Category Archives: watercolor

Bean Bag Book

Bean bag book

Recently I spent a day traveling. By mid-day I had eaten nothing but the  17 peanuts that the airline offered me, so during a 3 hour layover I set out to find something resembling actual food and ended up with a pretty darn good food court Mexican lunch of a tasty bean and chicken burrito and some reasonably  good chips and salsa.

Detail of bean bag book

Detail of bean bag book

Bean bag book detail

Bean bag book back0001

As I was about to crumple up and toss the paper bag in which my lunch had been served, I saw the polite admonition on the bag to recycle, and instead tucked it between the pages of The Interestings, my travel book of choice that day.

Back at home yesterday I pulled the brown bag from my carry-on and started piddling with it, and by afternoon I had turned the take-out bag into a spur -of- the-moment  journal. I added only odds and ends already in my stash: some blank brown kraft paper pages, a bamboo chopstick, some black rubber bands, a date stamp just for fun, and some color accents from an old gouache paint set of my dad’s.

I’m giving a book-making class a month or so from now. While this one wasn’t completely perfect, I may use it as an example of how to create a nifty little book out of just a few odds and ends.

 

“Look at me making art!”

Monoprint van gogh's baby by floating ink
Quoth a friend of Second Child’s, who had come over to spend the weekend with us.  On Saturday I made large sheet of gelatin and brought out the watercolors, but the girls came nosing around and I turned the place over to them. SC’s friend, who was not having a good day, really got into making monoprints, and at one point threw her arms up in the air and shouted “Look at me making art!”
Made my whole weekend.
Just over a week later, I suddenly realized I’d stored the gelatin sheet out on the porch inside the gas grill, intending to go back to it on Sunday. Then I forgot it. By the time I retrieved it, the gelatin had frozen and thawed maybe 4 times. and it was really in bad shape. Sort of crumbly. Not good. But before throwing it out,  I got out some sheets of paper and the paints–nothing to lose, right? I ended up with some nice pieces–they’ll be perfect for backgrounds for . . . something. That’s one of them at the top of this post, and another that’s become my current header.

Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain

I’ve been working steadily throughout the first 12th of the year and just want to let you know that the art-making has been continual and fairly serious, but there hasn’t really been much to show, for various reasons.  One newly finished mixed media piece was a belated (okay, seriously freaking belated) Christmas present for my mother, which has finally gone out in the mail but which will remain, for the moment, mostly private. The little bit above is a detail from the piece. Here’s another:

The very fetching child in the bottom row is yours truly at about three years of age.  See? I am still working.

 

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?

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.

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.

Floating into another year

Wow.

Something happened about ten days into November–I blinked once and suddenly everything was coming at me at light speed. This didn’t really stop until a good week after Christmas. It was a little bit like being picked up by a big wave, then letting go and just riding it until it dumped me rather unceremoniously me on the shore.

I’m still sort of picking sand out of my teeth, but, you know . . . in a good way.

Now I’m riding the waves again, three or four of them at once as I try to focus on some big projects that should keep me occupied well into the new year, and, if I’m lucky, beyond.

Shutting up now and leaving you with a few images from the intervening weeks. I’m especially fond of the first few, taken in an abandoned swimming pool halfway up the side of a mountain in the Catskills. Yeah, I know, right?

Art and updates to follow soon!

 

 

And a wee bit of Christmas, including a million pans of cinnamon rolls packaged up and delivered, and a few moments of stillness.

 

 

(Note clever use of turned off outdoor grill as a temporary fridge to keep rolls from rising before they could be delivered.)

With many thanks to Santa for–among other lovely things–replacing my grew-legs-and-walked-off copy of Seven Samurai!

Back soon with projects and plans–happy new year!