Evolution of a Mood

11/18/2010 02:31:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 22 Comments »
When I sat down with my sketchbook I was not in the best of moods.   Nothing was wrong except that I was out of sorts..... restless .... unfocused .... thinking negatively.  I couldn't think of a single thing I wanted to do - I mean not one single thing.  So, I sat with my sketchbook and stared at the blank page.  Finally I drew a rectangle with pencil, drew a single looped line from one edge to the other, and started  with my trusty Micron 01 pen to make marks.  You may be able to tell by looking at it where I began making marks, but just in case you can't guess, I'll tell you.  I started filling in the loop.  I looked at what I had done and felt even worse.   It was dark and cramped - in other words, it looked just like I felt.  I kept going - another line, more shapes.  Little by little the drawing doodle began to change.  I didn't notice it at first, but then I got interrupted by a phone call, and when I came back to it, I realized that not only had the drawing changed, but so had my mood.  I was feeling better.  I decided to start adding a bit of color to it.  The color I started with was blue .... surprised?  After awhile other colors began to show up until, in the end, both the drawing and I were appearing quite cheery.

There's a definite lesson here for me.  It's not a new one, mind you, but it is one that I seem to have great difficulty remembering.  Maybe I should take out this page, frame it, and hang it where I can see it each and every time I come into my studio ..... what do you think?

Exercise and Art

11/13/2010 02:17:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 23 Comments »
So, what do these two things have in common?  Well, if you're anything like me, there's a very strong similarity.  I'll start with exercise.  It's very good and healthy for me to do it .... ditto for art.  Sometimes I put off doing it .... ditto for art.   Once I finish doing it, I feel terrific .... ditto for art.   But, here's the biggest thing they have in common for me.   The longer I go without doing it, the harder it is for me to start up again.  Also, the more reasons and excuses I find not to do it, the worse I feel and the  more distressed I become.  

I haven't posted anything here for a month - I think that's a record for me.  It's not because I haven't thought about it.  It's not because I haven't had time, although we did a wee bit of traveling during that time and I also had a bit of a problem with my eye (the one that will be operated on this coming Wed.).  I can't even honestly say it's because I didn't have any art to show you - Vicki and I took a wonderful book binding class last weekend at Hollander's, and I could post pictures of the books I made (I will do that soon, though).  No, it's because I "fell off the camel" so to speak, and I just haven't been able to pick myself up, dust myself off, and jump back on again.   So, I decided that today's the day.  (Ironically, I have to hurry because we're going to a birthday party soon, and I still have to wrap the presents).

Just another quick thing.  I've been wanting to go back to the Ann Arbor Art Center to their life drawing studio.  It's been a really long time since I've been there, but I want to start going regularly on Friday afternoons (great timing - it's about to get really snowy here and the drive takes about 40 minutes in the summer).  Of course I haven't gone yet, but here are a couple of things I did back when I Was going regularly.  I post them here to give me the incentive to get off my tush and get myself going!

The Peeper and the Dog

10/11/2010 05:25:00 PM Posted In Edit This 26 Comments »
I so appreciate all the good wishes I got from many of you for a successful eye surgery.  I had it last Wednesday, and it was a piece of cake!  (That's for any of you who might be contemplating having a lens implant in one or both of your peepers).  It was painless and fast, and I could see out of that eye right away.  I mean, I could see really well out of it.  The last time I knew what my vision in that eye was, it was 20/200.  That was years ago, and over time my vision got slowly but steadily worse.  The day after the surgery I went to the doc for my first post surgical check up, and my vision tested (are you ready for this?) 20/25!!!   I have the surgery scheduled for my other eye in mid-November.  My contacts are what is called monovision, i.e., my left eye is corrected to see near,  and my right eye to see far.  I've decided to have the same thing done with my lens implants, so the lens put in my left eye will enable me to see near without glasses.  I'm already used to seeing that way, so I don't think I'll have an adjustment issue.  As I write this, I have one contact in.  After my surgery, No Contacts Or Glasses!!!  I marvel that it wasn't that long ago that cataracts ultimately led to blindness, and now in a 15 minute surgery, voila - near perfect vision!  What a miracle.

So, that's the "Peeper" story of this post.  Here's the Dog part of the story.  Below is my first drawing post-surgery.  Walter is a dog that I copied from a magazine.  I did it wearing one contact, using pencils in the sketch book that I reported missing in my last post.  Yep, I found it!!  All in all, I have much to be grateful for, including all of you!  Thanks again for all your support.


10/04/2010 04:25:00 PM Posted In Edit This 31 Comments »
So, because of my impending surgery and the need to keep putting drops in my eye, I'm sticking very close to home .... as in going no place.  Today I was out with the dog making sure she didn't leave the yard (even tho it's fenced, she sometimes decides her acre to roam in isn't enough, so she jumps through the slats in the fence, (and more recently, through the bars of the farm gate), and looking down, I saw a grasshopper just sitting on the sidewalk.  I got down for a closer look ... it didn't move.  So, I picked it up - still not even an antenna twitch.  Carrying it carefully after summoning Abby, we went into the house, where I set it down with a custard cup over it.  (It's pretty chilly outside, and I wasn't totally convinced it was dead).  After quite awhile with no movement, I decided it was, indeed dead, so I carried it upstairs to my studio intending to draw it.

