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!!