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December 28, 2015

Reflections on Art in 2015

A Review of Art Experiences and Learning During 2015: A Progress Report

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January 4th is the 10th anniversary of my blog and it is always a good time for reflection and planning.   

Long Term Goals: Develop better drawing and painting skills on paper and with dye-painting and surface design on fabric.

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

Progress:  I no longer do quick sketches every day, but no week passes without me having several good drawing sessions.  It was really important to me to sketch daily when I was beginning this journey as I prepared for retirement from medicine, but the habits were formed and now I can rarely pass a few days without some scribbles, if not a full sketchbook drawing/painting.  My blog posts are important to me, and continue to give structure and meaning to my art adventure and posting twice each week is a great schedule.

 

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

Progress:  I participated in several online classes this year, just enough to be inspired on an almost weekly basis during some months:  Studying Under the Masters 2, Sketchbook Skool Semester 4,  and an assortment of Craftsy Classes.  These included:  Close-up Flowers in Watercolor (Nan Carey), Travel Sketching in Mixed Media and Sketching People in Motion (both Marc Taro Holmes),    I also took a surface design class through Craftsy:  Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist with Malka Dubrawsky.

Each semester, for 14 weeks, I took a class at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and was lucky enough to register for Drawing and Watercolor classes in 2015.  As with the other classes I've taken there on subjects about which I already have some knowledge and experience, I always learn something new.  Our few drawing classes on perspective were excellent and our watercolor classes on different palettes and the use of Chinese White (with watercolor) and Black gesso (with gouache) as grounds were completely new to me.

 

3. Goal:  Continue to draw and paint locally:

Progress:  I belong to two Meetup groups and attend semi-regularly, schedule permitting: "Central Park Drawing and Art" and "Drawing New York."  We have an NYC-Urban Sketchers Weekday Group, and that provides other opportunities for group inspiration and contact.  Battery Park City Conservancy has weekly Nature Painting and Figure Drawing from May through October and I regularly participate in both the morning and afternoon sessions, weather permitting.  This year I attended figure drawing at Society of Illustrators with two visitors, my dear friends Sara from Alabama and Casey from France, and a series of Toulouse-Lautrec Café Society Figure Drawing sessions at MoMA.  And last, but not least, my very special days, spent with my artist friends Benedicte, Pat, and sometime Teri, means that we rarely miss the best museum and gallery shows in the City.  I would feel very isolated without these special 3 friends and would have many fewer good laughs!

One of my favorite projects this year was participation in the 100 Day Challenge by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent.  My goal, especially after taking Sketchbook Skool Semester 4, was to draw more from my imagination.  I didn't upload my daily drawings to Instagram, or follow along with other people's projects, but once I committed to it, I was faithful to the project for all 100 days, and even created my little imaginary character Axel. 

  

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 travel sketchbook for our vacation in Spain from an old book of Spanish Drawings, and a summer travel sketchbook from a recycled book called Colors of the Sea.  All of these are discussed and photographed in daily blog posts in my bookbinding category on the blog. 

July was my big surface design month, during which I spent part of almost every day dying fabric, exploring new techniques, and creating dyed fabric for bookcloth.  In the process I also made dye samples and created a unique sewing pattern for a pencil-pen pocket which goes around my sketchbook cover with Velcro.  It is a wonderful convenience when I am sketching as I walk around museums and galleries.

Even Axel and his friend Alice made an appearance on fabric - using thick dye for the drawing and color.  

This year I also planned to make another batch of paste paper to use for covering bookboards and/or as endpapers, but I didn't deplete as much of my stash as I thought I might.

 

I'd love to read what others are planning.... 

 

 

 

August 13, 2015

Bookbinding in August

We are planning a Fall trip to Spain, and I like to repurpose/recycle an old book with a theme for our vacations.  I found an old $2.00 book on an outdoor cart at The Strand in New York City - named Spanish Drawings.  I carefully cut the stitches to separate the old signatures and folios and selected two of them for my end papers.  I also included the original title page for the first page in my book.  The rest of the pages are Fabriano Artistico 140 lb Soft Press Watercolor Paper.  I created a 4 part tutorial for a book of this kind before a trip to Italy in 2012 and here is the link:

 
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I also made a new daily watercolor sketchbook using the same paper and one of my newly dyed pieces of fabric as the bookcloth.   
 
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I love the pencil/pen/eraser pocket I made for my last daily sketchbook, so I used some of my dyed fabric samples to make one to go with a purple and blue book. 
 
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It is very convenient to have these tools readily available when I'm carrying around my sketchbook and eventually will have a multitude of colored pockets to match them. 

July 31, 2015

From Dye Painting Silk to Watercolor to Dye Painting Axel on Cotton

I started to dye fabric for quilting in the 1990s, and my big projects were the dye painted, quilted, 6 foot square chuppahs that I made for our 3 children's weddings.  We live in a Manhattan apartment and it took me quite awhile to figure out how to develop a surface design studio without a dedicated space.  I loved mixing the primary color dyes to match the color requests from the brides, and definitely loved painting and shading the silk.  While making the chuppahs in 1999, 2oo3, and 2005, my interest in watercolor painting on paper began and I love moving back and forth from paper to fabric. 

