Yet Another Addiction (Rust Printing on Paper)

Book cover on Tyvek

Book cover on Tyvek

On a whim I signed up for a two-day class of Rust Dyeing on Paper with the option of creating a book out of my experiments. This was in Asheville at Bookworks, and I had no idea what to expect.  But what I didn’t expect was to be almost immediately hooked on the teacher, the process, and the final product.

Mostly steel, some brass

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Unlike regular eco-dyeing on fabric, you can complete many pieces in under a day, all dry and ready to be stitched into a book.  I brought home around 40 pieces.

There’s both little and much to learn; it’s your choice.  And it is easy to get started in this with almost instantaneous results, but I’m one of those people whose mind spontaneously ignites with “what if’s” and I can’t seem to stop.  I now find myself looking at everything everywhere and questioning if it will rust and whether I can print with it.

So here are some examples of my foray into this new-to-me art form.  I am very pleased and full of wonder about what a little tea, iron, vinegar, clorox, lye, some watercolor paper and a collection of rusty metal pieces can produce.  If you’re not into this kind of thing, I imagine you’ll merely see the top of an old coffee table covered in water marks and stains.  I on the other hand see splendid chemical reactions and wondrous art surprises.

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You have GOT to be kidding!



Seriously.  I know I’m getting old, and there is a cultural issue in play here, but if you read this tag, really read it, and get the point, perhaps you can explain it to me because I am mystified.  And did I mention that the reverse of the tag reads:  “$58”

It’s a simple striped pullover.

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Joined the Army at 12

My husband joined the Army at 12 years old.  Not the American Army, but rather Arnie’s Army.  It was an exhibition at the Country Club of Virginia James River Course in Richmond where he could not contain his excitement, and he ran up to Arnie, who was walking up to his fairway ball, and asked for his autograph.  Instead of being accosted by one of those red-shirted pole-carrying volunteers who keep order with the spectators, Arnie, walking with Lanny Wadkins, simply put his arm around this young man’s shoulder and said “Not now son.  But find me later.”  …or something to that effect.

arnold-palmer-thumbs-up-731x411-1And later, true to his word, Arnold Palmer gave my future husband an autographed photo and some more kind words, shook his hand, and made a consummate golfer out of yet another fan.

Somehow, and this is the way of life, that photo, which hung on his bedroom wall until he went off to college, went missing.  Did his mom pack it away or inadvertently throw it out? She was a golf fanatic herself so the latter seems incomprehensible.  But missing it went, and missing it stayed.

Through the years, having heard this story multiple times, I more than once wrote it on my”to-do” list to write to Arnie, remind him of that event, tell him about the missing photo, and ask for another one.  But, and this is yet another one of those “way of life” things, I did not and now I can’t.

To me Arnold Palmer is like Atticus Finch, someone I would love to have had as a father. That is the highest praise I can give anyone.  I am profoundly touched by this man’s passing.

Hit ’em straight, Arnie.  We will all miss you.

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Definitely Not a Weed

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I have a pot of old herbs at the end of my driveway.  I don’t harvest them, or prune them, or feed them for that matter.  And I’ve been meaning to pull them out and start over since they’ve been coming and going for about three years.  Mostly a weed has taken over; at least I thought it was a weed until this morning it bloomed. And with the bloom came the most deliciously weird fragrance.  It was vaguely familiar, and well it should be. I drink it in my Earl Grey decaf tea every night before bed.  It’s bergamot.

It’s beautiful in the wild, and even prettier on my dining room table.  And the fragrance, not unlike the effect of lavender, is calming.

I’m going to set this plant free this fall or next spring to spread out in a new herb garden.  (If you click this photo three times slowly, it enlarges so much you can really see the detail in these flowers!)

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Baby Owl Painting

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Will be offering this little owlet as class number two in the series later in the summer.  But right at the moment, I’m noticing that my cats keep looking at this painting.  Maybe they look at all my paintings, and I just haven’t noticed that.

Where have my watercolors gone?  And why is it so much easier to paint with acrylics????

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FINGERPAINTING (a class is born)

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This is being offered locally as a quick class in fingerprinting.  I’ve found that placing the background and much of the bird’s body on the canvas with my fingers cuts down on prep time.  It also allows more latitude in highlighting and shadowing without showing the brush strokes… which is how I discovered this.  When painting large areas I realized I was using my hands to smooth things out and diminish the look of the stroke work.  So why not just start out that way, I thought.  And it worked well.

The class is May 21st, a Saturday.  It starts at noon and runs until we’re finished; about four or five hours.  All materials will be provided, and the cost is $45.  Anyone local who is interested may contact me though this website or call me if you know my number.  Former students will receive an email with instructions.  Thanks for looking.

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Got Milk?

