slightly wonky


General drippy-ness
November 10, 2011, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Collage, Drawing, painting | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The snow has long melted away, and now we’ve got a gray day with rain.  I’m not complaining, as it was almost 70 degrees and sunny on Tuesday.  Typical November in New England.

My painting class went pretty well this week!  However, no matter how hard I try…I seem to keep getting sucked back into “realism”.  Trust me, I’m not implying that my work has any photographic realism to it, but it becomes more and more representational, which I’m always trying to avoid.  Here is the painting from this week:

If you can’t discern…it’s a still life of gardening gloves and a binder clip.  Don’t ask me what that melange means.  Anyway, I was trying to keep it fairly abstract, but my teacher kept prompting me to “fix” it so that it looked more “correct”.  I guess my abstraction wasn’t capturing the essence of the forms as much as when I just caved in and tried to paint the objects, albeit in a messy way.  The majority of this painting was done with a small paintbrush, like the flat kind that you get in a hardware store to paint the trim on your door or something.  I like the marks that this kind of brush gives.  I’m generally happy with it, although I’m still scratching my head how as to be more “abstract”.  Why, you ask, am I trying that?  I just like abstract art over realistic art.  I’m naturally wow-ed by anyone who can paint in a photographic manner.  But, I don’t like that kind of art, really.  I like abstraction.  Thus, I am continuously attempting to move in that direction.

My other art class never strays from the “non-representational” world.  We had to do two collages this week from the paintings that we made LAST week.  Here are my collages:

and:

Okay, here’s an odd thing.  The first one felt easy to do and took very little time.  The second one was like digging my own grave with a toothpick.  I have no idea why it was so difficult, and took me so long.  It’s so odd how one’s brain gets stuck.  Why?  WHYYY?  I don’t want to say that it was a waste of a good hour doing that one, but when I finished…I was exhausted and somewhat defeated by that little 5″x7″ rectangle of paper.  I was also surrounded by an explosion of paper scraps from failed attempts at that second composition.   I know…some people are brain surgeons, and I’m stumped by sticking paper down.  Hmph.

We also did colorful ink blot paintings in this class.  I think that maybe this is a project that I’ll see if my son wants to do:

and:

What do you see?  Don’t say “a general mess”.  I had fun doing this, but I would have loved to have had my tar gel medium to do some squiggly drips.

I’m also meeting once a week with Adria Arch, a local artist who’s work has been shown all over the place.  She just had a show finish at the Bromfield Gallery in the South End.  Impressive!  Anyway, she’s helping me set some direction with what I’m doing.  Because we both liked my previous “drill press” print (see my post titled, “Last Cambridge Print Studio…Boo Hoo!), we decided that I should continue this tool exploration.  So, I’m to do ten, 18″x24” drawings of 30 min. each on the subject of tools.  I’ve started with a vice that we have in our meager basement workshop:

Please excuse the generally poor quality of the photos in this post.  As the post title states, it’s a drippy mess outside, and I had to take all of my pictures indoors.  So, this first drawing is a pretty straightforward charcoal drawing of the vise.  Next:

Then, I zoomed in on one area.  Hmm!  Next:

This was me initially trying to do a “blind contour” drawing, but I started looking.  So, if the whole vise looks “wonky”, that’s why.  I kind of liked the general messiness of this drawing, so I did another one:

That’s an odd combination of fussy drawing and scribble drawing.  Hmm. Blech.  Next:

That time, I tried to draw the vise with only tones, and not too many lines.  Very messy!  Hmm!  Now, what can I do with the next five that I have to do?  EGADS.  This one was kind of fun because of the general messiness of it all.  I love that I’m scrubbing away with black charcoal in our laundry area while I look at this vise.  Doesn’t everyone dream of a laundry area with fine dusting of black charcoal on everything?  I know…not very Martha Stewart of me. 

In looking at these drawings, it’s kind of odd.  I almost like the wonky one the best.  I guess that the other ones are so straightforward, that they are almost boring.  What do you think?  Hello, out there!?!

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A good week…except for the general snow disaster

Okay.  Remember how I was complaining about the “dusting” of snow the other week?  WELL.  As those of you in the Northeast well know, now we had something to really cry about.   Yes, snow…lots of it…before Halloween.  I am lucky to be writing this email at all, as there are many people who are STILL without power.  Can you imagine?  Not good.  Think, “The Shining” but with more, yet likely smaller, houses.  Really not good.  The scene of our backyard:

Looks worse than that last photo I posted, right?  Now, I grew up in upstate New York for my elementary school years.  Their snow makes our snow look plain silly.  BUT…I do not recall EVER having snow in upstate New York before Halloween.  It’s just not right.

