Saturday, January 30, 2010

Watercolor Travel Journal Class

I took a class today at the Cole Gallery here in Edmonds that was taught by Faye Castle. I loved the class and was very happy to be able to learn from Faye, as her style of mixing watercolor and pen and ink is very similar to my style when working in my travel journals. There is something wonderful about adding the ink work at the end of the painting experience. Faye was telling us that she can hardly wait to get to the place where she can add the inked lines, that her hands shake in anticipation, and I knew immediately that we are much the same as that's exactly how I feel, too! We worked mostly from our own travel photographs and I spent the majority of my drawing and painting time working from a photo I took when I was in Otavalo, Ecuador. I was happy with Faye's gentle suggestions and was not totally displeased with the outcome. I didn't spend much time on the little painting, but I did try to put into action many of the things Faye taught. She's a great teacher.

She had us do some exercises in value and also to make a color wheel with the paint that each of us had in our own, particular watercolor sets. It's always a good idea to work with the paint you have so you know exactly what to mix with what to get the color you need, to see what is staining and what you can lift off with clean water and which paint is 'granular' and settles into the little pockets in the watercolor paper. (I like the texture of cold press paper much more than hot press, as hot press paper just seems flat and dull to me. I like how some paints will settle into the depressions in cold press paper and how that will add to the dimension of the finished painting or sketch.) Faye had us begin by doing blind contour drawings of our hand---and I will spare you my attempts to capture my hand without looking at what I was drawing, only at the spot on my hand that I was drawing. Try drawing something yourself using the blind contour method. It's amazing how bad, or how enlightening, such a drawing can be!

I bought a wonderful little Winsor Newton travel watercolor box. It has it all! Twelve half pans of paint, a tiny little travel brush, a water bottle and the lid of the box turns into a water container (although it sure doesn't hold much!). It's compact and it has everything you really need to get a fast sketch down on paper while standing and gawking on your travels. I plan to take my new little set with me when I head off to North Africa (Tunisia and Morocco) in late April. I expect that it will be perfect, especially as I also treated myself to a Kolinsky sable travel brush that is to die for! Oh, how I love brushes and how this one is just too too....too yummy. It holds a ton of water and/or paint and it comes to a very fine, sharp point. When the brush is taken apart, it fits into the cap and is no bigger than a ballpoint pen. It is just scrumptious!

Yes. I am. I am addicted to art supplies. And I don't care!

Faye shared a number of books that she finds extremely useful with us and I got many ideas. I will search out some of the titles and see if I can't find them used on eBay or Alibris. I told Faye about one of my favorite journal artists, Hannah Hinchman, whom she had not discovered. I am always delighted to bring someone else to "meet" Hannah, and it turned out that both Hannah Hinchman and Faye have a connection to Montana. If you aren't familiar with Hannah's books, check them out on Amazon. It was from reading A Life in Hand: Creating and Illuminated Journal that I finally had the courage to try adding watercolor sketches to my journals, much to their improvement to my mind, at least. My art may not be great, but it does give an inkling of how a place 'felt' to me, how I saw it. I owe Hannah a big thank you for helping me make my journals, and journaling experience, that much richer and personal.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I belong to a collaborative color journal group and it has proven to be a very fun and challenging project. Until ORANGE arrived, that is. I do not appreciate the color orange. That is not to say that I don't see the beauty in a clementine or satsuma orange, or that the wondrous streaks of orange that can light the sky at sunset don't amaze and delight me. But for a color to work with in my art projects, nope, don't like it. It grates. It's too bright. It's too 70s for my taste (a decade that should live in infamy for its clothes, hairstyles, design and especially, music!). Orange just doesn't get my creative 'juices' flowing (pardon the pun).

The other members in our collaboration all seem to be happy, or at least okay, with orange. I am really looking forward to see how the others handled this poor cousin to sunshine yellow and fire engine red.

I finally found a photo I took in the Caribbean last year that was orange. REALLY orange. I use that for the foundation to my page. It turned out okay. I mean, I loved the image, and I used orange, and I turned it in on time and like that there. But, it is still ORANGE. Ugh.

Do you, Dear Reader, have a color that you abhor? Does some bit of the rainbow grate upon you, like fingers scraping down a blackboard, and make you crazy? Or is it just me?

It's probably just me....

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Congratulations Bee!

Oh happy day! My dear friend, Bee Shay, has written a fantastic book and today it arrived on my doorstep. Her book is called Collage Lab:Experiments, Investigations, and Exploratory Projects . I can't recommend it highly enough. If you have any interest in collage, or in mixed media or just love to look at creative and entertaining books stuffed with great art, this is one you will want for your personal library. I have been drooling over the projects all evening and plan to get out my art supplies and put into action some of the great ideas Bee puts forth in her projects just as soon as I finish packing up "Christmas."

Have I mentioned how enthused this book has gotten me---all jazzed up and full of ideas to try? I bet is will plant many seeds in your psyche, too. Try it, you'll love it!

To my little Kumquat, congratulations! I am so happy to see all your hard work realized, in a beautiful book I can hold in my hands and return to whenever I need inspiration. Hip hip hooray and atta girl and wa-hoooooo! Bee, darlin', you are amazing.

Talk about a hat trick!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

Instead of making resolutions this first day of 2010, I want to be grateful for all my blessings. I am especially grateful for my family and my friends (family we get to pick!), for my heath and my generally optimistic nature. I am grateful for the physical beauty of this Earth. I am grateful for time spend on or near waters. I am extremely grateful for my easy life. I am truly, truly blessed and I don't ever want to take any of it for granted.

And to you, Dear Reader, I wish a healthy, happy 2010.

The art of blessing the day

by Marge Piercy

This is the blessing for rain after drought:
Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,
a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.
Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.
Enter my skin, wash me for the little
chrysalis of sleep rocked in your lashing.
in the morning the world is peeled and shining.

This is the blessing for sun after long rain:
Now everything shakes itself free and rises.
The trees are bright as pushcart ices.
Every last lily opens its satin thighs.
The bees dance and roll in pollen
and the cardinal at the top of the pine
sings at full throttle, fountaining.

This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:
those green boxes of tasteless acid the store
sells in January, those red things with the savor
of wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.
How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,
warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.
You are the savor of summer in thin red skin.

This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let's not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain

The blessing for the return of a favorite cat,
the blessing for love returned, for friends'
return, for money received unexpected,
the blessing for the rising of the bread,
the sun, the oppressed. I am not sentimental
about old men mumbling the Hebrew by rote
with no more feeling than one says gesundheit

But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not
hurt. The art in compressing attention
toe each little and big blossom of the tree
of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,
its savor, its aroma and its use.

Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can't bless it, get ready to make it new.