Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Skunk Alert!

We don't usually get skunks in the daylight.

This time of year, though, all sorts of
pregnant and nursing mamas come for food at all hours.
Daylight, dark, they don't care--they're hungry!

Here's a close-up.  
Click on that photo to check out her chewing.
Talk about a plume of a tail!

Lucky Dog

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Scripture

I Corinthians 2 verse 9 

No one has seen or heard or even imagined all the amazing things that God has prepared for those who love Him.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

White on Black

Today I played in the studio with white writing on black paper.

I don’t think I would be alone in thinking that writing with white gouache on black paper is a bit tricky.  It may even one of the most difficult things to try, for a calligrapher using a broad-edged pen.

But I was up for a challenge today.  J  Oh, not that I haven’t written in white before, but I just don’t feel as confident with it as I want to.  So I decided to get out a piece of black paper and Just Do It until it was easier for me.  (Notice that I did not say Easy.  Haha)

I used Winsor Newton Bleedproof White, diluted with some distilled water.  And I added some glair that I made this week.  Just a few drops, by the way.  You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.   J!

Glair is made, not purchased.  You beat egg whites until they won’t fall out if the bowl is turned over.  Then you let that bowl sit out overnight, and the liquid that has collected at the bottom of the bowl is glair.  (The rest of the foamy stuff you just rinse down the drain.)  I put the glair into a little jar and put it into the refrigerator, but first I put some into a pipette to take up to the studio.

The next day

Pouring out the accumulated liquid

Finished Glair

You add glair to gouache to make your writing crisper.  It also serves as an additional binder. This is particularly important when writing in a book, ensuring that the gouache does not transfer to any other pages.

As for some technical stuff:  I ruled lines with a General’s white charcoal pencil on some black charcoal paper.  These are easily erased later with a Factis black eraser.  (It’s the best eraser I’ve found for black paper.  Erasing on black paper can leave marks and damage, if you’re not careful.)

And I experimented with dipping my pen in distilled water and then in my white gouache or vice versa.  And I wiped my pen nib fairly often.  You just have to experiment and see what works.  

I actually prefer to have a too-dry pen and have to touch up, than have the pen flood the stroke with too much paint.  And by touching up, I mean pressing just a bit more paint out of the nib onto a not-dry-yet stroke, thereby adding more color.

I really liked the way I got a not perfectly flat and opaque white.  I know, I know.  I’m a rebel, I guess, because I know the goal “should” be a perfectly flat opaque look for gouache.  I guess I have to admit here that I have never been a fan of that look.  It’s so harsh.  Not that I like an insipid, weak look, either.  I guess it’s another one of those Goldilocks things:  this is too weak, this is too strong, but this one is just right.  J

I also played with alternating Pen Caps with Gothicized/Pointed Italic.  It just seemed like a fun variation to try for my easily-bored eyes.  After 30+ years of calligraphy, apparently I am only content with Perfection, which I can’t do, or Variety, which I can do.  Haha

And when you take photos for a blog, you can change things out and have another version just like that.  J

Lucky Dog 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quote o' the Day

“You will never change what you tolerate.” 
-- Joel Osteen

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tornadoes, Hail, Damaging Winds

Storms rolled through the area tonight, but that’s putting it mildly.

I came down from the studio early this afternoon because I wanted to be “weather-aware” and have the TV on. 

You see, last night the weather guys had mentioned that today’s weather could be really bad.  I believe the phrase they used was, “a major violent tornado outbreak”.   (yikes)

But the storms went north of us, south of us, east and west of us, and we only had one limb come down.  Whew, and thank the good Lord above.

The creek behind us was a-flowin', and after the storms passed, the sun came out again and the squirrels came down for dinner, and all was right with the world again.

But our neighbor’s tree cracked in two, making Mr. Man wonder if we didn’t have a little micro-burst.

Usually, we have storms and don’t have to take any action.  I think in over 10 years, Mr. Man and I have had to go into our storm closet only 2 times. 

But today the weathermen were serious, and told us:  get your storm closet ready, and be ready to run in because these are fast-moving storms, and you won’t have much time, so you’ll have to act quickly… 

So I got ready.  And ya know, it’s funny the things you grab.  Because I want to grab it all.

Oh, I got the cats in the carrier, and the dog’s leash out.  (Actually, the female cat ran under the bed and I couldn’t get her out, but Mr. Man did.  I swear, she’s gonna blow away one of these days!)  I also got out my laptop and Rx pills. 

Had there been a storm aimed right at us for real, I would’ve grabbed a few sentimental objects.  But where do you stop?  It’s hard.  I love all my pretty things, and I want to take them all.  Sigh.

Anyway, I spent the time before the storms watching the weather coverage, waiting for Mr. Man to get home, making glair and doing lots of laundry.  I thought, if the tornado gets us, these clothes will be flying off in the wind, but if it spares us, I’ll at least have gotten the laundry done.  J

And we were spared.  But so many weren’t.  4 are confirmed dead at the time of this writing, and the TV is showing us video of the damage throughout the area.

Surely, one hopes, this is the last of it for this storm season.