I’ll stop whining now. 

My son’s halloween costume, which he refused to wear trick or treating but was happy to wear at home in order to help dad with the mail:

No, I did not make that costume.  I gave up for two reasons: 1. a crocodile was too complicated to make, and 2. I had a strong suspicion that he would not wear the costume in the first place.  Don’t even get me started about the costume that I slaved over last year that he also did not wear.  My child finds halloween too stressful.  Hmm.

Art-wise…I think that this was a pretty successful week.  I had a GREAT printmaking workshop with Catherine Kernan over the weekend.  SOOOO GREAT.  She does all sorts of crazy things with woodblock prints.  I found her to be such a good teacher and very inspiring.  Here are my prints from the weekend:

I like it!   Next:

It’s odd how different the background paper looks, even though it was the same for all of the prints ( I mean the white area at the perimeter).

I saved that one above from being a muddy mess.  Nice!

Catherine really liked that one above.  It looks better in real life.  Last print:

You can tell if you have a good teacher when the quality of your work really improves.  I felt that this was true at this workshop.  It was a lot of fun!  All of those prints are made from just two blocks.

I also had some success with painting.  Here it is:

My teacher really liked it.  He had some helpful comments along the way.  It also didn’t feel hard to do.  I’m wondering if the fact that I was actually in a bit of pain at the time of doing it (think: big headache), somehow helped.  Because of that, I wasn’t totally focused.  My thoughts kept getting interrupted by my discomfort.  This sort of quieted down any inner discussion about judging the work as it progressed, as my mind was preoccupied.  Not that I’d like to be in pain when I paint, but I am wondering somehow if it actually was a help!  Sound crazy?  Perhaps so. 

I like the painting anyway.  Comments?  Everyone have a good halloween?  I think that I’ve consumed enough candy to last me until 2013 at least…not that I’m letting that stop me from munching on more “fun size” calorie bombs.



Lots of figures and faces…and a new addition to the studio!

Today, my car said it was 32 degrees.  That’s cold.  I know…talk to me in February…that will seem balmy.  Still, I feel like I was wearing sandals just yesterday.  Not only is it cold…but it SNOWED last night.  Here’s what is left on our yard:

Look at that sad little water table in the background!  It can be a skating rink for squirrels.

This week, I definitely made some odd stuff.  I decided to dabble again with figurative work.  I started by “copying” a face from a Klimt painting:

Klimt’s painting is, of course, stunning.  I was just trying to study his way of rendering the face.  Then, I did this one:

A little blurry…think of it as a “fuzzy filter” to improve the appearance.  Hmm!  Then the next one:

Strangely enough, that one looks a little like me.  Not on a good day, of course.  I showed these to my painting teacher.  He said that they were “postmodern”.  Hmm.  I guess that means anything that isn’t “modern” pretty much.  He likes modern painters, like Pollock and De Kooning.  So…I think that he prefers much more loose and “painterly” paintings.  That means more apparent brushstrokes, etc.  As a result, I tried in his class to invent a figure painting that was more painterly:

I know.  The red is a bit much.  I think that I’ll try again,  but with a more neutral color for the figure.  It’s hard for me to paint a figure without one in front of me to look at!  I know…practice, practice, practice.  Detail:

He had some positive things to say…but this might have been to encourage me.  He did not like the red, though.  Hmm!

In my other painting class, we worked on an long 18″ x 48″ painting.  We were told to pick three colors inspired by “regeneration”.  Then, we had to mix the colors, and choose one for the background.  The shapes were made with stencils that we cut out of paper which were insipred by shapes from green/red peppers.  Interesting!  The teacher, Adria Arch, is wonderful.  I highly recommend taking one of her classes.  The outcome:

It was fun to do.  I’d flatter myself to think that it looked a bit Marimekko.

In my portrait class, we used colored pencils.  I asked why colored pencils never seem to be in “high art”, only commercial art.  Who knows???  Somehow, it’s just not seen as a fine art medium.  Does anyone out there know of an artist who uses colored pencils?  What do you think of his/her work?  Here is my profile portrait:

I was really happy with how this turned out.  This isn’t a great photo, but I think that I got a good resemblance and the coloring was decent.  Maybe I should do portraiture?  Only because I enjoy it so much…

Okay…the BIG surprise of this week is….

I have a small etching press!!!!!!!

CHECK. IT. OUT!!!!

