Saturday, December 28, 2019

Year End Slump or Vacation?

I have not been blogging, or getting much done, for the last month. There were four or five days of ophthalmic migraines that set me back, a lot more than I usually have.

I started a Christmas card (above) in the middle of November, but didn't finish it until around the 10th of December. I enjoy making them, but every year I think "that's the last." I like the process at first, but when I have to make a bunch I get tired of repeating myself. The card is three layers, a kind of pop-up tunnel book. It mails flat. A friend recently said to me "we enjoyed making you and Jim 3-d." I loved that.

(photo above - the book I am currently working on. This is the title page, the book is about 20 inches wide open, and maybe four inches tall. It will be one-of-a-kind, probably never sold. It's called "A Child's Introduction to the Wonders of Space" and features parts of an old book my brother-in-law had as a kid. It was a well-loved book, he drew in it at different stages in his early life. )

Also since the middle of December, I have been feeling like every day is Saturday. It's the old holiday problem, my schedule has changed drastically. In a way I enjoy it, it is nice to laze about the house for a whole day. I have been mostly sticking with my walking schedule, that's good. But I thought I would have a bunch of free time and could make significant progress on my current project. Instead I have only spent 3 or 4 days on it in the last month. Our family Christmas dinner will happen tomorrow (Sunday). And then of course there is New Years, which means more disruption. However, I am thinking the new year will bring a better schedule.

(photo above - same book - I'm trying to solve a problem here. I don't like the composition of this page - it's actually a two page spread, you can't seem much of the left page. I need something that makes a better transition between the two pages. The blue figure isn't glued down. I will try a number of different things here.)

Luckily I don't go out a lot, I have become more and more of a hermit as I age. I do see friends as much as possible, and of course Jim is good company. But noisy parties and big events have never appealed to me. Now I figure I just don't have to do the social stuff that I don't enjoy.

(photo above - I guess I just like photos of my messy workspace. I think I have an inner teenager who doesn't like to clean her room. Progress does get made and it's helpful to have a bunch of options in my line of sight.)

I don't usually make New Years resolutions, they seem to fizzle out with a feeling of defeat by the end of January. But this year I am resolving to spend more time in the studio. I assume that's the most often made resolution for all artists. More time is all I want. I read an article recently saying "don't give up if you don't succeed at first." Good advice, it can take time to readjust to a new habit. Hopefully by spring I will be in a groove.

This post may sound negative, but I have actually been in a good mood for this time of year. And so I hope you have all had a good holiday and will have a spectacular New Year. Thank you for reading my blog. I do appreciate you all.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Do you make tests?

I think tests are important. These little booklets are where I store information about each paper. They can also lead to interesting discoveries. When I buy a new paper I like to make a little pamphlet bound book of eight or so pages. They are usually tied with a bow so I can easily take them apart later and add pages. I sometimes run a page through my printer, often paint on one to see how it holds up, then do some score and fold tests to see if the paper cracks. It's also good to draw, doodle, or test out things like rubber stamp inks, which go through a lot of papers.

An assortment of test booklets. The largest are 5.5 inches high. All images will enlarge.

Fabriano Artistico. I do like torn edges on my pages. I like the look and I prefer to not have waste if I can help it. When I tear the pages I test for grain and make a note of that. Not all web sites list the grain of paper they sell. I also make a little tearing diagram. Sometimes I note how many sheets I have although that hasn't worked so well because I forget to update that information.

Fabriano Artistico. Two layers of acrylic paint, fold tests with notes. This paper formed a few small cracks on the fold.

Fabriano Artistico. I chose this image to print because there are some very subtle areas that might not show up. There is a largish face in the lower right that is too hard to see. I could possibly increase the contrast but it might not work for low contrast images.

Fabriano Artistico. This is from a marker phase. I note the specific materials so I can see later which work and which don't.

Khadi Nepalese Tsasho Dark. I love this paper and I haven't made a book with it yet.

Khadi Nepalese Tsasho Dark. Which materials I test depend on what I'm working on at the moment, so it's a little random. I do leave extra blank pages so I can go back and try out other stuff.

