Friday, January 31, 2014

Paper on Canvas

This is an 8 x 8 inch piece I did recently, acrylics and handmade paper on canvas board.  The handmade paper is from the early 1990s, when I took a papermaking class at Magnolia Editions in Oakland, and subsequently made a few batches in my kitchen in San Francisco.  That was my papermaking career. 

I love the process but simply don't have the room anymore to do it, including zero space to let the paper dry.  At any rate, it was only a few years ago I began using my stash from earlier, and I still have a number of untorn sheets left.  So I'm covered.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


My first humble experiments with lesson 3's Color Field work.  These little guys are just 5-1/2 inches square.

For my money, Jane's entire 6-week class could be focused on this one area.  I'll be doing a lot more experimenting here.  Did a few larger pieces yesterday, but I'm still working out the color thing.
I decided the other night to not take any more online classes for a good while, maybe the rest of this year (possibly forever?).  There's so much meat in both Dynamic Composition and Extreme Composition, that I likely have enough to work with for the remainder of my painting career. 

Somebody, please, pinch me if I make noises about wanting to take another online class.  The same goes for the other things I do, actually ~ book making, art journaling.  I have enough information.  I've just got to use it.  There's no way to get better at something than actually doing opposed to learning more about it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Stamp Heads

A recent craze in the mail art/mixed media world is to create ATCs or postcards featuring peoples' heads on postage stamps.  Last Friday I made myself a batch of ATCs to send to mail art peeps.  All the backgrounds are ads or early photos from vintage magazines.

I added bits of washi tape where the magazine image didn't cover the ATC, then a few words from an old book.

After rooting through my entire collection of postage stamps, I can say without a doubt that the one person in the world who is immortalized on more stamps worldwide than anyone else, is Queen Elizabeth.  Hail to the Queen.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Old Books, part 3

This week's edition features a variety of old books.

The first, Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book, is a paperback essentially, with pamphlet stitch binding, although it is 8-1/2 x 11 inches.  A dear friend sent me this a couple years ago.

Elbert Hubbard was one of the proponents or founders of the Arts & Crafts Movement in the early 20th century.  This volume was published in 1923 by the Roycrofters, a community of artisans that Hubbard founded in 1895 in Aurora, NY.

Since the early 1970s I've been a keen Arts & Crafts aficionado.  This book quickly became a dear possession of mine.  The book contains quotes and passages of the writings of others that Hubbard collected.  A verbal art journal, if you will.

This book is European Architecture in the Twentieth Century, Vol. 1.  Bought from used bookstore $1 shelf. 

Published in 1950, it has great b&w photos and drawings.  One of my favorite art classes, eons ago when I was in college, was architecture.  I've often said that in another life, I might be an architect.

You might remember that my journal collages from 2012 primarily focused on architectural elements.
With Lawrence in Arabia by Lowell Thomas is from the early 1930s.  There's actually no date of publication, although the penned inscription by the original owner is from 1935.

This also from the $1 shelf at Eureka Books.   When Lawrence of Arabia came out in the early 1960s, I actually tried to read T.E. Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom."  Way too heady for a young teenager, who was admittedly more taken with Peter O'Toole than Lawrence himself.  Anyway, should I ever decide to learn more about what actually went on back then, I'd sooner read this Lowell Thomas book.
This is Barlow's Tables of Squares, Cubes, Square Roots, Cube Roots and Reciprocals, from 1930.  Contains a brief introduction and then nearly 200 pages of tables.  Another $1 shelf find.

Glued inside the front cover is a typewritten note by the owner ~ "This book is the property of Harold D. Carter.  Furthermore:  1. I don't wish to loan this book to anybody.   2. I use it every day.  3. I don't want it taken out of this office, except by myself."

This little beauty is from 1942.  And it really is little ~ 5 x 3-1/2 inches.  Thrift store or $1 shelf buy.

It is dedicated to the memory of Alexander Grosset, who had asked the author to write the book ten years before he actually did.  Grosset ~ from Grosset & Dunlap publishers.

I had a fondness for Grosset & Dunlap when I was a kid.  After all, they published some of my favorite books of the time, including Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web.
This is another very cool book, published in 1914.  It was a Fortuna High School textbook, although I think I got it for $1 from Eureka Books.

I've always been musical, always had a good ear, can sight read music, played piano quite well for only five years of study, later played guitar and ukulele.  Alas, I can't play my uke any longer because of my hand and wrist problems. 
This one's a hoot.  Lots of very cool illustrations ~ see next photo.  This book is from 1970 which in some sense seems like just yesterday, especially compared with some of the really old books I have.  But considering how everything in life has been exploding geometrically and exponentially in just the last 25 years, 1970 seems like the dinosaur age. 

I also have another similar book, Industrial Production Illustration.  Both came from a local thrift store. 

This book, A Net of Fireflies, was a real find.  It's from 1963 yet seems brand new.  The contents are Japanese haiku and haiku paintings.  See next photo.

It is a beautifully covered, bound and produced book.  The pages are such that the folds in the paper are on the outer edges.  Almost like an accordion book that was case bound.  The back section of the book is a very long essay on haiku.  Someone ripped open the folds on those pages, so with the turn of a page of text, the next spread is blank.

$1 shelf buy.

This large-format book is called Color in Sketching and Rendering, from 1946.  Another thrift store find.

This is like an art textbook, it tells you how to do every kind of sketching imaginable, with great attention to detail.  You can see how wonderful the illustrations are.

I might actually get around to reading this one sometime.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Study of Pens

This is another line-play series I did, maybe 10 days ago.  These are all 5-1/2 inch square.  The fat gray line is acrylic paint, the other lines are pens ~ white Uniball Signo gel pen, black Pitt Artist pen, copper PenTouch pen.

