Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ten-Minute break

Yes, maybe more like 20 minutes. Or 30.

For my five or so very dedicated readers who're wondering if maybe I got sick of drawing my meals before my class (yes), haven't been able to draw with my class (yes), too busy packing to paint (yes), finally healthy (not sure), fell off the edge of the earth (no) ...

Yes, I'm in the process of moving. I guess normal, responsible adults start weeks ahead of time and get things sorted, packed and labeled. Me, on the other hand ... Well, turns out that we decided we wanted to just take off for Spring Break, which skootched my move up by about a week. No, more like, two. So, I went, "Oh cr#p!, it all has to get done! In 10 days!" and finally started in on sorting my endless piles of stuff. Last weekend we moved all the stuff from my garage - no small feat. This weekend, we move the rest of the stuff, or the stuff that absolutely won't fit in my car. I have lots of stuff. I'm sorting through all sorts of stuff, throwing stuff out, have a boxes of books to donate to the local library, identifying the large appliances/furniture that I don't want to move to have the SalvArmy take away, and trying to be organized in boxing things up. Trying. Organized. Box. Ehhhh. The progress is slow, but finally detectable.

Is it just me that has a problem with this? I have stuff that I can't quite get to throwing out, but can't really use or display the way the thing is right now.

- Large-sized pads of newsprint with lifedrawing sketches. I can chuck most of it, but it'd be so cool to be able to frame the stuff I want to keep, put it up on a wall and enjoy it. What to do.

- Unfinished quilts that Grandma started. Very haphazard blocks and colors, but comforting when you know that it's pretty much like many of the other quilts Grandma made. When I finish it, there are just a few people, in the family that would appreciate its charm. Can't just chuck it, even though it'll be a while before I get to finishing it.

- Wedding pictures (to clarify: in an album, not framed and displayed) and my dress, stuff like that. So, if one doesn't have venomous feelings towards one's ex and you've remained actually very amiable, then what? The mementos remain a nice memory that's part of my life. It'd be pretty sad to just want to wipe out that whole chunk of life from my ongoing saga. Although, there are a whole lotta people that have stopped talking about any of that part of my life to me, which I think, in a way, is kind of superficial and cowardly in its unwillingness to at least test the waters.. "Let's just pretend all that didn't happen, because the breakup must have been unspeakably horrendous! We were all just left speechless! Better to just fast-forward and move on! So, when do we get the meet the new guy?!" What's wrong with people? Buh. Anyway, where was I? To be honest, getting back to the dress, I really liked the fabric that I used for it; a white-on-white rose print in 100% crisp cotton. Very pretty. I haven't found anything quite as nice since then, and you should know that at one time I was a pretty avid quilter, and was and am quite mindful about things like great fabric ... A friend added beading to the lace-covered bodice. I don't need to keep the dress, fer sure, but would like to be able to enjoy the fabric, in some way. An art quilt, a pillow, something. I dunno. Ideas, Jane, Dianne, Karen, Robin, Kim? Anyone?

Sigh. So, this stuff, I'll box up and label, put into storage, and get back to very slowly. It's been a really distillation process. In getting rid of more and more, the collection of things that remain are a very potent concentration of what I love, what gives me comfort, what I like to have around me.

The 'VisualDNA' badge, above, is just a cursory view of these things. The real nitty-gritty is what's getting saved and stashed boxes for the next chapter in life ...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Killing time

It's like if I don't post one of these, you'd think that I ditched teaching my class ...
You wouldn't really think that, would you?


Monday, March 19, 2007

Mustard blossoms

Karen posted a painting of mustard-covered hills a little bit ago.

I had to smile, because I've been thinking of the mustard blossoms that are due any day now and of a hike I went on last year, and yet another little doodle that has been waiting to come out for some time...

He said, "I've never seen the mustard grow so high".

And in that moment I knew that if I weren't with him when the hills were filled with mustard blossoms this spring, my heart would ache to see them ...

So I've been doing little studies of mustard blossoms, you see...

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Just because I spill my first cup of coffee on the countertop and floor (just after stirring in my sugar but before taking my first sip), I'm not gonna take it as an omen of bad or klutzy (well, we'll see. Look who we're talkin' about, here) things to come for the day. At worst, I'll need another cup (and a half. Or two... sigh) of coffee somewhere along the way. Like maybe right now.

Nope, no bad omens. Heck, for the first time in weeks, I feel like I might be shaking off this cold (knock on wood for me, guys).

Tonight, I'm going to have my class draw these. They need to work on setting up objects based on rough geometric shapes - long boxes, cubes, spheres. I'm tired of schlepping in plastic bottles to draw (cylinders) and I'll bet they're tired of 'em too. These will be a different challenge. Yes, I have a collection of nice, ergonomic cooking utensils. They'll start to really believe that I do love to cook. But you already knew that!

I'm going to have them pay more attention to line weights (thick/thin, dark and light), shading, and start to indicate material thicknesses. Tonight will be another drawing process class ... I wasn't sure I'd have time to sketch later today (probably my lunch. And I'm getting tired of drawing those, too), so I figured I'd better just do a demo to make it really clear what I have in mind. When they say, "Okay ... um ... [very intently drawing cars, instead] ... what are we supposed to do with these?", I can go, "I want you to do THIS!".

Last Thursday, I had a buddy come in to do a marker demo. We had a lot of fun and the class made great progress. I'm hoping they were able to play with the markers over their long weekend, and that we can build on that tonight....

Added, later:
Or maybe not. Boy, it's like there's nothing to tempt fate so defiantly like optimism in the face of a ... bad omen ... What the heck was I thinking, when I clicked, "Publish"? Fine. Just fine.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fortune cookies

When you get a fortune like this:

I have to start to wonder ...

