Monday, March 31, 2014

Shadow Box # 10 ~ Inside and Outside Series ~ Gathering

The pieced fabric square in the background is something I made years ago. I was experimenting with sewing small swatches of cloth together to make strips, sewing the strips together and attaching more material to frame and build borders. There are almost two hundred separate pieces of fabric making up the square(!) It fit perfectly in the box I had so I used it as the starting point for the rest of the shadow box design.

The little package in the center is foam core covered with rice paper that had been painted with ink, using a brush I made out of found deer tail hair (move over Martha Stewart!) It is decorated with a deer rib, grape vine and sticks painted to match the tiny bits of color in the fabric square. All that is held onto the package with a piece of paper torn from an ink drawing and edged in gold.

I carved the edges of the frame, painted it black, sanded it and stained it with burnt sienna acrylic mixed with polyurethane. The last thing added was the small found stone on the bottom. It is secured with jeweler's glue.

The piece is 12" X 12".

Daily Project ~ Post Heart 3.30.14 ~ In Spite of it All

In spite of having to fight for benefits, struggling to find jobs, wrestling with psychological demons and debilitating injuries, coping with shattered families and generally feeling “left behind on an unchartered postwar landscape”, 90% of our veterans say they would still have signed up for service, knowing what they know now.

The randomly cut heart from today’s Post photo shows the eye of Santino Fort, who “sees the value of both wars”. The drawing is 1.5”X1.75”, colored with randomly chosen pencils.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Shadow Box # 9 ~ Inside and Outside Series, "When Spring Steps Out"

This one took quite a while. Much of the time being spent staring at it, wondering what to do, making things and changing them...

I started with the colored pencil drawing of trees on Bristol board for the background. I chose the colors randomly and ended up with this bright, springy theme. The bottom shelf is painted with red oxide acrylic mixed with ceramic stucco texture gel. While it was still wet I put the painted masking tape 'rocks' in place as well as the upright stick which is covered with rice paper that was painted with inks and covered with calligraphy of lines from Emily Dickinson poems. This stick has a hole through which passes black thread tied to the hammered eyelets secured to the frame. The flags hanging from the thread were cut from paper colored with pencils. The black-painted grape vine is balanced on a carved shelf. The little package on the right is wrapped in painted rice paper and decorated with a paper bead and another piece of painted vine. The black pieces framing the edge are strips of black core mat board with random designs in cream colored pencil.

Daily Project ~ Post Heart 3.29.14

President Obama is taken in a Marine Corps helicopter to meet with Saudi King Abdullah at his royal dessert compound. U.S. – Saudi relations are not great these days due to America’s reluctance to arm Syrian rebels and negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. So, obviously, there was no time for discussion of anything like the Saudi government’s treatment of women…but while the president is there he will be visiting with Maha Al Muneef, a doctor who won the State Department’s International Women of Courage Award this year.

I used 32 different colored pencils on the little details of the creature-like chopper captured in today’s heart.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Daily Project ~ Post Heart 3.28.14

President Obama and Pope Francis meet at the Vatican. Two men with “radically different politics” but who have both “sought to change the public character of the institutions they run”.

The detail that ended up on the randomly cut heart must be some architectural feature. It is the section of the photo between the faces of the president and the pope. I kept the lines blurry between the randomly chosen colors, as in the photo. The only sharp line being the tip of the president’s nose. The last color chosen, that healing green again. (maybe a need to mix up my pencils better)

I fussed with this drawing. It took me longer that the previous ones. I got hung up on the green circle and getting rid of a pencil line I didn’t like. I scratched into the surface with an X-acto blade to lighten areas and around the border to soften the green line I was sorry I put there.

This one really brought out some obsessiveness! It’s interesting to start my day with these drawings and see what they bring up. Like doing ground exercises with my horse to see where her head is before I get on her, this practice of drawing the hearts tells me something about how I might approach my work for the day.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Daily Project ~ Post Heart 3.27.14

Daily Project ~ Post Heart 3.27.14

8-year-old Relisha Rudd, missing.

This is a horrible story about a little girl who, after suffering a great deal of abuse, has most likely been murdered. I can’t help putting emotion into the drawing. I start with charcoal for its darkness and grit. Smear on the randomly chosen colors. Many of the colors feel ugly and somber, but the last color I choose is a healing green and I use it to fill in the last section of the drawing as well as cover over the whole shape. I burnish with tissue and erase the burnished smear to create a dark halo around the drawing.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Daily Project ~ Post Heart 3.26.14

Cutting a small heart shape from the Washington Post cover story photo, making an abstract composition from it and coloring it in using randomly chosen pencils.

The story ~ Court hears arguments on contraceptive coverage

1.5” wide. Randomly chosen colored pencils on index card. Scratched a bit with X-acto blade. Image shows photo segment on left. I choose the section of the photo randomly, too, turning the photo over and cutting the heart shape on a fold.

