Friday, February 28, 2014

I Love the Sun in Winter, journal and art

Photo, Musselman’s Lake, adjusted in GIMP

It’s Winter! It’s cold! And it’s Sunny! Because this is February and the world does turn.  I can’t get enough of the sun at this time of year, all living creatures seem to respond. It doesn’t matter if it’s –20C outside (it is!), the chickadees and sparrows sing their spring songs. I make room in front of my window to sit and play guitar. The dog and cat jockey for that single spot on the rug that catches the sun, and my fuchsia and geranium grow nubs of flower buds responding to the light.  For a techno take on signs of spring, my solar garden lights glow at dusk for the first time in many months.

Sun in Winter sketches done on my Android Tablet, using the Artflow App (one of the few I have paid for and still feel grateful to the developer—it’s quite useable free too).
artflow_201402281504  artflow_201402281500

From the Journal:

Feb 23 2014
there is nothing better than sun in winter, sun bright and strong beaming from the sky and bouncing off the snow, an overload of brilliance from all directions.  There is nothing better than sunshine on a cold February afternoon.  Worth a quick and tempory rearrangement of furniture, where my favourite comfy chair is pulled up against the plants that thrive in the large west livingroom window.  So what if the african violets must be shoved aside to make room for one non-chlorophyll based life form who momentarilly feels equal need to soak up the solar rays.
Today we went skiing, more than an attempt, but less than satisfying. Recent rains built a crust on the snow, and the trails are hard and granular. Unforgiving, and fast on the downhill slopes. Fast on the uphill slopes too, but in the wrong direction.  Whatever wax we put on our skiis was stripped away within 5 minutes or a hundred strides, one hill later and we back to slipping and sliding backwards down the hill or spinning our tires on the straight away. It is not the first time that I truly wished I had a 2nd pair of waxless skiis to switch to in such weather.  It felt like we spent more time fiddling with skiis than skiing, between removing our skiis for waxing, and removing our skiis to safely get down a hill.  Did I say it was fast?  Fast, not fun. I didn't enjoy careening down at literally breakneck speed with absolutely no room to manoevre in the narrow tracks, and less control. Not fun.  We eventually gave the skiis a ride home under our armpits, and am very greatful that our current pairs of ski boots have proper snow treads. Walking, by far, was easier.  When we got home, we also walked around the lake, to make up for the bad skiing.  As frustrating as it was, I did not feel well exercised, did I say conditions were fast? Yep, zero calories used on any downhill stretch.  The walk around the lake felt good, followed by winter window sun bathing, also very nice.

another artflow digital sketch, thinking of sun

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lost in Translation—WIP’s Art Update