Here are the 3 chuppahs:

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I couldn't find watercolor sketchbooks that I liked and began to make my own, initially with traditional bookcloth, and then with fabric that I dyed.  These are the earliest ones I made. 

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And this shows the progression up to early in 2015. 

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I even make an annual Remains of the Day book, inspired by Mary Ann Moss, using scraps of my fabrics.  Here is the one for 2015. 

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I also just started making pockets for my pencil, eraser, and pen that I can attach to my current sketchbook and it was made with scraps. 

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We traveled most of June, so I decided that July was going to be a "surface design" month to dye fabric to replenish my stash.   My studio is very small, and not appropriate for wet projects.  Here is a photo of the 6 X 9' space while I was pulling out lots of surface design supplies.  You can see a color wheel made from mixing the primary color dyes on the back wall.

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Today is my final day of dying fabric, except for washing out 8 more bookcloth pieces tomorrow morning.  And this is my stash for the month.  I completed 20 samples on which I worked out specific techniques, and made 32 pieces that can be used for bookcloth, bookcovers, pen pockets etc.

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My favorite project of the month was my dye painted images of my imaginary friends Axel and Alice.  If you follow this blog, you may remember that Axel was born from my imagination during a 100 day project, and in conjunction with a homework assignment from Sketchbook Skool Semester 4.  My grandson Zach is my co-creator and he recently decided that Axel and Alice came from the moon and have heads of that shape because they were born during a crescent moon.  I decided that Martians are green and Moon people must be blue.  I loved creating these two 12 X 6" fabric paintings of them during one of my sessions. 

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May 20, 2015

Bookbinding - Making a Watercolor Sketchbook

I started to make my own watercolor sketchbooks by first learning how to repurpose $1-2 "soon to be discarded" books.  The original page block can be removed and a new watercolor page block inserted into books that are the size, and even perhaps a theme that you like. 

In 2008 I posted a tutorial of one of my first repurposed books.  In 2012 I posted a 4 part tutorial which is more detailed, and photographed each step as I repurposed a book called Italian Dreams for a 2012 vacation in Venice.  I recommend using the 2nd tutorial if you want to learn how to make these watercolor sketchbooks.

http://www.paperandthreads.com/2012/02/watercolor_sketchbook_tutorial.php

 

Each year I repurpose a themed book for our summer beach visits and for our vacation.  I found an 8 X 8" book for $2 on the carts outside The Strand bookstore in Manhattan.  It has a 1/2" spine and I can fit 3 signatures, each with two watercolor paper folios and one folio from the original book.  I can paint on both sides of each page, so I will have 24 watercolor pages to use and several text pages from the original folios to collage over. 

 

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I cut out the original page block  and carefully cut the binding threads so I could remove some of the original pages to use as endpapers and to mix with my 140 lb watercolor folios.   

These are the front and back endpapers, which hold the new watercolor page block in the cover. 

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This is an original folio that I nested inside one of the signatures. 

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I also found a similar size book called Spanish Paintings for $2, and will make it into watercolor sketchbook for a Fall vacation in Spain. 

Please leave a comment if you have any questions. 

 

January 16, 2015

Documenting Art Adventures-Remains of the Day

I took Mary Ann Moss' Remains of the Day online class in late 2010 and decided to use the book as a "scrapbook" for my Art Adventures with friends in New York City.  This is one of my archivist tendencies that I love - and fear!  Since then, this is what happened.

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My new book for 2015 was just completed and here is the book - still skinny.  I have many fabric scraps that  I dyed while working out surface design methods.  I chose a red and gold piece of fabric and then pulled all scraps that coordinated with it to make this cover.  I finished the cover on Tuesday and Wednesday night selected a variety of folios for the pages.  There are two signatures, each with 12 folios that are bound through the spine using a 5 hole pamphlet stitch.  All of the topstitching on the cover was done with YLI Kaleidoscope metallic thread.

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I add photos, drawings/paintings, business cards, art exhibit press releases, etc to the books, anything that documents how I spend my days with friends on art adventures.  This is the book from 2014 - stuffed full of ephemera.

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Here are a few pages - with flaps and pockets to hold everything I want to save and document. 

The pocket contains some photos from the day on the Lower East Side, including the Tenement Museum.  Gwen Diehn, the cold person in the middle, was visiting us from NC.

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Our group went to Christie's Auction Previews for Modern Asian Art week:

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A Field Trip to the Katonah Museum of Art to see the Jasper Johns/John Lund exhibit and this was my composite painting of many of Jasper Johns repeated symbols.

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Opening Day of the Matisse Studio at MoMA.  I think you can tell that we are happy to be there.

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A rainy day in Chelsea seeing the amazing Picasso exhibits at Pace and Gagosian,  Benedicte is on the left and Pat on the right.  Teri, who is still working joins us when she can. 

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I am very fortunate to have art friends who love coming into the City from the burbs so we can both see wonderful art and make some art ourselves.  Yesterday Pat and I sketched at Criminal Court (in  Arraignments) with the NYC Urban Sketchers, then met Benedicte and Judy for Toulouse-Lautrec Figure Drawing at MoMA, followed by a bus ride downtown to see 2 exhibits at the NYU Grey Art Gallery and finally our annual dinner, including Teri who worked all day yesterday, to celebrate another year of our friendships. 

 

 

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