Sunday, July 6, 2014

Gimme a Hand

I've been researching and writing a walk in one of our old local cemeteries, partly because I find it interesting, and partly to get people interested in local history as it is preserved in old headstones and monument.  There are, of course lots of symbolic carvings on old headstones, weeping willows, Bibles, lambs and doves, eagles and shields, anchors and sheaves of wheat.

But in Oak Hill, the oldest operating public cemetery in Janesville, the most common symbols are hands.  Clasped hands.  Hands pointing heavenward and hands reaching down from heaven.  Hands with Bibles, and hands grasping flowers.  Today I just wanted to share a few of them, because I find them so fascinating and lovely.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jutta, for Julia Kay's Portrait Party

I have been busy with our whole dying refrigerator experience the past week, and now that the new double door stainless steel gleaming machine is installed and the food is back being safely chilled.  Oh, and I once more have ice for my summer beverages. 

But I had been enjoying a little book of contemporary drawing and sketching called Freehand: Sketching Tips and Tricks Drawn from Art, by Helen Birch.  I checked it out from our excellent local library, but I find myself referring back to it over and over for the engaging illustrations, and then looking up on the featured artists.  It made me itch to try out some new ways of working.

That's what made me try an entirely different style in this portrait of Jutta Richter.  I am filling up a cheap paper sketchbook with tan toned paper for my most recent portraits, so I experimented with drawing outlines with a Micron ink pen, and also doing some simple textures with the pen.  Then I limited myself to white, red and blue colored pencils, dispensing with any shading at all.  This drawing was all about design and flat areas f color.  I hesitated making her face white, but it provided the contrast I wanted. 

The background is greatly simplified.  I added just enough to suggest the outdoor rural winter scene, and I brought dark areas up to contrast with her white skin.  Looking at the results now, it occurs to me that the shapes are simple enough that I could try a portrait using collage - but that will have to wait until later.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


It's the first day of summer, the solstice, but sunshine is in short supply.  We've been in a rainy patch this week, and that has prevented me from heading up to Door County as I had hoped I could do.  My art seems to be limited to Monday evening figure drawing and playing around with an online collage sketchbook class I signed up for.

My project involving entering the names of Janesville's oldest burials at Oak Hill cemetery on Find a Grave was put on hold temporarily when hackers brought the website to its knees for a couple days.  I realized when I couldn't look up my entries or make new ones, that I may have the beginnings of an addiction here.  When the site was restored yesterday I headed out to Oak Hill to photograph a few old headstones.  I was surprised to see that workers had already demolished the 1912 red brick drive-through porch on the chapel.  I wondered how that would affect the appearance of the building, and was surprised to find I think it will eventually look better without the addition, though the old porte cochere did provide welcome shade.

Other than that we are still camping in our own house, living out of an old green Coleman picnic cooler while we wait for our new stainless steel refrigerator to arrive.  The old Amana quietly expired a week ago, and now that I no longer have it, I am appreciating the wonder of readily available ice on hot days.  We are eating out a lot.