Tag Archives: art

Another Painting Class, Session 3: Painting 1

In April/May 2021 I took an online painting class at Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The class was called BLENDING ABSTRACTION AND REPRESENTATION, and over 5 sessions our class explored the continuum between these two endpoints of a line. This set of classes is a continuation of the previous group with the same teacher and most of the same group of students, plus some new faces.

The class was structured so that we worked on our individual artworks in our home studios while participating in discussions and vewing demonstrations by the teacher. I did quite a bit of work and I’ll be showing them to you over a few posts.

Thanks to my instructor, Lesa Chittenden Lim, and my classmates, for a good experience.

Our assignment was to choose a piece of art in any medium, examine why we were attracted to it or what appealed to us about it, and to create a painting based on that analysis. After some thought, I chose the work of the Gee’s Bend quilters as my artwork inspiration.

Why? I have loved these works since I first saw them. As you may know, I have a sewing and quilting background and fabric work will always interest me. The quilters have a compelling story behind their work. But in the end, I love the vibrant, emotional, and free qualities of these quilts. They are the essence of improvisation but are never random. Each artist listened to their inner voice to make these works.

I feel a kinship with this way of working.

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All right. I did not want to paint a quilt. Fabric does not behave like paint. I thought of images that make me feel the way these quilts do, of something that I could depict.

I settled on these houses in Allentown, PA. You know of my love for houses and this style of building is exuberant, lively, and alive – like the quilt images are for me.

I got to work. First I painted a pink/red/orange etc. background all over the paper, in a nod to the construction of the quilts. Then I took India ink, acrylic markers, and acrylic paint, and I added the houses on top. I amended the sky a bit and I had my painting.

The painting is called “Houses Sewn Together” and it is 18″ x 24″, acrylics on paper.

Artist Book Pages from a Book Being Made by Two Long-Distance Friends: Three

Marcy Erb at Illustrated Poetry and I have been blog friends for years, and even better, we have actually met in person, some years ago. Our most recent doings involve an artist book project collaboration that has had a long history – I think we got it started in 2016? Maybe? If you want all the details, look here for my first post about the project, where I give more information.

Here I am showing you some random images, pages where I did only one side of the page spread and left the other one for Marcy to create however she might like.

You can see that I incorporated some parts of the book’s earlier library life – the card pocket, the bar code (right there is a tangible picture of how times have changed, isn’t it?)

In the cat picture, the book arrived with the cut out chromosones on the page, put in place by Marcy. I took that theme and in some way made a connection with the idea of a cat, which I then set out on the page. No one says any of this process has to make the kind of sense that we ordinarily see in everyday life.

That’s another thing about these book projects: sometimes you do a whole page by yourself, and other times, both artists mix their work.

I have done other collaborative projects and I have also made quite a few of these artist books. Here is a partial list. You can also check under the category Artist Books, here on my blog.

Note: You might like to click on the images and see them in the viewer; back when I was doing a lot of these books I was new to blogging and did not understand making the photos larger in the actual post…

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A Tossed Salad of a Book

Small Book, Pages and Poem Form

Create Your Own Library

And my favorite book that I have made, In November. Because in November is when I was born and it’s my time of year.

Here is a beautiful project I did with Sharon Mann some years ago: Nothing But Sunshine

We, Sharon and I, also made two decks of playing cards: Pick a Card, Any Card

If you have any questions let me know. Maybe making an art book is for you!

Small Wordless Sketchbook 2020 Pages 44 and 45

In March-June 2020 I created a sketchbook full of art made from odds and ends I had saved. The book has no words, just pictures. I am showing you the whole book, two facing pages at a time. The book was finished in June. I made it to help myself feel better as I passed through the early days of the pandemic.

Here are the project’s specifics.The book is a mixed media sketchbook that’s 5.5″ x 7.5″. I used collage materials including magazine pages and scraps of my own discarded artworks, as well as acrylic paints and inks, India ink, and pens, regular brushes, and bamboo brushes.

Here are the pages as they appear in the book:

Here is a more detailed look at the images.

Artist Book Pages from a Book Being Made by Two Long-Distance Friends: Two

Marcy Erb at Illustrated Poetry and I have been blog friends for years, and even better, we have actually met in person, some years ago. Our most recent doings involve an artist book project collaboration that has had a long history – I think we got it started in 2016? Maybe? If you want all the details, look here for my first post about the project, where I give more information.

Now, here are some more pages. I seem not to have separate images, so you can just take a look at them as a page spread.

As a note, Marcy is a scientist, and by coincidence this book was a very outdated non-fiction book on atomic energy. Interesting, that serendipity! You can see evidences of the book’s subject in the bits of text and illustration I incorporated.

More images to show you in another post!

Artist Book Pages from a Book Being Made by Two Long-Distance Friends: One

Marcy Erb at Illustrated Poetry and I have been blog friends for years, and even better, we have actually met in person, some years ago. Our most recent doings involve an artist book project collaboration that has had a long history – I think we got it started in 2016? Maybe?

