March 21, 2018

Pom-poms and Beasts!

This Beast needs some special decoration.

She has told me that she needs pom-poms, and I was getting ready to go to the art supply store to pick some up, when it suddenly dawned on me that they would be made out of a synthetic, plastic material. 

Since I am trying to make this Beast out of compostable materials, this would be a problem. 

Then I thought, "Wait a minute! I bought all of that wool to felt with (which I haven't done a thing with, by the way) and so I can make my own compostable pom-poms!"

So I did: 

March 12, 2018

Plastic is in EVERYTHING!

Plastics and synthetic polymers are slowly invading every aspect of our lives, to the detriment of ourselves and the planet we live on. I'm sure that you have seen images and video of the massive amounts of plastics that end up buried in the earth and floating in the ocean. 

Embarrassingly enough, it takes me a while to fully comprehend this fact in regards to various aspects of my life. Even my clothes are made of plastic and won't biodegrade?! Oh.....

"What about my art materials?"

I started using acrylic paints when I was in High School (in the 1980's), and it certainly did not cross my mind to question my art teachers or even consider that this was actually non-biodegrading plastic. 

The fact is, every time someone pours water, filled with unused acrylic paint, down the drain or into the earth, it doesn't "go away".  Although it is labeled "non-toxic", it does not return to a basic chemical that micro-organisms can consume to enrich soil. These tiny particles will enter our water supply, and we will drink it. Would you drink the water that you've cleaned your paint brush in? When you think of the fact that all house and commercial building paint, both interior and exterior, are made of acrylics and have been for well over a decade, you may already be drinking plastic particles. 

 "What did we do before plastic?"

It is a strange thing to have lived long enough to be able to answer this question, and even stranger still to go to the hardware or art supply store looking for the materials of your youth to see that it has been replaced by a synthetic polymer or is simply no longer being made. 

I have noticed a disturbing trend in art supplies. Acrylic paint is now being re-marketed as watercolor, gouache and even oil paint. "Water based" oil paint is simply re-marketed acrylic paint! Oil and water never mix. Don't be fooled!  

Yet, I have used acrylic paints for years and plastics are still a part of my life. Well, now I am going to try other ways to create my art. I will be sharing my experiments and experiences here. 

Stay tuned...

March 4, 2018

A New Painting of a Beast

Most of the time, when I paint in oils, I create something that looks somewhat realistic. I often have a particular finished piece in my mind as I begin. This time, I decided to simply let the creative process decide what was going to happen.  But what subject should I paint? A Beast, that's what. 

This is the Whozeewhatsit.

This is one of the more abstract Beasts that might transform into an interesting painting. 

I love the smell, texture and rich colors of oil paint!

The Beasts are rather small. They rarely are taller than 6 or 7 inches. This painting is 14" x 20", which is large for me. Because the Whoozeewhatsit is mostly white and black, I decided to use a great deal of white paint in this piece, which is also unusual for me.

Here is the beginning:

 I wanted to let the painting happen as it wanted to, and I found that it took far more time than I had thought it would. Painting is a process of endless decisions. Yet, the colors were chosen intuitively. I found myself mixing bright, vibrant colors which reminded me of the children's illustrations of the 1960's and 70's. They were so bright, geometric and boldly colorful.

Here is the finished painting.

A detail:

October 8, 2017

Summer With Georges Bête 2017

Georges Bête and I had a wonderful and adventurous summer! We went on nature walks all over NYS, ate at interesting restaurants and swam a lot.

In the depths of nature.

Georges is very patient about me asking him to pose for pictures. He is also an artist, so he understands, completely. 

We found a room for him in a tree stump. 

This is NYS! I felt like we were in the forests of Endor!

We decided to "hike" from the northern end of Central Park, NYC to the southern end. Neither of us had ever done that before. In the North Woods, we found this rock carving! Georges wanted his picture taken next to this renegade, public art.

We saw many famous parts of the park that we'd known of through children's books and paintings, but had never visited. Here is the pond with remote controlled sail boats. Nearby is the sculpture of Hans Christian Anderson. 

Beautiful and delicate public art that had obviously been repaired many times. 

Then on another spontaneous trip, we stumbled upon an unusual restaurant. It was called The Toadstool Inn. 

At our table. 

Georges especially liked the place because they had the same bowl that he, himself was gifted by Laura Bortman this summer. 

