Saturday, November 19, 2016


                                         HOMAGE TO RABBITS

                                       THEN THEY TOOK THE FARM

There are those nights when I wake up feeling exhausted from dreams.  I wander down the hall, check out the wall clock and see that although I feel as if I have been dreaming for hours that only one hour has passed.  
Thankfully, these types of dream states don't come all that often but when they do I find myself overwhelmed with images of completed pieces of artwork.

The first piece, above, Homage To The Rabbits started out as a neutral study.
I don't seem to have a picture of it at that stage and I suspect it is because the transformation of it happened rather quickly. 

I may sit down and start something with my own agenda and plans only to find that once I am in "the zone" my inner artist comes out to play and things get changed.  So the neutral, probably rather boring study became a Homage To Rabbits.  I suspect that my inner artist was remembering the YouTube video of the closing dance on, So You Think You Can Dance.  Homage to the Rabbits.

It is one of my all time favorites. 

The artwork is paper collage and acrylic paint.

The second photograph is of one of my newest pieces, Then They Took The Farm.  In my dream state, I was frantically producing an entire series dedicated to the topic of the vanishing family farm from America.
And, despite my normal sense of order, in my dream, I had begun with the last piece and worked backward.

This sudden push to create has me working my photography into my acrylic work.  The faint picture of the shadowed farm is a regular photo transfer onto the painted surface.  The trees are a photo transfer done on organza material and then applied to another layer of acrylic paint.

As with most of my paintings, it is safe to say that there are probably 6-8 layers, sometimes more.

The past two weeks have provided me with wonderful early morning weather conditions for shooting.  After dropping off, Riley, my granddaughter, at school
I cut through the Epic campus in order to get home and avoid the early morning rush hour traffic.  I'm still in the process of selecting what I consider my best and most interesting photographs for my show in January and February, at the Middleton Library.  It is my first solo photography show.

I've been taking a lot of photos of reflections this summer and fall. They intrigue me. 

These three canvases are 18x24.  The first layer of collages papers has been applied.  I use photo copies of my favorite papers because they will be covered up by additional layers. I could use paint to give this first layer different values but I like the idea of using a bit of paper that mean something to me, they remind me of different things from my past.  

It took the dream to make it clear to me how much I enjoy the collage process and how much I enjoy that first, quiet layer of putting down my memories onto the canvas.  It is a very personal process. The "viewer" will most likely not even realize that the papers are there.  Only if they look closely and carefully they might catch a glimpse.

Because I do this process to establish texture of value to the first layer I need to check it to make sure that it still meets my criteria for good design.
I take pictures of the pieces in black and white. 

Now I can better see what is too dark and jumps out at me, where there are too many pieces of the same value, how my corners look in shape and value and just my general overall impression.

I'll make corrections by adding additional pieces of collage paper until I'm happy with it.  I will put a medium layer over the collaged papers and let it dry.  Next step will be a white gesso wash painted over the entire piece.

There are four of these canvases and they are part of series called, NATURE SPEAKS (Thank you, Mary Young, for that suggestion).

Have you seen the movie ARRIVAL?  Amy Adams stars in it as a language expert.  She is requested by the military to help communicate with aliens that have brought, 12 space pods that hover above the ground, all around the earth.
I won't spoil anything for you but telling you that their communications are much different from ours.  They produce intricate circles that express more than just words, but extensive ideas, the past, the future and countless other things. 
Although these aren't pure circles I did these at the beginning of the summer.
Perhaps I was communicating with aliens in my dreams?
I made a photocopy of this painting at Office Depot using their large photo machine.  If you want to make a photo transfer from a photo copy it should really be done with a machine that uses toner, not ink or laser. The toner will sit on top of the paper fibers and be easier to bond with the medium.  Ink is absorbed into the paper fibers.  You can make a transfer but sometimes it looks a little too distressed for what you want it for.
I have two coats of liquid gloss medium on the photocopy so far.  Each layer goes in a different direction.  There will be a total of 8 layers of a medium on this.
After each layer, it is necessary to let it dry completely. So you can see this is a time-consuming process.
When all the layers are on I will soak the photocopy in the tub with warm water and then spend a great deal of time gently scrubbing the photo paper off the back of the piece. Some people use their fingers.  I find that a flexible fake credit card that banks keep sending me the perfect tool.

I will add paint to the white gesso washed canvas.  I'm not sure yet whether it will be different values of white and gray or if I will add splashes of bright colors.
When I'm happy with that stage then it will be time to put the transfer on top.
It can all go pear shaped if it rips or I get to carried away and forget good composition, etc.
It's a process that I love doing.  Time is forgotten. The real world is forgotten.

