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January 12, 2016

I Love to Make Books!

Each year I make a "Remains of the Day" book - instructions by Mary Ann Moss - to keep photos and ephemera of my "Art Adventures" with friends.  I just finished the pages in my 2015 book and made a new book for 2016.  I love making these from my many dyed fabrics, and I refer to them regularly to remember the many gallery and museum visits we make during the year.  I have 5 completed books which were begun shortly after I retired.

This is my now complete 2015 book: 

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Here is a sample page spread, with a photo of Benedicte, Pat, and Me - along with photos from a day visiting galleries in Chelsea.  Some pages have pockets to hold things, other have lift up flaps - anything goes!

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These are photos of my new Remains of the Day book for 2016:

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Lastly, I made a new watercolor sketchbook with dyed fabric bookcloth and a pocket for the sketchbook to hold my pencils, pens, and eraser as I walk around sketching.   

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January 8, 2016

Art Goals for 2016

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My main goal is to develop better drawing and painting skills on paper and with dye-painting and surface design on fabric.  At the beginning of each year, I like to define new projects which will help me progress and then remain open to new opportunities.

 

1.  Take Classes:

Studying Under the Masters 3:  I really enjoy this online class and registered for it during 2015, even though I was saving the content for Winter 2016.   In the weekly videos I learn more about specific artists I know and meet artists I don't know.  And then I stretch my painting skills by copying a painting of the Master and subsequently using those techniques in an original painting!  Since I convert my copies of masterworks from oil to watercolor for each artist studied, I also experiment and learn an enormous amount in the process.  This is the last time this class series will be offered by Jeanne Oliver and the artists for this series include Horace Pippin, Joan Miro, Marie Laurencin, John Singer Sargent, Gustav Klimt, and Alisa Burke.

Sketchbook Skool Semester 5:  I think Danny and Koosje have created a wonderful model for art education and a committed community of artists, new and old.  I'm already registered for Semester 5 which is called "Expressing."  And here's hoping there is a 6th Semester in 2016!

Craftsy:  I just signed up for "Sketching the City in Pen, Ink, and Watercolor" by Shari Blaukopf.    

Battery Park City Conservancy "Still Lifes and Figure Drawing" with Marla Lipkin a new 9 session class being offered this year locally in NYC from Feb. through March (9 sessions).  

Fashion Institute of Technology  (FIT):  Registration for Spring isn't until the end of January, but I intend to continue taking classes there as long as their Senior Learner program is in existence. 

 

2.  Maintain a Community of Artist Friends: 

It is impossible to attend all of the art activities scheduled in New York City, so my goal is to attend a minimum of one activity/week - Meetup, Urban Sketchers, Battery Park City (May-Oct), Society of Illustrators, and to add other museum and gallery visits with my friends into those days.  I will also continue to post new entries to my blog twice each week to continue my interaction with and inspiration from artists online.   

 

3.  Bookbinding:

Continue to make my own sketchbooks - for daily drawings and for travel.

Create a tutorial for my pencil-pen pocket for sketchbooks.

Create another batch of paste paper for my stash.

 

4.  Special Project: I also like to have one separate project each year.  Several winters ago I sketched/elephants for a whole month using every medium I had.  Another year I studied different methods for making books and made a different type of book each month for 8 months.   This year I am trying to figure out how I can use some of the figure drawings I've accumulated during the last 5 years and transform them into an artist book.  I already transferred images to fabric using a different method for each Quilt Journal Page (8.5 X 11") I created.  Last year I made a small book of the Figures I drew in the Toulouse-Lautrec Café Society sessions at MoMA. 

Here are the first 6 of the Quilt Journal Pages I made in 2012 using hand-dyed fabrics.  I transferred drawings I made of a pregnant model at figure drawing in order to create this Mother and Child series in fabric. 

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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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