Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dec Book Club - Education of a Wandering Man

Education of a Wandering Man
by Louis L'Amour
December's book for the Blue Twig Studio book club was Education of a Wandering Man, an autobiography by Louis L'Amour. L'Amour is an interesting character and lived an interesting life. He dropped out of school at the age of 15, as he felt he could not learn what he needed to learn through the public school system. He started wandering the country and the globe, working various jobs, all while reading avidly to continue his education.

L'Amour always knew he wanted to write - as he was a storyteller. His early years of traveling, he worked various jobs like mining, being a hobo, being a seaman, along with other jobs, as well as fighting as a boxer to improve his education and to learn stories and backgrounds for stories he would later write. I found the stories he included of hobos interesting, as the original hobos in the 1920s and 30s were a far different man than today. Hobos in L'Amour's time were hard-working men traveling the country by catching the rails to work any job that needed to be done before traveling to the next job. L'Amour would stay in one location long enough to earn  money to travel to the next location, and have time to frequent local taverns, eateries, and other places men would gather to learn the local stories from the men who lived them. He also spent much time in local libraries and bookstores to continue reading. He read any book he could get his hands on, from popular stories, poetry, history, politics, economics, obscure titles and so on. He also wrote when he had time, but this was infrequent during his wandering years. This was all part of his education.

After moving his parents to Oklahoma, his life took a different direction and he started writing more, researching anything that interested him, which was mainly people - how they lived, what they did, their culture, and history, especially those on the frontier - any frontier - not necessarily the West, although he is most well-known for his stories of the Western frontier.  L'Amour also researched other successful writers to learn how to improve his writing. He submitted his writings from poetry, short stories, and novels to many publishers and magazines, not waiting to hear back before submitting another manuscript. He didn't take rejections personally, but as a tool to continue to improve his storytelling.

Even after L'Amour became a successful writer, he still strove to continue to improve his writing, doing his own research, reading, and building his library of books. He feels that anyone can get an education by reading. He kept a list of books he read, which is very extensive, as he read 100 or more books every year. He built a library collection of those books that most interested him, especially those that talked of man's history and people's cultures.

I have read several of L'Amour's books and enjoyed every single one. I have also enjoyed many of the movies that were created from his books.  One interesting tidbit I really found fascinating is that L'Amour was at Camp Hood, Texas for training for WWII at the same time my father was at Camp Hood, Texas doing his infantry training for WWII. That helped put L'Amour's life in more perspective for me, realizing that he and my father are of the same generation.

I admire L'Amour's artistry as a writer. He persevered through many rejections, he continually strove to improve, and he never stopped learning. I think these are qualities that any artist would do well to model - learn from other successful artists, never stop learning about our chosen area of art, keep improving, and continually submit work for shows or publications, in spite of any rejections.

I think this was a book worth reading and would recommend it to others. Also, I would like to read some of the books included in L'Amour's list of books he read.

Next month's book is Frida: a biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera.

Keep creating!
Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dec ATC Challenge - Winter Wonderland

This month's theme for the ATC Challenge by Blue Twig Studio is "Winter Wonderland."  I made two cards this month.

For the first one, "Let it Snow!", I painted the background of a 140lb watercolor paper in pale blue watercolor. I cut out white snowflakes on a dark blue background from a postcard that came a couple days ago. I glued these to the edges of the ATC card with matte medium. Then using a Sakura Moonlight gel pen in blue, I wrote "Let it Snow" three times. Finally, I added a few AB and clear sequins to the card for embellishment.

Let It Snow ATC Card, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" on 140 lb watercolor paper.

For the second ATC card, I cut out a scene of the AZ desert. Using matte medium, I attached it to a Bristol paper ATC card. Using a Sakura Moonlight gel pen in white, as well as white acrylic paint, I added snow highlights to the cactus, ground cover, and mountains in the background. This is what the Arizona desert looks like in winter. It's rare to get snow, but when it does, it creates a beautiful landscape. Then I added AB and white sequins to simulate large snowflakes falling for embellishment.

Winter in the Desert ATC card, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" on Bristol paper.
I hope you've had a wonderful holiday filled with laughter, happiness and family time!

Happy New Year!!

Keep creating!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Week 51 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

The year is almost over!! It's week 51of the 365 Day of Art Challenge weekly Sketch Challenge issued by Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio! Trying to sketch during the holidays has been a real challenge for me.  I had started my sketch early, but didn't get to finish it until after Christmas. So I'm late again this week with posting!

I have been working through J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's DragonArt Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon for most of this year (see previous posts). I have almost completed all of her exercises for drawing dragons that are in the book. 