Lucky Dog  ♥

For more, go to www.koco.com

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bayles and Orland quote

This quote is from Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland,
subtitled, Observations on the Perils (and Rewards)
of Artmaking.

Someday I'll have to write a blog post about it.
It's one of my very most favorites.  ♥

Lucky Dog

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Scripture

Luke 12 verse 31

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,
 and He will give you everything you need.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nothing to Lose

This week I very carefully set aside all of Thursday and Friday for Studio Time.  Finally, hours and hours just to play and create.  Yay!

I’ve had a lot on my plate lately, appointments and get togethers and painting walls, and hadn’t had long enough stretches in the studio.  Or so it felt.

So yesterday, I went upstairs, sat behind my drafting table, expectant and happy, and… nothing.  Nothing came to me, and nothing happened.

What?  Sheesh…!!

When I get like this, I usually tidy up, so I did.  And sure enough, there was chaos bothering me that I didn’t even know was bothering me:  papers piled up, piles that I didn’t know what they were.  You know, the usual.  J

But I felt good about getting the place orderly, and eventually left and went back into the house and got a lot done there, too.  It was a good productive day, just not the way I had envisioned it.

But now, surely, I was ready for Friday.

So, up to the studio I went again today, ready for hours of fun...  But still, nothing.  No muse showed up.  No juices started flowing.  Nothing.

It was as if the muse (or however you want to think about Inspiration) could not be “scheduled”.

Okay, I can take a hint, so I did other stuff until late in the afternoon, but I’ll admit I was a little disappointed.  Two full days in the studio and nothing to show for it!

Then, with not so much time left in the day at all, I found a scrap of a pastel that was trimmed off and leftover.  So, with nothing to lose, I played around with it -- toying with this and trying that, and had a really wonderful time and ended up with a finished piece.

I should’ve known.

It’s not like I haven’t read Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch, with the story of the flute player, playing his best at the end of his life because “he realized that he had nothing to gain and nothing to lose”.

It is then when you are free.

Gosh, that’s hard when I just want to create something someone else will like, or frankly, something that I would like.  Or when I feel like all my peers are on my shoulders, looking on.  Oy.

I naturally tend to care so much, because I want my little creation to be wonderful…  But I guess sometimes you sort of have to care and not care at the same time to be able to take risks.

It helps for me to do little experiments that do not matter unless they happen to work out.

It also helps me to paint a ton of things, and hope that, statistically, I will love one of them.

Because the muse, apparently, will not show up on schedule.  J

Well, that’s why you ride the wave when it does happen, and go with the flow when it’s a-flowing!

Besides… the world’s ending tomorrow, right? 
So it doesn’t matter anyway.  Hahaha

TGIF, everybody!!

Lucky Dog  ♥

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Favorite Photo

I haven’t posted many animal photos in awhile… 
And here is one of my favorite photos of our sweet male cat:

Like most cats, he loves yarn.  And here he is, with the beginning stages of a sock being knitted.  It looks almost like a game of Pick-up Sticks, but it’s just double-pointed knitting needles and sock yarn.

He has way too much fun with my yarn, so I have to hide my projects.  Nope, no unattended yarn, unless I want to risk a vet emergency.

Been there, done that, got the vet bill.  J 

Lucky Dog 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quote o' the Day

“Everyone is a lot of people to design for.” 

-- Joshua Rose

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rare Find

I sold my Oscar Magnusson vintage penholder the other day.

For those of you who aren’t Pointed Pen People...  J  This is a rare turn-of-the-previous-century penholder that I bought on eBay several years ago.

I was very lucky to stumble across one at all.  And it did cost me a pretty penny, but my teacher at the time told me how rare and wonderful they were, so of course I thought I had to have it.  I’ve always believed in having the best tools for the job, if at all possible.

But I haven’t been able to do much Spencerian these days, mainly because of my back issues… and I thought what a waste it was that I owned this antique treasure.

Then, the other day someone on FaceBook asked about penholders and asked who had what, and I ended up finding someone who wanted to buy my penholder from me.

And ya know what?  He is thrilled to add it to his collection and has already posted some really beautiful lettering that he did with it.  (see above)

And I am thrilled to have sold it to someone who appreciates it and could give it a good home. 

But you know what?  I am also relieved.

I’m relieved because now I won’t have to worry that it'll sell for 25¢ in some estate sale after I’m dead and gone.  Hahaha  J

Lucky Dog  ♥

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Scripture

Psalm 119 verse 77 

Surround me with Your tender mercies so I may live,
for Your instructions are my delight.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Signs of a Bad Day

While I don’t “imbibe”, there sure are days I feel like this!    J

TGIF, everybody!

Lucky Dog

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Watercolor Book

This is the book on watercolors that I mentioned the other day.  It’s called “Basic Watercolor Answer Book”, by Catherine Anderson.

It’s a really nice book on watercolors, and her work, in particular, is just beautiful.

But I got it off the shelf today, and re-read it, and she said it so much better than I remembered:

“God knows how much time I took to respond, but the question that came to me was, ‘What is art all about anyway?’  I realized, at that moment, that there really are no rules.  Critiquing Mary’s work would have stopped the creative process of expressing what she wanted to express.  Who am I to tell anyone what or how she should express anything?  It was her painting, and I handed it back to her.  ‘Mary, put the whale in!’”

