Monday, June 27, 2011

Thank you, Carrie!

This is STILL about my birthday!!!  Carrie took Celeste and me out to lunch at Regions and Seasons and then we came back to my house to have a little sketching party.  I know, it is not what everyone would love, but it is our idea of a good time with girlfriends. 

I did this sketch later.  Carrie bought me some coffee to take to Washington DC..  I'm visiting my daughter's family there.  They are not coffee drinkers themselves, so coffee is always an issue.   In the painting, I didn't just want to show the coffee, I wanted some brewed coffee in a cup.  What better cup than the "bee" cup which we all cherish?  It is special and every week, when we have our sketching party, we have to determine who has deserved the honor of the bee cup.  On my birthday, Carrie definitely deserved the honor of the bee cup. 

I also included cherry tomatoes in a bowl.  I believe tomatoes are best when never refrigerated, and so keep them in a bowl on the kitchen counter.  On this particular day, Carrie noticed I had them in a very pretty bowl and so she brought them from the counter to the table.  She has an eye for what might make a good sketch. 

When my granddaughter Sophia saw me making the card, she wanted to do one, too.  I traced the design and then let her paint it.  Here's the result:

Pretty nice job!!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

DC Sketcher's

I am determined that while I am in DC, I will find art adventures and connections.  In the Capitol Hill nieghborhood, where I am, there is an organization called Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, or CHAW.  I went to their website to see what was going on and found that there was a drawing class on Saturday I signed on.  It is called DC Sketchers.

I am so glad I did it. The teacher, Kent Gay, is a real enthusiast of drawing.  He has reading assignments as well as some challenging drawing exercises.  The books to read are Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and my all-time favorite, Nicholas Nicholaides, The Natural Way to Draw.   He will also assign some other readings, such as the thoughts of John Ruskin.  Today, I read about needing to devote TIME to drawing. 

We met at the Mount Pleasant Farmer's Market this morning and talked about blind contour drawing and then drew kale.  Kale is a good model--it's very intricate, with lots of active lines, and doesn't move.   Above is my kale drawing.

When we were finished with that, we did an exercise of doing a blind contour of our palm.  We used less time (10 minutes) for that.  Here's my result.

Some kudos are in order for Kitty Wallis here.  I got props today for placement on the page.  It is completely natural to me to think about that before starting now....thanks to a year of drawing with Kitty's direction, the Nicholas Nicholaides book, and learning about Nicholas Carone.   I learned a lot from that experience....but still have more to learn.   And, I am happy with myself for doing it. 

Learning to draw is like a gift...but one you have to work for.  Actually, I guess the teachers are the gift, and I have been fortunate.  Next week, we go to the Botanical Gardens to do modified contour drawings.  I'm thinking orchids and exotic plants!  Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Ever-Generous Celeste

As is our custom, Celeste, Carrie, and I have sketching session once a week.  (These can be seen at as well as some other great work from the Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters.)  My recent birthday was a special occasion and we had a lunch and then did the sketching.  For me, it was really "over the top" because I also got birthday gifts.  Now, anyone who knows Celeste knows that she has a tendency to go "all out."  This is my sketch of the birthday gifts from Celeste---a box of special birthday chocolates by Dove that had a special message inside each one, a gift card to use when I am out enjoying art museums in Washington DC and want to have a nice lunch, and a mood bracelet.  Very treasured gifts.  We ate all the chocolates, the gift card is yet to be used, and I wear the mood bracelet every day.  Usually, it is blue, which means happy, and I usually am.  It is fun and also a reminder to check my attitude....then, an even more important message---Don't take this whole thing too seriously! 

Today would have been a sketching day and I missed it!!   I did have a good day with my granddaughter Sophia, though, and we always have some art projects going on.  Further, a little on-line research revealed "DC Sketchers" (a Saturday morning group) and I plan to join in on Saturday.

Thanks, Celeste, for the special treasures, and the warm and wondereful memories!!!  You are a trusted friend and a great artist as well! 

