Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Another Painting Day

An enjoyable day at painting even though several of our convivial group were missing leaving us with the original duo. 

Before I post any photos of today's work, I have to enter a caveat:  I didn't have my glasses, and the spare pair I had in my painting bag were somewhere else but not with me!!!  Well, I said to myself, I may finally be able to paint in a truly impressionistic style.  Certainly I won't be able to spend too much time on itty-bitty details.

Anyway, this first photo is a pencil study I did at home complete with some possible paint colors written in.  It's a good thing I did that sketch before class because while I couldn't really see it, I did remember it.  Could I see the color notes?  well, some of them, but the list of possible paint combinations? no, not at all.  Anyway, on to the work:

From that - admittedly hard to see - beginning, here's what I did today with paints.  I have to say that now - with my glasses on - it looks very different.  Now I see quite clearly the effect of painting on the wrong side of watercolor paper. (when doing the first studies I the backs of other studies).  The paint doesn't flow properly, and it looks grainy (look at the sky).  Then there's the problem of the lack keen vision evident in the misplaced reflection of the sun. 

And just in case you were wondering how I could do this without my specs, I was lucky.  The first and second study were done on one sheet of paper so I didn't have to look back and forth from page to page.  Also, if I had difficulty figuring out something, all I had to do was glance down to the sketch to remember what I had done.

Ah well, my glasses were safe at home and whether that will give me an advantage or not remains to be seen.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Long Story Ending in a Promise

When I had to take everything off the bookshelves in our family room, at first I thought, "Drat!  Where am I going to put all those books and collectibles?"  Then, the light went on, and I realized, "Wow, now I can put the books in order and sort through the treasures."

So, I did the latter and wound up thrilled with the neat and organized shelves.  While I did that work, I culled through the books and donated ones that had been read at least once and no longer felt any need for another reading.  Then I pulled books I no longer had any desire to read.  The results of those two cullings were donated and the rest put back on the shelves.  As I did all of this I made the decision to read from our own library as well as reading books borrowed from the library or current books recently purchased.  The idea is to read one book from each letter of the alphabet - A to Z - and then start over.

I've probably written about this in an earlier entry, but enter it again as background for my current reading dilemma.  That is too strong a word, but honestly, it is an issue.  I was brought in a family of readers, was read to every day, and learned how to read with no problems (yes, I was one of the lucky ones).  A day doesn't go by without reading.  In addition to that, I have always had a good memory (are you already getting the gist of this entry?) for book titles, authors, and plots.

I've had to admit that the plots of books are no longer crystal clear and that authors names no longer spring to my lips as they used to.  But when I got to the "K's" in the alphabet, I chose to read Barbara Kingsolver's Bean Trees even though I was sure I had read it when it was first published in paperback (in the late 1980's).  Since rereading a good book has always been a pleasure, I didn't worry about that.

What bothered me was that after reading 25 - 50 pages, I knew for sure that I had never read that book before.  No problem, I was enjoying this realistic fiction novel, and read on until the end.  Minor blip on the screen of irritation.  

So then I went on to the "L's", chose a fantasy, and began reading.  Hm, now this one seemed very familiar, but familiar as though I was looking through a series of mirrors at distorted images.  Finally, after some searching, I discovered that the novel I'm reading is the first in a series of which I read the third several years ago for the YA course I used to take every year.

No big deal, right?  But when you add that to the Kingsolver "issue" last week?  What's the one fear all of us of a certain age have?  That failing memory nightmare.

Well, I am here to tell you that I've gotten over that concern.  Sure I may wind up with mashed peas for brains, but I've got to - we all have to - stop worrying about something over which we have very little control.

All this long entry is a reminder that we need to simply enjoy life every single day for as long as we can!  I promise to keep on working on that; will you?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Re-Start on a Quilt

It was such a pleasure seeing the snow still on the ground today as we walked.  So far this winter, we haven't had much in the way of lasting snow so this is good news for gardeners.  Yes, we've had rain, too, so maybe the drought won't be as bad this season.

