Monday, February 23, 2015

February ATC Challenge - From the Heart

This month's ATC challenge theme is "From the Heart" (see Blue Twig Studio post).  I enjoyed working on the two cards I made for this theme.

Hearts and Feathers - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" - Silks acrylic glaze,
handmade paper, feathers from my chickens, a giant
rhinestone, and Signo uni-ball white gel pen on Bristol paper.
I first painted the Bristol paper using Love Struck Silks acrylic glaze. Then I added a piece of black handmade paper. It was painted abstractly with metallic reds, golds, pinks and white. Using a white Signo uni-ball gel pen, I added the quote, "A heart without dreams is like a bird without feathers" by author Susy Kassam. Finally, I embellished the card with a brown speckled feather and a white and black feather that my chickens had lost.and a giant rhinestone.

Hearts and Treasure - 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" - Silks acrylic
glaze, 05 black Sakura Microperm pen, hot-fixed
crystals, and a giant rhinestone on Bristol paper.
My second ATC card was also painted with Silks acrylic glazes in Fire Opal and Emperor's Gold colors. Using a 05 black Sakura Microperm pen, I added the Bible verse "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21. Then I hot-fixed crystals in 3mm AB and 4mm topaz, and 5mm gold squares. Last, I added a giant rhinestone.

I enjoy creating these small works of art. They are quick to do, fun, and a great way to experiment with different techniques and materials. Think about joining us. You only need to make one card!

Keep creating!

Week 7 - Weekly Art Challenge - Faces

Trying to catch up on my weekly art challenge posts. Our grandbaby is home from the hospital, my hand is healing from my hand surgery (my dominate hand, of course!), so I'm trying to get settled into creating again! Although, in the 4 days our grandbaby has been home, we've babysat two days and the other two days, I had to take her or her mother to routine check-ups! I'm not complaining about the babysitting - she is such a joy! She's so quiet, I can almost forget she's here! I'm hoping as our daughter and her boyfriend adjust to being new parents, things will settle down some. However, they may be moving in with us in a month, if they cannot find another apartment! LOL! life is always changing!

This week, I still haven't gotten back to my painting. I did do another drawing from Jane Davenport's book: Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces. I had started the first couple of exercises before all the excitement with a new baby (see posts here).  The next exercise is called "Grand Scale". Instead of the small, simple "Draw Happy" faces, this exercise scaled the drawing to a full page. She goes into more detail of placement of facial features and shape of the face. This is my result:

Face, 7" x 10", pencil and 0.005 black Sakura pen on mixed-media paper.
I like the facial features, although the eyes are too large and too close together. The hair and neck need some work, but those weren't the focus of this exercise. I do pretty well doing portraits from a photograph (I've actually done commissions in oils, acrylics, and colored pencil),  but to draw a portrait without a photo to look at is such a challenge for me. I'm hoping Jane's book (and I also bought her video recently) will help me to overcome these difficulties.

I hope for Week 8 to be able to finally start painting in my art journal for the Documented Life Project 2015 (DLP) with Art to the 5th Academy, that I originally set out to do for my weekly art challenge this year! I'll see what this week holds!

Keep creating!

Week 6 - Weekly Art Challenge - Blended Photos

I'm late posting my Week 6 art challenge. I'm hoping life will return to a normal routine soon. We finally got to bring our granddaughter home from the hospital on Wed, after spending her first 2 1/2 weeks of life in the neonatal ICU at the hospital. She was a preemie - born a month early. She's doing well now and steals the hearts of everyone who has seen her. The nurses and doctors were wonderful! We are working on a signature quilt for her - the medical staff were so happy to sign a block for her. Waiting on a few more people to finish their blocks, but I'll post a photo of the quilt when it's finished.

With spending so much time at the hospital, I didn't get to do any painting, so worked on blended photos on my tablet. I focused on blending photos of my grandchildren with nature scenes that I had taken. I'm still learning what all I can do with the photo-editing program, Pixlr.   

Photo of a foggy winter morning in Ohio highlighting a bare tree, blended with a closeup of our new granddaughter's face. A heart overlay was added. The face is difficult to see after the blending, but I like the overall effect.
An Arizona sunset with a starry night overlay blended with the same photo of our new granddaughter's face. A border of swirls was overlayed. This blended photo makes me think of her dreaming of  all the possibilities for her life - "the skies the limit"! 
Photo of a palmetto leave taken at a quilt retreat in CA last year blended with a photo of our 9-month old grandson. Added an overlay of  'xoxo' and a border of a key variation. He looks cute peeking through the individual leaves.

