Sunday, March 30, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Green and Growing

A busy week of travel for both June and me, but what do you know, we both managed to complete our weekly homework. Here is June's very charming interpretation of a New Yorker cover. 


This one was fun, mostly because someone else did the hard work.

I unabashedly stole the basic image from the New Yorker cover, "Window Box", by Juliet Borda, Sept 7, 1998.

The original is, of course, much better, but this was fun.

Galaxy Note 10.1 with Pen; PhotoShop 6.0 with Wacom stylus and tablet.


A lot of experimentation going on here to get to my idea of the kind of painting I would like to paint if I was using real paint. I drew the foreground branches and leaves from observation of a plant at my house. It was a pretty straightforward digital drawing done on several layers that I eventually merged. Then a background. This was actually the fun part. I took a photo in my yard of a kind of generic foliage background and put it on a layer behind the drawing. Then, using the filters in Sketch Club, I blurred it (the photo) and smooshed  it and adjusted the color, then layered some texture over it with several of the custom brushes.  Then I saved the whole thing and opened it in the Glaze app and tried out the paint stroke textures until I found the one I liked.  

iPad, Sketch Club and Glaze apps, New Trent Arcadia stylus 
Next week's prompt: "The Worries in My Head." [Now there's a fertile field -- the difficulty will be to settle on one].
My friend, Susan Gallacher-Turner makes, among many things, ceramic masks. This week she blogged about how she used a drawing program on her iPad to try out glazing ideas for two of her masks. This is great! What a clever use of the apps. You have to see what she's done!

Friday, March 28, 2014


Las Vegas. How can you take the place seriously? Ray made all the arrangements for our trip and told me we would be staying "off the Strip."  We'd be out a ways, near where Roy and Jamie would be parking their trailer. "Good," I thought—quiet, basic, normal, un-Vegas-y. 


This is Sam's Town, a fake old-time-y town, built around a Central Park, complete with a waterfall, trees, a grizzly bear and a cougar. Each of those pairs of windows is a hotel room. Behind me are two casino floors. In the evening, once an hour, a terrifying BOOM! heralds the beginning of the water/laser light show. The waterfall goes nuts, the bear and cougar come to life and flail a bit, colored lights illuminate the trees and laser lights start racing around the building facades. Loud music, smoke and chaos ensue for about 10 minutes.  The view from our window:

What does it all mean?  I don't know, but it does somehow make you feel you are getting your money's worth. It's Las Vegas, Baby! And, odd as it seems, the over-the-top kitschy-ness kind of grows on you. Early in the morning we walked through the park, now calm and quiet, with our coffee, past the waterfall and heard birdsong. I looked up into a tree, expecting to see birds, but the sound was coming from a small speaker wired to one of the branches. Such is nature in Sam's Town. 

And then way off the strip, out beyond Sam's Town and off the freeway is the desert. A real desert. Red Rock Canyon. Just when you thought that Las Vegas was wholly fabricated fantasy, you find the land  upon which this mirage in the desert was built, and the place is the genuine article. Breath-takingly so. 

Back in Oregon it all seems a bit like a crazy dream. It rained so hard today I wondered if I imagined the whole thing. What happens in Vegas really does stay in Vegas. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It was good...

Our little spring break getaway. Good, in many ways. You know I have little love for Las Vegas, ( but that is where we went, because that is what worked in a complicated scheme of meeting up with Ray's brother and our sister-in-law, with whom we have spent far too little time of late and with whom we wanted to be. It was Las Vegas by default.

There is the gambling, and there is the bizarre sense of unreality. Both offend something in me that admires truth and honesty, but getting beyond that is not, I found, such a stretch. Waiting, on our first day there, for Roy and Jamie to arrive, Ray and I made our way to the Bellagio art gallery to see a beautiful exhibit, on loan from the Boson Museum of Fine Art, called Painting Women—paintings of and by women. My favorite painting—"Open Window" by Elizabeth Paxton. 

