Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Abstract Collage #1

8x8 inches, collage on paper

Eight by eight inches doesn't seem very large, but it is larger than I have been working on collage pieces lately.  I had a good time with the papers in this piece.  There is a part of a brown paper bag with acrylic paint on it.  There is a reproduced page from the New York Times glazed with gesso and stamped.  There are several pages from an old National Geographic, altered by sanding or with stencils and Nevr Dull, and there is a small piece of Japanese rice paper.

The piece evolved over the course of the day.  At first it was almost all shades of brown and burnt sienna, but then I decided I needed a lighter value in the lower right, and the blue and white stars went in - suddenly I liked it much better.

One thing that helped me decide how to place the papers was a piece of transparent red plastic.  When I looked through the red filter, the colors disappear, leaving only the values, and that helped me choose a design that worked for me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Blue Hart

6x6 inches, collage

Every since I upgraded my Mac operating system a few months ago, my scanner has not wanted to scan.  I play around with it, and occasionally manage to press the right combination of buttons, or utter the (in)appropriate words, and manage to get a photo or piece art art scanned, but last night I decided to quit knocking my head against the wall, and I just took a photo of this latest little collage, fused together with the technique I learned at my recent workshop.

The scanner needs to be seen by a professional, not me.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Latest Workshop

ATC-sized collage

Last weekend I was pleased with a one day workshop at The Clearing Folk School, in Ellison Bay, Door County.  A couple weeks before this I was staying with relatives in northeastern Wisconsin, visited The Flying Pig in Algoma, and spotted a flyer for the class entitled Intuitive Collage.  The instructor was an artist from LaGrange, Illinois, Laura Lein-Svencner, whose blog I have visited and whose work I admire. 

So I signed up.

After a couple days the school called to say the class was filled, but that they would see if Laura would teach another day, and luckily for me, she agreed. 

Lein-Svencner uses a technique I had read about in Gerald Brommer's excellent book, Collage Techniques.  She coats all her papers with polymer medium, and once the papers are dry, attaches them to her prepared substrate using a small tacking iron, which melts the polymer medium and fuses everything together securely, with a minimum of paper wrinkling or buckling.  

Most of the morning was spent making papers to use with the process, and she showed the group several techniques.  Laura demonstrated several methods for creating unique papers for use in collages, but I'll just describe a couple.  She coated found papers like brown paper bags, sheet music, or pages from magazines with gesso and then created texture with common objects like combs.  Sometimes she applied color with moist baby wipes, which created sheer veils of color. She altered pages from National Geographic a couple different ways.  She placed the pages, which are heavy and glossy, over stencils or rubbing plates, and sanded away much of the ink, but left the behind design.  She also used stencils and something called Nevr Dull, a metal cleaner, to alter NG pages.  By placing the stencil over the magazine page, ink can be rubbed off in patterns using the Never Dull.  The cleaner seems to act on the printing ink in much the same way Citra-Solv does, except the process is more precise, less messy.

At any rate, by the end of the day we each had prepared a stack of papers, and created a couple small collages using her techniques.  Laura was upbeat, energetic, and endlessly patient.  I loved playing with her materials, tools, and paints, and found her handouts to be concise and clear. I also enjoyed browsing through both her completed collages and her small collage sketchbooks.

When I get my scanner working reliably again, I will show some more of my recent collages using the polymer medium and tacking iron.  For now, I just wanted to share my positive experience with this instructor.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Painting - Celebrating Summer

11x4, oil on canvas

This week I finally finished a small oil painting based an a black and white snapshot one of my life drawing friends shared with me.  The original photo appealed to me right away, with the rocking boat, and determined girl, sucking on her Fudgesicle and pulling on the oars.  I asked for permission to tackle it as a painting, and he agreed.  Apparently the picture is of him and his sister at Camp Cleghorn, near Waupaca. I'm guessing this was in the 1940s.

