Monday, October 8, 2018

The Way it's Going

Another interesting day  . . . D and I made sure the furnace was available for Furnace Man (aka FM) to be able to access.  During that rearranging of things that live in basements, I realized that I would not be able to do the laundry until after FM did his magic both because I could not get to the washing machine since I'd walled it off with basement items and because I decided having unmentionables hanging about over FM's head wasn't something any of us would appreciate.

So instead of laundry, I busied myself with sorting through some boxes that had been unearthed and seemed to have things that we could get rid of.  For example, there were two plastic drawer-bins that had kitchen items we used to take with us when we went to Vermont each summer.  We haven't gone back since 2016, and even in those last years, we didn't need to take those items because the place we rented was fully furnished.  We found some things of David's that he had no difficulty getting rid of.  Then there were two boxes that were clearly for me to sort more carefully as there might be treasures.

And there were. First,  I found fabric that was supposed to be borders for the hand-sewn spool wall hanging I made several years ago and for which, since I no clue where I had hidden that fabric, good friend Sandy replaced from her stash!  I sent her a text today with a photo of what I had found and will give it to her tomorrow during the Crazy Quilt "class".  Second, I found an "antique" (in quotation marks because I don't know if its 100 years old) flour sack with which I had planned to make an apron.  Third,and oh, this was special, I discovered fabric from which I made part of our daughter's first Christmas dress and a little slip of hers, also.  Those finds may find their way into a wall hanging along with the very worn placemat/dish cloth (my memory won't come up with their exact use at the moment) that were also in the box.  

And, of course, there was something more that.  Here is another of my many unfinished projects . . . but this one goes back a way . . .


A while ago, I was discussing this project with my best friend and told her I was sure these blocks (all 26 - 28 of them) which had been put away each on its own paper plate had been accidentally thrown away.  And knowing that, all the coordinating fabrics had been re-purposed or tossed.  

So - of course, I found the blocks.  That's the way my week is going!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Design Wall Quilt

Today after clearing off my cutting surface I decided to take time off from working on the major projects which have kept me busy for the month of September and spilled into October.  There was what had been a pile of fabrics that had morphed into a puddle spreading out from the closet into the room at large that I cleaned up.  That meant doing significant rearranging in the closet itself so those floor fabrics could be put away.  

When that was finished I looked around and the design wall caught my eye.  Or more specifically one work-in-progress called my attention.  It was the beginning of a project that has been on the design wall since it was put up and which has been glaring at me for several years.  You see, the project was far more difficult than any of us in the class had anticipated, but originally, I had thought about adding a few more blocks (instead of turning it into a bed quilt) to make a decent wall-hanging.  

The trouble with that is I couldn't locate the pattern, can't remember the designer, and don't seem to have any of the fabrics except the white with the tree design. So I just sewed the 4 blocks together, and here it is: 


I knew I'd have to find something to use as a intermediate border before the white with the trees (the only fabric I kept).  The blue that forms the intersecting rings was impossible to match so I tried oranges and greens and even yellow, but nothing worked.  I figured I'd have to take the piece in to a quilt shop to see if  there would be something I could use.  

Fortunately, a piece of  fabric caught my eye, and I thought it might match the navy blue of the tree trunks.  Imagine my surprise when I opened it up and found this:


I think it just might be perfect - for a large border.  It won't do for the narrow one I had in mind because of  its large design.  Should I try that narrow orange border that again?  It might do quite well . . . but what will I do with all that white w/tree fabric?  There's both too much to use as backing, and it's too special to hide.

So what do you think - does this blue work?  And what about the tree fabric - should I use it or save it for something else?




Thursday, September 27, 2018

Drawing and Baking

Unfortunately, yesterday was an extraordinarily humid day with water droplets visible on the glass in our windows.  So when everyone was assembled in the painting class, Sharon told us that she had experimented that morning by laying down a wash and doing a bit of painting.  It still wasn't dry at 10:00!

She went on to tell us that if we working with a dry surface and a minimum of water, we might be able to have a dry piece by the end of class.  However, if we had planned on working wet on wet, we'd have wet paper to take home - not something you'd want to do.

I opted to do some drawing instead as did a few others in the class.  There's a photo of the Grand Canal in Venice at night that has been teasing me for some time.  But it is a piece that really calls for a lot of preliminary work - specifically drawing.  That's the only way to figure out the perspective lines of all the many buildings as well as the curves of the domes.  The curve of the canal has to show - it's not a simple straight line.  Drawing would also help determine what to keep and what to leave out - there are many small boats both actively plying the water as well as moored near the buildings. Are they critical to the overall composition?  How many windows, doorways, decorative woodwork are essential to make a building recognizable?  

I can't say that a drawing will resolve all those issues or answer all those questions, but it will certainly help me understand this scene better.


A drawing isn't easy to photograph well enough to make a clear image (or it isn't easy for me), but you might be able to get at least a sense of what's there on the page so far.  The buildings (the first is Ponte del Academia which is very ornate) on the left are not as stolidly blockish as I have drawn - I was more intent on getting the perspective lines on the top and bottom correct.  In the distance is the church Santa Maria della Salute on which I spent some time, and the rest of the right-hand side indicates the water line of the various buildings. That's important because each building has a slightly different waterfront edge and is part of the curve in the canal..