Yes, it’s small.  But it has a press bed of around 13″ w x 20″ l.  This will take some typical sized plates and paper:  8×10 plate…9×12 plate.  Ideally, I would have a bigger press.  BUT…a bigger press is big $$$$.  This little press was being sold by a lovely gentleman in Newburyport.  It was his wife’s.  I hope that he felt that it was going to a good home.  I’m worried that the shoddy desk will collapse under it’s weight.   I hope not.  I haven’t printed with it yet…CAN’T WAIT!!!!



Little elephant…painful portrait progress…
September 28, 2011, 2:37 pm
Filed under: painting | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My painting teacher asked us to bring in an object to paint, or “present”, in his words.  I didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded intimidating.  He brought over a Rauchenberg book to show me an example of what he meant when I asked him about it.  Hmmm.  No pressure.  Setting the bar astronomically high…okay.  Have I already mentioned that I love Rauchenberg’s work?  I probably should have just crawled under my easel at that point, but I didn’t.  Maybe if I had a stuffed goat and a tire, I might be able to sort of get within the same solar system as Rauchenberg’s work.  Maybe not.

Anyway, I picked a small elephant toy that I’ve had since I was a kid.  My childhood friend, Anita, gave it to me.  Her dad was from India, and they went there on vacation.  So, here is my little elephant…in pretty good shape if you consider how old it is…

Cute, right?  He doesn’t stand up well, and tends to tip forward.  I think that either his trunk puts him off balance, or his front legs are a little too short.  I empathize.

So, here is my painting of this little guy:

I’m happy with it.  I mean…it’s no Rauchenberg.  I know.  Trust me.  This is what happens when you don’t crawl under your easel.  I’ve always thought that still life painting was kind of…ummm…not so exciting.  I gravitate towards abstract and messy art, so still lifes are so…well, still.  Maybe I need to try it again?  My teacher said nice things about it.  Again, I know.  He has to walk that delicate line of being somewhat frank, but not completely squelching me with reality.  It’s only my third class, so I think that he’s still trying not to scare/offend anyone.  He mentioned that three people left one of the other classes that he teaches, so perhaps he was worried about making the beginners in the class, like myself, run as well.  Comments?

So, I’m still not done with this odd/icky self portrait.  I know.  Just paint over the whole thing and start again.  My teacher suggested some abstract colored blobs to break it up a bit:

I don’t know.  I’d like to help it somehow, but it might bother me too much to keep working on it.   This is one of those painful confrontations with reality.  I need to go out and buy a lot more titanium white to fix this thing.  Maybe just getting a large tub of gesso and a paint gun would do the trick…I think that I get points for even posting it though, right?  Maybe not.  Sigh.



A weekend away…figurative work…
September 27, 2011, 10:51 am
Filed under: painting | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For one weekend every year, my husband and I go back to where we were married…sans enfants.  Thanks to the generosity of my mom who is willing to watch my son, we can have a weekend escape!  I know.  How lucky!  We go to the place where we were married in the Berkshires.  It’s SO lovely…so quiet…just the noise of the wind moving through the trees.  Ahhhh.  I wish that I could bottle that and bring it home.  Perhaps that’s what those Bose noise cancelling headphones are like…sounds appealing.

So, I’m thinking about my next painting class coming up.  My teacher suggested figurative work.  I like drawing people, so perhaps I’ll like painting them too!  I made an effort not to “draw” the paintings.  Don’t get me wrong…I love the way that drawn lines look in a painting.  I just thought that I’d try to keep my paintings truer to the medium.  I basically reworked the two canvases that I had started in class.  This proved to be a challenge, as both canvases were VERY textured.  I mean…REALLY textured.  So, it was tough to do something on top that wasn’t abstract.  Here was the first one, based upon a suggestion by my teacher:

I think that you can see what I’m talking about with the “extreme” texture.  Here is a close up:

Okay, it wasn’t an assemblage, but still.  It was really tough to paint over that goopy surface.  Anyhoo…this was kind of fun.  I liked using the odd colors too.  I decided to do another one:

Hmm.  I layered this one a bit more, as I felt that it needed something to tie the abstract background with the portrait.  Perhaps I need to be a bit more abstract with the portraits.  Hmmm…

I’ve started another one, but this time…I began with a charcoal drawing on the canvas.  I have also added some texture to the canvas, but it actually relates to the image, as opposed to the two paintings above.  We’ll see how this one goes!

I found that the charcoal sort of smeared when I went over it with the acrylic medium, so I actually put most of the medium on the background.

