Saturday, July 15, 2017

NSFW Watercolor Test


So, our Schmincke rep was showing us the new product line for the season and gave me a sample card of 35 new colors Schmincke is releasing.  Now, anybody who talks to me about watercolor for any length of time will know that typically I'm a Sennelier whore.  BUT, I am going to have to concede to Schmincke Horadam.  I REALLY love their product.  It is more expensive but damn it rarely lets you down and just like Sennelier, the expense is taken up in the quality of the product so it is you will hardly regret the investment in the long run.

I believe making art should be a passionate experience that moves you.  So, me being me, art supplies are like any other experience in life that involves pleasure.  My visceral initial reaction is cursing.  So, if my initial response is blatant cursing, then you know it's awesome.  The longer the string of expletives, odds are, the more tremendous the fabulousness.  Thus, I tested these in the privacy of my own home, you've been warned, and I hope I didn't offend/scare the neighbors too much.


Schmincke is a longstanding stellar company anyway so I didn't figure I'd be in for too many surprises other than enjoying the beauty of what their products do naturally.  I view it as a wine tasting or a flight of beer.



First to try was the Rutile Yellow. Okay, take in a pregnant pause because I had to laugh at myself.  I worked for a while at Lynne Goldman Studio and therefore came away with more knowledge about gemstones and minerals than I had previous.  I LOVE rutilated quartz and the name immediately turned me on.  It would be good to mention now that I've seen other companies as of recent come out with new colors called "rutile (fill in the blank)" and I'm going oooooh, this must be something new and interesting; a new naples yellow maybe?  As I'm reconstituting it, the color is rich as always but my mind is going, Huh, the smoothness of this and the opacity feels like titanium. A little research tells me that Rutile is the term in mineralogy circles to refer to Titanium Dioxide.  So, calling this paint Rutile Yellow is like saying Rice Krispies are gluten free. . .duh.  This kind of feels like a cheap trick and a slap in the face from Schmincke but seeing as their paints are the hot shit, I'll let them slap me around.



You'll never really be disappointed by their line of Quinacridones.  That yellow is just fucking hot!  It goes from brown to vibrant golden yellow stain in no time flat, like a good race car.  In fact, Quinacridones were originally developed to be car paint.



I'm keen to get my hands on their Geranium Red, Yellow Orange, and Saturn Red.  They are intense and their saturation remains when they dry.  My only complaint is the proprietary naming . . .



The Perylenes are some hot fucking shit! Goddamn!! The solid easily mixes into a creamy rich opaque paint that disperses in water similar to an occluded IV. I know, attractive image, right?  Well, that's the only thing that came to mind as I was mixing up these beauties.  The heavy pigment load crept through the clear water in strong tendrils like poison . . . and that's hot.  Upon drying, they are still strong and uniform and moody and I'd love to grab these for staining.  If I could only have one I'd choose Perylene Green because sonnuvubitch that shit is tight.  I haven't experimented with lifting them yet.  I fell down the rabbit hole trying to get a good definition for Perylene.  All I got was that they are a dye based on rylene framework of naphthalene.  I wondered if naphthalene referred to some paint and yes, they were also developed as an automotive paint dye.  I tried to track down something more definitive for us laymen but as I lack a chemistry degree, I didn't get very far.



Some colors I noticed on the chart of new releases included Viridian, Phthalo Sapphire Blue, and French Ultramarine.  I would like to know what the fuck that is about because I  know damn well Schmincke has had Viridian and Ultramarine.  There's no way these could be "new colors."  I find it hard to believe they would just now be getting around to creating a French Ultramarine grind but whatever.  So, I don't understand why Viridian would make it to their new color release.  Is it a new formula or something?  I did a test vs. Daniel Smith and Sennelier.  Sennelier came out on top.  (Yes, yes. That's my baby.  No, no. I don't mean maybe.)  I find it rare for Schmincke to fall flat but there you go.  The Phthalo Sapphire Blue is crazy fantastic though and I would endeavor to add it to my collection.



