s that time of year.

That thing that I made you that you don’t know what it is–I don’t know what it is either, but isn’t it awesome?

About this time last year I bought a gigantic plastic storage container at Goodwill. It was filled to the brim with those wonderful plain wooden building blocks for kids.  The old school kind that last forever. Rectangles, squares, cylinders, arches, and those cool wedge-of-cheese shaped blocks. I stowed them in the way-back of my 14 year old Subaru wagon, and didn’t really think of them again until the fates decided about 6 weeks ago that the Subaru’s time had come (I can’t complain: it hit the 250,000 thousand mile mark in June and had never, but never let me down). But it had to be cleaned out in preparation for moving to its new home, and the blocks came to light again and started nagging at me.

And then I needed a present for someone special.  And this was born:

Inspired by a number of different projects, I pulled together various tools and decorated papers–monoprinted, stamped, brush painted, watercolored and so on.  You can actually get a better look at the kind of things that ended up papering the block in these shots. I quite like the little green bit of paper with the fish and tadpoles on it–it has a wonderful (IIDSSM) 3-D look to it, but I assure you, it’s perfectly flat.

And these–the stamp of the little person in the hat was made for another project, but it makes a credible appearance here, I think.

On this block printed strip, which ended up on the front of the bridge, a recently carved fish stamp and a poem by Issa:

fish frolicking
on foot…
chrysanthemums

I assembled it all with Golden semigloss gel, let it dry (hurrying it along a bit with a heat gun) then covered the whole with a layer of natural colored encaustic medium.  Then I sat watching Top Gear (British version, of course) while I buffed all the surfaces to a nice low-level gloss, kissed it goodbye, and packed it for shipping to the birthday girl.

It’s called Chrysanthemum bridge, but I  still don’t know what it us. Maybe she will.

More Moo Madness

From this:

To this:

I’m not much for squealing in glee, but I did when these arrived. Just this once. You might even have heard me.

Totally worth it. My little Fuji stamp transformed by the fine folks at Moo into spectacularly well printed tiny stickers. Ninety to a book. Two books.

So pleased.

My not so hidden agenda sort of tutorial

Last June my computer had a little snit and ate my calendar. For the second time. Not all of it–I could still access most of the years on it, but not all. But that was it. I could no longer trust it. I still keep a calendar on my computer, but my main computer is kept on stone tablets now. I sat down the day after the Palm betrayed me and made a paper agenda. It has served me well.

On Saturday of this past weekend, though, I realized I’d come to the last page of my year, which, just because of what happened when, now runs from mid-June to mid-June. Time was up. I spent the rest of the weekend making a new one. I started with this:

And took these steps. More pictures here than words, and I apologize for the fact that the shadow of my head is in some of the photos–it was a dark stormy weekend and the lighting was just weird.

Soft Kut from Dick Blick:

The carved block and the printed page:

After flirting briefly with hand-cutting and block printing the name of each month and each numerical date, I came to my senses and wrote them in by hand with Sharpie markers matching the color of the ink I’d used on each page:

Cutting scraps (they look like the homemade noodles First Child and I made a couple of weeks ago). I’m so cheap that I spent a ridiculous amount of time pawing at and trying to figure out how to reconstitute and reuse these. Common sense prevailed and they went into the trash, but it took a while and was fairly wrenching. Seriously, think there’s gotta be a use for these somewhere:

A little cover decoration was in order:

And then, maybe, a little color:

Second child likes the black and white prints better. I left a few like that. And I don’t know why I printed so many, but it’s just as easy to do a run of quite a few prints and I’m already thinking up some good uses for them (stay tuned).

I’m always seriously in love with the blocks from which I print. Would it be weird to mount and hang them somewhere? They’d have to be accessible for repeated use. I also have among my treasures some woodcut (actual wood) blocks that my dad carved many years ago. Some of them were commissioned for the covers of a magazine for which he was the art director back in the 60s and 70s. My sister has some of them, too. Hmm . . . I might actually have to print some of them in the near future.

For now, though, these are just mine.  And this, finally, is my new calendar, complete with its own sunflowery cover, its nice tabs (scavenged from some monoprints that didn’t completely work out), and its important back pocket (everything should have pockets). I’m happy to have a nice place to keep track of what day it is.

Notecard tutorial: Tiptoe through the tulips

I had a birthday last month and was well and truly feted. Among my gifts were a lovely bouquet of pink tulips, and a copy of this fabulous book by the wonderful and talented Alisa Golden:

Actually, when my birthday came around, I already had a copy of this book at home, one from the library that I had already renewed as many times as I was allowed, and which I had briefly considered simply . . . forgetting to return.  A little birthday gift card from my favorite sister made that bit of miscreance unnecessary, and now I have my very own copy. Which is already getting dog-eared and paint-spotty.

After a while the pink tulips began to look as old as–well, as old as I now am (NOT complaining–I’ve been on this side of the hill for a while now and I love it).By the time I got the notion to preserve my last tulip blooms by painting them, they were wearing their age in a wabi-sabi kind of way.

It was one of those everything-comes-neatly-together projects. I needed notecards on which to write my birthday thank you notes.  I happened to have some LOOOOONG pieces of watercolor paper, part of a stash I scored when a print shop and paper warehouse not too far from me closed (to becom a block of condominiums–a moment of silence, please). And I had this Golden (in all senses of the word) book containing just the right project.

As I said, this is Alisa’s (may I call you Alisa?) project, but this is my take on it.

Make a painting. Mine ended up being of the pink tulips. Watercolors, a little sumi ink, a big dry brush and a little wet brush. Dash it out–don’t think too much. Some of my tulips got deconstructed just a little, but I liked them that way.

So did second child. She loved them. The painting stayed around on my kitchen wall clothesline gallery overnight.

Then the guillotine fell. Literally. Second child was mightily annoyed with me.

I’m the fortunate, temporary guardian of a fabulous, heavy, sharp, old school guillotine-style paper cutter. I walk around looking for things to cut up with it. I’m thinking of using it to make cole slaw.

Anyway, take a deep breath and cut your painting up, too.  Cut it into squares or rectangles a bit smaller than the dimensions of the front of your blank note cards. Attach the now smaller, more concentrated mini paintings to the fronts of your note cards, using your adhesive of choice. I used Zots adhesive dots–they make the card stand out a little, like a painting on a wall.

It’s a little like quilting in reverse. I love how each one expresses its pinky tulip-ness in a different way.  And when I sent out the thank you notes, it was like sending the people I love their own spring tulips.