Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pears and chairs

I am continuing on with some of my homework for the Liz Steel class.  I took myself out for coffee the other day and drew some of the chairs that were in the coffee shop.  I also drew my coffee and did a small architectural drawing, but you'll have to take my word for that!!  I am finding the perspective concept a bit of a challenge but I am willing to persevere...sort of.   I'll let you know when I get one that's even mildly post-worthy!!!

In the meantime, I ordered some watercolour cards from Dick Blick (thanks Susan!!) and have started to try my hand at some more pears.  It's quite a nice paper, from Fabriano, and I think it'll be fun to try out various subjects.  I also got the envelopes to go with them so I'll be able to make some more gift sets for future giving.  And learning in the meantime.  How's that for a good deal!!!

And yup, I know it looks like the same pear three times, but really, is it???  I'm having fun playing with my palette colours.

It's New Year's Eve tonight.  It'll be super quiet for me and I am usually asleep well before midnight. But tomorrow it all starts afresh.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy new year.
I'll be back......

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Liz Steel, Lessons 5 and 6 and a bit

I haven't done too much in the last few days.  But I feel as if I've been quite busy, getting over my cold and getting ready for the festivities  (both of my little families are coming over for dinner tonight, 9 for dinner since my guy is away).  But I did manage to get a couple of things done for Liz Steel's class.

 This is another example of a measured set up.  I like drawing my stapler and have drawn it a few times now,  It is amazing how drawing the same thing really does get you better acquainted with your subject!!  I've had this little stapler for nearly 50 years!!!  You would think I'd know it by now!
I've used my watercolours again, the Winsor and Newton palette I made up.  I think that the grey of the shadow is too similar to the greys of Everything Else.  But that's ok, learning, learning.

This is a pic of my photo bag (it's a Kelly/Moore bag).  I am considering whether or not it might work as a sketching bag. Can't decide.  And then, where would I put my camera???  This is another measured drawing, first in pencil, then inked over with my Platinum cartridge pen (it's waterproof), pencil lines erased, and then painted with watercolours.

These are a couple of further efforts to draw the same bag.  On the left hand side I THOUGHT I was going to draw a gesture drawing, but in my typical fashion I kept on drawing more and more detail.  I have realized that this might just be my 'typical' fashion.  I am most comfortable with it.  But I am also trying a minimal gesture approach and I want to work on this method over the holidays.  The pic on the right is drawn directly with ink, no set-up lines.  I used my lovely Pelikan pen, with the non-waterproof ink, and then I used a waterbrush to paint out the lines using the ink in the lines for shading.  Another of my favourite methods.

And this little doodle is my first attempt ever at drawing a vehicle.  A bit wonky, but that's ok.  Once again, it was done directly with ink, no set up lines.  I love having my little sketch/notebook with me all the time.  I was waiting at the ferry to pick up my son and I just drew and painted the car parked in front of me.  It was kind of fun because I applied what I am learning about angles and foreshortening in Liz/ class not terribly well perhaps, but better than before.  I have to say it again, this is a Great Class!!

I am looking forward to a quiet period after the hols so that I can go over the lessons to date and do some thinking about what I've learned so far.  And to play some more!!

May the blessings of the season be with you, whether and however you celebrate it.

See you soon.....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Liz Steel Course: A start on lesson 5

I have had a crazy week.  My younger son and his family are staying for a while over the holidays and we are fitting people and noise into my relatively small space.  Headcolds, teething, you get the picture.  And then my elder son and his wife just had their second child this past week as well.  A little girl this time, so both of my boys have a boy and a girl.  Very exciting!!!  Having had two children myself I obviously spent time amidst the noise and chaos, but mercifully, we forget!!  OK, now I'm remembering!!!  Nonetheless, they are dear little individuals and my sons (and their wives) are fabulous parents, but  I forgot about the noise.....just sayin'.  That's my excuse for not getting much done in the last few days.

But I had a few moments to myself yesterday and I grabbed a couple of things off the counter to work on the current Liz Steel class.  And I came up with this.