I have Sennelier's Green Gold but Schmincke's Green Gold is slightly brighter in the yellow department so I'd grab that too if given the chance.  You sexy minx, you.



Now, normally gimmick colors piss me off.  Proprietary naming irritates the shit out of me because it teaches people to be lazy and not learn how to mix color. (Geranium Red, gimme a break.  I'm looking at you Saturn Red, otherwise known as Vermillion.)  I'll usually flip a tube over and look for the pigment numbers to see if I'm right in guessing what's in there.  That said, when I tried Potter's Pink, I said "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!" That subtle color is hard to beat but the almost immediate granulation is reason alone to use it.



Lastly, the Brilliant Opera Rose is pretty unique.  I have Holbein Opera and I'm not a huge Holbein fan (They use proprietary names like it's going out of style . . . which I hope it will.) but Opera and Quinacridone Gold are BANG'N. (And yes, it is a fluke but I would choose Holbein's Quinacridone Gold over Schmincke's.)  Schmincke's Opera Rose is rich and pigment saturated but I notice that it separates into a fluorescent dye and a lesser magenta.  I find that trait haunting and unexpectedly magical.  This habit would really create some luminous depth so I will be adding this color to my collection as well.



While I was at it, I broke out my Daniel Smith Primatek test sheet out too.



Right away, the Sodalite Genuine is some hot fucking shit.  I'm really digging it as a blue black.  It is earthy and moody and the way the sediments rest on the paper is magic.



Green Apatite Genuine and Serpentine Genuine are really tempting, rich, subtle green tones.  Vibrant greens are hard to mix and taking a look at my pallet is funny.  I am a true human in that I have a big collection of green paints.  I usually prefer to mix my own paints vs. buy a tint or shade but mixing greens is tricky and the results on your own aren't that stellar so when I see a new green I snap it up.  These two are lovely and unique and would add something quite different apart from your average olives and sap greens.  This advice comes from a self professed paint hoarder.  You've been warned.



I'm not ready to trust Amethyst Genuine.  Calling back to my Lynne Goldman Studio days again, I know that Amethyst naturally is one of those minerals that actually fades into clear quartz under UV rays.  Daniel Smith rates it with superior lightfast capabilities.  So . . . what did you add in there to make it lightfast, Daniel?  Also, the little sparkly bits piss me off.  Did you add mica too, Daniel?  Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining, Daniel!!!!  I'm watching you . . .



And then there's Sugilite Genuine.  Lie to me Daniel.  Just, go ahead and lie to me . . . and I will believe you.  Simply for the fact that this paint looks like labradorite in a tube, I will buy it and use it with blissful ignorance.  I will love every last one of those fucking sparkly bits.  Sugilite is supposed to be extremely rare as a mineral so I have a feeling Daniel be lying to me.  But you know, for now, I'm okay with that.

Goddamn.

Now, I need a glass of wine . . .


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Corvus sanzuwu


I can't believe I did it!  I finished it in two weeks!  My friend Lyall Harris asked if I would be interested in participating in Strathmore's Pass the Journal event.  It is an international round robin of sorts and each artist has exactly two weeks to decorate a two page spread however they like.  It was exciting to receive the journal but also a little intimidating.  I wasn't sure what I was going to draw on my pages.  At first I thought I might sit on the downtown mall and sketch some of the buildings or draw some of the letterpress machines at VABC.

It just so happens that near to the day I got the journal I had a meeting scheduled with my other friend, Debbie Ku.  We were talking about our upcoming participation in the Tree of Life print exchange.  We were both thinking of addressing the Chinese concept of the Tree of Life.  She told me about Xi Wangmu (Queen Mother of the West) and the Fusang mulberry tree in the valley in the west.  One note caught my eye and I researched a little more into Sanzuwu, the three legged bird.  The most popular account is of Yangwu or the "golden crow".  An account read, "Even though it is described as a crow or raven, it is usually colored red instead of black."  It was stated that there were originally 10 separate sun crows and each would take turns accompanying Xi Wangmu across the world in a carriage.  Legend tells that in 2170 BC, all the crows decided to escape and land on earth to feast on two kinds of mythical grass.  This caused the world to burn and in order to save the day Houyi, the celestial archer, shot all but one of the sun crows with arrows.  Can you guess which one remained?


I was so inspired by this fantastic tale that I sat down with my pencil and began to map out Fusang with its branches full of Sanzuwu.  I was really excited at the beginning of this process!  I had to search for a lot of references and kept a closer eye on the crows that like to visit the house.


Finally, I had the finished sketch but now a week had gone by and I was getting nervous about finishing the work.


Here's a close up of things in progress.  I was starting to feel like a failure because I was finding the tree really hard to paint.  I didn't have many references on how to light and shade a glowing hot pink mulberry tree with translucent white leaves!  I decided to start rendering the birds instead and this really helped relax my hand and get into finishing the whole thing.


This was the first time I used my quinacridone red and gold paints.  The quinacridone red came out a nice hot pink.  The quinacridone gold I'm hook on.  It went on as this thick rich golden ochre color and then would thin out to this luscious mango yellow tone.  Sexy.  The finishing touches are translucent gold halos.  I was really excited to try out Golden's Interference Gold paint.  For the finished shot of the painting, I propped one side of the book up so that all the halos would be illuminated.  As you can see from the image above, in certain angles the halos virtually disappear.  I took a scan of the journal before sending it off and the halos don't really show up in the scan.

This was a really great project to do and made me commit to painting a drawing again.  That was refreshing.  Now, on to that Tree of Life block print that I need to do . . . 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Tree of Life VABC print exchange

2nd Meeting 

VABC shop studio Saturday, April 16th at 5:00pm


What it is: A collection of prints created by participants and inspired by the concept of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is a global archetype focusing on the concept of a sacred tree. It is a symbol that is usually associated with hope, healing, stability, sustainability, and protection. Through history, it has occurred in many different cultures. 

Edition Goal: Enough prints to accommodate a final portfolio collection in a hardbound case for each participating member and a determined number of cases for donation to the VABC. 

Print Size: 11” x 14” 

Paper Type: Paper is the choice of the artist. 

Participation Fee: Members: $40.00
                               Non-members: $70.00 

Medium: Traditional” printing methods are
encouraged but the project is not exclusive of digital methods. Contemporary media can be used and is encouraged but be considerate. Methods and materials that compromise the collection as a whole will be excluded.

Please contact project manager, Lana Lambert for more information at lanalambertpress@gmail.com

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Crozet Artisan Depot


I got into a new local venue! Literally!  The Crozet Artisan Depot took me on as one of their new artisans and I am delighted to join them.  They are located in a fantastically quaint old train station in downtown Crozet, Virginia.  It is jam-packed with wonderful art of all kinds!  There are pieces to delight the senses and pamper the soul.  Naturally, some of them followed me home . . .


Below is a photo of my cards nestled amongst all the goodies.


I've got so many more to get printed but fresh off the presses are the stacks of boxed Thank You cards.  I have some singles for sale too.  Sometimes just one will do!


I was fortunate enough to score a set of Tuscan Ombre type from Wingnut Foundry.  It paired nicely with vintage dingbats from the VABC collection and the "money green" doesn't hurt either.  More on these guys later, but should you find yourself in need of some Thank You notes, now you know where to go!


I cannot impress enough how delightful the Crozet Artisan Depot selection is!  You can find paintings, prints, ceramics, baskets, wooden bowls, jewelry, stationery, books, candles, soap, knives, instruments, candy, preserves, . . . I mean the list goes on and on!


