Wednesday, March 30, 2011


next to last page in hand book journal

so here i am, waving goodbye... i know that i like to see what people take with them on their travels, so i took some pics of my new 'daily book' and most of the art supplies i'm taking. not all, mind you, but most... i'm also taking a bag of sari silk and muslin scraps for working in te's book and for making 'tree flags'; and my wood burning tool. i believe that i could do nothing but art for the entire month and i'd have plenty to do...

this time i'm going to try a quo vadis habana blank journal... at 4" x 6" it's a little bigger than most pocket sized journals (i like this). the paper is super smooth, and, i have a feeling, probably too thin for much heavy duty artwork, but i'll find out. it'll definitely be great for colored pencils and pogo prints. i really love that the paper is clairefontaine, which is made without chlorine and from trees grown in a PEFC forest. and, of course, the color... chartreuse!!

this is huge if you click

top left is the one layer from my pelikan gouache set. the set has two layers, and the colors pop out easily so you can rearrange them. these are my favorite colors... on the right is my zecchi watercolor set with miscellaneous crayons/paints stuck in wherever i can fit them. on the bottom are the oil pastels i use the most. i'm also taking white casein paint... oh! and my colored pencils!

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herman hesse painting

“You, too, have mysteries of your own. I know that you must have dreams that you don’t tell me. I don’t want to know them. But I can tell you: live those dreams, play with them, build altars to them. It is not yet the ideal but it points in the right direction. Whether you and I and a few others will renew the world someday remains to be seen. But within ourselves we must renew it each day, otherwise we just aren’t serious. Don’t forget that!”

~Herman Hesse, 'Demian', via tumblr


Thursday, March 24, 2011


gouache, colored pencil and ink

the other thing that i've been doing (besides figuring out what i want to do in te's book) is finishing up my pocket 'hand book'. i wanted to finish it before i leave next week so i can start fresh in a new book on my trip.

'the bard parker' really belongs farther down the post (chronologically speaking), but its bright colors demanded that it go at the top... it's a painting of the tool my dentist used in my mouth a few weeks ago. i may have exaggerated its size and shape, ha! but not much

my thoughts on the paper in the 'hand book' are that it's pretty good for just about all media, and really good for none. i didn't mind the buckling so much when using watercolors (and granted i'm not capable of 'light washes'), but i didn't like that it didn't take much paint before you could see the shadow of it on the other side. it's also a little too rough for colored pencils... oh you can use them, but they don't want to blend easily and tiny details may or may not work because of the subtle bumpiness of the paper.

i did do a lot of light colored pencil pages though, mostly because i liked the way the colored pencils worked on the pages better than watercolors, and they didn't show through on the other side of the page.

i got on a clothing jag... i think there's something really satisfying about drawing clothes without bodies in them.

i drew a lot of pale faces... practicing different things and seeing what happens to the expression when you do this or that.

glued some magazine pages in... i added an old stamp to the page on the left.

finally i decided that i'd just cover the pages up! ha! take that 'hand book' paper! the page on the right is from an old thesaurus that roxanne gave me... first i traced the shape of the page onto the old book page, cut it out, brushed gel medium on the back side and brayered onto the journal page.

i was off and running then!

instead of listing the 'ingredients' below each image, i'll just say here that i used some combination of gouache, watercolors, colored pencils, casein paint, and oil pastels on the rest of the pages. if you have any questions about a particular page, please ask! i'll post the answer in the comments section as well as in an e-mail...

i painted these pages after watching 'jean-michel basquiat: the radiant child'...

i'm painting with watercolors on top of oil pastels a lot on these pages... in the way that i learned to do with the creek people. i'm also using white gouache with wild abandon - it's like miracle stuff... this page was a map from an old atlas.