Anyway, not too long ago Marcy revived the project, and sent me the book. Usually when I do collaborative projects like this there are two books, so that we can each keep one. This time, for various reasons, there is just this one, and it is for Marcy to keep. I did some pages in it over the past 6-8 months, and now it’s in her hands to finish as she would like. I hope she will look at the pages and remember our friendship. I feel lucky to know her.

Anyway, I took photos of a few of my favorite pages. I don’t think she’ll mind if I show them here. They are out of context, but that’s ok. Each page is mean to be enjoyed on its own as well as with its fellows.

I set up the original ” book canvas”. I took a discarded children’s library book and glued some of its pages together to give a strong surface for paint or collage. Then we got to work on it.

Take a look at these pages. First, I’ll show you two images and then how they appear together in the book.

Here they are as a page spread.

More images to show you in another post!

Another Painting Class, Session 2: Painting 8

In February/March I took an online painting class at Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The class was called BLENDING ABSTRACTION AND REPRESENTATION, and over 5 sessions our class explored the continuum between these two endpoints of a line. This set of classes is a continuation of the previous group with the same teacher and the same group of students.

The class was structured so that we worked on our individual artworks in our home studios while participating in discussions and vewing demonstrations by the teacher. I did quite a bit of work and I’ll be showing them to you over a few posts.

Thanks to my instructor, Lesa Chittenden Lim, and my classmates, for a good experience.

As I said in the previous post in this series, the class assignment was to use a color we did not ordinarily feature in our paintings as the main hue. I interpreted that to mean not only did I not feature it but I did not really like it as well as others, either, and maybe for reasons that had nothing to do with the color, but maybe it was the paint tube mechanics or that I hate squeezing out paint from nearly empty tubes. (I know. Crazy.)

Here is the second painting I made for this assignment. It was based on this photo I took a couple of years ago at Lake Galena, near Chalfont, PA:

I chose the colors red and gray for this picture. I first drew in the plants with red paint, then filled in around it. Gradually I added more and more colors and refined the shapes.

I am not sure why I don’t like red much; I do know I’ve felt this way all my life about it. I remember my parents choosing red carpet for my childhood room and I was not happy about it, so the feeling goes back some years, you may say.

Gray, I find to be a very useful color and I use it often, but it is not major player in a composition for me. It has fallen into the reliable workhorse category.

I do think I will lean on gray more in the future. Let it have more of a voice.

I will also have a better attitude about red, as I think it looks good in combination with the other colors in this piece, but it is still lower down on my list of colors that make me feel good to work with. Maybe we just need to get better acquainted and let old disputes fall away?

I like how things ended up. I have got a stalky space plant from another planet garden going here, I think.

The painting is called “At Lake Galena” and it is 20″ x 16″, acrylics on canvas.

Small Wordless Sketchbook 2020 Pages 42 and 43

In March-June 2020 I created a sketchbook full of art made from odds and ends I had saved. The book has no words, just pictures. I am showing you the whole book, two facing pages at a time. The book was finished in June. I made it to help myself feel better as I passed through the early days of the pandemic.

Here are the project’s specifics.The book is a mixed media sketchbook that’s 5.5″ x 7.5″. I used collage materials including magazine pages and scraps of my own discarded artworks, as well as acrylic paints and inks, India ink, and pens, regular brushes, and bamboo brushes.

Here are the pages as they appear in the book:

Here is a more detailed look at the images.

Tiny Rugs

You may remember that back in February 2021 I took a Zoom class at the Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, PA on the subject of punch needle embroidery.

I created this small rug:

…and I wrote a post that describes the process, the tools, and the class in some detail. I won’t repeat all that here; instead, take a look at the post for background info.

Since that time, my burst of enthusiasm for this new craft has steadied into a nice warm flame. I bought a small frame, some yarns, and the kind of cloth that is needed to form the base of the embroidery.

I’ve done a little experimenting. Some things did not turn out so well – I tried using doubled worsted weight knitting yarn and it made too dense a fabric (I need to invest in a different sized punch needle – which I feel sure I will do fairly soon).

I’ve been learning how to design for the punch needle experience. I need to remember to be less detailed, at least with my current sized needle and yarns.

And…I have learned that I need to remember that as I work, I am seeing the back of the project, which looks quite different from the front, and in fact, any design you make will be reversed, too, in the final product.

OK, let’s see some photos. In March, after the failed worsted weight yarn attempt (I threw it away half-done), I assembled my supplies:

  • bulky weight yarn
  • monk’s cloth of the proper density stretched on my new frame (which is 11″ x 11″)
  • paper to cut out shapes from (that is how we designed our image in the class)
  • punch needle

After shredding a lot of paper I came up with something and drew it on the fabric with a Sharpie pen. (You may wonder about the pool view on the computer screen – from my dining room I was also attending a swim meet in North Carolina, 400+ miles away, in which my cousin’s grandchildren were participating.)

