Tuesday, September 29, 2015

One More Warm Day on the McKenzie

Here's a post to share with you one of the last warm days to raft the McKenzie River. Enjoy the photos.
Getting ready to launch.

The vine maple and dogwoods are saying fall.

We saw one heron and were followed
down the river by an osprey.

It became harder to see the rocks
as the sun sunk closer to the horizon.

Belknap Covered Bridge--love the shadows.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

More About Mounting on a Cradle: A Precautionary Tale

I often think that mounting on a cradle saves me time and money over the traditional matting and framing with a glass or plexi cover. However, I learned a lesson on this round about carefully following each step. On this piece, I took these steps:

  1. Carefully spray painted the entire wood cradle with a mat black, sanding between coats.
  2. Sprayed my painting with varnish, using several coats to protect it.
  3. Carefully measured and cut the painting in order to apply it to the cradle leaving an even black edge.
  4. Oops!! Missed this one
  5. Applied the appropriate glue to attach the paper to the wood
  6. Used a brayer roller to press down paper firmly, leaving no bubbles
  7. Weighted the entire painting upside down to let dry and adhere completely

So what was step #4? I failed to put tape on the edge of the cradle to prevent the adhesive from oozing out and dribbling down the edge. I had no dribbles, but the smears that occurred were glossy, and I felt a need to make the edges of the cradle as perfect as possible. 

Today I went to town to get more spray paint in black, carefully covered the artwork with freezer paper and frog tape. Then with sanding and a few coats of new spray paint, I think it's ready to sell! 
With luck, I won't forget step #4 again, avoiding steps 8, 9, and 10!

Friday, September 25, 2015

After a White Water Trip, I Got Back Into the Studio

Em rowing her parents, Dave and Cathy
We were so fortunate to have the last truly warm summer days on the Rogue River. It was so pleasant that Mike, Emily (my great-niece) and I slept out under the stars. Each night when I woke up with my normal insomniacal (yes, I know that's not a word) hour or so, I was just entertained by the beauty of the night sky. I would think about my ancestors, the many. many humans through the centuries who spent hours looking at this very sky and imagined scorpions and bears. I felt connected to my species in a way that was both comforting and peaceful. How can I paint that?

Unfortunately, I have a new camera and got very few good photos. I need to spend some time climbing up the learning curve!

My most beloved and reliable rower!
Returning home, I got back to the studio and worked on mounting a couple of my new pieces of art on wooden cradles. Earlier I posted the flowers in a vase. This week I mounted the diptych on a cradle I painted black. I think it is quite dramatic. A title? What do you think about "All About that Vase"?

The other piece I placed on a cradle is this small fish struggling through the rapids. Again, I'm searching for a title. Any ideas?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Something Old, Something New

This week I enjoyed revisiting some of my older posts. I am amazed at the usefulness of this history I have created over my nearly 8 years of blogging. The two posts I sought out in the last few days were one from March 2013 on how to mount a painting on a cradle (because I plan on mounting the floral on a cradle, and a post from March of this year about marbling papers. I also went back to my saved "old desktop" to find one original painting that was brought back to life through marbling and painting over that. All of this searching was to present you, the reader, with as much information as I could about the process, which many people have asked about via facebook.



I have had a bit of an artistic block lately Due to this personal artistic stagnation and frustration, I searched through some "starts" and pulled out my many marbled pieces created in Liz Walker's wonderful workshop back in March. Somehow, a vision of what could be came forward in my brain and I put two marbled pieces on my work surface.

This yellow and purple piece started as a half sheet of watercolor paper, but was cut into two pieces in order to fit into the marbling tray. On Friday I pulled out both pieces and decided to create a floral diptych (two related paintings.

The next painting I worked on was a marbled piece originally painted in 2004. I was a bit "on fire" and easily saw what I could do to turn this into a beautiful landscape.

The piece I finished today was a start from Hawaii in 2007. Below you can see the transitions of this painting.

Here it is as Haukalau Path, the original version.

Then, after it had marbling over the top of the original painting, it looked like this.

The final version, finished today, has an elderly couple walking into a magical place. I added the figures and enhanced, simplified, and reconfigured the space and colors until I was happy with this painting.

