Wake Up!

Michael Bennett just sent me a link to an amzaing improv group, Improv Everywhere. The basic premise is that they corregraph happenings unbeknownst to the group at large. The looks on the faces of the nonparticipants reminds me of animals at the zoo when a new toy has been placed in the cage: curious, interested - they notice something is out of the ordinary, but don't react right away. I wonder sometimes if we are stuck in our own patterns and habits to the point that our minds turn off and it isn't until something completely unusual occurs that we are snapped out of that fog and wake up. That is what art does is jolt us into thinking, being aware, and waking up to the world so that we may view it in another way.


It's Official - Prints Completed

All in one day I've tackled and completed several of my projects: I've "balanced" my checkbook - and yes those quotes are required - I paid my bills, made a good Easter dinner for my family, and I've finished the 8/8 block prints for Printer's Unite!'s Inky Sound Exchange. All in all a good day's work. I think I'll work on my jelly fish tonight.The tendrals are already complete, I just have to work on the glow-in-the-dark cap.

Sometimes I psych my self out. I want to work on something, but am so afraid I'll mess it up. I do my best work when I don't really care anymore. I tend to overthink things (gee, really?!?) Today was one of those devil may care types. So, I got a lot done. Back to work tomorrow, but the snow is almost melted again.

Boats on the Shore

Boats on the Shore, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

I drew this in pen and ink with permission from one of my Flickr contacts, ET's Photo Home showing Bald Eagle Lake. I did it for my husband who likes this type of scene. It measures 5-inches across by 3.75-inches tall.


Copper Tree

Copper Tree, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

I saw this artist online and was inspired to try and create my own wire tree. I didn't have any instructions, so as usual, I learned how to do it as I went. I want to make another and flip it upside-down with long corkscrew tendrils and make a Scupty clay dome out of transluscent and glow-in-the-dark clay to make a jellyfish. First stop: Gordon's Hardware for more copper wire. You can purchase this one at my Etsy shop.


Gardening: IF (Lavender Wreath)

Gardening: IF (Lavender Wreath), originally uploaded by pejnolan.

Illustration Friday

I'm dreaming of planting lavender in the garden this year. I've heard that it is hard to grow, but it seems to be doing well in my yard, so I'm going to put it everywhere. Gone will the be yarrow, balloon plant, white daisies and misc stuff that I put in my garden since I've moved in. Here are some hints: #1buy enough of one plant to make a "clump" then arrange these clumps with walkways between so weeding will be easy, #2 don't buy plants that say "grows like crazy," or "spreads easily" it will. Add you own gardening hints in the comments section.

Created original portion as a vector in Illustrator CS2, then manipulated it in Photoshop, COPYRIGHT, 2008.


Self-Portrait 03.10.08

Self-Portrait 03.10.08, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

Just thought I would share this .025 rapidiograph pen and bristol board self portrait. I was trying out my new pen. It is 4.5" wide and 4.75" tall. Tomorrow I'll try to scan it so the detail is shown better. It reminds me of those color blind charts.


New curtains for the entryway

New curtains for the entryway, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

I've been wanting to get new curtains for the entryway for quite some time. The old curtains were made by my husband's aunt Margaret over 40 years ago. While they were lovely, cottage-style, hand-stitched beauties, they were disintegrating. I've been redecorating our home's interior slowly into a craftsman style. These handmade linen curtains have that feel, and pays homage to my husband's aunt. I used ecru Irish linen and will embroider the craftsman motifs once the pattern arrives. I've admired this pattern (Vogue V7292) for years and finally went to purchase it, but it was discontinued! AHH! I went to the Vogue website and they were selling out of print patterns. Luckily, I found it on the last pattern on the last page. YAY! I ordered it like a flash. (The embroidery here is photoshopped.) I think they give the entryway a clean, tailored look. Hurray for productive days.


My First Linoleum Block Print (yay!)

My First Linoleum Block Print, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

My brother, dakokichidekalb, is an amazing artist. He has been making Japanese woodblock prints for years. After printing, he makes some into kites made of split bamboo. He is so knowledgeable about prints and the process that it was hard for me to try - because I knew it would never be as good as him. Well, I took some baby steps. Last week i cut the block, not worrying about the end result. Tonight I bough some good quality watercolor paper and started printing with sepia Versatex ink. Last night at The Maker's meeting I asked my brother how to make a print. I was so naive that I thought it was similar to craft stamping: just put the ink on turn over the block and presto! He set me straight and gave me some pointers on how to soak the paper, roll the ink properly, how to cushion the block with paper and then how to use a brayer to rub the ink into the paper. The first print (upper left) was too wet, the second was too dry, the third was inconsistent throughout, the fourth was pretty good for a novice. I got so excited I misnumbered them. Just like with flying my brother's kites, there is a childlike thrill of giving it your best shot, then lifting the paper to reveal the result. I couldn't wait to lift that paper - each time was filled with anticipation. I can see how this would be addictive: making one print after another in search of that elusive bit of perfection.
Now, I'm not saying my block was carved well - it wasn't and I'm not saying that my print was any good - it isn't; but what I am saying is that it is worth exploring. I think I'll be creating more prints in the future. Thanks, Al for introducing me to the printing world. I'm glad you are my brother.

