Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Purple Hour

Walk with me through the purple woods, in the winter when the hidden sun slings low and sleepy through the sky and slinks away unseen behind a lilac sky. The snow lies thick with the full weight of mid-winter, springs promises frozen in sapless buds, shadows of violet pooling in hollows, creeping along roots to claw the sky. For a few moments the world is candy coloured before darkness falls.

Image: 9" x 12" grey-blue Canson pastel paper, oil pastel, conte, coloured pencil, and graphic--Mixed Media for short. Now I'm pretty sure I don't like oil pastel at least for this type of work. And I didn't like the honey-comb texture of the paper either. It looks great in the light areas but was hugely distracting in the dark areas. I had to spend time mashing the colour into the dimples to tone down the effect--this was not my idea of fun. Hard to get the line work I'm so fond of into the piece, managed it in the end but I felt like I was fighting the medium the entire time. That said, I kinda like it. I've been trying for quite awhile to capture the evening woods when the light is too low for snapshots and hints of colour appear that are not quite just imagination. This is Hollidge Tract, south side looking east, no reference photo, just memories.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Morning Becomes Electric in Oil Pastel

The subject matter fascinated me, and I decided to try it in pastel on black paper. Perhaps it's the learning curve with a new medium, but I'm not entirely sure I like oil pastel. I really detest my light green, which was too close to hospital green, and I struggled to mix it in with yellow and white to bump it up. My colour range is much more limited in oils but I expected to mix any colour I wanted. It wasn't so, as my colours just seem slightly off from what they should be. I have some really good colours in pencil that mix just like my watercolour palette so I was surprised when the oils didn't behave the same way. They seemed dull and slightly chalky, and more than two layers got muddy. Also, I think the size I worked in (11"x14") along with the details would have been better in pencils. While I still prefer the freshness of my coloured pencil work better, I do like the painterly effect happening in the trees.
It's a learning experience.
PS. For those that know about these things, the brands of pastel are Holbein & Mungyo.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Sine Curve of the Ski Hill

If you haven't noticed already, I love skiing, x-country skiing. That means gliding through the country side under my own power, no lifts, no tows, no fees, and no line-ups.
You may think x-country is for those of us that like life in the slow lane, and maybe I'm one of them but for me the highlights are always the hills. The big ones, the ones that when conditions are right you can pick up some real speed and feel the wind rip through your hair. The ones that are smooth and hard and packed enough to make your skis rattle with the sound of an Olympic bobsled run, and the curvaceous ones that challenge you to weave between the trees and catch a wee bit of air on the last bump. I love these hills. They give me moments of perfection, mind and body in sync performing with precision (trust me, any lack of precision ends in a face plant); a good fast run is a feat that is formed from the accumulation of years of experience. And of course, one can never forget, you've got to climb them first (yes, I think there is a lesson in that).

For last years take on the exact same subject try Whoo Hoo!!!

Image: Aargh, I lost (hopefully just misplaced) the aceo I made, eek! So here's my doodle diary; the roughie will have to do.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Make Your Own Doodle Diary--How to

Finally, the long promised, although not likely much anticipated, "how to make your own doodle diary" post. This is a little something I picked up along the way and I enjoyed it's ease and simplicity. I use them obsessively. I keep two in my purse, 1 for phone numbers & dates, and one for notes. I have a completed doodle diary I began January 3, and I've already used 2 doodles as references for other artwork. I've begun my second diary, of course.
Here goes. I hope I can make it make sense. I'm somewhat technologically challenged and make do with primitive equipment and connections, not to mention blogger tends to scramble the image order in weird ways.
You will need 1 sheet of paper for the book, 1 piece of heavier paper for the cover. You don't even need scissors if you're good at creasing and tearing.
Step 1. Fold a sheet of paper in half, then fold down the ends back to the crease. Should look 'w' shaped when viewed from the side.
Step 2. Open up your folds and do it again the other way.
Step 3. If you did it right, you'll have 16 rectangles defined by folds. At this points, words alone just won't do. Look at the diagram (click to enlarge-sorry, some of my writing is fuzzy, so just ask if something doesn't make sense)
Step 4. The diagram should get you to the 16 rectangles; then just cut or tear as shown. Then, beginning at the 1st corner, just start folding back and forth like an accordion until you have a little book in your hands.
Step 5. Make a book cover and slip your 1st and last page in (see the next diagram if you're not familiar with making a book cover). No need to measure anything, just place your book in the middle and cut so you have plenty of overlap.
Still confused? Just ask. I know I've mucked it up somewhere, but maybe the photos will tell the story. Shown is my Jan3 diary, all flattened out, and made into a book.