Here is my yarn selection and my faithful patient punch needle ready to go.

Later I decided not to use the variegated yarn. Instead it got made into a knitted table mat and…this bunny for my granddaughter…

But I digress. Over the next couple of days I worked on the project. Here you see it in the frame. The “wrong” side is shown first; that is what I see as I work. The “right” side is next, and then a closeup view. You may notice that I eliminated part of the original design – things were getting too crowded in the fiber piece.

Some people prefer the top side as the final image. I like it as well and it gives a crisp look. But, unless I keep the image stretched in a frame like this, it can’t be finished – it’s pretty much impossible to stretch the waste edge cloth around to get a clean edge.

Here’s where I need to explain something. When you punch through the backing cloth, a length of yarn is carried through equal to the length of the needle. When you bring it back out, it forms a loop of half this length on the “right” side, the one you can’t see. The needle I have makes these nice fluffy loops. It’s pretty long. I can get needles in shorter lengths (= smaller loops) and a smaller size shaft (uses thinner yarns).

Later in my punch needle career I am sure I will add to my needle collection. Because, you know, you can mix and match yarns and loop lengths and get different looks.

But I am not there yet. I am currently working on consistency. In any craft, after gaining the initial skills, that is the first thing that has to be mastered.

All right, here is the finished “rug”. It’s about 9″ x 9″.

Sink your toes into that! Yes! And if you are a Barbie doll, maybe, all the way up to your ankles!

If you are wondering what the back looks like on these pieces, here is an example. I fold the waste cloth under the rug and hand-sew a fabric backing on it to cover the interior.

And for your info, I have given up on the cutting out paper designing method. I do better sketching something out on paper. My vacuum cleaner heaved a sigh of relief when I mentioned this – it had had a lot of work picking up all those tiny snips I kept producing.

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Since that project, I have made two more pieces. They are both about 9″ x 9″.

With each one I have gained more skill and a better understanding of what I am doing.

I have just gotten some new yarn and I believe I will be starting on my next project very very soon…

Another Painting Class, Session 2: Painting 7

In February/March I took an online painting class at Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The class was called BLENDING ABSTRACTION AND REPRESENTATION, and over 5 sessions our class explored the continuum between these two endpoints of a line. This set of classes is a continuation of the previous group with the same teacher and the same group of students.

The class was structured so that we worked on our individual artworks in our home studios while participating in discussions and vewing demonstrations by the teacher. I did quite a bit of work and I’ll be showing them to you over a few posts.

Thanks to my instructor, Lesa Chittenden Lim, and my classmates, for a good experience.

The class assignment was to use a color we did not ordinarily feature in our paintings as the main hue. In my mind, this idea morphed with the idea of using colors I don’t like as much as others.

To clarify, there are no colors I dislike or would refuse to work with. Some colors just don’t come to my mind as much as others. Or, I have built up a habit of using certain colors and avoiding others.

Here is a confession: I do find that if the paint tube has a difficult to use cap…or…if there is just a little paint left in the tube and it is hard to squeeze it out…I avoid these too. Yes, it is stupid, but I have realized I do it. Now that I have thought about it, I will try to overcome this idea, because it is just dumb to be doing things this way.

OK. I made a couple of paintings featuring colors I don’t usually present as the main ones because I don’t like them as much for whatever reason.

Whew! Now that you know that, here is one of the paintings I made. It was based on this recent photo:

I chose the colors gray and some olive brown greens as my main colors. I have always liked these colors fine, but I tend to the more showy.

I am pleased with the results of this experiment, though, and I feel I’ll be more likely to use these colors in bigger proportions in the future. Because I gave them a chance to be the star and they came up with a great performance!

The painting is called “Power Lines” and is 20″ x 16″, acrylics on canvas.

Another Painting Class, Session 2: Painting 6

In February/March I took an online painting class at Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The class was called BLENDING ABSTRACTION AND REPRESENTATION, and over 5 sessions our class explored the continuum between these two endpoints of a line. This set of classes is a continuation of the previous group with the same teacher and the same group of students.

The class was structured so that we worked on our individual artworks in our home studios while participating in discussions and vewing demonstrations by the teacher. I did quite a bit of work and I’ll be showing them to you over a few posts.

Thanks to my instructor, Lesa Chittenden Lim, and my classmates, for a good experience.

The class assignment was to examine what paths we might like to take our art along in the future.

I did a post on this topic at the end of the first class with some detail: look here if you want to see it.

As you may imagine I have a lot of ideas. But one thing I would like to do is to paint more pictures of people – either portraits or peopled scenes. This idea is something new to me and I will have to give it more thought.

In the meantime, I decided to represent myself as a portrait. I took a photo with my phone and got to work. Here is the result.

“Self-Portrait”, 3/21, acrylics on masonite, 24″ x 18″