My morning was spent doing the usual household chores which included tidying my desk.  It's amazing how quickly little piles of notes, mail, lists pile up into larger, messy, falling over piles.  Naturally enough, the tidying turned into actually taking care of whatever note I had left myself and remembering something I had intended to write down but didn't, filing papers and finding more that had to be read, and finally, turning to the computer to see what needed to be done there.  

So it wasn't until after lunch that I went up to the studio to re-cut pieces for a baby quilt I must make.  The re-cutting was because I changed my mind about the size of the blocks.  While I will keep the blocks I had already made, it was sad to realize there wasn't enough of some of the fabrics to cut for new blocks of any size, but that happens from time to time.

Tomorrow I will start sewing this quilt again!  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Glue instead of Stitches

My art quilt group met today (or at least two of us were able to meet), and thanks to the active gray cells of one member we were able to meet at our favorite quilt shop.  Not only is it slightly more centrally located, it provides a safe place for one woman who has real difficulties with chemical residues (of the kind that are present in homes that have been recently renovated - mine and K's).  Naturally, it is also good to be somewhere where one (i.e., me) can purchase an essential item for one's work.  

When I arrived at the shop and was setting up my machine, I discovered that for the first time in my quilting career I had left both the power cord and the foot pedal for my machine at home.  No machine sewing for me!  It could have been a disaster (although I may have been able to borrow a machine from the shop), but I was able to turn it into an advantage.  My plan had been to start quilting a wall hanging which I had duly pinned to death.  As I looked at it this morning, I realized that all that pinning would not only make sewing very difficult it would also not keep the multitude of pieces flat (which is why basting is what smart people usually do).  Since we were in a shop, I was able to purchase glue that is designed for basting.   It took me about three - four hours to glue down all the pieces so I was very glad things had fallen out as they did.  Lucky me!

Mistakes can turn out to be advantages.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tibetan Monk Painting

Even though the dicey roads meant I was not able to go to painting today, painting was accomplished.  I did not take out the watercolor paints even though I recently spent time thinking about the next painting in that medium.  Instead, because I am at home where none of the oil paints or all the solvents bother any one's allergies, I pulled out the Tibetan monk canvas and worked on it.

You may remember this painting, and if you do, you will wonder what on earth I did today.

I can't blame you because much of my time was spent revisiting areas already painted.  I lightened the sky which had been all the same value on the top right.  That also meant the corrugated roof (still a work in progress) on the right also needed to be paler and darker on the left.  The tree had been blank canvas and I began working on that.  The monk's robes had the color altered to a slightly more purpley red (maroon) to intensify the difference with the shawl across his body.  Since I was working in a maroon which was also the color of the narrow strip of roof within the courtyard, I painted that as well which was a mistake.  Once it's dry I will tone that down as it is far too dominant now.  

The monk's skin and the chickens need to be attended to as do the red panels in the outer as wall straight they are not!  Indeed, all of the so-called straight lines need attention.  Then after everything is taken care of, the painting has to be evaluated to be sure it works as a whole.

Right now I'm just glad I got back to it!

Monday, January 23, 2017

One Thing Worked!

You know how it is when you are all set to do something, but somehow even with the "will" part down pat, the "way" part isn't always on board?  Yes, you're right, it happened - again - today.  It started out fine with a walk and then the laundry (it is Monday after all).  After breakfast I sat down to work on quilt show registrations which always take more time than I plan.  I did get the one to VQF almost finished complete with photos, but I don't have stamps.  Admittedly, the local guild registration is barely started.  After lunch I had to work with our daughter via phone on some editing (still the English teacher), and then the laundry needed more attention . . . Are you beginning to see circles?  I was!

All that kept me from even thinking about doing anything creative today.  So tomorrow I may be at painting class with blank sheets of paper that should have studies on them.  Darn.  

Sometimes plans just don't go as one hoped.