After, a latte on the veranda—sunshine, birds flitting about and morning peace seemed quite perfect. 

The next day, the four of us spent an amazing morning at Hoover Dam, that monumental edifice in the desert. Setting aside the truly astounding feat of building such a thing back in the depths of the Great Depression, one cannot help being taken by the sheer beauty of the thing—the elegance of the Art Deco design, the making of something both utilitarian and emblematic of our cultural aesthetic, not unlike the  pyramids or the great wall of China. 

Photos are inadequate to convey how truly monumental, how grand and astonishing and moving this place is. It filled me with a sense of the sometimes grandeur and purity of human endeavor and spirit. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Something That Pleases

Well, June and I are both traveling but we managed to complete our homework on time. I am in a hotel room in Las Vegas and had all but despaired of getting the WIFI to work, but Ray had a brainstorm and    figured out what we were missing. So here it is. 

June's drawing

Something Pleasant

A Sweet Shop is definitely pleasant. This one, "Mix". is triply 
pleasant. It has many many kinds of sweets, it's just down the street a 
couple of blocks from our motel in Ashland, Oregon, and it has picnic 
tables out front perfect for spooning couples, children licking ice 
cream, and nascent digital sketchers with their tablets.

The digital sketching process is becoming a bit easier. I am getting a 
feel for various tools in the digital toolbox. I am starting to 
understand how digital images must differ from oil painted images. And I 
feel freer about what I use and can do.

Galaxy Note, S-Pen and ArtFlow, Art Rage, Wacom, and laptop, finished 
off in Photoshop with Wacom. The last is perhaps not necessary but I'm 
so familiar with the tools in PS, that it's easier to tweak with them 
than with the ArtFlow and ArtRage. Someday I will break the dependence 

Terry's Drawing

I decided that what would please me would be to start with a fairly simple drawing of a beetle, then experiment with it, using some of the effects available in the Sketch Club app. I really liked seeing the color variations that I got. 

Then, for kicks I ran it through one of the Glaze app effects. 

This may not be art, but I think there are some pretty cool design possibilities here.

IPad, Sketch Club app, New Arcadia stylus, Glaze app

Next Challenge: Green and Growing

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Little of This, A Little of That...

Spring has finally come to Oregon. I was so glad to see these daffodils just explode this week. We have had rain—it is Oregon, after all, but interspersed with enough sunny sky to make me a happy camper. Sofia spent the day with me last Friday, as she had no school that day, and we went to the art museum, had lunch outdoors downtown, and made origami butterflies, using some of my batik fabrics instead of paper. I stiffened the fabric with some goop to make it fold and crease like paper. 

I have been quilting like a crazy woman and finished my "blue" quilt and started another.  Here is "first day of school, new blue dress."

Here is a close up of her face. Strangely, I think she looks more serene up close. Doesn't she look a little worried in the view above?

I have looked at this too long and have lost objectivity, but I think I may have, once again, been a little done in by the size (24" x 60"). I worry that the figure is nearly overwhelmed by the background. If I were making it the size that it probably should be, instead of the size proscribed by the show, it probably would have been like this.  Maybe if it is not juried in, or sometime later, it will be.

All this quilting has required a lot of thread and I want to report that I used the inexpensive Connecting Threads thread, that I wrote about here, almost exclusively. I had one spool of an expensive "gourmet" brand that gave me fits, as one ply would begin to catch in the needle, shredding and creating a snarly bit. That would then be too large to pass through the needle and break the thread. Repeatedly. Aaaargh. The CT thread never does that. Same needle, same settings. It sews beautifully. I am sold. I just got more, to fill in some color holes in my collection.  Easter egg pretty!

Part of my order were several spools of their new variegated thread.

I don't love a lot of variegated threads, especially the really high contrast ones, but these seemed more subtle and potentially useful.  I have no affiliation with Connecting Threads, but I do love this thread. 

