Friday, February 29, 2008

Jagged Edges: City Sketch

Pastels on Tiziano with pumice ground added
30x23 cm (12x9 in)

This is another piece of the Tiziano. Happy with the first firing of the glass piece (you'll see that tomorrow, after it comes out of the kiln for the second time), I approached the paper with a feeling of adventure. I've had images of downtown Portland, Oregon, where I used to live, moving around in my head for some time. I decided to do a freewheel sketch with the bright colors of the Nupastels to see if I could capture a little of that feeling of city movement and light and energy. Whatever it is, it was fun to do. Makes me remember the fun of being young and involved in a city full of lively art.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Island Eclipse

Pastels on Tiziano with pumice ground added
30x23 cm (9x12 in)

Remember that oversize piece of blue Tiziano I was supposed to be doing something with? It turned out to be the wrong background for what it was intended for, so I brushed off the pastels and used something else. It's just been sitting around here, bugging the devil out of me. So the other day I used alcohol to set the base, and cut it up into smaller pieces. One of those pieces went through several iterations, leaving me with massive frustration and an even odder looking foundation after all those brushings off of pastel dust. Now, I know the reason I am struggling is because something is trying to emerge, and I just am not there yet.

Trying hard to ignore the paper, I got the first stage of a glass piece ready for the kiln, and set it cooking. Then I couldn't avoid the paper. I just got my new set of Nupastels, and decided to use the darn paper just to experiment with them. Looking at the outlines of what went before, I turned the paper on its side and started laying in blocks. Guess I was influenced by the lunar eclipse, and thinking of how pretty it might have looked over Puget Sound from one of the islands, because that is what eventually emerged. Not the direction I feel myself moving in, but it has a certain appeal. And it got that piece of paper off my easel.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vermont Geology

Float glass, 5.75x9 in, unmounted

This piece came out of the kiln this morning. Looking for a background to photograph it against that would show up the texture, I found that an earth color worked best. It gave me an idea for mounting it- on a piece of weathered or stained wood. I'll see if I can find the right piece of wood for it.

In the meantime, going nuts looking at frames for my next batch of paintings to go to galleries. I'm still using narrow black gallery frames, but I want to use a wider frame with a little more elegance for some of my paintings. Oh, the choices! Oh, the torture! Oh, the expense! And what color???

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Slightly Strange Orange, a sketch

pastels on Canson Mi-Teintes yellow
5x6 in (10 minute sketch)

I get it now! Okay, so the shadow isn't quite right, but that's beside the point. I can fix that.

Frustrated with false starts and pieces that just didn't work, I took a break and read, cooked, and baked for three days (very good thing to do anyway with the chilly weather we've been having). Then, trying to get myself back in art frame of mind, I started organizing and cleaning up my studio area. I came across a couple of little "how-to" books for beginners that had come with a lot of pastels I'd bought from someone who had decided they weren't her medium. I'd just tossed them into a pile of miscellaneous odds and ends.

As I leafed through the little books, I recognized many of the exercises as things I'd done a loooong time ago learning the basics of art. You know what? They were fun things to do. And random play is exactly the kind of thing to get the juices going.

Also in that pile of stuff was a pad of Canson Mi-Tientes pastel paper that I'd tried and hadn't liked. At all. Yes, it comes in wonderful colors, and I admire what some artists are able to do on it, but I could never make it work for me. So, because I figured I'd never use it for anything serious, I decided it could be my sacrificial lamb to play on. Got out some of my harder pastels, and set to.

Well... I surprised myself. Playing away, not thinking about the outcome, just seeing what happened when I followed this or that exercise... and I suddenly understood what makes Mi-Tientes work. I fell in love with it. Not for replacing my other papers and surfaces, but for itself, because it has a quality of its own that works with certain kinds of techniques and styles. None of the exercises I did produced a piece of art I'd frame and hang-- but it taught me some things that had eluded me before, and got the dust back on my fingers. I think I'll be exploring Mi-Tientes more. I'm so tickled that I decided to post the breakthrough orange, even if it's kind odd looking and the shadow is off!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February Pasture

soft pastel on hotpress, pumice ground added
41x32 cm (16x12.5 in)

Last Saturday, anticipating the series of storms headed our way, I drove to the food coop about 16 miles away to stock up. I like to drive back roads whenever possible to enjoy the scenery without the distraction of traffic. It was about mid-afternoon, and the first of the storms was moving in as I passed through an area of open farmland along the top of a ridge. This scene caught my eye and captured me. Oh, I wished I had thought to bring my camera and sketchpad with me! I was too task oriented when I left, I guess.

At home, I thought about how I wanted to capture the impression it made on me. Next morning, I painted this. It is more complex than it seems. This is one I'll frame for the gallery. (Some paintings are destined for the grey box in the closet.)

Painting and kiln-working glass make a good combination. They feed each other without either getting in the way of the other. This seems to be true for many kiln-workers. And it gives us something to do while waiting for the kiln to do whatever it is going to do (opening the kiln often reveals surprise results). I had set up another small experimental composition of float glass and put it in the kiln just before I began this painting. Now I have another painting to frame, and -maybe - another glass work to mount.

I need to set up a photo booth so I can take presentable pictures of my glass. Stuff is notoriously difficult to photograph.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


My first commission... sort of. I asked my granddaughter what she would like me to paint for her as a gift for her eighth birthday. "A painting of my cat!" Aha. No surprise. So here is Sophie, matted and framed, held by my granddaughter for the camera on the grand day:

soft pastel on hotpress, unmatted image 20x20 cm (8x8 in)

And to share with you the occasion itself, here is a photo of Keely blowing out the special candles her daddy bought to go on the cake her mama made and decorated:

Keely, celebrating her eighth birthday

(Note to myself: do not do pet portraits. Addendum: unless requested by children I am related to. The problem is... most pets are covered with hair. Hair is harder than faces. I'll do the turtle next.)