But I can show you one thing that was accomplished!

A jigsaw puzzle!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A New Approach to Painting

It's been a good weekend even though the weather has not been as lovely as one would like.  We were able to walk in the mornings, and after some weeks of not getting out, it felt good (even if a hip is protesting a little).  

My latest sewing project is very close to completion so I took a break from it today.  My plan was to get back to at least one of my oil paintings, but it turns out the UCONN women's basketball team (of which we are near rabid fans) had a televised game at 1:00 p.m..  So, instead of painting after lunch, I decided to get ready for the next watercolor painting.  

First of all, my color choices will not be the same as they were for the dramatic sky painting so I knew I had to clean my palette of all the mixed colors I had saved.  It wasn't a lengthy process as I wanted to keep the paints themselves.  All I had to do was clean the mixing areas which was done by soaking that part of the palette, and then, once the mixed paints had loosened, I removed them and the water using paper towels.

Second, I thought it might be time to be more deliberate in planning the next painting which for the first time I will not be using my own photograph.  D said he'd like a painting from Key West, and the only photos of mine that I really would enjoy tackling are more suitable for oil.  I had a picture very similar to some of mine that looks like the sunsets we loved watching most days we were there.  The only difference is in the vegetation in the photo which was not part of our view.   

Anyway, I had already done a quick sketch so I decided, having cleaned my palette, to think about the colors I would need to use and what I might mix together to achieve a Key West sky.   One of the things I want to do is choose more transparent paints where possible so I went to a source on-line that would help me with that information (and a whole lot more).  It will take me quite a while to learn and retain everything, but I am content to settle for being able to find the on-line site again!

One I had tackled that, I also made a list of possible ways to achieve the specific colors I want to use.  Which color should be added to which color in order to achieve the color of the sunset near the horizon?  I wrote down several possibilities for several sections of the proposed painting.  

Third, is there a specific emotion I'd like a viewer to feel when looking at the finished painting?  If so, are my proposed colors going to elicit that emotion?  Is there an idea or message I want to convey?  If so, how can I get that across?  Composition? specific items or figures in the painting? what about the time of day?

Whew!  I wonder how many people care about all that, and whether or not I should.  Certainly some of the above is worth considering, but since I am not a professional artist who is going to try to sell my work, will it matter?  I believe my answer has to be to pay attention to what matters to me and to the few people who will see my work on a painting by painting basis.

Anyway, I did enjoy this intellectual approach!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Memory like a Fading Photograph

Tonight while watching PBS news about a new movie called "Patterson", I had a great idea for a quilt.  It was inspired by a phrase used during this segment about a movie, poetry, and William Carlos Williams (a favorite poet of mine who wrote a famous poem called "Patterson").  I was so enthralled by the possibility beginning in my brain and also fascinated by the new movie that I didn't write anything down.  Not the phrase, not the image on the TV screen, not the glimmerings in my mind, not one single thing.

What am I left with?  Not what the TV was beginning to inspire but a new idea for a quilt based on the loss of the other.  The work may bear the title of this entry and may be another Improvisation in White.

I didn't write down what was going through my mind when watching that TV show so that idea is gone.  It was too new and too fragile to leave even an echo of itself so I have to accept it's gone for good.  

But something else has come in its place as I searched for the first idea, and I used this platform to write it down.  It's the writing things down that is important for me to do.  However, it is also important for me to realize that even though one "gem of an idea" has left the station, another one is coming in.  My memory, being easily distracted, doesn't hold onto things as well as it used to, but like an aging, dim photograph, it may leave an almost-there image from which a new interpretation of the picture can emerge.

Of course, I could learn the lesson and write immediately!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quiet Day

A bit of this and a bit of that is what my day was made of, and I delighted in the modest accomplishments that I am able to mark off my list.

