Friday, October 28, 2011

New Art - Is It Finished?

I hung this new piece in my living room, thinking of it as unfinished. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. My husband doesn't want me to alter it now. He likes it!

After three years of living with our home's former owners' mauve carpeting and floral wallpaper, we have finally removed all of that and added our own taste. There's more to be done, but I couldn't resist hanging art on the walls as soon as I could. I didn't think my family would like this large contemporary canvas, but I have been surprised by everyone, including my mother who loved the former decor and my husband, who doesn't want me to change a thing about it. This large (30 x 40") canvas sat unfinished in my studio for close to a year covered with texture and shades of turquoise acrylics. Once I determined the colors for my living areas, most of that was covered up. I used one of the living room and dining room colors of interior latex paint, and then dripped it a la Pollack to integrate the colored sections with the main color. I will probably do a little finessing to it, but I may have to do it in secret.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Expanding Resilience Through the Metaphor of Icons - a workshop

On Saturday, October 15 my friend Diana H and I attended the workshop Expanding Resilience Through the Metaphor of Icons at New Albany’s Carnegie Center for Art and History. It was held in conjunction with the closing of the exceptional exhibit Heartbeats: Art Quilts by Penny Sisto, and followed previous museum talks by Penny and the author of Mindful Resilience, Pamela Cotton, PhD.

Pamela and Penny shared personal experiences and their own paths to discovering internal resilience with participants who were invited to share their own experiences.

The two women led a remarkable group through the creation of art quilts of our own. I am sharing photos of the physical results of our labors that morning, but the intangible results were many. It began with Penny and Pamela sharing stories from their lives. Penny’s first story had me in tears as she talked about her family in the Orkney Islands. Pamela’s stories of her mother were heartwarming and insightful.

Penny had set each place with a beautiful hand-dyed fabric piece to serve as backgrounds for our personally iconic 'quilts'. As we arrived, we sat in front of the piece of fabric that ‘spoke’ to us. Then we were given round halos of beautiful fabrics and were asked to choose a face, which Penny had drawn and cut out for us. Each face had such expression! I chose one with a sweet smile. When we were later given pinkish fabric to cut for lips, I didn’t want to cover up her smile – but I did.

We were told to choose two items that spoke to us somehow from an array of varied items, some nostalgic, some pretty, some unusual. I chose a cloth tape measure and a pair of button bedecked navy blue dress gloves. I had almost chosen a rectangular doily of cutwork and lace, but opted for less frilliness and chose the gloves instead. The gloves were reminiscent of younger days when ladies dressed up for special events, which in those days included Sunday services and shopping downtown. The measuring tape was about keeping track of events, my two grandmothers, both of whom were seamstresses, and my youngest son who seems to measure his life very carefully. It was almost comical later when we each had to give up one of our pieces – after having attached some familial- or life- importance to them. I reluctantly gave up my tape measure to Rose, the lovely lady sitting to my right. She reluctantly gave up the lace piece that meant ‘family’ to her. The same lace rectangle that I had almost chosen! Actually, I would never have had the idea to use the tape measure as wonderfully as she did, so it worked out well.


(Dave and Diana)


(Diana's - in progress)

Dave and Diana bickered over the bones they had chosen – very similar, but Diana’s had a hole in it, which David put to use by tying fabric through it, griping all the while about wanting ‘his’ bone back. Many other such little dramas unfolded, prompting Pamela to relay a story about her mother who easily gave up anything someone else wanted or needed. She was able to let go of material goods because of her deeply held belief that she would have what she needed when the time came.

While our glued, stitched and layered quilts are far cries from Penny’s multi-layered, multi-faceted works of art, still we learned from the process – as much about ourselves and each other as we did about art and quilting. I hope you will look up both Penny’s and Pamela’s websites to learn more about their work. You will be amazed and impressed.
(Detail from one of Penny's exquisite works in the exhibit)

I don’t know the names of every person who created the following pieces, but I was moved by each person and the feelings that flowed from their stories and the morning’s work.

(Just before we left for the day I sewed a small crucifix to mine and stuffed some color into the gloves. Gotta have some color in life!)

