Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Question: "How much time do I have?"

I keep dreaming I'll have a few hours of my own just to actual painting but it is not going to happen any time soon.  Company again?  Yup.  And yesterday when I thought maybe it might hubby decided it was time to start cleaning and sorting and putting up shelves and he needed my help.  And I did want to encourage him in this good effort!  Outside the rain came down I only had little bits of time here and there to get to the studio...I used my own advice to devise a few sketches that fit the time period I had.  I always suggest you start with asking yourself "How much time do I have?" and then design a space in your sketchbook to accommodate that amount of time.  So here are 3 little bits of time.  In 3 different mediums...all from a photo.  Watercolor w/ink,  water soluble pen, and sketch and wash graphite.  I am encouraging my students to try using one photograph in many different ways...shapes, mediums, formats, etc.  

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Journaling Your Heart Out

Every time I sit down and look through my own personal journals, the materials from classes I've taught about journaling, the blogs about journaling, the books about journaling...I always come away amazed at how this fascinating "form" of art has expanded and in what myriads of directions!  

I continue to write and re-write my lesson plans to utilize the small amount of time I have to make the most of the subject on Sept 16. These are photos of posters I am going to use to help keep me on track so I don't get to diverted.   

I am also planning a short presentation on "en plein air" journaling.  There is a group here called Northwoods Outdoor Artists and I do hope to get involved next summer. If you live in the Minocqua, WI  area you can 
email them for more information at  However they have concluded their season for for 2009 now.  I want participants in the class to know something about the excitement (and the ups and downs) of outdoor journaling and travel journaling too.  

I've turned a corner FINALLY on this awful cold and although my energy level is LOW...I am feeling more like a human being again!  A couple more days and I should be back to normal.  

And aside: My daughters and I are planning o
n canning tomatoes this fall together and now we find out in the southern Wisconsin and Madison, WI area there is a really bad tomato blight!  OH NO.  I hope we can find some tomatoes somewhere!  

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Getting to Know You

I am still fighting that cold and it's not making me feel too terribly creative today.  SOOOOO I decided not to waste the day but to work on my syllabus for my sketching and journaling class that I am teaching next month.  I like to do something different every time I teach it.  I know a lot of you out there teach and have taught a lot more art classes than I have so you might have some ideas to add to this.  I am squishing a 3 day workshop into one day.  So rather than get too crazy, I am leaving some things out and combining others.  Most of those people signed up for my class appear to be experienced painters...although I do not know if watercolor is their primary medium.  In the supply list each person was instructed to bring 4 small objects of special significance to them.

SOOOO my introduction will be to get right to it and have them design their own name tag. I have precut Canson watercolor paper and pre-punched them so they will hang on a string later.  The name tag will combine several things I want to talk about in journaling...printing, working with the medium of watercolor itself, graded washes and cast shadows, as well as painting objects that have meaning to you.  After completed we will have show and tell and everyone will show their name tag and tell why the object they brought has meaning to them. It will also give me a quick heads up and who has need of some extra help and who are the watercolorists in the group! This also gets everyone into action immediately...paintbrushes get wet, palette colors get wet, and we find out right away who doesn't know how to unscrew the tubes and who leaves their brushes sitting in the water jar.  The graded wash will be in the letters...I will demonstrate with the final letter on my name tag to be sure, if I have a beginner, that they have the idea.  I also print out instructions and tuck them on to my teaching easel.  Even the most experienced painters do not always follow instructions very well. 

Boy, it sure gets everyone busy too.  And if I have some late arrivals I can attend to that while everyone is busy.  The letters are photocopied alphabets from that book I showed in an earlier blog.  Right away everyone has something to keep and use!  Win win.  

By the way, the little box is a sweet little box my sister gave me years ago.  I have always loved it and it makes me think of her when I see it.  Inside is a hand written I.O.U. for a back rub!  Sisters are the greatest!  


Monday, August 24, 2009

Still choosing...