Great meal!

Off again, to Shaupeneak Ridge

For swimming!

Thank you, Summer 2017!

En Plein Air Spring 2017

In late spring 2017, I took a vacation specifically to spend time around waterfalls to study how water moves. I started working with oil paint, but I ended with pencil drawings.

This was painted at Skaneateles, NY, and is of a stream. The reflection on the water from the overhead trees was so green, that it looks like a carpet rather than moving water. 

Skaneateles, NY

A closer look.

This was painted in the Catskill Mountains. What a thing to drag all the necessary items for oil painting through the woods while climbing over rocks in the streams! 

Catskill State Park. I spent a long time at this spot. It was chilly, with a steady wind flowing over the cool water. 

Catskill State Park

Devil's Tombstone Campground, NY

Painting and drawing outdoors is a joy. I find that it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the detail in nature. So, I have to remind myself to just start and keep at it and resist impatience. 

Frog Sculpture

This sculpture is called, Honor to the Frog.

Many years ago, I had been a member of the 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning, NY. At that time, I enjoyed using the ceramic studio and that was when I'd made this frog head. I happened upon a wonderful glaze that was brown with mottled blue / green spots. I thought that would be perfect for a frog. Gratefully another artist was in the ceramic studio at that time. She told me to apply the gaze heavily in order to get that effect. I would not have known! So, the chin and underneath is a light glaze while the rest was applied thickly. 

It had always been my intention to put in glass frog eyes, and I'd recently taken a porcelain doll making workshop where we learned how to affix eyes into doll heads. Unfortunately, there had been a slight bump in the ceramic frog, which kept the glass eye from sitting in the socket correctly. I very nervously used an electric sander to smooth it down. I was afraid that it would break the piece!

The oil painting on the base illustrates the transformation of tadpole to mature frog.

The base and feet are made of wood, and the underside is covered with copper foil. The foil will change color over the years, which somehow seems very frog like.

Size: 6'' x 3'' x 5.5''

May 22, 2017

Puppet Making for the Center for Symbolic Studies

Every spring the Center for Symbolic Studies holds a special festival to celebrate Beltane.

A bit like a miniature Renaissance Faire, people attend in their colorful finery and we all sit on the grass to listen to musicians and watch the Vanaver Caravan perform the annual pagent. Every year, a new theme is chosen for the pagent, but there is always the banishing of winter and welcoming of summer. 
Many wonderful, larger than life puppets have been made by various people, but especially Robin Larsen. They are used during the procession or sometimes in the pagent itself. 

Last summer, I decided to create a new puppet. I offered two designs and the Jester design won. Well, it took a lot longer to make that puppet than I had thought it would!

When I decided to make this puppet, I imagined him dancing around the crowd, telling jokes and making fun of people. 

I didn't expect that he would be in the pagent, or that he'd be one of the main players! I also didn't expect to be the actor IN the puppet!!!!

In this year's story a prince is on his way to court to be crowned the new King of May, but the he does not know the way. The Jester lies to him, saying that he knows the way and leads him into the forest. 

When the times comes to crown the new king, he is nowhere to be found, so the Jester suggests that riddles be told to chose a new May King. Three riddles are told, but no one knows what the answers are. The Jester says, "I know a riddle!" and whispers it into the riddle master's ear. 

The riddle is, "What's in my pocket?" and the Jester says, "I know....a sausage!" and since he knows the answer he is crowned the new King, but the May Queen is instantly suspicious. 

The New King, admits to being a Fool, and so says that he needs an adviser and chooses... the Winter King (puppet)! Winter comes back bringing a Blizzard Beast (stilted puppet)! The May Queen's champion challenges the beast and vanquishes it. From the dead beast springs a youth who does some pretty amazing gymnastics (especially from the back of a horse!) and they both ride off together. 

The Queen decides that this sillies must end, and she calls her dancers to do a special staff dance that thwarts the Winter King, and as he lays down, we discover that the lost May Prince was underneath the Winter King the whole time and is under a spell. The Queen kisses him, and he returns to our world. 

The Jester's crown is taken from him and places on the head of the rightful king. The Jester shrugs and says, "It was fun while it lasted!"

The End

P.S. There were a small crew of people who contributed to the making of this puppet! It was tremendous fun to participate in every aspect of this character, from the making, story development and even performance. The hilarious voice of the puppet was done by Carl Welden.