This week I completed her Feathered Dragon exercise. Peffer states that not all dragons are leather and scales - fur and feathers can also be a part of their design. A dragon can be fully feathered, partially feathered, or simply have feathered wings - each resulting in a different type of dragon. The feathers can be patterned and colored like a bird, or have their own unique design.

Feathered Dragon, 7" x 10", Sakura black 0.005 micron pen, Prismacolor 0.005 micron
colored pens, Prismacolor colored pencils and pencil on mixed-media paper.
This feathered dragon reminds me more of a phoenix, as it is not only breathing fire, but has fire coming off both the top and bottom of its partially feathered wings. I like dragon, but I'm not as happy with the setting. I liked how the dragon looked by itself (with the flames) before adding the background. The dragon looked funny on a white background, since I chose to color it in, so I added the background quickly and didn't take the time to blend the colors properly. Another lesson learned - don't rush things!!!  

One more week to go!! I have two more exercises in the book to complete. Not sure if I can do both in one week to finish the book by the end of the year! However,  I'm very happy to have gotten through as much of the book as I have and it's only been possible by taking up the weekly sketch challenge! It helped push me, where I might not have pushed myself otherwise. Thanks, Deb!

Keep creating!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Week 50 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

I missed the last couple of weeks of the 365 Days of Art Weekly Sketch Challenge by Blue Twig Studio.  My husband and I went to Ohio for the past couple weeks, where we both grew up. We were surprising my mother for her 80th birthday. Our daughter who is 7 months pregnant with her first child also went with us and a surprise baby shower was given for her just prior to Mom's surprise birthday party. Both were very surprised and Dad was so pleased with himself for keeping Mom in the dark.  It was a real whirlwind and I never got any time for sketching. By the time the days were over, I just wanted to go to bed. I thought I'd sketch on the plane, but that didn't work out either.

The trip also made me late with this week's sketch. After returning home, I needed a day to recoup and then we've been babysitting our grandchildren the last 2 days. Our 7 month old grandson has gone from learning to crawl to zooming everywhere and getting into everything!! Lol! He's adorable to watch, but how does he find the dog's water bowl and the doggy door first thing?! Then the almost 3-yr old was having meltdowns both days. Finally got him to take a nap today! Whew!! Thank goodness the older 2 children are old enough to entertain themselves and are a piece of cake to watch!  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

So even though I got this week's sketch done, it's taken me until today to photograph it and get it posted!!  If you've been following my blog this year, you know I'm trying to finish all the exercises in J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's book: DragonArt Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon by the end of the year. I've been working out of it most of the year and learning much about drawing dragons. I'm excited to finish the last couple dragon studies.

This week I worked on a sea dragon, which can take many forms. They can be huge leviathans that are too large to fly or crawl onto land. They can be sinuous serpents, like the giant sea serpents that crush unfortunate ships that skim the surfaces of the oceans, or they can be more fish than reptile. "Underwater" is a broad term. It could refer to a dragon that lives in the depths of the ocean, or one that dwells in tropical reefs, or even in the icy waters of the Arctic. These will all effect what adaptations the sea dragons have and how they appear.

My sea dragon lives on a tropical reef, and has similarities to some reef fish, with a fancy tail, and sheer wings that he uses to propel himself through the water.

Sea Dragon, 7" x 10", pencil, Prismacolor 0.005 green and blue pens, Sakura 0.005 black micron pen on mixed-media paper.
I like the spines on the back of the head and top of the spine that are similar to a lionfish, but yet he has crests on either side of his head and under his arms. The wings and fancy tail have markings like a butterfly. He has a bright, colorfully striped body like many reef fish. I added a few seaweeds and bubbles to help the illusion that he is hovering in the water.

I'm pleased with my drawing this week. I wasn't sure I could get all the shading correct with pencils and the black pen, but I think it turned out well. It was difficult to make the wings look transparent. This might have been easier to show if I had used colored-pencils. I hope you enjoy my sea dragon.

Keep creating!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Origin Quilt for Mavericks Quilt Guild Challenge

The quilt guild I belong to, The Mavericks, finished up their challenge this month. The theme is "States of Mine", with two quilts - one depicting the Nature of Arizona (where we all currently reside) and the other depicting our Origins or something about the state (city, country, etc) where we grew up. I posted my Arizona quilt last month (see post dated Nov 20).

I was late with my origins quilt, as my Arizona quilt took me much longer than I expected. The show they are currently hung in was delayed, so I had the opportunity to finish it and get it in the show.

