Monday, January 31, 2011

Watch for Interview #6--Fred Crowley!

I'm delighted that Fred's agreed to be our next interview; I've loved his work on Flickr for ages. 

His people are so wonderfully real, so human; you feel as if you're sitting right there at the next table, having a coffee at Panera's. 

Fred uses strong graphic elements, like the red lamp and gold wall, above, and the panda on the patch, below--you will be inspired, I guarantee!

There's nothing Fred can't draw...his animals are superb, his life drawings so real they almost pop off the page.

His paintings may surprise you, too--they've got a Japanese feeling that's abstract at the same time--gorgeous!  We'll be sharing a couple of those too, with Fred's permission. 

Can't wait, eh?  I want to check a few details with him, then we're off!  (I can't wait either...)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wonderful lettering book...OOPS.

I LOVE this book, Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering: A Mark-Making Workbook for Crafters, Cardmakers, and Journal Artists, which someone here recommended!  Gorgeous and inspiring, and included some of my favorite calligraphers, as well as instruction on how to make some of your own lettering tools.  It's beautiful, and thank you!

It's also the SAME book as Modern Mark Making; from Classic Calligraphy to Hip Hand-lettering.  Different title, different binding, same book.  DRAT.

(Once you click the text link above you can use the "look inside" option--which I should have done, yes!)

So I put my brand-new copy up on Amazon at a reduced price; if you'd like it, check it out!  The link above should get you there.

Developing the Journaling Habit

That's one of the big topics in the poll in our sidebar (and feel free to vote, it'll stay up!), so I'd like to throw that open for discussion!  Correspondents, readers (friends, Romans, countrymen), lend us your...ideas!

Mine, of course, is that I carry a journal of some sort wherever I go...I even have tiny ones in the glove boxes of both our vehicles.  (There's always a pen, pencil, ballpoint, whatever, with me, of course, or I can FIND one.)

I'm READY.  It's handy.  So I take time to do it.

Spring at the Westlake Ace Hardware store...J. had gone in to shop for something, and I opted to wait by the flowering plants and sketch!

And then, I think of tiny bits of time as gifts.  If I'm waiting somewhere, if I have a few minutes, I take time to sketch in my journal, and perhaps make a few notes about what's going on.  It doesn't take long...

How about you?

Sketchbook Project Update III - Trees

Please click all images to enlarge.
It's time to celebrate trees :)

Walk with us to the 10th hole. It's
423 yards from the back tee to the green. The cart path runs along the edge of the woods.

Now that it's winter and much of the greenery has died back, I can see standing water not too far into the woods. This, along with the variety of trees found in a mere 423 yard stretch of land is a clear sign that this section of the neighborhood can be classified as a Bottomland Hardwood forest.

This type of forest usually borders a swamp and may be temporarily flooded should we get a whopper of a hurricane and the river reaches flood stage (not a warm and fuzzy thought!)

Here are all the trees I've identified so far. The illustrations are of two 'new-to-me' trees. I feel like such an explorer when I find a new flower, shrub, vine or tree. I don't care that Carl Linnaeus, or another botanist, may have named named it long ago - it's my discovery :) That's what I sooooo love about nature journaling! Even better is now that I've drawn it, it's mine.... forever in my heart :)

I never would have guessed Witchhazel comes from a tree! I always imagined witchhazel to be an herbaceous plant. A student of nature, that's what I am :)

These trees live on or near the 10th hole.

So many trees, not enough pages :) There are only two more spreads left in the sketchbook and I have other goodies to share. So, to all the trees that didn't make it into this book..... Patience, I'm working on it :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

MORE evolving pages--gouache comes in handy!

Sometimes our sketches just don't get it for us.  I was at a family birthday party, where I normally sketch, and these little guys just didn't work.  They were too pale and wimpy, Aidan didn't look anything like Aidan, and these sure weren't the best Finn drawing I ever did.  The dog was actually the thing I was happiest with, on this page, and it was still just pale on that tan paper.

HOWEVER.  I normally make my own journals and I just haven't had time--this is the last one I have on hand, and I hated to waste a page!  I didn't want to erase them, days later, I was sitting in the parking lot at the library, waiting while my husband ran in.  The snow cliffs, pushed off the parking lot by the snowplow, were impressive, so I tured to that page and sketched them in, in ink.

