"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Little Corner

Until we did a major cleaning out of the garage, I had no place to put the nice drafting table I was given several years ago, when a man I worked for, who owned a sign company, retired. It is a heavy duty piece, with shelves and drawers, and a tilting work surface. I like it because I can stand and work, and I can work on bigger pieces, and with paint. Also, the light is the best, coming from a window to my left. And since our garage is now insulated and drywalled, it doesn't get brutally cold in winter, or like an oven during the summer. Right outside the window is the fountain we have in the entryway, so as I work, I hear splashing water, and the birds who come in to drink chirping and talking to each other. Perfect!

It doesn't look like much, but for someone who had nothing but a dark room, a flat table, and carpet under foot in the only other place I could work, this is heaven.

I want to put a cork board on the wall next to the window, and get a bigger supply table (you can see my stuff is bleeding over to the top of the freezer).  The cork board will be for ideas and pictures pulled from magazines or the Internet. I have them pinned and taped to the cardboard protecting the surface of the table, but a real "mood board" would be more fun. The tall thing is a portable standing easel that my first husband made for me. Back in the 70s I used to do really BIG acrylic paintings. These days, the biggest thing I will probably do is 16" x 20" which is what is on the table right now.

With that all set up, I can now work on my next picture in the Gypsy series. This one is Gypsy 2 - Gemini. I am working on illustration board, which I picked up at Craft Warehouse and had them cut to size. There is NO PLACE in Grants Pass, where I live, where I can get illustration board. I have to drive 35 miles into the next county to find it. Nor does my lovely town have any kind of art supply store, so the only place I can attempt to find things, which tends to be limited, is the local JoAnn's, which is a small one, so it only carries the basics, and mainly for crafters, not for painters.

But I really like working on illustration board, so when I have used up the three pieces I currently have, I will have to make that 40 minute drive again. I will console myself with lunch at Olive Garden. I'll call my mom and see if she wants to make a road trip with lunch included.

Here is the preliminary drawing for Gemini, my first attempt at two figures in the same painting, and then a photo of it inked - which is another rant. I was out of my usual pens in the softer colors I like, so settled for what I could get at the grocery store's teensy art section - JoAnn's only sells kits of pens in a bunch of colors I never use. I got two blues I thought would work, and a fine line black. The blues were too blue, so I used the black, which I don't really like, and isn't as fine lined as I had hoped or was marked on the pen, but I wanted to get started, so I used it anyway. Will have to slog back to Michael's in the next county to stock up on pens again.

After looking at the drawing for two or three days, I decided that the face of the figure on the left was too small. I adjusted it, and had to also adjust her features, and lost the original expression on her face, which I like better. But these drawings/painting are all part of my learning curve in getting back into this kind of work, so it just shows I need lots more practice. But boy, did I wear out an erasure trying to get it right. You can see the difference in the inked version. She looks sterner, like she is the sensible one, as compared to her happier sister.

The pose I got from a fashion magazine, and it was of three figures, but I only used two, which for me was scary enough! The garments the women are wearing, and the jewelry are ones I made up. The tattoo on the righthand figure is the astrological symbol for gemini. Gotta love a Google search when you need one! It gave me tons of designs to choose from. I picked one and modified it.

Before this, I had been working on paper, and the paper had a texture that created a bit of drag when I inked things in. Wow, forgot how slick illustration board is, and nearly skated my first lines way out of whack before taking a deep breath and starting again.  Next step is to add color, which has me hyperventilating at the very thought, but I will battle on!

Lastly, just an FYI to clarify. I am throwing these preliminary drawings on here not so much for comments on whether they are good or bad (feel free to do so, but be kind!), but to show the trials and many tribulations of someone like me, or anyone, who is trying to reclaim a talent that has been dormant for over 30 years. It is fun, frustrating, and a little sad, when I think of how much better technically I would be had I kept honing those skills for all those lost years. But I am excited as well, and even if this piece turns out to be a total bust, which it probably will, I will have learned from it and will move on to the next one.

All I am trying to say with these posts about my journey back into art, is that anyone wanting to reclaim a talent or skill they once had can do it. When I posted about this on Facebook, I had several people remember things they used to do years ago and had let slide. For one it was playing a musical instrument, for another it was a loom she used to work on which had been sitting idle for years. And so it went.

I am lucky in that I now have the time and the space to work. It makes this journey, bumpy as it will be, a bit easier. It is a journey I am already enjoying, and it has only just started. It would be nice if, by posting these early attempts,  I could inspire a few others to start their own journey.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dragonfly T-Shirt

While my computer was down this is the project I was working on, and just finished yesterday. It is another project involving stencils, which I love. The shirt is from the Goodwill (big surprise) and the blue bit is from the sleeve of an old T-shirt of mine, and the purple bit is from a piece left over from a bolero I made quite a while back. The beads are from my stash.

