Friday, November 16, 2012

Guess what these are.

Did you guess feet?  BECAUSE THEY'RE FEET!!

That is all.

Love Shelley!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some art history - WAIT, COME BACK!

Hopefully this won't be as boring as yesterday's landscape...

The final assignment - or exam - for the art class I was in (which I promise to stop talking about soon, if you're getting sick of hearing about it already) was to pick an artist, do some research into his/her work and then to channel that person and create a work of art in that style.  We had to consider medium, substrate, colour, composition, style - all the things that make that person's work his or her own.

I chose Paul Klee, a Swiss/German painter who died in 1940.  I hadn't heard of him before taking this class but it turns out he was kind of a big deal.  He taught at the Bauhaus school in Germany, totally NAILED colour theory, and my favourite - he used any and all media and would pretty much paint or draw on anything he could get his hands on.  A man after my own heart!  Oh, plus I like his work, a lot of it really appeals to me.  He did some cool stuff with his own version of pointillism, his colour choices were amazing, and even though I don't particularly understand what he was getting at with a lot of his pieces, the mechanics of it all completely fascinate me.

Paul Klee - an example of his colour use and his version of pointillism
Not wanting to walk into this class (or EXAM) totally unprepared, I actually did more homework than you would expect from someone like me, (ie. who has the attention span of a flea) and on top of the research, I decided to try a surface that was new to me but sounded fun.  He had done some of his work on pieces of burlap, on top of which he had glued newspaper.  The newspaper was thin enough to take on the texture of the burlap, plus had the added advantage of sealing off the burlap so the paint wouldn't leak through.  It also automatically gave the work some depth, since he just painted right over the newsprint and that added a layer of text before he'd even started his work.  That sounded so cool to me, I couldn't wait to try it.

Here's where I had to deviate from the plan... burlap stinks.  Like, really, really reeks.  In the spirit of things, I did buy half a meter, but then I found this other cotton blend that also had a nice big woven texture, similar to burlap, and it didn't smell like a potato's ass.  Cotton it is!  The burlap is still sitting in a bag on the floor.  I'll have to try to pawn it off on someone else, because I can't stand it.  Bleah.
‘Untitled (The Prisoner)’, Paul Klee (1940)
Presumably on a less-stinky version of modern-day burlap... no newsprint on this one.

Anyway.  I was still in eager-student mode, so I cut off a baseball card-sized piece of the cotton and experimented with the newspaper and paint.  I had found a pic of Klee's studio after his death, and on his drawing board were a few different partially-finished works.  I tried to copy the one with the fish-like marks on it.  Then I used gouache to paint it in, and OMG I FELL IN LOVE.  The texture, the fabric, the newspaper underneath, the semi-opacity of the gouache, and the blending of the colours... be still my heart.

Paul Klee's studio after his death

My test piece - about 2 3/4" x 4"

All of this nerdery of course didn't make me any friends when I sailed into class, with my prepared fabric/newspaper surface ready to go; and found the others were feeling nervous and anxious about the exam.  I was EXCITED!!!!  I couldn't wait to get started!  I was probably super obnoxious and offensive!!  I apologize to my classmates; I hope I didn't aggravate anyone too badly.  I felt like Buddy the Elf, all "I'm SIIIINGING!!!!" but I couldn't help it.

Yes.  I was THAT excited.

So (ahem) I did the assignment and got it graded right away.  (A+, bitches!!!)  (Okay, I'm done.  Sorry for the outburst.  I promise that's the last one.)  The instructor offered a few comments, then said what I should really do next is the same kind of thing, only way, WAY bigger.  Like, use-a-staple-gun-to-put-the-fabric-on-the-wall-so-you-can-work-on-it kind of big.  And then I zoned out because I started picturing it. And liking it.  A LOT.  She probably said some other things, but hopefully none of them were dire warnings or anything because I wasn't paying attention any more at that point.

Anyway, here's the finished product.  It's hanging on my living room wall right now, which is great for catching the natural light, but crappy because you can see my shadow in the lower-left of each pic.  Please squint and pretend I'm a good photographer.

Thank you.

Nunchuk Fantasy, by Shelley Malone (fine, YOU come up with a name for it.)

Detail of some of the shading

Detail of the bottom right edge

You can see the newsprint beneath the red paint.

Okay, that's it for today.  If you made it this far, gold star for you!!!  Thanks for playing along.  I'm already picking paint colours for the next one... any suggestions?

Love Shelley!

PS: In case you think I was maybe getting a little conceited about this painting, don't fret.  My daughter came home from school, spotted it on the wall, and immediately announced that it looked like "two pigs' nostrils."

So I screamed, 'It's an ANGEL!" and flipped the table.

Artists are so misunderstood.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A lovely landsczzzz

I love these paints so much.

Deep, heartfelt, sleep-with-you-under-my-pillow love

They're nothing fancy, just a set of Staedtler Karat Aquarell watercolors.  Mid-range price - not Crayola, but not the crazy-expensive Yarkas either.  I think this box was thirty-five bucks when I got it a few years ago.

I have a set of Yarkas... I got them when a local art store was going out of business, so they were less than half-price.  I figured if the Crayolas are okay, and the Staedtlers are great, then the Yarkas must be freaking amazing!!!