I'm originally from Ohio. I had a difficult time deciding what to do for this quilt. I originally wanted to do something with my grandparents farm, as I spent so much time there as a child. I took a photo a of the fall colors of my grandparents shed, where my grandfather always sat outside - no matter the weather. This is the image that always comes to mind, as I always saw Grandpa in that green metal chair in the opening of the shed whenever we pulled in the driveway. However, the challenge stated the quilt had to be 18" wide by 48" high. No matter how I played with the photo, it just didn't work in that format.

The second image I thought about using to make a quilt was one of the pond towards the back of the woods on my grandparent's farm. We played there year round - swimming and fishing in the summer, fishing in the spring and fall, and ice skating in the winter with bonfires and cookouts year-round. The pond and woods were my favorite playground as a child. However, the photo looked much better in a horizontal format, instead of a vertical format. No matter how I cropped it, I just wasn't happy with the composition.

I love looking at the moon, stars and constellations, which are much more difficult to see well in the city. My Dad gave me a love of astronomy by getting us (my siblings and I) up many nights at 2 or 3 am to look at the moon or stars in a telescope built by a great-Uncle. I remember watching Neil Armstrong orbit the moon through the telescope before they made history by landing on the moon. Neil Armstrong was from a town 20 miles from where I grew up. I had it - I'd paint the Milky Way for my Origin's Quilt.

I started with a piece of black batik cotton fabric to paint. I roughly sketched the Milky Way with an iron-out white fabric marker. Using Jacquard's white textile acrylic paint, I started painting in the background for the Milky Way.
Milky Way, 18"x48". I started painting the
background with Jacquard White Textile paint.

I tried several acrylic and watercolor paints on the black batik, but most of them did not show up. I finally had to use Shiva Oil Paintsticks to achieve the desired color I wanted for the starry background of the Milky Way. I no longer use the Shiva paintsticks as much, because of the strong odor. But they do look lovely on black fabric!
I used Shiva Oil Paintsticks to add color for the
background of the Milk Way to the black fabric.
 I continued with the white textile paint and the Shiva paintsticks to paint in the rest of the Milky Way and the background space for the stars.
Painting the Milky Way with Jacquard white
textile paint and Shiva Oil Paintsticks.
I started dotting in stars using the point of a paintbrush.  I used a toothbrush to splatter white paint to create hundreds of stars. Unfortunately, these weren't large enough. My husband found me a wire brush for removing rust on metal and this made lovely size stars when splattering paint on the fabric. With several sizes for stars between the toothbrush and the wire brush, the quilt had lovely depth to the Milky Way Galaxy.
Stars added to the Milky Way galaxy by splattering with a toothbrush and a wire brush.
 I left a black silhouette of a couple of small trees and a person (myself) standing with arms raised looking up at the Milky Way Galaxy. After waiting a couple days, for the oil paint to dry, it was ready to quilt. I found some patterns that created a "windy" effect on Pinterest. I combined a couple to free-motion quilt wind and clouds in my Milky Way quilt.
"Astronomy Lessons with Dad" - 18" x 48". My
Origin Quilt for the Maverick's 2014 quilt challenge. 
Close up to show some of the quilting details. 

I finished the edges using facing and added a sleeve and label on the back. People that saw my quilt asked me where I found such a wonderful panel -  that was high praise!! Others that saw only my photos asked me how I took pictures of the Milky Way. They were surprised to find out it was a quilt that I hand-painted. I'm very pleased!

It feels good to get both quilts completed and have them in the show in Scottsdale, AZ! Now I need to go see it. It hangs until the beginning of March, so I have time. Then it will go to the Arizona Quilt Guild's Annual Spring Show the end of March and to a show in Georgia sometime later in the year.

Keep creating!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blue Twig Studio - Dec Review of Products and Project Step-Outs

As part of Blue Twig Studio's Design Team, I will be reviewing products and doing at least one project each month. For the month of December, I am reviewing the November Fabric Club Kit.

Products  Reviewed and Used for Project:
Blue Twig Studio's November Fabric Club Kit. 

Included in the November Fabric Club Kit:
  1. Five fat quarters (18" x 22") of Tim Holtz's Eclectic Elements fabric line. 
    • Two are a snakeskin design, one in blacks and the other in brown shades. 
    • The third has various streets, such as 179 Times Square, P'kway Queens Plaza, Metropolitan Av, 8th Coney Island, Kings Highway in shades of browns and tans.
    • The fourth piece are logos of various hotels around the world in tans, grays, and browns. Examples are the Ritz Barcelona, Hotel Barker in Seattle Washington, Hotel Merkur in Nurnberg, Hotel Mount Everest in Darjeeling, India, Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and so forth., 
    • The last piece has various numbers and fractions, going in different directions in shades of tans and browns.
  2. Two 125 yard spools of Heavy Dual Duty XP Coats and Clark polyester thread in chocolate brown and black. 
  3. Three 1 1/2" four-hole wood buttons with mottled shading of tans, rusts, and browns. 
Other products that I used to create my project (a 8" x 10" wall hanging) include:

     *  Jacquard Textile Paint in 123 White. You could use gesso or any other paint brand. I used the Jacquard, as I had been using it for another project and already had it out and easily available.

