Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Estate Sale finds

Now this may not look like much, but these are things I've been wanting:  an old retractable clothes line ($1.50);  an old heating pad that doesn't automatically cut off after an hour ($1.50);  a set of nice German water colors ( $2.00!);  and a weird old religious emblem which I don't really need and haven't really been wanting, but I'm pretty sure it will come in handy for one of my boxes($.25).   I also got a really nice wooden box for 50 cents.  I swear I'm not going to start posting pictures of my stuff on this blog, but I do think the retractable clothes line is sort of special, so I figured I would just photograph it with the entire "haul."  Now would you like to see some pictures of my cats?  Ha!  Just kidding.  

My first silk screen print

It's  just a practice print I did on an old bed sheet using tempera paint.   I'm working on another image today.    The best thing about this class I'm taking at the Stitch Lab is that Kathleen  is such a good teacher that I'm actually going to know how to do this when the class is over!  I can't wait to get some thrift store shirts and print stuff I've always wanted to see on t-shirts!    I enjoyed making the stencil for this way more than I thought I would.   Hmm.  Now what class will I take next?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Little painting

I made this little painting today.  The photograph is crappy because I shot it in ambient light without the flash.   I've got to get a better camera or never take pictures indoors unless it's very sunny.    In spite of the crappy photo, the colors are pretty true, so you get the idea.  Little space flowers.  I'm going to play with this palette for awhile.  I realized today that this is my house palette!   No wonder I like these colors.   

I also finished the stencil I started cutting yesterday for my screen printing class.  
It's cut on Tyvek!  Kathleen said it's a wonderful medium for stencils because it cuts like paper, but because it has these tough fibers woven through it, it's really durable.  And it's washable.  Not that I plan on washing my stencils very often,  but that means that they won't be destroyed by liquids. 

Here's the painting I was working on earlier this week.  I don't love it, so I'm just going to move on to the next thing.  I'm practicing non-attachment.  I don't want to love or hate anything I do;  I  just want to keep making.  

I am getting a little more comfortable with a brush, so that's good.   Dammit I wish I could afford to take more art classes!   

(Holy mother of god.  I just fixed the most egregious spelling error.   Thank you,  husband. ) 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Being Inspired

Lately I've been loving the work of modernist Charley Harper (1922-2007).   Harper's stylized wildlife illustrations graced the pages of children's books and magazines.  He created works for nature-based organizations such as the Cincinnati Zoo and the National Parks Service.  Harper worked in a style he referred to as "minimal realism."    

If you'd like to see more of Charley Harper's work, check out this site:

Another modernist I admire is Stig Lindberg (1916-1982), one of Sweden's most important designers, who was a painter and illustrator as well.  

Here's a lovely site that features the work Lindburg did in a variety of media:

I've seen some of Lindburg's ceramic work on e-bay, but it's a bit too
dear for my budget.  I love looking, though!


I made silkscreens!

My first screen printing class with the fabulous artist Kathleen McTee was Sunday.  I made my first two screens:

Class was great; we learned to make the frame, stretch the fabric, and tape the screen to render it waterproof.  We also played around a bit with cutting stencils.  Tyvek!  I'm going to practice stencil cutting this week.  The class is at the Stitch Lab, which is owned and operated by the Renaissance woman, Leslie Bonnell.  I really can't say enough good things about Leslie and the Stitch Lab.  If you have any interest in sewing, embroidery, yarn, art cloth, stamp carving (!), or color theory, please do yourself a huge favor and take a class there.  There are so many different classes to choose from!


Just being there is a little slice of heaven.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The week overall

This is more or less what I posted as my weekly "check-in" for my creativity focus group.  Being lazy, I decided it would be just fine to use it as today's blog post.  

GOOD AND BAD:  I was actually able to devote a couple of nice blocks of time to painting, did my multiple-store marketing, and a lot of healthy cooking (good).   Tuesday I worked on a new circle painting; on Thursday I started another painting I've had in my head for weeks (girl in birch forest) and so far I'm fairly pleased with it (very good!).  Yesterday I spent most of the day doing battle with my demons while searching for a design for the screen printing class that starts tomorrow (bad!).  I was an angry ball of angst by last night (very bad!).  This morning I finally settled on an image that I feel ok about (good); I keep beating myself up about the skills that I lack (bad).   I actually had a pretty great day today, bought stretcher boards at Jerry's for Kathleen's class, some paints that were on sale at Hobby Lobby (the devil's own craft store), had a late lunch at Madam Mam's, and found a children's book with wonderful jack rabbit drawings at Half Price (nice and good).