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Been working in acrylics again because I’m getting ready for two teaching opportunities this summer.  This cow is a composite of several cows I found on the Internet.  I think animals are easier than anything, and acrylics are far easier than watercolors.  But as soon as I get all my plants in, I’ll be outside with my little watercolor box, painting some flowers before they turn.

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But this is….about art.

breeI have a friend who’s been very kind to me.  He’s a policeman in my small town, and he works the night shift.  He knows I live alone, and I see him drive by my house often.  He looks out for me.

And he has a dog that he loves.  Another of my friends who is his neighbor took a picture of the dog and I did the painting.  It was a struggle not making each side match.   The light source was very bright and the colors were difficult and not uniform.  It seemed like pieces were missing and some lines were too … linear … to be on a dog.  But this is what I saw, so this is what I painted.

I gave it to him tonight and he said his wife would be thrilled.  It is actually her dog.

It feels so good to be able to do something for someone who seems to always be doing something for me.

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Chicks Painting Chickadees

Chicks with their Chickadees

Chicks with their Chickadees

When I left Virginia in 2004, I left many former decorative painting students behind.  While I knew I would miss them, and the fun we had in class, I was ready to cross  over to watercolor. But the immutable fact is that I’m just not good enough to teach watercolor, so I’m back to teaching decorating painting. Since I have dozens of prepared classes and samples painted, starting  over has been easier than I expected.

Our first class went three nights over three weeks for 3 hours each night.  Most of these students are true beginners, yet all of them grasped the stroke work quickly, and I believe all of them are happy with their pieces.  At least happy enough to sign up to another project, an acrylic sheep on canvas to start the end of March.last night painting

I LOVE being in a room of creative people, whether I am teaching or learning.  I really enjoy sharing what I know about this art form, and the camaraderie was evident at the introduction of the first class.  Everyone made new friends.   Painting partnerships formed.

I’ve interviewed at the new Hobby Lobby in Statesville and have been hired to teach all-day Saturday classes of my choosing.  The jury is out on the Hickory store, and I’m still waiting to hear.  But in the meantime, I’m putting those classes together as well; one class for two stores; one half the prep work.  Got to love that.

last night paintingI’m in a “window show” at the local record store on Main Street for the month of March.  I have photos and will post about this soon.  But the biggest news is that I’ve decided to take some private lessons from a very seasoned artist in Asheville by the name of Jason Rafferty

I have asked for still life instruction, with a focus on composition and drawing.  I could also use more color theory as I find in my own work the most difficult part is finding the right colors.

Check out his website, especially the “Heirloom Tomatoes” and “Farmers Market Gourd” that you’ll find if you scroll nearly to the bottom of his first page.  It was these two paintings that attracted me most.  Wish me luck!

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A Week of Bliss: Lian Quan Zhen

I schedule these classes a year in advance; you have to because they fill within days of being offered.  This past week could be considered the best art instruction I’ve ever had.  Lian Quan Zhen was at Cheap Joes, and I got there early enough on Monday to get a front row seat.  And it was worth it.

If you are an artist you already know this.  Continuing education is paramount to keeping up your skills.  The costs can be daunting for the five days, but they do provide tasty lunches.  And all of these classes, without exception, are rolling advertisements for products, “highly recommended” and available right through those adjacent doors.  Of course many of Zhen’s originals and prints were displayed on the walls around the classroom, begging your attention and money.  But if you can resist all the temptations and simply concentrate on the demos of the class, you will learn so much from this man.

I did three paintings, none of which I feel happy enough about to put up here, so instead I’ve displayed one of his that is similar to one we painted during class time.  And therein lies the best part.  While many instructors have you sit in uncomfortable chairs watching them paint, whistle, and occasionally make a remark about what is good or bad about that last stroke, Zhen paints quickly, noting each color often, each stroke and how he did it, AND reiterates often to get his point across.  “Change color; change shape; …. Never put dark next to dark…. Hold your brush like this…”  His demos were short and we were back at our painting tables applying what we just learned.   Several students agreed that many instructors should take Zhen’s class to learn how to instruct.”  And I agree with them.

The first two days were Chinese painting with Chinese tools and paints.  I have a new appreciation for the art form and will continue to learn it.  The rest of the week was conventional watercolor, but several of the Chinese painting techniques crossed over easily.  Zhen paints a lot with his fingers.  He uses spray bottles, straws, and a variety of items to remove paint when things get too wet.  He throws paint on the paper and watches it do its own thing, or coaxes it to move and blend.  It’s almost like magic, and I wound up referring to him as the “Go-Go-Gadget of Watercolor.”  I should have taken notes, and I regret I didn’t because at the end I found myself buying several of his DVD’s for reference.

The moral of this post is to recommend his class.  There wasn’t one moment of boredom or confusion.  He’s a great teacher, a fantastic watercolor artist, and even if you don’t have an interest in painting like him, you will still learn volumes that will enhance your own style to a measurable degree.  Check him out.

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