First for breakfast we had Gingerbread Pancakes.  I had seen the recipe in a December issue of the Times Union and thought it sounded possible.  Last night I mixed up the recipe and put the batter in the refrigerator overnight (something I've learned really helps make fluffy pancakes). Today the batter looked nice and bubbly, cooked up easily, and looked appealing.  Taste is of course the final and most important thing in evaluating any recipe.  I was on the fence about that - not because of the so-called gingerbread spices and ingredients (pumpkin pie spice, ginger, molasses are all favorites) but the whole wheat flour.  The recipe calls for white whole wheat flour but I couldn't find any in the one store I was in when preparing for these pancakes so I purchased the regular whole wheat.  I really thought it would produce a heavy, dense pancake.  WRoNG!  Breakfast consisted of healthy, tasty, light and fluffy pancakes which both of really liked and would have again.

Score one for today.

Next I decided to take care of some left-over laundry that I missed on Monday.  Not exciting, but it's done.

Wrote a "social" note that took a bit of time and a rough draft to make sure that what I wrote would convey our thoughts and feelings accurately.

The only disappointing thing was deciding that I had to start a new project in order to meet a deadline rather than work on a project started in class Sunday. 

An exciting time?  No, not at all.  But that was the point.  I had allowed my life to get too hectic, and I need to slow that down as I no longer deal well with frenzy (not sure I ever did).  Today was just what I needed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"Louring Sky"

Today the painting was finished!  I did need to tweak a few things - some of which I was aware and some at Sharon's suggestion (with which I agreed - she never pushes us to take her advice if we aren't in full agreement).  The final painting makes me happy even though it isn't perfect.

Before it was time to leave, I took out my pen and wrote the title, date, and signed my name.  Its called "Louring Sky" (lour is pronounced to rhyme with hour and means "threatening") because I felt the archaic/old-fashioned/rarely used word suited the entire subject best.  The building is from another era and not in tip top shape. The landscape (scruffy trees springing up willy-nilly and weedy, overgrown surroundings) hasn't had any attention in a long time.  The site is threatened by time, and now, in the moment of this painting, by weather.

But . . . oops . . . I forgot to take a photo of the final work.  Being excited that after so many failed studies, there was actually a completed painting, I went directly from class to the art store where I get things framed. It should be ready in two - three weeks at which time I will try to get a decent photo to show.

If not, when you come to visit, you'll be sure to see it in some room or other.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Back Again and Painting Progress

That was the longest vacation from my blog that I have taken yet!  Today I was musing about why I seemed to have lost interest in recording my artistic and/or daily doings.  The only reasons that appear to have some basis in fact and therefore are possibly valid are:

  1. Holidays - but we have them every year and they have until this year not blocked my writing
  2. Family members with critical or possibly critical medical issues - that was probably the most valid reason
  3. Over-extension (again!) - and that is also very real.  For the first time I was aware of bone-deep weariness and the sense of being over-whelmed.  Those symptoms I ascribe to a combination of all three which became a cycle.  
The good news is that the holidays are over and everything except the Santa wall hanging (has to remain until I figure out what I want in its place) and the holly (that will stay until its no longer attractive - it's a symbol of winter to me).  One family member is getting stronger and will be returning home, one turned out not to be critically ill or even ill at all, and while a third has fallen prey to critical illness, he is younger and I hope will weather his trials also.  The third how-many-times-have-I-mentioned-this? issue is still a matter yet to be resolved.  It is clearly something I do to myself, but at least for the next three weeks, I have severely limited my commitments.

Tomorrow I take the watercolor I have been working on since October (so many studies and too many days of not getting to the paints) is almost finished.  I say almost because I know Sharon will have suggestions to make it better that I hope I can complete during class.  But here is what I think I posted on December 13, 2016:

And here is the same painting after several weeks worth of work (much of it thinking):

I had to invent the first floor, right hand side of the building because I had chosen such a large sheet of paper and because I felt the actual continuation of the structure (a red, add on convenience store complete with gas station) had no redeeming quality for this subject (the ominous sky behind vs the brilliant light in the foreground).