Yesterday and today I took a break from sewing to paint with watercolor. I have been following a tutorial by Montreal artist Shari Blaukopf called Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor. My goal for this painting was to practice skies. I chose a reference photo that had a very nice sunset and featured clean, simple shapes. This would allow me to make a finished painting but focus on the sky. The photograph also featured a reflected sky (another good subject for practice.) After making a pencil sketch, I jumped right in on the sky and reflection. Next came a few pen marks to guide the rest of the work.
After drying over night I added the other washes – mountains, meadow and trees. Once these had dried, I used my brush to give texture to the trees and shadows to the pond.
So far I’m liking this. But I felt that the painting did not really show the warm glow of morning light that I saw in the photograph. To correct this, I made a wash of burnt sienna and quinacridone red and stroked it fairly evenly over the grass.
Ahh that’s better. I used a dry brush technique to give a little texture to the grass and let the painting dry. For the last step, I followed Shari’s instructions and added pen marks to the trees, grass and pond edge.
This painting gave me a great deal of pleasure. I avoided most of the miss-steps with the watercolor paint and achieved the look I was after. I guess it’s worth signing.
I will put in the link to Shari’s class, but it’s on Bluprint.com Unless you are already a subscriber, you may not be able to open it.
It’s been a while since I wrote about the state of “stuckness” For me, this means that the project is not flowing very well. Over the last few days, I have been toying with a technique called “Stitch and Flip”. I learned it from a BluPrint.com class on how to piece improvisationally. The instructor is Jacquie Gering.
Basically, you sew a piece of contrasting fabric across the corner of a square, then flip the piece over to cover the corner. You can cover one, two, three or all four corners of the square. I was struck by how much the finished squares resembled little fish. This drove my desire to give it a try. Here is a sketch of what I envision:
And here are the fabrics I have chosen. The batik is the front half of the fish sewn over corners of two squares. On two more squares I am sewing triangles to represent the belly and tail of the fish.
Then the whole block is assembled. A four by one inch rectangle finishes the block.
I had hoped to easily make a several “schools” of these little fishes, with five or six in each block, ultimately creating an underwater scene on a lap quilt. Cute, Fun – right? But somehow I kept screwing up the assembling. Much ripping, muttering and re-sewing ensued. My completed blocks are not lining up right! I can’t seem to square them properly! In addition, I don’t have enough background fabric to proceed! And of course, the fabric I need is in Hobby Lobby, which is closed indefinitely!!!
So this project is in limbo. I did sketch a few sea turtles, which might get included in this project, if I can figure out how to get them there.
So sadly, I will set the fish aside while I ruminate on the process. It won’t be the first or last time that I got stuck in the middle. Meanwhile my paint order from Dharma Trading has arrived. So I will play with paint until the lightbulb goes off in my brain.
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.
Here is the final result of my O’Keefe inspired fiber object. I have to say, it only partially matches my vision for the piece. Something happened between the sketch, the painting and the embroidery. Take a look:
Here is my original sketch for a moonflower. I was very happy with this effort:
Here is the flower after roughing in the design with fabric paint.
Even though I am not experienced in painting, I was fairly happy with this result. So I guess the only part of the effort that disappointed me was the embroidery.
Dear friends, what do you think? Do you have any recommendations for me that could improve my final result? I am eager to learn.
My fiber efforts have been rather uninspired over the last two days, so no new posts. Then I picked up this book written by Georgia O’Keefe. It is an autobiography told in her own words and in beautifully reproduced images of her paintings. It got my creative thoughts moving again.
While she spent most of her life living in and painting the American Southwest, in the early stages of her career O’Keefe was best known for her large-scale paintings of flowers. Here is what she has to say about these works:
Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small. So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint is big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it.
Exhibition catalog, An American Place, 1939
So I decided to create a fiber flower, because I want to look closely at a flower. I chose to make a Moonflower, partly because of its star-like shape, and partly because I don’t see them growing around here. When I lived in Texas, I grew some moonflowers. It was way too hot to enjoy the garden during the day. Instead I sat outside at dusk, when I could watch the moonflowers swirl open.
Here is a pencil sketch I made of my moonflower:
I plan to use white poplin for the flower, with fabric paint on the shaded areas and embroidery on the bright areas. Here are some green fabrics I have chosen for the background and the flower shape I will cut from the white poplin.
The next steps are to piece together and sew the background.