They probably are.  But all the dark colours look the same in the pans, and every time I open the box the pans stick to the lid and go everywhere.  They're impossible.  I think I have to glue the pans down or something, because I just get mad every time I try to use them.  (Also I'm not known for my patience.  When inspiration strikes, the paint better be ready.)

Rule of thumb for mixing watercolours: mix up as much as you think you'll need, then double it.

This was an assignment I did for the drawing class I just finished.  We were to take a simple landscape, and do two versions of it.

The top one is painted first, then the detail is added with a black pen.

The second one was sketched out first, then painted afterward.

The goal was to learn something about using watercolour as a drawing medium, vs. using it as a painting medium.  Just between us, I'm still a little confused about that distinction.

If you tape down your watercolour paper (all edges, all the way around) it keeps the paper from buckling. Also now that I look at the top painting, it kind of looks like a giant moon rising over the mountains, instead of more mountains.

Turns out I BY FAR preferred to draw it in first, it made the painting part so much easier.  That probably says something about me as an artist, that I like to paint as if in a colouring book. 

Top: Painted first.   Bottom: Drawn first.

Anyway, I did learn a couple of things:

1. Watercolour is way easier to work with in small wee areas.  Once you go big, the potential for disaster increases exponentially.

2. I am shit at mixing colours.

3.  Landscapes are boring.

Anyway: best class ever.  I've already signed up for the follow-up class after Christmas.  The teacher promised more life drawing, including both women AND MEN this time.  So stay tuned, this could get interesting.

Love Shelley!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Numbers and letters - my favourite!

I love lists, always have.  But they don't always have to be boring and list-y.  I wanted to play with these new alphabet stamps so I busted 'em out at the kitchen table so the kids could play too.  The colour is all done with watercolour pencils, but I used a blue water-soluble pen to do the doodles, so the blue colour ran into the intended colour and made it all look a little weird.  That's okay though.  It's still better than a plain boring list.

What are YOU doing today?

Love Shelley!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Reunited, and it feels so good...

I got down and dirty with my art journal this weekend.  

Things got downright sloppy.  Like here, where I thought the lines were too dark so I just finger-painted over them with the nearest bottle of paint.  For the record, it was a whitish colour called "Parchment" but it mixed in with the sprays I had put down earlier.  Awesome.  (My internal monologue: "Needs covering up, ooh, white, yeah, OH SHIT, oh wait, yeah, I like it!)

The title wasn't dramatic enough for my liking so I outlined it in black.  Much better.

The door actually started off as a tombstone (don't ask) which is why the colours are so dark.  In the end I decided a door was a better idea.

This corner of this page perfectly shows you just how messy this page is.  Spray, paint, marker, splatters, random stuff everywhere.  It's not the prettiest thing I've ever made but it felt GREAT to just throw down some colour and words.

 It's art, Swedish-Chef-style.  Just flinging stuff around, singing to myself, having a really good time.

But now it's Monday and time to get back to the serious issues at hand.  Like this public service announcement:  DO NOT CARRY AN EGG IN YOUR JACKET POCKET.  It will only end in heartbreak.

Love Shelley!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Building up to something... just not sure what.


I technically don't "need" another journal (pfft, I totally do), but the other one like this is filling up fast and I REALLY love the weight of the pages.  They can seriously handle anything I throw at it.

Buuuuut..... it's kinda boring.  I decided I wanted to change this one up a little.  So I cut all the pages down by 4 1/4".  I was envisioning a long skinny book this time.

Side bonus: Enough sheets to make a whole other book - or two, if I cut them down even further.  OR I might tape some of these back in to make random fold-out pages for the book.  Or I might get an even better idea.  Anything could happen.

I cut the covers down too; but left them 3/4" wider than the sheets of paper inside so I could leave stuff hanging over the edges of the pages once I'm ready to work on them.  Messy is good.  I'm not exactly known for my perfectionistic tendencies.  I HAVE OTHER GOOD QUALITIES, OK?  Don't judge.

Kinda cool, don'tcha think?

The leaving-the-covers-bigger was an afterthought, and I had already scored the cover in preparation for cutting it... leaving it looking pretty ugly.  (Thinking things through - also not a strong point.)

So I dug through the stash and found this piece of 12"x12" scrapbook paper with a vintage photo of a ferris wheel... cut it down and poof.  I used it on the inside covers - I guess you would call it endpapers, if you were feeling fancy.

Hmm.  Now the front cover.  I already tore off the paper announcing what kind of book it was, but the cover is this shiny faux-snakeskin or something.  Pretty hideous.  (Sorry, Strathmore; other than that little detail I really do LOVE THESE BOOKS!)

The book (covers included) now measures 5 1/2" x 12".  The papers inside are 4 3/4" x 12".

I had a seriously old envelope that I hacked up and stuck to the front of the book.  If you look carefully you will see that I took the flap off and glued it underneath the envelope.  I figure I can keep scraps and ephemera and secret stuff (art supply receipts, for example) in it.

I used those wee skinny magnets on the flap and inside the envelope so it will actually stay closed.

So far that's it.  It definitely needs some more work to jazz it up but it was a nice break from the boring stuff I was supposed to be doing.  However, as much fun as this was, I'm going to need to get my hands on some COLOUR soon.  I can feel that urge to get my hands dirty, building up, making me flare my nostrils and squint my eyes and stand in the doorway of this room, looking around for something to mess up.  Something fun might happen around here tonight... I'll let you know.

Love Shelley!