We were to use sight measuring, using our pencils, to set up the composition and it was supposed to be using things from the bathroom.  I just grabbed stuff from the kitchen because I am working at the kitchen table.  I did the 'measuring' and used my pencils, but forgot to take a picture of this when it was just pencil lines.  I went over the lines using my Platinum carbon pen, erased the pencil marks and then I applied watercolour.  (I really like the thin lines of the carbon pen, but I also like them because they are reminiscent of the lines I make whilst stitching.)  I am using a Stillman and Birn, Alpha Series sketchbook, 5 l/2 x 8 1/2 with the heavy weight paper.  It takes the washes pretty well.  If I get a few more moments today I'm going to try another one.  And I haven't done part two of this week's class yet either.  And the new class is coming out tomorrow.  I'll do what I can....there is dinner to prepare and I have to shop for it first.

I'll be back.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pears, more painting and stitching

I have painted another batch of pears.  I didn't find them quite as much fun to paint this time.  The last batch was painted onto bamboo cards (from Strathmore, a nice surface) and this time I used a Mixed Media card (same brand), with a much smoother finish.  I found this surface really hard to paint onto with watercolours  and so I struggled mightily. It's good practice.  I have yet another pack with this same surface, so I think next time I'll try using these cards on my gelatin plate....I suspect they will handle the printing inks much better than the watercolour.  In the meantime I have stitched a few of the images and overlaid them with the painted cards.   I haven't cut the fabric just yet and so they are not affixed onto the cards. Can't decide if I like this development although I think it has some potential.  And it is sparking some other ideas.

Not giving up, but for today, my energy is giving out. I'll be back....

Monday, December 8, 2014

Decolourant Colour Remover and a perspective on textiles.

I can't believe I'm going to say this, it makes it sound as if we go all the time....honestly,  we don't...but....

The last time we were in France, in 2012 (!!!!! oh, my gosh, it's true!!!!), we stayed in a delightful little gite just outside Aix en Provence.  And in that gite there was a chair...(okay, I can't help but sing that) anyway, there was a sweet little chair that I painted and that particular image I have used several times in different pieces of my work.  You can just see the original little painting under this pile of fabrics.  Yes, fabric again!!! Yesterday I spent an enjoyable couple of hours stitching the chair image several times onto silk organza.    I also made a stencil of the chair and I have been playing around with Decolourant Colour Removing paste on some of my hand-dyed fabrics.  Messing about with ideas for some new work.  I'll show you more later.....

And I continue to play around with perspective. (I'm pretty sure that this will be a life-long challenge.)  And my watercolours....I LOVE them.  I have so much to learn but even that idea is exciting and they are so delightful to play with. The timing is so perfect for me with the Liz Steel class (link below), I just want to try drawing everything and I find her lessons kind of encourage one to keep doing just that!!!

December 5.  Books on the edge of the chesterfield.  Painting on my knee.

December 8.  Books on the table.  (It would seem my books are everywhere.  I don't feel this a bad thing by any means, but some of the piles are getting a wee bit precarious.  This  is not 'a pile', a pile is 20 to 30 books, at least.  There are several around.....I move them when the grandchildren come over.  Safety first.)

I'll be back....

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pears for gifts!!

I have been struggling with what to give as gifts this year.  For people who seem to have everything. And I think I have come up with a suitable solution......I am gifting them pears!!!  I love drawing pears and I love learning to paint and so I have put those two things together and come up with this. What do you think???

Ten little gift cards, no message inside, but each one original.  They are certainly not meant for anything more than to be sent out as thank-you cards, birthday cards, whatever cards, (or directly-into-the-bin cards, but you see, I'll never know!!!) but they were totally fun to do. I learned in the process and it's a unique little gift as well.  (The intended recipient is always sending out little cards so I think this will be appropriate.)

In the meantime, I have also been continuing with the work for the Liz Steel class.  I am really enjoying how she has structured the lessons and the way each one is flowing so well into the next.  All right, I confess, I'm still not very good about getting out to sketch, but soon.  I'm pretty sure.  Probably.  Maybe.  But.... it's very possible I may be busy that week.....

I am trying to learn how to draw an ellipse.  Good grief, that is one tricky shape.  So I filled a page with attempts at drawing a little milk jug.  And a cup.  And then a leaf got in there.  Practice, practice!!  (And I am still loving the Waterman inks, they wet out so beautifully.)