I've been off line for a few reason is that I fried my external modem on my iMac in a power surge on Friday.  Sigh.  It pays to get a VERY good surge protector AND run the phone line through it too (which I had forgotten to do).  Sigh.  Also I have a terrible cold.  No one gets a cold in August!  But one of our guests a week ago had one and left it with both my husband and me.  (Nice gift, huh?).  Whine.  Today was the first day I felt able to get back to studio!!  We are both still sneezing and coughing but we are drinking tons of hot lemonade and tylenol and chicken soup.  You know the routine.  
Back to the Christmas card design.  Despite the goal of a tropical card I keep falling back into more traditional scenes.  Actually, the floral is holly...and it is my Florida holly tree on the patio which I painted two winters ago on Masa rice paper.  Do you think it looks too much like cherries?  In painting this one I wet the rice paper, crinkled it, glued it 140 # Arches paper with YES glue and let is thoroughly dry.  Then I taped it down and with a pencil lightly suggested where I wanted the berries so I could paint around them.  Then I re-wet it and painted the berries first, letting them dry.  Then I went back and began designing the leaves using lightest greens first and gradually darker, painting negatives as I went along.  At the end I put the highlights on the berries with white qouache. 

Has anyone yet seen Julie/Julia?  I went to see it last night and it was really fun!  And a large part of the movie revolves around blogs which is totally fun.  I adore Meryl Streep. She can do anything.  

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fa La La La La, La La La La

So here I am back to the studio on a very dark and very rainy northern Wisconsin morning.  No place better than in your studio, right?  You can see how dark it is out the window and it was about 10 a.m! AND it actually got quiet around here as my hubby had a conference to go to and went off for the morning! Love him dearly, but these quiet mornings are a treasure! Got sort of dragged back into looking at Christmas card ideas again.  So this is my second attempt at one.  So much for a "tropical holiday card".  (I could paint a palm tree in the background!)  But I saw an idea for this in a Christmas holiday book (cookie recipe) and I thought, hey, I am into cookbooks for a theme right now and I could include my Best-Ever Cut Out Cookie recipe in the inside cover of the card.  I also like the idea that the card sort of has the theme of "quiet contemplation".  (Yes I set the camera and took a photo of myself!)  This little card idea was on Arches Rough 140# paper with Winsor Newton watercolors.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's a Sign of the Times

Before and After

Here I am doing re-furbishing of signs today (acrylic) while Deb Ward is creating THE most fantastic batik of a flag that I have ever seen!!!  Not me. I am dragging in our sign out by the end of the road (20 summers of rain and sun...boy, they just don't make 'em like the used to!)  And trying to give it back it's pizzaz.  All the blues had faded to white.  Rip's Place, by the way, refers to how we call this place Rip Van Winkle's first home.  Where my husband sleeps until his beard grows down to his toes.  Now we'll give it a clear coat and see if it will outlast us!  :-)

Okay...after lunch I will go do REAL art work.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Life is Short..Eat Dessert First!

The wedding cookbook is finally finished. It really took quite a bit longer than I envisioned.  It turned out to be 33 pages (back to back).  I did not hand illustrate all of the recipes only about a third of them.  (There are about 50 recipes).  Many of them arrived online with photos attached which helped me a lot and made for a nice variety.  Sometimes people sent me a photo of the dish...or the person who gave them the recipe or people eating the final dish!  Sometimes I decided to show the apple bread all baked in the little sketch or sometimes I drew the ingredients as in the Chicken Tetrazzini.  All the pages were 8-1/2 x 11 and I used a slicker, heavier weight paper for the pages.  

I did a photo collage of everyone who donated recipes and their relationship to the couple and put in index in the front (listing all the desserts first, of course). And then did a cover with the bride and groom's photo on it and slipped it inside the 3 ring binder plastic cover.  
 That way they can change the cover some day if they want to and they can add lots more recipes. 
I know some of the people who donated want copies of the cookbook!  So guess I am not done yet!!!
Good to have that mostly done so I can go on to other projects now.   

Monday, August 17, 2009

Joy Therapy

I mentioned in my last post about needing "space between the notes".  All my company has left now and it's a gorgeous sunny north woods Wisconsin day.  Couldn't be more lovely...dappled sunlight on the mossy grasses.  Quiet, quiet...loons calling..about 75 degrees.  