So, do you have daffodils yet?  What a winter....

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Table and What's on it

What an interesting week it has been! I whined on my blog about my own lack of enthusiasm for writing, lately, and about the dearth of comments; which garnered so many comments I have scarcely been able to keep up with them! I asked if these digital drawing posts were boring and urged you to be honest. Some people claimed to enjoy them and find them interesting. A greater number said they did not enjoy them. I appreciate that honesty, and, in fact laughed out loud at the commenter who said, "... as far as the digital drawing, honestly, it seems to be one of those mediums that can make a good artist seem like a beginner - awkward and no finesse. There, I've said it. Sorry if it offends...."  Very honest, and sadly more than a little bit true! Several people commented that perhaps I should post these on my drawing blog instead of here. Well, that's a thought—but no. I have pretty much given up on the drawing blog, but will leave it to stand as it is. Everything, from here on will be posted here. So you will have to indulge me this, and just click past the digital stuff if it is not your cup of tea.

So on with the show. This week's theme was "Table and What's on it."


Old Wicker Table
This old table was given to me years ago and my plan was to spray paint it for use on the porch, but it charmed me as it was, so it lives in the house and holds the ever blooming Christmas Cactus.  I really challenged myself to NOT start with a photo this time, so it was all drawn from observation and man, was that hard!  The degree of detail was challenging, but working through the layers helped keep me mentally organized. I rather like the crudeness of the line and resisted a temptation to enlarge small areas to clean up blurps  and bobbles.

I am seeing this as a possible study for a fabric piece.
iPad, Sketch Club app, New Trent Arcadia stylus
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The Blue Table, the Yellow Forsythia:
The challenge was 'the table and what's on it.' This allowed me to play
with newly picked flowers, and the little blue stand in front of our
dining room window. I began with a photo, which provided composition and

What I learned this week:
1. Layers are the digital artist's best friend, but they have to be kept
track of, lest they betray.
2. Neither a Picasso nor a Hockney am I; working fast is beyond me.
Following Cezanne's advice is better -- to work the whole canvas at
once. And then work it again.
3. Working digitally, just like working with oil paint, requires coming
back again and then again, adding and subtracting and multiplying of
lines and color, with time-outs to refresh the eye.
4. Layers of colors and layers of forms provide me the images that
please me most. I'm still a painter at heart.
5. A painter can learn to stretch herself through drawing techniques.
Yes I can (repeat as needed).

Sketchbook Pro, S-pen, on Samsung Note Tablet; reworked with PhotoShop
on desktop using wacom equipment."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Next week's challenge is very open-ended: Something that Pleases

My friend Susan Gallacher-Turner is also experimenting with digital art and posted some nice pieces on her blog this week. Click here to see it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Last month I wrote a post about rejection from a show. Today I have news about acceptance to a show. This post is much more fun to write! My piece, "The Cloth Remembers", above was juried into the national SAQA exhibit called "Redirecting the Ordinary." This makes me very happy! My first entry and first acceptance into one of the national SAQA shows. It is also a confirmation of my feeling about the piece. I am happy with it. It expresses the vision I had for it, which is not always the case.
My statement about the piece:
The Cloth Remembers
Cloth is cloth, whether it is new or well-worn, yet it seems that the clothing we wear carries memories of the life lived in that clothing. The shirt of a stranger becomes the raw material for a work of fabric art and imbues that work with mysteries and memories the artist can only imagine. For the past year I have been disassembling and over-dyeing mens' shirts, from which I make my quilted work. In the process of taking the shirts apart, clues like a broken button, a stain or tear are evidence of a past life. I fashion my own story from the recycled cloth, but there are stories, unknown to me, that live within the work. The ordinary holds layers of meaning.
 The piece is not made from a real shirt, but from shirting fabric—people always ask. And no, it is not 3-dimensional. The shadows are made using the same shirting fabric that was overdyed a slightly darker shade, plus a little shading with pastel pencil. Here's a detail that gives a better idea of how it was constructed.

