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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.... 

 

 

 

December 1, 2015

A Pathway From One Creative Idea to Another

Fabio Consoli, one of the faculty from the Sketchbook Skoolhouse Stretching online class, wanted us to explore "child's play," combining a child's drawing with ours.  My grandson Zach made the figure on the right and I completed the picture with figures from my own imagination.  Here is the original blog post about this homework assignment.

http://www.paperandthreads.com/2015/05/sketchbook_skool_homework_for.php 

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I was doing a 100 day challenge at the same time - drawing from my imagination - and eventually Axel (the figure on the left) was featured in many of my drawings, and he even acquired a girl friend.  I asked Zach to help me create a back story and he said that Axel and Alice were from the moon and their head shapes were determined by the phase of the moon at their birth.  They were playing in Axel's Mother's space ship and accidently started it.  They are very confused by Earth.

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I sketched Axel and Alice many times over the next months, eventually leading me to "draw" Axel on Fabric. 

During July I spent part of every day dying fabric and one of my projects was to create Axel and Alice on fabric by drawing and painting the fabric with Procion MX dyes. 

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I make many Christmas ornaments for family and friends, an annual project since my own 3 children were born more than 40 years ago.  Now I'm making Axel ornaments for our 8 grandchildren + one for our tree.

I scanned the dye painting of Axel and resized him (6 inches long) in Photoshop.  The JPEG was transferred to a piece of fabric on a plastic support (EQ Printed Treasure Premium Cotton Satin) and 9 copies were made using an Epson Artisan 50 Photo Ink Jet Printer.

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Each Axel was then sewn to a backing and lightly stuffed to hang on our family Christmas trees.  Here is a finished ornament. 

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And here are all 9 that I made - for 8 grandchildren + our tree. 

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May 18, 2015

Sketchbook Skool Homework for Fabio Consoli

Fabio Consoli, our 3rd teacher for Sketchbook Skool Semester 4, wanted us to enjoy "Child's Play" by sharing a page in our sketchbook with a child, allowing them to make a drawing which we would then use as inspiration to extend and complete the composition.  My 5 year old Grandson Zach did two drawings with markers in my sketchbook, but filled up the complete page, and I wasn't sure how I was going to extend the images and story.

The next day he only had time to do a pen drawing on an index card while we were at lunch, and I chose to use that image as a collage and to allow it to inspire my painting on a page in my sketchbook.  I'm currently trying to improve my drawings from my imagination, so this was a double challenge for me.  Zach's drawing is the blue man on the right. 

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I decided that I liked my drawing of the green man and wanted to introduce his girlfriend.  So I sketched them both in pen for my 100day Drawing From Imagination project. 

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Here are Zach's first two drawings - done with Tombow markers on a full sketchbook page - The Monster Man and Secret Grouch:

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April 24, 2015

Collage from Imaginary Drawiings

For my homework for Jonathan Twingley in Sketchbook Skool 4th semester, I did many pages of imaginary drawings and then selected a few, cut them out, and made a collage.  The background was created with paste paper that was leftover from my bookbinding projects. 

I loved this week, both the ink blots to make into imaginary drawings, and the pages of imaginary drawings that I did each night for the collage.  Thank you Jonathan Twingley for "Stretching" me.

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April 21, 2015

Searching for Imagination

I didn't realize that my 100 day project, in which I would make one sketch from my imagination each day, would suddenly explode. Last Friday Sketchbook Skool Semester 4 began with Artist Illustrator Jonathan Twingley.  And his work, and his homework assignments, are all about challenging your imagination.  Assignment #1 is to make ink blots and use them as the basis of art.  My first ink blot was large and the only thing I saw in the shape was a bear head, hanging on a hunting lodge wall.

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Assignment #2 is to draw from your imagination every day for 6 days, and on day 7, to select some of the images and make a collage page.  I filled 11 pages in the first 4 days and was surprised at the sketches that came only from my imagination.  My only observation, is how dependent these sketches are on my decades of drawing my world from observation. 

This sketch started with a table and then I started to see it as a desk, and eventually a comfy library.  But suddenly I realized that I finally had a setting for a metadrawing, a homework assignment of Mattias Adolfsson's  in Sketchbook Skool Semester 3.  And I sketched a pig, lying comfortably on the floor, making a drawing.  I had to look up the concept of metadrawings, which are drawings about drawing.  Mattias also called this type of drawing "enhanced reality." 

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Another one of these pages captured a sailor, an artist, and a chef.  I have no idea where this character developed, but I hope to use him in other drawings. 

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I'm also still sketching from my imagination daily for 100 days as part of the 100Day Project and just completed 16 days.  Here are two of the more recent sketches.  

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I'm so interested to see where this "drawing from imagination" takes me.  I am still drawing from direct observation which I love, but I'm also having fun stretching my imagination with Sketchbook Skool Semester 4.   

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