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December 30, 2016

Another Day, Another Grand Daughter for Sewing Lessons

I bought quilted placemats for my young children in 1981 in Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco, and then designed and made more using the same concept.  Each placemat has an animal head, paws or legs and tail, and the originals were a lion, a dog, and a monkey.   My addition was a rabbit, bear, cat, raccoon, and dragon.  Our family used and washed those placemats almost daily for years.  I brought the 8 of them with us to NYC in 1993, as patterns and prototypes to make more, but my grandchildren saw the originals and loved using them for all of their meals here with us.  Since then I've helped them make specific animals for themselves and many more animals have been made.  It is great to set the table using their own specific "animal" and then seeing them find and sit in their place immediately when called to eat.  On Christmas Eve, all 8 had their own placemat and seat!

Here is my oldest grand daughter Sydney during early sewing lessons when she made two - one for herself and one for her brother.  This was the beginning of the new NYC animal placemats.


Annabelle, my younger grand daughter lives in DC and she has another animal placemat made by Sydney, that she uses when she is here.  But she is staying with us this week and finally had more sewing lessons and made an animal of her choice. She is 8 and is getting more and more comfortable using my machine with my help.




She wanted to make a leopard, and found me a great photo online to make the pattern.  But we never figured out how to make the spots, and she decided that her animal looked more like a lioness anyway.


Very proud!  She also put together a 9-patch for her brother and we made it into a quiltlet for his animals.


December 27, 2016

Art Progress for 2016


January 4th is the 11th anniversary of my blog and during December I love reflecting on my progress with drawing, painting, and dying fabric in the previous year. This is really my note to myself for inspiration. It may be too long for anyone else to read!

Long Term Goals: When I retired from Medicine I decided that I wanted to add another passion to my lifelong passions of sewing and quilting. I discovered a book called Decorated Page and a magazine called Sketchbook Artist (now discontinued) and was immediately attracted to Sketchbook Art based on drawing and watercolor painting. My primary long term goal remains: To develop better drawing and painting skills on paper and with dye-painting and surface design on fabric.

1. Goal: To sketch and paint every week, and to blog twice each week. These activities give my retirement life some structure and provide enormous inspiration to me within an artist community.

Progress: I no longer do quick sketches every day. In the last few years I concentrated on two goals. These two goals give structure to my retirement life and I’ve developed a terrific group of fellow artists that I see regularly.

To schedule at least one art adventure per week - this year I had at least 1, usually 2, and even 4 during each week!

To blog two times each week.

Art Adventures: in galleries, museums, art classes, Urban Sketchers NYC, and Meetup with Drawing Central Park and Art group: I filled 3 watercolor sketchbooks that I made for use in my daily life (~150 pages), a summer sketchbook for our visits to the beach in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard, and a recycled book as a sketchbook for Barcelona in October. I also added ink drawings with watercolor in an accordion watercolor sketchbook for "Urban Sketchers NYC" days, almost 40 imaginary drawings in ink, and 10 pages of "hand" drawings in colored pencil. Non-sketchbook art included figure drawings at Society of Illustrators and Battery Park City Figure Al Fresco and my 6 paintings in two semesters of acrylic painting at Fashion Institute of Technology.

Blog Posts: Maintaining my blog is a powerful incentive to keep art a major part of my life. This year I missed only 2 posts - each when away on vacation.

2. Goal: Take more classes online and in person to remain inspired:

Progress: My most fun online classes this year were Sketchbook Skool Semesters 5 and 6. I didn’t take Semester 1 when Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene first developed Sketchbook Skool. But I was eager to meet the artists in Semester 2 and took every semester since then. The artist videos are inspirational and the homework assignments are so varied that I learn something every single time! I also took Liz Steel’s "Buildings" online course and "Sketching the City in Pen, Ink, and Watercolor" by Shari Blaukopf on Craftsy.  But I didn't get the homework done yet!  These assignments will make great projects when the weather warms up and I can go outside to draw.

Each semester, for 14 weeks, I took a class at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and this year I took Abstract and Still Life/Figure painting, one each semester. It was my first introduction to acrylic painting and learning something new is always challenging and liberating. Battery Park City also offered a Winter extension of the May-Oct outdoor Figure Al Fresco weekly session during February and March, and it was a wonderful weekly event to get me moving during the cold weather.

