Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nature as Abstract

After looking at the mountains in the light of the monsoons lately. I started thinking about how abstract they become. Often my work feels like it is abstracted, taking the tree and closing in on it till you see the details of the bark. Zooming in on rocks and leaves.

According to Webster's Dictionary, yes the old kind with pages and everything...Abstract vb 1: Remove, Separate 3: to draw away the attention of. adj. 3: having only intrinsic form with little or no pictorial representation

I can't say that my work goes to the extreme of no pictorial representation but I do like the up close and personal in nature.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monsoon Monday

Monday is coming to a close and I did not get any posts written this weekend. But, we did have monsoons throughout the weekend. In Arizona the summer months bring monsoons, really they do! Monsoon is an Arabic word: mausim, which means wind-shift. Monsoons are caused by the winds that come from the south & south-east during the summer. The moisture conditions (which does not mean rain) mixed with the heat makes the monsoon. They can be just wind & dust which are "dust devils" or if they get over 100 feet high they are called Gustnadoes. Okay, way more information then you would ever want to know about monsoons. If you do wish to learn more you can check out ASU - School of Geographical Science & Urban Planning web site.

This time of year the colors, clouds, lighting and reflected light of the sky is fascinating. I will share a couple photos of these moments of light changes, they are fast as the winds blow in the storms within seconds the sky goes from sunny to filled with dust.

 light on mountain (picture above right section)just before monsoon blew through

Friday, July 27, 2012

sketch of the day & coyotes vs roadrunners

So far, so good with the morning sketching, some are just quick studies and some take a little extra to finish what I have started. It is a good thing. Marilu is so right that when you are away from sketching, painting, working on your craft you have to play catch up getting your hand back into that flow again. Here is yesterday's sketch:
Misty Mountains as the sun rises & clouds from mosoons

I looked outside to see a roadrunner just laying in our backyard. Grabbed my camera and got a few shots before he took off. I had never seen a roadrunner fly. It was not 5 minutes later that the coyote shows up, looking all around like he knew he missed something. Which way did it go? Made me smile as I thought of the cartoon and here I had the real life roadrunner & coyote in my yard. 
road runner

beep beep

and he is off!!

I know that roadrunner is around here somewhere???
                 Here is a charcoal & pastel of a roadrunner that I got a photo of in Tucson.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mental telepathy must be real....

I am always amazed how Linda and I can come up with similar thoughts with no communication and being a continent apart.  Two days ago I chose a sketchbook - from my collection of many, and sorted out some pencils - again, from thousands!!!  My first plan was to sketch something - anything - everyday for a year.  That overwhelmed me a bit, so I'm starting with a month at a time.  Since the new month is so close, I plan to start August 1st. 

I have a tough time sitting down and attempting to suddenly create something wonderful.  Much as I would like to do that, it can't be done unless you practice, practice, practice.   I have deadlines looming, and they are starting to make me nervous.  Scratchboard is not a medium that is quickly created.  I get bogged down in the 'getting started' part.  So I am hoping that sketching everyday will make things flow easier.  It definetly can't hurt.  For an artist working in a graphic style, the hand-eye coordination is so important.  Even a short time off will have a negative effect on your abilities, not to mention your confidence.  I haven't finished a new piece of art for three or four months.  So I've got a lot of catching up to do. 

Time will tell if I can make this work.  I am not the most organized person.  But now I've made it public, so I will have to be accountable.....I'll let you know how that works out.....


Coffee, a sketchbook & me

I love books, handmade sketchbooks, old library books, even my electronic book. I have been wanting to get over to the library and just walk around waiting for that special book to just appear. I use to do this a lot but over the years with technology have gotten out of the habit.

Another habit is sketching in old books, calendars, new sketchbooks or books I create. When I was living in Frederick, MD I had started doing little sketches of the plants, leaves & trees that grew in the woods around my home. I was trying to make it a seasonal thing but it would get put away I would forget about it till the season past.

I have never been good at a painting a day. So, I won't commit myself to that now but what I have started doing while I am still here in AZ is a little sketch in the morning with my coffee. Even with the high heat of the afternoon the mornings are very nice to sit outside, watch the sun rise over the mountains and do a little sketch. So, for the next 3 weeks I will try to do a sketch each morning of cactus, trees, mountains, pods or leaves that I see from my backyard. Wish me luck!

Slipper Plant in bloom with fruit on left

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Other Bay

Wrapping up our coast to coast travels. Rick & I did a little side trip to San Francisco to join Marilu & Dwight. Marilu had been in CA for the opening of the First Annual Exhibition of Scratchboard Art with the ISSA and to do some workshops.

Show Closing July 31st

This is the piece in the ISSA show Tri-colored Herons

If you missed the show this year, look for it next year who knows it could show up in your neck of the woods. Marilu has picked up some new tricks and tools to work on new scratchboards. We are currently taking some inspiration from our San Francisco trip to look at future works. 

The four of us went to a wonderful exhibit called "Do Not Destroy" at the Contemporary Jewish Museum of Art in San Francisco. I believe the show has been extended till end of September. You can go to the web site to look at some of the images that are in the show: http://www.thecjm.org
The theme is trees, creations were inspired by the tree in art and the Jewish Culture. Many of the pieces were created using reclaimed wood, recycling or renewing materials to represent the tree and the gift of the tree. 

