Just a little 5” x 7” ink drawing of a plague bird.
It’s a new year and I think I can start working in my office/studio in the new house. It’s not “finished” but it’s now a place I can do some artwork and goof off on the computer.
So I decided to do some exercises to get my creative juices flowing. Since the move, I’ve been totally blocked with all the crazy stuff of setting up a new house and trying to figure out the lay of the land. I’d look at the paper, pencils, watercolors and just stare blankly as they stared blankly back at me. Thus the exercise.
I made messy, splotchy, watery gobs, drips, and drabs on a piece of watercolor paper and then cut them up into tiny bits. After staring at them for what seemed days on end (maybe half an hour or so), I started picking out shapes and colors with a small paint brush and a few watercolors. I tried not to think about what was happening. No drawing just picking and poking.
So here’s a pic of a few pieces of paper and what happened with the first one.
And a close up of the little phoenix that happened to be hiding in the first piece of paper that I played with.
Wonder who else will be revealed.
Happy New Year, everyone.
experimenting with watercolors on a very small scale. 2.5″ x 3.5″
An old internet friend commissioned me to do a double portrait of his sweet dogs, who have sadly passed on. Rooney, a chocolate lab and Magic, a black lab were my subjects. I’d never met the dogs, so only had pictures and my friend’s description of what the boys were like.
It is a funny thing but as I draw, I feel like I’m actually getting to know who or what ever I’m drawing (yes, if I draw a rock, I start to feel I know the rock) and it was the same with these two. Rooney seems such a hopeful, serious sort and Magic goofy and playful. Both seemed open and loving and most of all, loved.
So, here’s Rooney & Magic, approximately 16×20 in graphite. It was great getting to know you.
Many decades ago, I bought a set of pastels at a fire sale. It was a real fire at a local store where I lived at the time. The owners sold everything in stock that was not too badly damaged. Mostly, things just smelled of smoke. I scooped up a 90 color set of Rembrandt soft pastels for a song (no dance). I recently looked up the going price for the set in today’s market and it was something over $300.
(ack! I did get a deal)
Anyway, I did of few pictures with them, teaching myself as I went along and they were okay. And then my mom died, life got way busier shuffling home, work, kids, 2 jobs, and all the rest that goes with being a single mom with no money. There was really no room (or time) for art. I did a few pastels now and then for friends but nothing worth noting.
So now with my kinda-sorta project of producing works on paper of animals that are endangered, maligned, or misunderstood, I thought I’d break out the pastels and see if I remembered how to make them work. Here’s the test, on a baby robin that I snapped a picture of while he was perching on the cable wire outside my window. Even though his mom was still feeding him, he felt quite proud of himself and his new found freedom.
The Wolverine, Gulo gulo, lives in the most severe climate in the far reaches of the northern hemisphere. The largest member of the weasel family, looking more like a bear than a weasel, she lives a mostly solitary life. Fierce, stocky and strong, she can bring down prey much larger than herself but due to the harsh climate, the wolverine will partake of most anything she can come by from Elk to rabbits, mice, carrion, roots and berries. Of course, this makes her terribly misunderstood and maligned as noted by the name we’ve given her: Gulo, latin for glutton.
Wolverines need a large territory in which to hunt and mate and are not willing to share with others. A lucky male will usually form lifelong bonds with a few females, whom he will visit from time to time, mating and hanging out with the young until they are weaned. Sometimes the young will go traveling with Dad when they get older until they settle in their own territories.
Highly endangered through hunting, trapping, climate change and shrinking habitat, the numbers worldwide are not known but according to Defenders of Wildlife there are approximately 250-300 individuals in the contiguous United States.
I’ve been fascinated by this animal for many years though I’ve not attempted to draw, paint or sculpt her until recently. This newest sculpture took me a long time but then it takes time to get to know this beautiful, misunderstood creature.
Here’s a closeup of the face. Everything about the Wolverine is sort of solid and square.
Here also, the charcoal drawing I did a while ago.
For the past 5 or 6 years, I’ve been concentrating on learning to sculpt in clay. I think I’ve managed to get a handle on the medium and looking back on my sculptures, I believe I’ve progressed reasonably. I’m even rather proud of a few of my pieces, and that, for those who know me, is quite a statement.
There are issues. One is that the art center I go to has become prohibitively expensive. I would buy a kiln but there is no safe place to install it in this teeny, overpacked house. So, my plans to sculpt a series of endangered, misunderstood and maligned animals has become undoable.
Before I began sculpting, my medium was oils, but here again, I have a logistical problem with space. I am working in a tiny corner of the tiny “sunroom” which is actually just an enclosed porch with a lot of drafty windows, ugly paneling and because of its shape, is more shaded than lighted. I share this space with my parrot, Milo. The fumes from turpentine and linseed oil are not so good for parrots. Also a very steeply sloped ceiling makes setting up my easel impossible. Oils are right out.
I decided that I need to develop my ideas using not-toxic materials that can be done in a small setting without spending a fortune. My solution was to learn how to use watercolors and colored pencils. I’m already quite adept with graphite — drawing with graphite is like breathing for me. I used to use charcoal all the time when I was younger, so despite being hideously rusty with charcoal, that’s in the new mix of preferred media.
The first animal I chose to research was the wood stork. By all accounts a most ungainly bird. Ungainly appeals to me. I did some preliminaries and then a graphite portait and a small watercolor. I am proud of the portrait and not too displeased with the watercolor. Here’s the portrait… what an impressive bird!
After I worked on this guy, I decided to look for other ungainly birds (I will return to the Wood Stork, I promise). As a lark, I started sketching flamingoes without giving them any serious thought. Suddenly, while trying to figure out that incredible beak, I realized that I needed to research this magnificent bird who has become not much more than a tacky lawn ornament to most in this country.
so here’s some stuff about flamingoes
as i was drawing their beaks during research, it occurred to me that their beaks reminded me of baleen whales.
and in the United States, we have turned them into cheap, pink plastic lawn ornaments.
Wiki entry for flamingoes is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamingo for more info.
So, this is the work I started with the flamingo. The flamingo (who was once a god) is teaching me watercolor (slowly and painfully), colored pencil (slowly but not so painfully), and a revisit with my old friend, charcoal. I hope you enjoy the flamingoes, and I hope you notice that this magnificent bird is anything but tacky.
One other thing I learned…I’m not very good at taking photographs of art. I also like wolverines.
But more about her later.
Honestly? Three months since I put anything up? Appears I have a bit of catching up to do.
Since Poor ol’ Punkinhead made his appearance around Halloween, I’ve finished up a few sculptures. The Chameleon came out very satisfying, was in a show and sold the first night! Go lil’ lizard! Here he is.
There’s a couple new sculpts that were fun to do — visual puns of sorts.
Also managed to do a few illustrations, one of which I kinda like. This was for a story, “Bookends” by Michael Wehunt, which appeared in The Journal of Unlikely Entomology, Unlikely Story, Issue 10.
Poor ol’ Punkinhead was out trick or treating last night but managed to scare most doors to close too quickly to get much in the way of treats. Poor ol’ Punkinhead still wishes everyone had a Happy Halloween.
The chameleon I’ve been working on is just about done. Some finessing will happen as it dries, but the sculpting part is done. I’m kinda pleased how he turned out but I am not so pleased with the pictures. My beloved Pentax K10D is dying. I can barely get it to focus and the noise levels are crazy even in good light and itty bitty ISO.
but i have no money for a new one so i’m sad
Here’s my not so wonderful picts of the chameleon. If he makes it through the fire and somebody loves him and buys him, I’ll get a new camera.
I have five illustrations in the new book, Bad-Ass Faeries: It’s Elemental, edited
by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Jeffrey Lyman, which is now available at Barnes & Noble and soon elsewhere.
Here’s three of the five. You can see the rest of them up in the illustration gallery link way at the top of this blog (*points skyward*) or, of course, by purchasing the book.
I’m pleased with the way they turned out…hope you all like them.
The Cockatrice is almost done…hollowed him out last week and yesterday, he finally sprouted his wings. He’ll be flying off soon to stare evil people down and turn them to stone.
Here’s two quick view…
I should be farther along with this sculpt than I am, but last week the back went so I didn’t get to the studio. But today there is progress! The cockatrice now has a weasel, which is the only beast immune to the cocks stoney stare.
Alas, he still has no wings.
But there will be dead things.
Incredibly, the Lion Gargoyle has found a new home. He left me today for life with a fabulous family who live in the wilds of Phoenixville. I find it very fitting that gargoyles live in Phoenixville.
Thank you, Jean and Michael!
Finishing a sculpture is more than a good feeling. It’s kind of like the day after you give birth and you have to keep staring at the results. And sometimes poking the baby to make sure s/he’s still breathing.
With sculpture, you have to know when to stop poking it. With kids, you can continue to poke them till they start poking you back.
I think this one might just be done.
The frog sculpt’s destiny as a gargoyle was thwarted by everyone at the studio who bemoaned that it was too much a frog to be a gargoyle and that I should make a different gargoyle frog. I proved too weak to fight and succumbed to artsy pressure. So now, the frog who could have been a gargoyle is just a frog drying and waiting to be fired. *sigh*
they are just frogs.
Made reasonable progress on the little frog gargoyle today. Next week I’ll hollow him out (which consists of slicing him in two, scooping out the innards and then smooshing him back together. Sculpture is not a gentle art form. After that he’ll get his gargoyle wings, maybe fangs or a horn and some details on his skin.
Everybody at the studio wants me to leave him as an ordinary frog. They said, make a different frog into a gargoyle.
Doing a series of unlikely gargoyles is going to be more difficult than I thought.
Here’s froggy so far…
So things get away from me sometimes and tend to bunch up. Which means I now have a rather large group of sculptures waiting to be finished. They’re all fired, some have the start of patinas, others are bare and probably embarrassed to be photographed.