- if the fortune cookie fortune writers are just getting punchy
- or maybe they've been spying on me.

'Wacky inventions'? Let's not ... jump to conclusions! (a nod to "Office Space", indeed).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Watercolor crayons

Whatever it is that I’m supposed to be doing, clearly, I am not. [sigh] You know, if I were really procrastinating, I’d be doing something that I normally don’t do, like … dust! Right now, I’m … just finishing up my first cuppa coffee for the day and, um, dawdling.

I treated myself to some time outside to sketch and paint yesterday. It seems like forever since I drew outside, and could tell that that’s what my psyche really needed. I opened my travel watercolor kit and found a paper napkin that I’d used the last time I painted outside.

From Yosemite.

In November.

Yes, it’s been far too long since I’ve just dabbled with some color. So you can imagine that it felt really good to get out and paint.

Descanso Tea House (the roof, as seen from below the bridge)
Prismacolor sketch with Caran d’Ache watersoluble crayons

Artsy note:
I also took along some water-soluble crayons, a set of 30 made by Caran d’Ache, Neocolor 2. I’ve had the set for a while and love them. Worked dry, they are just so yummy in their application of color, such rich pigment. Worked and blended with water, the color intensifies so nicely. I scribble blocks of color onto another sheet of paper that I use as a palette, or pick up pigment directly from the crayons with my brush. This seems to be a nice work-around for me, to work outside - - I’m too messy and disorganized to have gotten around to schlepping my tubes of watercolor with me, and I’m not quite crazy about the travel kit watercolor pans… I have trouble getting very intense color with them. The only thing about the crayons is I might have to worry about leaving them in the car on those long, hot summer days here in Southern California.

I’m happy with how these turned out.

I’ll be trying to get my class started tonight with graphic markers, and grabbed some unconventional (in the world of product design, yes) sample objects for them to work from. I’ll have them set up little groupings to draw, looking at scale and proportion, perspective, look at the shadows, shade and highlights. My goal is to have them complete nice, accurate line drawings that they’ll use as underlays for monochromatic pencil renderings and also markers. They’ve been wanting to work with markers. I’m not sure they’ve gotten the sense of how wonderful it feels to just draw, to lay down pigment onto a sheet of paper with just a colored pencil, to work with the expressive quality of their lines. I don’t think they’ve gotten that, but at this point I’d be happy if we can accomplish clean, accurate line drawings. And then move onward!
I fully intend to sketch with them tonight, these little compositions, so in theory, I’ll have a few of my own sketches to noodle with when I get home, late late tonight. It’ll be fun to see.

Trust me.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bear hugs

"Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale."
- Anonymous quotation

I've been thinking about doing these for a while.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Colored pencils

Lunch, and then some more.

Artsy note –
I brought both the Prismacolor and Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils today. I started this drawing with the polychromos. I don’t have a great travel pencil-sharpener, which made getting in finer details tough. I started to notice that even with a less-than-sharp point, I just couldn’t get nice, rich, intense pigment on the page. So, I rummaged through my pencil pouch and found a black Prismacolor pencil. I very quickly noticed that the Prismacolor laid down more pigment far easily, what I'd been wanting to add to this sketch.

Many of the design classes use colored pencils to do their ideation / brainstorm sketching. This means that they need to use pencils to do both fairly detailed and precise line-drawings, as well as be able to throw down shading very quickly as well. I’m wondering if the newer Prismacolors were proving difficult in that they could not hold a sharp point reliably. Crack! You’ll hear the pencil-sharpener go all day long. A lot of my pencils are old, so chances are that a bunch of mine will work okay, but I’ll keep an eye on how my students are doing.

I will admit that I’d noticed in the last year or so, drawing outside, that the Prisma leads would chip while I was drawing with really sharp points, or, more often, that the complete sharpened portion of the leads would shear off, somewhere just below the wooden casing line. I wouldn’t notice it for a while, because the lead would still stay in place. But, the pencil would get a little wobbly, or the broken part of the lead would just fall out, and I’d think, “Oh!”. There wouldn’t even be a stump left. Argh.

So, I’m going to sketch with both brands and see how they both behave. I have to say that if you aren’t too worried about fine line drawings (use verithin pencils instead for that), then the Prismas are still the way to go - - you can get such intense application of color. And for right now, that’s what I’m looking for in the monochromatic sketches I’m having the students do, and that I’m doing as well. We can do line drawing work with something else. Maybe the two brands will behave differently as far as blending and/or layering different colors as well. We'll see.

A quick internet search reveal
these comments on Katherine Tyrrell's 'Making a Mark' blog.

And here's the Wet Canvas
colored-pencil reviews.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Geometric forms

[sigh] And to think. I thought my days of doing these were behind me.

A quick sphere, black colored pencil.

Silly me.

You know you're showing your age (or something), when you start saying things like,
"Hey, if you think doing these grey scales is tedious, think about this:
We had to render white cubes on a white table on a white background.
Just a cube, by itself.
Every week.
For 6 weeks! ..."

Their eyes bug out and I know they're wondering, "Woo. Can she be serious?"

(Dirty) white cube. Charcoal with Webril pad. 1996
I know I did better versions of them, but they're off, hiding somewhere.

Light and shade, core and shadow. Where's the light source?

The only light source I'm going to worry about for a few days is that really big, bright one up in the sky. Partly cloudy and windy here for the weekend, but Santa Barbara is s'posed to be sunny... That could be promising ... It's a tempting thought. But so is napping on the couch and decompressing from another long week.

Wherever you are, have a great Girls' Day and L.A. Marathon weekend out there.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Quick coffee break

Finally remembered my colored pencils. Ahhhh.