IMG_8414Super Sculpey (polymer clay), pressed into hand-carved linoleum, baked, and painted with multiple acrylic paint glazes (paint on, wipe off, let dry, repeat)
I feel like I’ve been getting nothing done lately, artistically. Like the muse has gone on holidays, and ideas have dried up and gone underground (one hopes the aquifer is deep and strong to be found another day). I’m still fooling about with sculpey, but it feels like a lot of nowhere. So I thought I would blog it, and hopefully realize I’ve been experimenting and learning and that too is time wisely spent.  So the above, is something I love, but I have no clue what to do with it. Well, hang it around my neck, or up on the wall, maybe…it is ready to hang. I spent an entire morning experimenting with hidden hangers. I wanted a hanger that would take a piece from the wall to the neck and back to the wall again. I think I succeeded, so that’s one thing learned.
IMG_8413 Super Sculpey (polymer clay), pressed into hand-carved linoleum, ad libbed cut-outs with art knife, baked, and painted with multiple acrylic paint glazes (paint on, wipe off, let dry, repeat)
Okay, so I’ve learned about colour, and how to apply it to polymer clay. I’ve learned that the basic beige (flesh toned) super sculpey makes for some vibrant colours when a series of thin glazes of acrylic have been applied, and it’s fascinating to work with texture in this way.
IMG_8412Super Sculpey (polymer clay), pressed into hand-carved linoleum, baked, and painted with multiple acrylic paint glazes (paint on, wipe off, let dry, repeat)
This is from a 2.5”x3.5” lino I did for an exchange. I’m not sure if it’s a Wip (work in progress) or if I should just wait until I get translucent and or white premo sculpey and redo.  These are very thin glazes, and the flesh tone is revealed.  Going darker is easier, but adding white looks awkward, so might be better to start with white. I’m all out of titanium white, so this requires more shopping. Still, I really like the way this particular linocut translate into a relief sculpture.
And here’s where things get lost in translation. Ugh.  This is my 2nd carve.  Up is down, down is up, I’m having trouble keeping track, and also having trouble how to keep the strength of the strong stylized line while going 3D.  Which is why I’m here blogging, not arting.
IMG_8415 Initial sketch in graphite. Can I make it happen in polymer clay and living colour???
In the meantime, experiments in colouring up the beige sculpey with my own pigments. I have a box of soft pastels that I don’t use (these pastels just don’t stand up to the abuse I dish out in storage so I don’t use them for art), so I scraped it into little tiny dust piles, and kneaded the pigment into the sculpey.  So now I know I can make my own strong solid colours with basic beige. These are yet to be baked, but I’m pretty sure they should be fine, soft pastel is mostly pure pigment with a little chalk as binder.  I like the ochre ball, which is ochre pastel mixed in. It would be a better ground colour for my sculpture than creepy flesh coloured beige (upper left blob is straight from the package).
Well, hopefully I learned something. At least I can make beads and buttons.  As for the things that are just a twinkle in my eye, a figment of my imagination, a sliver of an idea, or a promising sketch, well, that’s for the future to decide.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Winter Garden, Flowers of February

IMG_8409Dancing Bones Cactus, Drunkard's Dream, Spice Cactus, Hatiora salicornioides
This winter has been a little extra crispy, and with those cold temperatures come sunny days.  My indoor garden could not be happier, soaking up the sun in the west and east windows while enjoying moderate indoor temperatures (we like seasonal settings for our thermostat, 15C-to 17.5C, garden plants are quite happy at these temps and the relative humidity is plant friendly.
Todays weather is dingy gray, warming temperatures call for rain (sad), and lots of it (scary for homeowners, flood and water damage risk is high).  We already sprung a leak from all the snow melt coming off our roof.  The husband was up above shovelling. Turns out the snow load in some spots was knee deep. The ice build up (from the December ice storm) is impossible to move (at least without hacking the shingles off) so there’s still a load up there) but the snow removal at least solved the mystery of the sticky front door. As in, we could not figure out why it was taking progressively more brute force to get our front door open and shut, duh!
I hate rain in winter. It’s the worst thing, next to freezing rain, which is horrific. So glad my garden is bright and sunny even on the grey days.
Here are some more show-offs.

IMG_8405Fuchsia, Dark Eyes
IMG_8407African Violet, Jolie Concerto,  Saintpaulia
IMG_8410African Violet, Candy Fountain, Saintpaulia

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Snow, Beautiful Snow, and Rainbow Psychedelic Skies

IMG_8393iridescent cloud, south magnetawan
I have no idea how to begin, which picture to start with?  I was away visiting friends who live on the Magnetawan River. What a weekend.  The weather was crispy cold, –28C at it’s coldest, and that’s tree cracking cold, not to mention eyeball and nut freezing cold (interpret that as you wish, but lets just say the husband owns no longjohns).  We love snow! And cold!  And great company. The weather could not have been better. Arctic highs at anytime rev my engines, and this weekend I could not stop. I was FAST, and couldn’t settle. Skiing, I was running ahead of the pack and circling back, continuously, like a wind-up toy (likely an annoying wind-up toy), I was almost, no, definitely relieved when we skied off the snowmobiled trails (which were perfect for my skiis) and into deep trackless snow.  That slowed me down to normal.  There was more snow than I remember seeing since my childhood. Finally, maybe one last kick at the can, a pre-global warm/climate changed winter. One beautiful crispy cold snow bound super fun white wonderland winter. Oh joy and bliss.
IMG_8382Yes, for real, that’s me in hip deep snow, fun fun fun..and I was wearing skiis, so there was more snow further down.
IMG_8395iridescent cloud through the trees just below the sun (red spot is just a lens effect)
We also were treated to the most beautiful noon sky I’ve ever seen. A quick glance towards the sun, and I realized there was quite a phenomenon overhead.  We were treated to a lovely display of iridescent cloud.  It turns out that a good pair of polarized sunglasses (thanks Cyd) will let you see this under circumstances that bare eyes cannot. I had to loan my husband my pair so he too to gaze up and say “Oh Wow!”.  My camera, a pocket type, has no polarized filter, but an auto-enhance with irfanview ramped up the colours to something that approximates what I saw. So while the photo has been enhanced, it basically shows it how I saw it (wearing polarized glasses) without exaggeration (including the top photo).
IMG_8373an abandoned car wearing a few feet of snow.
IMG_8389Skiing up the portage. Snowmobiles tried to get through and gave up. We had deep powder. I mostly skied through the trees to stay on top of the crust/sort of.
IMG_8387Happy shiny winter people.
IMG_8376Nice day for a ski…
IMG_8399Nice day for a walk too.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Just Doodle, do you?