 And volumes:  here is my notebook sitting on top of one of my books.  Angles, volumes....more practice!!  Lots more to do....fortunately, I have a rather large selection of books from which to choose!  I drew this one with a watercolour pencil first and then went over the (final, after many attempts!) lines with my waterproof Platinum Cartridge pen.  Then added watercolours.

For this one we were to do a little thumbnail first to try and get the values right.  It's drawn with pencil and painted with watercolours.  I am starting to see shadows and shapes more clearly....I'm just not getting them on the page yet!  But I am certainly encouraged to keep, you know, practicing!  This one I did with my sketchbook on my knee....I'm practicing for when I got out, into the real (read: populated) world.

Liz' lessons are fabulous and it's possible that my enjoyment of them and my wish to keep painting and drawing and improving will finally get me out the door.  I'll keep you 'posted'.

I've given a link to Liz Steel's blog below.  I'll be back...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Liz Steel and Sketchbook Skool

I have, in the last couple of months, enrolled in both Sketchbook Skool and Liz Steel's Foundations Sketching class (see links below).  Both are excellent and I find I have been drawing quite a bit, spurred on by the lessons and the talent and enthusiasm of the many instructors.  I feel that even though my preferred medium is textiles, I need to improve my drawing skills in order to draw on fabric with a bit more accuracy.  I was introduced to Liz Steel through Sketchbook Skool (SBS) as she is one of the instructors there.  She is an architect who has become a full-time artist.  And I love her style, both as an artist and as a teacher.  Here are some of my own modest offerings:

This is the new little paint palette that I purchased when we were in Paris.  I have seen something like this as a Schmincke palette, but since mine doesn't have any names on it anywhere I suspect it might be a knock-off.  It holds a little reservoir of water, filled through the screw opening, that will fill the little water bucket that goes on the side.  It fits quite easily into the palm of my hand with a ring underneath that slips onto one of my fingers. This little one is filled with Sennelier paints, very luscious.  More Paris souvenirs!  Liz Steel loves to paint her tea cups and so I had a go at painting one that I bought in an antique store in Langley, on Whidbey Island, a number of years ago.  Fun.

I have been practicing drawing whatever is handy, which explains why I have tried drawing my own hands, since they are never out of my reach (!!!). More on the pen in a sec...

And whilst sitting in my chair last night, wondering what to draw, I started drawing the wall of bookcases across the room from me.  Another handy choice.

These are my new pens.  If you are looking for a new pen, read on, if not, this might be a bit boring!!!  At the top is my new Platinum Carbon Pen.  It comes with an ink cartridge and the ink is totally waterproof.  And it draws with a lovely very fine line.  It's not at all expensive and I'm enjoying it immensely.  (I also bought the converter, just haven't used it yet.)  Next is my Pelikan M200 (recommended by Melanie Reim, another of the SKS teachers.)  This is the favourite of my has a fine point and writes beautifully.  Such a lovely line.  Next is my Sailor 1911L fountain pen with a zoom lens.  Really expensive (for me) and I don't care for the zoom lens.  The idea is that depending on how you hold the pen, it will write with a different thickness of line.  Upright is what I would call a medium nib all the way down to a quite thick line, which unfortunately is how it writes in my normal writing position.  A very thick line.  And I have most definitely NOT mastered a straight line that encompasses a line from thick to thin....I can't seem to make a smooth transition between thicknesses.  It will write upside down, however, in a nice thin line, but I doubt it's meant to be used like this all the time.  I guess that's one of the problems when one buys something on-line.  There's no trial run.  And finally, my Lamy Safari.  I also LOVE this little pen, not expensive, but just great.  Not quite a smooth as the Pelikan, but for the price difference, I think it might be a better investment.  I got the converter for this pen as well.  And so far, my favourite ink is Waterman's Brilliant ink...I've been using their brown.  It's not waterproof but I love how it wets out.  I tried a J. Herbin ink in my Sailor pen to start off with and when I added water it DID wet out, but not in a very painterly fashion.  I'm still trying to find a perfect waterproof ink, so that I can draw and paint without having the ink colour affect my paint colours.  It's a bit expensive to keep trying out inks, and what do I do with all those inks that I don't like?

