April 8, 2017
Yikes, calligraphy. Here’s me about 10 years ago, (looking a lot younger than I do now 🙂 ), doing some heebie jeebie work for a friend of ours’ church. I’m including it and a certificate done for the same person to show basically what my commissioned work was for 40 years or more. Precise, traditional, nerve racking a lot of the time. If you make a mistake you can start all over.
It took years to free myself up from the calligraphic, graphic design, and typographic training I had, to begin to find my own voice. Evert van Dijk, a dear friend of ours and fine calligrapher/artist was instrumental in helping me to get away from obsessive perfectionism and to find my own writing styles and rhythms. Also, the work I did with master typographer and calligrapher Jovica Veljovic helped me to allow small imperfections to appear in the work. He taught me that, if executed with knowledge and experience of spacing, letter weight, etc, the overall impression would be of competence and the little glitches wouldn’t be noticeable.
Well, I’ve recently had a chance to do some lettering again. And Jovica’s tip really came in handy. Rende and I made some signs for our local edible garden. I wanted them to be nice, but since there is a fair chance of them getting stolen or damaged, I didn’t want to spend hours and hours on them. So without lines, no sketches, no preparation except 3 layers of varnish, I just took a loaded brush and lettered them freehand. You will see that they are not perfect by any means, but (especially because they are read vertically) they make a convincing impression of good lettering.
The signs are to label the beds for crop rotation, which happens over a period of 4 years. The idea is the first season, to plant the vegetables (like potatoes) which take the most nutrients out of the soil in one bed, and the next season to plant much less demanding plants in that bed, moving the potatoes to a new bed. The translation of the Dutch is:
Vaste planten= perennials
Aardappels= literally Earth apples or potatoes
Peulvruchten= legumes like peas, beans, snowpeas, sugar snaps
Koolgewassen= cabbage-like veg, broccolie, brussels sprouts etc
Bladgewassen= lettuces and other leafy greens including squashes
Wortel & knol= root veg, like carrots, onions, celeriac
And now for something entirely different. I was inspired by a friend’s book of poetry and photographs to pick up my pens and brushes again for some freehand calligraphic art. Here are some of the results. And here is Jörg’s website (German language).
The style used here is inspired by my piece, ‘Wage Peace’ which you can see and read about here.
March 26, 2015
This mobile was created from dried out daffodil flowers and their still green stems. It was near impossible to photograph since the air currents in the house kept moving it. And because it was against a window with a lot going on visually in the background, the photographer had to wait until evening to shoot it- and of course there is less light, necessitating a longer exposure. This in turn makes it a challenge to get something so prone to movement in focus, so thanks to my woodworker husband whom, luck has it, is also a professional photographer.
Below is reminder of the separate components before I strung them up (see post before this, Nature art). And below that are a few similar projects using natural materials, from previous posts, either here or on my other blog, tending time
March 24, 2015
Starting at the end of January, we’ve had a continual oasis of blooming spring bulbs on the dining room table. As one pot reaches its peak and fades, we replace it with a fresh new one.
Rende got fascinated with the dried up mini daffodils (in background), and made some great photos of them awhile back.
I was idly sitting at the table a few nights ago and picked some of the dried out flowers and stems and started playing with them. The results are below. They eventually inspired a mobile, which I’ll post soon.
May 28, 2013
One of the most persistent problems you hear beginners as well as more experienced painters complain about is ‘ backgrounds’. In realistic painting, the subject is painted somewhere in the middle of the paper or canvas (since I’m talking about watercolors here I’ll talk about ‘ paper’), completed to satisfaction then oh, oh what to do with the ‘background’.
It is something like the dilemma of people cooking for vegetarians- they leave out the meat and all they have on the plate are the potatoes and beans! You take away something and try to create a meal out of what’s left, instead of starting out with the idea of creating a vegetarian meal as a whole, using lots of different ingredients.
Are you still following me?
The way to solve the ‘background’ dilemma is not to try to figure out what to do with the background once you’ve completed the main subject but to treat the background as an essential ingredient, already integrated into the painting from the beginning.
It can help to decide on an overall color palette for the painting before you even pick up a brush. And look at the negative spaces, how the light falls, and try to shift how you see. Try to move away from perceiving just an object against a’ background’ to an intricate interplay of puzzle pieces- each equally important.
These are basically travel sketches and I’ve been trying to keep my work really loose, so it only partly illustrates my point here.
This penny just recently dropped for me, so I’ve included some of my attempts in watercolor above. But it would be good to look at some classical oil paintings by Cezanne, for example, where the negative shapes are more clearly defined.
December 29, 2012
O father of trees
you stand there in all your years
in your soaring dignity
and fresh green grace
your great tree soul
in our town square.
Decades of fragrant life,
life giving heart of wood,
hacked down for just a few days,
July 22, 2012
I’ve had some time this summer to play with materials and do a small wall painting I’d been planning.
After painting all those flowers on harpsichords, I thought our home deserved a little bit of that decorative cheer. More on that further down.
First, though, here is a sheepy button I found at a textile fair: the little feet dangle free on tiny ropes.
Actually, I couldn’t resist making him wearable, so I made a brooch:
Next I decided to tackle two ugly oil stains on a favorite pair of workpants. Ok they are work pants, but still.
I’d bought a scarf for 50 cents at a rummage sale and cut out some designs from it. I sewed them on, wrong side up, which made the colours more muted and matched the faded trousers better.
And finally, there was a small, neglected bit of wall just inside our back door, outside the bathroom (WC for our UK readers). I’d been wanting to jazz it up for a long while.
This was done with tempera on wall paint, which worked like watercolours. I was ok with it when I stopped trying to get the deep rich colours of tempera on beautifully prepared sound board wood.
The work, by the way, was back-breaking, it took about 8 sittings, painting over parts several times where I didn’t like the curves.
I’ll choose a wall where I can stand and sit normally next time.
For photos of a mural I did years ago, on a slightly different scale, see below and click here .
June 28, 2012
Warning, high cuteness factor.
Some mysterious animal has been raiding our strawberries.
Bigger than a slug for sure, (and smart enough to find the ones under the netting and chomp them right through it). Check her out caught in the act.
She also helps with the gardening, so I guess she thinks it is a fair trade off.
She had an early affinity with gardening as you can see from this photo from 5 years ago, of both of us looking younger.
Recently she has been finding me very thick. Through clear signals she lets me know what we need to do next, and for some reason according to her, I just don’t seem to get it!
And finally, because she is so beautiful and such a wonderful companion, and we love her so much, here is a portrait Rende made of her during one of their favorite walks in an old apple orchard.
For a much cuter post than this one about dog love, go over and see Dottie Angel as she tries to quit photographing her beautiful little dog – cold turkey!