Category Archives: Photography

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending May 11

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art is a refuge.

Saturday, May 5 – I spent the day either running in the park or cleaning my entire house. So, not much time for art. At night, I colored in this drawing done last week in my current large Artist Sketchbook. I used various markers.

I also looked over this landscapy thing I’d done on the next page – it was a way to use up paint on the brush when I was working on the tiny tree portraits from last week. I’m trying to think what to do to it next – it needs more, but what?

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I’m also thinking about another project I want to do. I have been writing very short stories called Minuscules (look here for more info and to find out how to read the ones I’ve posted so far). I want to make them into a print book (if you follow my poetry blog you know of my love for print books, and for making my own words into print) and I also thought I might illustrate each story with a black and white pen and ink picture. (Because, as you know, color illustrations make the book cost a LOT more, plus – I like the idea of using my Chinese brush or my dip pen and making pictures.)

Anyway, I’ve printed out my current assortment of stories and I bought watercolor pads that I think would make a nice surface to work on. I have them in my studio and ready for when I settle into the process. Maybe I’ll start this week…or at least start thinking about how to go about things.

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Sunday, May 6 – I’ve decided that I will finish up the current clay items I have in process and then see about that book illustration idea when the clay is done and out of my brain. Accordingly, I got to work on clay. I covered the remaining small tiles and “rocks” in Jet Black Velvet underglaze (dropping one rock in the bottle in the process – luckily the bottle was very low, so I could fish it out. Messy…).

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Here are the small items partway through the session and then at the end.

The face tiles were done on clay rolled thinner than usual, leftovers from when I put together the figurines. I don’t like skinny tiles, and I won’t sell them, so I have decided these will be art drop-off material – I’ll leave them around for people to find, out in the world.

I finished up these figurines:

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and started on these guys.

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Later that evening, I was trying out a function on my phone – Notes – where there are simple drawing tools. Just doodling. I made a lady (an actress in the “Murder She Wrote” episode we were watching on DVD) and then I made an abstract (scribbled over a photo chosen at random from my photo albums.) I like drawing with my finger. One day I’m going to see about an iPad and drawing programs.

Monday, May 7 – I finished up the coloring of my clay work – these figurines were done:

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and I applied Jet Black Velvet underglaze to the edges of the many small tiles. If I were intending these to be used for practical applications, such as on a wall or a table top, I would not bother with this step, as the edges would not show but instead would be covered by grout.

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As a note, for these tiles to be used in a functional way, I would have to glaze them. Grout will adhere to unglazed tile, discoloring it; and an unglazed tile will not repel water and will absorb whatever is thrown at it. If these tiles were bowls, say, they would need to be glazed to be food-safe.

But, I intend these tiles just to be for fun, for decoration, etc. They could be displayed individually or they could be glued to a board and framed (without grouting).

Now I really need to clean my kiln shelves, so that I can fire these items.
As background info on kiln wash and kiln shelf care, look here.

Tuesday, May 8 – A really beautiful day outside, so…I decided to get to work on those kiln shelves. I only have two that need work. That’s nice.

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I carried them outside to the picnic table.

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First I scrape them with a … scraper. Now you see why I do this outside.

I then gather my kiln wash, some water, and a brush. There are various recipes for kiln wash and I have no idea what is in my version – I just buy it from the supplier. It is a very fine powder, almost like talc in consistency, and for some reason they always pack it in a paper bag, so I put it in two plastic bags to store it better,.

The idea is to mix it to the consistency of buttermilk and apply thin coats. I gave my shelves a couple of layers.

Then I went off to the park to run and came back a couple of hours later. I got a nice surface – no chips or bubbles. I can use the shelf right away – I do not have to fire it first.

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I went into the garage to give the kiln a little bit of a cleaning. I removed the shelf that always stays on the bottom and swept up debris, then vaccumed it out.

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I repaired the cracks in the kiln wash on the bottom of the kiln.

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Then I thought, why not? and loaded the kiln up. Since this is a second firing, it will go pretty quickly – about 6 hours – and I figured since it was only lunchtime I could do a firing and it would not finish too late in the evening. I don’t have to turn the kiln off, it does it on its own, but I want to know when it is finished.

The load is not crowded at all. That’s because I’m not doing any big tiles this time. I set the controls and tomorrow evening I’ll be able to open it and see how things went.