I am having such a lot of fun doing all of this sketching that I occasionally feel as if I may have abandoned my fabrics all together.  But no, I am itching to get back at them again.....

I have to start making some Christmas presents.  My guy leaves next week for his winter sojourn in warmer climes.  There will be time.....

I have put links to both sites of drawing classes that I've mentioned here....have fun!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Drawing and painting and walking

I bought the sweetest little paint palette when we were in Paris (what a great souvenir!!) but of course I forgot to take a photo of it to show you.  I'll do that next time when I catch up with the rest of my Paris pictures.

In the meantime I have been drawing and painting lots.  I still haven't made it upstairs to my sewing studio (it's a bit chilly up there) but I've been enjoying taking my new paint palette for a test drive.  I bought some Sennelier half-pan watercolours while we were there as well, and have been getting to know the colours.  I tried to get the basic colours that I use all the time but the names are different and I haven't memorized the pigment numbers and letters yet but I think these are pretty close.  I'm also trying to work with just transparent watercolours.  The Sennelier pigments are quite rich and re-wet beautifully in the palette with just a little bit of spraying.  Lovely.

The drawings are done in ink which is a new technique for me.  Not very forgiving but lots of fun!  Also new for me is the fact that I did both of these sketches sitting in coffee shops.  I can't bring myself to look at people to draw them so I'll practice first by sketching from the television.....seems less daunting! The paintings are of leaves I've collected whilst out walking and the duck is a little ornament I have at home.  Handy!

We went for a walk the other day around a local nature reserve and the weather was glorious.  Beautiful sunshine.  This little shot was taken looking into the sun but I was intrigued with how wild it looked. and I loved the glint of the sun on the water.

And so that's it for the moment.  I'll get back to you as soon as I can with more of palettes and Paris.

I'll be back.....

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Paris Part II

Oh my, I have to tell you, I thought Paris was just The Most Beautiful City.  The last time I was there was in '94 with 41 students.....not sure why that experience didn't quite match up to this one!!!  Oh wait, yes, I know....the '41-students' part!

This time it was just me and my guy, and since he has lived here before he knows the city well.  Such a perfect travel guide!!!  And he somehow managed to arrange amazing weather as well!!  Honestly!

The bridges, I loved the bridges.....

We stayed in the Latin Quarter just a couple of blocks away from the Seine. So many beautiful bridges.

Imagine this one without the cranes, the cars and the crazy civilization. Except for those little items, it probably hasn't changed much at all.  And the morning mist, eternal and forever, was SO beautiful.

Oh my gosh....

Locks on the walkway....locks on the bridge.  The padlocks, meant to symbolize unbreakable love, only started appearing in 2008 (on as many as 11 Paris bridges, but one can no longer attach locks to the bridges since the weight of all the locks was causing serious concern for the bridges' structure.)

We walked across to Ile de la Cite to see Notre Dame.

This pic was taken overlooking the river that runs on either side of Ile de la Cite.  More bridges! Notre Dame is just to the left.

One of many 'bateaux mouches' that we saw on the river,

And again, oh my gosh....

The weather totally cleared up and in the evening we went for a walk in the Jardins de Luxembourg.  I'll show you next lovely....

I'll be back...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Paris Part I

We traveled up to Paris on the TGV and settled into our little (very small, but perfect) apartment in the Latin Quarter, about a 10-minute walk from Everything!! Lovely.

On our first day there we walked about for a couple of hours and then I took a tour of the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay, which sounds impossible, except that I had signed up for a 'skip the lines' tour and so we did.  There were only three people (myself and a couple from Kentucky) and our fantastic tour guide and it was incredible.  We spent two and a half hours going through the Louvre and then we stopped for lunch.  We then walked to the Musee d'Orsay and spent another couple of hours being shown through that incredible museum (still so much more to see....must go back).  Our guide was a dear young thing from Boston who had spent three years already in Paris, studying, and who gave tours as a part time job.  She was extremely knowledgeable and had a bouncy personality as well. Such fun and what a great way to do a tour when one's time is limited.  My guy picked me up from the Musee d'Orsay and we went and had dinner with some friends of his who live in Paris.  They also gave us a ride back to our apartment for which I was pretty grateful, but not as grateful as my feet!!!