That's when I discovered my everyday-use- it- in -and- around -the house journal is gone!  I've looked everywhere for it. .... drawers, shelves, all sorts of canvas bags, under, over, between, through, closets, boxes, upstairs and down.  It's driving me crazy.  Sometimes I feel like I'm looking right at it but can't see it.  I Will find it, of that I have no doubt.  The larger question is, will I still have any sanity left when I do?

So, in the meantime, here's the grasshopper drawn in my new everyday journal.  It's done with ink and colored pencil,  and the lettering is indicative of my state of mind at the time.  It's written from the inside out.

Bobcat Day 2

9/27/2010 03:06:00 PM Edit This 13 Comments »
I went back to the Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor today in order to continue working on the drawing I started on Friday.  The main purpose as some of you may remember, was to practice drawing while wearing my contacts in preparation for my "new eyes".   However, I forgot that I have a pre-op appointment this week, and I'm not supposed to wear my contacts for the 3 days prior to it.  So, while I did go back and work on the bobcat again, I did it wearing my glasses.  It was still just as dark there, and he was still behind glass, so there was still a reflection to deal with.  Nevertheless, I did my best.  It still isn't a finished drawing, but he's definitely further along than he was.  I don't know when I'll be able to get back there, but I'd like to finish it.  Maybe I'll just wing it and try to finish it from memory. 

So, without further adieu, heeere's Bobby!

Catching Up

9/24/2010 04:26:00 PM Edit This 17 Comments »
I definitely need to do something about the volume of email I get .... I simply can't keep up with it, even though I really want to and I really do try.  It takes up an inordinate amount of my time, and it's one of the reasons I haven't posted in way too long.  .....  OK, enough of the whining - I'll figure it out!

I'll be having surgery in early Oct. on one of my eyes for a cataract, then a little while after that, I'll have my other eye done.  I usually don't wear my glasses or my contacts (well, never my contacts), when I paint or draw.  I often work with very fine lines and I'm just more used to doing it without them.  My contacts are called "monovision", meaning that one eye is corrected for nearsightedness, and the other for farsightedness.   That way I never need reading glasses.   When I have my surgery, I will have monovision eyes (one of each).  The thing is, I'm not sure how that will impact doing art the way I'm accustomed to doing it.  So, today when my friend Vicki and I went on an outing to draw (we went to the Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor), I wore my contacts to see what would happen.  It was slow going (not just because of the contacts, but also because I didn't do any warm up sketches before I dove right in).   The lighting wasn't the best, and the specimen was behind glass so I had a bit of a reflection to work around.  I didn't get very far with the drawing, as you can see.  I'm planning on going back again to work on it more, again while wearing my contacts.   I doubt I can do it this weekend, but maybe on Monday.  So, anyhow, here is the result of my first contact drawing attempt.

Recycling and Contour Drawings

9/06/2010 08:39:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 20 Comments »
OK, I'll start with the recycling part.  I have lots of paper from my printer of things that for one reason or another didn't work out for me.  Some things I used and then didn't need anymore, others just made crummy copies ... it doesn't matter - I just kept all that paper.  I use it sometimes to test colors on when I'm painting, I use it when I glue things to protect my drawing table, but mostly it just sits in a pile.  Then I started doing contour drawings (mostly blind).  I really didn't want to use my good sketch books for them, and then I had this idea.  I would make little books out of the used copy paper!

What I did was put two sheets together, printed sides facing each other.  Then I used double sided tape to tape together the 4 corners.  I folded them in 1/2, also folded an 8.5" x 11" piece of card stock in half, and then used my sewing machine to sew them together.  I put 3 of my folded sheets in each booklet, giving me 12 pages to draw on!

Here's a picture of my first booklet, along with a couple of my blind contours.  I've made notes to myself on some of the drawings if I took a peek along the way.  I marked where each line started and ended, numbering them so I can tell later on what I did.  Hope this makes some sort of sense to you!

Avocado Battle

9/02/2010 08:03:00 PM Posted In Edit This 21 Comments »
I have started avocado plants from pits before, and I decided I wanted to grow one again.  I know how to do it ..... toothpicks in their sides, hang them in water, they sprout roots and grow a shoot, and you plant them in dirt.  Well, I've been trying for several months to do it again.  I hung pits in water for weeks and weeks with nothing happening except they got rotten.  I don't like to give up once I start something, so I just kept at it.   Finally, one of the pits grew long roots.  It had about 5 of them, and I left it in the water until the roots were about 4 inches long.  It still didn't have a shoot coming out the top.   So, I put some dirt in a little pot and planted it, leaving the top of the pit uncovered.  All summer long I watered it, talked to it, turned it so different sides faced the sun, but still nothing. 
And then, one day I went outside and voila!!!! There was a tiny shoot sticking up!  It seemed to take forever, but little by little it began to grow.  And now, just look at its magnificent self!!!  It has leaves ...  it has a long "trunk" .... it's sturdy .... I love it!!!  I just hope I can keep it alive all winter.  Wish me luck!

Jackie O.

