Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category

I have been avoiding Crystal Bridges for a long time.  I heard about it a long time ago, probably around the time it was being built by the Walmart heiress who did it.  For some reason, the fact that all that money came off the backs of people who labored for that empire in not very good conditions bothered me.

But a lot of my friends have gone down there and loved it.  I guess that sort of thing doesn’t bother them enough to keep from availing themselves of the experience.  After all, you only have to pay for the special exhibits.  The rest of the collection is free.

I have to admit the museum itself is a work of art.  Seldom have I seen a more beautiful building, and it really set off the site it was built upon.  The surrounding grounds with all their sculpture were beautiful to view from within.  I know there are several miles of trail but it was so raw a day we did not walk on them.  Next time.

Crystal Bridges has a pretty decent collection too, although I was sort of surprised that it did not include a single Peter Max, who truly is a pretty well known American Artist and certainly is worthy of having his work represented.   Nor were there any Russells on display.  At least not at the moment.

They do have four different Georgia O’Keeffe works on display, which made me happy.  There is a large Jimson Weed painting, just gorgeous.  It was not lit very well, so it was difficult to appreciate the glory of her brush work.   They also had a couple of smaller studies, one a still life with leaf and feather and the other one of the hills near Ghost Ranch.  The surprise for me was a large bronze sculpture by her.  I thought I knew about Ms. O’Keeffe, and either I did not know or had forgotten that she had done some bronzes.     The one on display was very beautiful but I would have liked to have seen it put farther out in the middle of the floor rather than stuck in a corner where you could not walk around it and observe the flow of light along it.

One thing about Crystal Bridges that bugged both Jim and myself was the very poor lighting of the collection.  I am not sure what the curator and the hangers were thinking, but there were several walls that had far too many works on them set way too close together.   Each one had bright lights on them, and if you tried to get close enough to see brush work the glare was so severe you could not see anything, not even colors and shapes.   If you stood back far enough to get away from the glare, the works’ proximity to each other made it hard to focus on them individually.

There were some very amazing large works that occupied full wall panels that were very fun to look at up close.  Then when you went outside and looked at them from the lawn, they were a completely different story.   Very complex.

I am afraid that there was a period of time during our visit I really wished I had never studied music, because for some reason the museum had a young man playing the cello near one of the galleries.   It was interesting to see the audience lapping up his very Chopinesque murder of the Bach Cello Suite in C.  It was pretty excruciating to listen to his out of tune, rubato rendition of a work that I studied assiduously for an entire semester while I was at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  I sort of missed a whole section of the museum because I felt compelled to get out of that wing before I was driven to madness.

We LOVED the special exhibit that was in residence,  “The Soul of a Nation”, a comprehensive focus on the art of Black Americans during the Civil Rights era.   If that collection comes to a city near you, I highly recommend a visit.   It was educational, illuminating, thought provoking, and filled with some really wonderful art by artists that I was largely unaware of.

It is no secret that I love beautiful things; it might even be an addiction.  Although we went into the Museum Shop fully expecting to leave empty handed, that was not to be.   There was a vase there that called out to come home with us.   So we ransomed it and freed it from its captivity on the shelf.   It truly is a wonderful work of art from Cohasset Gifts and Garden.


I accepted the reflection of the dining room lights in this photo because the illumination from above really brings out the sculptural aspect of the molten glass having been draped over the root it rests on.

This following shot was serendipitous in the extreme.   I had opened the dining room curtains and noticed how the scene out side reflected in the glass of the vase.


Well, I hope that everyone has a fantastic week.  It is supposed to warm up around here, and I am very much ready for it.

We are waiting with bated breath to learn whether or not the freezing and just below freezing temperatures will have been enough to kill the wisteria buds.

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Last night I stayed up until 4 a.m.   Or I guess I should say this morning…  At least it wasn’t because I had insomnia.  It was that I was so deeply engrossed in what I was doing that I didn’t realize how long I had been at it.

It is no secret that I love my art journaling.  It is also no secret that I am not made of money.  I look at some of the studios that people have and I wonder if their homeowner’s insurance realizes how many thousands of dollars they have in art supplies!   Since I do not have a studio, but only a desk, I have to be creative about how I stay organized.  It also keeps me from going bonkers buying stuff.

However, all that being said, I have been lusting after stamps for quite some time.  These are pretty pricy items, and I do have a small selection.   But I am a piker when it comes to stamp ownership.   There are YouTubers who are doing tutorials and every time you turn around they are picking up another stamp for making background imagery for layering.   There are a couple who not only use stamps but they would very much like you to buy the stamps that they have designed and have for sale at princely prices.

