Saturday, June 30, 2012

What is a Zentangle?

Gosh, Ginny is off again on another path.
No...just a little interlude...
What happens when you do a little "special" kind of called a Zentangle.

If you go to the web site to learn about them you will discover that they are: "a way of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. Fun. Relaxing. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction and increases your sense of personal well-being." Sounds a little Zen-like wouldn't you say?

These are two of my first tries at this strangely addictive activity.
The "characteristics" of a Zentangle are that they are 3.5" square. And, in the same vein as walking a labyrinth, there is some "structure" to the patterns suggested for the creation. How you put the patterns together is completely up to you and I see on the website that people are always creating more and sending them in! Lots of sharing of ideas!

After a few practices you can pretty much work right on the paper with the pen without drawing anything first other than maybe a perimeter or frame and maybe a little bit of outline to where you might start and stop.

I think if you click on the image it will enlarge.

I am always the last one to find out about things, so probably all of my blogger friends have tried these out already and are laughing at me for suddenly discovering them.

There is an official website (of course) and you can click here to find out more specific details. There are "kits" you can buy for $50 but for most of us, we can browse the website and the blog and go to the archives and read and see what others are doing with these. In the kit special handmade paper is sold but I have found Canson cold pressed wc paper to work well and even Yupo paper has some interesting properties. One of my sketch books has 95# paper with a nice smooth surface. You can experiment. They suggest a black permanent marker fairly fine like about .01 and a soft pencil for shading. That is really all that you need to get started.
I have not had time to go farther that this but on their blog they list a ton of people who do Zentangles and post what they do. I signed up for the newsletter when my friend, Cynthia Vose suggested it is fun. It only comes once a month. And often includes a new tangle to try out. Soon you have a little folder where you keep the various patterns most of which have funky names.

Come to find out there are "certified" Zentangle instructors, workshops (of course) and get togethers. Zentangle parties even! Who knew! So when you are "between paintings" or just need a boost of creativity look into your Zentangle folder and see what might look fun to do. The activity is complicated enough to hold your attention but mindless enough to keep you from thinking about anything else. Thus, empty mind but focused creativity.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday means en plein air!

I've had some good improvement suggestions for this little sketch from other painters already.

10 x 12" on Arches rough.

Joan thinks the straight line across the bottom needs softening and blending out...too straight an edge in a fairly soft edged painting. Good point. Will do.

I also think I need a few more really dark darks near the center of interest behind the flowers. In the reference the dark area is off to the left and not where I want it so I am going to "invent" a doorway behind the flowers and make that really dark. Also maybe a little more definition on the flower pots just to the front of the table sitting on the seat.

The setting is JJ's nursery in Woodruff, Wisconsin just north of Minocqua.

We started out in full sun and then it clouded over and got cooler and then the sun came back out about the time we headed off for lunch! A very fun day and a good turnout of at least a dozen artists! It helps not to have to drive so far!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

En Plein Air today

The group was blessed with partially clear skies with skudding clouds. So off we went to Lake of the Falls near Mercer.

This little sketch is "Tent in Woods by the Lake". 10 x 12 on Arches rough 140#.

We had over 3" of rain the night before so the 10" falls were AMAZING and beautiful. But I decided on calmer waters to paint..dragging a razor blade through my dry painted water to get some ripples of the current.

I was so taken with the rushing falls that I walked quite a bit before settling down by the lake to paint the tenters across the lake. I am loving my "Brenda's bag" but did find I forgot a "liner" brush. Otherwise things were pretty good in the bag!

It warmed nicely and I threw off my sweater and put up the umbrella. Wouldn't go anywhere without that!!

Florie has been busy with our "image" as painters! Now we have signs announcing who we are!! And hats that are coming soon with our "Northwoods Outdoor Artist" imprinted on them! How fancy are we!!!?

Thank you Florie!!!

Drawing Class continues

Yesterday was a pleasant interlude into thinking about sketching and drawing in graphite. The class was given by David Kapszukiewicz ( and you can go to his website by clicking here.)

