Saturday, August 30, 2014

More Watercolor, A Give-Away and a Book

When we got home I painted this small picture. In the mornings I cut up fruit for myself and always leave some for Susan, who hates fruit. She feels guilty if she doesn't eat what I fix for her but she often forgets to look for it in the refrigerator (or that's what she claims anyway) when she comes back from her walk or swim. Now I put this picture right on the counter by the front door - no more excuses!

She took the same watercolor class I did. Here are two of the pages from her watercolor journal. She did two leaves on every page and then the flower and then asked Gina for more images to copy and did the bird and some other stuff.  She is very "wiggly" in classes (her word, other people might call it Attention Deficit Disorder) and works fast - she says if she works fast she doesn't have time to wiggle and think about what her work looks like and fuss about it.

The other day I did a long bike ride and put another little Give-Away (a bird) in place.  This is Jennifer's Garden wall in a front yard where I'd previously put a smaller bird down low - both show in the top picture. This week-end I'll check to see if they are still there.

Best book I've read in months: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The kind of book that you slow down to read when you get near the end because you don't want it to be over.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Art Unraveled - Gina Rossi Armfield's Class

The class was Gina's The Watercolor Artist's Notebook and the first night we just learned about colors and how watercolor paints act, which is usually well-behaved except for when their parents aren't looking.

Gina has a lot of stuff going on and she thinks there are No Excuses for slacking off on your art. Well, maybe she'd allow Happy Hour but she'd probably want you to paint your hangover the next morning.  Her classes are incredibly informative, lots of demos and handouts, and she moves around the room all the time while you are working so she can help if needed.  There's a lot of structure in the class but that meant we accomplished a LOT in just 9 total hours of class.

We all got the same leaf pictures to copy. I thought that would be boring at first but then I became One with My Leaf.  First we just did a careful line drawing, then we starting doing paintings of it, each time getting more and more individualized.


Finally we got to the last exercise, a picture of a big flower.  Well, maybe mine looks like an exploding asteroid but I learned to really like watercolors in this class. 

This is by a fellow classmate, Elaine. She was very talented. She made it look like the flower instead of an asteroid.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Art Unraveled - Chris Cozen's Class

Chris Cozen is a very patient and calm instructor. She brings lots of materials for students to use and is a representative for Golden Paints so you get a wealth of good information.  We started out by spreading colors around on paper and learning a lot about the properties of the paint, color mixing and composition.  Above is the final, below is its start:

Later in the class we developed the experimental works into images and themes that were of our own particular interest. I went with the map concept. I told Chris I didn't want to do any "girly" colors and yet I have pink in my work! How did that happen? Below is start and then finish:

The one below was a lesson with Golden Flow acrylics - I didn't finish it but I think I can transform this into another one of my maps eventually.
(Susan speaks: I've taken the picture 3 times and uploaded it 3 different ways. Somehow it still is getting a moiré pattern on it, with or without tweaking in Picasa and/or Adobe Photoshop. It is just on a plain white canvas. Go figure.)
Sitting next to me in class was Marlene from Phoenix. Marlene entertains me with fascinating, hilarious catastrophe stories about her life and family and always manages to make me laugh.  She does really nice work:
Art Unraveled is held at an Embassy Suites which makes me very happy because I can get a really big breakfast and meet up with my Posse, which includes Carol (on the right) from Dripping Springs, TX, and Betsy from New Hampshire. I'd like to tell you the names of the other women in my Posse but they probably would prefer to keep their activities from their husbands/boyfriends - that's why their backs are to the camera.  Breakfast is the time when we all get a chance to visit with each other and just catch up what's happening in other classes. Where's Susan? Other than taking this picture she was probably sitting with other people and catching up on their class info. In the mornings it's like Happy Hour socializing, but with lots of coffee instead of a drink.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Art Unraveled - Jane Davies' Class

In the morning the class was Layers and Textures and I just didn't get that. Once we got home and unpacked all our stuff I realized I had enjoyed the process but really didn't have any pieces I wanted to keep as examples or reminders or even just photograph.  In the afternoon the class was Teeny Tiny Art and we made lots of little pieces that were just 4" squares.  This class I got.