PS. Clicking on the images will enlarge & make them readable. You'll be able to see all my doodles that way too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Morning Becomes Electric

A few months after starting this blog, I realized that much of my artwork concerns the capture of 'moments in time' and this one was certainly fleeting. It was 6:29 AM on Wednesday January 14th 2009, a view from my car of Woodbine Avenue, at the corner of 16th Avenue in Markham (border of Toronto) Ontario. A rising sun illustrates the swiftness of time and it's inevitable passing in the most undeniable way. The colours, as such, changed moment by moment. In the case of the colours I had to rely on my memory (I don't carry about a full art-kit), but I had the opportunity to sketch this in pencil in my miniature doodle diary (more on that later, I'll get around to it, promise).

You make ask, what on earth were you doing in your car, sketching, at that precise hour? Here's your answer:

I have a part-time job that brings me into the city two days a week. Regular hours allow me, with minor inconvenience, to carpool with my husband who works in the same vicinity, but the timing is off by one hour. That means, two days a week, my car becomes my office/breakfast nook for the space of one hour while I wait for doors to unlock. In spring, summer, and fall this is a cozy arrangement. Most winter days are just fine, as I wrap up in layers of clothing, and cradle a fresh coffee. However, last Wednesday the temperature plummetted to -19 Celsius; a temperature that even I lack the fortitude to withstand at rest (no problem with skiis on). So a change in plans was necessary, and it involved a visit to Tim Hortons. I parked in their lot and while I was finishing my first coffee I was regaled with a brilliant vista. It was -19C at the time, and the city was steaming in technicolour. I absolutely had to sketch it in, and memorize the colours for later. It reminded me that natural beauty can be found almost everywhere and it is a worthy endeavor to find it. I've been in this parking lot before, and have seen goldfinches and baltimore orioles flit through the pines. Squirrels inhabit a 3-D grid of wires and branches that cross rivers of cars. The flat blankness of the rooftops provide perches for doves, and neglected office gardens become nests for Canada Geese. We are often upset at the intrusions of wild things into what we believe to be our domain, as if there if there is some invisible barrier transgressed by their presence. Their presence, however, is but a reminder that we are not alone on this planet, and the space therein is to be shared by all.
Look for beauty everywhere, and appreciate it where ever you find it.

PS. The title is a play on words. Mourning Becomes Electra being some boring 20th Century version of a Greek Tragedy about a girl who sleeps with her father and then gets upset about it. It was a school trip and my first trip to a real professional theatre. All the actors were dressed in grey fleece sacks (athletic fleece, such as the kind used to make track pants) and I was hugely disappointed. I suppose the designers were successful in making an indelible impression, but it was not a good one.

Image: coloured pencil on black canson paper, approx. 9" x 6". Pencil sketches from my doodle diary (apprx. 2x3)

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Place in the World

Image: graphite on office paper, 2" x 3", digital colours.

I believe all of us walk about with a picture of our place in the world. Maybe we are so busy looking at facts and figures, satellite images, roadmaps, and gps that we are hardly aware of the visual image we hold in our heads. Neither was I until I did this doodle. As an entry in my 'doodle diary' (and more on that later) I was being deliberately whimsical, beginning with the first thing that came into my head, and pencilling in from there. What appeared on the page (all 2"x3" of it) was a map of my world and me in it, with all the rules of reality and perspective tossed into the winds, and all the important details in black and white.
So this is the map I carry around in my head of where I live. The houses to right being the new suburban sprawl of the once country town of Stouffville, the street lights creeping up the page being the highway arteries that race into vast sprawl of the city of Toronto, it's sky-scraping sky-line commanding the top right (south-west) corner of the page. Moving to the left is the vast spread of Milton and Missisauga, huge amorphous suburbs that leach northwards into farm-country. At the very top, smoke-stacks stand in for the steeltown of Hamilton that looms large on the western frontier of my world. And lastly, and bestly all those pine trees stand in for the fragmented forests of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Much of it row-planted pine and regrowth, none of it 'untouched by man' or 'pristine' nature, but a haven for wildlife nonetheless. It represents much needed breathing space, physical and psychic for me and many others. These trees are my beloved and beleaguered forests of the Oak Ridges Moraine. May they stand forever.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Second Chances