8/23/2010 04:30:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 19 Comments »
I tagged this drawing a portrait, but only because it's a face.  While I do think it resembles Jackie Kennedy (some of you actually guessed correctly in a previous WIP post, much to my amazement!), it's far from a  finished polished drawing.  So, I'm calling it a drawing of a face instead.  I found I had been avoiding meeting up with her again.  I'm not sure why, but I have to admit, I'm relieved to be able to give her a spray of fixative and move on down the highway.

I'm not  sure what I want to do next.  My mind has been awhirl with thoughts of watercolor painting, mixed media, doing something with fabric that includes embroidery and applique .... I'm feeling sort of restless.  Then, to add to my angst, in a corner of the closet in my studio is a sweater I started knitting last year (or maybe even the year before).   It's in there grumbling and complaining, and the noise is getting louder.  One of these days I'm going to have to pay attention to it.  Actually, it's almost finished, but the the thing is, I got to a part where I'm not exactly sure how to proceed, and I find myself hoping the knitting fairy will deign to visit and beg me to let her finish it.  I'll be sure to let you know if that happens!

Zippity Do Da!!

8/20/2010 08:01:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 13 Comments »
Well, as always, things have been very busy.  We had a great time in Nashville (our son graduated from college, we got to hang out with our 2 year old grandson, both of our sons were there with us, and only one of our DILs was missing due to an unavoidable out of town trip..... more on that later!).  The weather was waaaaay too hot for those of us who live in the mitten, but no matter - we just stayed inside all the time.  And, just to add frosting to the cake, our new graduate got a new job today!!!!   Not easy in this economy, and we're really excited for him and his family.

On another note, my friend, Vicki, and I went to Ann Arbor on Tuesday for a bit of "drawing in the wild".  It was a lot of fun, although I'm not thrilled with my output.  The weather cooperated, it's always fun to hang out with her, and we had a great lunch together.  I tried out my new water pens (I think that's what they're called - those tubes you fill with water and they have brushes on the ends).  I bought a set of 4 - 3 sizes of round brushes and 1 flat brush.  So, here is the piece I did with them.  I've missed blogging, so I'm glad to be back.

On another quick note - someone is using my email address to post on some of the art groups I belong to.  I think it's really a shabby thing to do, and I don't know if there's on darn thing I can do about it.  Whoever you are ..... shame on you!!  Use your own address to post your phony baloney things.  Enuf said!!!!

This is called, "The Talking Head" .... my model up and left me.  : ( so I just added the background.  I see that the chair seems to be floating .... perhaps I'll add a shadow or 2!

Life Do Intrude

8/11/2010 07:50:00 PM Edit This 18 Comments »
Is it just me, or are things really busy these days?  It's been way too long since I've posted to my blog, and I've missed it.  What have I been doing?  Hard to say, exactly.  Spending time with friends who needed a friend, volunteering at the county Health Dept (only 1 day a week, though), getting ready for a trip, cleaning, shopping, .....  I don't know where the time goes!  Anyhow, here I am, and I'm in the process of doing a pencil drawing of the same woman I did the dom/non-dom drawings of in ink.  This is a woman all of you would recognize from her photo, but certainly not from my ink drawings.  The pencil drawing (a WIP), is closer to what she really looks like, but since she's a WIP, she's still not there yet.... maybe she never will be ..... who knows? 

I don't know when I'll get to visit her again.  We'll be traveling soon, and even tho it's not a long trip, somehow it takes me  a long time pre and post trip to organize everything.   Abby (our wonderful dog) will have to go to "camp"  (the kennel, but we Never use that word around her), and then, of course, she'll have to be picked up.  The camp is not very close to our house, but they love her there and she's been there often enough that she's comfortable (at least that's what we prefer to think).  I have to say, tho, she has yet to bring home a gimp lanyard..... anyone besides me remember those?

Enough of the rambling .... here's the WIP:

Dom/non dom 5 comparison

7/28/2010 04:40:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 8 Comments »
It was suggested that I do a drawing with my left hand (dominant) to compare it with the one done with my right hand (non-dom),  so today I took a bit of time to do just that.  My brush marker is almost out of ink, so I did minimal work on her hair.  As a result it looks like she has a new hair style.  Actually what happened is that the humidity got so high (90% here), that her hair fell.   I can relate, and she has my full sympathy.  I may do a few more pairs of drawings, just for the fun of it.    There are different things I think work with each of them.  I thought about using pencil, but to make a better comparison, using ink again seemed like the way to go.

I do love using pencil, as you know, so maybe with the next set I'll do that.  Although, that could very well make me  crazy  crazier what with all the erasing, shading, changing, fretting and fussing.

Non-dom 5

7/25/2010 08:38:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 14 Comments »
OK, so all of the non-dominant  hand drawings have been pretty small so far.  In the world of large drawings, this one is also small, but it is quite a bit larger than the other ones I've done.   Even tho it doesn't look like the model I used, I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  The proportions are pretty accurate and it just works better than the other ones.  I anticipated that doing a drawing larger would be more difficult, but actually it wasn't any harder than the other ones were.