Wednesday, May 9 – I opened the kiln and I was thrilled. I don’t say that very often about my work, but this time I felt the kiln had done an extra nice job. I am really happy with the colors – so brilliant and rich.

OK, I’ll give you an array of photos showing the kiln, the unloaded work, and some details. I will be doing a post on the various items in more detail later on (I didn’t have time for taking nice photos today) but here you can see how things went.

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Well, that was a nice end to my latest clay work projects. The rest of the afternoon, I gessoed some more black panels:

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finished up those small tree portraits:

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and prepared the rest of the ATC-sized Claybord surfaces for…something. I decided to start off with blue. That does not mean things will stay blue. Oh no.

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Friday, May 11 – I have assigned myself an art task today that I don’t much like – photographing my art. All that clay needs to be documented (I love record-keeping, just saying…) and I can’t put it all away until I’ve finished all the tasks that go with the process. There is a business side to things, so to speak.

I got out my camera and went to my studio for the photo session. I had done the tiles earlier in the week – that’s easy. Just lay them on a white surface and point the camera.

Clay tile small people 5-18 4 x 2

The figurines and animals, though, are full of trouble for me. I’m not a great artwork photographer to start with and I don’t have the kind of lighting and so on that makes the art look its best. That’s ok, I just want a reasonable picture for my records.

For this kind of thing, I usually set up two white pieces of matboard or canvas to make a little environment.

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Sometimes I do it outside but today it was too windy, and the set up blew around. So I went back inside. One by one I put the items up on stage. Here is where questions come in for me. How many views? What angles? Oh dear, this is my favorite part of this particular piece, I must get a shot of it. How to photograph an animal looking up at you? Tiles just do not cause this kind of trouble.

I took a lot of shots. Thank goodness for digital cameras vs. film. I would be bankrupt with a film camera.

I’ll show a few results, but I plan to do some posts devoted to these items later on, with a full array of shots.

Now that I have finished this task, I am relieved. I will set these items in the cabinet in my studio with earlier work. This is where I keep them, so that I can see them, and if anyone comes by and takes a liking to one or more, I can hand it right over.

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Now, I’ll tell you what I am thinking. It’s a beautiful day and I see that the softball team over at the high school (across the street) is warming up for a game. This computer work has given me a desire to get outside and away from tedium. So I think might walk over and watch the game for a while. I’m going to post this week’s Diary now and if I do anything else today, well…I’ll add it to tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, as always.

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.

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Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending March 9

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Saturday, March 3 – I worked on the last of my assortment of small boards in the afternoon. These were 6″ x 6″ Claybord.

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I just started painting. No idea what would develop.

Finally I ended up with 4 small bright paintings.

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While I watched TV, I drew this scene on top of a page in my ongoing Large Artist Sketchbook (I had thought the page was finished but I got the urge to draw on it, so…I did.)

A pleasant way to start off the week.

Sunday, March 4 – I worked on mail art postcards. I seemed to have circle-moon-sun ideas in my head.

Monday, March 5 – I was thinking about the small paintings I did on Saturday. It gave me the idea to try something similar, I mean, to do something abstract on a larger scale. I tend to like making abstract work in a small scale but bigger things, well – I tend to go back to more representational (my version, anyway). So I got out three 16″ x 16″ boards.

I started slapping down some color. I almost hesitate to show these stages, because it reveals the utter randomness of my working process.

I got three things going pretty well. I took them upstairs to set them in the living room to “rest” and for me to eye them for improvements or additions. (Please excuse the photo quality, we go for a cozy light level in this room at night, it looks like.)

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Tuesday, March 6 – I didn’t have much time today for art, but I got in a little bit of painting. After yesterday’s session I felt like trying another abstract painting, and this time I chose a different color scheme to start with, motivated by the idea of using up this really nice dark brown paint – I had a tube that was gasping up its last drops and I was getting impatient. I used a 16″ x 16″ gessoed board.

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Look at all that brown. There was more left in the tube than I thought. Here’s where I ended the day:

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I took it upstairs to join the earlier ones to “rest” for a while. Otherwise, I laid out a group of those @ 2″ tiles I made some weeks back and put a couple of coats of Jet Black Velvet underglaze on them. This is the first step I take in my coloring process. I’ll be working one these soon, I think. Look at that photo with all the underglazes lined up. They look like they are about to march out and demand something, don’t they?