3. Goal: Continue to draw and paint locally:

Progress: In addition to the Urban Sketchers and Art Meetup Group mentioned above, I love the ad hoc days I spend with my artist friends Benedicte, Pat, with occasional visits from Teri and Eunice. These days are planned for us to see the new gallery and museum exhibits, in addition to Christies and Sothebys preview days for their big auctions. We look at the whole exhibit, and each of us selects one piece to draw - for the challenge of copying a master. I would feel very isolated without these special friends and would have many fewer good laughs!

My favorite local art "experience" this year was at MoMA - in monotype sessions in association with the huge Degas monotype exhibit. They set up a printing shop on the second floor and the first 20-25 people on line could make and print their own monotypes. I went to 3 of the sessions and loved every minute of it, but this was a way to expand my knowledge and not create a new goal in art.

4. Goal: Make watercolor sketchbooks, for daily drawing and painting and travel:

Progress: I made cased-in watercolor books for my daily sketchbooks, accordion journals for our outdoor Urban Sketchers sessions, a new Remains of the Day book, and recycled travel sketchbooks for our vacation in Barcelona and summer beach vacations. All of these are discussed and photographed in daily blog posts in my bookbinding category on the blog. http://www.paperandthreads.com/bookbinding/

A 4-part tutorial on my blog on How to Make a Recycled Book with watercolor paper, was used as a basis for two full day sessions with friends from Urban Sketching to teach them how to make one.


When I reach this point in my review, I'm always so happy that Sketchbook Art became my goal for retirement.   It keeps me happy and busy!


December 23, 2016

Sydney Makes Two Mermaids

My grand daughter Sydney sewed with me this week.  She slowly learned how to use my sewing machine over the last few years, and when she has time we do a project together.  On Monday we made two Mermaid dolls and she was thrilled.  We split the activities, but she is quite amazing with her skills on the sewing machine, and does more of the construction each time.  When we finished the first one, she said, "we have two more hours, let's make another." 


Marking the fabric in my 6 X 9' studio - our happy place:



At the sewing machine: 



Both Mermaids when done:


A happy girl - one day before her 12th birthday. 


Happy Holidays from our family to yours!  And May 2017 be a wonderful year! 


December 20, 2016

Acrylic Painting at Fashion Institute of Technology

My acrylic painting class at FIT ended last night, and I did 3 paintings during the Fall semester.   I posted my "still life" painting in October -   http://www.paperandthreads.com/2016/10/an_acrylic_still_life.php

Our second painting was a figure drawing of a partially nude model.  I wasn't happy with this painting, and haven't posted it here before. 


Our third painting was from our imagination and this was more enjoyable.  During the summer I spend a lot of time in Lower Manhattan, from the 9/11 Memorial region south to Battery Park with the Seaglass Carousel, Pier A, and Wagner Park and South Cove in Battery Park City.  As I looked through my photos from this summer, I decided to use this photo as a base for my composition, and then to add my prior paintings of Pier A, the Nautilus-shaped Seaglass Carousel, and the many flowers blooming weekly in Wagner Park.  This is the Freedom Tower (WTC1) and the office building on Greenwich Street.



I wanted the painting to be a wonky collage of the elements from my summer experience, and this was the result. 


Acrylic paint will never replace watercolor in my heart - and for most of the paintings that I do.  But after two semesters using acrylic paint, I have gained enough experience that I can play with it again. 

December 16, 2016

Central Park Sketching and Art Meetup Group

I haven't been at the Monthly Meetup groups since summer and miss it.  This Saturday my NYC Grandchildren weren't arriving for an overnight until 2:30, so I had time to join the group for 2 hours at the Time Warner Center to enjoy the Holiday Decorations and do some sketching. 

The main Atrium, overlooking Columbus Circle, has beautiful hanging stars that change colors constantly.  Here are two photos that I took.




I decided to analyze their shapes and draw them, and then added the cityscape very loosely.




In the remaining session I sketched a window display from J. Crew Men just because I liked the Christmas tree in earmuffs, gloves, and slippers. 


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