Saturday, March 21, 2009

Scenic fainting

Next week my son's school will present it's production of The Music Man. My Young Thespian is playing Mayor George Shinn, a particularly juicy part with lines like, "watch yer frazeology!" and "yer better watch it, ya kid ya." He has the grumpy thing down to a T.

His mother, who doesn't know any better, volunteered to head the hair and makeup committee. Stage makeup is my thing, but I was shocked that they put someone like me in charge of the Curling Iron Irregulars. So I took a page out of old Henry Truman's book (always hire people who are smarter than you) and recruited all the moms who are really great at hair. Soon the cavalry rode in brandishing blow dryers. Since I got myself out of that pickle, I walked right into an entire vat of kosher dills. I volunteered to help with set painting, something I have done since high school. You know, back in the Dark Ages.

It started out all right when I volunteered to paint a portrait of Old Miser Madison for the library wall. Oh, sure, it started out looking like the director, who we wanted to tease/honor, but wound up looking like the Scenic Chair's son. I guess I've made up that boy's face for so many years my fingers remember him automatically.

Then came the books in the library. How to make them look 3-dimensional? No problem. I showed the other volunteers my method and they look swell.

That leaves the columns. Oy! We've been working and working on those columns. I have photos and sketches but they're proving to be a bear to paint.

So if anyone has some quick tips for making 3-dimensional columns on rough canvas, I'm all ears. It's the only part I've got available. The rest of me is going to be painting the town, or at least the library, gray.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

From a nice Jewish girl to my Irish brothers and sisters. A video that made me very happy. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunset Ramble

A sunset ramble. 
A photo safari.

In and out of the woods. 
The bleached bones of dinosaur trees.

Woodland ruffles and flourishes.

Contrasts bathed in gold.

The skin of the survivors, grown deep with age.

And marine flowers blossoming unexpectedly.

My mind swirls with the promise of things to come.

Here in the dazzle of the sun's farewell.

So I can share it with you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tags and Mail Art

After days of barely posting, I can't seem to stop. Every time I think I'm done, there's another subject I want to share. Ah well, better feast than famine!

The goodies I have here are about mail art. Both are fantastic -- one funky, one elegant. The first one I learned about on Kelly Kilmer's inspiring blog. She mentioned the new book that has come out for Mail Me Art, a project began by Darren Di Lieto of London. He invited artists and illustrators from around the world to mail him art done on envelopes. 

The work he received was astounding. You can go HERE to his Web site and scroll through dozens of amazing works that appear in the book. If you're really lucky and live in England, you might be able to catch the show and sale of the work at the Red Gate Gallery on April 3. And if all of this has gotten your creative juices flowing, Darren will begin welcoming submissions for Mail Me Art Two in April.

If your taste runs to calligraphy and elegant illustration, then head over to the Graceful Envelope competition by the Washington Calligrapher's Guild. Their annual contest invites illustrators and calligraphers from around the world  to mail in a piece of art based on an annual theme. This year it's Address the Environment. And yes, you can enter this one, too. All you have to do is mail them your submission. The deadline is April 30.

But if you'd rather just look and drool, you can just view the winners of past contests. I have to hand it to the Graceful Envelope contestants -- they incorporate postage stamps better than the funkier crowd. But as far as which I like better, I can't decide. I love them both in different ways. Which is your favorite?

Finally, a shout out to Her Royal Highness, the Queens of Arts for tagging me in her seventh photo in the seventh folder game. I don't do tags or chain letters or that sort of thing, but it's the queen's blog-o-versary and I'm happy to do this for her.

What was the seventh photo in the seventh folder? It was this picture from my son's file -- the amazing dance team called Dynamic Edition. My Towering Teen and I watched them compete in the finale last week on America's Best Dance Crew. Dynamic Edition was amazing, they were cloggers of all things, but the top two places were taken by Quest Crew (no. 1) and Beat Freaks (no. 2). The latter group was all-female and able to compete with the guys on all levels. I was very happy that my son got to see strong women displaying their skills and not their bodies. And honestly, how many good shows are there that a mom can watch with her teenage son and both enjoy? Bravo to the young talents who made it possible and Happy Blog-o-versary again to the Queen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chip, Chip, Hooray!