I did find that I had to turn the paper upside down to work on the right side of the drawing.  Also, I found it interesting to find that sometimes my hand was in the "left-handed" position while I drew ... that is sort of curved over the top of what I was doing, with my hand above where I was drawing.  Oddly, I don't do that with my left hand when drawing or writing, unlike many lefties.  (My sister, Maryanne  almost always wrote that way,  unless she had her hand in some sort of crab-like position under the line of writing and wrote backhand).   So, here is my "large" drawing ... 5.5" x 8.5", done with Micron pens and a Micron brush pen.

Non-dom 3 and 4

7/23/2010 09:33:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 9 Comments »
Today was beastly hot and humid ... finally it rained, which helped.  I was home in the morning, then off with a friend in the afternoon - thankfully everywhere I was had air conditioning (wimp that I am).  After dinner (homemade pizza which we have almost every Friday, being somewhat boring bears), I did 2 very quick sketches with my right hand.  Considering how long I spent on the 2 of them (maybe 6 or 7 minutes), I think they're not too bad.  But here's the thing.  Spending such a short time on them gives me the illusion of having an excuse for their not being being very good - pretty sly!  Except it's not working since I can see right through me.

One of these days soon I'll spend more time on doing just one to see what happens.  Until then, here's what I've got.

Non-dom handwork

7/19/2010 07:39:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 16 Comments »
So I've been messing around with using my right hand (my non-dominant hand),  to do crossword puzzles for awhile now.  Some days are better than others in terms of the legibility of my printing, but I've been doing it long enough now that every once in awhile, I actually reach for a pen with my right hand instead of my left when I'm doing something other than a puzzle.  So today, after having been gone all day and not having much time for drawing, I decided to try drawing with my right hand.  I only had time for 2 drawings (about 25 minutes in all, including finding faces in a magazine to copy).  Also, I used my smaller sketch book (5.5" x 8.5") rather than one of my larger ones.   I used Micron pens, my favorite ink tools.   I've noticed that when I'm trying something I think will be hard, I tend to gravitate towards working small.  I have no idea why, but I sense it's an odd form of protectionism, if that makes any sense at all...... don't worry if it doesn't.

Anyhow, here they are.  The first on was really a bust - distorted, out of proportion, crooked ..... name a drawing flaw and you'll find it there.  Even the printing is really terrible.  The second one is much better, I think.  Not good mind you, but better.  And, even the printing is better.  I think I'll mess around with this a bit more.  It was kind of fun, and since it was my non-dom hand, I didn't feel pressured to do something really good.  It would just be what it would be!

The Pen

7/16/2010 04:52:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 15 Comments »
Today my friend Vicki and I went out drawing sketching together.  It's very hot here (in the 90s today), so we sanely decided to do our sketching indoors.  First we went to a mall and sat on a sofa near a coffee kiosk.  In spite of my love of the pencil, I used a Micron pen to do my sketching as I almost always do for this kind of playing.  Here's why (just in case anyone is wondering).  When I use a pencil, I tend to want to keep refining and refining my drawing.  This is all well and good when the subject is staying in one place,  but when everyone is moving, it doesn't work very well.  So I've learned that for me, using a pen is better.  There's no real going back to correct things - it just is what it is.  It forces me to move faster, and even though the drawings aren't very good, oddly it seems to put a sock in the mouth of my inner critic.  I think it's because my expectations are lower - I already know the sketches will be rough and may not look anything like the person I'm trying to secretly capture.  So, here are the sketches done at the Cool Beans Coffee Kiosk.

Across from the sofa where we were sitting was a jewelry counter.  There was a young man looking at the jewelry - I imagined he was looking for a special ring .... maybe so, but he was only there for a couple of minutes before moving on.

After lunch we left that mall and went to another one.  There was a Secretary of State office there with lots of people patiently waiting their turn.  Happily, the front of the office was all glass, so we were able to sit outside of it and do our sketching.   I sat on top of a counter that probably used to be a business of some sort, but now is empty.  That way I could see their faces. 

I had a really good time (as I always do with Vicki), and I hope we can do it again.  Even if I go by myself, the practice is good for me and I always feel so much better after having done something like this!  Have a great weekend, my friends!! 

The Humble Pencil

7/07/2010 09:35:00 PM Posted In Edit This 21 Comments »
My first love in making art is  the pencil.  I just love it.  I love the texture, the feel of it in your hand, the forgiveness it has, and its warmth.  There's something immediate about it - it's humble and very basic.  It has no airs of importance and it's almost universally available.  It hangs in there when other media run out, dry up, or spill.  It fits in your pocket or purse and will make marks on almost anything, including your cuff, in a pinch.  It doesn't stain your clothes, even when you write on them, and it won't leak in your pocket.  You can borrow one from someone, and they don't worry about what you might do to its point.  Most of the time, they won't even mind if you walk away with it!  Also, they're cheap, come in several degrees of hardness (which greatly expands their flexibility), and they can be blended and smeared.  You can make a myriad of different kinds of  marks with them, and you can use  them on the tiniest piece of paper.  You can use an eraser to change a mark, or in a pinch you can use a rubber band or even your finger.   But best of all, I find a pencil completely non-threatening. Put a paintbrush or a pastel in my hand, and I have a clutch of fear (especially with the brush).   Now I ask you, what's not to love about a pencil?