It's not often in life we get second chances, and in reality we never really do. We just get "another" chance--if we're lucky.
This is the bird that hit my window. I thought he would most certainly die, as he fell to the ground in a diminishing series of somersaults, ending in stillness. These things happen, large windows being a curse for the avians on this planet, but I couldn't help thinking it was my window, my bird feeder nearby, and therefore my fault. The cold of winter would kill him if the collision didn't, so I hurried out to collect the unconscious bird in a towel. Being pragmatic, I tried (not very successfully) to continue to paint while I held the bird next to my body under my jacket. Occassionally I would peak at his head, and see his eyes flutter or his beak twitch. None of this looked very hopefull. After half an hour, however, the eyes opened and the bird made weak attempts to move. I took him outside, and carefully unwrapped the towel. The bird blinked and stood and turned his head about but made no attempts to fly even as his brethren flitted by twittering. I wrapped him up once again, and started the process over again. I finally realized only a longer convalescence would allow me to really assess the situation. I was terribly afraid the collision had crippled him and he would hover between life and death for many hours. "Make him comfortable" was the term that came to mind--so I emptied a box, placed a warm water bottle within, and placed the bird into it's warm dark and hopefully restful interior.
By this point, I was tired of what I had come to think of as a deathwatch, so I loaded the top with books (lest the cats get curious and try to pry their way inside) and went for a walk. Upon my return, I removed the books, to the tune of a most god-awful shriek. A horrible sound, I'm sure born of pure terror, but it brought joyful news to my ears. The bird was alive and lively. No more peaking--I took the box outside and I had barely parted the lid when a golden dynamo exploded outwards, executed a perfect sharp u-turn and straight as an arrow flew into a nearby pine. Judging by the speed and grace of this one's exit, I'll assume he had his second chance. While the collision was my fault (my window) I was glad to facilitate his second chance.

PS. I have no idea if the bird was male, but 'it' just seemed to cold and impersonal.

Image: ACEO 2.5" x 3.5" on 140lb watercolour paper. Inktense Pencils. This is one of my first experience with the brand. They seem to be fine pencils, and produce a fine paint when water is added, but I don't see them as different from any other water colour pencil I own. Possible, they are a less powdery in their pencil form, and the washed in colour is more permanent.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Kaslkaos Art & Design (art for sale)

Next show date: September 11, 2010 where you will be able to see my work in person. I'll be bringing in my coloured pencil work, featuring York Regional Forest that I know and love, along with gelatin prints, framed and unframed, hand-printed linocut relief T-shirts, and some art cards.
Location: York Regional Forest, Hollidge Tract, 10am-2pm

At my facebook page, KaslkaosArt, you can also view my galleries the Inner Eye featuring my interpretive Mixed Media and Coloured Pencil art, and Human Studies, showcasing my figure drawings, costumed and nude.

My online shop resides at ETSY, where you can find a variety of works, originals and reproductions, hand-printed t-shirts, and original relief and planographic prints. Only a small percentage of my work is on etsy, so never hesitate to contact me about work you see on my blog or facebook page.

Please contact me via email (see image business card above) for inquiries about my art, art for sale, or just to say 'hi!'.

Magic Pen

Sorry, no New Years sentiments excepting I'm hoping you all have great ones. Time marches on regardless of the labels we impose upon it.
Just another bed-sketch, this time with my magic pen. I've had my eyeballs on a Pentel Pocket Brush for quite awhile. At $18 that's quite pricey, but I used Christmas money as an excuse to indulge myself and made the purchase. It is a pen with a brush instead of a nib. Inside, it has an exchangeable ink-cartridge just like many fountain pens do, but the nib is a synthetic brush. While I had my doubts as to how well this would work out, after a few days use, I'm thrilled. It's been holding a point, it hasn't dried out between uses and hasn't exploded into a mess of black ink. I'm still not sure if I should be storing it in my purse, but it does make an ideal compact travelling sketch pen and effectively replaces the need to take along a brush, a bottle of water, a cloth, and an ink bottle, not to mention the table requirements necessary to use such equipment. In other words, I can now do brush inked sketches anywhere and anytime--even in bed.
Given that this is basically a product review, let me add one caveat--at $18.00 I expect to last a long time, and a few days is insufficient time to test this. Will it still make a hair point a month from now? Or a year from now? Time alone will tell.
Happy New Years All!
PS. Click on the image if you are curious enough to want to read the text. All black marks are compliments of the magic pen, grey marks are graphite, parchment is digital. Office paper.


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