Friday, February 25, 2011

Thursday Night Pottery Class

This year, as opposed to throwing pots on the wheel in Bertine's pottery class,  I'm focusing on hand building pears.

Cutting whole pears in half

Shaping the pears is satisfyingly tactile and, when they are leather hard, hollowing them out is a very meditative process. 

Here they look like little uteri to me!

Then, I get to put the halves back together again and let them completely dry out.

Waiting to be bisque fired

Raku bowl 2010

After the bisque firing I'll glaze my pears in the hopes that I can replicate the result on my bowl, above.  But, one never knows just what they will get from a raku firing!  When the the required temperature is reached, in the second firing, they will be quickly removed (with tongs) from the kiln and placed in masses of combustible material (e.g., straw, sawdust, or newspaper).  A metal or tin container will be placed over the lot to suffocate the fire.  As I understand it, this is the process which causes the random colour and crackle.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Hellish Week

Since February 17th, I have been distracted and consumed with concern. 

Denise, Larry and Avery spent the Family Day weekend (February 19th to 21st) with us.  As we all waited for further news of the uprising in Libya and updates from Laura and Adam this is what our breakfast room looked like ...

Communications Head Quarters

Last September, when the newly weds moved to Benghazi, could anyone have predicted the events of this past week?  Adam is project manager for Pure Technologies, in Libya, monitoring their installed systems on the The Great Man-Made River Project which provides drinking water to much of the country including Benghazi and Tripoli.

For the month of February, Laura has been in Florence, Italy studying jewellery making with a transplanted New Zealander, Ken Scott who, subsequently, is in his own hell worrying about the victims of the Christchurch earthquake.

Circumstances were such that Adam had the responsibility of rounding up his staff and seeking channels to secure his and their safe evacuation out of Libya.  Today I am delighted to report that Adam (and all his staff)  sailed out of Benghazi for Malta.

Adam and Laura in November, 2010

As Laura always believed, Adam will be in Istanbul before she arrives there on February 27th.  Reunited, after a painfully trying time, they will then begin air travel home to Canada on Monday. 

I am so grateful that this nightmare has a happy ending.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Book as Art Workshop

Bill and I both attended

February 12th and 13th, Dea Fisher instructed The Book as Art, a book binding workshop, in Canmore.  She gave willingly and selflessly of herself teaching four different book forms to fourteen keen students.

The spacious Raven's Loft

The 12-page Folded Book began as a flat piece of paper on which we painted, splattered and stamped.  Dea showed us the clever way to fold it and where to make two partial cuts before folding it again to its finished size.  More embellishments could now be added; I scribed Joyce Kilmer's poem Trees onto the pages in mine.

Bill's decorated flat sheet for the 12-page Folded Book

In the afternoon we made hard covers for Accordion Book with Pockets, then folded the paper for the pages and pockets.  Once the pages and covers were assembled we embellished little tags or cards to go into the eight pockets.  This was when we got to see individual creativity at it finest.  
Accordion Book with Pockets; Bill's on the left, mine on the right

In the morning of day two we made Side Stitch Books.  Again we created hard covers which sandwiched pages we had "torn" (decal edges) that could be fastened together in our choice of assorted ways.  I opted to sew mine as, in part, Bill did.  He came to the course with the intention of using leather rather than the abundant and beautiful papers that where made available to us.

Side Stitch Books, Bill's with the leather cover and conchos

Afternoon of day two was the Leather-bound Long-stitch Journal.  The stitching of this one exasperated me; I simply could not grasp the proper way to do the method.  Bill wisely decided he'd like to do it differently and brought the pieces home to work on at his leisure.  So, both are unfinished (mine may never be!) and if you want to see photos of them I invite you to go to the complete photo essay here:

Annie Froese, workshop participant and owner of Art & Soul Studio Gallery in High River has prepared this delightful slide show about the workshop:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

To my husband, my family and my friends
who let my love light shine ...
Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Painting Tutorial #2

In an effort to incorporate our own images in mixed media paintings I attempted to teach myself a quick method of making acrylic gel medium transfers.  It's darn tricky business.  Perhaps I didn't use enough gel medium on the photocopy of my sketch?  Maybe too much or too little water and over rigorous rubbing on the back of the photocopy when removing the fibres of the copy's paper?  When I kept rubbing off the toner ink too, I gave up!  

Rubbing my fingers raw!

Yesterday, with my keeners, we each tried to make a gel transfer with the same poor results.  If anyone has any insight into gel transfers, I'd love to hear from you!

We promptly abandoned the transfer thing and moved right into playing with acrylics.  With no real plan, I flooded the panel with water and began dropping my favourite, hot colours into it.  Pushing the wet paint around a pond appeared.  The gals followed suit and we all went blindly into the unknown.

Me and Karen adding pearly white to our ponds

We established horizons, developed background trees and foreground foliage.  But we didn't have any focal points.  So we cut out animals from my wildlife note cards and strategically adhered them onto our paintings.  To ground the creatures, in the landscape, we tucked their feet into the scrub brush by burying them under more splattering, stamping and globing of thick, textured paint.

Kari stamping

Kari's bear wasn't doing what she wanted it to, so she removed it, camouflaged where it had been and instead opted for a little flock of birds in her top left hand corner.

Karen's, Kari's and my finished paintings

Kudos to both gals.  It was a tough challenge which they both rose to and completed great paintings ... Karen's first, ever!

To see the complete photo essay please click here:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

More Cards

Yesterday, I played at Karen's house for the first time.  I've been looking forward to seeing her investment in equipment and materials.  It includes a massive collection of beautiful papers, for scrap booking, but all of these things cross over into card making.  We visited, had lunch and toured her extensive stock.

Four hours later we finally settled into making cards.  Karen generously shared her bounty.  I created all but the one, top left, in the photo above and Karen made five cards as well.  Late in the afternoon, Bill joined us; her husband and sons came home from skiing and still we carried on working until the pizzas were delivered.  It was a grand way to spend a blustery Sunday.  Thanks, Karen!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Candlelight Treasure

Candlelight Treasure  unframed oil 6" x 6"  $100.  SOLD

For days now I've had this arrangement set up on a beautiful, pine, wall-mounted shelf unit which a friend made for me many years ago.  I procrastinated painting it thinking that it wasn't all that exciting.  However, today as this one poured off my brush I could see that I was mistaken ... I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

For the record, I didn't light the candles until the very end.  I wondered if this would alter the lighting in the painting, but it didn't, really.  There was 7" between the higher flame and the shelf above.  Although it didn't take me long to paint the flames, it was enough time to leave a burn mark on the shelf above.  Whoops! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Painting Tutorial

Two weeks ago, at the Cobweb Tutorial, it was decided that the next one would be a Painting Tutorial and I would be the instructor-of-the-day. With Sharon Williams' permission, I guided Kari and Jenn though her demonstration, which you can view here:

I had an incredibly good time sharing with these gals and I do believe they are pleased with what they produced; I sure was!  They worked really hard and I hope I didn't scare them too much with comments like "Stop!" when they had made beautiful marks and were about to go in and paint over them!

Three totally different interpretations, all quite unlike Sharon's!

We went on to do a second painting employing a mixed media technique which I learned from Annie Froese ... to see Annie's work click here:

To see the second painting and more photos of our painting day please click here: