Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Digital drawing

Remember when I was on a big hunt for a good drawing app for my Kindle Fire? I figured out that Sketchbook Pro seemed like the best and I got it. And then I did nothing with it. Today I started fooling with it. I don't think I am destined to make great art with it. David Hockney has been doing some very interesting digital work on his iPhone and iPad, but I am no David Hockney.

I find it really slow going and awkward, but maybe I need more practice. Today's experiments:

Poppies in the front yard. I had this nearly finished and somehow erased the whole thing and had to start over. Wonder if Hockney has ever done that.

Drawing. Aye, yi, yi. I used the "airbrush" to add some shading.

Then I decided to focus on the airbrush. Kind of like a pastel. May have some promise.

Not convinced this medium has anything over the old paper and pen/pencil/pastel.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Three-day weekend

After all the rain we've had this week, the flowers are going nuts. The poppies have popped!

They are huge and RED! Makes me happy to be alive just to see them as I pass by. And just look how loaded with buds. When they all bloom it will be—well, I don't know what, but I'm sure it will be exciting.

We are having a stay-at-home holiday weekend and enjoying puttering around. There is a plan to barbeque this afternoon, but the weather doesn't look great. We'll make it work.

Ray and I went to a rock place near us and picked out stones for a pathway from the studio to the bridge, so I won't have to tramp through the muck to get to the studio. Shopping for rocks seems, on the one hand, sort of amusing, considering all the free rocks that are just laying around! As you dig rocks out of your garden and pile them up for who knows what use, it seems very unlikely that one would ever actually go out and pay money to haul rocks onto your property. But, yes, we went out and bought rocks. Nice little flat paving sort of rocks. Yesterday Ray constructed a step/landing pad surface at the bottom of the studio porch steps and started laying out stones to get an idea how a path might come together. It is a little like piecing odd scraps together to make a crazy quilt. It's going to be great once they are set into some sand and the moss begins to fill in between them.

The "air" quilt is coming together better with some stitching.

I know it is a bit of a leap to call this "air", but the idea is that the trees fill the air with color and motion as the leaves fall and swirl and blow. I am of the opinion that art made to a theme can fulfill the theme in even a very tenuous way. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Studio day

A day to plug away at things.

Awhile ago I got this nice step stool at Ikea. It is perfect to use to hang things up high on my design wall. It is very sturdy and was remarkably inexpensive, but was unfinished wood. I finally got around to giving it a coat of clear acrylic today. It looks so nice and now my dirty shoes won't muck it up.

I have been working on "air" the third of the elements pieces. It has been really difficult to come up with a concept for air. I wanted to keep all the pieces the same size and orientation. Leaves in the wind, was finally my best idea, but I don't love it. Still, I need to keep working. I started today with it at this stage.

I think it is booooooooring. So boring. I started adding leaves.

 Better, but still lacking quite a bit of—something. That tree trunk is so awkward on the right side. I think it needs some judicious pruning. And stitching, is what I hope will save it. And maybe more leaves.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May in Oregon

Beth had surgery on her foot, so we haven't been walking for awhile. She is healing so we are walking a little more each day now. It was raining this morning, but we took raincoats and umbrellas and found it was clean and wonderful out there in the rain. Perfect weather for ducks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I think drawing is a skill most artists need. It is good to be able to draw a recognizable object, but even more important regular drawing is constant practice at seeing and observing and discovering the character and essence of the visual world. I always think I will spend some time every day drawing and I seldom make the time to do that. I have been talking with a couple friends about drawing and developing that discipline and I decided to start a drawing blog.

My hope is that there will be people who will join me and start drawing or continue to draw along and share what they are doing. I'm not an expert, but I have been drawing for a long time and will share what I know. I'm pretty excited about this! Check it out here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Can I hear a "woo hoo!"

I think one of the most affirming things that can happen to an artist is to sell a piece. It has been a good month for me. I had work in the show at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral a couple weeks ago and sold two of my wall pieces and 5 small bin pieces. Then tonight I got word that my piece that has been traveling with the "Deep Spaces" exhibit was just sold. Here is the piece, "Deep in the Forest."

It is a strange, but good feeling to know that my work is "out there" somewhere and I hope giving pleasure to someone.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

We meet the Metolius River

When we left Black Butte Ranch Friday morning to head home from our retreat, we took a small detour off the main road to see the head of the Metolius River. Gerrie had been told she should go there since we were in the area, so we were all game. We parked at the information area. It was a fairly short walk through the ponderosa pines down to where the river emerges from the earth. The day was beautiful and the soft sunlight filtering through the dense forest took the edge off the chilly mountain air.

The Metolius comes out of the ground as springs in the dark area of the photo below, and quickly widens into a river that bubbles over rocks and winds into the forest.