There are all sorts of challenges working from an old photo.  Often details disappear into the dark passages, or are out of focus.  I had real concerns about figuring out where the girl's thumbs were, and where exactly her sun suit top was in the shadow under her arm. When the picture is of people who are friends or relatives, I have a feeling of obligation to create a reasonable likeness, although I tried to not let my shortcomings in that department bother me too much.  My first concern was an appealing picture, whether or not the children in my painting look exactly like the old photo or not.  Then there is color.  I have to invent colors, since the source photo has none.  I really don't know what color her hair or eyes were, or what color her sun suit was.  And since I am fairly new to oil painting, I struggle with creating reasonable skin tones.

But the painting is finished.  All I need to do now is sign it, and hope that people find it to be appealing.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Figure Drawing, New Pencils

Five minute gesture drawing, charcoal, pastel

The summer session of Whitewater's Community figure drawing continues, with a small but loyal group.  We all get along well, though individual goals vary wildly.  One craves long poses, while others prefer more variety.  One works very small, and others work larger.  One works in charcoal, another in pencil, a third in ink.  But all enjoy the immediacy of a live model, and the discipline of working week after week.

Thirty minute drawing, colored pencil on toned paper

While I have been resisting spending too much time on faces, preferring to emphasize overall shape over detail, I enjoyed using a new-to-me small set of drawing pencils from Derwent.  They're called Coloursoft, and I adored the silky application, and rich color.  I got mine in Sturgeon Bay last week, and plan to return in a week or so when I return to Door County for a collage workshop, and I want a few more to try.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summertime, Summertime

Recently I took one of my annual summer driving trips north to visit my dear aunt, attend the opening of the yearly Miniature Show at the Paint Box Gallery, and hang out with my husband's sister and her husband.  I took an extra day and spent the night in Two Rivers so I could see sunrise over Lake Michigan, and thanks to a tremendous thunder storm was also treated to a rainbow out over the water.

These are just a few of the photos I took in an effort to bring home some of the beauty I saw during my rambles.

I do love summer in Wisconsin.

This was taken just before the storm hit the Manitowoc and Two Rivers area.  I wanted to see the old fishing village, but they were closing just as I arrived.  I was luckier with a lovely private garden, West of the Lake, which was rich in peonies, irises, and other perennial garden plants.

Every year I try to see something I've never seen before, so I took a short side trip to Mishicot, thinking to tour the schoolhouse historical museum, which turned out to be only open two days a week, and not the day I was there.  I also had my heart set on an antique shop/art gallery, but that was also closed when I rolled in town, and wouldn't open until a time I needed to be on the road.  The small town did have a covered bridge, closed to vehicular traffic, but open to bicycles and foot traffic, so the trip wasn't a total wash out.

I adore antique and resale shops, and couldn't resist the classic shape and delicious texture on this 1950s metal lawn chair in Kewaunee.

I've been visiting Algoma since I was a child, and find myself always drawn to the marina area where the fishing boats come and go all the time, though the old commercial fishing boats are mostly painted up and posed for the tourists to photograph.  The red lighthouse is a landmark I revisit every time I go through.

It had been decades since I visited Washington Island, back when my husband and I were first married.  And then we took over our bicycles and toured what I remember as mostly gravel roads.  This time I took the convertible, and covered lots more ground with much less physical effort.  I also visited Nelsens and joined the Bitters Club, something I had wanted to do for ages. This scene was shot at School House Beach, a lovely place with white stones instead of sand.

Luckily for me, I don't have any real schedules to adhere to, so I drive the most scenic routes I can.  This scene was taken at a wayside not far from Fond du Lac, and that's Lake Winnebago in the background.

The trip was fine, so fine I decided I'm returning later in the month for a workshop at The Clearing, in Ellison Bay, another place I have never been before.  I've been feeling guilty that the only art I've been doing is my weekly drive to  Whitewater for figure drawing, but I am hoping that the upcoming one day workshop on intuitive collage will get me going again.