I'm tired now.  Time to go to bed and hopefully dream quiet dreams.
I'll tell you about the other series and the Bamboo Cutter and His Wife another day.  Such a lot to do yet.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Another birthday has come and gone.  I laid in bed last night thinking about how when I was young, an adult that was 68 years old was just OLD! 
How did that number creep up on me?  
I admit that there are days when I go to get up out of bed I feel every bit of that age.  But, there is that moment before I get out of bed when my mind looks forward to the day and all the things I plan on getting done, or have to do, want or wish to do and my mind has no trouble imagining that all of it will get done.
And, then............. my body reminds me that it doesn't quite move with the same grace and speed that it once did.
Seventy seems just around the corner and I know that seemed ancient to me...what..... just a few years ago.

 I've been giving a lot of thought lately, to my photography show, to be held in January and February, of the new year.  It will be held in a neighboring towns' library, a nice library but not a particularly great place to display art or photography.  

Do I stick with my original intent which was to showcase 15 -10  prints of pictures that I love?
Do I showcase the selections of "Reflections" that I love?
Or, what about these?

I can't make up my mind.  They are all my "babies".  I guess I will have to do what I did before and enlist my family, over the holidays, to pick their favorites and narrow it down that way.

In my Photography group they recently had a show at the University of Wisconsin.  One of the categories that one of my pictures had been juried into was called, Our Vision, Our voice.  When someone asked what exactly that meant it was explained that it was where we saw ourselves now as photographers from where we began.
I had a lot of trouble with that one.  

This was the photograph that was accepted.  I called it Winter Snowstorm.  But it was really just from my collection of Old Barns and maybe a Winter Landscape. I love it but I don't think it is the definitive answer of what kind of photographer I am now vs what I was when I got my first Canon ten years ago.

These two were part of the Abstract Exhibition at the University.  I've been taking odd pictures for a long time.  I like bits and pieces of things.  I like a photograph that makes somebody stand for a minute and wonder what the heck it is they are looking at.
This was the entry that won a place in the Black and White Exhibit.  It's one of my favorites from my Journey Series, called Time Past.  

Lately, I've had more than one opportunity to capture some great bird photos.  Especially these gorgeous Cranes. 

I love trees.  I can't tell you how many photos I have of trees, tree bark or remains of trees.  Enough to do a show by itself but probably not that interesting to many people.

The landscape around me is beautiful.  Sometimes I think I take so many pictures of it is this unspoken thought I have that I will take these images with me when I die.  Silly, I know, but it doesn't stop me from taking more of them.  To me they all look like beautiful paintings, too.

See, what I think is the problem, for picking just a few photos, is that I love where I live.  I love the countryside, the views, the colors, the roads, trees, barns, animals and just about everything.  

Hmmm, maybe I already selected the photos with your help.  

Monday, February 22, 2016


A collaged piece, painted papers, painted cheesecloth and acrylics.
It started out as a mere study in neutrals and values and took on a life of its own.  I don't know what influenced me more while I was in the zone, the Lenten season, my recreational reading of the Native Indians of Alaska and the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church on their culture or what.  

I am intrigued by it.

This is a Study piece I was working on using shapes. I painted the background fabric with dye (Procion MX) ink, I made. After setting the dye and letting it dry, I stamped it with my own foam stamps with acrylic ink and then heat set that. All good so far.
I added some marks with a pastel then set about cutting out fabrics in my personal mark shapes in different sizes. My aim was to include not only three different sizes in each shape but to differ the values. All still good.

As I arranged the shapes I got carried away with the thought that they looked like kites. So I added kite tails and then some stitching where I felt there wasn't enough contrast. I was totally involved in the process.

And, this is where I should have taken a tea break.  I got it into my head that I should make some cloud stamps. I created some cool foam cloud stamps, then sealed them with gesso and once again, probably should have gone back to the house.

This is where it begins to go pear shaped. 
I tested the stamps after the gesso was dry and I was so-so happy with the printing results. Sometimes I don't even listen to myself
and so, even though I wasn't particularly happy with the stamping results I plunged ahead and stamped my paint mixture on the stamps and then on my study piece.

That is why it is a study piece.  I'm not happy with the results.
I tried to do a quick save but was unsuccessful.  

It will sit quietly in the Studio while I think about how I can save the piece. I still like the kites. Just not happy with the cloud at all.
Somehow I think this should be a Joan Mitchel song,


Sunday, January 24, 2016

OH, IF I HAD WORDS............

Do me a BIG FAVOR and click the link above, then turn up the volume and sit back and enjoy farmer Hogget sing to Babe, If I Had Words. Wait, don't turn it off until the end and turn up your sound.

Trust me I wouldn't ask you if it wasn't important.

Did you see him jump in the air and throw his arms up high?  Did you see him toe tapping and jumping around?  Ok, imagine that you have been sitting in my studio all afternoon.  I mean ALL AFTERNOON, watching me struggle to remember how to sew pockets into a seam.

