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December 31, 2010

Art Progress - 2010


1. Maintain an artist journal - doing one page per day minimum - to include illustrated journal pages, travel sketches, skill practice pages, figure drawing, etc.

I did maintain my daily sketching, doing at least one journal page per day with only a rare "missed day." When I’m just too busy or tired to do one, I usually add two sketches the following day. And on sketchcrawl days and on days when I go to figure drawing I have as many as 19 sketches for the day.

2. Publish blog entries twice each week - share EDM challenges and other select pages in order to participate in an online art community.

I posted to my blog twice weekly almost every week and everyday in May - an ongoing project. I love my friendships which began because of my blog and continue to be amazed at how important it is for communication among like-minded people. This year I spent time with two EDM members - in person (Liz and Raena) and met 2 members of my Journal Study Group because of my blog. I stopped doing EDM challenges early this year and haven’t figured out why. It is probably a combination of having enough self-imposed challenges and exercises to do from some of the books I read monthly.

3. Attend Figure Drawing sessions at least 1-2 X /month. Try other tools and techniques during 20 minute poses.

I attended monthly figure drawing sessions at the Society of Illustrators and went twice during several months, especially to make up for their closure during August. The only new tool used was a blending stump - but I did sketch more faces on the figures, so I think I’m progressing.

4. Build More Art Skills: Prepare a schedule for working through my art technique library - resuming Dodson drawing book exercises this month. Copy the Masters in Museum exhibits locally.

At the beginning of the year I selected 12 books to work through monthly during the year - to learn new skills. And I completed every one! I decided to do this because I want to learn on my own, not through art classes and lessons, and it is perfect for me. I didn’t resume the Dodson drawing book. I’m stuck at the point that I need a live model in bright sunlight. However, I continue to work from the Master drawings in the galleries and museums here in NYC. These are the books I read:

January: Betty Edwards: Color: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors

February:Cathy Johnson: Watercolor Tips and TechniquesFebruary:Hannah

Hinchman: A Life in HandFebruary:Barbara Steicher: Sketchbooking

March: John Raynes: Drawing and Painting People

April: David Rankin: Fast Sketching Techniques

May: Diana Trout: Journal Spilling

June: Gerald Brommer: Collage Techniques

July: Jeff Mellem Sketching People + ½ Carla Sonheim Drawing Lab

August: Linda Kemp: Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines

September: John Raynes: Figure Drawing Workbook

October: Melanie Tests: Inspired to Quilt

November: Second 1/2 Carla Sonheim Drawing Lab

December: North Light Books Staff: Sketchbook Confidential

5. Continue with Sketchcrawls, Meet-up Central Park Drawing Group, Journal Study Group to sketch NYC.

I have a wonderful group of friends to sketch with - the Central Park Drawing and Meet-Up Group that meets now twice each month (except during the coldest months), and my Journal Study Group. I also spent 3 days with EDM member Liz Steel who was visiting NYC from Australia and spent an afternoon sketching with Liz and Jason Das (Urban Sketcher).

6. Deal with my Internal Critic and Fear of Failure: Develop a strategy to fool my internal critic so I can continue to add to "My Apartment" journal. The journal and project need to be converted from "too precious" to a playful experience using some of the strategies I have copied and saved from my reading.

When EDM member Casey Toussaint was visiting me this summer, we discussed this common problem and challenged each other to do at least one more page in the sketch books that we made during our bookbinding class. I have now completed a total of 2. I have no problem using my other hand bound watercolor sketchbooks or plain watercolor paper or the Strathmore Visual Journals that I received from Rice Freeman Zachary as a "giveaway." There is something about the fact that the above mentioned precious sketchbook was made during my only bookbinding workshop and is as perfect as a sketchbook can be because of the equipment available.

7. PLAY: Try some new art tools - Schmincke watercolor paint triad, dip pens, Pentel pocket brush pen, oil pencils for figure drawing, etc

I have tried lots of new tools this year - Schminke watercolor paints in cool and warm triads, a Pentel pocket brush pen, a ruling pen, dip pens with several types of nibs, several types of paper, including Yupo, Neocolor II watercolor crayons, and Shiva paintstiks. I also learned how to make foam stamps and copied a master painting in stamps and learned how to make and use Thermofax screens. My art buddies challenged me to make a multimedia book using everything I owned - working in layers - and with many images per page and I completed a 16 page journal.