I’ve also got a woodblock that I have to make some progress on.  I’m not using the gourmet shina plywood, but some other plywood from Woodcraft, a store in Woburn.  This is a royal pain.  I’m so spoiled with the shina plywood.  This other plywood splinters, is hard to cut, and is a general pain.  It’s made me sort of drag my feet about carving it.  I need to finish it up though!  Hopefully, I’ll have some prints next week to show of it.

The opening reception for the portrait show that I have a drawing in is this Friday!  So, if you are in the area…please stop by the Belmont Gallery of Art between 6-8pm on Friday.  I’ll be there!

 



New painting class & a local artist…
September 14, 2011, 1:51 pm
Filed under: painting, printmaking | Tags: , , , , , ,

So, I started a new class.  It’s called “Supercharged Painting”.  VERY fun so far.  Lots of messy, gloppy stuff.  This week, we were playing around with acrylic mediums to create texture in our work.  So, I have two canvases that I started…but there is no color yet.  I kind of like them plain…but they won’t stay that way!  First one:

It’s hard to see in a photo, but these blobs are different textures…some gritty…some smooth…

In Christian Siriano’s words…it does look like a “hot mess”.  That’s okay.  It will get worse…trust me… :p

The other canvas:

I think that I upped the contrast on this image too much, but you get the idea.  Big blobs!  What fun!

Most of the other students in the class are “regulars”.  There are only a few of us that are new.  The “regulars” all know what they’re doing…and it was sooo great!  It’s so amazing to be surrounded by so many talented artists!  I loved watching them work.  When I find out their names (beyond their first name), I can put some links in my posts so that you can see what they are doing.

Last week, I had a so-so time in the print studio.  A motley array of prints:

Hmmmm…  Next one:

Hmmm…

I liked some of the color combinations in that one…

Here are others more on the theme of what I did last week:

And the other:

Those prints get a sustained, “hmmm”, from me.  Comments?  Thoughts?  This week’s class will probably be my last one for the year.  Let’s see what happens!

I had coffee with a local artist, Regina Valluzzi.  Please check out her work.  She is really having some great success, and was so kind in making suggestions for me.  We weren’t discussing our artwork, specifically, but were just talking about the local art scene.  She’ll be at the Arlington Open Studios (as will I) in October.  Please stop by and see her work firsthand!  She currently has a show at the Blue Glass Gallery in the lobby of the Hancock tower in Boston.  Go see it!



Basement is done!!!
August 11, 2011, 3:06 pm
Filed under: painting, Sewing | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yes.  I can’t believe it either.  After a year from the date that we first pulled the building permit, we finally got it signed off today.  The basement is DONE!  I am so excited to move ALL of my art-stuff down there.  FINALLY!!!!!  No more stacking tupperware containers of inks, papers, tools, etc. in the dining room!!!  Ahhh…I won’t know what to do with all of that space!  I have a sinking feeling, though, that I will quickly fill it up.  Hmm.  But why dwell on that now?  I may have to have a celebratory iced latte today.

I also FINALLY finished a house project that I have been planning on doing for practically a year as well.  I finally made a little curtain for our front door.  Yes, I know…not a big deal.  What is a curtain, anyway?  Just a rectangle of fabric, right?  Well, yes it is…and I finally did it.  Here it is:

I think that it looks great.  I love this fabric.  It’s kind of pricey…well, not Marimekko pricey, but a little expensive.  It’s actually from Japan.  I have some other fabric from this line as armrest covers on our hideous couches.  Nice!

Not much going on art-wise.  I took a stab at acrylic painting.  Not so good.  Luckily, I am taking a painting class this fall…so I should get some pointers!  I know.  Why have I spent the past year developing my printmaking knowledge, only to switch gears and start painting?  Because it’s ALL so fun!  So, I’m back to square one…learning how to paint.  I did take painting in high school…and I have had a watercolor class and an oil painting class since then.  Needless to say, I am at the bottom of the learning curve.  I hope that there is no where to go other than up.  Here they are on the wall:

I know.  Stop laughing.   Overall, they make me cringe…but there are ASPECTS of them that I like.  Here is a part that I like of the first one:

That’s kind of appealing.  I know…nothing earth-shattering.  Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Here is a closeup of the other one:

I’m happy with how the guy turned out.  The woman bothers me and has some issues.  This painting is based on an old photograph, so I can’t take any credit for the overall look to it…only the crude execution.  So, I am facing this challenge head on…I hope that by the end of the year, my acrylic painting skills will have developed.  If not…well…I don’t know what, if not.   Drown my sorrows in lattes…

[I may have to work on that woman some more…she’s really bothering me…]




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