Note to Fellow Participants, if you want to 'claim' yours, send me a note or leave a comment below. If you've added to yours since Saturday, send me a new picture if you want me to update it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sink Art Book Revisited

Ehhh. Messed up on the sink art booklet from the start. To glue the sink art rectangles to the Arches text wove, I used a jar of paste I found while straightening my studio. It looked perfect. I was happy to have found it. I thought it would be perfect for the project. Instead, even after weighting the booklet under heavy books for days, the pages were a little wavy. I guess that's why the jar had been hidden away.
Then the lettering. First I made it too legible and too tight. Then I tried to loosen up, then I tried to obscure it. Nothing was easy, and nothing was working.

Ehhh. Not happy with the progress. It may become collage papers - or trash. The words are a very personal poem I wrote in reference to my little brother's death. I wanted them to be hard to read. I didn't want to add color, but did so to help obscure. I did not do a good job of planning on this, and therein lay the problem. I was just trying to get it done, and it didn't work out well. I haven't even thought of a cover, and probably won't. I will do it over though after I've done more planning!

In my muse's defense, there have been a couple of other distractions this week. First, painting. Not me as artist (only peripherally), but me as homeowner. My living room, dining room and kitchen are a total mess right now. Two days of wallpaper removal (not counting the bit Steve did while I was in France), a day of primer coating, and today is the real final paint. Yay!!! I think the painter will finish today! I've wanted to do this for three years. When I bought this house it looked like a 'granny house'. Lots of floral wallpaper and border everywhere. Frilly frou-frou, which is not my style. The pink carpet was too good to get rid of, but too inappropriate to keep. Alas, it stays until next summer - according to my painter, it will be better to refinish the hardwood floors (currently hidden under the plush pinkness) in the summer. (We'll see. I do get impatient once I have a vision.)

The other project is wedding stuff. Placecard/seating cards. See photos on my wedding blog, but here is a photo of some cards in my drying rack.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sink Art Experiments

This week I played with sink art. "Sink Art" is a term coined by the late Dick Beasley, a calligrapher from Arizona who utilized calligraphy as art. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to study with him one week in Indiana many years ago.

A few years ago I took a workshop from one of Dick's proteges, Sherrie Lovler, where (with a broken hand in a brace) I did this piece of sink art, among others. The broken hand was an impediment both to lettering and to properly wetting the paper, but it was fun, nevertheless.

I wouldn't use this piece as it is, but the following photos show that there are many intriguing little bits that would make a good background or embellishable piece.

This week's experiments were a mixed bag of results. At first, loathe to ruin 'good' paper, I used drawing paper and Moon Palace Sumi ink. Eehhh - not so good.

Laurie Doctor suggested I use better paper, and when I pulled out the go-to Arches Text Wove paper the results were better. Arches Text Wove, also now called Arches Velin, is a 100% rag pH neutral paper which takes a lot of abuse and folds nicely: an excellent book paper.

To do sink art, you letter or mark on 'good' paper with a non-waterproof ink. The more waterproof it is, the less of the image you will be able to remove. You have to experiment to find what works best, and you have to let it sit a little while, but not too long or the ink will be totally dry and basically immovable. Take the still wet piece of inked paper to the sink and run water over it. (It's messy!) Depending upon your goal, you can move the paper around and/or 'scrub' at the marks to release more ink. When you see patterns you like, it's time to quit. If you wash too long, there will be no good marks left. You can use colored inks with Sink art. Experiment!

I selected these rectangles from a larger sheet by moving a template around on it and tracing the inside border, cutting them out later with scissors.

What will I do with these rectangular bits of art? I will glue them to book pages and embellish them with ink and pencil. Stay tuned! I hope to have a finished book to post in a few days. Below are two Arches Text wove 'books in the raw'. I imagine the smaller of the two will be the basis for the sink art book. In a Rosie Kelly book workshop I took, Rosie had beautiful snippets of sink art in some of her books, and they remain my inspiration.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How to Make an Accordion Booklet

Today I made a small accordion book. Actually, I had painted the inside paper a few days ago, and the watercolor paper that I used for the cover eons ago, and pulled it out of my stash because the colors went together pretty well. It's easier to make a spur of the moment book if you have a good paper stash to pull from. I prefer hand-painted papers to scrap-booking papers, but those are okay too, if that's what you have. (Hint: even papers you think are ugly can surprise you by looking really good in a book.)

Here's how to make a simple accordion book, for anyone who doesn't know. At least, this is how I made this one. First, I had this piece of paper that I really wanted to do something with. (The 'itch'.)

