May 12, 2018

The Mystic Beast

This Beast was very patient in waiting to truly become itself.

And here she is...out and about in the world.

It is Spring, and everyone is excited to be outside without winter coats and boots on.

Mystic Beast has two felted wool decorations that she wears on either side of her head. They help her attune to the subtle nuances of the natural world. 

Georges is having a wonderful time conversing with her about the Plant Kingdom, whether it be the science or spirits of plants. She knows all of it, and is more than happy to share her knowledge, but only if you ask her. 

Gentle Beasts: The Mystic

(P.S.I was very inspired by the Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide and the inhabitants of Jedha in particular.)

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 16, 2018

New Beast, New Experiments

This is a new Beast.

I am going to try and paint this Beast without using acrylic paint. I'll need to seal the porous Creative Paperclay™ form before I add color. How to go about doing that?

Online, I researched how to make gesso, and I noticed a strange thing. A lot of the contemporary recipes that I found include using white glue. These days, white glue is made of PVA or Polyvinyl Alcohol which is a synthetic polymer and is not biodegradable. Before plastics, glue was made from animal parts; that's why the Elmer's glue logo is of a cow. 

Searching "traditional"gesso, I came across the rabbit skin glue gesso recipes. The rabbit skin glue is what sealed the porous painting surface so paint would flow instead of being absorbed. White chalk or marble dust could be added to the glue to whiten (whitening) the surface which would help to create luminous colors. 

Well, what if I used a different, natural glue? I researched home made glues. I found this site that had several options which sound really awesome,  (remember that gelatin is also an animal based product) and I was about to go to the grocery store to get myself some ingredients, when I decided to do another search for "plant based glue". 

I came up with this:

Here's a link to their site. I think that this glue will seal this beast very well, and it can also be used to make that super popular slime.

Since the Creative Paperclayis a nice base color, I don't know if I need to add chalk or marble dust to the glue. We'll see about that. 

I will keep you informed on how this works out!

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.