Affirmation

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At the beginning of this year I joined the Art Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.  For me it has been a significant step in defining myself as having a place among the people in this province who seek to express themselves in artistic ways.  It has been a very positive experience, with opportunities to take workshops and socialize with artists who love what they do, and are willing to share their expertise and experience.  I was afraid, as a self-taught artist, I would not be taken seriously but I have not run into any form of disregard.  Everyone has just been helpful.

This fall I decided to take part in the Fall Art Exhibit, so with the help of a neighbour and friend, who is a long time member, we selected some of my work that she thought would fit well into the exhibition.  My husband framed them for me.  As they are not gallery wraps, but are painted right around the edge of the back stapled canvases, I didn’t want to lose the details.

FramedThe three pieces are, from left to right:

Frozen Ghost, Dragon’s Teeth at Madrocks, and A Year in a Gaudy Hamlet

Filled with excitement and trepidation, I dropped off my pieces on Wednesday, and walked in to the opening on Friday evening.  Would my work measure up?   There they hung, among some of the other beautiful pieces!  And they didn’t look out of place at all!  Can you find the Dragon’s Teeth in this picture?  It was so lovely to see so many people there, sharing a love of art and appreciating everyone’s work.  And stunning work was on every wall!  Gorgeous subjects: horses, boats, boots, waves, flowers;  Unique techniques:  glasswork, scratchboard, rope frames, multimedia flowers;  All sizes:  from tiny 6×6 to huge 36 x 48 and more.

Exhibit

As a member of the Association we were invited to take part in a collage project.  One large photo was cut into 60 small 3 inch x 2 inch pieces and each person taking part was given one to reproduce in acrylic on an 8 x 10 canvas board.  No one knew the overall picture, and we were admonished not to go looking – just to paint what we saw.  Toward the end a couple of people were unable to complete their pieces, so a few of us did an extra board.  The completed collage was unveiled at the Exhibition Opening, and while you can see it above, there is a clearer picture below.  I think it is absolutely marvelous to see the photo, taken from the St. John’s waterfront, done in this way.  And it fascinates me how differently the colours were interpreted, particularly the blues.

Collage

I’ve titled this post “Affirmation” because of the acceptance and the positive comments I received on my work.  Visitors could have walked right by my pieces, but they didn’t, and they spoke to me about them without knowing they were mine.  None of the pieces were up for sale, as I’m not ready to let my art babies out into the world yet, but there were queries, and some offers and I promised that the next exhibit I take part in, I will paint pieces for sale.  That’s exciting.

So if there is a moral to this story, it is to put yourself, and your work, out there.  It’s one thing to know how you feel about it.  It is quite another to get the opinions of others.  And yes, I know that sometimes people won’t like my work, but that’s ok too.  They may well have some interesting perspectives that I can learn something from.

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“Be Prepared”

As I mentioned in my spring blog post, we were planning a holiday, and it was wonderful.  Summer, as a whole has been marvelous.  Though the good weather was late in coming, once it hit in late June it decided to take up residence.  Now we are about to enter September and we still are having predominantly sunshine and warm days.  That’s not always the case after Regatta Day in St. John’s.

Planning a holiday also meant planning what art supplies I wanted to take along.  I knew I wouldn’t be making “serious art”, but I did want to take materials for sketching, and for maintaining my travel journal.  You also know, from previous posts, that I am a bit of a supply and diy geek, so the first thing I considered was a small watercolour palette.  cotmanI have W&N Cotman travel set, which I was planning to take, but I had seen the Pocket Palette business card size kit on Pinterest, and elsewhere, and thought I might be crafty enough to make something similar.  So let the games begin.

Small Metal Notepad

Many years ago, my husband gave me a tiny metal notepad with a pen that kept it closed.  While I loved it, I hadn’t used it often, so it was ready for a reincarnation.

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I found little metal pans online at a cosmetic supply firm (TKB Trading) and I had an old sheet magnet from a calendar, and some small magnet dots from the Dollarama.  I glued the magnet to the inside of the notepad base with E6000, and as the metal pans stuck nicely to the magnet I didn’t need to use the magnet dots.  I used white adhesive contact paper to make the mixing space under the cover.

I had purchased some lovely Shinhan Watercolours from Amazon, so my next task was to fill the pans I wanted.

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It was just a matter of filling the pan, and then spreading the paint out with a toothpick.  I included Mission Gold Crimson Lake, and W&N Cotman Payne’s Gray, because they are favourites.  You can see the rest of my palette selections on the sample card above.  Once the pans had dried (2 days) I just slipped them into the case and now I have a lovely little kit that I can slip in my pocket with a waterbrush and a pencil.

My Pocket Palette

But for journaling on the trip I wanted a little more.  I like a selection of pens, and prefer normal brushes to waterbrushes.  The ephemera one collects on a trip needs to be taped or glued in and scissors and rulers are helpful.  When I was growing up I had pencil cases for school that held all sorts of art supplies, so while I was in the Thrift Store, I came across a more modern version of this with an inner divider and decided it had potential.