Khadi Nepalese Tsasho Dark. Sometimes I just can't stop testing.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

A tour of my studio

I have been working on my website, for all of this year. One thing I want to add is a section with photos of my studio. Here are a few. I sometimes envy people who have neat beautiful studios, but I don't know if I could actually get work done in one. I used to know a woman who kept all her stuff in lovely baskets. It really was a nice place to hang out. But then could you splash paint around?
Looking in from the door. I am very lucky to have a large and small upstairs bedroom. My current space is smaller than my previous studio, so I had to make adjustments. I wish there was more light, but it's a nice space.

My current project. I have a large table to work on, but it's always covered with stuff so the working space is small. Right now I have a silicone mat under my collage area. It's very easy to wipe up PVA spills. The downside is that it's soft so I have to go to a different spot to draw or cut.

On the other side of the table there is a drawing and cutting station. I don't sit for long, I have to keep walking around the table to the other station. Which is good.

Random stuff. The red and blue books are old abandoned projects and a few books I made to experiment in. Their pages are left overs from other projects. The white pamphlets next to those books are some of my paper tests. The doll on the top shelf was from ReClaimIt. She was billed as a creepy doll. ??? Creepy must be in the eye of the beholder.

On the bottom shelf is storage for little bits of paper. Those are bamboo desk organizers. I can bring these flat boxes to my work table for projects. It's also pretty easy to sort the left overs back into the boxes because they are labeled. The cardboard boxes above hold file folders of larger paper, partly my old image file, and partly things I save for collage.

The boss sleeps under the table.

Some storage for rulers and stencils. Also cards Jim has made and various things that I love. The wooden ball hanging on the wall to the right held string in my grandmother's pantry.

Around the corner are more cards from people, and drawings by my nephews.

There is paper storage and a big desk in another small bedroom, these dinosaurs from my pinhole camera projects accumulate on the top of the paper storage.

a Pteranodon from eBay. Actually eBay is the source for all my dinosaurs and godzillas.
You can probably guess - I picked up a little bottle of high flow acrylics, and started shaking it on my way to the sink. Ooops! I forgot to close the top. There are splatters on the floor and the door too. Some day I'll have the wall paint out and will have to fix this. Or maybe it will become some thing...

Monday, September 30, 2019

Collage and Bricolage by Aldywth

I only discovered Aldwyth in 2012. I am so glad I did. She does large and small collages, and bricolage, which I would call assemblage (is there a difference?). I find her collages especially inspiring. She uses ordinary materials to create little worlds I would love to visit. Or in the case of the larger collages, the worlds are vast.

Above: Postcard collage by Aldwyth. She made a series of postcards from two boxes of National Geographics. They were mailed to friends with the instruction to send them back with any mark they wanted to add.

Above: Moon 3 in small collages. Eyes and hands appear frequently in her collages.

Above: "Return to the Blue Peninsula"

Return to the Blue Peninsula open.

Aldwyth's large collages are spectacular, but I can't reproduce them here. They would be too small and not interesting. Unfortunately her website isn't much better, you can enlarge them by running a magnifying window over them, but the magnified image is blurry. My monitor is pretty big, maybe the magnified images would look better on a smaller monitor. If you like what you see, check out the book "Aldwyth: Work V./Work N. Collage and Assemblage 1991-2009."

Friday, September 20, 2019

Elizabeth Layton draws herself

Another artist I hugely admire is Elizabeth Layton. I like the looseness of her drawing style, her compositions are often great. And I love the personal nature of her content. She started late, almost accidentally. And drawing turned out to be the cure for her manic depression. Some of her drawings are very serious, others are playful and funny. There is a book of her drawings on Amazon: The Life and Art of Elizabeth (Grandma) Layton. The text with each image below is her words.

Garden of Eden - November 1977 "Women have had the blame all through the ages for everything. You know that's not right. Now a woman would not listen to a snake, she'd run, wouldn't she? This is Adam, he's got a Band-Aid where his rib came out. This was my first E.R.A. picture. I was just objecting to being blamed for all of the sin of the world." Elizabeth Layton

CINDERELLA - July 30, 1982 “Fairy tales end. “Cinderella and her prince get married and live happily ever after.’ Not necessarily so. He sits there, glued to the television set. She pouts, feeling neglected. She consoles herself with chocolates, romance novels, and the thought that she is a pretty little thing whose tiny pink foot slips easily into the treasured glass slipper.”

