Monday, January 27, 2014


9x9 inches, paper collage

It's still really, really cold outside.  I dislike going out, and I have needed to do it whether I like it or I don't.  This past weekend I needed to drive twenty or so miles to Whitewater, where the WRAP show was wrapping up after a month.  There was a speaker, people I know and like, and I needed to bring home my painting.  It really was nothing new, a few inches of fresh snow, wintery temperatures, a stiff breeze, but all I really wanted to do was burrow under blankets with something hot to drink, and maybe a good book.  I am getting less and less brave about driving when the snow blows and drifts out on country roads.  When I was younger, I just did it, but after this drive my shoulders were tight and my head ached.  So when I learned my piece was not selected for any special mention, I packed up and left early, skipping the critiques.  All I wanted in the world was to be back home again.

Since then I've been playing with altering papers, and today I decided to do something with some of them.  This paper collage is loosely based on a quilt pattern, "stacked coins."  I set out some orange papers, and some aqua blue for a complement, and just tore them.  After they were adhered, I glazed the entire thing with burnt umber to unify the design, and this is what I got.  It's actually nicer in person, where you can see the textures and metallic paint on some of the papers.  

I like it.  I've been attracted to the colors and patterns of quilts for years, though my interest in sewing is nil.  I like that this square format can be turned a couple ways, and suggest something different each time.  The Princess and the Pea's mattresses?  Books on shelves? CDs?  Pancakes?  Stairways? I like the contrasts of smooth and textured papers, of patterned and plain.  Best of all it took my mind off the cold outside.

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Self Portrait

8x10 inches, graphite and colored pencil

I get into obsessive little grooves once in a while, and I seem to be cranking out these drawings in graphite and colored pencil, with texture added in the background and sometimes in clothing or hair.  I realized that I had not done a self-portrait for the Flickr group, Julia Kay's Portrait Party.  There's is nothing like being stuck inside because of ice and snow to get some artwork done - and some reading.  All indoor things, you know.

I worked on a different portrait this past weekend, similar technique, at an art retreat.  I knew some of the participants, and some of the ladies were new to me.  Why are these events almost always all women? Virtually all of them worked in watercolor, and when they weren't painting they were knitting.  I gave up knitting in college - not my forte.  Anyway, last weekend I was working on a largish acrylic painting that may or may not be finished off in oil, and on the drawing.  More than one person asked me if it is easier to work on a portrait of someone I do not know than a familiar person, and I was stumped as to what to say.  I used to feel more comfortable drawing strangers, since the portraits I made at first seldom looked like the actual person.  If I struggle over a painting or drawing of a person I know, and it doesn't look like her,  that is a blow.  How much better to basically fail on portraying somebody you are not invested in emotionally!  

But in the past couple years or so my drawings have begun actually looking like the subjects, and I have discovered it does not matter to me if I know the person or not, if all I am trying to do is get a likeness.  It's easier to put something of a person's personality in if I know him or her, but just a likeness, it doesn't matter.  Of course it's  harder working from life, where fatigue sets in for both the artist and the subject.  This drawing is from a photo a friend took of me, and many of the others I have done in this series are from online photos people provided.  I get to take as long as I want or need.  I'm not saying it's easy, but for me it's just a matter of paying attention to shapes, and patterns of light and dark. 

So - this is pretty much what I look like these days.  I'm heavier than I like, have more "character" lines on my face, but I can live with myself fairly happily.  Unless I consider that my 45th high school class reunion is coming up - then all I want is a dose of Geritol, and a blanket tucked around me in my rocking chair.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Two More: Portraits with Texture

8x10 inches, graphite and colored pencil on toned sketchbook paper
Barbara, for Julia Kay's Portrait Party

8x10 inches, graphite and colored pencil on toned sketchbook paper
Wally, for Julia Kay's Portrait Party

I decided to play around some more with portraits in graphite, white pencil and a bit of warm terracotta colored pencil, combined with textures created by using rubbing plates (like quilters use) for texture.  The patterns are much more visible in the portrait of Barbara than in Wally's picture.  There is some texture in the top right corner, bottom left corner and in his curly hair. though most of it was obscured as I added layers of pencil.

I have mixed feelings about working this way.  One one hand I like the modeling this technique achieves, and the glow the added warm colored pencil gives.  On the other hand the drawings seem very tight, and take quite a long time.  

I may just have felt like that about Wally's drawing since I sat on my eyeglasses and had quite distorted vision while I was working.  I had to soldier on though, since it was Sunday, and I was working at an art retreat away from home.  Today my eyeglass fixed them without a word of approbation.  He told me three other people did the very same thing last week, so now I feel less dorky and I can once again see reasonably clearly.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cross Pollination

8x10 inches
graphite and colored pencil 
Mariah, for Julia Kay's Portrait Party

It has been cold, crazy cold in our neck of the woods, and we ended up not going out for my birthday, or New Year's Eve, though we did venture out for dinner last night.  All this inside time has inspired me to clean and organize upstairs in the studio, and try to motivate myself to get back into painting. Lately all I seem to be inclined to do is cut and paste and think about making new papers to use for more cutting and pasting, which is all well and good. It's just that I hate to get too far away from drawing and painting.  Anyway, today I was supposed to help out at a local gallery, and I knew I needed to bring along something small and portable, so I decided to do another portrait for Julia Kay's Portrait Party, a Flickr group that has recently started an auxiliary group on Facebook.  

I've been creating textured papers for my collage work, and got the brainstorm that I might be able to use rubbing plates, the sort quilters use for designing fabrics, as background texture in drawing.  If you enlarge the drawing, you'll see different textures in the dark passages, as well as in the peach and white area to the right of her head.  If I had used heavier paper I might have actually collaged on some textured areas.  This drawing is on thin sketchbook paper, so I didn't push my luck.  I like the effect well enough that I may do a little series and see what I can do with this technique.