     *  The shimmering gold acrylic ink from a Daler-Rowney FW Shimmering Colours Set of Acrylic Artists Ink.  (Could use another brand of shimmering or glittery paint.)

     *  Other fabrics including gold lame, silver lacy tulle, and brown tulle. These add texture and interest. (Any fabrics could be added.)

     *  Wine and yellow silk threads fibers(Any fibers could be use , i.e. Angelina fibers, fancy yarns, wool felt… Also could add hand-stitching to for texture and interest.)

      *  Timtex interfacing.  Timtex is 100% polyester for consistent thickness and texture. It's firm yet flexible. It's perfect for shaping into 3-D craft projects. It's easy to cut, mark and sew. Machine wash and dry. It can be bought in packages or by the yard. (Could use any interfacing, batting, a piece of flannel, or canvas.)

Project Step-Out:

I first cut a piece of Timtex interfacing to size (8" x 10"). Then I used the street name fabric to cover the back of the timtex. I folded the edges around to the front and stitched them down with the black Coats and Clark thread included in the kit. Next I added a label that I hand-wrote with a black 0.03 micron. Sakura pen and stitched that into the lower right-hand corner of the back of the wall hanging.

Back of 8" x 10" wall hanging with "Faces" label.
Now I was ready to create my wall hanging. I laid out pieces of all five fabrics in various sizes to create a collage and stitched these to the front. I didn't put the fabrics in any particular order. I added part of the selvage edges to show they were Tim Holtz's fabrics, and also, just for fun.

Step 1. Collage of all five fabrics stitched randomly to the front.
I fused a piece of the lacy silver tulle and three flame-shaped strips of gold lame to the collage. Then, I stenciled the three-quarter view face stencil using Jacquard textile white paint. I added the hair with more white paint and a brush.

Step 2. Add gold lame and silver tulle. Stencil face and paint hair.
 She needed some more color, so I chose the shimmering gold DR acrylic artists ink to add gold eye shadow and gold to her hair. It looks better in the collage, as you can see the gold shimmer, which the camera did not pick up well.
Step 3. Painted gold shimmering acrylic ink to the eyelids and hair.
I sewed on the buttons for a necklace. Then I added metallic beads in various sizes (6, 8, 11) on either side of a large raku face bead for a barrette in her hair. Finally, I laid out various strands of a variety of neutral colors of pearl cotton and couched them with three small Chinese coins and size 11 beads.

Step 4. Attach buttons, beads, pearl cotton and Chinese coins.
 Finally, I used an awl to punch 3 holes in the top, attaching a small 10" mesquite branch (about 1/2" in diameter) with gold ribbon for the hanger of the wall hanging.

Final mixed-media, collaged wall hanging, 8" x 10". 

Product Review:

I was thrilled to receive the November Fabric Club Kit, as I love Tim Holtz's Eclectic Element fabric line and haven't had a chance to buy any of his fabrics, as I could not find them at any local quilt stores in the Phoenix, AZ area. I think fabrics with words and numbers are such fun to create tote bags, messenger bags, and/or purses. But better yet, they work well for collage quilts, modern quilts, backgrounds for pictorial quilts, and/or mixed-media art work. I created an 8" x 10" mixed-media wall hanging with the kit. I have enough fabric left to make a small quilt or a small purse. I'll let you know what I create when I get to it. (With upcoming holidays, it will be a few months.)

I had a problem with the buttons that you need to be aware of. They can NOT be sewn on by machine, as the hole spacing is wider than the industry standard for buttons. I'm glad I always check the hole spacing before I just hit sew, or I would have broken a needle and possibly thrown off the machine's timing. A note with the buttons stating that they have a wider hole spacing than the industry standard for buttons would have been nice. So beware when buying buttons to check the hole spacing before just stitching on your sewing machine! 

The thread states "heavy", but I could not find the size (30wt, 40wt, 50wt?) on the spool anywhere. My 80/12 needle worked, but the 90/14 was better. To hand-sew the buttons, I had to use a larger hand-needle than I normally use for hand-stitching, as well. A size 9 worked well.  Again, it would be nice to have the size of thread put on the label, so you are not guessing what size needles (machine or hand) to use with it. (I did use both the brown and black threads for sewing the project.)