I’ve also got a lot of semi-finished ATC’s I’m working on (they are perfect for when I am sitting on the sofa watching television at night). And I’ve also got a few miscellaneous odds and ends I’ve accumulated – I’m thinking of making a small artist book, maybe. When I get some more to put in it, anyway.

Wednesday, March 7 – More snow. I think about 8″ fell over the course of the day. I knew things would be catch as catch can in my routine – my husband was at home, we spent some time shoveling, and I worked on poetry editing, so not much art work done. I spent a pleasant hour this morning watching a Perry Mason episode and coloring the second of those pages of pen and ink drawings from my ongoing large sketchbook:

During one of our shoveling sessions I took a few photos in our back yard. There is such beauty in a snowfall and how it changes the look of bare branches and landscape. I think these photos will inspire me in some art way in the future.

I took this photo of daffodils in the afternoon. By evening I noticed the snow had already melted from them and they were standing upright again. Spring!

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Thursday, March 8 – I spent today at Montgomery County Community College, doing a session of the Day Trip Poetry Marathon (for those who are wondering what this is, look here. Short answer, it’s a day+/- a week that I devote to writing poetry. Maybe you didn’t know I did that?).

I stopped at the college’s gallery on the way to my car. I wanted to see the current exhibit, artwork of Montgomery County (PA) high school students.

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The arts building is new and beautiful. The gallery is in the entrance lobby area.

The students had done themselves proud. Lots of nice work. I took some (not so great, I apologize) photos of several I really liked. I was amazed by the variety of mediums and artistic visions on display.

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Friday, March 9 – I had a lot of ideas for this afternoon but I ended up working on two of the 16″ x 16″ paintings begun earlier in the week – the brown one and then one from the group of three. Well, things changed. I am not sure if they are getting anywhere yet but…there is always tomorrow!

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I’ve been working on a side job all week – I’ve got some larger-sized ad cards (you know the kind, they come in the mail urging you to buy tires, get your a/c tuned up, donate clothes to charity, etc). I’ve been painting at random on both sides, as I want to collect a few,  fold them in half, staple them, and make them into book pages. You may have seen these before – I refer to them as artist books; sometimes they are embellished with collage, and I write text for them after the books are finished:

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I’ve also collected some folded brochures and will be seeing what I can do with them.

I finished up my afternoon listening to a favorite radio program, “Funky Friday”, musical funk on WXPN Philadelphia – but most of the day I was involved in a new audiobook. Music, books, and art. A nice place to be.

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See you next week! Thanks for reading and traveling this art week with me.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending March 2

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Note – the Diary has come out on March 3 because of our big nor’easter snow storm and wind extravaganza yesterday – we lost our computer connection. 

Saturday, February 24 – More Olympics on TV and I decided to try pen and ink renditions of the small sketches I made for those tiny 4″ x 4″ paintings from a week or two ago. I put them in my ongoing Large Artist Sketchbook. I think I’ll color them in later on.

Sunday, February 25 – Because the weather was rainy and cold, my husband and I decided to mall-walk at the King of Prussia (PA) mall. This mall is enormous, the largest mall in the US, 2.9 million square feet of retail space, if you are interested.

I’m not very interested in shopping, but I figured I could get some shots of mannequins and maybe some photo some reflections, too, not to mention getting in a nice long walk.

It’s been some time since I’ve been in the mall. Years, in fact. Originally, there were two malls and they have been recently connected to make one. We covered the whole place and I got a lot of nice shots. It will take me some time to figure out what to do with them. Samples from three categories:

Artsy, like this B/W one of the lot where we parked. I tried to make it look scary. I don’t like this kind of parking place.

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Reflections, like these merchandise shots. They depict the images bouncing around in my overstimulated brain, a result of even ten minutes’ shopping (I am only half-joking), but I love the reflections:

And then my reason for being there: mannequins. What a rich vein of inspiration I struck. Couldn’t stop snapping the shots. Here are a few:

Great future inspirations. And I’ll include this shot – the stores were not open when we were there, so actual humans were only sparsely scattered around, often camouflaged by the mannequin population. I stopped to look at this red-devil kind of fellow and realized a human was quietly at work, altering clothes, right next to him.