Later, back home, I added some gouache, and decided to just let the paint outline the earlier sketches.  It's a weird page, but I like it!  It captures something of the progression of our days, as well as of our journal pages. 

I used a white Gellyroll pen to add the text at lower right that balances the snow at the top...
Gouache (opaque watercolor) is a terrific journaling tool, particularly on toned paper.  Like white colored pencil, it really makes things pop.  That's what I used on this little journal, one of the rare ones I haven't made myself.  (It came from Moon Moth Press on Etsy, and I enjoyed using it, very much.  This one had the interesting green Bugra paper, and some lovely smooth 90 lb. Arches hot press watercolor paper, which was a pleasure to work on.  Check them out!)

Gouache worked rally well in the field, painting my favorite crumbling barn.

Several of our correspondents use gouache--you'll see a lot of it on Roz Stendahl's  pages, for instance.  You can find her blog entries, always a wealth of information, on the subject of gouache, HERE.

I made my own little traveling set by filling an old Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor set with gouache from tubes.  Let it set up a few days, and I was ready to go!

Clowning around

You need:
  1. coloured construction paper 32 by 23 cm
  2. white drawing paper A5 size
  3. oil pastels
  4. scissors
  5. glue
  6. tempera paint

Look at pictures of clowns on the digiboard and talk about how they recognize a clown.

Give each student a coloured construction paper and a white sheet of A5 size. Let them cut the corners of the white sheet, and let them paste this clown's face on the coloured sheet. Draw a clown using oil pastels: eyes, nose, mouth, hair, hat, bow etc. Colour the different parts with oil pastels. Outline everything with black.

Use toilet rolls and tempera paint to stamp coloured circles around the clown. Hang them all together on the bulletin board: ready for carnival!

Artworks made by students of grade 2

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Evolving pages...

I get fascinated by the oddest things...a couple of these misshapen bits of wood surfaced when we built my little shed/studio . I have no idea why they look this way, but they're knotty and bumpy and seem to have branches or roots growing sideways out of the branch.  I THINK it's redbud, perhaps part of the root system--so had to sketch it, paying attention to detail as much as possible, but trying to keep it clean.

I drew this carefully with the fine medium gray Stabilo pen...I like these but sometimes wish they were waterproof.  This time I decided to take advantage of their liftability and blended the shadow areas with clear water and my waterbrush.

Detail of root piece, after touching the fine lines with clear water.

I was working with a fine, gray watersoluble pen it was so nice and just seemed like the rest of the page should be open and airy as well.  I decided not to use color at all.

The date follows the shape of the root piece, and I kept my notes and header minimal.  The block of text at lower right balances the airy header.

The amazing bit of wood is definitely the star of this journal page!

Now, maybe someone can identify it for me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Favorite materials and supplies page

I updated this page with more of my favorites--you can find it HERE, or just look at the top of the blog!

(And incidentally, turns out I'm not wild about that bottom waterbrush.  Doesn't hold much water, and I find it awkward to use.  NICE point though...)

Correspondents, feel free to chime in and do a post on YOUR favorites--I can add it to the page so it will be handy.






My FaVORitE MaKeUp baSE fRoM: CHANEL..

STaRT witH CLeaN, wELL-MOisTuRiZed SKiN, aLLoWiNG tHe PRoduCt tiMe tO SiNK iN.
dOt FoUNdatioN oN tHe FoReHeaD, NoSE, cHiN, aND CHEeKS..
iF yOu waNt oNLy PaRtiaL CoVeRaGe, jUst daB wHeRe NEeded..

BLeNd FOuNdatioN uSiNG yOuR FiNGeR, PReSsiNg aND PATtiNG LiGhtLy iNtO tHe SKiN, aNd tHeN iF yOu LiKE a daMP sPoNGE fOR aN eveN, sHEeR cOat..


BUiLd uP coVeRaGe witH THiN LayeRs aND ideaLLy aPpLy oNLy wHeRE NEedeD..

uSiNG a sMaLL bRuSH oR yOuR FiNGeR, dOt cONceaLeR aROuNd tHe iNNeR aND OuTeR coRNeRs oF yOuR eYeS. BeST iF yOu aPPLy oVeR yOuR FOuNdaTioN, sO tHat yOu caN eVeN OuT yOuR sKiN tONE..