This wall hanging can be seen at Blue Twig Studio after Dec 3rd. I hope these step-outs give you some direction to take for your own  mixed-media, collaged wall-hanging.

Keep creating!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nov ATC Challenge - Give Thanks

This month's theme for the ATC Challenge by Blue Twig Studio is "Give Thanks."  I had initially planned to make a cornucopia, but couldn't find the materials I wanted to use. I finally decided to create a Zentangle of the words "Give Thanks" for one of the cards.

"Give Thanks" ATC card, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", on Bristol paper. 
After drawing the words and outlining with a black 0.005 micron Sakura pen, I added tangles with the black micron pen to fill the various letters. It seemed a bit dull, so I used oil pastels and NuPastels by Prismacolor to color the background in fall colors. In need of yet more color, I pulled out my Sakura Moonlight gel pens and Sakura Sonata gel pens. I like the wonky letters full of patterns and colors! I hope whoever wins the ATC challenge enjoys this one, too.

For the second ATC card, I found a magazine page with a roast beef, wine and flowers on a table. After attaching the page onto 140lb watercolor ATC card with matte medium, I added the words "Give Thanks to the Lord" in a hand-written font with a black 0.03 micron Sakura pen. This made me think of Thanksgiving dinner, as I get tired of turkey and like to try other meats - like roast beef, Cornish game hens, ham, etc.

"Give Thanks to the Lord!" ATC card. 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", on 140lb watercolor paper.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and filled with blessings. We went to my son's in-laws and joined their family. We had a great time with family and friends with much laughter. We've decided to make this a new family tradition for our families.

Have a wonderful Holiday season!
Keep creating!

Nov Book Club - The Private Lives of the Impressionists

the private lives of the impressionists by Sue Roe
Blue Twig Studio's November's book club is the private lives of the impressionists by Sue Roe.

Sue Roe created a colorful, lively, poignant and well-researched biography about the lives of the first group of impressionists. It follows an extraordinary group of artists into their Paris studios, down rural lanes, into Montmartre, and into the rowdy riverside bars of a city undergoing enormous change. Roe casts a vivid, unforgettable, brilliant light on this society of genius colleagues who lived and worked together for 20 years and transformed the art world forever with their new, breathtaking paintings of ordinary life. 

The book started slow for me, but quickly built to a fast pace, so that I didn't want to put the book down. I've read much on the individual lives of the impressionists, but I've never read a book that talks about the individuals as a group. I didn't realize that Manet, Bazille, Monet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Callebotte, Morisot and Cassatt were contemporaries or how well they knew each other and were involved in each other's lives. 

Manet grumbled about his confusion with a new painter - Monet. I was amused that people confused Manet and Monet, but it was definitely not amusing to them.  Cézanne wandered in and out of the group, angry and paranoid. Monet is chased by creditors and has difficulties with his parents over his mistress, a problem that several of the other male impressionists also had. Berthe Morisot is alternately courted and rejected by Manet and eventually marries Manet's brother. Pissarro rants about his socialist ideals. But the group works together, gets angry at each other, fights for recognition and daily food, and have romances. Roe depicts these geniuses as real people with real problems. 

The group all struggled to build their reputations, support themselves financially and create meaningful personal lives, from the first meeting of Monet and Pissarro in 1860 to the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel's influential 1886 Impressionist exhibition in New York City. Often the artists from wealthier backgrounds like Bazille, and Callebotte helped support the ones often struggling in poverty, especially Monet. 

Roe believes that the artists' drive for success was the strongest unifying factor among this diverse group, which included the antisocial, celibate Degas, the socialist Pissarro, and the chronically depressed Sisley, who resented the Impressionists' meager public appreciation. I enjoyed the personal details that Roe includes in her portraits of the artists, like Mary Cassett's booming voice and atrocious French accent, to Manet's illegitimate son and his upper-middle-class family's elaborate efforts to conceal the child's existence, to Monet's affair with another man's wife, with both husband and wife living with Monet even before Monet's wife died of cancer.  Renoir and Manet were the most successful during their lifetimes.

The group exhibited in Paris several times, but were ridiculed, and caterwauled and jeered at. They were criticized for their "purple-coloured landscapes, red flowers, black streams, yellow or green women and blue children. This style of painting, both coarse and ill-defined, strikes us as an affirmation of ignorance and a negation of beauty and truth...It is all too easy to attract attention by producing trashier works than anyone else dares."  Several almost gave up painting, but it was essential to who they were. They had to paint.