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Monday, February 26 – I worked on the mysterious secret mixed media/collage project today. I promise all will be revealed not too long from now.

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Once again, a look at the aftermath of the frenzy of paper cutting. Supplies lying around in utter exhaustion.

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Here things are a little better. Take a look at the black lined-looking paper. I make these papers by painting a fairly light sketch paper very thickly with the color, making sure brush marks show. Then I press it on to another sheet of paper and pull off this interesting texture print. I love this particular pattern of brushwork and have used these papers for years in many collages.

Tuesday, February 27 – I finished up the secret collage project today, except for some finishing touches. You will be seeing it in the near future. I then puttered around with some odds and ends of ATC’s and postcards and paints and printing and generally getting some small things further down the line to completion.

I had cut apart small sketches I had made of field hockey players some time back and now I glued them on to ATC’s. I also had a couple of magazine images. And, I layered colors on a lot of ATC’s. All of these will get more work done to them. Or maybe not! We will see.

I glued dictionary pages on recycled cardboard cut to postcard size. Future mail art.

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I have a pile of sketches, smallish, that would fit on ATC’s or postcards, maybe. I might color some of them and see what I can do with them next.

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Wednesday, February 28 – I was out a lot of the day, poetry activities and otherwise, so I contented myself with cleaning up the studio to be ready for another work day. Oh so pretty, I say to myself!

I did make one artwork – inadvertent as it was. I had some black acrylic paint on my finger (I was repairing a teeny little area and did not want to make a brush dirty). I then tapped my finger across a piece of scrap paper to clean it – you know how you do.

Well, I’ve made all kinds of fingerprint people on purpose in my art over the years. No surprise, I turned these prints into people, too. I make a note to myself to do some more of these soon.

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Thursday, March 1 – I was out all day at Poetry Marathon. At night, I colored in one page of my B/W drawings in my current Large Art Sketchbook with Tombow and Prism markers, while watching TV.

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Friday, March 2 – As said at the beginning of this week’s Diary, we had a nor’easter, starting as rain and turning to snow, only about 4-5″ of the latter, but the winds were 60 MPH.

Quote of the day, heard on the traffic report: the Schuylkill Expressway is open again and moving – the tree that fell on the bus was just a small one.

That kind of day. The weather unsettled me and I didn’t focus well. I got a couple of boards set up for future paintings:

I worked on a few ATC’s. I decided to listen to my audiobook to drown out the howling wind, and I needed a project. I took two small boards and decided to paint a snowy tree set. One cold and one warm.

I fussed around with them too much, I think. Maybe I’ll paint over them. Anyway, it kept me distracted. Sometimes the point of art making is just to be – making art.

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All right, that is it for this week. See you next week.

Mall Walking

Here are some photos from a recent mall walk I took ( you know, escaping cold weather and using the mall for some exercise rather than shopping).

I really like mannequins and I really like reflections.

Here are a couple of subjects who caught my eye:

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And here they are with their friends, doubled.

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Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending February 2

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Here we embark on a new week and new art.

Saturday, January 27 – I opened the kiln. Everything came out fine. Always a relief. Compare the before and after shots. The tiles are more brilliant in their fired state.

Also, on Friday night as I was cleaning up, I took all my collage scraps and quickly and randomly glued them on to postcard-sized recycled cardboard. No thinking, just slapping on the acrylic medium and sticking on the papers. It looked like this:

On Saturday I trimmed them. I will use these later in a project of some kind.

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Sunday, January 28 – My husband and I took a walk in the mall before it opened. The weather was cold and rainy so we wanted to be inside for some exercise. I took a lot of photos of the store windows – I like reflections. Here are a couple of shots featuring shoes.

Monday, January 29 – I rearranged my schedule a little, as it looks like snow tomorrow, but I had some time to work on paintings and clay.

First. Paintings. I have three 6″x6″ boards to work on and two 8″x10″. I laid them out on my table.
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I like to work in groups, you know that. I decided the small pieces would feature animals and that I’d do the other two as different floors in a house. I just started in and got going. Here are the small paintings.

I’m going to have to wait and see how they develop, the animals, I mean. I feel a little out of my depth here, I don’t think I’ve done anything like this before.