From there we drove a few miles to the little community of Camp Sherman where the river rolls through. Here is the the Camp Sherman store. We bought supplies for a picnic for further down the road. It is a charming little store that is well equipped and has a large section of fishing supplies in the back.

From in front of the store you see beautiful cabins along the river.

We were all so enchanted by this little piece of paradise that we decided to check into renting a cabin here for our next retreat.

I love these yearly retreats. Now I am home, and glad to be, but grateful for that time with my friends and change of scene. I think we all need that.

PS  For those who are curious about such things, the white flowering bushes in the river photos are Syringa, also called Mock Orange, which is a wild relative of lilac. Also the state flower of Idaho. The tall trees are Ponderosa Pine, which are very fragrant, beautiful trees with an unusual patterned bark. The plant in the store photo with the red-tinged leaves and yellow blossoms is Oregon Grape, the state flower of Oregon.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In the Woods

Late yesterday I got home from three days with my friends at our yearly STASH retreat. This year we went back to the house at Black Butte Ranch where we were a couple years ago. I organized a surface design project for us just so we would not feel too relaxed! We experimented with paste resist on fabric, which we then painted. It was a good kind of project for a several day long retreat since there are steps that require drying time between. We could do step 1, then leave it to dry and go off on some adventure of sightseeing, or shopping or eating. Eating was big.

Step one: Mix up paste and spread it on fabric in a thin layer. We used a combination of rice flour and wheat flour. Some were left with a simple paste layer, others we marked into the paste with various tools. The unmarked pieces will, with any luck, become allover crackle patterns.

Suzy, Gale and Gerrie here, spreading the pancake batter-ish goo on their fabric. Then we took them out to the deck and spread them out to dry and went off to the Black Butte Lodge for an incredible dinner with the sun setting behind the view of spectacular mountains, lake, golf course and ponderosa pines. A couple of the group with foot surgery and medical issues drove to the Lodge and the rest of us walked. The walk was beautiful, but our memories were faulty concerning how far it was, plus we were confused about walking to a different restaurant two years ago that was a much shorter walk, so we were quite late for our reservation and dragging our butts by the time we finally arrived, but were soon refreshed by wine and really just wonderfully memorable food and good conversation and lots of laughing.

Step two: The next morning we "cracked" our dry pasted fabrics, then painted over the tops with acrylic and fabric paints—the plan being that the paint seeps into the cracks and marks onto the fabric and the rest of the fabric is protected from the paint by the paste resist.

Reva and Beth are painting over the dried paste resist.

Again, we spread them out on the sunny deck to dry and headed into Bend for another adventure. We found Starbucks and then a beautiful quilt shop that we had never been to before. We were happy to leave a few dollars at Quiltworks and bring home some beautiful fabrics and threads. Our lunch at the Pine Tavern turned into a marathon. We waited for more than an hour for our food, but it was outstanding once it arrived and they apologized for the delay with complimentary desserts. Again, plenty of good, often hilarious conversation. We do the eating/conversation part so well!

Step three: When we got back to Black Butte our creations were dry and we began the arduous task of cracking and scraping the dried paste off our fabrics. The paste can be removed more easily by soaking the piece in water overnight and then washing the remaining paste out, but we did not want to make a big gooey mess in the rental house or try to dispose of all that gummy, sticky wet paste. And—we wanted to be able to see what our fabrics looked like before we left. So we scraped with a spoon and picked with our fingers and revealed at least some of each piece to admire. Soaking and finishing will happen back home.

Here are areas with resist removed.

Pretty great, huh? It was fun and exciting to see the results. I think we all got a lot of ideas about how to improve the process and inspiration to try variations. Can't wait to see what we do with these fabrics.

It was a great getaway with friends—wine, good food, laughs, stories, games of Draw Something and Mexican Train and the beauty of the pines and the aspens and the mountains of the High Desert country of Oregon.

I feel refreshed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The man cave

We've been laughingly referring to my old sewing space as "the man cave" or "the rumpus room" (how's that for an antiquated term?) since I moved out and Ray started getting the room fixed up. It will occasionally house guests, but it is mostly Ray's place to get away and make noise. I think I'll call it "the music room" because that sounds so very refined.

Ray has been a drummer since he was a teenager and played in school bands and marching bands and, when we were first married, in rock bands. In those days I was often the "roady" who helped haul drums and set them up and break them down. I know how to set up a drum kit. When we lived in Ashland he played drums with a bagpipe band and wore a kilt. Hubba hubba! In Ashland he also got together with a bunch of old guys at the Elks Hall where they played old big band music just for the fun of it. We called that one "the old man's band." Here in Portland he played music for awhile, but finally sold most of his drums and packed the rest away. Yesterday they came out of storage.

Cool African drum. It sounds wonderful. I love seeing the drums and percussion stuff again. I know how happy music makes Ray. I hope to be hearing some rumpus coming from the man cave.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I used to be a good shopper. An enthusiastic shopper. I used to be well-dressed and relatively stylish. Something has happened. I have become my mother who hated to shop. She would grind her teeth and roll her eyes and moan and despair. It was embarrassing and now I am doing the same thing.