HidE aNy otHeR bLeMiSHeS tHat sHoW tROugH yOuR FOuNdaTioN bY dOTtiNg CoNCeaLeR witH a SPoNGE oR a SMaLL bRuSh iN tRicKy aReAS, suCh aS uNdeR tHe jaWLiNe oRaROuNd thE NoSE. Pat iT oN witH yOuR fiNGeR tO seTtLE iT oN thE sKiN..

tO SeT CoNCeaLeR aND FOUNdaTioN uNdeR aND aROuNd tHe eYeS, LiGhtLy dUst tHeM witH a sMaLL, FiNe bRusH diPped iN LOoSe PoWdeR.


Be caReFuL Not tO aPpLY tOo MucH: eXCeSs PoWdeR wiLL oNLy eMPHaSiZe FiNe LiNeS..

USe tRaNsLUCeNt PoWdeR tHat coMPLeMeNts yOuR FOuNdaTioN aND wOn'T RoB yOuR sKiN oF iT'S NaTuRaL gLoW, oR a sLigHtLy yeLLOW-toNed poWdeR tO GiVe sKiN waRMtH. WitH a LaRGe, ROuNd bRuSH, duSt a LiTtLe oVeR SHiNy aReaS.
FoR MaTtE fiNisH, geNtLy PReSs aND RoLL a LiGhTLy poWdeReD veLOuR PuFf iNtO yOuR sKiN..

My FaVORitE coMPaCt PoWdeR fRoM: SISLEY..


KEeP aN eYe oN yOuR MaKeUp tHROugHOuT tHe DaY. uSE a LiGhteR foRMuLAtioN iN suMMeR oR caRRy a sTicK FOuNdatioN fOR eaSy tOucH-uPs. AVOid oVeR-poWdeRiNG iF yOu dON't waNt tO LOoK caKed. FoR a MaTte FiNisH, baLaNCe Out witH MOiSt LiPs oR eYeS..




FoLLOW Me oN TWiTTeR: @aldoakira

The Sketchbook Project - Update II - Birds

Click on all images to enlarge
Here is why I love the 17th hole at our golf course :)

The Wood Storks in foreground weren't listing to the left.....  I must have been holding the sketchbook at too much of an angle :)

I love the crows in this spread :)

I had no idea that crows would hang with Ibis.  I see this all the time - in trees, feeding on the fairway..... never fighting over territory.

Certainly can bring a smile!

Abstract relief

You need:

  1. piece of grey cardboard 18 by 24 cm (cereal box)
  2. tissue paper
  3. wood glue
  4. several zijdevloeipapier
  5. houtlijm
  6. various free materials like rope, pasta, shells, sticks, buttons, etc.
  7. varnish
  8. coloured cardboard for frame

Look at the painting Catalan landscape of Joan MirĂ³ (Google pictures). Discuss what is on this painting, what things are definable and which are not. Explain the difference between realistic and abstract.

Tell the students they are going to make an abstract relief. Students make a composition of different items on their grey cardboard. They have to make a horizon line at least. Paste the different items with glue. Don't paste the items too close together and make sure it is not too full.

When the composition is ready, bring wood glue on all items and the cardboard. Cover everything with tissue paper. Push the paper firmly against the pasted items to make the tissue paper crumple. Here and there the paper will rip, so paste multiple layers of the same colour paper.

Finish with a layer of wood glue or wait until the artwork has dried and then apply a layer of varnish. Paste the artwork on a coloured background.

All artworks are made by students grade 3

Thanks to Ann de Naegel and her students.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Interview #5--meet Laura Frankstone of Laurelines!

Laura Murphy Frankstone is one of the most inspiring artists I know...dedicated, adventurous, incredibly talented, intrepid, honest, loving and very human.  I've gotten to know her through her work, through her blog, Laurelines, and through our hundreds of emails through the ups and downs of life. 

I was fascinated by the goals she set herself with her sketching--you can see many of these on the blog. I'm delighted she agreed to be part of the book, and of this blog--and even more that we're friends.  One of the best things about doing these interviews--aside from getting to know these artists better!--is looking through their art and sharing it with you.  Gorgeous journal pages... my friend Laura Frankstone!  Here is her intro:

I've been pulled in two directions my whole life: images or words?  paint or write? I finished college with  a degree in English literature and a minor in art history, though I started in studio art and French literature! As a post-graduate student,  I took two terms at art college in Scotland and dozens of university studio art courses in the US. I've always managed,in my working life, to keep a connection to the visual arts, whether as art reporter and newspaper art critic, or while holding various arts administrator positions for state or municipal organizations.

