Since I missed celebrating the equinox on the right date, I am belatedly posting pictures of spring flowers blooming in my yard. This one is the front yarn, showing multiple pansies, some grape hyacinths, and the foliage of daffodils whose blooms got zapped in the late February freeze.
Another view including late blooming daffs that just opened up this week.
Two views of the back yard.
On to more artsy subjects. I may have mentioned that I am taking a course in traditional art. It runs for ten weeks, five of which are devoted to drawing. Since I am nearly finished with the drawing portion of the course, I thought I would share some pages from my sketchbook.
Full disclosure: I am not really working very hard at this, due to other, more deadline-driven projects that have eaten away at my free time. Here are some pages with notes and examples of drawing adult and child portraits.
The first lesson was about still life drawing.
Next came portraits of children. I chose to draw three girls from a photograph I found on Unsplash.com. I was charmed by their expressions.
Last Monday, we moved on to animals. This drawing is based on a magazine photograph – probably National Geographic.
It’s been pretty fun so far. There is a lot light-hearted banter, and no-one is stressing about their performance very much. From feedback I have received, I am encouraged to try more portraits. I’m also ready to have a go at drawing those frisky squirrels which make their home in our trees and regularly steal food from the bird feeders.
My creative bent took an unexpected turn today. I started the day by thinking about Van Gogh. You see in the photo the sunflowers I planted this year. I took this image over my garden fence with the idea that it would make a good reference photo for artwork. To further this end, I made a sketch of the photo this morning.
This is a simplified image that I thought would work well for either water color or fiber. Since I am currently up to my eyeballs in reference photos suitable for water color painting, I decided to make a small art quilt featuring sunflowers.
This is what led my brain to Van Gogh. Sunflowers were a favorite subject of the artist. He liked to paint them as still life images, cut and arranged in a vase.
I intended to portray them growing in the garden. But I wanted to create a “Van Gogh” like background – full of color, motion and energy. Think of Starry Night as an example.
During my blog browsing today, I came across a post from the group 15 by 15. This is a very creative group of quilters who like to work challenges. One of the members mentioned that she used the “confetti technique” to create the background of her new work for the current challenge.
My brain started firing up! What is this “confetti technique?” I must learn more!
Of course You-tube came to the rescue. I found an explanation on how to add confetti to a quilt. There are several techniques, but I watched this one by Gail Hunt.
The rest of the afternoon went like this:
Find a bunch of scraps. (I used several from my Under the Sea quilt, because they already had adhesive attached to them.) With your rotary cutter, slice them to bits.
Arrange on a background fabric and press them down with your iron.
Cover the piece with a bit of tulle or netting. Glue or stitch it in place.
With sewing machine and free motion foot, stitch over the piece like crazy. (I used black thread to meander on the background and sew straight lines over the pale bits.)
I then switched to white thread and made swirls into the dark areas.
Sometimes Life sends you a gift. Late last week, my husband and I decided it was time to go camping. We needed the therapy of the great outdoors. He checked online and discovered that the fishing lakes in Kansas are still open to the public. After reviewing the weather forecast, we chose Tuesday, April 7 for our outing. The weather would be dry and the temperatures mild.
He is an avid fly fisherman and hadn’t dropped a fly in the water for ten months. I don’t care for fishing, preferring to sit at the lake’s edge and enjoy more passive activities. I brought a book, my sketching supplies and a pile of tangled yarn to straighten out.
We arrived around eleven a.m. at our favorite Kansas lake. At that time, there was almost no one else there. It was glorious – the sun glinting on the water, the fresh breeze blowing off the water and the trees just barely showing leaves. He was off like a shot in his float tube and I got out my sketch book.
This is the first outdoor sketching I have done since getting interested in drawing last year. I found the experience very relaxing. The goal of the plein-air sketch is just to capture some basic information about what you see. It’s after you bring the sketches back to your studio that you can turn them into more detailed drawings. These bluebirds intrigued me. I had never seen a pair as such close range, and never seen them nesting in nature.
Here’s the yarn I untangled. It used to be a cabled glove in process. I decided to abandon the project completely and start over with the green wool.
After cooking and eating dinner, the sun was beginning to set. Eager to see it up close we strolled along the lakeshore toward the western part of the lake. Bill took still images and made a few videos of the gorgeous sky and its reflection in the water. Once the show was over, we turned and proceeded back along the shore, now looking east.
We were astonished at what happened next. The full moon, now rising just below tree tops, sliding up through the gathering mist of the lake, and soon in full view, was huge. With the fading of the sun, the sky turned from blue to indigo to deep purple. The moon changed from pink to orange to gold, and then paled out to white.
What a lucky surprise, we said to each other. We hadn’t been expecting a full moon, and certainly not one of such beauty. Returning to the campsite, he built up the fire and we sat quietly waiting for night to fall. By around nine o’clock, the light of the moon was so intense we could still discern colors. The moon shadows of not only our bodies but also of everything around us were crisply outlined on the ground.
We retired to bed. The moonlight’s glow penetrated the tent walls. It never did get dark that night. And it certainly never got quiet. It seems that the full moon in April is the time specified by Nature for every frog in the county to go a-courting. I have never heard such a raucous sound coming from the lake. It out-shouted the cattle lowing, the coyotes barking and the owls whooing. I called them laughing frogs, but really it sounded more like the din of a sports bar during the biggest game of the year.
Despite the noise, we slept. We woke just in time to see the sun rise over the still, glassy lake. Another moment that will be etched deeply into our collective memories.
#doodlewashJanuary2020 This one’s for you, Charlie.
Here’s a whole school of the little wrigglers. When I found the reference photo on Unsplash, I just couldn’t resist those beautiful yellow tails. I will confess to adding Micron ink to the sketch after the water color paint had dried.
Since I received such nice art supplies for Christmas, I feel the imperative to put them to good use. In my breaks from sewing, knitting and doing chores, I’ve made a few pictures.
The first reference photo came from a painting tutorial by Lindsey Weirich, the Frugal Crafter. The second came from a Christmas card. Each took me about an hour to finish.
Today I will be volunteering with my husband at the downtown park. We and several other able-bodied folks will be putting the lighted Christmas displays back into the warehouse until next season. Like most small towns, ours relies on many willing volunteers to make the holiday magic happen.
I don’t expect to work on any fiber objects or sketches until tomorrow.
Here in the central time zone we are mere hours away from the winter solstice – the official start of winter. With all the busyness of Christmas preparations, I didn’t make a special fiber object to celebrate the change of season. Instead today I am recycling one of my Inktober drawings made on the prompt of Snow. The reference photo I used for this charming scene was taken in front of my brother’s home in Ohio. While I did use artistic liberties with the content of the background across the pond, the scene is essentially like reality. There is an air of nostalgia about it, not unlike the way I feel at this time of year.
Work on the Arches quilt continues. I have solved some of the technical issues facing me in piecing the blocks together. The blocks on the right edge of the quilt have been pieced and pressed. Here are two.
As I finished stitching the lower right block, I started to feel a real sense of accomplishment. My idea is actually coming together, just the way I envisioned it.
How many of you are familiar with this movement? I first became aware of it almost ten years ago. It’s a way to encourage reading while recycling books that you have finished reading. Anyone can erect a little library on their property by becoming a steward, building the library and registering it at the organization’s site. There are little free libraries all over the place. Check out the organization’s website, which has a map showing the locations of these tiny structures.
On a recent walk through my neighborhood I discovered that a neighbor had installed a little free library in her yard. What a surprise and delight! Inside I found a beautiful book of photographs that looked very promising as a source of inspiration.
Maxwell MacKenzie is an American photographer born in Fergus Falls, MN. who specializes in architectural photography. This book includes some wonderful images of abandoned structures on the Northern Great Plains which he captured between 1996 and 1999. They were built by settlers, farmers and pioneers who abandoned them, generally due to experiencing some kind of hardship. I found the images to be haunting. I began to imagine the people of the past who had lived and died there. And so I began sketching from the photographs, with an idea about recreating some of these ghosts. Here is my first sketch, of an old one-room schoolhouse. It is almost finished.
This exercise is a good way to take a break from fiber arts, while continuing to develop my skills with pen and ink.
As much as I enjoyed our little trip to visit family, it’s nice to be back into my routine. Just as an aside, the faux suede baby booties, while slightly too big, were well accepted by little L. In the meantime, she had also acquired two other items of footwear – a pair of sneakers and a pair of snow boots. She did a brief baby runway show, modeling all of the above. It was so funny to watch her toddle around the house awkwardly, although looking quite pleased with herself and her ability to work the crowd.
Back at home, I have picked up where I left off on various fiber projects.
First of all, I’m knitting a birthday surprise for my daughter. (A big clue to the surprise is found in the sketch above.)
Secondly, I’ve resumed efforts toward making the Arches quilt. It’s amazing how just writing down the next steps motivated me to work. I have finished drawing the full-size patterns for each block. And by completing this step, I have been able to determine exactly how may squares of each color will be required. Over the past two days I have been painting the background fabric. I chose to paint the background squares on a gray fabric, in order to keep the background looking like the night sky.