Saturday, November 30, 2013

Post Square 11.30.13 ~ Escaping the Danger Zone

The photographer, Noel Celis, is on a C-130 military plane crowded with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. The plane is taking them from Leyte province's Tacloban, the city devastated by the storm, to the Philippine capital, Manila.

I wrote yesterday that I was hoping these pieces would let me know what they want to be and last night they told they wanted to be more balanced and more accessible, less spontaneous, more planned.

In yesterday's square I took part of the photo and painted over it and that gave me the idea for today's. I cut out a 4" piece this time. First, I cut a 4" window out of a piece of paper and moved it over the Post's cover photo until I found the composition I wanted.

This fragment was scanned and messed with in Picasa until I had a black and white, posterized image. I printed that onto bristol board and drew outlines around the major shapes with ink. I wanted them to be abstract and graphic. Then the shapes got colored in with pencil, some colors randomly chosen, but I wanted the major, joining field to be blue like water.

A 1" window was cut from the center and glued to another board, then the larger piece was edged with paint and glued over some pieces of foam core to make it stand out from the backing.

I may do more to this. Have to wait until it tells me just what.

And tomorrow I start the pieces for the pressure!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Post Square 11.28.13 ~ Travelers' Aides

What a strange little piece this turned out to be. I'll try to explain how it happened...

The Bill O'Leary photograph on the front page of the Washington Post Thanksgiving issue was a moving image of a wounded Army sergeant holding a puppy that was to become his service dog.

The cover story was not about the man and his dog but how the two of them benefitted from the services of a group at Reagan Airport called Travelers Aid. For 100 years the volunteers of this organization have been helping people. They answer questions, give directions and do a lot just to relieve travel anxiety.

Doris Schuman, one of the volunteers, had helped the Army sergeant, Franz Walkup, and his wife, Shannon, find the place where they were to pick up their German shepherd puppy, Ranger.

I began the drawing by choosing a square inch of the photograph that was the structure under a bridge. I turned it upside down and used the lines of the composition to get the grid pattern.

I was looking at a new book I had just found in our wonderful local independent bookstore. The book is The Exquisite Book, a collaboration of 100 artists. I had flipped to a random page for inspiration and a direction for starting the drawing. I happened on the page by Jim Stoten (, who uses bright, flat color within a wavy black line. So I colored in the grid that way. Wanting to tone it down and add texture, I brushed on some white acrylic paint mixed with gel medium and combed through it with a toothed plaster spreader. Then I missed the color (!) so I went back over it with colored pencil and ink.

I'm usually not interested in making these pieces very narrative, but I was compelled to cut out the part of the photo showing Franz and Ranger. I went over it with gel medium and outlined the image with ink and painted it with acrylic, flattening the forms.

I painted some small sticks yellow (randomly chosen color), wrapped them with torn fabric and sewed them on. Can't tell you why. Was just following whatever came to mind to do.

The red lines in the bottom left corner are from paint that squirted out of its tube and landed there. I left it, as opposed to trying to clean it off and making a big, red smear.

I just need to keep making these little things and have faith that they will tell me what they want to be.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Another experiment, taken a little further

Trying to fall asleep last night thinking of what would go in that space on this piece. Something graphic ~ a picture or silhouette? Like a bicycle or a boot print? Finally decided that type would be best.

Cut out a section of the type under the cover photo I used to get started. Wrapped it around a piece of mat board and glued it down. Drew on it with pen. Made paper rolls using a print of a drawing I did of winter trees and glued them on either side. Stuck my signature lock of horse hair into the top of the roll on the left. Wrapped another piece of the drawing around a chunk of foam core and glued that over the type. Added stitches and some beads, some ink marks.

I should probably be doing these on a stronger backing because the bristol I'm using warps with all this layering and gluing. But I like to stitch through it and tie things on from the I have to figure that one out.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Another experiment

Trying something different. This is yesterday's colored pencil drawing with an ink drawing on rice paper applied to it with acrylic gel medium.

I think it needs something graphic in the center, but don't know what yet.

Experimenting with a different approach to my project.

I'm thinking I need to do something more with these little drawings than just make a design and color it in. Kinda boring. Want to consider adding layers, collage, different materials.

I'm not sure about the success of this one, but I'm posting it anyway because I think it may represent the beginning of a new way of going at this project I'm creating for myself (the drawing-a-day-in-December for a January show).

I looked at the square I did yesterday and revisited it. Some of the design elements have been repeated (a suggested horizon, a strong vertical on the right, the brown shape in the upper left corner). The type is from the story written yesterday. It is superimposed on a photo I took last winter which I faded and tinted in Picasa. Then I printed that image onto rice paper and used an acrylic medium to attach it to the drawing. Another piece of rice paper, with the ballpoint pen scribble was attached the same way over pen doodles and color-penciled areas. I accordion-folded the extra paper at the bottom of the scribble and sewed it to the backing paper with a few strands of horse hair secured into a knot.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Post Square 11.26.13 ~ Those Hardy Washingtonians

har-dy  adj capable of living outdoors over winter

The cover photos found yesterday and today on the Washington Post both illustrate stories of the city’s residents taking to the outdoors in spite of the falling temperatures.

The bicyclers continue to ride their bikes, the hikers still hike, the hungry customers sit at the outdoor tables of the restaurants, and the football fans gather in the cold for tailgate parties before the Redskins games.

Everyone seems to be going to these extremes to cope with the crowded environment in which they’ve chosen to live.

The folks who bundle up to ride their bikes downtown know they won’t have to worry about a search for one of D.C.’s exiguous parking spaces. The people eating at the outdoor tables (under tall heaters) can’t get reservations for the insides of the popular eateries. The hikers are getting away to where they can walk without having to dodge people on the sidewalks. And the tailgaters want to be the first in the arena gate in front of the throngs.

Other factors are involved, maybe, like global warming, advanced engineering in outer wear, and the aforementioned outdoor cafĂ© heaters. The hikers are often singles looking to meet people in the local hiking groups, and the football fans tailgate regardless. For whatever reasons, it is a noticeable shift. Washington is starting to act like other cities around the globe whose citizens have never let a little chill keep them housebound. 

In this 4" square colored pencil drawing you can pick out the legs of the folding chair under the Redskins tailgater. I kept that form all the same color and chose random colors to fill in the other shapes I got out of the 1" square from the cover photo. Not a lot of creativity involved, as I was simply coloring in areas. I left them flat except for a few touches of texture in the large light gray shape center right.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Post Square 112413 ~ The Grateful Republicans

A practice run.

I realized I was feeling nervous about saying I was going to do these drawings every day in December. Feeling the pressure to do really wonderful things! So I thought I better just do some. Before December. Just to take some of that pressure off. So you know what to expect.

I took a square inch from the photo of the cover story on Sunday's Washington Post and turned it into an abstract colored pencil drawing, choosing the colors at random. I felt the need to work up the surface on this drawing and used more than one color in each section to create a texture, to satisfy that need.

I've written a synopsis of the story that went with the photo. It goes like this...

Post Square 11.24.13

“I believe I’m going to be a Democrat,” Ronald Hudson said, laughing.

Ronald lives in the largely conservative, Republican state of Kentucky, in Breathitt County, one of the poorest and unhealthiest areas in this country.

Breathitt County is where Courtney Lively works as a health-care exchange navigator.

Courtney had just told Ronald, a 35-year-old who has never had insurance and who has managed to acquire a considerable amount of medical debt, that he is going to qualify for a medical card.

“Well, thank God,” he said.

Courtney avoids referring to the program that is helping so many of her clients as Obamacare. And once she had to assure someone that the requirement of having a microchip implanted in the arm in order to be enrolled was only a rumor. But, for the most part, the many people she has helped find affordable health care are very grateful.

One of the reasons the people of Kentucky are having success signing up for health insurance is that the state set up its own exchange instead of using the federal one, with its challenging Web site. Nevertheless, Breathitt County serves as a place where the idea proposed by this administration, of affordable health care for every American, works, as those who support the new law envision that it can.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Back with a New (Old) Project

It's been a while and about time I got back to my blog, and the projects that keep me happy.

Just found out I will be having a one-woman show at the Fire Hall Gallery in Charles Town, WV this coming January. The same month I will be turning 60, so an appropriate happening for that milestone, I think.

I want to revisit my idea, from the beginning of this year, of the colored-pencil-drawing-a-day, inspired by a square inch from the cover photo of the Washington Post, accompanied by my take on the cover story in reduced form. I plan to start on December 1st and spend the month doing just that, then presenting the 31 (or so) drawings I come up with in the show, with the blurbs explaining the inspiration for each.

I'm doing this because it's fun. I enjoy seeing the abstract designs form using the randomly chosen colors. I enjoy the challenge of writing a synopsis of the story of the day, not only because it's fun, but also because it makes me read the paper and I get to understand, to a certain extent, at least one thing that is happening in our world.

I'm telling you about this because it makes it a commitment. I hope you get a chance to check out some of the posts and that you get something from the experience each time.