The stencil if from Martha Stewart, bought at Michaels craft store. The paint is DecoArt in Glamour Dust Purple Passion. It is a glitter paint, but not bright, cheesy glitter. It is very fine, like fairy dust.

This photo makes the material look green. It isn't, but you can see how fine the glitter is.

The dragonfly appliqué is stitched onto the shirt with a beaded backstitch, using doubled regular sewing thread. The stitching around the dragonfly is a single thread, while the swirls with pearls (he, he), are again doubled threads. I figure since all of the clothes I have made over the years have held together just fine using regular sewing thread, using it for this should be no problem. Embroidery thread would have been too thick.

When I had finished doing the dragonfly appliqué, I decided the design looked a bit skimpy, so I added the lettering piece. It is sewn on with a doubled thread, with beads at each corner. The letters were a stamp, and it didn't come out as bright as I thought it would, so I did tiny, single thread stitches within the stamped letters, to get them to show up better. The paint was more of the DecoArt,  satin finish (no glitter), in a color called Coastal Waters. This is the first experiments I have done with the DecoArt paints, which are supposed to be multi-surface, with fabric being one of those. I saw them at Michaels craft store, and really hoped they would work out, since there are a bazillion colors to choose from, including metallics, and more colors with fine glitter. I have a metallic copper I am going to try next. So far, I like them, but they do make the fabric a bit stiff.

I think the lettering piece would be a lot better if the paint had been brighter, but, oh well. I still like the way the shirt  came out. I wanted to keep it all pretty simple, so this one is done.  I will not be adding beads or stitching to the neckline and sleeves of the T-shirt, like I have done on other projects.

Now it's on to the next sewing project, which will be an SCA riding tunic for Robert. We have an event coming up in May, and all of his other costumes are 30+ years old, so I think he deserves something new. All I have to do is clear off my work table in the garage, which since the last time I used it has collected a bunch of clutter that needs to be put away.

I also have another drawing in the gypsy series I want to start...maybe today.
And the garden is in and the new veggies need watering.
And the horse stalls need cleaning.

Always something...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Life WC = Without Computer

The day after Easter Sunday my computer stopped working. I would turn it on, it would sing a few bars of its merry wakeup tune, then it would turn itself off. Not good. After about the forth or fifth time it did that, I decided something was really wrong, and called the MAC Genius. I was told to bring the machine in, as it sounded like it was the power board that had gone out. So, I unplugged everything and off to the MAC Genius I went.

After a week and a half of trial and error he finally figured out what was wrong, but it took the following process for that to happen: Power board = nope, hard drive = nope, memory board = nope, and finally, RAM board = shazzam! Apparently it took so long to figure it out, because if one of the RAM boards (I had three) goes out, a little beep sounds when you turn on the machine. Mine didn't beep, hence that was the last place he looked for a problem. So, he pulled out the bad board and everything was good to go. He also did an upgrade, so I am now running the current MAC program, called Yosemite, since they have moved away from naming the programs after big cats, and have now moved to Scenic Places in California.

While the computer was gone I discover something important. But it took me three or four days to realize it. At day one, I was in withdrawals. At day two, I was getting used to the idea that it was gone. By day three, I was actually glad it was gone. Strange, I know! I told my husband I felt free. I no longer felt compelled to fire it up first thing in the morning, troll through FB to see what everyone else was doing, get lost for hours on Pinterest, or check blog sites—my own included. I compare it to a drug addict going through withdrawals. Once past the worst of it, I realized I didn't need it. I didn't have the angst of making sure I stayed "in the loop" on FB, or felt hurt if no one commented on something I posted. By day four, I almost wished it would go away permanently.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy social media as much as the next girl, but it was refreshing to realize that I could get along without it. Instead of looking at kewl stuff on Pinterest, I was busy making kewl stuff instead. Rather than trolling FB, which is mostly people ranting about politics, religion, or posting dumb memes, or pictures of their pets, I was out working in my garden. Out in the real world!

Granted, I am not, nor was I ever, a "sit in front of the computer all day" kind of person, but I came to realize that I could spend even less time on it than I was, and get WAY more things done. Since I got the computer back, yes, I check FB, blogs, and keep informed about the clubs I belong to which have FB pages. I check in with the friends I really care about, who post things I am interested in. But all that has been cut back to a minimum.

Would I ever give up the computer completely? No. I love the fact that I can google search anything and get an answer. If I need resource material or pictures, I can find them. There are two blog sites that I follow, both by artists, that I would not want to be without. And even though it can be a grossly addicting time warp, I do like to troll Pinterest, and would not want to be without my own board on that site. I guess it all boils down to dosage. Less time spent, make it quality time, and then bail out.

So, there really is life WC—or at least LC = Less Computer.