The staff is really great as well.  I met a luthier who makes some amazing instruments!  Marvin Rankin creates these beautiful masterpieces, but it doesn't end there.  Not only beautiful to look upon, in the right hands they create aural magic as well.


These two really stood out to me.  I've never seen an electric cigar box guitar.  He even has an amp under the display for a demonstration of the sound.  Stellar!  See more of his work here:  crozetartisandepot.com/#!marvinr/ckku


I had to come away with some goodies!  I picked up this gem by Emily Hancock.  The binding is delicately crafted and it was hard to pick from her selection because they all looked so tempting.  At last I chose this little beauty because the bright marble paper reminded me of an Easter egg shell.  I added the title at the top right on the front to personalize it just for me.  Check out Emily at www.stbrigidpress.net/


While perusing, I recognized this collection right away!  It's hard to miss the unmistakable precision and soul of Abbey Noelle's carefully rendered graphite animal portraits.  I recognized her work as she has framed with us at Creative Framing.  I've seen adorable little "Coffie the Fruit Bat" in person and the detail is crazy.  I bought one of her cards to remember him.  I know he hangs upside down but I like looking at his little face right side up!  You can find out more at:


I actually met the lovely Kerensa of Lux Aromatica when she had an opening this past 2nd Saturday.  I simply had to try some of her wares and boy, was I not disappointed!  I'm going back for more.  For now, I'm enjoying one of her Ice Mint soaps (mint soap is a weakness of mine!) and wonderfully fresh French Perfume candle.  I want to try Rare Earth and Kama Sutra next. You can see more at: 

Well, I better get back to cranking the press handle but stop on by the Crozet Artisan Depot to check out the fantastic collection of locally crafted treats!  Be warned, it's hard not to come away with something that you won't absolutely fall in love with!






Sunday, March 6, 2016

Turkey Quill


I was debating on wether or not to post this in my art blog or my hippy blog (ne'er the two shall mix?) but so much of this was about process that I decided the art blog would be more appropriate.

I have a feather collection.  People collect things for many different reasons and even in the realm of feather collecting, people do it for different reasons.  My reasons tend to lean on the religious side and since you guys are reading my art blog and not my hippy blog, I guess you'll just have to wait for an explanation!  At any rate, I made the recent discovery that my collection was not safe from little insects that destroy the feather follicles if given the opportunity.  Being a framer by trade I did not despair, I just simply got to work.

If I associate my collection with experiences, then I wanted the framing of it to be personal to me and not just a specimen case.

I started with my small turkey quill.  I had fallen in love with a Japanese arrow fletching pattern I have seen and wanted to use that geometrical influence.


 The tedious part begins with penciling out your lines on an acid free board.


A grid is first drawn and then the oblique lines are installed.


I knew I did not want a solid wall of pattern.  I was going to mount the quill in the middle so I picked out some of the blocks not to fill with pigment.  A handy tool at the top right is a rough thumbnail sketch.  It's kind of like a road map for where you generally want to end up with your design.  I also had my double mat ready nearby.  You can see at the top left that I chose an off white top mat and a soft gray under mat.  Since my frame and background were going to be bold, I wanted a lighter matting so the final presentation wouldn't be heavy.


Next came lining the pattern.  The pencil drawn lines are invaluable at this point.


I've grown to love my ruling pen for tasks like these and today it was earning its keep.


When I began to fill in the pattern, I liked the bold red color but realized halfway through that this pattern was going to end up dominating the presentation.  It would be hard to see the feather against all this.


Luckily, I had a scrap of beautiful japanese paper with bark and fiber inclusions.  It was an improvement that actually enhanced the look because the inclusions look like they were being swept up by the wind and my feather would feel right at home.


I mounted the quill and installed the mat on which I had written the turkey's scientific name.  I framed it in a bright red burl-wood frame by Bella called Tiny Cinnamon.  Now my little quill has a home that is beautiful, magical, and is safe from bugs, moisture, and UV light.  On top of that, it is hung near our bedroom so instead of laying on a shelf I get to wake up to it every morning and have a reminder of the magic alive in the world.