Mary Cassatt, an American painter, was critical to helping Paul Durand-Ruel open an exhibit in New York City where the impressionists' art was accepted and appreciated. 

Mostly ridiculed or ignored by their contemporaries, today amazing sums are paid for their paintings. Their stunning works are familiar to even the most casual art lovers. I wonder what they would think if they could see today how well known they are and how much their paintings, sculptures, and sketchings are desired by collectors. 

Some of the quotes that I found interesting in the book include:

    "The big classic compositions are finished, an ordinary view of daily life would be much more interesting." - Bazille to Renoir

     "I have seen the light: truth, life, nature - everything that moves me - clearly does not exist for Gleyre." - Monet to Bazille and Renoir (Gleyre's studio is where many of the impressionists started out and met each other.)

     "the sharp and irritating colours attack the eye like a steel saw." - Jules Claretie in his review of the first exhibit by some of the impressionists at the Salon des Refuses in 1863.

     "A good woman. A few children of my own. Would that be excessive?" - Edgar Degas

     Berthe Morisot was regarded as a "willful eccentric." (some just called her a lunatic)

     "Paint the truth, let them talk." - Edouard Manet

     "Everything is gaiety, clarity, spring festivals, golden evenings, or apple trees in blossom." - critic Armand Silvestre on the first Impressionist exhibition.

     "achieving with their palettes what the poets of their time express, but with an entirely new emphasis; the intensity of the summer sky, the poplar leaves transformed into golden coins by the first hoarfrosts; the long shadows cast on the fields by the trees in winter; the Seine at Bougival, or the seal along the coast, quivering in the morning breeze; . . . like small fragments of the mirror of universal life." - critic Philippe Burty

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I learned much about the Impressionists that I have never known before. Definitely a book I can read again. I found hope in the artists' sticking to their ideals and continuing to paint, in spite of all the negative review. Monet was told he was a lousy painter!! There's hope for me and other artists starting out - to keep going, painting, experimenting, finding one's voice and passions. 

Next month's book is Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L'Amour. 

Keep creating.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Week 47 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

I'm running really late this week with posting my sketch for Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio's 365 Days of Art weekly sketch Challenge. With Thanksgiving, running my pregnant daughter to 2 appointments this week that took 1/2 day each, and babysitting the grandchildren, I'm not sure when I have time to sleep anymore!! Lol!

Week 47 - the year is almost over! Thanks, Deb, for the challenge - it's been fun participating.. I'm learning so much about drawing dragons and sketching in general. Definitely, glad I've been trying to complete this each week. I'm trying hard to finish J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's book: Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon. If I can do one of the exercises every week, I will finish the book by the end of the year! Whoo-hoo!!

This week, I drew the adult fairy dragons. I drew a fairy dragon hatchling a couple weeks ago (see blog posted Oct 31, 2014 for Week 43).  Dragons come in all shapes and sizes, just like people, but the delicate fairy (Fae) dragons can land on a twig without disturbing it. They have thin, delicate legs and wings, with large eyes. Their heads appear much smaller and lighter than dragons that are more stout and heavily muscled. Their long tails help them balance. Fae dragons have additional spines for their wing membranes, which can mimic patterns of insects or small birds, to span.

Adult fairy dragons. 7" x 10". Black 0.005 micron Sakura pen, brown 0.005 micron Prismacolor pen, and pencil. I
apologize for the photo - I  tried hard to not get a shadow across the bottom of the drawing, but managed to in
several photos. This one was the best. (hint, dear hubby, I need a new camera and Christmas is approaching! Lol!)

These were difficult to sketch and get the proportions correct. As you can see, the top flying dragon's body is too short for its head, while the bottom Fae dragon has too long a body and hind feet that are enormous! Sometimes it's hard to see how I'm doing with the proportions until I take a photograph and put it on my computer. With this sketch, I had already inked the dragons, so could not change them. Overall, I'm pleased with my work and know where I need to continue to improve.

Hope you had a good week of sketching!

Keep creating!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Week 46 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

This has been such a busy week. I've been burning the midnight oil almost every night until 1-3 am working on a quilt for the Mavericks' quilt guild annual challenge. Therefore, I did not get a sketch done for Blue Twig Studio's weekly sketch challenge for her 365 Days of Art Challenge. I'm using my finished quilt in place of my sketch this week!

The Maverick's quilt guild challenge is called "States of Mine" and is composed of two quilts - one about Arizona (AZ) Naturally (which can be anything to do with AZ) and the second is about the person's state of origin. The only restriction is the quilt has to be 18" wide by 48" high. This vertical composition made it difficult for me to decide what to do.  I had many photos that would make great quilts, but cropping them to fit the 18"x48" vertical restriction made me throw out several of them. I did finish my AZ quilt, but my Origins quilt will be late.