I know what the problem is. It is that I shop now because I am looking for something. Something specific that I need/want. I am not shopping opportunistically as I once did, where you just regularly browse the favored stores and you see something, quite by accident, that speaks to you. Good stuff, I have determined, must be found by accident, not by purpose.

My birthday was last month and my daughter gave me a Macy's gift card, which was such a thoughtful gift and I thought, "how great! I will use it to buy a new lightweight jacket." So I headed out to Macy's and then another Macy's and then another. That is the thing about Macy's. They are the store that ate all the real stores—the ones we loved. For me it was Meier and Frank and before that, The Bon Marche. Now they are all Macy's and Macy,s, let's be truthful here, just isn't the same as those old beloved stores. But Macy's is what we have now. And they did not have a jacket for me. Nope. Not even close. What I had in mind was something unlined in cotton duck or canvas or denim or some such. Not black. I already own all the black jackets in the world. A color. Not Navy either, and preferably not gray. Remember Barn Jackets that were popular about 10 years ago? Something like that.

But not beige.

Since they did not have my jacket, I wandered through Macy's looking at other things. I found a pair of yellow shoes I liked. I've never owned yellow shoes! They did not have my size. Nor did any of the other Macy's stores I went to. Nor did Macy's online. I bought a coral colored summer shirt instead. It will probably become my favorite shirt ever. See how that works? It was not what I was looking for.

Then I went to every other store in the mall to look for a jacket. Then I left the mall and went to all the other stores. And I didn't find a jacket. And by then I was doing a fine imitation of my mother, whining and moaning and dragging myself around like a cranky old lady.

So I went to the fabric store. The only fabric that seemed possible was a pretty strange color—kind of purpley berry color. It wasn't black. I bought it. I bought buttons and thread. I could not find a pattern. I took it all home and made a copy of an old jacket I kind of liked, except made it a little longer and made the sleeves long enough to roll up a cuff. And I made my own damned jacket. And here I am wearing it with my new coral shirt and my new yellow shoes, which I finally ordered online, but not from Macy's.

 I still have about $25 left on my Macy's gift card.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The earth and spring

This place where we live really comes alive this time of year. Especially when the sun shines. I step outside in the evening and the sound of frogs is raucous and insistent. By the sound of it there are hundreds of little frogs in close proximity to the house. I love the sound. It is cheerful and lively and goes hand in hand with a sweet, green fragrance of springtime. The volume and variety of the sound makes me think I should be able to look out and see frogs hopping all over the lawn, but no. It is rare to see the little frogs and seems like such a treat to spot one. See how perfectly this little guy I saw today matches his background.

They are probably all around me, blending nearly perfectly into the background.

The other day I looked out the studio window to spot a possum waddling quickly down the driveway. Not so fond of the possums. Ray found a slender little snake coiled in the bottom of a flowerpot the other day. They startle me in the grass occasionally, but I like to think they are keeping the mosquitoes and other bugs at bay. Yes, suddenly the place seems alive with creatures and flowers and wonderful green everywhere.

I have finished the second of the "Elements" pieces. This is earth.
I have no ideas for water and air. I joked that air might just be a blank white piece—not!

This weekend my work will be in a show/sale at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. I am looking forward to seeing the whole show and hope to sell something. Next week the STASH group is going to Central Oregon for our annual retreat. I am starting to gather my projects and supplies to take along. Meanwhile, I love the sunshine and am on the lookout for frogs as I come and go around the house and studio. I know they are out there. I hear them.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Helvetia Tavern

I'm not sure why, but the wives were invited along on the latest Burger Project foray today. We were happy to be included. Ten of us headed out in search of a great burger. Destination—The Helvetia Tavern.

Way the heck out in the country. This was the view across the road.

The guys usually go out on Saturdays and try out different burger joints. Howard, the instigator, compiles their ratings and writes up the review on his blog. I made business cards for them. Howard says now that they have business cards they are "kind of a big deal." Howard gets a kick out of life in general and is easily impressed.

The Helvetia Tavern seems to have been there for awhile. Norm thought they had some decorator come out and hang up all the baseball caps on the ceiling and silly signs on the walls. Norm is a skeptic. I think the decor evolved. I think a decorator would have done a "better" job and would have ruined the rustic charm. I like the organic approach to Tavern decor.

The official tallies will be up on Howard's blog later this week. The wives did not vote, but if I had I would have said the burgers were awesome. The secret sauce was awesome. The generous serving of pickles was awesome. The bacon was awesomely crispy. The beer was awesome. The fries were beyond awesome. The company was awesome. The ram across the road was awesome. The drive through the rolling green fields to get there was super awesome.