'alice' was painted after watching a documentary about alice neel's life. from now on the pages are covered with paper from an old wildflower book (pub. 1924).

this page and the one below were done only with colored pencils, and they don't show up well in the pics, but in person they're subtle and some of my favorites.

first i draw some things on the page, then i put down a very light layer of matte gel medium and draw again on that. liquitex matte gel medium creates a wonderful surface for colored pencils...

here i drew on the page with colored pencils, put a very thin layer of gel medium down, and then used watercolors and oil pastels...

same here...

behind each of these faces is the drawing of another person...

here's a page in progress... on the left is colored pencil directly on the page, and on the right is what i drew with colored pencils on the gel medium. then i must have put another layer of gel medium down (heh, i can't remember) ...

then i drew the face and painted it. for new readers, i draw with my left (non-dominant) hand...

this is a page from 'of cabbages and kings' (pub. 1902) that i glued in. the face is a stamp i carved and then painted over (heavily!). a lot of white gouache here... her hair had gone beyond repair, so white goauche to the rescue. she sorta looks like she just stepped out of the shower (except not really ).

this is what i'm working on now - gotta finish the bottom row...

this is the last thing glued into the book; she's on 100# bristol board that i got a few days ago. oh! colored pencil heaven!!

and the book itself! i took out the centerfolds of the last three signatures to make room for the added paper. it's puffed up, but not much... i only have a few pages left...

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It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character.

~ camille pissarro


Thursday, March 17, 2011

ode to te

oil pastel and watercolors on traditional gesso and silk

this post is about a package that i got from te willans not long after my last post. i traded a few of my small paintings for one of te's handmade books. or i thought that's what i was trading for! te sent me a package that was packed to the brim with wondrousness - a LOT of fabulous, dyed with natural dyes wondrousness...

this is what the box looked like when i first opened it - there were two of these wool and silk coasters...

after i'd thoroughly dug around... everything is dyed with natural dyes and made by te. here you can see thread, samples of silk and cotton - some ready to paint on with traditional gesso and some without for stitching, and a stitched cloth.

this wool was full of te's ceramic buttons...

this is the stitched cloth - it's so much more gorgeous than this pic shows, but you can see how happy the crystals are on it...

oil pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor on traditional gesso and heavy cotton

this piece and the one at the top of the post are done on two of the sample pieces she sent. one is traditional (rabbit skin glue) gesso on silk, and the other is on heavy cotton. traditional gesso feels completely different to me than acrylic gesso. the energy of everything that te sent is very earthy, and, well, very real.

so the book, yes the book! she sent me an exquisite one! i'm mostly saving it to work in when i go back east in a couple of weeks, but i've been experimenting in it to figure out what i want to do so i know what to take with me. even though i've worked in a lot of muslin books, this is the first time i've worked in a book that has fabric pages without anything on them, as well as ones with gesso on them.

oil pastel, watercolors, and casein paint on traditonal gesso and silk

a poor pic of the first page (and look how beautiful the inside cover is!). basically i've decided that oil pastels, casein paint, and watercolors work best on the gesso pages...

the second and third pages... i used plaster cloth on the second page but decided that was more than i wanted to fool with, so for the rest of the book i'll just stick stuff on the backs of the gessoed pages. i could paint on them, but i don't want it to run through to the other side, and i don't want to put gel medium on to prevent that from happening.

the page on the right is a cotton page (some are silk and some are cotton). i stamped a face i carved on it, colored it in with oil pastels, and then sewed some sari ribbon along the outside edge. i LOVE the idea of mixing up the kinds of pages - some for stitching and some for painting.

another stamped face, but this time i stitched some color in...

stamped face on paper that i stitched to the back of a page.

i've safety pinned pieces of muslin with faces stamped on them to the back so i'll have them when i'm gone.

i think i have a good idea of what i want to do in the book now, so i've wrapped it up and it's ready to travel...

thank you so much, te, for everything...

on another note entirely, i have not come to any earth shaking conclusions re: blogging in the last month. my main impression was that life felt more *spacious* without it. i do know that i'll keep doing it until i absolutely don't feel like doing it anymore. whatever feels right as the days unfold...

and finally...

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Dear friends in Japan,

As we contemplate the great number of people who have died in this tragedy, we may feel very strongly that we ourselves, in some part or manner, also have died.

The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. And the human species and the planet Earth are one body. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.

An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what’s most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have died: we can live in such a way that they continue, beautifully, in us.

Here in France and at our practice centers all over the world, our brothers and sisters will continue to chant for you, sending you the energy of peace, healing and protection. Our prayers are with you.

~Thich Nhat Hanh, via tumblr