For my AZ quilt, I decided on a night-blooming cactus flower. I'm not an early bird, but I got up at 5 am to see all the beautiful white blooms on our cacti in the front yard. I photographed several, as the sun was just coming over the horizon and highlighted the flowers beautifully!

This is the flower that I cropped for the quilt challenge. 
Cereus or Queen of the Night cacti bloom. From our front yard.
I hand-painted the quilt with Pebeo setacolor paints, Tsukineko inks, and Silk acrylic glaze on white Pimatex cotton fabric. I used two pieces of fabric to make the quilt 3-dimensional. I painted all the front flower petals on one piece of fabric, and the back petals that look blue due to the shadows created by the sun on a second piece of fabric. I did a lot of thread play of the flower on wool batting using a variety of trilobal polyester and silk threads. Then I added two layers of byAnnie's Soft and Stable foam stabilizer to the top layer of petals to give them lift. When stitching the layers altogether - the padded top petals and the blue bottom petals onto a thin cotton batting and backing fabric - I added an extra layer of polyester stuffing to puff up the center petals even more. Then I finished quilting all the layers together. Finally, I embellished the flower with 3 mm, lime green, flat, twisted aluminum for the stamens of the flower.  Following are the various steps of my process in creating this quilt.

Step 1. Fabric is placed over pattern on a foam board.
Painted yellows and oranges with Pebeo setacolor paints.
Step 2. Added deeper oranges and reds with Tsukineko inks in
red delicious, tangerine, autumn leaf and vintage wine.
Step 3. Continued to deepen the values and added the background in the top of the quilt
with Tsukineko inks in apple green, vintage wine, cool gray, ultramarine blue and midnight.
Step 4. Deepened the values of bottom petals and added background with
Tsukineko apple green, vintage wine, cool gray, ultramarine blue, and midnight inks.
Also lightened some of the yellow areas with Tsukineko white and lemon yellow inks. 
Step 5. Removed the first piece of fabric, and covered the pattern with the second 
piece of fabric to start the back petals. Used Silk acrylic glaze in blue for the main color. 
Added Tsukineko inks in ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, red delicious, apple green, 
tangerine, and lemon yellow. Deepened the value of the background with Tsukineko 
midnight, cool gray, and ultramarine inks. Added the pistil in apple green and thistle inks.
Step 6. Added thread play and quilting with Superior Rainbow trilobal polyester, 

Bottom Line polyester, and Kimono Silk threads. Also used YLI Silk threads for the 
thread play. I used parallel, softly curved lines that followed the shape of the petals for
 my thread play and quilting motifs. Added Soft and Stable foam stabilizer and polyester 
stuffing under the front yellow and orange petals to give a 3D effect. 
Cereus, Queen of the Night quilt, 18" x 48". This is my final
quilt embellished with the 3mm flat, lime green, twisted
aluminum for the stamens. Finished with a facing, label, and sleeve.  
Close up to show the 3D effect.
Close up to show the thread play, quilting and aluminum stamens.

This quilt took me much longer than I expected, but I'm thrilled with the result. Now to finish my second quilt for the challenge - my Origins quilt. I will post that quilt when I am finished with it.

Keep creating!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Week 45 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

Only 7 more weeks in the year!! Where did the year go?? Mine has been going to watching grandchildren, drawing, painting, Zentangling, mixed-media, quilting, dyeing fabric, attending quilt shows and taking quilt classes, as well as, teaching quilting and art classes. A busy year, but full of fun, experimenting and learning!

I was able to get another sketch done for Blue Twig Studio's 365 Days of Art weekly sketch challenge. If you've been following me, you know that I've been doing the exercises/studies in J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon. I'm hoping to complete the book by the end of the year!

Last week, I finished the last of the dragon hatchling exercises with a Frost dragon hatchling. Peffer doesn't have a Frost dragon adult exercise, but I decided this week to sketch the one she showed next to the baby Frost dragon.

Frost Dragon adult. 8" x 7". Prismacolor pencils, Sakura 0.005 micron pen, and pencil.  

The photo looked good when I cropped and straightened the photo. Not sure what happened to the color when uploading it from my tablet. The dragon is actually white and shades of grey for the body with blue and blue/gray wings. I'm not sure why the computer decided to interpret some of the color as shades of green. 

The Frost Dragon is a fierce, proud dragon that guards the cold climates of the Arctic. Their sturdy, muscular build helps them stay warm in the frigid, icy climate.