I grant you I am a fan of all things Disney, but this was not the vision I had for my art supplies.  Acrylic paint to the rescue.  I think the result is much more appropriate.

The kit holds pencils, art eraser, ruler, fountain pens, a white pen and glue pens, along with an assortment of waterbrushes and travel brushes alongside my Cotman paints.  There is a plastic card cut from packaging wrapped with washi tape, and there are watercolour paper pieces, binderclips and elastics; water container, colour wheel, spray bottle, paper towel and cloth cuff.

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And of course, one must have a matching sketchbook.  This was a book of quite sturdy watercolour paper (no weight given) that I picked up at a yard sale.  The cover is heavy chipboard.

 

The truth of the trip was that it was so busy there was little time to sketch anything, and I will leave the details of our travels to a future post.  But here is a little tidbit to whet your appetite.

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Happenstance 

I am a teacher. 3rd generation.  If you were to ask me why I did it my stock answer would be, “for the light-bulbs.”  What I meant by that was the moment you could see understanding dawn in a student’s eyes. Or the moment when passion or love of a subject took over.  I’m retired now and that is why I have the time to indulge myself in my own learning. Last summer someone turned on a light bulb for me. It wasn’t a quick flick of a switch, but a slow charging of a battery.

Laura, from Create Art Every Day, liked one of my posts and so I went to visit her at a time when she was posting a small watercolour every day, and I was impressed. No I didn’t hop right to it. I’m more comfortable with acrylics and watercolour intimidates me. But I did use my Crayola watercolour pencils to capture the visit of a colourful arachnid to my peony. See Inspired By A Visitor.  And that was all. For about 6 months.

After Christmas I took on two goals:  

  1. Continue writing a journal.  I do a good job of a travel journal, but usually not of a more continuous variety.
  2. Learn to draw; at least a little.

I can paint, but I have never considered myself able to draw. So I bought a couple of books at a second hand store, and started following Shoo Rayner and Cathy Johnson on Youtube.  Cathy had this lovely tutorial on making folded sketchbooks from single sheets of paper-much less intimidating than a fancy new sketchbook. 20170404_204040Each night I would sit and write in my journal, and then try to sketch one small thing. Not every night, mind you, but most nights.

And black and white is pretty dull, but I had an old Prang kid’s watercolour set. Well, the rest is history.

 

 

 

 

I now have quite a collection. All small, about double ATC size, but I’ve so enjoyed it. I’m learning every day; watercolour no longer intimidates me.

Here’s a little selection of the progression

Back Deck Visitor

Back Deck Visitor – One of the first

Sketch 2

Snow Day – Under Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

More recent sketches are definitely cleaner looking.

We have a holiday coming up, and I look forward to taking a little kit with me and adding some visuals to my travel journal. Thank You to, Danny Gregory, Liz Steel,  Koosje Koene and so many more for all the many hours of free instruction they have provided.  And thank you, Laura, for your advice and encouragement.  It may have only been a moment but we never know what little thing we do that influences someone else.  Be well.

Monika

Inspired by a Visitor

I didn’t expect to post today.crabsi

 
This is a surprise but I was inspired by nature, and by a visitor to my blog.  Yesterday, when I was coming home from the grocery store, an unusual guest was inspecting my peony.  SHE is a Goldenrod Crab Spider and has a fascinating life history.  Most particularly, she doesn’t spin webs, but is a hunter.  She sits in wait and grabs her insect prey with those large forelegs.  And as if that’s not badass enough; she can CHANGE COLOUR.

 

 

 

Today, when I went out to check on her:  Voila!

crabspiderNow she’s white, and she has prey!!  Not exactly small fry either.

I apologize to the arachnophobes

but you have to admit she is cool!

 

 

“But what does this have to do with creativity,” you say?  Well, one of the nice people to come and visit my recent incarnation of this blog is Laura, Create Art Every Day.  You have to drop by and see her daily explorations.  This month it is particularly watercolour art.  I am so trepidatious over watercolour as it appears to be so unforgiving.  But it is also extremely tempting because of its portability and the applications for journaling.  Laura encouraged me to check out Cathy Johnson as further inspiration.  Great lady who is so good at instruction and is a fabulous art journalist.  The end result was that I pulled out my limited watercolour equipment and sat on my front step to “play.”

The result is an ATC of my Insect Interloper.  20160720_185302 Certainly not the detail I would expect of myself with acrylics (because you can paint over stuff), but she’s captured.  The petals were done with a red, a purple and a black watercolour pencil.  The spider is yellow and red, toned with a little orange and black.  These are my materials.

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Yes, those are really Crayola watercolour pencils.  (I told you I don’t do watercolour. )  The water brushes were purchased from Curry’s, on a whim.  The black handled brush I’ve had for 37 years.  I bought it to clean my contact lenses and used it for that for 10 years.  The water cup is from the Dollar Store.  As long as you make sure you’ve opened it all the way, it doesn’t leak.

I had fun today.  Thank you Laura.

And the rest of you, get out there and enjoy.