Carolyn McKee-Freese, Pastels

Carolyn McKee-Freese, Pastels, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

Carolyn McKee-Freese is a mother, freelance artist, art instructor and scientific illustrator for the Field Museum in Chicago. She works with many different media and explained that the subject determines which media she uses. She suggested going to the Field Museum in Chicago for their "Artist in the Fields" project. On the third Saturday of every month, artists come from all over the world to create at the museum, using the exhibits as reference. I would like to go sometime.

At the March KVAL meeting, she demonstrated her pastel technique and gave many tips and hints for using pastels, some of which are below:

•The number one concern when using pastels is to make sure they are light-fast because pastels will quickly fade in direct sunlight.
• She suggested using glass with 2-3 levels of matting when framing to keep the glass off the artwork. Acrylic is not suitable because it holds static and will actually life the pastel dust off the work.
• Warm your work area, including materials, before getting started. Warmth will make the layers creamy and easily workable, while cold will crumble the pastels and they will not blend well.
• Plan ahead. Think about your lights and darks, complimentary colors and hues BEFORE starting. Start big and work down to details.
• Keep wet paper towels handy. Placing a portion under your pastel box will save you from accidentally dropping it on your piece.
• Don't use your fingers to blend until a decent number of layers have been built up.
• Consider working the pastels in diagonal lines for a dynamic composition.
• work the entire piece together, don't get caught up in one area. This way your work will have a cohesiveness about it.
• Using the finger cots, have each finger blending a different color so that complimentary are not accidentally blended resulting in a muddied color.
• Preferred papers: Art-Again paper is acid-free, neutral pH, has a great texture, nice weight and is recycled. It is great for indirect application. Wallace paper is better for holding more layers. It works well for direct applications; Color-Fix paper is sanded with a tooth. It is great for indirect applications with fewer layers. Use for quick pastel works.
• Use richly colored, highly saturated, dark papers for a richer finished product.
• Rubbing alcohol softens colors, works colors into the fiber of the paper and works as a fixative.
Under painting is a quick way to add depth, although she does not use this technique in her artwork.
• quote, "Pastel reflects light like no other medium will."
• Preferred pastels: Unison Brand has a creamy, velvety texture; Rembrandt has a good color pallet and will hold an edge; New Pastel is hard and good for fine details and hard edges; Pastel pencils are the hardest and great for finishing detail work.
• Finger cots may be used to keep hands clean when working.
• Keep one end of your pastels rounded for broad application and one end with sharp edges for detail work.
• The traditional Direct Application technique is to work from background to foreground, dark to light; but use whatever technique works for you personally.
• Alternately there is more of a watercolor-style technique using Indirect Application. In this case, work from light to dark. Use this technique for tight detail, use unsanded paper and fewer layers. For the indirect technique start with a cotton ball and rub it onto the pastel, lifting color. Transfer this color over to the paper. Work large areas first, thinking about hues. Next move to a q-tip, then to a blending stump.
• Remember color theory and do not mix complimentary colors. If complimentary colors are next to one another, consider using a bridge color. For example use pink between violet and yellow.
• Use a spray fixative only when needed and DO NOT use on the finished piece as it will change the colors. White especially will be altered.

YEAH! She was a great presenter! I've never really tried pastels before, but I am so excited to try!


Spring is coming!

Spring is coming!, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

It is 19 degrees outside, a dusting of snow fell last night and although it doesn't feel like spring to a human being; nature knows better. Nature is the embodiment of the word "hope." The daffodills are awaking from their hibernation. The crocus are peeking out from under its leaf blanket. Birds are collecting straw and strings to soften their nests. The sun is shining far past 5 o'clock. My energy is returning. Enduring a rough midwestern winter makes Spring all the sweeter. Look around and see what you can find. Be present in the moment and mindful of the world around you.


Linoleum Block & original Sketch

Linoleum Block & original Sketch, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

So, the last couple posts have been pretty negative. I purchased a book by Thich Nhat Hahn. ( This is how I remember his name: Thick, but without the k, N-hat, Hahn is the street my grandmother lived on - this way of remembering takes so long that when I try to tell someone this author's name I sit there stunned until I can go through that thought process - then I still can't pronounce it correctly) Anywho, It is entitled, "Anger." I've only read the firs few pages, but basically he says not maintain anger or hatred. As soon as anger and hatred arise, he teaches to practice the meditation on compassion in order to deeply understand the persons who have caused anger and hatred and learn to look at other beings with the eyes of compassion. I like his writing style. He writes as if speaking to a child He uses simple sentences and reiterates ideas incessantly. Not to say that is a bad thing. The words he uses are simplistic, but the message is so layered and multi-faceted that it would take years of discipline to accomplish. Reading and agreeing with a message is one thing, living and deeply understanding that message is quite another. These were the thoughts I had as I created my linoleum print block before going to sleep at night. You can see my bed sheets in the photo in the early morning hours the next day. My bedroom is becoming quite a studio.

I signed up for a print exchange thanks to a friend. It is my first linoleum block and my second print ever. I can't wait to get some ink and try it out. I'm thinking white, black with hand painted watercolor in orange/red. We'll see how it turns out!