I came across a video wherein the tutor was showing you how to make your own stamps using fun foam.   This is an interesting product.  If you get the really thin stuff, you can cut it into shapes easily with scissors, and glue the pieces onto cardboard and voilà, a stamp!   There is thicker fun foam, which if you heat it up with your heat gun and press it into things with texture will take on the image you pressed it onto.  Once again, you trim your piece of foam appropriately, and bam, you have a stamp.

So I was doing this with the thicker foam.


I have a bunch of antique buttons and some of them made extremely interesting impressions in the foam.   I also cut pieces and glued them.   Incidentally, the backing I used for my stamps was simply cardboard from my recycling bin.  I glued to pieces together to make it more or less rigid.

There are a couple of long thin stamps in the shot above that were created using the innards of cardboard glued to the backing.  There is a piece of bubble wrap in there too.  But the one that became an obsessive project is the bright blue one just next to the cardboard stamp in the upper left.   That one is made of well over 200 little random squares and rectangles of the fun foam individually glued to their cardboard backing.  It makes a VERY interesting image.

Over on the far right is one that does not involve fun foam.


This is made of a selection of o-rings from my local hardware store.   These are spare parts for faucets, and I will just say that there apparently is no such thing as a standard size in faucets!  I was quite careful to make sure that I got a selection of o-rings that were all the same thickness so my stamp would make a good impression.  (Interesting side note:  all these o-rings were individually packaged with their dimensions printed on the little bag.)  They glue to the cardboard quite securely with tacky glue.

I love the image this stamp makes!


So once I created my group of stamps, I had to play with them.  The blue basket weave stamping below the o-ring stamp is an imprint of one of the old buttons.

Art is not the only thing accomplished around here.   I got the potato sets out, and planted my onion plants today.  I also threw some mesclun seeds at the ground and hope they will grow.  I thought about planting broccoli, but decided that perhaps I was a little too tired to do that too.

The peas that I checked the germination on the other day are now UP and being little green shoots.   Pretty soon I will plant the beets and carrots in that bed.

I just can’t believe how fast the season is progressing!

Now, I have three loads of laundry to fold, so I suppose I should go do something other than sit at the computer for a bit.

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I have been doing art journals for quite a while now.  I stumbled into the whole idea about ten years ago, got excited and then lost interest.   Then I started haunting YouTube and discovered the joy of mixed media.

There were tons of videos out there demonstrating techniques and products.  The variety of media that was available was mind boggling.   I had never heard of ink sprays…  or Pitt pens…  or alcohol inks…  or glitter glues…

It did not bother me that there were folks out there demonstrating products that they had for sale.  The information that I was getting about how to use different mediums was valuable to me.   I was inspired to buy products, too, which I am sure made the vendors happy.

One of my favorite sources for products for my art journaling activities is Joggles.  It seems like they carry just about anything your little heart could desire.   A big plus is that if you have questions about any of their products they are quick to answer and are friendly and knowledgeable.   The only problem is that they have become very popular, and quite often when they introduce and new product it sells out PDQ and if you are behind the eight ball you wind up having to wait…  So much for instant gratification!

At any rate, I recently was inspired to create a mini accordion book.  Several months ago I purchased a couple of these, and they have been rattling around in my desk drawer ever since, waiting for inspiration to strike.

This is how the little book looked right after I put the accordion folds into the long strip of water color paper.


(Sorry for the mess on my desk.   It isn’t going to get any better, so I hope it isn’t too distracting.)

I had an idea for a theme, so I went into my stash of collage images that I have collected from various magazines and catalogs, and found some images I wanted to use, and started thinking about how to arrange them on the book.  I printed out my quotation on my computer as well.


Next, I used Tim Holtz’s “Wrinkle Free Technique”  to put some background color on the pages.  I used the Distress Oxide inks in the picture to put color on.


I think it looks really cool.   Here is a close up of one of the pages.  I got really crazy with my star stamp and gold ink as well as the ink splashing.


Next I used the new Joggles 6×6 stencils to put another layer on.  The first one I used was Leaf Fronds.  I used Cosmic Shimmer gilding polish in Pearl.  Just wow.


Next layer was Silver Hessian Gilding polish through Elegant Scroll.   I wasn’t that crazy about the results of this, but I have learned that the happy accidents that happen during art journaling are not disasters, and I moved on.


Next layer was accomplished by putting several different Prima art alchemy opal magic paints through the Ziggy Zag stencil.


Okay, you can’t really see it in that photo, I know.   But oh my, how much I love these iridescent paints.   I love them so much I have every color combination available, and the way they change color as you turn the page enchants me.  This one is violet gold.

Now the fun begins.   I decided that the paper I printed my saying on was way too white, so I sprayed it with Lindy’s Starburst Spray in Bells of Ireland green.   Had to be REALLY careful there, as the printer ink is water soluble.   After spraying, I set it aside to dry very carefully.  As I was attaching the sentiment, I learned that you must not lick your fingers to make the little pieces of paper easier to pick up, or there WILL be smudging.