So, in honor of the pencil, here are a few drawings of my hands.  They are gnarly and old, bony with stubby fingers.  But here's the thing about them.  They are always with me, so they are like a captive model!  I find hands very difficult to draw, and I intend to draw more of them, starting with my own.

The Watercolor Version

7/01/2010 08:35:00 AM Posted In Edit This 12 Comments »
So,  I really struggled with this one, and it shows.  In the interest of honesty, I'm posting it, though I'm not happy with it.  But, it's OK ..... I jumped in and did it.  My rational self knows quite well that not every painting is going to be successful, but still, that doesn't quell the desire.   I was going to stop midway through (actually, truth be told, I was going to stop before I started), but fortunately common sense prevailed and I just kept going.  There's no need to point out all the problems this painting has ... they're self evident.  Since I had already started it before the great suggestions about using smaller paper were made, I painted it on a 9 x 12 watercolor block.  Maybe my next one will be a tad smaller, looser, and a more relaxed process than this one was.  Thanks again to all of you - I really appreciate all your support and helpful ideas!

It's Over

6/21/2010 03:07:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 17 Comments »
I can't call this finished because it isn't.  There are too many things about it that disturb me.  However, it is over.  I'm tired of fiddling with it, so I'm moving on down the highway.  The question, of course, is which highway?  Yes, I know this was supposed to be the prelude to a watercolor.  The paper is sitting on my drawing table with tape around the edges as a sort of frame.  The tubes of paint are on the table, too, but not the brushes.  Hmmm - a Freudian slip in neglecting to get out the brushes? 

I did do a quick pencil sketch on the paper .... and by quick, I mean I spent about 2 minutes on it.  Now in the past when I've done watercolors, I've spent a great deal of time on the sketches - both the value sketches as well as the finished sketch on the watercolor paper.  I think my approach to this one is indicative of how I feel about starting it.  OK, I'm getting entirely too self-analytical and I'm feeling a bit silly about it all.  So, without anymore comments, here's the colored pencil drawing.

watercolor to be

6/20/2010 09:12:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 13 Comments »
So,  I'm still struggling with my art.  I've had this strong pull to return to watercolors for quite some time, but I find I've lost my confidence.  So, recently I decided to do a painting of a small corner of one of our gardens.  I could have photographed it first to make it a tad easier for myself, but I didn't.  I decided that I would do a quick sketch followed by a value sketch, then I'd sketch it out on the watercolor paper (which, by the way, I've had sitting next to my drawing table for I don't know how long all stretched and ready to go), and just dive right in.  It didn't work out quite that way. 

I did the sketch, started the thumbnail value drawing, got impatient, did a quick sketch on the watercolor paper, and then just froze.  I even picked out my palette - the tubes  of paint are sitting on my drawing table as we speak.  What I did instead is get out my journal and start a colored pencil drawing of the scene.  I haven't finished it, but since it's been so long since I've posted anything on my blog (another stumbling block, I might add), I thought I'd share with you where things stand at the moment.  As you can see, the drawing isn't finished yet, but I'm hoping to finish it tomorrow.  But here's the thing..... when it's finished, I won't have any excuse not to start the painting.  The thought fills me with dread and fear.  I know, it's totally silly - who the heck cares?  But there it is ..... it's how I feel right at this moment ...9:06 PM on Father's Day, 2010.

Nashville Weekend

6/09/2010 10:01:00 AM Posted In Edit This 19 Comments »
We spent this past weekend in Nashville with our son, daughter in law, and our wonderful, 2 year old grandson.  It was Hot and Humid and we had a Great Time!!  CC, our grandson, has taken to running full-tilt boogie up and down the sidewalk.  Since it's right next to the street, someone has to be with him every step of the way.  I ran and ran, back and forth, every now and then trying to coax him back up to the porch.  Finally I spied 2 sticks that had blown down in a storm - one his size and one my size....Walking Sticks!!  Of course you can't run with a walking stick, and he was completely taken by them.  So then we spent a lot of time walking up and down, discussing many things.  It was fun, interesting, and oh so much easier than running in the sun.  He's so cute I can hardly stand it.

OK, enough grandma talk.  I took a wee bit of time to do a rather quick watercolor of a lovely plant holder that they have hanging outside next to the door of the porch.  It's a very cool piece, and Sarah had put hydrangeas in it cut from one of the many lovely flowering shrubs they have.  I'm so out of practice and still struggling with the inner beast, but I'm happy that I did something, at least!  Oh, I recently bought the book The War of Art, but I haven't had time to start it yet.

Another beginning

5/29/2010 04:24:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 22 Comments »
I had a wonderful birthday, thanks in part to all of you who so kindly and generously sent me your helpful and supportive remarks.  You are just the best!  When my sweetie and I got home from having a wonderful dinner at The Common Grill in Chelsea (Michigan, that is), we sat on the porch and I made good on my vow to do something arty.  It had cooled off considerably so it was very pleasant outside.  I got out a watercolor block, pencil, and my trusty, old, watercolors in the tin.   I made a start .... I did a bit of a drawing of a few things on the porch, and did a bit of painting.  It's not complete (and may never be), but the thing is, I did it!  I'm trying not to be unduly critical of it (but the truth is, I can't quiet that voice completely), and  it's about as simple as it can be, but maybe I'll sit on the porch again tonite and have another go at it .... or not! 