First of all, I know how to sew.  I made all my maternity clothes, I sewed clothing for my children
but the last time I actually made an outfit for anybody was when my now 33-year-old daughter was five and went to her first day of kindergarten.

But, although I made french seams, pj's and smocked dresses I never put a pocket in a seam.
One would think that if you make quilts that you can sew. I create art quilts. It's been 28 years since I worked at the CRAFT of clothing construction.  It is not like getting back up on the bike after a big spill, or the horse for that matter. It requires a switch to go on in the brain. 

I was and still am determined to make a dress for Riley. I found a pattern in my pattern file for a simple A-line sundress. It had multiple sizes so I thought I was good to go. When you flip that switch in your brain to do a skill that you learned years and years ago, you also switch on voices of the people that taught you, corrected you, advised you in your craft.
I could hear my home ec teacher telling me to measure, measure, measure. "Get the measurements first and check them against the pattern measurements." 

Of course I didn't listen, I laid the pattern out on the beautiful batik fabric I had, pinned and cut away. I was in the zone. I held up the front piece and thought, geez that looks big.  I held it lower as if Riley were standing next to me and boy did it look big. My frustration vocabulary is pretty limited so I used one of my choice words a number of times.

Thankfully, we did not get the blizzard that hit the East coast on Friday. Our temps were in the 20s so I marched back to the house with my notebook and tape measure and got Riley's measurements and marched back to the studio.

Well, almost an inch had to be cut off of the sides and an adjustment and trim was needed for the underarms. I cut and trimmed.  I reread the pattern directions for inserting a hidden pocket in the seams.
I examined the pictures, it made no sense. I marched back to the house and got my laptop and marched back to the studio.

After two cups of tea later and no Internet service out in the studio, I again marched back to the house to watch some Youtube shows on sewing pockets.
And, do you think I could retain the information long enough to get from my desk back out to the studio?
It is really sad how short my short term memory is.

I know, you are probably chanting it along with me, she marched back to the house to print out directions. And, by the way, I am marching because the path is ice and snow and if I'm not careful I'm going to land on my butt one of these trips.

So, somewhere maybe from all the trips back and forth my head cleared, or my brain checked in and I thought, "Here's a thought, let's make a sample dress from muslin and work out any kinks on that."
Oh, Mrs. Broadmere would be so proud of me. That is if she hasn't already turned over and over in her grave with frustration at my past two hours."

Like "playing" in art, when you don't have an investment, in the end result from you allow yourself to make mistakes without having to throw a hissy fit.

The mock up dress with pockets sewn into the side seams went beautifully. Except for the part where I stared at blotches of red on the unbleached muslin and wondered when I had gotten red magic marker on it.  Then it occurred to me that I had stuck my finger with a pin without paying attention and it had bled off and on over the mock up. 

Are you ready to jump up and do the Farmer Hogget dance with me?  While the thrill of perfect pockets in the seam was still with me, I put them in the beautiful batik sundress. I finished, looked around the studio and let out a YELP!  I did my own version of Hogget's dance around the tables, whooohoooing.

His song was If I had Words..... well, I have words, lots of them and dagnabit I'm proud that I stuck with it and learned how to do it. Let's just say that the enthusiasm and excitement was nowhere near mine when I showed them to Riley and John. 

That's ok, I know and I danced and I whooped. 

:)Bea, who really did dance like farmer Hogget in the Studio, this 24th day of January.

Monday, January 11, 2016


It was ZERO degrees when Riley and I went out for a Sunday morning photo shoot.  This is her third one with me.  We take it slowly, traveling the back roads and talk about the composition of a photo and whether or not we will see any deer.  When I stop and tell her what I see and want to take a picture of it we talk about why it is of interest to me.  Sometimes she shares that same interest and sometimes she surprises me and see something else in the scene that she wants to shoot.

At the end of the shoot when we stop for breakfast we like to scroll back and look at what we have taken and see what "theme" really caught our attention that day.  
We talk about composition and I tell her how I want her to take her time and frame the picture so she doesn't have to even do any cropping or editing on it later.

We stopped in Mt. Horeb at this wonderful little old dairy fountain restaurant.  We sat at the low counter on metal stools that swiveled.  The manager, Jerry, a grandpa remember Riley from when she was in before Christmas with John and they bought my Christmas present, a beautiful hand carved walking stick made by a local artist.

He helped her pick out fresh doughnut holes from the bakery counter and when she asked him if the chest against the wall with small doors that opened up toward the ceiling was really an old time ice cream chest, he surprised her by giving her a little dish of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.  If you are six, having ice cream with your pancakes apparently is a dream come true.

Since our palette was limited with neutrals we talked about value.  Finding something in the scene that we wanted to take that would have an interesting contrast.
Sometimes that was pretty easy so then we talked about movement and directions of things and their placement in the shot.\

Sometimes she is the one that shouts out to me to find a place to pull over. 

I love our photo shoots.