I'm pleased with my Frost dragon, especially with not having a step-by-step study to aid in drawing the dragon.  From some of the other dragon studies in the book, I like how Peffer has joined the wing at the shoulder on the Frost dragon. I've had difficulty with some of the other dragons in getting the wing, shoulder, and front limbs to correct. Some of the ones I've done appear to have two sets of front limbs or a shoulder growing out of the back of the neck. But that is one reason I've been working through Peffer's book - to learn to draw dragons better!

See you next week with another adult dragon. I think the next exercise is adult fairy dragons.

Keep creating!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Zen Doodles; Oodles of Doodles book

The book will be in stock and available for purchase soon! Zen Doodle: Oodles of Doodles by North Light Books will be arriving soon!!! The cover page is beautiful!

Zen Doodle: Oodles of Doodles, edited by Tonia Jenny published by North Light Books. 
I can hardly wait to get my advance copy and see my published artwork (see post here) and the the page about me as one of the "spotlight artists" (see post here). This is very exciting, to have my work published in a second book. This book is a followup to the book Zen Doodle: Tons of Tangles that I have work published in (see post here).

I will post all the details for ordering soon! I'm setting up to be an affiliate, so I will get royalties if you purchase either book through my link! So please wait until I can get that set up to order your copy!


Keep creating!!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Week 44 of the 365 Days of Art Challenge

The year is almost over! I can't believe it's November already! But, I have been enjoying doing Blue Twig Studio's weekly sketch challenge of her 365 Days of Art Challenge. For most of the year, I've been working through J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon, as I love dragons and have been wanting to improve my skills at drawing dragons of any size, shape, or type. (see previous post here.)  I still have several full-size dragons exercises to complete. I hope to finish them by the end of the year.

This week I completed the last dragon hatchling exercise: a Frost Dragon Hatchling.

Frost Dragon Hatchling. 5" x 4" pencil on mixed-media paper.

Frost Dragon hatchlings are born fully scaled and much heavier than typical dragons. These sorts of adaptations help it stay warm in icy climates. Though the hatchling is small now, someday he/she will grow into a mighty dragon who guards the arctic poles. He/she has large oversized eyes, crests, and wings that he/she will have to grow into.

This hatchling was a bit harder than the other hatchling exercises. He has interesting plates running under his neck, chest, and belly that will grow into a crest once an adult. Getting the wings to look oversized was a challenge, but I think I got the effect of them, as he appears to be tripping over them in the sketch and he is laying on the back wing! lol!

An adult Frost Dragon is not in the exercises of the book, but I would like to draw one. They should appear well muscled, strong, and fierce to live in the hostile icy environment of the Arctic.  You'll have to come back in the next few weeks and see if I was able to get an adult Frost Dragon drawn.

Keep creating!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October ATC Challenge - Wild, Wild West

I've been participating in Blue Twig Studio's ATC challenge the past few months.  October's theme was the Wild Wild West.  I searched online for photographs of the West and chose the following photos online as my starting place for my ATCs.

A lone horseman view the vast open land with its buttes and mesas.
The lonely buildings of a ghost town.
Main street of a typical Western frontier town bustling with activity.
Abandoned buildings and wagons from a ghost town in the foothills of the mountains.

I altered the photos to make them look like very old photographs using Pixlr Express, a photo-editing app. Then, I printed the photos onto fabric.
I added sepia tones and a white torn paper frame to age the photo. The actual photo I printed 
onto the fabric has a blue sky - I'm not sure why it appears green in this photograph. 
I darkened this photo and added a black torn paper frame. 
I yellowed the print, then added a bubble overlay, and a black rusted frame to this lively Old West town.
I also yellowed this photo and added a white scratched and torn overlay.
I felt this added to abandoned feeling of this town.

I, then, quilted the photos and embellished them with turquoise, coral, and jasper beads. Turquoise and coral were valuable for trading, and jasper can be found throughout the west.

 Lastly, I added an Old West Proverb to the back of the cards and signed them.

  • "When in doubt, let your horse do the thinkin'." - Old West Proverb
  • "Ride the horse in the direction it's goin'." - Old West Proverb
  • "If you're riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there." - Old West Proverb
  • "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any directions." - Old West Proverb.

Back of one of the above ATC cards.

ATCs are a fun way to experiment on something small and try new ideas or to use up small scraps (we all know we have these, as we can't throw out something that we can use later in our artwork! lol!), etc.  Join in the fun!

November's ATC theme is Give Thanks. The ATC challenge is open to anyone. You only need to make one card and send to Blue Twig Studio to join! (see the link above for more information).  For each ATC you send in by the end of the month, you have a chance to win all of the ATCs from everyone that participated.

Keep creating!!