Clearly, there is much more drawing to do before I even begin to think about painting.
  
Today I took a break from both drawing and sewing to go to a local apple orchard.  We bought a bag of Galas for eating and a bag of 17 Macouns for cooking.  We wanted Cortlands which is my usual baking apple, but they aren't ready quite yet.  I asked for a recommendation for a substitute (so many of the apples that are grown in today's orchards are new to me) and was told Macoun was tart and firm so we took them.  

The crisp is made and smells oh, so tempting, but it is for a bonsai picnic this Saturday.  I didn't made a tiny version for us to try this time so we'll just have to wait.  

Silly me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Second Attempt - Bayou Painting 2

Today I took a break from sewing to begin the outlines for my second try at the Bayou painting. 


The trees were painted first this time and the sky was painted in only after the trees were "planted" - the reverse of how I did the first try at this subject.  Of course there will be more trees added later in the background where the light is less of an issue.  I have tried to indicate branches while at the same time leaving the paper around the branches white.  In short I am leaving room for sunlight which I didn't do in the first attempt.  Now all I have to do is leave that light alone as I paint!

One thing that really has to be changed, and I think it will be easy enough to do is in the sky areas.  The intention was to fade the sky gradually from the intense color among the upper branches to the much paler color down near the ground.  What I did without realizing how completely I had done it was show absolutely no transition within the cells created by branches!  It's a stained glass look which I don't want at all.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Bayou Painting - Days 4 & 5

Even though quite a bit of time has been spent on continuing to cut and piece a quilt, some painting was done on the Bayou painting, also.  Here's Bayou painting day 4 that I took to today's class:


I wasn't thrilled with the painting because I knew that some of the things I didn't like were not fixable.  For example, I was losing the light (in watercolor painting light is created by either leaving the paper bare of paint or using very, very pale colors).  It's almost impossible to remove the paint without making a hole in the paper.  That (the bit about the light) is also a part of my second complaint.  The painting is overworked - meaning that not only is the light vanishing, but also that too many places have painted over and over and over again which is one reason the light is gone.  These things really can't be undone.

But, even though I knew in my heart that I needed to start over, I did as my teacher suggested - continued to learn on this version before turning to a new version.  That's why she gets the "big bucks".  Grin, grin.

So I did as she suggested, and here is the result.


While I know it isn't particularly easy to see the differences between the two, you might be able to see some changes in the middle distance which is where I concentrated my efforts.  Look on the right side beyond the first tree - the large one on the right.  Also on the left behind the big tree there.

What I am trying to learn is differentiating among the necessary colors, values, and details that make close, middle, and distant discernable.  At least those are some of the things I need to work on!

During the rest of the class, I practiced various techniques that can be used to sketch what I want to paint without using anything that would have to be erased (lead pencil), peeled (masking fluid - sort of like rubber cement), brushed off and/or lifted like charcoal or chalk, or left in place (ink).  So what does that leave?  

Watercolor paint!  One can use very, very pale paint using colors that could underlie the final coat of paint without showing through.  Or,  in a similar way, one make the paper wet and apply the pale paint.  

It only took me the rest of the class to discover that the last one is what I will use when I start the new painting.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Update on Louisiana Bayou

Yesterday I took the time to work on the bayou painting as I hadn't done any painting since last week.  This is the second day's work:


It still doesn't look like much, but this is the way my watercolors appear to progress these days.  Wouldn't it be great if one day I managed do get a good painting all in one day like real artists do?  Oh well, I'm really not complaining because I do know I've gotten better at this particular medium, but I also hope that I won't stall here for the rest of my life.

Day three (below) is getting closer to the finish line, but clearly it isn't there yet.  I worked on land and sky but didn't touch the water.  My thought was that until I had the upper portion close to completed there wasn't much point in tackling the reflections.  Besides, brown water is not easy.


Today the painting told me to stop trying to be cute; it's name is simply "Louisiana Bayou" - at least for the time being.  It will let me know if and when that changes.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Bonsai Show

Sunday D and I went to a bonsai show (some time I'll have to write about how I very recently became an enthusiastic bonsai practitioner - sort of - more of an amateur freshwoman student really - it's all D's fault!), and it was really fun!  We had a great time looking at bonsai, rocks, accent plants, and scrolls and going through the vendor area.  We came home with tiny plants, pots, and a few photos (very few - turns out photos were not allowed).

Fortunately, I had taken only one photo of a tree, and I had taken it because D loves ginkos, has several in training, and was interested in the way this one is styled:


Both of us were surprised this was in the show - it's not particularly; well, it isn't . . . um, it hasn't . . . (sudden fit of coughing) . . .   But ginkos are not noted as graceful trees, but this picture will be helpful for D when he starts to wire his specimens.  I think it will help him figure out what he doesn't want to do!

Then I took a photo of  this scroll; I had never seen one mounted like this and thought D could make one for the scrolls he has.  I took lessons in how to make the usual fabric/scroll, but trust me, I don't ever want to do that.  It didn't speak to me at all.


And of course, I had to crop the scroll so the art work could be seen more clearly.  I  fell in love with it!


Bet you can see why!