 The exhibit will be debuted at the International Quilt Show in Houston and will travel to various exhibits, including (ta da!) Portland!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Blog Talks Back

Holy Moly. Last time I checked there were 48 comments on yesterday's blog post, plus a bunch more on FaceBook. I learned some things.
  1. General concurrence that less blogging is happening and fewer comments are being left. Not just here. Throughout Blogdom.
  2. Reasons for not leaving comments include: using a blog reader makes it more difficult (or encourages me to be lazy) ; I don't feel qualified to offer an opinion; I read so many blogs I don't have time to comment; I used to leave comments, but you never responded to them; I now read blogs on my phone or tablet and typing on these is a pain; I have tried, but I am unable to leave a comment on your blog; and I just don't leave as many comments as I used to.
  3. Other bloggers share my feelings, are not blogging as often and miss the feedback from comments. Some think FaceBook is replacing blogging. Some feel they may be repeating themselves after years of blogging, or that they feel constrained to repeat the same kinds of topics they are known for.
  4. There is not a lot of interest in the digital drawings I have been posting.
Some thoughts:
All the reasons for not leaving comments are legitimate. It is not one thing, it is a combination of things.  I don't respond to most comments. Most don't seem to require a response, but it is a tricky thing. If a question is asked I try to answer it, either in an email to the asker, as a reply in the comment section, or in a subsequent blog post if it's a good, thought-provoking question that might be of interest to other people. Sometimes I can't respond by email because the commenter's email address does not come up for reply. I'm not sure of the etiquette here. I don't expect a response when I leave a comment and have supposed that most people don't. Could be wrong about that.

The thing about trying and being unable to leave a comment confounds me. And I know it happens. I have had the same experience trying to comment on some other blogs. I don't get what is at work there. I don't think I have control over that at my end. If there is something you know of that I can do to facilitate your comments, please let me know!

A couple people said they had commented and it disappeared. Maybe there is an explanation for that. I have set my blog to allow me to screen and approve comments before they appear in the post. I have done this because I get so many spam comments ("Dear One, what a most stunning blog you have created. Your mastery of many scintillating topics is superb.Click here to see hot Asian girls...") I approve all messages that are not spam. I do not filter out messages that I don't like! But I do have a confession. I get the comments by email and I can approve them within the email message. A couple of times, when checking email on my phone I have accidentally deleted comments when my fat finger accidentally hit the wrong choice. The choices are publish-delete-report as spam. The text is tiny and very close together. I don't like to do it from my phone. It is an awful feeling to see that comment whiz off into the ether, irretrievable. If you are on the East Coast and comment early in the morning, just know that your comment is not going to show up until I am awake and somewhat functional, at the earliest. It is an imperfect system, but the alternative is having you type those awful captcha words into the form and everybody hates those. (It usually takes me a couple tries to get it right.)

I use Facebook and like it, but I don't find it a good place to post lengthy, thoughtful posts, or share techniques, nor is it easy to search back through, so I don't see it replacing blogging for me.

June and I are enjoying our digital drawing challenge. Posting it on my blog keeps us accountable and there are several people playing along with us. I understand if it isn't of interest to you. Just hit delete and come back another day.

Now, here is me, happy.

 (photo by Claire Boschert)

Deborah Boschert, one of the Twelves, lives in Dallas, but she and her family are in the Northwest for Spring Break. They met Gerrie and me, the Portland Twelves, and our husbands for a fun dinner tonight at the Kennedy School. Have I told you that the greatest thing about my blogging experience is the friends I have made? Over dinner we marveled once again at the success and satisfaction of the Twelve by Twelve project and that we continue to stay in touch and visit when we can and love, love, love what we were able to do together. To the other Twelves—we wish you could have joined us and we were thinking of each of you!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blog, oh, Blog...

Last week I made a presentation at the Oregon SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) Conference about blogging. I called it "Blogging Your Way to Fame and Fortune." That was a joke, the fame and fortune part.

I talked about how I started blogging, and how it has benefited me and my art. Now, into my ninth year of blogging I can look back and count so many opportunities and benefits that have come my way, due to my blog. Sales, publishing opportunities, TV appearances, collaborations like the AMAZING Twelve by Twelve experience and many, many friends, near and far. It has changed my life for the better. So, why, I wonder, am I having so much trouble now finding things to write about on my blog? Perhaps I have told all my stories. Perhaps I am distracted and too busy right now. Perhaps I am not alone in this. Many of my favorite bloggers have dropped off the face of the blog earth. Others are not posting nearly as often as they once did. I still love my blog, but the shine is off and it is not commanding as much of my attention. All of that.

And there is something else. I hate to whine. I hate being needy, but here's the thing—more and more I feel like I am blogging in a void. Once upon a time there were a lot of people who commented on what I wrote or posted and there was some excitement in that. It felt like a conversation—like a good critique of work I posted and thoughtful feedback. Not so much anymore—though not to be ungrateful, I really appreciate the loyal few who do talk back to me and give me things to think about, and make suggestions and ask questions, but they are fewer in number than in the past, though I know from my stats that more people are reading than ever before. My last post, about June's and my digital drawing challenge garnered two comments and one was from June. Is the digital challenge a bore? It could be. Tell me. Be honest.

When I think about my own blog reading habits, I am commenting less on other people's blogs. I am part of the problem! And I know why. I am reading blogs differently than I used to. There are now these nice services that feed your blogs to you all from one site. The one I use is called Feedly. It is so, so handy for quickly getting through blogs, but less handy for commenting. In order to comment I must click through to the actual blog site to leave my comment, and I am less likely to do that. The other part of using a blog reader is that you only see the content of the current blog post, not the header and the sidebar and links and such that are on each blog. All my work in designing my blog to look a way that reflects me is lost on the blog reader.  So, blogger friends—does any of this resonate with you? Can we ever get our oomph back?  Sigh. Maybe a little sunshine is all I really need to get my brain blog-minded again!

So, I got that off my chest and now I will give you some peeks at what I worked on in the studio today. I finished up my "blue" piece, but I might do another...

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Favorite Tool


My very own hand drill
It was hard to pick a favorite tool if I was thinking of usefulness, but when I thought of graphic appeal it had to be my hand drill. I bought this at a yard sale several years ago and keep it in my studio for drilling holes in hanging bars. Ray thinks it is crazy to use such a clunky old tool. He says, " but, but—why aren't you using my wonderfully handy electric drill?" And I say because I would have to go find it and find the right size bit and then put it away after I use it, and besides I really just love this jazzy little egg beater-y little hand drill with its chipped red paint. I decided the only way to get all the little pieces and parts right was to start with a photo for proportion and placement. Then it seemed a photo of wood grain with some noise added would be the perfect background.

iPad, SketchClub app, New Trent Arcadia stylus


Favorite Tools. two images
This was one of those sighing assignments, and I assigned it myself. Image 1 was where I bit off more than I could chew, let alone digest. In image one, I depicted my old wacom tablet (alas, just yesterday replaced by a cold sterile version), a gold-decorated sketchbook, a turned over cup, and a paintbrush. Also an artifact that couldn't be discarded because I put it on the wrong layer. Disgusted with the image but feeling that sketching that much stuff was toooooo hard, in Image 2, I focused on the wacom tablet alone. That too was harder than I thought it could be. Image 2 also suffers from a moment when I said, oh the H... with it; I'll do a better tomorrow. Alas, tomorrow has come and I
haven't. So here it is.

