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August 4, 2015

Weekend Coffee in Central Park

We live within walking distance of the Conservatory Water in Central Park, and this is one of a series of photos I took this summer on mornings when we go for coffee and watch the activity of the toy boats in the pond.  This is Le Pain Quotidien café - the source of our coffee and my croissant.  Most people stop to buy food and continue on their walk, so slowly sipping coffee like we do is not a problem.  Children rent remote-controlled sailboats for the pond ($11 for 30 minutes).  The "big boys" bring their own toys and the handcrafted beauty in the photo below plays Dvorak's New World Symphony as it sails!

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I frequently draw/paint while we are there and here are 3 recent sketchbook pages.

Dogs can be off their leash until 9AM.  New York City dogs are very well behaved, as anyone knows who watches many dog walkers with 6 -8 big dogs on a leash.  They don't bark or nip each other, and I love watching a group of them sitting patiently watching an apartment entrance waiting for their "friend" to come out to join them.  One of the big dogs took a nap at my feet, and I sketched him in two positions before his owner woke him to go home.  

 

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This weekend I sketched a Mother and child on Saturday, and another contemplative young woman on Sunday.

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There are still lots of flowers in bloom, but there were lots of bees buzzing around, so I just looked from a distance and didn't try to draw them. 

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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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July 24, 2015

Warhol Blotted Line Prints

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a current exhibit of Warhol prints, including all 32 varieties of Campbell Soup Cans.  I don't care for his pop art product illustrations, or his many screen prints from celebrity photos, but I was really intrigued with his figure drawings, portraits, and a wall of shoes using his "blotted line technique."  It wasn't well described in the exhibit, so this week Benedicte and I went to one of the drop-in MoMA Art Classes associated with the Warhol exhibit, and made "blotted line drawings."

Here is Andy Warhol with the type of prints that I loved - this image is from ContemporaryCalgary.com in an art education article.  

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This is the link to the MoMA exhibit and several of his blotted drawings.

http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1572 

 

At MoMA there is one full wall of the Warhol shoe illustration ads for I. Miller.  His weekly shoe illustrations in the New York Times revitalized I. Miller converting it from a dowdy shoe company to the shoe brand for debutantes.  This photo is from images on the internet, selected because it shows the blotted lines very well, and the power of this technique to allow him to create multiple prints from the same drawing.

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For this technique you need non-absorbable tracing paper, a sheet of absorbable paper, and a pen that writes "juicy" ink lines.  The tracing paper can be used to trace the desired image, or make an original drawing.  Then it is hinged along the edge of the absorbable paper, making a little booklet.   The back side of the drawing on the tracing paper is then outlined with ink, making very short segments of lines, and immediately flipping it over to print on the paper.  This process is repeated until the drawing is completed.  In the video at the end of the link below, you see how an image can be repeated over and over using the same tracing paper with new absorbable paper. 

At MoMA they supplied us with a sheet of deli paper, taped to card stock, and an inexpensive disposable fountain pen.  We also had Warhol-type props, including a Coke bottle, martini glass with cherry, Campbell soup cans, and a woman's dress shoe.  Here are two of my prints.

 

The Props for my first print: 

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A photo of a Jim Dine sculpture from my phone - taken an hour before at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Auction preview: 

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By the time I reached my 5th print, I decided to draw Axel sipping champagne.  When I came home I added yellow watercolor to the champagne and discovered that we were using soluble ink pens at MoMA.  But I wanted to show Axel because I wrote "yum" on the top side of the tracing paper, flipped it over and traced the line with the pen in short segments, and then printed the word on the paper -  a 3 step method for having letters appear correctly!  

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Here is an excellent tutorial followed by a 6 minute video demonstrating the technique and two shoe prints made from the same image and then painted, one with gold leaf applied at the end. 

http://www.warhol.org/education/resourceslessons/Blotted-Line/ 

 

July 20, 2015

This Week in New York

This month I am dying more fabric to use as bookcloth for my handmade watercolor sketchbooks, so there are less sketchbook pages being completed.  I began my week at a Barnes and Noble Readathon for To Kill a Mockingbird.  I recently reread the book and was happy to be one of the readers for a 12 hour readathon in the bookstore café.  I was there in time to listen to 4 readers and then read Chapter 10.  I love books, and love bookstores, so I was happy to fill in the lunchtime void in volunteers.

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I ended the week with a Sunday morning visit to the Toy Boat Pond for coffee with my husband.  It was a very hot, humid day so we arrived early and left early.  While there, I sketched the lady at the next table and one of the beautiful flowers surrounding the café patio.

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This is a photo I took over one of the flower gardens and when I looked at the photo later, was thrilled to see the children and the sailboat at the edge of the pond.

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July 17, 2015

NYC Urban Sketchers and the End of 100 Day Project

The New York City Urban Sketchers met this week on the plaza in front of the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue.  The overall plan was to sketch the Truth and Beauty sculptures and/or the Lions Patience and Fortitude.  It was a gorgeous day and I sat on one of the park chairs and sketched Truth, followed by a drawing of the man sitting all afternoon at a small table in front of me.  He said he is Garrett Buhl Robinson, an author who is selling his published books and passing out information about a musical that he wrote that will open in the Fall. 

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Our weekday NYC Urban Sketchers Group.  Raylie (on the left) and 3 others from the NYC Group are headed off this week to Singapore for the annual Worldwide Urban Sketchers Symposium. 

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100 Day Project:  Drawings From My Imagination 

July 14th was the last day of the 100 Day Project Challenge, and I celebrated with a final drawing of Alex and Alice.  The caption says "Can I take Alice and go home for a visit?"  I asked my 5 year old Grandson Zach for a backstory when he was here this past weekend.  Axel and Alice are from the Moon, and their heads are shaped like that because they were both born during a crescent Moon.  He says they were playing in Axel's Mother's spaceship and accidentally started it! 

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