Some of my photos came out interesting and some not so good, but it's fun to try to blend very different photos, as well as similar photos. I like the various effects that can be created by blending photos. I still have much to learn, but it sparks my creativity. Eventually, I'd like to print some of the blended photos to use in mixed-media artwork and some to turn into quilts. I have more exploring to do before first!

Keep creating!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Weeks 3-5 of Weekly Art Challenge

I have been off my game to say the least the past 3 weeks. I'm sorry I did not have a chance to update sooner on what has been going on in my life and why I have not posted any art work for my weekly art challenge.

Week 3 was just an off week. My daughter was at the end of her 8th month of pregnancy and having routine weekly appointments. She had 4 "routine" appointments this week. One with her regular OB, one for a non-stress test, as the baby is diagnosed with Down syndrome and a heart defect, so she's in a high risk pregnancy category, although she's only 26 years old. Then she was a weekly sonogram with a genetic, fetal diagnostic specialist. This week, she also had an appointment with the pediatric cardiologist to check the baby's heart. The cardiologist gave us a scare, as he saw something unusual in the baby's brain. But the fetal diagnostic specialist said it was nothing and gave us great reassurance.

Week 4 again started with my daughter's normal appointments - OB, non-stress test went well. I also had 2 appointments for myself, as I needed hand surgery to remove a ganglion cyst. I wanted to have it done so my hand would be healed before the baby came. I had to have lab work and a medical clearance from my primary care doctor. He needed a further medical clearance from my cardiologist because I have a history of heart problems. Seemed like this was getting a bit ridiculous for a 10-minute outpatient procedure!! I have a face sketched that I'd been working on from Jane Davenport's book (see previous posts), but haven't had time to photograph it yet. Figured I'd do this after seeing cardiologist and taking my daughter for her sonogram - both on Friday. Well the baby decided to have other plans for us!  During the routine sonogram, her heart rate plummeted. The doctor literally flew out of the room and ran back in, stating she'd called an ambulance and the baby needed to be delivered now! She also called the OB and the neonatal ICU doctor telling them we were on the way to the hospital. The hospital was 2 buildings down the street from the doctor's office! But my daughter had to go by ambulance. That was the longest drive of my life!!

By the time the ER doctor saw and evaluated our daughter and the baby, the baby's heart rate had returned to normal. After consulting with the NICU doctor, they decided to induce my daughter rather than do an emergency c-section, since the baby was no longer in distress. We spent the next 36 plus hours with her trying to labor, confined to a bed, and not being allowed to eat, in case an emergency c-section would still be needed if the baby went into distress again. Which she did 3 more times, but would then stabilize, so they'd let my daughter continue to labor. Finally, late Saturday, after the 2nd round of medicine for inducing labor, they decided to schedule a c-section, as she wasn't making any headway. So Sunday morning, our granddaughter was delivered via c-section. She was a month early and weighed 4 lbs, 8 oz and was 16 1/2 inches long. I was allowed in the OR during the c-section, so I got to see our granddaughter and cut the cord (wow- what an experience!!). Unfortunately, the baby was whisked away to NICU (neonatal ICU) before my daughter got to even see her.

The baby's echocardiogram came out as expected - same heart defect as seen in sonograms and her brain ultrasound was normal!! Whoo-hoo!! However, she would need to remain in NICU for several days.

Now my daughter was in the hospital and the granddaughter in NICU, so I spent most of my time at the hospital. I had hand surgery mid-week, but still spent the night in NICU, as our "son-in-law" had to return to work.  By the end of the week, our daughter was discharged, but the baby is still in-patient.

Week 5 has still been spent running to and from the hospital, as well as to and from my hand surgeon. Our granddaughter has been moved to a step-down unit and is doing very well. She is feisty and has won the hearts of all the nurses and the doctor! We are hoping she'll be home by this weekend, if she continues to do well!! My hand is improving and I got the bandages off and am allowed to use my hand again!! Yay!! I can draw and paint again! It's been so hard to try to do things with my left hand or with only one-hand! So I've been unable to do any artwork or sewing the last 10 days, anyway, even if I hadn't been spending most of my time with the grandbaby at the hospital.

Getting to hold our teeny granddaughter in the NICU unit at the hospital. 

Hopefully, life will get back to a schedule and I can get back on track with my weekly artwork. I do have my Dylusions Journall now to catch up with the Documented Life Project (DLP) by Art to the 5th Academy.  Thank you for your support and prayers!

Keep creating!!

Jan Book Club - Frida, A Biography of Frida Kahlo

Frida, A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera
For January's book club, we read Frida, A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera.  This is a very well written book on the life of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.