Regarding pens in general, I've slowly been trying much of what's available, buying a couple or three different types with each order of supplies from Dick Blick.  In my experience, the ones that are often heralded as the next best thing since sliced bread, frequently disappoint.  Pigma Micron is one of those for me, although many artists regale them.  So be it.

The main thing about pens, though, is that you find you need a variety of types in order to use them on a wide variety of substrates and applied media.  Some are permanent but not waterproof, some are both permanent and waterproof, which you need if you plan to do anything on top of the ink.  Some write on anything, some won't write on crayon or pastels, like the non-paint markers (and especially the porous-tip pens like Micron, Pitt, Sharpie).
Then there's nib size.  Like with paint brushes, there's no standardization.  One brand's .5mm nib will be fatter than the next brand's.  So you end up buying a lot of pens just to find a few that work for you.

The ones I like best for laying down a good solid line and which write on anything are the acrylic paint pens.  Only a few brands have really fine nibs, most have wider nibs for applications on posters and other larger work.  My faves in this category are Sakura PenTouch, Sakura IdentiPen (dual nibbed, fine and ultra-fine), and Sharpie Paint ultra-fine.

Uniball Signo UM-153 in black and white are probably the best gel pens, their gold is a winner as well.  These write really well on most things, but they're not waterproof...which can be a problem.

I have countless other brands of pens in my collection, as well, and I'm always adding more.  Some I write with occasionally only.  And I weed through my collection periodically to get rid of the ones that don't work for me.  Another factor that I take into consideration is how the pen feels in my hand.  Some are simply too thin and hurt too much to write with for any length of time.

The ones I mentioned above are the best I've found for the art applications I've been using them for.  Pens for just writing have their own idiocyncracies and are too numerous to mention.  Except to say that I prefer my handwriting with Sharpie Ultra Fine Point pens, but the nibs break down easily and the pens run out of ink too quickly.  Thank goodness, though, they're only about a buck a piece at Blick.

The best selection of art pens is at Dick Blick.  The best selection of writing pens and many art pens is at Jet Pens

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Like It Is

This is another recent page from my current art journal.  I really enjoy finding a few elements and virtually throwing them together.  Pretty much, anything goes.

I've been in one of those internal conversational modes where I find my inner critic passing judgment on how much time I spend in the studio each day and how much art I make.  Old habits die hard.  I always think I should be spending more time at it, trying more, producing more.  This is a real hard one to let go of. 

On the other hand ~ I've become a voracious reader.  I read on average three books a week, about 1000 pages.  Last night I realized, holy cow, that's some accomplishment. 

At the very end of it all, perhaps the only thing that will matter is whether or not I had a chance to experiment with all the art supplies I purchased.  Maybe I will; but maybe I won't.  It doesn't matter.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Line and Shape Combos

The last part of lesson 2 was to create compositions using shape and line on a painted background.  These are two of my pieces, 9 inches square.

After painting the initial black shapes on the backgrounds, I knocked them back (toned them down) considerably with white paint, then built the composition forward again with additional elements.

In the piece on top, I used a new-to-me technique, making simple paper stencils and masks and drawing inside the stencil shape or outside the mask.  Those jagged white lines were made with gel pen around the outside edge of a mask.  The squiggly gray squares were made with gel pen inside a square stencil.

In the second piece, I did more free hand work than I normally do.  The fat squares were made with paint and watercolor brush, the messy black circles on the painted orange circles were made with pen.  Actually, the orange circles were made using a paper stencil as well.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Arrangements

Week 2 of Extreme Composition has focused on shapes.  One of the assignments was to do a number of black-white-gray pieces with arrangements of shapes.  These are all 9 inches square.

One of the circles pieces I did became an outtake ~ which immediately became two postcards and two ATCs.  Excellent way to recycle one's own experimental work.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Old Books, part 2

Today's old book installment features collected children's books.  Generally these are easier to come by than the vintage gardening books I covet.

These three are from the late 1940s-early 1950s.  Think Dick and Jane.  I found these at various local thrift shops.
This one is from 1936.  The subtitle is "Literary Selections, Seventh Year," meaning the stories were collected with 7th grade students in mind.  This also came from a thrift store.
Frank, The Young Naturalist is part of the author's gun-boat series; copyright 1892.  I got this at the Fortuna Library's semi-annual sale last year.
Luck and Pluck is another textbook from the California State Series, from 1954.  Thrift-store find.
Another California State Series book from 1940.  This one has mostly word problems, and wonderful illustrations.  Also from the thrift store.
You might remember seeing this last summer when I posted it right after finding it for 50 cents at the Fortuna community yard sale.  This one is from 1926.  Other than the outer spine being missing, it's in rather good condition for its age.
Every single page in the book has an illustrated border.
These I picked up just recently at the Humboldt Flea Market.  They are 1953 editions of this series that was originally published in 1920.  One of you dear readers has a complete set of these, minus one book.  Lucky you!

Next week ~ odds and assortment of cool old books that don't fit into any one category.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Small Series

To conclude Extreme Comp lesson 1, I did this series of small paintings with color and line.  Each is 5-1/2 inches square.  The idea was to use the same colors and line tools in all.  I did another set as well ~ with different colors and different lines ~ which I'll show you sometime next week.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Color with Lines

These are samples from the next part of Extreme Composition Lesson 1 -- painting a background and experimenting with lines of different types.

The thick line in these two pieces is watered down acrylic paint, the rest of the lines are various pens.

I really love Jane Davies' classes, and I appreciate that she is encouraging us to stay loose and experimental, and to develop the skill and habit of observation without going directly to evaluation.  I so need to hear this. 

My goal for today is to complete lesson 1 so I can spend the next few days on lesson 2.