Here, Laura explored various aspects of page design, art and text, and materials, including Daniel Smith's Lunar Blue.

Always, I painted and drew.

My deep passion for drawing began when I was 3 or 4 years old. I'd drawn my 7 year old brother, complete with polka dots for freckles and big semi-circles for ears--- and I thought it looked just like him! I was absolutely beside myself with joy! My sustained sketching ( as opposed to drawing)  life began with my first travel journal in the early 1990s.  Since then I've filled many sketchbooks, many in the nature of problem-solving or brainstorming about my art, many related to travel, others to my family life in Chapel Hill.  My sketchbooks are heavily weighted toward imagery, with text serving mostly as captions and mostly in my travel journals.

From a recent trip to Norway, combining art, color, and notes...

 Lately, though, thanks to this book and to your wonderful work as a model, I've been really combining writing with imagery---but the imagery is more free-associative than illustrative of the text. I LOVE this method---it suits me to a T!


And, on to our interview:

Q. Do you consider what you do a journal or a sketchbook? 

A. I‘ve decided that I make either pretty taciturn journals or occasionally pretty wordy sketchbooks! I have a very strong verbal side to my personality and when I write, I tend to write at length. I have been a journal writer since I was a young girl, especially in times of stress and dislocation. Since I started keeping regular sketchbooks a few years ago, I stopped doing intensive journal writing. There simply isn’t enough time to do both at the level I like to work on. I find , though, that the writing I do for my blog Laurelines fulfills a journal function and allows the writer side of me to come forward. My travel sketchbooks fall more within the illustrated journal category.

Q. Do your sketches inform and inspire finished works?

A. Sometimes, but not often. I sketch and paint for different reasons.  My paintings, when I can find the time and inner resources to do them, come from a deeper emotional and intellectual part of my psyche.

Q. Why do you do it?

A. I love the way sketching puts you vividly in the moment, in the place, in the world. There’s a connection between my heart, eyes, hand, brain, and what (and often whom)  I’m drawing that is profound and precious to me.

Here's a photo of our intrepid Arctic sketcher on the Norway trip!
Flowers from a trip to Turkey a friend arranged...couldn't be more removed from the chill of Norway!

Q. How do you feel about sharing your work, in your blog or elsewhere?  I know we’ve talked about it becoming almost an obligation—any ideas on how to avoid that trap?

A. I can be a bit diffident about sharing my work, so my blog has been a good thing.  My paintings are shown in a local really good gallery. I’m a real perfectionist, so I won’t show unless I feel my work is the best I can do at the time. And once that criterion is met, I’m glad for the work to be seen.

Maintaining my blog can feel burdensome at times.  This is my sixth* year of blogging, so it’s no surprise that I have periods of fatigue and frustration.

When I’m in one of my burnt-out phases, I blog very lightly for a while and that usually takes care of the problem. In the beginning of blogging, people tended to post daily or, at least, felt they SHOULD. Now, many bloggers, myself included, post weekly and that is more reasonable and doable.  Not only is it hard to post daily, it’s impossible to keep up with your favorite blogs on a daily basis!

One of Laura's early sketches of her lovely daughter Kate...
Q. Thoughts on the benefits?

A. There are so many! First is the very thing that sometimes chafes: the pressure to produce. Practice makes perfect, as we know, and producing art to share with others publicly can accelerate that process.  Looking back at my earliest posted work, it’s clear that my drawing technique has improved a lot over the past five years, as I’ve drawn on an almost daily basis and blogged the results.

Also, for me, writing is a major way of finding out what I’m thinking and feeling, so the writing part of blogging is surprisingly self-illuminating.

A hugely important benefit of blogging is the way it connects you to a whole world of other artists, interesting and accomplished people in many fields, supportive readers, and events in the art world that you would otherwise know nothing of.