I don’t doodle much.  I was reminded this morning as I listened to CBC Radio, the Current, doing an interview with Sunni Brown discussing the power of doodling (links to the radio show).
Sunni Brown's theory is that the simple act of doodling opens up creative thought (at least that was my take on it) and it made me realize it had been awhile since I doodled.  In fact, it made me realize, that I've been so caught up with "making art" that I don't allow myself to doodle, and at the same time, I often find myself at a loss for ideas, staring at the page and wondering what I should draw.
So today, I dedicated whatever time it would take to fill up a page. It took me an hour with a hard pencil (I think a soft pencil would have sped things up a bit, as the use of an HB forced me to scritch in lines in a slow and methodical fashion. In the way of doodles, I gave up control, aesthetics and narrative to let things happen, so the dog is the neighbours dog as it was walked by my window and the cat is there because one of the radio announcers described how he had doodled a cat wearing a fish for a tie (now that would be something); after that, things just sort of happened.
It does bring up another question, when is it just a doodle, and when is it art.
Something to ponder, I'll just try to remember to just let go a little more often and scribble and scritch until the page is full.
Now all ye go forth and doodle.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Taking Linocuts into the Next Dimension—Art

Here’s what I’ve been dabbling with these days.  A complete distraction, or a new direction.  The above objects are sculpey polymer clay. I had some 20 year old leftovers (yep, proof that I really am past my best before date) which I began with. It’s a little chalky, and the finished product is easilly scratched but white, and made the lovely lower right dangly thing.  All others made with my brand new sculpey III 1lb block.  The lightest colour I could get at the art store (without a special order) was beige (middle heart).  I’ve been painting and tinting and testing with acrylic paints. I’m finding out that strong tinting/staining colours are awesome when applied sparingly (rubbed) or stained (applied thick and rubbed off when still damp).  Opaque colours are not so good. Priming with white, not good.  So I’ll need to special order something soon.
It’s a messy hands-on process.  Here I’m letting the beige sculpey work for me, and using very thin tints to gain colour.  I’m using my linocuts as a “push mold”, rolling out the sculpey and pressing the media deeply onto the lino.  I’ve always been fascinated by the sculptural quality of a deeply carved lino, and am really excited to find another way to use it.  Some lino’s work better than others. If they were initially designed to make a paper print, the negative spaces can be very distracting.  So some of may favourite images do not make the transfer, but here I’m using the ones that work well.
So far I’ve given them all holes so that they can be used as medallions and buttons, because I hate waste, so I want my experiments to have a potential future around my neck or on my crochet. I’ll probably end up with a pretty cool personal button collection. They involve too much careful brush work and layering to sell them (as in not worth my time for the going rate of buttons) but could make some nice gifts.
My centipede linocut was my favourite nice surprise. Successive layers of burnt umber acrylics, applied, rubbed off, re-applied and rubbed off, etc gave it it`s colour.  I plan to wear this one.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Life Drawing Tuesday—On a Tuesday, Really

It’s Yanna, she of years of experience. Life drawing, figure drawing using oil pastel, graphite and coloured pencil.  I love the thick creamy lines with this combination.


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