The poor gnome on the left has been waiting for almost two years for attention, and the abstract forms may be plotting rebellion. But the lion, even though youngest of the group, is just about done. The other gargoyle will be next in line as there is a show being planned featuring gargoyles, so he must be ready.
The vultures came through the fire intact. I was concerned about them cracking around the wings or necks, but apparently, the fire gods were smiling. I decided on a bronze-like patina for them, which I think came out okay. I see all the flaws, but I hope you don’t — or can at least forgive me for them.
Now, I need to find a base to attach them to. I’m thinking simple but on the tall side.
anyway…here they are.
Loki has a favorite ball. It’s a red ball that flashes light when it is moved, jostled, or nudged. My cousin, Donna gave her this ball many years ago — at least 8 or so. We’re all amazed that the flashy thing inside still works.
Loki doesn’t really like playing fetch. She has her own way of playing ball. She gets the ball of choice, runs up to the human she has decided needs her attention, and growls menacingly. This is her invitation to the human to try and get the ball. As you go to take it from her, the pitch and volume of her growl grows and she does her best imitation of an attack monster-dog defending her young. If you back off or try to ignore her, she will continue to close in, eventually nudging your hand or dropping the ball in your lap while continuing to growl with gusto, as if to say, “stupid human, you are supposed to grasp the ball with your hand and pull on it while it’s in my mouth. Hasn’t anyone taught you how to play?”
Sometimes she will go to a spot in the room or out on the deck with the ball or other toy in her mouth, sit facing the humans with the hope that they will notice she wants to play. If they fail to notice after a certain amount of time (say, a few minutes), she will drop the ball with a sigh and stare at you with the saddest look I’ve ever seen on the face of a most well-loved dog.
So, I sculpted Loki waiting with her ball. She’s done in red, outdoor sculpture clay with a pigmented wax patina. It doesn’t do her justice.
I’ve entered her in a juried art show and I really hope she gets in. I also hope to get up some better photos of the piece to put up on Flickr and my website. But for now, here’s Loki, waiting to play.
Finishing the crow yesterday made me realize how much I want to concentrate on ceramic sculpture at this time.
I’ve experimented lately with oil clay as a temporary medium for later casting. I enjoy working in oil clay but it is so expensive to have molds made and casting into a permanent material — well, it’s simply not feasible for me.
I also tried carving in stone and really really like it, but again, there are problems for me. My hands can’t take it. The arthritis in my thumbs is simply not amused by all the pounding and bashing. Workspace is a big issue with all the shards and dust stone carving creates. I’d have to work in the driveway, which is thoroughly unappealing to me (wishing for that garage or studio–someday). And it takes forever! I don’t think I’ll live long enough to do more than a couple pieces.
And anyway, I love the feel of earthen clay. It’s cool, pliable, grounding and quirky.
So, as soon as my current obligations are met, I will not be taking on any more illustration work and will concentrate on experimenting with ceramic sculpture and developing a strong body of work.
and well…. I just like playing in the mud.
So, we went to the art show opening tonight to find out that my sculpture, “gargoyle dog” won the Merion Art Repro award. The piece was also smack dab in the center of the room so it was the first thing you see when you walk into the gallery.
To say I’m surprised is really an understatement. This photo isn’t all that flattering to the piece, but well, what can ya do with a camera phone? There are better shots of this in an earlier post and also on Flickr.
Here’s a closeup through flickr. The color of this is much closer to the actual color of the sculpt.
well, not the whole world, just the small part of my world that was on livejournal.
There was no real reason for this move except that I haven’t bothered posting publicly on Livejournal for quite a while. No real reason for that either. I just lost the habit I suppose. And then I got notification of the yearly fee for my journal and well, since I’m hardly ever using it anymore, it seemed reasonable to do something else. So this is something else. WordPress seems like a decent blogging atmosphere and somehow more “grown up” than LJ. Plus it has a nice import feature that enabled me to get my stuff from LJ copied here. Nice feature!
I’m hoping to talk more about art, wildlife and nature in general and maybe not so much about the personal stuff that seemed to makeup the bulk of what’s over at Livejournal (but, ya never know, at least I don’t).
A few things happening now that I’d like to share….
My husband, his friend A.C. Wise and I have put together a new online magazine called The Journal of Unlikely Entomology of which the first issue has garnered some rather nice comments.
We created the journal to be “a new literary market for fiction that delves into the world of things that creep and crawl and explores the limits of what it means to be human” (from the about page). The Journal will be published biannually in May and November, with the possibility of an additional “roving mini-issue” some time during the year. There’s also a blog associated with it, Grump’s Journal, if you are interested in finding out more about the contributing authors and artists. The blog will include announcements, calls for submissions as well as guest bloggers.
Today is the opening of The Wayne Art Center’s student show, in which I have one small sculpture. I’ve included a picture of it below…but if you are local to the area, please drop by the center and take a look at all the works. There are a lot of very talented people working at the center, and the gallery space at the center is really quite nice.