Let's see. I learned the joys and sorrows of layers. I focused and am focusing on still-life set-up (harder than one imagines), and the pitfall of thinking Photoshop will fix all. Still to come, working on the tablet alone (so I can go to coffee shops with discretion), learning the good, the bad, and the ugly of various digital programs (none seems to have it all) and, gasp, thinking next week I'll try out a borrowed iPad. I still haven't turned the last on yet.

The startling new thing I learned: the subtleties of perspective when one looks down at a close, yet not completely centered, image, as in #2. The far side looks bigger than the near side, although the near side has more detail and shadowing than the far side. It's a Hockney revelation in miniature. I found it more revelatory in the image I never finished (the one about which I said "the h... with it.")

#1 Samsung Note 10.1 tablet, New Trent Arcadia stylus, Photoshop 6, mouse as stylus. And with #2 all the above, except something weird happened in PS so I discarded it.  My new cool wacom stylus/tablet has arrived so next week I'm back in control. Maybe.

Next week's challenge: Table and what is on it

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Not Fade Away...

This quilt was made by my sister, brother and me in 1995, for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. It was a surprise for them. Months before the event we sent out many envelopes containing pieces of unbleached muslin fabric and brown Micron Pigma pens. They went to friends and family, asking them to write a brief message or favorite memory involving my parents on the pieces and return them to us. Meanwhile my siblings and I took the rest of the muslin pieces and wrote things like all our old addresses, favorite family vacations, significant events in our familiy's life and our own memories of growing up with Mom and Dad.  The centers of the blocks held dates—their wedding, the birth dates of each child and grandchild and finally the date and location of the anniversary celebration.  When all the pieces came together it really was beautiful and filled with love for Mom and Dad. 


They loved it. During the family weekend we spent at Wallawa Lake when we gave it to them they spent hours pouring over it, reading the messages and chuckling at the memories. We had left part of it unquilted so that over the weekend everyone there, including even the smallest grandchildren, could do a few stitches in the quilt. It hung in their home for the rest of their lives. 

In 1998 both my parents died. First my Dad, then 5 months later, Mom.  I took the quilt home and it has hung in my house, out of direct sunlight ever since. It means a lot to me. 

The ink from those permanent pens is fading away.  Messages from my aunts and uncles, dear friends, many now gone from us, are disappearing. Our friend Priscilla wrote boldly and retraced each letter. Hers will be the last to go, which will not surprise you if you know Priscilla!  But it is sad to see just how ephemeral those marks are. The day I can no longer make out what was written will be a hard day.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Food

I chose the theme "Food" for this week's digital drawing. I had plans to do something interesting and complex, like a sandwich or a piece of pizza—something really challenging, but when I got down to a looming deadline I went for the fridge and pulled out the carton of eggs I just purchased. June's still life is a little more diverse, but I think she went for the simple solution too! Oh well, simple can sometimes be the most difficult to lift above the realm of the trite. Did we do it? I will leave that to you to decide...


Peppery Still Life:
Android tablet, Photo for scale and proportions, ArtFlow and New Trent
stylus, transferred to Photoshop, then Art Rage on PC, mouse as stylus.


For the eggs in the bowl I found it incredibly difficult to draw nice, smooth oval eggs. I really should have drawn each egg on a different layer and then merged them, as I kept messing up the edges of one as I worked on another. Mental note taken for future. After I finished the group of eggs I tried just a single egg to see if I could get a smoother oval shape.  Both of these reminded me of the importance of shadows. The eggs looked like floating balloons until the shadows were added under them.  My favorite way of adding shadows is on a layer inserted between the foreground and the background. Then I use the airbrush tool to put in a soft shadow, then adjust the opacity of the shadow layer until it looks right.

iPad, Sketch Club app, New Trent Arcadia stylus

Vicki Miller, in Australia, is following along with our challenge and sent me her still life.

Check out her blog for her comments about working on this.

note: I swear June and Vicki were looking at the exact same banana!

Next week's theme: Your favorite tool, kitchen or otherwise