I've had so many queries about chip brushes, especially from our artistic sistren on other continents, that I thought I'd show you what I use. Sorry the photo is so small but you can click on the image for a close-up.

I love these brushes -- they free me to fly when I add paint because they are so cheap (I think the most I've ever spent is $3.99 for Big Mama) and because they just get better with age and wear. 

May the same be true for us!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Purim!

Before I forget -- Happy Purim everyone! I didn't want the day to go by unremarked, so I'm cheating a bit and offering the cover of the program I created for tonight's celebration. If you're unfamiliar with the holiday, Purim has elements of Mardi Gras (revelry and silliness) and Halloween (costumes and sweets -- although we give instead of get them). And then there's the heroine, Queen Esther. Our celebration will include story telling in the form of song (called a Purim spiel), entertainment with hamantaschen pastries and ice cream sundaes to follow.

On the holiday fun-o-meter, this one rates near the top.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go find a costume. I would hate to deprive my offspring of an opportunity to roll his eyes in public.

Brushes courtesy of and

Some HeARTy Experiments

Beautiful brushwork is popping up like spring ephemerals over at the most recent GPP Street Team Crusade. Since playing with brushwork is exactly my cup of tea, I offered the selection in the previous post as my contribution.

Turns out, I have a bit more of recent vintage to offer. These experiments were done with a cheap pack of paper heart doilies purchased around Valentine's Day. The one on top is the doily as mask and some brushwork with my trusty chip brush.

The one above was done with the chip brush and a credit card. I love the translucent quality created by the thin paint.

This one is the doily as mask (at top) and monoprint (at bottom) and the doily itself as collage element.

Finally, here's a few more elements thrown in. A couple of Crusades ago we were playing with shapes and I cut fun foam into leaves to make stamp/monoprints. Here is the foam again with paint applied in scratchy brush strokes then applied to the page via my brayer. The collage elements are from some discarded wrapping paper I rescued. I realize it's not as rich as the previous post, but I thought the evolution of play with paint might be interesting. But don't tarry here; there's so much more to see. Check out what's going on with the Crusade and prepare to be amazed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Brushing up

This month, Michelle Ward's GPP Street Team Crusaders are getting funky with their art supplies and playing with paint.

There's a bit of ennui here at the station as cold weather and chillier economic climate have conspired to put this commuter's creativity into the deep freeze. As a result, I've been joining the Team late, if at all. But this month I have many examples of backgrounds I've created using brush techniques. They're not new, and forgive me if you've seen them before, but this time I want to share early, rather than late.

Here are a few examples. I have a bad tendency to become enamored of my painted pages and not want to obscure them with other stuff, which why I have so many of these. Although I will share another great tip from Michelle -- scan your work and use them in your graphics. 

There's a lot going on in these pages, including reversing the stencil to make monoprints. I adore doing this -- I think the negative space is even more interesting than the stencil. In fact, whenever I stencil, I make sure I have at least two blank pages ready. Then I flip the stencil and use my brayer to get every last bit of goodness. A lot of my pages start just that way.

Another technique I love is pouncing. My most important art tools are my chip brushes. I love the streaky, messy, imperfect marks they leave and I don't have to fret over them like I do my precious watercolor sables. In fact, my favorite brush is the one I've abused the most and it's frayed to perfection. I use it for a faux spray paint technique -- perfect for someone who can't use spray paints. I think the results are even more interesting than spray paint since they aren't as uniform.

So why not hop on over to the party at Michelle's and get some more ideas of where a cheap brush and a little paint can take you. Click HERE; it's your train ticket to Crusaderville.