 Approaching the entrance to the Louvre Museum with that controversial not-so-invisible pyramid.

Everyone was carefully studying the many pieces of art in the museum.

Mona and her thousands of friends.

The former office of Louis XIV (I think....too much information that day!)  Not unlike Versaille's Hall of Mirrors .  Just a humble little room.  Do you suppose the secretary was outfitted with roller blades??

One of at least two frescoes by Botticelli that were found, restored, and then moved to the Louvre.

More pictures next time.  Here's a teaser:

I'm still trying to get over my jet lag.....ugh.
I'll be back...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Villeneuve lez Avignon. Part 2

It has suddenly turned into autumn:  27 degrees  (around 84 degrees) on tuesday and down to 14 tops (around 58) today.  And super windy!  A mistral, perhaps!! Nonetheless we bundled up and took the bus across the Rhone and back to Villeneuve lez Avignon.  I wanted to see the gardens at the Abbey that is within the walls of the Fort Saint Andre.  I confess I didn't go into the Fort, I was much more interested in the gardens.  And even though it is the end of the season, they did not disappoint.

Sorry, the order is all weird, but I'll try and walk you through it.

 The is the 17th Century Abbatial Palace.

Vaults supporting the monastery. 17th Century

This is a view of the Fort Saint Andre that I took a few weeks ago, seen from the Rocher des Domes at the Palais des Papes in Avignon.  The Abbey and gardens are to the right of the two towers.

This pic, because I am hopeless at getting the order of things correct, is the entrance/exit to the gardens seen from within the Abbey walls.

There are olives groves on either side of the pathway leading up to the 11th century chapel built above the cave where Saint Casarie lived.

This is the little 11th century chapel of Saint Casarie, that was restored by Roseline Bacou, who inherited the Abbey of Saint-Andre in 1951.  She moved there permanently in 1991 where she devoted the rest of her life, until her death in 2013, to the continuing restoration of the Abbey, a process that has in fact been going on for over 100 years.  Bacou passed the Abbey on to her two nephews who today continue with the renovations.

This is a view of the Palais des Papes seen from the walls that go around the Fort, and that also encompass the Abbey.

This is a vew of the Colline des Mourges and the Tower of Philippe the Bel, taken during today's walk up to the Abbey.  The last time we came to Villeneuve lez Avignon we walked up and around that opposite part of this lovely little town.

Tomorrow I am going to try and perform the super human task of packing way too much stuff into my suitcase.  I expect I may have to pay extra (and I didn't even buy any books) but so be it!  I will take my extra art supplies and donate them to the art supply store across the road (I know they also give classes there) and so at least I won't be throwing away a large container of gesso, matte medium and so forth.  They  didn't seem to have small containers for purchase and I did need them whilst what's a girl to do....

So, packing tomorrow,  I won't be showing you any pictures of that adventure!!  Then it's off to Paris for three nights.  I know, honestly, how lucky am I????

I'll be back....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Last week in Avignon. A contemplation.

This has been such a wonderful holiday.  We sit in the morning in our favourite cafe and have our favourite croissant and coffee (after much sampling and surveying.....I have to tell you, I'm actually looking forward to a pretty stringent regime upon my return!!!).  This morning at the cafe we sat outside and I waved a 'bonjour' to two Avignon acquaintances and had a long chat with a third....people walking by that we often chat with in the bakery or at the market, not to mention the guy that makes our morning cafe au lait and really doesn't even ask now what we want. And the long and pleasant chat was with our landlady who happened to be walking into town. And so it must be when one moves to a new town and begins to settle in.  And while we are heading home soon, it has been such an interesting phenomenon to experience the beginnings of this process of settling in (I've been in my current home for nearly 30 years, totally settled!!!!).....this was a bonus that I hadn't even contemplated when we decided to stay in one place for six weeks. I am always so delighted to be given these new things to learn.  And while I appreciate that there are TONS more things out there to learn, that I'll never get to or even know about, I am just so grateful for one more opportunity.....

Moving on.  It's all good.