8. Bookbinding - continue to make watercolor journals for myself, trying different sizes and my own dye painted fabric as book cloth.

I learned how to make book cloth from my hand dyed and painted fabrics and made 7 watercolor sketchbooks for my daily journal. In addition, I made several other types of books including a hidden spine and Australian piano hinge book (both inspired by Gwen Diehn) and another recycled book for summer beach paintings.

9. Optional: Add to Theme Projects (London, NYC) - Try to complete some other pages in these 2 journals or just get over the angst of having two unfinished journals and move them to the "completed journals shelf"

I completed 11 pages in my NYC recycled sketchbook this year and I’m almost done with it! Most of my NYC sketches are in my regular daily sketchbook, because that is what I carry with me, so I will not make another NYC sketchbook when this one is done. I’m going to move my London book to the finished stack because I completed 3 fifty page sketchbooks during our many visits to London in 2006-7 and I really don’t enjoy sketching from my photos now that we are home.

10. Keep myself open to new projects and adventures. Be willing to "stretch" whenever the opportunity arises.

I think that this was easy to accomplish, because I was surrounded by such wonderfully creative friends and our Journal Study Group provided amazing inspiration and lots of sharing of specific skills. And as added inspiration, Gwen Diehn became an honorary member and spent full days with us when visiting her family in NYC.

December 25, 2010

Tutorial: Making a Santa Stamp from Foam

Last Winter Pat Gaignat taught our Journal Study Group how to make simple stamps from adhesive, paper-backed, foam and I made a series of stamps from my sketches of a pregnant model at Figure Drawing.

This Fall she helped us make stamps for multicolor images and we each copied a museum masterpiece as our challenge.  You can see those stamped images here with links included to Pat's blog and Melanie Testa's blog.  Pat published this technique, which she calls Faux Screenprinting, in the magazine Cloth, Paper, Scissors (September-October 2010).

I made a Santa stamp last week from one of my journal pages and stamped lots of them over the next few days.  There were many questions re: the technique in one of my art groups, so with Pat's permission, I'll go through the process as I make a gift tag.

I bought my package of foam at a Dick Blick store - but Michaels also carries it sometimes.  I have made many stamps and only used 1+ out of 20 sheets so far.  Here is the package that I am using.  



I scanned my Santa painting, sized it, and printed it in black and white (Santa on the right).  This made it easy to trace it for the stamp (Santa on the left).  I used a 2B pencil and made sure that the line was complete, because the graphite is transferred to the foam by burnishing the drawing face down over the foam.  Lift the edges of the tracing paper periodically, to make sure that you have a full image transferred.


The images should be carefully cut out using an xacto-knife.  All pieces that are the same color will be made into one stamp - so the Santa image has a green stamp (background), red stamp, black stamp, and pink stamp.  The white areas are the white paper.

Making a Stamp:  See the stamp on the photo below.


This stamp has been used multiple times - the red color is the stamp ink on the foam, and on the surrounding plastic transparency - because I was careless when inking the stamp. 

After the pieces of Santa were cut out of the foam, the paper was removed from the back of the foam, and each piece was adhered to the "ink jet printer transparencies."  These are flexible pieces of plastic (8.5 X 11"), purchased at Staples.  

In this photo you can see how to accurately place each piece that will be the same color.  On the bottom is my tracing, reverse side up.  Then the transparency is placed over the tracing.  Finally, each piece of foam is glued on the appropriate place on the transparency.  This is the red stamp for my Santa. My piece of foam was peach colored - the red comes from multiple inkings - during 15+ stampings this Christmas.

Small pieces of plexiglass could also be used, both of these supports allow you to look through the stamp for placement of the next color.  However, the transparencies are so flexible that you can lift up the edge during stamping to make sure you transferred the ink completely.  I put the pieces on the stamp and then cut the transparency, leaving a generous border around the foam.  I'm not very careful and I get ink on the transparency as well when I'm loading the foam with ink on the stamp pad.  Sometimes I get smudging but I try to be careful so I don't transfer some of this unwanted ink.

All of the Stamps for Santa:

Here are all of my stamps to make Santa: a green one for the background, red for his suit, one stamp for black boots and one for mittens, and a very small piece on the lower left for pink for Santa's face.  I could have put the boots and mittens together as one stamp, but I was having trouble cutting the very tiny mittens and thought I might need to recut them.  All of the stamps were photographed with the foam side up.  Here you can see how much of the transparency was left around the foam for each stamp (because I'm messy and have ink in unwanted places!).