Herrera not only tells about Frida's life - a good overview of her life as the daughter of Wilhelm Kahlo, the "on and off wife" of the famous muralist, Diego Rivera, and a review of many of Frida's best works - but she also gives us numerous details of Frida's life  - she includes actual correspondences from and to Frida, details and symbolism behind Frida's art work, and how Frida lived and coped with a life of chronic pain. Herrera also gives a glimpse of Mexico before and after the Revolution.

One of six children, Frida was the third daughter of Matilde and Guillermo (Wilhelm) Kahlo, born on July 6, 1907 in Mexico City. Her father, the son of Hungarian Jews living in Germany, emigrated to Mexico at 19 yrs old without any great prospects. He changed his name from Wilhelm to Guillermo and never returned to Germany, his birthplace. He married Matilde Calderon, a Mexican woman he worked with at La Perla, a jewelry store. Matilde persuaded Guillermo to take up photography, her own father's profession.

Kahlo did not spend much time with his children, although he was attentive to Frida, his favorite child, of whom he said, "Frida is the most intelligent of my daughters. She is the most like me." He stimulated Frida's intellectual adventurousness, lending her books from his library and encouraging her to share his curiosity about and passion for all manifestations of nature (stones, flowers, birds, animals, insects, shells, etc). He taught her to use a camera, to develop, retouch and color photographs, and shared his interest in Mexican archaeology and art with her. Frida's artist father encouraged her career.

Frida suffered from a bout of polio as a child, which left her with a withered right foot. Her father made sure Frida took up all kinds of sports, which were considered highly unusual for respectable young girls in Mexico at the time, to strengthen her withered limb. When she was a teenage, Frida was severely injured in a school bus accident, which left her in chronic pain for the rest of her life. This accident also prevented Frida from having children (although she had numerous miscarriages).

Due to the sustained injuries, Frida spent much of her life in and out of hospitals, and being immobilized in her bed for months at a time. During her recovery from the accident, while confined to bed, Frida took up painting. She is most well-known for her numerous self-portraits (which many artists today are afraid to even try). These document how she was feeling and what was going on in her life at the time of the self-portrait. Because of the degenerative back problems leaving her in chronic pain, due to the accident, Frida painted herself because "I am all alone most of the time." Frida's style is both realistic and symbolic.  As Herrera explained the symbolism, I would go back and examine the artwork again to see what I missed the first, second, and sometimes third time, to understand what Frida was portraying.

Frida married the famous Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera on Aug 21, 1929.  Diego was many years older than Frida. Frida said, "At 17 (20) I fell in love with Diego, and my parents did not like this because Diego was a Communist and because they said that he looked like a fat, fat, fat, Brueghel. They said that it was like marriage between an elephant and a dove."  The couple had a tumultuous marriage, but loved each other deeply. They married, divorced, and re-married. Both had numerous affairs. Diego actually built a separate house for each of them that were linked together.

The couple traveled as Rivera was commissioned to paint murals. They rubbed shoulders with movie stars, Communists, art dealers, and Leon Trotsky. Diego encouraged Frida's painting and also encouraged her to exhibit her work. He arranged her first major sale in 1938. "A painter in her own right" became Frida's suffix  for her first show in New York City in November 1938. Although, being Diego's wife added to the sensation. At her opening, Frida looked spectacular in her Mexican costume (which became her normal attire after marrying Diego). About half her paintings sold, which was impressive, considering these were Depression years.  Frida also traveled to Paris for an exhibit arranged by Andre Breton, a famous Surrealist poet, as she was accepted as a surrealist painter by fellow Surrealist artists. Georgia O'Keeffe considered her to be the best female artist of the 20th century. She finally had her first one-person exhibit in her native land of Mexico, a year before her death. To Frida, devastated by illness, it was a triumph. Her huge four-poster bed was included as part of the show, so Frida could attend the inauguration. She was brought in on a stretcher and placed in her bed in the middle of the gallery. Like a lavishly gowned saint, Frida dressed in native costume and jewelry, held court. Frida passed away on July 13, 1954 at the age of 47.

Frida was known as a long-suffering wife of a womanizing man (the most revolutionary artist of his time), a painter, an entertainer, a hostess, bi-sexual, severely physically challenged, a Mexican patriot. She painted many self portraits, as well as other subjects besides herself; wrote letters; gave speeches; traveled, and always suffered. She was dearly beloved and respected in her time (as well as today) for her colorful lifestyle, outrageous sense of humor, and for the truth and drama of her art.

Herrera did a remarkable job bringing Frida Kahlo to life in these pages. A wonderful book to read and learn about this extraordinary woman and great painter.

February's book is  The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.

Keep creating!