Intensive Care Room - January, 1978 "This is the room where my son died. They had all these tubes... you know, terrible. There was always blood coming down. I couldn't draw the face, so I put the pillow there. They gave him four gallons of blood. I had always given blood and I couldn't wait till I could go again and give for somebody else. They wouldn't take me because I was taking medicine for high blood pressure. I felt so helpless." Elizabeth Layton

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Eileen McGarvey

I'm going to do a few posts about people whose drawings I admire. These people inspire me to try to get more interesting content in my drawings. When I was studying drawing at San Jose State, I loved it, but eventually got disenchanted because drawing reality wasn't that compelling and I didn't seem to have a talent for coming up with more interesting content. I still struggle with that.

Eileen McGarvey, e-mcgarvey on Instagram, is doing wonderful intuitive drawings. Although she has art training, and lots of art skills, her drawings have an outsider vibe that I love. I have her permission to put a few of her Instagram photos here, each image will enlarge. Some of these seem more finished than others. But sometimes the less finished art is more compelling. I think she works longer on the ones that resonate the most with her. Perhaps she does a lot of trials that don't pan out? I'll have to ask her. Still all the images resonate with me. I think she is taping into something universal. I removed all other people's comments for privacy reasons.

"image from a guided meditation during an amazing video call from Barb Kobe's Transformative Healing Doll class." This one grabs me in a wonderful way. This is the unfinished version, the finished one has blue around the figure, making the figure and text bubbles stand out. I love them both.

"Riding the bus with tachycardia, butterfly dreams and a kiss from a fish." I love the composition in this one.

"Calm" Yes, it is calm, very comforting to look at.

"Talk to the mitochondria" I love the clasped hands. At least that's how I see it.

"Who's driving this thing?!? intuitive drawing" Life often feels like this - the bad baby seems to be in charge. We're in trouble now.

What a crooked smile you have

I have been playing with more contour drawing. It's actually partial blind contour, from a photo. Someone was asking about my process so here's a detailed explanation. Number one started at the eye, and ended at the two, where I went off the screen and had to make the image a little smaller. (this wouldn't be a problem with paper - I could have just started with a large sheet.) Two ended at the lower left shoulder with no easy way to get to the other side of the neck. Three started at the neck and includes the shirt on the right.

Here I have a little hatching filled in. The notes in the upper right refer to the brush I used. It's called rusty nib 4, a very scratchy looking nib. I rather like this state.

Here I'm done with the complicated parts, filling in the forehead and neck shadows is relatively easy.

Here's it's close to being done.

And here is the finished drawing. I tried to keep all the wonkiness, but in the end decided I like to have the metal bar joining the glasses lenses connected. I wonder - is it creepy and weird, or just fun? I like this one - it seems lively to me. I do have a crooked smile, due to a dental mishap years ago. The drawing took 3 hours 2 minutes. There are 16,841 strokes. I'm not that compulsive, Procreate keeps track of that stuff.

Here is the photo I used. It's poorly lit and out of focus but that didn't matter.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Favorite Drawing Books


I have been playing with doing blind contour drawings and then filling in with cross hatching, as if I was happy with the proportions. I'm finding this very fun, the distortions I get with contour drawing are often interesting. Above is an example. This one was done on my iPad with Procreate.

I am working on my website this afternoon but I keep thinking I'd like to stop and draw some. (I try to work on the website when I feel fresh, and draw in the evening when I'm getting tired.) Why is drawing so distracting right now? I found a new book - Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson. It's reviewed by Teoh Yi Chie on youtube. The examples are very loose, Bert Dodson's approach is clear and easy to follow. There isn't much emphasis on perfection. In fact early on he says restating lines (when you make a mistake) can give the drawing more life. I find his approach very inspiring.

My other all time favorite drawing book is Sketch Book for the Artist by Sarah Simblet. She has written other books that are very good, but this is the best. The examples are very nice drawings, her descriptions are clear and inspiring. The link goes to Amazon, where there is a "look inside.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Time spent on the glowing box

Above: Stolen Shadows, finished earlier this year. The paper is eco dyed watercolor paper. Pen and ink drawing.

I have been trying to keep my nose to the grindstone, working in my studio as often as I can, so not taking the time to blog. This past week I had a cold, so spent more time on the computer. Instead of blogging, which was my plan, I started a new website.