Birthday gratefulness continues..... 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Eight Treasures Tea

It's "birthday season" for me and I have been celebrating for at least a couple of weeks.  I think it's pretty much over now....but I got a lot of good ideas, and new gifts to commemorate!!!   My cup overfloweth!!!  Truely....

Speaking of cups, this is a cup of very special tea served at the Chinese Garden (Lan Su) in Portland.  My friend Patty took me there for a  few moments to walk in the garden, enjoy the tea, and savor our friendship.  The tea was called "Eight Treasures Tea" and was served ceremoniously in clear cups with lids, and on clear saucers.  We were also supposed to drink it ceremoniously, somehow keeping the lid on while sipping....which caused a little humor.  I took the lid completely off to make this painting.  The background is the bamboo table. 

All of the elements of the tea were edible, of course--flowers, leaves, and what I thought might be lychee nuts.  I was not quite into eating the different textures, but the tea and the visit with Patty were absolutely fabulous, and a nice reason to celebrate another year of life.

Thanks, Patty.  This memory is worth at least eight "treasures."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I am DONE with the murals!

Today, Celeste worked with me to put a second coat of varnish on Jim Gronsand's mural.  We had a couple of setbacks, like a gallon jug of polymer varnish with a leak (will have to ask for a refund), and realizing that the big jug of satin varnish was "wrong" for the mural anyway.  The varnish needed to be glossy, as we had done last week.   It really brings out the colors, especially the black.  So, we wiped off what we had done in this morning.  The coat underneath had thoroughly dried and so stayed intact.  We then took a break, had a great Mexican lunch, and Carrie joined us.  We all went back to assess the situation, and validated that gloss varnish, not satin, was the way to go.  So we did a second coat of glossy polymer varnish and fortunately had enough   Most of the mural was acrylic, so the polymer varnish was great for that, but Jim had done some of the detail work in the varnish for the detail work had to be different.  The last step was for Celeste to finish the oil parts with spray damar varnish....we cleaned up while she did it and then we got out of there (because it smells bad!)

I previously posted the mural Lynda Byers and I did.  It was in the room next door, and was finished in early April.

So, as an artist....I now reflect:  Would I want to do a mural again?  Yes, I would...given some inspiration for the right place and the right image.  I learned through this process that I would like to be involved in the design of what I paint, even when doing it with others, and (of course) the freedom to make changes.  In these murals, I was not the designer, but I did get a lot of freedom to execute things as I thought they should be and am pretty happy with the results. 

RIP, Jim.  It was great to work with you on this project, and I am happy we are able to preserve it as you left it. 
Thanks, Celeste, for your help in bringing it to completion.
Carrie, thanks for the support today.  It helped to have "new eyes"on the project.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

All Church Show--First Unitarian Church

Yesterday afternoon I worked with my friends on the Art Wall Committee to hang a show.  It is very interesting because anyone who goes to First Unitarian Church could bring in some of their art, photography or other creative work.  It's unjuried, and each work of art is accompanied by a photo of the artist. 

In the photo above, my painting is the floral in the large gold frame. It is 24" x 36."  It has been posted on this blog before.

Jim Gronsand was on the Art Wall Committee and had planned to be in the show before he unexpectedly died.  We hung a detail from the mural he had worked on...a photo of just the moon from the mural.   All of the proceeds from sales of that photo will go to the Church.  Photos are fun in that way because there is no limit to how many prints you can make!   Below is a photo of Lynda Byers, who worked with me on a different mural and is working to preserve Jim's mural, and the "Moon" print.  She is being a little "goofy" because she couldn't find an "H."  She did find it, so it is an "All Church Show," and not a "sow" after all!

Pictures of the murals that Jim, Lynda, I, and Celeste have worked on were posted in an earlier blog entry.  Here's a better version of the "Moon" detail, with Jim's grid markings.

Because of the variety of work in the show, including one sculpture, it was a challenge to put it together, but we did it, and it looks good.   The Art Wall Committee is one of the best things about First Unitarian Church!