I found a quote and decided that instead of a broadside, I'd make a book. (The 'inspiration'.) I folded it into an accordion. To do this, simply fold the strip of paper in half, fold over each edge to allow tabs for gluing to a cover. (You can also allow two extra pages for this, but mine was a thin strip of paper and smaller is fine for a smaller book. I folded over about an inch on each end.) Take folded book edge and fold up to the tab folds. Repeat for each side. Keep folding end to end, one step at a time until completed. In other words, you will have two tab ends of whatever width you allowed, and you will have an even number of equal-sized pages.

Click on photo to see notes a little larger.

Then, I remembered a favorite poem, Shel Silverstein's "The Little Boy and The Old Man." I decided it would go better with the lighthearted colors in the book pages than the more esoteric quote I'd picked out earlier.

I quickly decided that I could fit all the words onto the skinny pages. (The 'plan'.) I didn't do a layout, but am now considering this to be my layout because I will likely re-do this book with more care in the lettering and layout.

I mixed two colors of gouache (opaque watercolor) that I knew would look better with the watercolor pages than stark black and would show up better than white. (The 'design'.) I lettered my poem freehand in simple letters with a pointed pen guide lines. Also no 'dummy' except the one holding the pen. I should have practiced on plain paper for better layout. I am always in a hurry. (The 'fool'.)

For this book, because it was so small (about 1.25 inches by 4inches), I simply doubled over the watercolor paper to make covers. I cut two 2 1/2 inch by 4 1/4 inch cover pieces and folded each in half, ending up with 1 1/4 by 4 1/4 covers. The inner pages are a tiny bit smaller than the covers.

I put it together without gluing first to assure myself I was headed in the right direction. I have been known to glue the pages in backwards...not good, but not fatal - it allows an opportunity to change the plan. (The 'optimist'.)

I decided to add a ribbon tie. (The 'embellishment'.)

I placed the covers on a piece of plastic wrap (any scrap paper will do) and coated with PVA glue. White school glue will work, but PVA 'grabs' faster. I triple checked the placement of the accordion into the front cover before inserting it along with a length of ribbon. I repeated the process for the back cover. (The 'messy part'.) Note: a good glue stick can sometimes be used instead of white or PVA glue...if the papers are thin a glue stick can even work better. UHU brand is the best I've found.

For this booklet, because I'd doubled over the watercolor paper, the opening edges of the book cover are the folded edges. The tabs were inserted into the cut edges, along with the ribbon ties. These are on the spine side of the book.

I hope these instructions are clear. Make a plain paper sample first and follow my instructions with the plain paper accordion for practice. It's really easy, and you can make them as elaborate or as simple as you'd like. You can also glue pages together to make the book larger. (The 'encouragement'.)

Miscellaneous Photos - Toulouse France

I'm busy sorting and re-sizing photos again. Here are a few miscellaneous photos from Toulouse. Many more to come.

I thought my calligraphy friends would appreciate this flourished sign I spied on a street near downtown Toulouse.
To continue the 'foodie' theme from past posts, here is the meal that was presented to me at a nice Italian restaurant in Toulouse. This is tagliatelle...complete with raw egg! Being a former food microbiologist, I didn't take the suggestion of the nice man from Provence sitting at the neighboring table (to stir it up and the egg would cook. - Alas, the pasta was too cool to count on that happening!) I ate around the yolk, but was well aware that I was eating uncooked albumin in the process.

The best Coke I have ever had. Wow! It tasted good! That led to more Cokes throughout my stay, something I rarely drink at home. In at least one French restaurant Coca Cola was more expensive than wine!!!

A cobbler's window caught my eye. A history of shoes is in this little treasury.

A Hurdy-Gurdy man in the capitol plaza in Toulouse was a fun sight to see - and hear!

This street musician was possibly one of the many college students in the area.

This 'statue' was in the Capitol Plaza one weekend.

Phone booth - these are becoming rarer and rarer to see due to the proliferation of cell phones. They're obviously more of a target for graffiti than for actual phone calls.

This canal boat restaurant was one of our landmarks during our first week in France. We considered eating there, but never did get around to it.

Thanks for visiting my Letterlady's Letters blog. Leave a comment and tell me what you think. More lettering and art coming, but I have more summer travel photos from Camp Cheerio and France to post too. To see other photos, please visit my other blogs listed above right, and my FaceBook fan page.