The rooms are more inside my comfort zone. They will need a lot more work, too, though.

End of the painting day. I’m not sure I’ll keep the eyes on the animals or not. Or if I need to add some ink or crayon, maybe. I did like their blank faces. We will see.

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I spent a little time with clay as well. I have an idea to make a lot of  @ 2″x 2″ tiles with designs in underglaze. A giant series. I have some white and some terracotta clay in bags with about 1/4 left in each, that would be about 5-6 pounds. Not that much.

I am making slabs; then I am going to cut the slabs all into little squares, fire them, and then put simple geometric designs or maybe tiny faces on them as a kind of low-thinking and mentally restful project. It will take a long time.

Today I cut the white clay. I rolled it out on my slab roller.

I transferred the slabs to my work table and cut them with a needle tool. I’ll let these dry and work on terracotta clay another day.

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Tuesday, January 30 – We had a little bit of snow today, enough for me to decide to stay home and catch up on lots of home things. I took the assortment of recently made tiles upstairs to my living room and wrote my name on the back of each one – a task that needs to be done but is not too exciting. I indulged in an episode of vintage TV Perry Mason to help me through it.

I don’t store the tiles long-term in this manner; I wrap them in bubble wrap as they can damage each other’s colors if they bang against each other. I’ll do that step after I price each tile – another day.

In the afternoon I checked on my clay work. The tiles I had cut yesterday were at a good stage – stiff enough to handle, but not so dry that they had become brittle. I needed to clean up the edges of each one. I used a round sponge and wiped around each tile, putting some force into it. Now they will not have sharp edges or look unfinished when fired.

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This work is also pretty tedious. I listened to an audio book; I do that quite often when I’m making art. Somehow in my head I can separate the art thoughts from the book thoughts. I do like a good thriller – that’s mostly what I listen to.

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I then went through the same cutting-out process with the terracotta clay. I try not to move the tiles too much; if they are bent in the wet stage, they “remember” that and want to go back to it when fired, even if they look flat when they enter the kiln. Small tiles like this, though, are usually not much of a problem. I kept some slabs just as they were cut out but some tiles had to move so as to allow me to do more work on the table. That’s why you see this arrangement.

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Wednesday, January 31 – I was out a lot of the day so much not art time happened. I did clean the edges of all the terracotta tiles I did yesterday. Now I will wait for all these tiles to dry. I like to give them a couple of weeks. You can tell the clay is ready for the kiln when it no longer feels cool to the touch – I use that test and then I wait a little bit longer…to be sure.

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I took a moment to look over those 6″ x 6″ animal paintings. I decided they needed some India ink. I gave them some faces and made a start on background work. Just enough to see that I liked it. Once I finish up with the ink, well, who knows what is next? I have come to understand that these creatures will figure out their own destiny and tell me, not the other way around.

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Friday, February 2 – I spent the afternoon finishing up some projects and starting new ones. First, the starting: I had a cradled masonite board in storage, 36″ x 24″, which is very large for me. I don’t make many paintings this size, but I sold two in these dimensions last year and so I just got the feeling of wanting to make another large one. I do not know what I will paint on it. Luckily, today all I had to do was prepare it.

I sanded the masonite surface (forgive the bad picture) to give the surface some tooth for the gesso to hang on to. Then – I gessoed it.

It spent the afternoon drying. I’ll get to work on it in the next week, I think.

I finished up the small animal paintings.

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I added India ink and crayon details.

Blots and irregularities are welcome.

Now I think these animal paintings are pretty much done. I also worked on the “home” paintings and I also feel they are close to being finished. I’ll let both of these sets of paintings come upstairs and sit in my living room for a few days to see what I think.

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And just for fun I made some paper dolls while watching TV at night this week. Haven’t done it for a while and I was glad to get back to them. I am sure there will be more of them soon.

Well, that’s it for this week. On to the next. Happy Art.

Visions

More blur photos. These are from Logue Library at Chestnut Hill College, September, 2017.

Mistake, but I like it

I took this photo by mistake. I was getting ready to photo some paintings – I put them on the concrete floor of my front porch and stand over them to take the pictures. Ooops, my legs wanted to get a selfie done. I liked the way they did it, so I kept the photo.

This is how things happen around here at my house. Don’t ever say serendipity does not have a sense of humor.