BAD:  Once again, I'm realizing that I have a very low tolerance for frustration.  As you may well imagine, this is a character defect that hasn't served me well.  That lack of tolerance combined with my perfectionistic tendencies often drive me out of the studio and back into bed with my macbook and Netflix.    It's so disconcerting that the baggage around pursuing something I love can make me so irritable and depressed.  Wish I could just dump the stuff that I know doesn't work.

GOALS:  I want to practice drawing and I'm really loving a particular style of illustration right now.  I'm going to do some research on illustrators I like, track them down at the library, and make some scans of drawings I want to study.  This week I'm going to spend a few more hours drawing, finish my circle painting, and work on the birch forest painting.  I have a few ideas for a box series I'd like to do so I'm going to sketch those out for future work.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making beet soup!

I made this beet soup yesterday. (I haven't figured out why the color in my blog posts is off, because it really is the prettiest magenta in i-photo.)  The recipe I used is from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which is one of my favorite cookbooks.  Of course I had to tweak it a bit, so I'm printing my version of her recipe.  One of the things I love about this recipe is that it uses the whole beet, greens and all.  The white blob in the middle is a tablespoon of yogurt, but you could use sour cream if you prefer.

I started with the basic vegetable stock:
1 large onion
2 large carrots
2 celery ribs, including some of the leaves
1 leek
1/2 red onion (just because I had it)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
8 or so parsley branches
6 thyme sprigs (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
2 bay leaves

Scrub the veggies and chop them roughly into 1-inch chunks.  Heat the oil in a soup pot.  Add the vegetables, yeast, garlic, and herbs and cook over high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  The more color they get, the richer the flavor of the stock.  Add 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 quarts of cold water and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Strain.  

I used to feel wasteful composting all those veggies after I strained the soup, but all the vitamins, minerals, and veggie goodness is now in the stock; I'm really only discarding some fiber and believe me, I get plenty of that!  

Beet Soup
6 cups veggie stock
3 or 4 beets with their greens, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 med. sized onion, finely diced
2 leeks, white part only, diced
4 med. lg. carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch slices
1 med. potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbs. butter (or olive oil)
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
chopped dill
Sour cream or drained yogurt

In a soup pot over medium heat, cook the onions and leeks in the butter until soft, about 7 minutes, stirring now and then.  Add the beets, carrots, potato, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.  Add your vegetable stock; it should be about 6 cups.  Simmer until the beets and carrots are tender, about 10 or 15 minutes, adding the beet greens during the last 5 minutes.  Taste for salt.  You can add 1 tsp. of lemon juice to bring up the flavor if you like.  Serve the soup sprinkled with dill, seasoned with pepper, with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt in each bowl.  

Morgan and I loved this soup.  I only wish I'd doubled the recipe because it didn't make as much as I would have liked.  I'm going to make a very large batch of vegetable stock this weekend so that I can freeze some and have it on hand, making soup preparation very simple. Home made stock is so much better than store bought!  If a recipe calls for chicken stock, I think using canned or boxed soup is ok, but with vegetarian stock-based soups,  you can really taste an enormous difference.  I just make the stock one day, and the soup the next day.  

So if you like beets, you should try this delicious soup.  And if you don't already own it, get yourself a copy of Deborah Madison's excellent cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  

Monday, February 8, 2010

Making everything but art

I'm up at 4:30 because I can't stop my brain!  Silly brain, you need sleep.  This has been both a good and frustrating week.  I've got making the bed, making dates with girlfriends, making trips to the store,  making space, and making dinner down, I tell you!  It's making time for making art that eludes me.  I even made a workout date last week (making muscles! Hi,  Iris!).    Every day I had a list of errands and appointments.  Today doesn't look any different: our cat Sophie has another UTI, so I'll drop her at the vet's at 7:30 (Anna Chan at Abraham Veterinary Clinic is the best!),  grab some breakfast treats for the creativity group,  and from 8:30 to 11:00, I'll be at C's house for the group meeting.   Yesterday I spent all day moving things into the new studio shelving Morgan built for me.  Now I actually have room to work.  Hooray!   I may not make anything but cat food today (I sort of have to because that grass fed beef liver I bought at the farmers market Saturday needs to be used.),  but tomorrow I will give myself an afternoon in the studio.  It's on the calendar!

No more whinging!  I think, despite only having  5 hours sleep last night, this will be a good day.  I will be taking a nap this afternoon!