Friday, April 20, 2018

Upcycle Collage

11x14 inches
collage elements and acrylic paint

I worked on this small piece yesterday and today.  All of the elements, except the paint, were upcycled.  I bought a really awful acrylic painting, just for the canvas, then gessoed over it.  All the papers were found - bits of blueprints, paper bags I painted, notes tucked inside old text books, an old calendar, old diary, stamps, sheet music, and so on.  There are lots of layers here, which was fun, because the piece changed lots from beginning to end.

Considering it was pure experiment, I like it.  In a way, besides getting the chance to use up some of my saved ephemera, I was psyching up for a workshop tomorrow, something called Collage Cocktail, With a Splash of Paint.  I may have signed up just because I liked the title - no alcohol will be involved.

Truth - I wanted to take another workshop, because the last one I took, two years ago, was something of a personal disaster.  It was far away, expensive, from a person whose work I admire.  But she took an immediate dislike to me and had nothing but criticism, and I came away badly shaken, and dispirited.  Recently I decided that that disastrous workshop would not be my last.  I would take a deep breath and try again.  Tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Best Laid Plans

So, the good news is that we had a nice, relaxing and interesting cruise on Holland America to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Havana, Cuba.  I've wanted to visit Cuba for ages, at least since my ninth grade Spanish teacher, a Cuban refugee, told stories about her childhood in Cuba, the beaches, the food, her family. 

The bad news is that when I got home last week I somehow deleted most of my photos, including one of my dear husband sitting with a Romeo and Juliet cigar, a glass of rum, and a wee cup of potent Cuban coffee.  Oh, and one of the two of us on the ship, with a Caribbean sunset in the background.  It's possible that I never actually got those pictures, since a little secondary battery in my old PowerShot point-and-hope camera had died.  Before this I had no idea there was a secondary battery, much less that it was depleted,  but I have a fresh one installed now.  It's done.  Like a Disney heroine, I am just letting it go. 

The picture here is a public domain photo that I ran through a fancy filter.  It's probably better than any of the photos I took.  There are actually lots of these sorts of old cars in Havana, though everyday folks don't seem to drive them.  Rather, they seem to be pricey taxis for tourists.  They circle the city blocks endlessly, like a perpetually cruise night from 1957. Many are colors never imagined by Detroit.

We were only in Havana a few hours, though I did have some general impressions.  First, getting into the city wasn't as daunting as I feared, though we did  have to get a $75 visa, and fill out some paperwork indicating we were on a tour.  We also had our photos taken in immigration (no glasses, no hat, no smile).  But after that it was pretty standard.  People were friendly, and the food and drink we sampled was fine.  It is true that even in the National Theater, where we had lunch and listened to some good music, that the toilet, while working just fine,  had no seat and no paper, but I came prepared.  No problem.

Our guide, a thirty-something young woman was no-nonsense and honest.  Someone asked her if Cubans hated Americans and she assured us they do not.  I asked her what her favorite thing about her homeland was, and she said it was the people.   The people, we learned, make about $50 a month, and get rations such as rice, beans, flour, and five eggs a month per person, from their local bodega.  If they have the cash they can buy more.  Of course all Cubans have free healthcare, and free education. The people smoke like chimneys, not only cigars but cigarettes as well; so that healthcare is good.  The sight of so many people puffing away was strange to me. 

The one thing I gathered from the comments of our young guide that was nagative is that she wished she could travel freely.  Things are changing rapidly in Cuba, so I hope she can do that at some point.

At the end of our tour of the old city we were all on the bus, headed back toward the dock.  Jenny, our guide,  launched into a speech about how the people in our lives are important, and how we should never forget our blessings, and should appreciate the people we love, and so on.  She seemed sincere and was warming nicely to her subject when the door to the toilet at the back of the bus slammed open, and a man poked out his head and called "Hey! What should I do? The water in here won't stop running."

Speech over.  Sometimes things don't go as planned.

Anyway, we're home, safe and sound.  It has been snowing like it's January instead of April, burying my blooming snowdrops and squill.  My brother called this afternoon to say that our sister's farm house was in the middle of burning down, and he was heading out to see if he could help.  My niece called later to say everyone is OK, though the house is lost.  I remembered to tell her I love her.  It remains to be seen how I can help.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter in the Studio

Easter was quiet at our house. We shared a nice breakfast and the newspaper, and spent time putting together our gear for an upcoming trip.  Then later in the afternoon I decided to play around with adapting a photo I took and altered from our 2016 trip to Yellowstone.  I had a couple goals: to play around with the colors and composition, and to use up a 12x24 inch piece of watercolor paper that had been prepped a couple years ago, but never used. 

So, I did this all in one go, with acrylic paint and fairly large brushes.  It's certainly more dramatic than the original photograph was.

I think I've worked out enough in my mind to try the same subject in oil on canvas later.