So, thank you again, to all you special people! 

P.S., it's called, Warts and All

Birthdays and Blocks

5/27/2010 07:50:00 PM Edit This 23 Comments »
I haven't posted anything for a very long time - almost a month.  After being ill, I found myself blocked.  First, a bit of personal history.  Some of you know that I am a registered nurse, although I have been retired now for some time.  I retired quite early.  Anyhow, I spent most of my nursing career in administration at a major hospital in Ann Arbor.  2 years before I retired, I decided I wanted to go back to clinical nursing, and after having been away from it for about 15 years, I decided to take a job in the ER.  Before I actually started there, I hit the books on my own.  There was so much to learn - how to read the monitors, I had to get certified in  advanced cardiac life support - well, you get the idea.  I finally started actually working there, and I have to tell you, I was scared shitless every time I went to work.  It  was a 35 minute drive, and all the way there I was talking to myself, asking myself what in the heck was I doing - was I totally insane?  By the time I got there I had so much adrenalin in my system that every cell in my body was on full alert.  I felt like a fraud.  I was certain that at any moment someone would discover that I had no idea what I was doing.  But here's the thing .... I was good at it ..... I really did know what I was doing, I just didn't believe that I did.  The manager came to me one day and wanted me to be a preceptor to a new nurse in the department!   She also wanted me to train to be a charge nurse.   I was stunned.

So, fast forward to now.  In many ways I feel exactly the same about  my ability to make art as I did about practicing nursing in the ER.  I feel like I don't know how to do it .... any minute now I will be unveiled as a wannabe with absolutely no talent.  Sometimes I feel like there's an elephant standing on top of me.  I know, it's crazy.  I mean, who cares what I do?  What difference does it make?  I can only think that my inner critic has grown to monstrous proportions.  So what to do?

Tomorrow is my birthday - I can't believe it, but I'm going to be 65!!! (which has nothing to do with any of this).  I'm giving myself a present.  I'm going to draw or paint something, and no matter what it looks like, I'm going to post it.  It may not actually get posted until Saturday, but I'm doing it tomorrow.  I don't care what it turns out like, I'm posting it, warts and all.

I'm sorry for the length of this post.  I like to keep them short because I know many of you check out many blogs and long ones take too much time.  But there you are - the next one will be short, I promise.

Oh yeah,  the "blocked" thing was done the last time I was blocked, it's not new.

Illness and Inchies

5/04/2010 08:18:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 31 Comments »
I've been a tad under the weather for over a week now, and it's been impossible for me to do any art because of it.  I had a medical procedure last Monday, then got bronchitis on Thursday (I like to cluster my ailments - it gets them out of the way faster).    I have a few more antibiotics to take and I'm much better now, but I'm waaaay behind in lots of things, not the least of which is making/playing with art.  I'm not quite finished with the Rubens drawing, but I just haven't had the wherewithal to keep an appointment with her.  Also, I'm so far behind in my email that I think I'm just going to have to start over.  I hate missing all the wonderful posts to people's blogs (I've been doing my best to visit them and leave comments, but I'm drowning!), so I think the best thing to do is start fresh and just accept the reality of my current situation. 

I've been feeling really guilty about not posting anything on my blog, and as I'm sure all of you know, feeling guilty sucks (to put it less than delicately, but then, guilt isn't a very delicate emotion, is it?).  So, since I don't have anything current to show you, I thought I'd post a picture of some inchies I did a while back for an inchie swap.  I like making inchies - it's fun to have such a small canvas to work on.  I'm thinking of making more with an eye to incorporating them into a larger piece .... a sort of inchie assembly.  So, anyhow, these are the ones I made that I rejected for the swap and so kept them.  I put them in my art journal

Rubens Version 3

4/25/2010 08:42:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 15 Comments »
OK, so she's proving herself to be a worthy adversary.  I've been working and reworking her face and I just can't seem to get it right.  Of course, part of the problem is what I mentioned in her first (very faint) appearance, which is that right out of the gate I had the angle of her head wrong.  But, since I decided to forge ahead anyway, the problem only magnified itself as I drew.  I had the eyes at the wrong slant and the line of her right side (the one on our left) is wrong.  Howsomever (I know, not a real word, but it seem to fit the bill), I valiantly (or stubbornly, which is more to the point) struggled on with her until I just had to stop..... which is not to say that during this process I didn't walk away from her a number of times, giving each of us a much needed time out.  I turned her upside down and sideways, trying to get a better feel for the lines, and the acrobatics did help.  She, however, didn't agree and complained bitterly.  So in the end, I told her we were through for the day, leading to a giant sigh of relief from us both.

Rubens Version 2

4/24/2010 12:37:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 13 Comments »
Today one of my daughters is running her first half marathon in Nashville.  She's been training faithfully for it, and I'd love to be there with her other cheerleaders to lend my support and encouragement.  I'm waiting to hear from my son to see how well she did - I just hope it's not really hot down there right now!  Tonight my other daughter is skating in her final roller derby bout of the season ... Yes, she's a Detroit Derby Girl, and she's amazing!  Last year her team won the championship of the league - alas, not so this year, but they did great!  I'm so impressed with my two wonderful girls who married my two wonderful sons.  How did I get to be so fortunate, anyway? 