So why am I feeling weepy and sad? It's totally one of those funny old blue things that happens to everyone now and then. Nothing my dear husband could do or say helped...I just needed some "joy therapy".  Time alone and time to take deep breaths and time to refill the cup.  I have been depleted.  

I took a leisurely walk up our long winding tree lined road to mail a letter...letting the sun warm my shoulders and I took lots of deep breaths of the good piney air.  On the way back I stopped and picked wild daisies and picked up red leaves that had fluttered down along the road over the past few days....also picking up still green leaves with just red tinges on the outside edges. I marveled at their beauty.  I stood and watched a bee busy at work and saw some lovely red berries to add to a small bouquet.  I gathered a fern.  

I pulled open the sliding window in the studio to bird song and pulled out that Cheap Joe sketchbook with the sort of shiny bristol-like paper in it.  And I did just a contour sketch (no graphite) of the leaves/flowers...letting the ink slide where it would...sort of Charles Reid style.  Then I added some color and the lovely reds and greens began to give me joy right away.  When I finished (15-20 minutes later) I looked at the contrast between the last sketch and this one.  I liked them both.  But I saw immediately the mood change right there on the paper and I felt better already.  Art is a wonderful therapy when my mood is low.  It'll take me the rest of the day to totally refill the cup but I am well on my way. Have a joyful day!   

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's The Spaces Between the Notes That Make the Music

My favorite quote from Wayne Dyer is "It's the spaces between the notes that make the music, otherwise what you have is noise."  I have not had nearly enough "spaces between the notes" this summer and it's beginning to get a little noisy in my life.  

The last time we were out to the islands on the north woods lake on Thursday,  I had exactly 5 minutes to do this sketch. (A water-soluble Tombow pen on a Cheap Joe Sketchbook with a water brush.)  Usually I get at least half an hour.  But Alex cut his toe just before the picnic lunch and so we had to do some quick first aid and then get back to cabin to get it washed out properly. No time for a lazy sketch while the boys hiked as we had planned.  

I went to my book club in Minocqua last Monday and laughed to hear this same lament from many of my friend there.  We all over-do the company about this time of year and wear ourselves out!!!  Now we have 5 people here (and a 5 year old). You can forget the spaces now!  :-)  Next week will be more quiet...just one adult guest and she is coming here for the "spaces" between her notes.  Now I'll get back to the Christmas card art, finishing up the illustrated cookbook, and maybe get to try some of Barb Sailors pouring techniques.   

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Waswagoning Indian Village

Our visit to Waswagoning Ojibwe Indian "re-created" village today in Lac du Flambeau was really so fascinating!  We took our 15 year old grandson and his best friend.  We had a fantastic weather day...sunny and clear but not too hot (78).  The native american guide was very good and taught us so many things about this tribe (also called Chippewa).  

I brought along my very first moleskin sketchbook to record some of my impressions.  Did you know that the Ojibwes put rocks in their canoes in the late fall and sank them into the lake to overwinter underwater!  The birchbark lasted much longer that way and was not eaten up by the wintering animals.  What an amazing fact!  

Also of so much interest was the "moon lodges" built for the women having their monthly cycles.  It reminded me so much of the book The Red Tent (the Jewish people used for the same purpose!).  The women found solace, time for teaching, comfort, privacy and a time for sharing everything from birth control to discussion of husbands or potential husbands.  The moon lodges were open in the summer like the one I sketched.  But naturally built more warmly for winter.  The tribe moved around each season. 
The Wigwams of the tribe were thus built over old frames from the season before.  Here I show a deer hide in a round circle being stretched over a frame in front of the lodge and a basket of food upon on high structure to keep it from animals. 

The boys couldn't stop talking about all they saw and about the fire making demonstration.  It was a beautiful location deep in the woods with rustic trails along Moving Cloud Lake (neat name for a lake!)  What a lovely day!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Quick 15 minute sketches

Just at 7 pm at the north woods cabin, a kind of stillness settles over the lake.  The lake goes glass-like.  The cabin faces west so the warm sun settles gently on our shore and the children love to swim around this time and then come up to a late supper on the screen porch to watch the sunset.  Grampy starts a campfire after supper if we are not too exhausted and we watch the stars come out.  

As I watched Alex and his friend CJ jump off the pier and swim off to a nearby island, our neighbors came down with their grandson to do a little fishing.  So I did a very quick sketch of them.  And also a quick one of the pontoon boat docked just one island away.  I used a .005 Micron to do the quick sketch (no graphite involved) and then a touch of watercolor using a water brush.  Then up the hill to warm the veggies and put supper on the table.  I am off to ring the dinner bell now.   

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Meme: an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by non-genetic means, especially imitation.
So it appears to be that Cathy Gatland has passed me the Kreativ Blogger Award and asked me to list 7 things about myself as a result of her passing along this honor.  You need to see the 7 things she wrote as she is totally creative!!!  Click here.  
So I chose seven things that have something to do with me being an artist today.  Although this is an evolving journey to be sure.

1. My earliest recognition in art that I remember was in 6th grade winning first prize in an art 
competition for a watercolor landscape. 
That prize winning painting hung in my parent's home for the rest of their lives.   Somehow over the years, it has gone missing.  But it really doesn't matter as the pride of that lives on in me.  And it is surely what gave me the confidence to pursue my passion in art.
2.  The second thing I thought of, which by the way had not occurred to me before I got this assignment, is that I taught journaling and invented spelling for probably 20 years in my kindergarten classes.  Of course that is where I got the love of journaling.  Duh.  Why didn't I think of that before!  

3.  The third thing that comes to mind is an also rather obvious thing to me now, that I retired from teaching for 32 years and that was the opportunity I had dreamed of somewhat unconsciously for a long time.  The year before I retired I went through a really good book called The Arthur Young Pre-Retirement Planning Book (John Wiley & Sons, NY).  I don't know if it's in print anymore.  But that turned out to life altering as one of the exercises was to list "what you've always wanted to do".  Watercolor was right on top. I surprised myself.  But that very fall I enrolled in classes.  
4.  I owe my passion to my first teachers: Paulette and Nancy.  Thank you Thank you.
5. Next I owe my love and passion for painting to my understanding and supportive husband, Greg who has built me a studio and packed up and carried more art supplies all around the country than either of us ever could have believed (with very little grumbling!)
6. I owe a lot to my students of watercolor. After 8 years of painting I started some beginner classes in watercolor at the Lake Geneva Art Association (in Lake Geneva, WI).  They taught me SO much.  And encouraged me. 
7.  All the people in my art leagues (I belong to 4 of them) and all my painter friends and all my painter blogger friends.  My kids and sister and my non-painter friends...they are all the greatest help in my artistic journey.  

Now Cathy says I am to pass this blogging honor along.  I would like to ask Barbara Sailor to be the next recipient.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Preparation for Christmas Cards: Ya gotta be kidding!

I know. I know.  It's a little obsessive to be thinking about Christmas on August 5.  But I have this really good professional printer up here in northern WI who has been doing my cards for years.  And I'll only be here in northern WI until Oct 1.  SO every year I have to start planning my Christmas card in August and September.  

Most often my cards have been snowy WI scenes despite the fact that I am now a resident of Florida!  It's hard to break an old habit.  Although I must admit one year I did a painting of of lovely church door in Key West. So this year I am back to thinking of "tropical" Christmases again.  My first attempt is a little Yupo piece with shells and a starfish.  I usually try to come up with 4 or 5 to choose from before I make the final decision.  So if you follow my blog you will be stuck with Christmas ideas now and then for the next two months!  Get used to it!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Two Ribbons and a Painting Sold!

What a really pleasant surprise to learn yesterday that I had a first and third place ribbon in Acrylics AND I sold a watercolor painting! I was really so pleased.  This was just a weekend show.  The Medical center show will continue on throughout August.  Thanks to you all who came and voted for me!!!