I can’t believe I’m starting over again with a new website ….

“New Seed” oil on kraft paper

This time around I am not attempting to do it all myself.  My new site will offer free tutorial videos, online workshops, an assortment of galleries as well as a unique shop filled with an eclectic offering of used books, miscellaneous art supplies and small paintings.  This is the perfect time to re-evaluate what I’ve done, the paths I’ve explored and the paths I want to continue exploring as well as new directions.  Time to decide which seeds I’ll be planting in the spring and how I will nurture them for an abundant harvest in the summer and fall.

“New Seed” …. from the series of large oil paintings on kraft paper created several years ago, the first series of my Healing Through Art paintings.

My latest coptic-bound watercolor sketchbook is made from recycled watercolor paintings and the cover from an old, Hammond’s Reference Atlas of the World.

Recycled Watercolor Paintings and Cover of Atlas

Some of the paintings were from the collection of unfinished paintings I rescued from Betty’s studio.

One of Betty’s unfinished landscape paintings


This is the first time I added endpapers to one of my coptic sketchbooks.

Finished Watercolor Sketchbook

This is the largest book I have made.  It measures 9.25″ x 12.5″ x 1.75″.  There are nine signatures.  Each signature is made of three folded sheets of watercolor paper for a total of fifty-nine pages.  I used three sets of coptic binding stitches rather than the two sets I use for the smaller sketchbooks.

My next step is to create my own marbleized papers for the covers!  Stay tuned ….

I rarely watch television ….. except during the Olympics.

Coptic Bound Watercolor Sketchbooks

I’ve been accumulating my bookbinding projects knowing that I would be a couch potato, watching the athletes’ amazing performances.  These are the results of hanging out on the couch on Sunday night til midnight.  I love watching the Olympics, both summer and winter.  Such an inspiration to “never give up” and to push a bit further until I am out of my comfort zone.

The cover of the largest sketchbook is hand-dyed paper.  The other covers are wrapping paper.  The papers are glued over chipboard.  I used either waxes bookbinding thread or dental floss.

As a child, I loved coloring books.  As an adult, I frowned upon them, feeling that they stunted creativity.  As an older adult, I find myself making my own coloring books.

Peas and Herb Garden in Clay Pots

I find myself staying within the lines ….. how dreadful!  I rationalize my current obsession by saying that the difference between mine and ordinary coloring books is that I draw my own pictures and my lines bleed into the colors.

I also find myself at the coloring table with small children and ordinary coloring books.  I enjoy every minute of it.

Coloring Book Sketch: drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor in handmade watercolor paper sketchbook bound in leather.

Staying within the lines

When I sit on my front porch I contemplate the wall of trees beyond the field of hay across the street. I am determined to learn how to render that intimidating wall of green foliage.  My eye perceives the subtle nuances of form, color and value yet I have not been able to express those nuances well with either pencil, pen or paint.

I keep trying.

A treasured drawing book

My current obsession is improving my ability to render with a fountain pen.  I generally use my pen for a contour sketch that I follow with washes of watercolor.  The process is enjoyable and I find the results quite satisfying.  When drawing gets to be too much fun I generally try tackling something that will push me further and earn me further skills to reach a new level of painting and drawing that I find equally as enjoyable.  Rendering in ink fills that criteria.  I pulled a well-loved book from my shelf in hopes that it will suggest a new approach, a variation on what I have already tried and failed at when it comes to cross hatching.

Changing line direction when moving from tree to tree

I often miss seeing the obvious solutions.  My difficulty has been to show the delineation between trees while keeping the values close without outlining the edges of each tree.  Zeichenschule fur Begabta Leute is a drawing book I picked up while living in Germany in 1969.   It appears to have been written by Professor Gerhard Gollwitzer though the copyright is 1964 and belongs to Otto Maier Verlag Ravensburg.  It was published in 1966.

In the book I found a drawing of a wall of trees.  Gollwitzer did not cross hatch.  Instead, he changed the direction of the lines he used with each tree mass.  The first two attempts are shown above.  On the top drawing you can see where I attempted to correct a shape by cross hatching, hoping it wouldn’t be obvious.  Of course, it is.  The cross hatched appears heavy and static to me whereas the trees in the other areas look as if their branches can easily dance in the wind, leaves fluttered by gentle breezes.

My second attempt takes the technique a tiny step further.  I think this might work well for me.

Sketch lightly with pencil to indicate basic shape and position of trees.  Inked using  Noodler’s Fountain Pen filled with Noodler’s Whaleman Sepia.

I struck gold on the way home from  the Route 46 Flea Market this morning.

Box of broken trumpet parts

I found five art books, one collection of illustrated short stories published in 1900, The Green flag and Other Stories by A. Conan Doyle, and a copy of How to Do Almost Anything by Bert Bacharach at the Route 46 Flea Market this morning.  We were headed home when a moonstone, hidden in a box of junk jewelry at a yard sale, beckoned.  We turned the car around and drove back to the yard sale.  I found the hidden moonstone….. but that is a story for another time.  I really don’t want another moonstone, worn by a stranger, in my life right now.  As I looked at the rest of the junk, trying to talk myself out of paying $3 for the gemstone, I stumbled upon this box of broken trumpet parts.  What a goldmine!

Trumpet Parts

Abstraction begging to be manipulated with pencil and paint, even more complex and intriguing than the corroded copper piping I painted a couple of months ago.  All I need is more time to paint!  Please, universe!

Two Tips from How To Do Almost Everything by Bert Bacharach:

“Put a little olive oil in the water when washing your car.”

“Ever hit a skunk with your car? Makes big trouble.  Dissolve a cupful of dried mustard in a bucket of water. Use a mop to slosh down wheels, underbody, anywhere the scent may be.  Repeat if necessary.”

I am reading Ramachandran’s Phantoms In The Brain.

Reflections, Pen and Ink study

How often do we ( I am assuming I am not the only one ) perceive an object in the road ahead to be something that it isn’t?  How often have we puzzled over an object’s use when we have not encountered anything like it before?  Why, when a room full of artists are asked to draw a still life of a tea set as realistically as possible, is there such variation in the shape of the teapot? Some are short and fat, some are tall and thin.

Picasso Guitars is currently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  Why, no matter how Picasso deconstructed the image of a guitar, do we recognize it as a guitar?

“If you look straight ahead, the entire world on your left is mapped onto your right visual cortex and the world to the right of your center of gaze is mapped onto your left visual cortex.

But the mere existence of this map does not explain seeing, for as I noted earlier, there is no little man inside watching what is displayed on the primary visual cortex.  Instead, this first map serves as a sorting and editorial office where redundant or useless information is discarded wholesale and certain defining attributes of the visual image — such as edges — are strongly emphasized.  (This is why a cartoonist can convey such a vivid picture with just a few pen strokes depicting the outlines or edges alone; he’s mimicking what your visual system is specialized to do.)” quoted from Chapter Four of Phantoms In The Brain.

Most likely, if someone has not ever seen a guitar or a stringed instrument similar to a guitar, that person will not recognize the subject of Picasso’s exhibit as a guitar.  The objects I drew in the above study will be recognized by some, but not all.  My children might recognize all of the objects because they saw them almost daily before they went to college.  My simplification of the objects combined with the brain’s simplification of the information I have drawn will be understood by some, but not all.

No wonder there is such a struggle for some viewers to accept abstract art.

As artists we must simplify shapes, colors and values.  Our eyes perceive far more than our pigments are capable of expressing.

Next Page »