How wise of her to give her permission to do whatever.  If she had criticized her or spoken harshly, Mary may never have painted again.

And more than likely, Mary painted her whale and went on to paint lions or seascapes or who knows what.  As artists, we don’t stay the same, and neither does our art.  We grow and change over the years and become interested in other things, but the important thing is to not stop. 

Paint the whale now and in 5 years you’ll probably be painting in a completely different place.  No harm, no foul.  But at least you’ll still be painting and creating art with your own voice, even if you’ve decided to specialize in whale paintings.  J

That reminds me of the funny quote:
“You’re unique, just like everyone else.”

And so is an artist’s art. Or it should be.  If your art should be anything, it should at least be yours.

The challenge, of course, is to find your own voice, and to do that, you may have to go through a whale stage.  One thing leads to another and another and another.  You can’t foresee what’s out there.  For all we know, Mary may have become a fabulous wildlife painter.  J

I do know you definitely have to go through A-Y to get to Z.  It takes a certain amount of courage and determination to do that, but that’s what the life of an artist is all about.

Boy, that’s easier said than done!  J

To authentic expression…

Lucky Dog 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quote o' the Day

"It is technically not proper to think of sin [evil] as something that was created.  Sin is simply a lack of moral perfection in a fallen creature."

-- John MacArthur

Monday, May 9, 2011

With Glitter

I have a watercolor book in my art library that has a funny story in it.  And it becomes a recurring theme throughout its pages.

You see, the author had a student who had painted a piece of a pond, I think, and the teacher thought it was nicely finished. 

The student, however, wanted to put a whale in the middle of the pond, and asked her advice.

The teacher seemed truly horrified, searched all her memory banks for how possibly to respond, and finally -- realizing that the artist has to follow their heart/gut/instinct -- said, “Put the whale in, Mary.  Put the whale in.”

It’s a good lesson for those of us who resist our “whales”,
and a good lesson for teachers to give the student permission
to be free.

But what brought this particular story to mind the other day was my overriding compulsion to add glitter to one of my recent pieces.

I know, glitter.
Like I don’t get enough flack about that.  J 

(I truly love glittery touches.  Not the excessive, gloppy use of it, mind you, just a little here and there.)

And I found myself torn and yet thinking, “Put the glitter on, Donna.  Put the glitter on.”

And I did.  And I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I tell you… It really looks so beautiful with that sparkle.  It’s delicate.  It’s subtle.  And it twinkles as you walk past it.

How does it get better than that??  ♥

So, put that one in the “With Glitter” category.  J

Lucky Dog

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Scripture

Numbers 6 verse 25

May the Lord smile down upon you and be gracious to you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Making Art

Here are a few little goodies that I made this week,
playing with dry media.  

I used colored pencils for the lettering and pastels for the abstract elements.  Gosh, they are so much fun to make. 

I enjoy stretching myself sometimes and then balancing it with the easy stuff at other times.  These were pure indulgence.  Colorful little snippets of artmaking.

Somewhere along the way, you see, I’ve changed how I think about my time in the studio.

I used to think of it as part Practice (to keep up my calligraphy or get my hand back in shape) and part Creation.  But the “creation” part had always been done with a not-very-subconcious goal of creating a finished, framed calligraphic piece. 

I guess I got this way because for decades my local calligraphy guilds have had annual exhibits.  Naturally I wanted to make pieces good enough to put in it, and that somehow led me to a 2-3 piece a year mindset.

(Sometimes I feel I’m at a disadvantage, having a calligrapher’s background, and not an artist’s.)

ANYway, the more I have been exposed to blogs and artists online, the more it seems like the artist’s goal is to, well,
create art regularly--if not daily.

For some reason, that just hadn’t been a Duh moment for me.

The art journalers seem to know all about this.  Their goal isn’t even art, it is creation.  No, not creation, perhaps expression.

For me, the difference lies in the routine habit of Making. 

When I view artmaking this way, it seems like a lifestyle, not the means to an end.  (The elusive masterpiece.)  J

It truly becomes the Journey that we all read about.

Also, while my brain has known for years to Do What You Love, I am now adding:  and Enjoy Doing.  Because if you don’t enjoy the process, you won’t want to do it very much. 

For example, making paper by hand.  I love love love the paper I’ve made, but I don’t love making it.  It’s very laborious and I’m only interested in the final product.  I don’t enjoy the process.  So, guess what?  I don’t do it very often.

(The exception to this, though, is my homemade yeast bread.  It’s a wee bit of trouble, but it’s just plain worth it!)

Yeah, it’s hard to not have the “piece” be the goal, but to have the “making” be the goal.  It’s a twist of the mindset, but I think I like it.  It’s a longer, broader view.

It reminds me of the quote by Corita Kent:  "Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make." 

Lucky Dog  J

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quote Redux

Gel pen fun!

Lucky Dog

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quote o' the Day

"Less is more.
Unless more would be better."

-- me

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Scripture

Psalm 90 verse 12

Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.