Q. A few years back you set yourself a monthly theme…tell me what you gained from that.

A. I wanted to gain fluency in drawing, primarily as preparation for spending a month drawing in Paris---a long-held dream that came true in October 2006. I wanted to hone my eye and hand in drawing all sorts of things, every day of each month----animals, trees, gardens, people, architecture, **color? and so on. I wanted to be ready to hit the ground running ---and drawing---the minute I got there, not wasting a minute of that precious month. And it worked! By the end of that year, 352 posts later, I was so glad to have DONE it, but, whew,  I knew I would not need to repeat the feat.

Laura's animal sketches from one of her goal series are like an education in themselves!

Q. Your drawings of your mom were wonderful, and I loved the story about how pleased she was, and how the sketching and talking were important to both of you.  Do you feel up to writing about that?

There have been two occasions in the past couple of years when drawing became a true lifeline to me in situations of great personal stress. One was during the protracted, frightening labor and delivery of my daughter’s first child and the other was during the last months of my mother's life.

I walked into my mother’s room at her nursing home after the two -and -a -half -hour trip from my home town and found that tiny, frail woman burrowed deeply, deeply under her bedcovers, for all the world as if she were trying to burrow herself right out of this life.

I burst into tears. I tried to talk with her, but she was not interested in talking. After a while she turned over and lay on her back, slightly inclined in the hospital bed. I took out my sketchbook and my pens and pencils and just started drawing as we began to make halting conversation.

As I drew, our conversation grew more comfortable and I began to ask her questions about her childhood. Though I had heard the stories many times before, there was added poignancy and meaning in her recounting them now, on the very verge of her death.  She enlarged on events I was familiar with and I asked questions I hadn’t thought to ask before.

As we talked, I kept drawing. I’d asked her if she minded if I did and she said she did not. At the end of the day, I almost didn’t show her what I’d done. Her vision is very limited at the best of times. I didn’t think she could SEE the drawings and I wasn’t sure she’d approve of the way I’d rendered her. But I asked if she wanted to see them. She did.

She looked and looked, asked for me to turn on all the lights in the room, asked for her strong reading glasses, looked and looked some more.

Finally, she said she LOVED the drawings. I think she had come to think of herself, after her many hospitalizations and then her placement in a nursing home, as invisible, powerless, and lost. Unwittingly, I had given her back her self.

Q. When you travel, do you choose a destination because you want to sketch there?

A. Sometimes I choose a destination solely because I want to sketch there, sometimes I choose a destination because I know I will love it---and the sketches will follow. My stay in Brittany during the fall of 2009 was an instance of the former. My recent trips to Iceland and coastal Norway are cases of the latter. Since I love to travel to places that appeal to me visually and emotionally, it’s a safe bet to say that I’m also going to love sketching them.

A kiosk in Paris

Q. How do you prepare?

A. I often adjust my traveling palette according to what I think will be the light and colors of the place I’m going to. I research the culture and topography and natural world of the region I’ll be spending time in, but I don’t look much at the work of contemporary artists of that region or country---I want my reaction to a place to be as purely mine as it can be.

Q. You’ve taken several classes (or tried to, what with your mom’s illness!)—why?  Do you enjoy the in-person interaction?

A. I’ve taken a couple of workshops. I’m not a frequent workshop attendee, but there have been a couple of cases when I’ve wanted to learn specific techniques or a new medium. I thought it would be more efficient to go and look and listen and learn up close,  than to try to figure things out on my own.

I like meeting other people, of course, but I generally don’t like working in a group setting, so these types of experiences are of limited value to me, as it turns out.

 Q. Anything you’d like to add about keeping a journal as an artist?

Sketching in a museum

A. I have, on and off, kept a kind of notebook in my studio that is full of thumbnail sketches, color experiments, and personal narrative, too. This is is a great way to wrestle with technical and other problems, cheer yourself on, document your process.  Recently, I have incorporated these inner discussions into a large journal that relates not just to art, but to my whole life. It's been revelatory. This puts my art as the central focus of my life, which is my current, pressing goal.

Q. How many do you have now?

A. I don't know numbers. I have dozens and dozens of journals and sketchhbooks, going back to my childhood, some of them. I do sometimes go back and reread them. It is so interesting to see what the leitmotifs of one's life are. Reading my old journals makes me see recurring patterns and overarching meaning in my life---and that is a great gift.


I hope you've enjoyed this interview, expanded and tweaked and illustrated with many more images since the book manuscript was finished.  And thank you, Laura!  Sharing your work and your insights with our readers was a treat!