I between many other things, I did manage to spend a bit of time with Ms Fourment, although not as much as I'd hoped.   She  I am having much difficulty with her, but then I always do when I try to copy these drawings.   I'm using a softer pencil now, so it shows up better than version 1.  I like to start out with hard pencils because I'm such a chicken - it takes me awhile to get plucky enough to go for the softer, darker pencils.  I'm not at the softest I'll use yet, but I'm getting there.  So, without further adieu, here she is!


Rubens copy

4/21/2010 10:07:00 AM Posted In , Edit This 12 Comments »
Meet Susanne Fourment (sister of Helene Fourment (1599 - 1643).   Now you know as much about her as I do.  I plan on trying to find out a bit more about her, but for now, she's serving as the reference for my most recent attempt at copying drawings of the Masters.  As you can see, I've only just begun, after several days of busyness and being away from home. 

I can already see that this drawing is off - her head is too straight.  I haven't decided yet if it's so early in the game that I might just scrap this one and start over.  Or, I may continue, knowing that it is flawed, and then attempt it again another time.  So, anyway, here's the original, followed by my beginning (as if you couldn't tell which was which!). 

Albert Einstein and friends

4/16/2010 09:30:00 PM Posted In Edit This 14 Comments »
Today was a wonderful day.  The weather was beautiful ... windy, warm but not hot, sunny, and filled with two dear friends.  Kathy and Jennifer have been my friends since our children were very little - babies, in fact.  But, as sometimes happens in life, our paths diverged, one by one we moved away, our children were in different grades (and sometimes in different schools), and we lost touch for many years.  We all still lived in the area, but our paths rarely crossed.  Then about a year ago, when I started volunteering at our county health department, Jennifer and I reconnected.  She's worked there for a long time, and now I get to see her once a week ...  lucky me!  So we hooked up with Kathy again through a planned lunch, and now the three of us get together  every couple of months for lunch.  We'd do it more often, but there's schedule conflicts.  Today they came to my house and we had lunch.  We talked - there were tears and laughter, and best of all, there was the love shared between friends.  I'm so grateful that we have each other again.

Now, what does all that have to do with Albert Einstein, you might ask.  The answer is Nothing!!  It's just that I got to thinking about him after working on a bulletin board at the health department, and decided to draw him.  He continues to be a very stubborn man, even as he was in real life, so what I'm thinking is that this may not  actually  be Albert at all, but rather his little known brother, Alfred.

watercolor sketches

4/14/2010 08:01:00 PM Edit This 20 Comments »
Today was a very busy day - I left in the early morning and didn't get back until mid-afternoon, then after doing a few things in the house, I worked outside in the garden.  Sadly we neglected our gardens last fall (we have 13  or 14 that we try to maintain, and 4 others that we've given up on) and they're full of grass, flowers that are thugs and spread everywhere with terrible, underground runners, weeds, ..... well, you name the thing that you Don't Want in your garden, and we have it in ours.  I've been laboring in them for days now, and so far I've got 3 of them fairly well under control, and a 4th that I've made a pretty good start on.  With that one, I might have 3 more days of working on it to wrest control back from it.

OK, enough whining.  Since I didn't have much time, after I finished working, being hot and trying not to be out of sorts what with the cut on my wrist and the spider bite and all, I changed my clothes and sat on the front porch with the new sketchbook, a tiny watercolor box, and my trusty Micron pens. ... oh yeah, and a glass of white wine.   This time I used the largest one (.08), and even that one balked on the rough paper in the sketchbook.  I didn't care, though.  I only did 3 small sketches before fixing dinner.  Tulips that haven't bloomed yet, a small, wrought iron fence portion, and a shrub that is really pretty with pink blooms (when it blooms, which is hardly ever because we keep cutting it back so we can see out when we're sitting on the porch).  So, here they are - modest, small, but fun to do.

Early Arrival

4/13/2010 08:57:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 9 Comments »
Yesterday I was meeting a friend at Panera Bread Co. for lunch, and I got there early.  I knew I would be early as I had an appointment in the area that I was certain would finish in plenty of time for me to get there before my friend.  I wanted to score a booth - I like the privacy and comfort of booths, but they can be hard to get.  Sure enough, when I got there all the booths were filled, so I took a small table where I could eyeball the booths, whipped out my new sketchbook, and settled in.  I just got going on my first sketch when  a booth emptied - I was on it in a flash!  The cost of the booth was a partially finished sketch, and I was sitting where I couldn't see my subject anymore. 