It was a big group..maybe about 18 of us? I forgot to count and fun to see a lot of my north woods artist friends again!

So many talented people. This little drawing was small about 10 x 12 or so.

Here is Joan Stephens sketches. Isn't she amazing?

Joan and I and a "gang" of others plan to try out some en plein sketches this morning over by Mercer Lake. A great way to celebrate the first day of summer!! And to break in my "Brenda's Bag" sketching bag!

Big storm here yesterday and a ton of rain but it looks like it breaking up this morning and we "might" get some sunshine. Knock on wood. More on that later!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Garden Gate Watercolor

One thing about small paintings...they don't take too long to complete. (10 x 11) At least I think this is complete. It is not signed yet.

I did decide to put in the bricks after all but tried to be very subtle so they would not get too busy. I faded off the edges in order to highlight the gate and interior but now as I look at it...I don't like the flat straight edge that is leading right out of the left side of the painting. It is the top of the fence, of course, but I think I need to make that more varied in shape for more interest while keeping it very light and fading.

Then I cropped the photo just so I could see what it might look like just as the gate. But I think I like having the little sign which says "Tea Room" as it makes it more of a "story" painting that way.

It would be fun to "over mat" this in a square frame. I think I have a white frame that would like light and nice.

In the first painting there is a sky it just didn't photo very well..very light with lots of white clouds so as not to be too busy up there either.

After I did my exercise DVD, the rain stopped mid-morning and Greg and I went down to sit in the adirondack chairs on the pier and watch the loon for a little while before lunch. (Just one loon, as the other is sitting on a nest!) And we saw an eagle which is very common on this lake. We watched the clouds "skud" away. Beautiful. Then Greg headed off to friend Ron to bring him a tee shirt we got for him while traveling and I headed to the studio for awhile.

If I am going to enter 3 paintings in the Manito Art Show...I need to get that entry blank done and out like NOW. I have 5 paintings lined up in the studio so Greg is going to held VOTE on which ones. The framing can come later...the show is July 19-22 so there is time for that later.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays....

When you see this photo larger you can actually see the whole tree branch in the raindrop. Imagine if I had a "real" camera with a real lens!

Behind blurred is the canoe and the deck and our lake...rain, rain, rain. Thunder and darkness today. I snuck down between showers but had to run back up the hill path in a shower that caught me again!

What to do? After a load of laundry and scraping the paint off the bathroom windows...head right to the studio!!!

It was SO dark at 10 am this morning that it looked light night outside the studio windows!!!

But the coffee was hot and Greg was off doing some chores out on the porch or up in the loft...(trying to cross some things off his honey-do list). Yeah!

So I pulled up that photo again of the Mount Dora Tea Room (FL) that I had on my iPad from April. I turned on some soft music and opened the studio window so I could hear the rain coming down gently. Very cozy.

I have been fooling around and having a ton of fun with collage and with acrylic and with fractured watercolor that I haven't really done what I would call a "pure" transparent watercolor in a long long time.

I was inspired by the wc exhibit in Kenosha, WI last month! As Marlene was so beautiful that it took your breath away! So anyway...I thought in prep for the en plein air ahead I'd stick to the 10 x 20 format and use the Arches rough that I cut out for my sketchbook. I LOVE rough paper and haven't used it in ages. Gosh it felt good to use it again and watch the lovely colors drop into the textures and swirl around.

The brick entryway has wonderful and interesting bricks in it and I will need to think carefully about how much detail I want to put into that. Lots of different ways to show that. And I do not want to get SO fussy that I lose the simplicity of the scene.
Obviously the center of interest IS the archway and the light and shadows around it.

So now I am taking a break...time for lunch. I'll have some time to step away from it. The storm has shifted off and we are getting a little sunshine now at lunch time and the temps have moved up so I think I can take off my flannel shirt and substitute that with a tee! We'll have lunch on the screen porch and make our menu plans for the week. We both have some errands to run in Minocqua this afternoon and I will stop at Curves and work out before we head back to the cabin!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Making your own Watercolor Sketchbook

Happily taking Brenda Swenson's idea today, I decided that instead of ordering a really expensive sketchbook with unknown quality of paper..I would do as she does and design my own.

