Friday, August 30, 2019

    There have been times when tornadoes were a theme in my dreams. They were a big fear of mine when I was a little kid, so I guess it makes sense they would show up in my dreams now and then. I think I mentioned before that I found a little thumbnail like this in an old sketchbook. I suppose I could trace it back and figure out what I was worried about when I drew it. Lots of things worry me now, just not as much in a personal sense as it did in my past. That's why it felt ok to borrow this image from my former self. I'm grateful she jotted it down.

    It's a little rough around the edges (Ha! Literally!), and I still have another element planned.  A hopeful one, as promised. We'll see how it goes.

Stone library shelf

Well, it was a busy week. The first week of school always is, but in addition, we finally got the litho stones moved into my classroom (yay for Planet Fitness!) and we settled on a design for the shelving unit that will house them. We have 28 stones, and the unit will hold 27 of them. The last one, (named Jabba because it is so big), will have to stay on the cart it has lived on for years.
    This is a CAD drawing of the design, made by our student assistant Joel.

 My colleague and Joel designed it, and I think it will be really strong. This shows the metal frame that will be mostly welded together. In addition, there will be plywood shelving on top of the horizontal bars. There will be three sets of these units, and they will be stacked in a corner of my classroom.
    Joel is the same student who asked me, "But what is it, really?" about the grid for an ellipse a few semesters back. He is also the one who 3D printed the torus knot for me so that I could figure out how to draw it. This time, he figured out how to keep the stress of the heavy stones on the metal structure, instead of expecting the plywood not to sag under their weight. I reckon our average stone weighs about 30 lbs, so multiplied by nine for each shelf is quite a load. It's nice to hang around with smart people :)
    I think we are just about ready to start graining stones.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

IF: Folklore

I know I already posted to IF this week, but I just spent the day moving my son into his new apartment and for some reason, I started thinking about this image that he and I created together when he was about 7 (he is 21 now!) for an Artist's Trading Card. We discovered that a Japanese Folklore creature called a kappa (a nasty kind of dude who can do awful things to you, but is unfailingly polite, which is it's undoing) had some things in common with a Yu-Gi-Oh character he was interested in at the time that had special properties of light. So, in honor of our one and only joint artistic venture, I am posting twice for IF's topic of Folklore.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

New one

   Today, I sat through the beginning of the semester meetings. It was not a joy. I suppose public education is suffering everywhere from lack of funds. So even though I'm excited about getting the litho shop set up and sharing what I learned this summer, spending the day hearing from administrators about the state of the university sent me straight to my marimba first and my easel second when I got home. They were both sweet relief.
     After obsessing about strict perspective rules for so long, in this new one I'm easing up a bit and letting my eyeballs do more of the work, rather than my brain. I can tell I'm going to fuss with these lines a few more times before I start adding layers of paint. 
     Even though there is a tornado in this one, I promise there will be a hopeful element as well. I have a feeling we are going to need some of those in the next couple of years.
    This checkerboard pattern has always been really comforting to me. It first struck me when I saw this painting at the Art Institute of Chicago for the first time many years ago. I've used the pattern many, many times. And now, I'm hankering for it again. This one is called "Thanksgiving", by Doris Lee (1935).

Friday, August 16, 2019

Illustration Friday: Folklore

When I was little, one of my favorite stories was about an ogre who showed up at an old woman's house and was bullying her. She offered him a basket of apples, but one of them was actually a pin cushion that only looked like an apple. When he took a bite of it, the pins stuck in his teeth and tongue, and he went away howling. I love stories where bullies get outsmarted. I think I changed it into a tomato because my mom had one that looked more like a tomato than an apple. Anyway, it's a pretty old painting, done in my first gold leaf and egg tempera phase. I'm posting it here for this week's IF prompt, Folklore.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Illustration Friday: Street

This week's Illustration Friday topic is Street.The background of this painting, titled Annunciation, was inspired by a painting with a street by Remedios Varo.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Colorized Cricket

    One of my litho proofs was really light, and it reminded me of the old way of doing a value underpainting and layers of transparent color over. So, I tried out Prismacolor colored pencils on top of the proof. I learned I need to think ahead a little better and not be too hasty. Seems like I keep having to learn that one over and over.

Bless the Hearts of Those with Experience

   Ever since I got back from Zygote, and actually, since the beginning of this new litho chapter, I've been puzzling about how to set up a graining area in or near my classroom. Rebekah the Excellent, my teacher, offered me three different solutions. The easiest one consisted of putting the stones in a big, low, sturdy plastic tub and graining stone on stone with a pitcher of water nearby. This is the most attractive option, both because we can do it inside my classroom rather than out, which means we can do it no matter the weather, AND, I don't have to do any carpentry to make a grate to grain on in a sink. I am a not mucher when it comes to carpentry. I don't know if I've mentioned that before.
    As it turns out, all of my searches for 'sturdy' or 'heavy-duty' tubs yielded nothing that could stand up to the weight of the stones and the wear and tear of graining. I've been resigning myself to carpentry, but, on a flash of inspiration, I stopped by a farming supply store. I told the lady at the cash register what I wanted and initially, she said they didn't have anything like that. I explained a little bit about what I wanted to do and after a moment, a light went off in her eyes and she named the thing that would work! Which was a tub made for mixing concrete. Who knew that existed? And then, a contractor fellow in line confirmed that it would indeed be fine for graining. So, bless the hearts of people with experience!
    Here it is. Isn't it handsome? I'll probably put some boards in the bottom to make the stones easier to lift out, but, as soon as our Leveling Bar gets here, I think we are ready to start graining stones!

Sunday, August 4, 2019


Well, another day, another shooting. How did we get to such an ugly place?

   I think I'm pretty much done with this little painting, although I won't swear I won't mess with the clouds a bit more. In the beginning, I had fully intended to put a leak in her boat. But, things are so terrible out there right now, especially for women and anyone who is different, I didn't have the heart to add to her burden. Besides, she seems pretty unflappable. If she did get a leak, I imagine her plugging it up straight away. Even if she had to use her hair to do it.

I have another pair of stretchers this size, ready to make another little painting.
Maybe I should do some portraits of more unflappable women.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Illustration Friday: Politician

    Today's prompt for Illustration Friday is "Politician", so it is my pleasure to pull these guys out again. In Japanese folklore, oni are like our ogres. One story I read about them was that a young woman had been kidnapped (or sold into marriage; either way it's about the same thing) and her mother came to rescue her. They got away and ran, but the oni followed them to a river and wouldn't let them pass. So, both the women lifted their skirts and scared the oni away! I'm not kidding!
    Anyway, these guys fit how I see many of our politicians today; mean and ugly on the outside and selfish and cowardly on the inside.