My last decision for this is whether to make the couple in the magic by adding a swirl or two over the figures, or to let them be on the outside, entering the magic. So far, opinions have leaned toward keeping it as it is. What is your opinion?

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Ritual of Late Summer--Taking Down the Swallow Houses

Yesterday an acquaintance stopped by and said, "I drove right by your place. I can't find you without the birdhouses up."

Every year for the past 20 years, soon after we spot the first tree swallow in March, we put up somewhere between 20 and 30 birdhouses. They line our driveway and swing across our pastures. I often imagine neighbors driving by saying, "Old man Godfrey has is bird houses up again." Or maybe we have nick names like "Goofy Godfreys" or "Bird-brained Godfreys." Regardless, we so enjoy the birds coming in and building their spring and summer homes in our swallow boxes.

The season ends late July, when all the fledglings have left, and the fields get quiet. This is the first year we haven't had a grand kid here to help keep records of the findings as we open the boxes.

The way we look at the success of the boxes is what we find inside: lots of poop means a healthy nest with offspring, unhatched eggs means something kept the parents from seeing the nest through hatching (cold weather, death of the adult, etc.), mummies (the saddest to me) means the eggs hatched successfully but something kept the parents from feeding and sending the young out into the world.

Last week Mike took the houses down and I kept a photographic record of the nests, rather than the hand-made spreadsheets the grandchildren would do. Read the captions to understand my little photo essay.
This is the last house we still have that
was hand-decorated by my mother.

This has indications it was a very successful nest.
No unhatched eggs, no mummies, and lots of poop!

A successful nest except for one little unhatched egg.

I've never seen this before.
The nest was covered by a swallow with her wings spread.
When flipped over she looked alive.

Here are 5 or 6 little mummified swallows
What happened?

This nest never made it to hatching.

Sometimes a next has cohabitation: swallows and wasps. Was this poor little swallow stung to death?

This nest had a colorful surprise.
This nest-maker robbed someone's fall decorations to find a
colorful cloth leaf. An artistic touch! 

Now the houses are loaded up to be hauled to the barn,  hosed out, repaired and put away until next spring.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Katherine Chang Liu's Ventura Artists' Retreat--A Place to Grow and Mature as an Artist:Part IV Wrapping Up

What brings artists back to this art retreat year after year? Beyond the personal growth and guidance in one's own artistic journey, there is synergy created by 20 plus artists in the same room day after day. The attending artists come from all over the U.S and Canada prepared to work hard for the two weeks.
Each artist works with different media, styles and visions. I love the exposure to so many creative ways to express oneself. Some artists come with bags full of batting and fabrics and yarns.
Others bring a year's worth of boxes and treasures to put in those boxes. There are other painters, but no one's work looks a thing alike.
Beyond what each person brings to the studio to expand each other's thoughts about art, Katherine puts on a power point presentation each morning. The images cover art from geometric to shape driven to figurative to realism. Each presentation shows new and interesting ways to talk about our world through art.

Of course, there is the one on one time with Katherine where she offers her insight and encouragement. She is gifted with an ability to look at an artist's work and help them discover strengths and inclinations to build on. I know I have come home each time with more faith in my own abilities, energy to continue working and excitement to see what I might do next! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Katherine Chang Liu's Ventura Artists' Retreat--A Place to Grow and Mature as an Artist:Part III

30" x 22"
Transparent Watercolor
This is the last piece to come out of the time I spent in Ventura. Katherine considered this the best piece of the three, commenting that it "captured" the person. At her suggestion, I left the white of the paper on the hat, shirt and lower half of the painting. I like the way it gives a punch to the face, red lettering and red shoes. The most challenging part of this technically, was painting the foreshortened figure. I stubbornly (because I knew it would be difficult) chose this view because the interesting shoe arrangement. As with the other paintings, there is plenty of symbolism in this piece, but I will leave it to your own interpretation. Do you find this image evocative?

Perhaps the most important thing I came away with, is that I can paint everything from hats to shoes and figures both imaginatively or realistically. I can even paint a grubby sock. I can use transparent watercolor, collage, acrylic paints and even a little bit of gold leaf. So the "message to self" is that at this point in my art career, I am not limited by materials or subject matter. I can paint almost anything that comes to mind. The real challenge now is choosing a topic for my next series. Stay tuned!