If you check out her blog you'll find a step by step of how she does it. I did a "take off" on that.

I used the size she suggested which is 10 x 12. That way you can get 6 pages out of a 30 x 22 sheet of your favorite watercolor paper. This time I used Arches 140# rough.

The cover and back are just some old mat board cut slightly larger than the pages. The cover was decorated by glueing on a piece of colorful wrapping paper. (I used YES glue.) You could also paint on a cover, or collage, or anything creative. I am into keeping this very simple.
Brenda uses 18 pages in her journals. In this trial I am just using 6 pages and instead of taking it out to be spiral bound...I am just using bull dog clips.

Here is the way it looks with the cover removed and just the back board under the pages. So this is the way it would look when I am working with it en plein air.

My thought is that I will use the pages and then remove them as they are done. Later, if I want to chose some to be spiral bound I could do that. OR I could just keep finished them in a folder or a zip lock bag, or I could 3 hole punch them and put them into a notebook for reference and keep them in chronological order.

I'll should get a chance to try all this out Thursday morning. IF we don't blow away tonight.
A HUGE storm is headed into northern WI and should hit us tonight. We have had a lot of really scary storms up here lately. This one could produce high winds and hail. This is especially nasty when you live in a forest. We almost always lose power as the trees come down on the lines and we have to pray that no tree will damage a building either! I thought I'd post this tonight as I might not have a chance for awhile. Wish us luck!

Getting Ready for En Plein Air again

After reading Brenda Swenson's wonderful blog (you can find her link in my favorites) about her favorite bag...I had to get one too. (She says they are called "Brenda's Bag" by her workshop participants!)

I probably have 4 or 5 bags that I use for different purposes now. This one is dedicated to watercolor and is packed for an all-morning (or all-day sketch). As opposed to the quick sketch bag I might use for a the half hour sketch you might get when you are traveling.

(note: I also have a bag for acrylics en plein air).
Since they are heavier to carry I use a backpack for that and using carry an easel.

With both bags I carry a super white artist's umbrella which I think is a must. But if you go to Brenda's blog she has a WONDERFUL long and helpful list of what to bring with you. One thing she does not have that I have found to be amazingly a folding stool that fits RIGHT into this bag. It is the red object with the metal bars you see behind the little red box in the photo here. (see info and photo of the stool below).

Here is the other side of the bag.
I have my brushes on this side.
I am still fussing about what kind of sketch books to take along. I love my Moleskins but am thinking I might like to try making my OWN sketchbooks like Brenda does. She takes them to Staples or Office Depot and has them spiral bound. I don't have that option located as I am in summer in the middle of no where. So for now I am going to cut the wc paper to size and use a bull dog clip to a piece of stiff mat board. Then I can bind them together later. Brenda's favorite choice of paper for en plein air wc is Bockingford paper (140# rough). I am an Arches girl myself but I thought maybe I'd try a few of her choice too. See if I like it. I have been using cold press for so long...but I do like rough too.

Here is that little stool I showed you in the first photo all folded up in my bag. You just can not believe how sturdy these are and how tiny they fold up!!!

I picked up two of them at a garage sale in Florida in April. The little case they came in said "Don Leitow Chevrolet Inc" on it. So I googled this and found someone with that name. I wanted to share if there was a "source" on these chairs for my blog followers. I got an email back from Don Leitow's grandson who is now a Toyota dealer in Michigan! He says they were factory give aways! And he does not know how to get them...surely out of production now...but there must be a ton of them "floating" around? If they were not tossed! He was so fascinated that these had turned up and in such good shape!!! (Ya gotta love garage sales!) If anyone else out there has seen these, let me know! En Plein Group here in the north woods will be on Thursday mornings and they have already started without me! This week we will be at Lake of the Falls on the Turtle River. Weather looks "passable"...74 and sunny.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Continuing on With Fractured WC on Canvas...