I cut hearts out of painty paper I made last year, as well as from alcohol ink experiments.   I also chose random bits from my stash for other embellishments, and took out some of my butterfly embellishments (made in November).

I spent a while arranging my words and images.  The orange sun in the one below was part of my stash.  I was playing with alcohol inks one day, putting them through stencils after watching an inspirational video by Barb at Joggles.  I could not bear to throw away this result, and it has been rattling around in my embellishment stash for quite some time.   Hah!   Serendipity at work.  It was perfect for my quote.


After due consideration. I attached my images to the prepared pages.   I used scor tape, a very powerful double sided tape that comes in several very useful widths, to attach the words, because I did not want to risk getting any wet medium close to them, knowing that there would be horrible smearing if they accidentally got wet at this stage.  The images were attached using quick drying tacky glue.


I purposely took a wide shot of this stage so you can see all the little backing pieces of the scor tape as well as the creative chaos on the desk.   You should see what the floor looked like…

Then I used Marabu fashion liner, stickles and Pitt pens to add some details throughout the book.

So, after all that, I folded up the little book and put a canvas back on it.  Decorated the front pages, attached a ribbon to tie it closed.   And now,  the finished book.







Here are a couple of close ups of my favorite page, showing the violet gold color change.



I made this book to give away, but I just don’t know if I can let it go.  It is really pretty…


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This is my latest art journal page, completed this evening.

There has been some interest expressed in seeing my process, so I actually took some pictures as I created this one.  The first thing I did was cut up some left over pieces of card stock and put them onto the page using soft gel medium.


Once the gel medium was dry, I covered the whole page with white gesso.  It looked so barren I got out my PearlX copper pigment and scattered it on the wet gesso.  Then I smooshed it around with the brush I had been using to apply the gesso.


I let that dry, then put more texture on using modeling paste through a stencil.


Once that was dry, I had a conversation with a client who wanted to know how I glued all those little pieces on.   I wound up demonstrating glass bead gel and fiber paste by smearing them around on the piece.  Once all that was dry, I used some paints to color the textures.  After that, I sprayed a stencil and printed it  on the page.   Once all that was dry, I covered the whole thing with clear gesso so my sprays wouldn’t move.


Then I had to do a couple of massages.  When I was done with that, all the gesso was dry. So I got out my DalerRowney pearlescent acrylic inks and did drippage.   I experimented with some alcohol ink drops too, but didn’t really like where they were going so I wiped most of that off.   A little bit of that color remained behind, though (the blue splotches in the middle).DSCF6516

I finished off with some stamping, using stamp pad ink as well as some acrylic paint on a stamp.  Final touches were the addition of butterfly embellishments I made in November, and a simple border.


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I know that a lot of people no longer go on road trips.  Finding a good place to eat, playing hotel roulette, needing a non-existent bathroom, astronomical gas prices, unannounced road construction resulting in miles long traffic tie-ups and other hazards of the road have put a lot of people off.  On the other hand, going through security and being trapped in an airport by weather, power outages, exploding air conditioners, or bombs going off can make air travel very tedious indeed.

I have experienced train, bus, car, air and cruise travel in my life.  They all have their bonuses and banes.  I am not going into that here.  I just want to report on a few visions I have seen along the way.

Out in New Mexico there are a pair of billboards on the opposite sides of I-40 that amused me greatly.  One reads “Cline’s Corner — World Famous.”  The other proclaims “Flying C Ranch — World Famous-er.”

Once I serendipitously got a picture of a bluebird perched on a fence that was on Pajarito Rd. in Pajarito Village.  Pajarito means “little bird” in Spanish.  This amused me for some reason.

A few years ago I was on a road trip with my sister and we decided to make a side trip off the not so main highway on the strength of an entry in the book we were enjoying “Roadside Geology of New Mexico.”  We wanted to see the interesting formation mentiomed up close and personal.  Our map indicated a country lane that might be passable would deliver us back to the highway.  We decided that if it became too exciting we could always turn around before we broke an axle and retrace our route back to pavement.  As it turned out the road was fine and we wound up following hand painted signs saying “Pottery Ahead” to a place where an amazing artist threw and glazed amazing pots.  I still enjoy the little bowl I bought from Ivy Heymann.  This never would have happened if we had stuck to the Interstates.

My favorite sights are the hand made signs.  Caught a really good one on this trip out in Northeast Texas in the Caddo National Grasslands.  It was posted on a large locked gate and read:  PRAYER IS A GREAT WAY TO MEET GOD.  TRESPASSING WORKS TOO

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