Some of the pieces that moved me were:

Gale Antokal Charcoal drawing which included the piece of charred wood/charcoal in which she drew her piece.

Lisa Kokin Leaves on a branch created by sewing on paper to create the leaves. (A technique I have played with myself & is an interesting technical challenge and may resurface in my handmade books & papers)

Marcel Odenbach A Cut & paste forest of trees using printed paper pieces, type & photo images. You could have stood there for hours looking and reading the information this piece contained. Yet from a distance it looked like a painted forest the title: "You Can't See the Forest for the Trees" 

These were just a few of the pieces that touched me and inspired me to think about a special project that Marilu & I have been talking about for years. Some times those ideas just need a lot of time to come together and I think that time has come. It will take a year to put the works together but come next year we both may have something new and special for all to see. 

In the mean time we will continue to work on our Tag Team pieces that we will have on display this October at the Fine Arts in the Valley show in Middletown, MD

Next post - back in AZ.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Taking Time

Sometimes you need to take time to spend with friends and find new adventures. These moments in time often lead to inspiration for new ideas, new works.

While Rick & I were still on the east coast we went on a small excursion with our friends Eric & Lori. We explored overland routes, discovering beautiful fields and vineyards. Virginia is becoming well known for their wines. I remember watching a show on CA wines and how they are preparing for the change in climates. It was commented that what once grew well in CA may soon be growing on the east coast. This may be the good and the bad of climate changes.

It is good to take the road less traveled and see what our land has to offer. I took more pictures then I needed too, then I always do but from them inspiration for new works.

Virginia, horse country

View from the road less traveled

Monday, July 23, 2012

Great Horned Owl - Knight Flight

Yesterday as I was putting the final light touches on the owl I had started at Common Ground on the Hill I went outside for a break without my camera...there in a tree in the backyard was a Great Horned Owl (Bubo Virginianus). He saw me before I saw him and he took off. Just breath taking, they are so silent in their flight. I was a little surprised to see him in the middle of the day. Last time I saw him was at dusk as they tend to be night hunters.

The average Great Horned Owl weights around 3 pounds, is about 23 inches in height and has a wing span up to 60 inches. They are known for their ear tufts, which are basically feathers on top of their head with no known reason for their purpose. Some say to help change their appearance in trees, some believe it has to do with helping them hear but really only the owl knows.
"Knight Flight" great horned owl pastel on paper

I am done with my owl I have titled the piece "Knight Flight". Here are a few pictures that show the steps using Rives BFK Paper and toning it with soft pastels.

First Day toned paper used kneaded eraser to start drawing
Third Day using stick pastels add under color
Fifth day using sticks and pastel pencils to work on details
On the last day used charcoal pencil and my brightest white

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Back in time

While on the east coast Rick & I drove over to the eastern shore, Ocean City, MD to visit family. We took some time to go down to the boardwalk and stick our toes in the ocean. In Ocean City you view the  Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, which make an estuary feed by the Susquehanna & Potomac Rivers. It is the largest estuary in the United States.

Going back to a place you visited as a child, a teenager and seeing it as an adult can be - interesting. The smell of Thrasher's French Fries, Old Bay in the air and the salt of the ocean takes you back in time. Having enough money to buy fries, salt water taffy or go through the Haunted House was your only care.

As we walked along the beach I  saw no shells. I wondered where have they gone? There had been a big storm along the east coast which took out a lot of the beach. This has happened several times over the years. To keep the beach and the tourists, they pull sand from out in the ocean and dump it along the shore. The angle of the beach is much steeper then I remember as a kid. The water drops off much quicker too and the sea shells are either still out in the ocean or buried beneath all that sand.

Even today every beach I go to I pick up at least one shell, rock or sea glass to remember that place. This time there was nothing to pick up. I hope that one day the tides will bring back the sea shells.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

In One Place

It is nice to be in  one place for a while. In less then 30 days Rick & I have been coast to coast - ocean to ocean - bay to bay.

In between the storm that blew through the east coast breaking trees in half and uprooting others I drove from Blacksburg, VA up to Frederick, MD for a visit with Marilu. An afternoon of planning for fall shows & just getting caught up. We only had the one day as she was heading to CA for her opening of the scratchboard show and workshops.

Sunday, July 1st I drove to McDaniel College in Westminister, MD to set up for my pastel workshop & show at Common Ground on the Hill. A two week event with a festival in the middle. Music, arts of all forms: drawing, photography, iron works, pottery, pastels, puppet making - something for everyone, all ages and levels. I was there for the first week teaching soft pastels. I had a great class and wonderful time. Look forward to doing this again next year. If you missed it this year save the web site for next years events and classes at http://www.commondgroundonthehill.org

Here are a few photos of McDaniel College, my students and some of the works they created. My next post hope to show a step by step of the great horned owl I used as my demo piece in the class.


What's That Sound???

You know you are in Wyoming when you wake to the sound of horses. With limited wi-fi service it has been a lot harder to get blogs written a...