I'm all the way out to Phoenix in a class and wind up meeting another person from Austin. How does that happen?  Here is Jane Cobb's work:

Maybe this is Helen's work:
I think, but am not sure, but whatever, that this is my friend Marlene's work:

I take pictures and forget Susan's advice, which is to follow the picture of the work with a picture of the person's nametag. Or, when in a museum, the picture of the signage next to the artwork. So, Marlene, Helen and Jane, if I got it wrong, sorry. I'll try better next year.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

ArtUnraveled - April Bower's Class

I'd like to claim all of these as mine but noooo, they are all made by April Bower.  The class I took from her was "Reticulated Bi-Metal Bracelet" - the bi-metal was sterling bonded to copper or to brass so it's different on each side. The lower right bracelet in the picture above is an example of the edges folded and formed over so you see the contrast in the material.  But first we practiced on just plain copper -- shaping and forming and then applying patina.
Here's one of my bracelets, start to finish, marking, texturing, folding, shaping, patina:

And the final product:
Here's another bracelet I made in her class:
And finally, here's the bi-metal bracelet that I finished up the day with.  We move fast at ArtUnraveled and April makes sure we get our money's worth.  She'll be teaching at Art Retreat in the Desert next year and I might be going to that.
There will be more to come from our ArtUnraveled classes but I can't make the Blog Wrangler move any faster -- she insists she has library books to read and return and that we have 2 Netflix DVDs that have been waiting for us for nearly a month. We did watch "The Company You Keep" with Robert Redford. (Susan speaks: Time has not been kind to that man and he probably should have used more sunscreen when he was younger.) Only 3 stars for that one. Last night we watched "21 Jump Street" - silly and improbable and just easy watching - 4 stars for not being overdone with ponderous themes and special effects.
We don't get to our Netflix DVDs as fast as we used to because I'm hooked on too many TV shows: The Last Ship, The Strain (gross!), Major Crimes, Legends, and my favorite, The Tyrant. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Unravel Art

It's me, in a class taught by Jane Davies, at ArtUnraveled. We had a great time, visited with old friends, took lots of classes and got really tired of driving when we headed back to Texas.

Why weren't you here?

More to come.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Birdies and Pods

This drawing was done by one of my friends here, Kate, and it is much better looking than this photo. I traded her some little ceramic birds for this drawing and I really love it.  I got the better half of the deal because she's a very talented artist.

A real pod that I'm watching so I can salvage it when it dries up:

Some more squash-type pods I'm working on:

Monday, August 4, 2014


This little Sweater Child has stayed in place along our hike-and-bike trail for a long time now. I placed it at this memorial area some people set up for a cyclist who was killed.

This picture was taken in February:

This picture was taken last month:

The little Sweater Child gets moved around but still seems to stay there.  Other Sweater Children I've placed in other areas have disappeared. That's OK, it's a give-away plan, a plan that this person seems to have gotten their head into also (picture taken along a different trail):

Friday, August 1, 2014

Rain is GOOD

This is below one of the dams along the Colorado River that runs through Austin. We had some very heavy rain recently but as you can see it doesn't help very much with our long drought. But we'll take what we can get! The turtles are happy now.

People wonder what I do with my day when I'm not working with clay or at school, helping unload the kilns or in classes. I really hate to admit this but here where I live we often do jigsaw puzzles. Yes, just like really old people. Which we all are!  A few residents started doing puzzles in one of our lobby areas and Susan started going down there at night and working with them and sometimes now I join in too.  It's a visual challenge and a great way to socialize and catch up on the neighborhood gossip.

They have some rules about doing jigsaw puzzles: 
1000 pieces only --the table is too small for more than that
and 500 is too easy.
No egos. If you ask if a piece fits right and someone says NO,
get over it.
No eating or drinking at the puzzle table
(a hard-earned lesson).
If you manage to fit at least three pieces together
you can claim to be a Trained Professional.
And the rule they all enjoy:
Lots of trash-talking.
The lobby is on a direct access route out of the building so they see lots of people coming and going and get lots of advice and comments from everyone -- usually along the lines of "I can't believe you have been able to put that hard puzzle together!"  (Amateurs!)
They have posted a rule that says if you aren't there you might be talked about. I got hooked one night when I wandered down, only to find out the puzzle was (drum roll, please) ... beer bottles! Here's a picture of me with Virginia, one of my good friends and a definite Trained Puzzle Professional. And we've almost finished the puzzle.