Beam me up, Tinkerbell

This is the heart I found this morning.

It makes me think of Star Trek, when they are trying to beam someone (or something) aboard and the being's molecules have gotten caught up somewhere in the universe and are refusing to congregate back into what they are supposed to be and everyone is standing around nervously chewing their lips and trying to conjure up something that resembles a prayer to whatever, willing the thing to form whole there in the middle of the blue column of swirling light.

It also reminded me of Peter Pan, when Mary Martin (no wonder I had a crush on Peter!) was pleading with us kids to really, really believe so that Tinkerbell wouldn't die. How the tiny light would flicker and fade and scare us to death until it finally rejuvenated into the living fairy it was. Don't remember what we were supposed to believe in exactly, but it seemed to work.

And then it occurred to me that in my description yesterday, of the process of finding these hearts out in nature, I had left out an important piece. Not only does it require soft eyes and relaxation and all that, it is essential to be open to the gift. Being willing to receive. Feeling a deservedness, a worthiness...

A good practice for life in general. But not easy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fascination with the Heart Shape

Thinking about my recent fascination with the heart shape. It’s possible it started with finding the shape in nature and photographing it. I wouldn’t be looking for them, I’d just come upon them. Perfect little hearts in snow or leaves or mud, a stone.

I started collecting the images. Posting them on Facebook.

I began to wonder where the little heart symbol came from. According to Wikipedia, it’s pretty old. Been around for quite a while. There are references to it in the Middle Ages.

It’s a tacky little thing, granted. Way over used. But it has its appeal. To me. Right now. Anyway. I like its simplicity and symmetry. And of course I like finding them around.

If I try to look too hard for one, it doesn’t work. It’s the same as with four-leaf clovers. One has to have soft eyes, be relaxed, not anxious or desperate. And one will pop up. Or not. It can’t matter.

Sometimes when I do find (or am given) a heart shape I want another one right away! I begin to look for one with eagerness. Never get one that way. Or I’ll see one that’s sort of a heart but not really. I do have a rule of never changing the shape myself or manipulating what I find in any way.

Missing my daily projects, and wanting something to post on this blog and on Facebook, because I’m addicted to the feedback, I’ve started another series. This one uses the heart shape. Like the project I did last January, starting with the cover photo of the Washington Post, finding a section of it and making an abstract composition from it, I’ve been cutting small heart shapes from the photos and creating colored pencil drawings from what is visible. They are quite small, so they aren’t the investment of time the other ones were. And I don’t write the synopsis of the story that goes with the photo, as I did in January, but I do make a note about the subject.

I’ve been using some old 5”X 8” index cards. I like that they aren’t bright white. I do the drawing on the unlined side and note on the lined side the date, the subject description and any notes about the technique. I also glue the heart-shaped cut out of the newspaper photo next to the drawing.

The collage above shows the first four I’ve done. 1) Fri. Mar. 21st ~ Gen. Sinclair gets a slap on the wrist 2) Sun. Mar. 23rd ~ Aerial view of the an old limestone mine where the Office of Personnel Management processes retirement papers for the U.S. government 3) Mon. Mar. 24th ~ Women Terps win the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament 4) Tues. Mar. 25th ~ Grieving relatives of those aboard the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

I used randomly selected pencils to color in the sections of the drawings. Some are scratched into with an X-acto blade.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Shadow Box #8 "Under the Snow"

Shadow Box #8 "Under the Snow", 12"X 12"

With this one I wanted to work with some suggestions I'd gotten. One was to work with warmer, less austere colors and the other was to make the foreground closer to better include the viewer. Then, to add some life, I put in the little fox, bottom right. He hears some little thing stirring under the snow (hence the title) and is about to pounce. The sticks on the "shelf" were a suggestion, too. They are coated with polyurethane.

I used pastels for the blue sky and the color of the field, though I went over the field with colored pencil also, which is what I used on the rest of the image, with some charcoal and graphite. 

The frame I painted black first, then the fox red color, and sanded it. I applied the gold leaf last and sanded it again.

This is another scene I'm treated to on my morning walk. I was drawn to the line of the hill in the background and how it seemed to dip down into the field.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Shadow box (#7) "Winter Music"

I call this shadow box (#7) "Winter Music" because Judy said it looked "lyrical". It's 12"X 36". The drawing is done in charcoal, pastel and colored pencil. There is fabric on the "floor" with small stones coated with polyurethane. The tiny V of geese in the sky add to the song. I was driving home from taking Cooper the cat to the vet one day last week and saw geese flying over the landscape and I thought that would be a good thing to include in this drawing, and when I picked up the paper the picture on the cover was of a sky full of geese. Serendipity! I used the photo for reference to put the finishing touch on the drawing. You will need to click on the picture and enlarge it to find the geese!