Saturday, February 27, 2016

Free Adult Coloring Book Page!


Okay boys and girls, I've got your Sunday activity right here! Be prepared to chill out and have fun.  Who could have anticipated the popularity of the adult coloring book craze?  I'm glad people are into it because "coloring" (a.k.a. art making!) is very therapeutic.  I happened upon a proof of one of my blocks while cleaning up my tiny studio.  Looking it over, I thought Well, this would be a good candidate for a coloring book page.  So go ahead and print off a copy, break out those colored pencils, gel pens, and markers. Pour yourself a glass of wine or brew a spot of tea! Relax and let your imagination wander!


On a side note:  I printed a copy off myself and started coloring it in just to use as an example of the potential there is in your coloring.  As usual, I got immersed in it and had to remind myself several times to stop so that the example would look like a work in progress.  Once you get into staining with those rich colors and stippling, it's hard to quit!! Damn this coloring crack!  Anyway, I took a photo below of the supplies I used to start coloring my dragons.  I got it all from your friendly local neighborhood Art Box.



I flipped it over to check out the backside of the paper.  Markers are notorious for their bleed through and companies have even engineered paper and sketchbooks to tackle this specific problem. (The Art Box carries Paris Paper pads by Borden & Riley)  I actually kind of like seeing the bleed.  Someday when I have time out the whazoo, I'd consider doing a piece that works particularly with this quality.  I can see how it would be a bother if you wanted to color both sides of a page though.


Have fun coloring and if you're proud enough of your finished work, send me an email of it and I'll post it up here for all to see!  I think it would be neat to see how people approach the same material.  You're almost always guaranteed to get a diversity of results.  That's the spice of life!



Saturday, February 20, 2016

Semicolon in the Sky


On the 18th of July in the year 2015, something beautiful happened.  Venus and the Moon danced together and I was there to capture it.



I had recently gotten an iphone and had heard about how wonderful smart phones were for taking snapshots on the go.  Color me underwhelmed.  This close up looks like a bad UFO shot.


I tried to capture the expanse of deep evening sky that I was seeing and it just wasn't working.  Disappointed and realizing that I was now one of those people who wasted the moment trying to fiddle around with some gadget while missing the opportunity to witness the wonders of the natural world, I stopped. Mesmerized, I stood in the front yard and soaked in the beautiful atmosphere as the moon slipped behind the mountain and I tried to atone from my previous error in judgement.

As I watched the evening sky and the cool air shifted around me, I took some time to reflect.  I comforted myself in the notion that at least I had tossed the phone aside when the camera images didn't live up to what I was seeing.  A sting of regret was still nagging me.  I had just witnessed a moment that was beautiful and breathtaking and I just knew I wouldn't be able to go draw it right then and there.  Artists have this thing for wanting to share what we see and feel.  Me personally it goes a little like: "Oh, I can't even begin to explain or write how it was! Here! Let me draw you a picture!"

And then, a feeling came over me.  Venus and the Moon took me and showed me the way.  I was suddenly overwhelmed with the sensation of "Why not? Why not go upstairs right now and do this right now?"  And so, when the Universe offered to come and keep me company for the night, that's what we did.  The Universe and I spent some quality time together and here is what that looks like:


The photographs could not capture the awe encompassing sky that poured deep blue black overhead.  The photographs said that the evening horizon was a washed out pale blue but that's not what my eyes saw.  I saw the subtle veil of sanded light as it faded away into the evening.


A closer study allowed me to record it's rusty color and the sheer thin slice of the waning moon.  Venus pierced into the dingy firmament.

I also did a pencil sketch that allowed me to record the gossamer streaks of clouds that were almost unseen.  They only barely show up in the photographs but they have been placed in my sketchbook.  Now I have a permanent momento of the night the Universe came to visit me for dinner.  I am one special lady.