Tuesday, March 30, 2010


what i've been fiddling with so much these last few months is seeing how much i can leave out while drawing a face and yet still have an expression, a feeling, come through. i try different colors so i can see what their effect is. each little change makes a difference, and usually a big one. a face can go from happy to sad with one dark pencil stroke.

since the first 'face book' i've been letting what's already on the page show me where to start. there are usually blobs of walnut ink or wrinkles that point the way - a face is in there somewhere.

i drew/colored 'della' this morning while having coffee - i have to make myself not fill everything in; leave some mystery.

plaster cloth can be found at michaels for about $10, and jude's got a great post here about collaboration and 'diluting our efforts'.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

into the bush

oil pastels, colored pencils, collage elements, acrylic paint, plaster cloth, muslin

whew! i went out of town last week to visit friends and am just now getting settled in and caught up. boy did i have a good time, though... i laughed so hard one night that my stomach muscles were sore the next morning. now that's nice!

i finally picked up some plaster cloth while i was out, and have just begun to experiment with it. as you can see in the piece above, you can dig into it (the grid and circles), which puts it way up there on my list of desirable working surfaces. and it's really easy to use - that's two layers of plaster cloth on top of a piece of muslin.

the finished piece is rigid and thin - about the thickness of 300# watercolor paper. i'm chomping at the bit to work with it more...

and i've been working in my muslin book - LOVE these as travel journals. here are two pogo prints of trees that i sat under in chico... a giant sycamore and a giant palm. total tree love...

i did this sitting under the sycamore - i'd just bought a book about matisse at the used book store. this is my fauvist tree, ha!

still using mostly colored pencils...

in case it's helpful i thought i'd pass along some of the things that i've discovered lately, mostly about working with muslin or colored pencils...

1. for the smoothest muslin surface, buy permanent press muslin. no amount of ironing will make non permanent press muslin as smooth as p.p. muslin.

2. i use a regular eraser to blend and lighten colored pencils *a lot*. colored pencils will erase almost completely from acrylic paint if you haven't pressed down too hard.

3. if you use colored pencils on top of oil pastels, they blend easily with the oil pastels using a paper stump. of course you can't have a thick a layer of oil pastels down, or they won't 'stick'.

4. if i put a layer of gel medium on the muslin (to keep watercolors from bleeding through to the other side, say) i sand it lightly before i start working on it. i've found that every surface that i add to the muslin feels a bit rough, even though the original surface has been sanded smooth.

* * *

"... One cannot live in a household that is too orderly, a home run by aunts from the provinces. So off one goes into the bush, to seek simpler methods which do not smother the spirit."

~ Henri Matisse on Fauvism


Sunday, March 21, 2010

happy spring!

yeah, well of course i made a new book!

now that i'm home i used some watercolors and oil pastels.

the crown bled through to the back so this Being has one too...

mostly i stuck to colored pencils, though...

the cover so far - inspired by jeane and her muslin gluing down... at the rate i'm going it's gonna change a lot by the time the book's done.

i spent most of my days outside last week - it was glorious! we made a trip to mt. shasta...

still a lot of snow there.

we saw sandhill cranes on the way! oh, i love, love, these birds...

i drew on some sticks...

and a can. there's a lot of stuff out there to draw on!

happy spring!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

facebook(s) finis

alrighty, here are the rest of the faces!

this is a carving by s. l. jones at the taubman museum in roanoke, VA. there's a great exhibit of outsider art there now. if you're anywhere in the area, i highly recommend it!

i sewed a pocket on the inside of the back cover to stick ticket stubs and stuff in.

thank you for following along!


Monday, March 15, 2010


so here's the nitty gritty... i used prismacolor and faber castell colored pencils on muslin that i'd soaked in walnut ink water and then painted with watered down ivory acrylic paint. each page is 4" x 4", with a tab sewn to it that i punched holes in so i could make a little book.

i wanted to experiment with colors, shapes, etc. on the faces, and a lot of them were started by something i could already see on the page, like a wrinkle or a walnut ink stain (see eyebrow above).

a print from my pogo printer - loved having that with me!

the back of the first book - this kind of binding was my favorite. the book laid almost completely flat.

front page of the second book - i think this binding looks nicer but it leaves a little hump when the book's open.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

roaming and roving

i'm back and it's not easy to know where to start after you've been gone for a month! i had such a great time; saw so much, did so much, laughed so much...

here's my family - we were all in virginia beach for my nephew's wedding; left to right: me, my mother, my brother and sister (her son got married).

my son went with me - i loved that!!

i took so many pictures! just to give you a little view of virginia beach, here's the statue of neptune that the city commissioned near the boardwalk. the sign said that thousands of tons of bronze were used to cast it. mind boggling...

what i took with me were two 4" x 4" muslin books. each book had 12 pages, so there were 48 sides in all and i filled most of them while i was gone. i put pogo prints on some of the pages, but mostly i drew faces... i'm gonna start with the first faces that i drew and post more over the next few days. the only things i used were colored pencils and my mechanical pencil. i never used any of the other supplies that were in the box in the last post!

of all the traveling art stuff i've ever taken with me, this combination of muslin and colored pencils was the best. completely portable and easy to use anywhere - no water or clean-up needed. i was happy.... : )

before i left, we went to my favorite store in roanoke, la de da, where i found these amazing boots for 75% off. the words inside the box seem especially appropriate for this post, and for sweet renee. renee, i am blowing you kisses...

"...To all you roamers, rovers and rolling stones who know the destination is the journey, ramble on..."

~OTBT shoes