You will remember I started this canvas sometime around Memorial Day weekend. The early photos of it are a few posts back.
I am still doodling away at this.

I add...subtract...lift.
I have decided that the next time I do one...I am not going to extend the lines outside the inside frame UNTIL I am ready to extend something. It is too hard to get those pencil lines to disappear.

The canvas is VERY touchy and unforgiving if you make a wet mark you are committed to doing something with it.

I am toying with the idea of repeating the floral organic colors somewhere in the picture plane. But I just can't decide yet. Another idea is to add more green into the plant and let some of the green "trail" down into the picture plane.

This is a 12 x 12 gallery wrapped format.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New En Plein Air Tote

Besides Robert Genn, the most often quoted artist on my blog and in the news chat is Brenda Swenson.
I think she is better than sliced bread.

A wc artist primarily she has written a wonderful how to book for beginners that I have used and given away as gifts forever!

This is her en plein air bag.
You can go to Harbor Freight Tools website and order the "Rigger Bag". They have been back ordered recently due her blog I am sure!!!

She notes in her explanation that some of the "pockets" were too small so she removed the stitching between some of them to allow for notebooks and multiple brushes. Her idea of "decorating" the bag is fun too...although you could certainly embellish it with permanent marker pens and acrylic paint as well!

Also you can also go to her blog post (click here) and find out how to make your own sketchbooks. Now this is something I never really thought about. She likes Bockingford WC paper which I do not think I've ever tried.

And since they don't make a travel journal...she makes her own finishing it off by taking it to a store like Office Max and having spiral bound. On the other hand....there are wonderful sketch books already out there. For small work I love my Moleskins.

I got some $ for Christmas from my daughter (a Cheap Joe's gift card) and so I may try out her paper to give it try.

The decorated bag is Brenda's all set and ready to go. The plain one is mine that just arrived and has some work yet to be done to it! Brenda says that she "unstitched" some of the outside pockets to make them fit what she wanted to put in them.

Note: I am wearing a turtle neck AND a sweater in the photo! It is only 50 degrees in the north woods of WI today (sunny BUT windy). So there is a wind chill as well.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Transparent watercolor society of America..36th exhibit

Ginny voting for Lakeside Artists by Denny Bond

The exhibit is in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Always a treat if you can see it!
Go to For more info.

Here is my hubby's favorite: Rosebud by Fredrick Graff.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 1, 2012

Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wi

This is a second post on this beautiful museum in the north central part of WI. Scroll back one post for the NASA exhibit.

Besides the wonderful traveling exhibits inside, there are amazing sculptures in the garden. One i really found unusual was Steven Siegal's paper sculpture which is sculpting itself with weatherizing! It's now one year old and made of 24,000 # of recycled paper donated by Wausau Paper Company. (Remember this is the heart of forestry country!). Here is my husband standing beside it.

Also the next indoor traveling exhibits begin June 23 and run to Aug 26.
Botanicals: Environmental Expression in Art and Rhythm of Life: Watercolors by Richard Bolingbroke. The famous Birds in Art opens Sept 8-Nov 11.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Here I am at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin yesterday.

This art work is from a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian called NASA:50 years of exploration. It is amazing! I mean it knocked my socks off!

This particular piece is called "Among the Stars and Angels" and it a tribute to the lost shuttle Columbia. The artist is Zigi Ben Haim and it is mixed media on aluminum. There are some 90 pieces in the exhibit with pieces by Norman Rockwell, Calder, Warhol. Jamey Wyeth, etc. The impact of viewing a THEMED exhibition is just such a powerful experience!!!!

At times I was breathless. At time laughing, amazed, bewildered, proud and utterly sad to the point of tears. The exhibit will only be here until June 17 and then is moving on. I am sure you can google it and find out where it is going next. There is an audio for 10 of the pieces. Excellent.

And this exhibit was free.

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Location:The Power of Original Themed Exhibits