Undaunted, I just started a new one, and soon my friend arrived.  (We had a great lunch, a great chat, but sadly, no dessert).  But, I digress.  Back to my new journal.  It's by Savoir Faire and it's filled with handmade paper.  I had no idea what it would be like to draw or paint in, so I was very interested in what happened.  I used my .005 Micron pen which was a bit too fine for the roughness of the paper, but it wasn't all bad.  I did the painting at home tonite, and I used a Very Old Set of pan watercolors by Pelikan. (It's the first set of watercolors I bought as an adult, and I think I've had them about 30 years ... no lie!)  The paintings are nothing to write home about, but I think I do like the sketchbook and the paper.  I have to work with it a bit more to be sure - it's very different from what I'm used to, but it was fun to play with.   So, here they are - the guy who got stood up (I made that up), and the woman who had such a great story to tell, her friend's hair stood on end (I made the story part up, but her hair really was standing up on end).

watercolor sketch

4/09/2010 03:51:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 27 Comments »
I've been hungry for watercolor for quite some time.  I think about it, eat,  pace around pondering, eat, read about it, eat, ..... well, I bet you get the idea.  I've been avoiding it.  Why?  Well, the truth is Fear.  Yes, that old voice in the head that keeps saying, "You don't know how to do it.   You can't even think of what to paint.  Just get out a pencil (with a Big Eraser), or maybe do a collage".  It causes great anxiety in me sometimes.  My reasonable self knows what's happening, and also, there's always my mantra (it's only a piece of paper, what's the big deal), and yet, here I am dithering and blithering around. 

So, today I bit the bullet.  I decided to start out small .... just dip a toe in, so to speak.  I got out my jar of shells and my trusty .005 Micron pen and went to work.  It's modest .... small .... tentative.  But, It's Watercolor!!   Hooray for me!!!  I have to go lie down now with a cool cloth on my head to recover.

Back from Nashville

4/07/2010 04:14:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 15 Comments »
We were in Nashville to celebrate our little grandson's second birthday.  It was so much fun to be with him, our son Ben, and our daughter (in-law), Sarah.  CC (our grandson) is talking and gets more interesting everyday.  He declared in no uncertain terms "I wuv birthdays!", and who can blame him?  Neighborhood children came over to play almost everyday we were there, (all considerably older than CC), and they treat him kindly and with generosity.  The food was great, the company was great, the dog (Monkey), was pretty good .... she has a habit of running off.  She's the only dog I've ever known who can do some sort of flexing of her body and maneuver her way out of a harness (that's as tight as it can be without cutting off her circulation).  She does it in a nano-second, and then off she goes to "visit" someone in the neighborhood.  We started working with her using treats, but it's slow going.  I do dearly love her, though.

I've done no art since before we left, so I thought I'd share 2 things I did in my journal 2 years ago.  The first one is a collage I did when Sarah was pregnant and we were so excited about the new grandbaby, and the second one is a rather quick pencil drawing I did of him when he was just a few hours old.   As you can tell by the note on that one, it's version 2 - I really didn't like version 1 at all, so I did it again.   It's fun for me to look back on that time and remember how excited we were!

Holbein WIP 4

3/29/2010 03:26:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 31 Comments »
Every time I scan my drawings and compare them to the reference drawing, I see things in them that I totally miss when I'm in the process of working on them.  I wonder why that is.  I'm not talking about little differences,  I'm talking huge, glaring, jump-off-the-page differences.  Things like a totally wrong shape for something that's as plain as the nose on your face. ...... yes, I'm talking about the nose on Her face.  However, even in the face of that, I've decided that it's time for me to move on.  Mrs. Butts and I are finished with one another.  She's tired of looking at me, and all I can say to that is, "Ditto, Mrs. Butts, with the unfortunate name". .......  I can be soooo mean.

Holbein WIP 3

3/28/2010 07:15:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 21 Comments »
Soon we'll be going on a wee trip, so I've been slowly getting ready for it.  There were presents to buy and wrap, Easter cards to get ready to mail (and mail), groceries to buy, packing lists to do, etc, etc.  And, of course, I've been using the new treadmill 5 days a week .  (By dividing the number of times I've used it into the cost, so far each session has cost $44 - a number that is acting as a motivator for me, who Hates to Exercise).    We haven't told Abby (our dog) that we're going yet, because she'll be going to "camp" (the kennel), poor dear.  They love her there and do their best to spoil her, but she doesn't really like to go.
In spite of all the preparations (which aren't finished yet, I've also set aside a bit of time to work on my Holbein drawing..... not a lot, but some.  I'd like to finish it before we leave, because I know I won't be working on it while we're gone, but on the other hand, a break from it will probably give me a whole new insight as to what I need to adjust.  With that in mind, I won't be spraying it before we go so that upon our return, I can fiddle with it if I want.    Enough of my babbling .... here is WIP 3, followed by the reference drawing, as always.

Holbein WIP 2

3/26/2010 03:54:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 15 Comments »
I didn't have a lot of time again today to draw, but I did do a bit more on my Holbein copy.  I'm finding her mouth is posing a special challenge for me - there really isn't much mouth there to work with.  With just a few lines and shadows, Holbein was able to create a mouth that is just perfect for that face.   I'm having trouble with the line itself, as well as its angle.
As you can see from my version, I have been working with relatively hard pencils.  The softest one I've used on it so far is a 2B.  I'm not ready yet to move to the softer, darker, lead - I'm still feeling my way along with this.  I've only just started doing her headpiece.  I can say this about it, though, I'm Oh So Grateful that I don't ever have to wear anything like that on My head, aren't you?