And at the same time I am missing my own comfortable little neighbourhood, where I know lots of people and have lots of 'good mornings'.  The lovely little coffee shop just down the road from where I live.  "Just a cafe au lait please.  No, nothing to go with that, thanks."  I shall be sure to contemplate, when I get home, the phenomenon of being 'settled' and what all THAT means,

But we have more things to do before we fly home.

Gosh, this one has been a bit of a ramble....I'll be back....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quiet days

We have had a few quiet days, walking and exploring but not doing too much else.  I have been doing some drawing and have decided to concentrate on some of the things that I have been particularly enjoying here and that I want to remember.  Not big and fancy things, just little things that I want to remember.

 I'm still trying to draw people.  I suspect it will always be a huge challenge.  These are drawings from some of the photos I took on our day to Arles....I don't normally even include people in my pictures but it's hard to ask a whole tour group to move out of the way!!
I have been enjoying the milk here (I normally don't drink milk, opting for a non-dairy alternative at home), bottled water (at home I don't use bottled water but here the water is so hard and full of calcite..I think that's what it is, that it's pretty awful), and a container from the chestnut yogurt I have been enjoying (see dairy comment above, but this yogurt, that I remembered from our visit two years ago, is delicious....oh my,... and here I am using the container to hold water  for painting), some Liquitex Matte Medium that I bought at the store across the road, and some gesso, also purchased across the road.  These are a couple of pretty heavy items and I am going to give them back to the store when I leave.  They run art classes there so I am sure they'll be able to use them....already spoken to the owner in fact. Yup, no problem.
And pigeons.  These little creatures are everywhere but are certainly not a bother.  And I've noticed that when one of them is ailing, or worse, alas, that one of his buddies is generally by his side, for company, in the end.  I find it quite touching.

I have also taken a picture of the front door of the building in which we are staying.  I showed you a painted picture the other day of the key that we use to get into our particular apartment in this building.  Just little things, but things that will bring me pleasure to remember as time goes by.

That's it for now.
I'll be back....

Friday, October 17, 2014

First we went to prison....

We went yesterday to visit the Prison Saint Anne.  This prison, within the walls of the city of Avignon, is just behind the Palais des Papes, and was built expressly to serve as a prison. It is one of France's oldest prisons and only closed in 2003.  Nothing has been done to it since that time.  At the moment, however, it houses a contemporary art collection donated to the French government by gallery owner Yvon Lambert.  This collection, the Collection Lambert,  is normally in a huge building, just down the road from where we are staying, but since that building is currently being renovated, the collection is being shown within the prison itself.  The current exhibit is called The Disappearance of the Fireflies and it is awesome, for its art, and somewhat disturbing because of its location.  (Sorry, I was mostly moved by the prison itself, overwhelmed by its possible stories, and haven't included much of the'll see what I mean by the photos...)

One of many closed doors.
 I believe there are nearly 200 cells in all, some for men and some for women.  Some of the hallways had green doors, some red, some other colours.  For this exhibit, there is a piece of art in nearly every room.
 Some of the cells had windows, but not all.
 It is housed on three floors.
 This is one of the pieces of art work.
I found this interesting.  And disturbing.

The collection is on display until the 25th of November, should you be in the area, and opens every day at 11.

The day was sunny and hot and it was good to get out and walk around.  After leaving the Collection Lambert, that is, the prison, we went to the Musee Angladon.  This collection is housed in an old private mansion pretty much in the centre of old Avignon.  There are works here by Degas, Daumier, Manet, van Gogh, Cezanne, Modigliani, and many more.  Here is a small sampling....

 Modigliani, La Blouse Rose
 Degas, some of his dancers...
 van Gogh, Wagons de chemin de fer...

An example of an 18th century parlour, although I'm not sure if it was formerly in this particular mansion or not,

It was a busy day, going to two exhibits in one afternoon, but all in all, two pretty amazing collections of art.

Oh yes, and then there is my little humble offering for the day.  A couple of sketchbook pages.  Yes, I know, I shouldn't give up my day job....oh right, I did already...retired.....

Those sweet little crabapples are still going strong!!  The bottom pic is what I see from the  kitchen table as I am working on my computer.  It'll be fun to look at this as time goes on....nice memories.

So that's it for today.  I'll be back.

I have included a couple of links showing some information about the current Collection Lambert.  I'm sure a Google search would turn up more.