Stamping the Image

I start with the background for accurate placement, and then stamp the red coat, black boots, black mittens, and pink face.  Here are each of the stamped images, in order.

Green Background:  Stamped image on the left, stamp on the right.  I used a Staz-on brand ink pad for the green. The inks dry relatively quickly.  After I stamp my "real image," I stamp a second image on waste paper to clean off the stamp.  In this instance, you'll see another Santa appear on newapaper.  Until I took the photo, I had no idea that I was using a Santa related page of the New York Times!




Red Stamp:  I could see through the stamp and placed it carefully within the green image.  A Color-Box stamp pad was used for this color.


Placement of the black boots stamp:  Here you can see the actual stamp, placed to make the black boots.  The stamp was placed over the boot area and the peach color is the adhesive side of the foam seen through the transparency.


Mittens Stamped:  Completed black stamping on left and both stamps, foam side down on the right.  You can also see my "growing" Santa on the newspaper on the right.


Face Stamp:  I didn't have a peach colored ink, so I used a quick coating of the stamp with white and then dark pink.  I experimented to find this - and it worked!  The smudge you see on this stamp was prior messiness on my part - but it didn't affect the subsequent stampings.  The facial details were drawn with a 05 Zig Millenium pen - but I also used 05 pigma micron pens on some of them.



Santa Plus One:  My Santa image on a piece of watercolor paper (right) and my waste image on newspaper (left).


The Finished Gift Tag I made on 12/24.


Please ask any questions in the Comments section of this post.  I can refer hard ones to my mentor Pat.  I haven't used this set of stamps with acrylic paint, but if I did, I would immediately throw them into a bowl of water until I could clean them with warm water and gentle finger pressure to remove the paint.

 Have Fun - and please show us any stamps that you make....

Happy Holidays!  It is time for me to put away my Santa stamps (in a ziplock sandwich baggie) until next year.



December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays and a Wonderfully Creative 2011

I make fabric ornaments for our Christmas Tree every year and I'm now trying to paint all of them to have images I can play with.  This small stocking was made in 1989.



My daughter and I took Sydney to the NY City Ballet version of The Nutcracker this week.  She loves the Mouse King, but I painted him after we went last year.  This year I decided that we really needed a Nutcracker drawing  - and I sketched this one from a little ornament I bought for her.



I still have two more small stocking stuffers to sew today, then tomorrow I'll make the flourless chocolate cake for Christmas Eve dinner here with all of our children and grandchildren.  My husband is making a rib roast, and creamed spinach.  I just need to bake bread and make rice pilaf.  We love Christmas!

December 20, 2010

Multiplying Santas

I made a fun foam Santa stamp from a drawing that I posted earlier - and used it to stamp on the front of a sketchbook.  I then stamped the envelope of a Christmas card and a piece of newspaper to clean the ink from the stamp parts.  


The following day I stamped the front cover of 6 pamphlet stitched sketchbooks for my Grandchildrens' Christmas stockings and stamped 3 more Santas on tracing paper to clean the stamps.


Each of these extra Santas were used to make two journal pages in my sketchbook - a definite case of multiplying Santas....



Happy Holidays to everyone!  And a fabulously successful, art-filled New Year.

December 17, 2010

Sydney's Winter Adventure

Sydney will turn 6 on Monday and her younger brother Callum will turn 4 on Sunday.  Celebrating Hannukah, Birthdays, and Christmas all within a few weeks is too much for them, so I took Sydney for a "Birthday in June" art supply shopping trip the last two years and will see what special presents/adventure Callum will want this summer, instead of now.  This year I also decided that Syd and I needed a special day for her birthday and yesterday I picked her up from school after an early morning dismissal and we headed to midtown to Grand Central Station and Bryant Park - to see their Christmas Villages (crafts booths), watch the ice skaters, photograph the Christmas trees, and take a carousel ride.  Then we headed to Bead World - our real destination - and she picked out 10 special beads for us to put together for a "fob" for her school backpack. 

Her hat wasn't keeping her ears warm so we decided that she needed a pair of earmuffs like I was wearing.  Here she is happily showing off her new pink earmuffs!


And my sketch of her in my visual journal to remember this happy occasion.


Regular readers of my blog will know that I only sketch and paint my grandchildren from the back - this may be a new beginning....  I painted her silver jacket with WN silver gouache which looks great on the page, but doesn't scan as a metallic.

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