I tried WordPress earlier this year and something about the interface made me crazy. The main problem is that there are frequent updates. If I rely on a plug-in for a gallery, which is essential if you have lots of images, it may not be updated when the main part of the program is. Or even ever. Obviously I am not up to speed on the terminology, but I hope you get the gist. The second problem is that I made a website years ago with GoLive, (a wysiwyg program), so the switch to a different kind of interface in WordPress seemed so unintuitive. Friends have asked me to let them know how I liked WordPress, so I have to say two thumbs down. I know it's the best solution for many people, and I love people's blogs. However, I can read html and sort of get it. So I have moved to DreamWeaver. It's pretty easy, you create a file, start making modifications and build it up. My biggest problem is that I don't remember how I did stuff two years later. It has taken me this past week to refresh my memory. Now I'm starting to do the actual work.

I also feel much better, so I need to be in the studio again. I am currently working on a book based on the Golden Book of Astronomy that my brother-in-law had as a kid. He drew and scribbled in it and I love all the marks.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A small celebration

Today I finished my book, "In which our main character has a revelation of wonderment." The idea is that I have these moments when I look around and think "the world is amazing. I am so lucky to be here." Sometimes I feel connected to all of life. Here are a few pages. There is another pair of pages here. I did end up adding a few more pages than expected and then made some changes to them.

When she saw this page, my friend Elise said "he is hoeing the earth and the mountains are growing." I thought that was lovely. Thank you Elise!

Soon I need to set up the good photo equipment and try to remember my camera settings so I can take the "good" photos.I may try to make a multiple, but that opens up a lot of new problems to solve, mainly that my monitor is not calibrated to my printer. I would love to find a tech guru who could come over and fix these kinds of things for me.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Working on a new book

This is probably the last page I need to complete in my new artist's book. I need to make the cover, sew it together and make a box. So I suppose I am half done. I am still mulling over the title. The materials are eco dyed Bagasse paper (discontinued), collage, acrylic paint, pen and ink. The two sketches are printed on tissue paper, collaged down with matte medium to make them very secure.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Crow on black

I have been trying to keep my focus on a book I'm working on. No distractions allowed. No playing with paste papers or gelli plates. No starting another book that I have in mind. If I start on another project the current one will probably be put aside and then forgotten. At least I know that about myself. I envy people who can work on multiple projects at one time. However, to finish this book, I need some drawings. So I can sketch. I have been mostly drawing on the iPad with Procreate. Here are a couple of crows. One will probably be in the book. I am really enjoying Procreate, the ability to draw, erase, draw, erase is very fun.

The crow above was started on a solid black background. There is a lot more erasing than drawing going on here.

this one started with a very loose sketch, I liked his crowtitude so much I kept working on it. The one on black was done after this one. Looking at them now I like the one on black much better. That will probably be the one that goes into my book but I will have to cut out the black background.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Printing on tissue paper

I have been trying for two weeks to print on tissue paper. I'm using an Epson Stylus Pro 3880. The Ultrachrome K3 ink is fairly waterproof on the tissue paper. I can glue the paper down with mat medium, with no running. I'm using architect's tracing paper similar to this. My old notes tell me I taped the tissue paper to the leading edge of a sheet of regular paper and it went thru the printer fine. I even found an old piece of paper that had tracing paper still taped to it. But now the tissue paper bunches up badly when the printer starts to pull it in. I also hear an unpleasant sound that make me think something will break. Not good. I found this video on youtube. This method is working for me now.

I'm also posting photos of the process here in case the youtube video goes away at some point.

To start, cut the tissue paper slightly larger than a sheet of cheap printer paper.

Fold all four edges of the tissue paper over the printer paper and tape down securely. I like to tuck in the edge of the fold so it's very smooth at the leading edge that goes into the printer.

Here all the sides are taped, the tissue paper is very smooth across the front of the two layers of paper. If tape sticks out be sure to trim it off.

Here is my printed sheet. When the paper is first pulled in to the printer I hear tissue paper crinkling. But it does go thru fine. You can see some head strikes on the right, even though I set the gap to "high." I probably need to see if I can make the gap higher.

Edit March 17 - I am using draft mode, 180 dpi now, instead of 360. It's still enough ink and I have fewer smears on the paper.

Above are all my printer settings.