Archive for the ‘Classes I’ve taken’ Category

Gouache, Birthday Boy, Snow, and Thread

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Just a quickie catch-up post!   I’ll have some great news to share in a couple of weeks about what has been keeping me busier than my usual busy.   But I’ve also managed to squeeze in a few other things.  First in date order is two online classes with the delightful, talented, and superlative teacher Val Webb (website here).   This winter I had planned to relax and take two of her classes which overlap by about a month.  Despite the fact that you can really do a LOT of work (and LEARN a LOT), I decided to take both.  First one is Drawing Dogs and Cats, second one is Fairies (or as I prefer, Faeries) in Nature.

My Luna-Boy faerie in gouache, about 9 x 6 inches.

My Luna-Boy faerie in gouache, about 9 x 6 inches.

In Val’s classes, you learn not only about drawing, but also painting, as well as various media and techniques.  The lesson above is for small children as fairies, with wings, and gouache (which I have never used).  There are some technical issues; basically, I need practice with the medium!   But overall I am quite pleased with my Luna-boy.  In the next photo, we worked with graphite to sketch a dog.  His right eye is a bit off (thank you for the feedback, Val! I knew something was off but couldn’t spot it until you helped), but I’m fairly happy with this one, as well.  I attribute all good stuff with these two to the quality of Val’s teaching!

Sweet doggie, in graphite pencil.

Sweet doggie, in graphite pencil.

This week is also number 2 son’s 16th birthday.  How the child can be 16, weigh more than me (wooohooo! finally!), etc., defies comprehension.  Clearly the calendar lies.  Eli’s request for birthday dinner:  my waffles and Joshua’s parmesan fried chicken, an exact repeat of what Joshua had in early November.  As it was the beginning of the wrestling season, Eli couldn’t pig out.  This time he could and did <<grin>>!

We will NOT think about the calories involved in waffles and fried chicken.

We will NOT think about the calories involved in waffles and fried chicken.

Thanks to de facto DIL Ashley for taking pics as I brought in the birthday cake:

The calendar lies.  There is no way my youngest is 16.  I realize I am old enough to be his grandmother, but that is irrelevant LOL!   Eli, we love you to bits and are so thankful you came into our lives (even if we were and are old and tired!).

The calendar lies. There is no way my youngest is 16. I realize I am old enough to be his grandmother, but that is irrelevant LOL! Eli, we love you to bits and are so thankful you came into our lives (even if we were and are old and tired!).

She also got this great pic of Thumper the 26-toed cat.  As you can see, our cats pay us no mind.  Sigh.

Thumper.  Sigh.

Thumper. Sigh.

And guess what it is doing today.  Again.  Sigh again.

One more time.   At least it isn't sleeting a lot, as was predicted, and the temperature is now down to freezing or just below.

One more time. At least it isn’t sleeting a lot, as was predicted, and the temperature is now down to freezing or just below.

At least it is pretty–the flakes where HUGE!  We were predicted to get a lot of snow, school let out early, and we are all expecting it to be cancelled tomorrow.  Then the weather service predicted less snow, more ice and lots of sleet.  That is actually a lot worse.  But we haven’t had any sleet here in Hope, though beyond the ridge of hills on the coast is may be sleeting.  Here it has been snowing for about 7 hours.  We’ll see what the morning brings.  We will also fill buckets with water as it is likely to be heavy, wet snow and power could well go out.  Again.  Sigh.

And to end of a fun note, this fall I will be helping curate (i.e. be the behind the scenes worker bee) the new SAQA Food exhibit, open to SAQA members.  Alex Veronelli, mover and shaker at Aurifil Thread, will be the juror.  Just today I received the Quilts, Inc., eInsider newsletter, which had this profile of him.  It’s an interesting read.  Enjoy.

Now I need to go start on dinner.  Oh whee.

Drawing Birds with Val Webb, Lesson 2

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

WOW…to say that I am happy is close to an epic understatement!  I know I’ve got plenty left to learn (like white feathers), but if you’d told me a week ago that I could produce this, I would never have believed you.  As a friend also enrolled in the Drawing Birds with Colored Pencil class said, I attribute this utterly to the quality of the instruction!   Who knew that if you just take it step by step, following Val’s instructions, that every single one of us that has shared a photo has been able to do this, and this well?   WOW!   Once again, here’s the link to Val Webb’s website.

This week’s lesson was first about eyes, highlights, and the “caustic”, the place where the light the creates the highlight in the eye comes out on the other side of the eye…a sort of “shadow” highlight.  Then we moved on to drawing this ferruginous hawk from a photo.   Holy Schmoly, I did it!

Completed colored pencil drawing of Ferruginous Hawk.  Instruction was for the head, hasn't yet covered white feathers, but I wanted to try anyway!

Completed colored pencil drawing of Ferruginous Hawk. Instruction was for the head, hasn’t yet covered white feathers, but I wanted to try anyway!  (and sorry about the shadow from my hand–new camera and haven’t yet figured out how to activate fill-flash!)

Here is where I began:

Starting out with the eye and beak, doing an underpainting/sketch.

Starting out with the eye and beak, doing an underpainting/sketch.  That’s Val’s instructional sketch on my laptop. 

In progress:

With the outline done and initial layer of colors applied.

With the outline done and initial layer of colors applied.

And the final with the photo for comparison:

I'm happy!

I’m happy!

Each week for 8 weeks, Val posts a lesson on her website.  You download handouts, watch videos on the website.  Access is for four months–for her Lettering class she made a DVD with the online videos which you could buy if you wanted.  The cost of the 8-week class is only $50–a major bargain!  Even buying the CD for an additional $24 kept the class in the eminently reasonable price range.  I hope that over time she’ll be able to make additional DVDs available, as watching her draw in real time is SO helpful!   Anyway, gotta run!  Chores need doing!

 

 

 

Feathers!

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

I’m taking another fantabulous drawing class with Val Webb (website here and class offerings here) this time Drawing Birds in Colored Pencil.  Our first lesson was timed sketches–supposed to be 8 minutes or so but some of mine were longer–in 2B pencil just to get down shapes and proportions.  The second exercise was starting with the colored pencils, this time a Dark Umber, doing an “underpainting” in a feather.  Once again, I am amazed that I’ve been able to do as well as I did; Val’s ability to give a few simple tips that lead to stunning results is why I keep going back for more classes from her (this is my third class).

I think I'm done.....photo of feather from Val upper left, my sketch on right

I think I’m done…..photo of feather from Val upper left, my sketch on right

Here’s a photo from a bit earlier in the process

Just the first side sketched in, and a barest of outline on the upper side of the feather

Just the first side sketched in, and a barest of outline on the upper side of the feather

And a detail:

Detail of feather, partially done

Detail of feather, partially done

I’ll be back soon with a bit more info about the Web Seminar (see previous post, here) on or after Sept. 5, 2013.

A little more lettering

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

I blogged earlier about a wonderful lettering class I’m taking with Val Webb online; it was SO outstanding that I’ve also enrolled in an Herbs Drawing and Painting class.  I thought I’d share a few of my lessons, some good, some not so much.  All I need is a 37-hour day, with the extra hours for art!

P is for Pigwidgeon the Pug

P is for Pigwidgeon the Pug

One lesson was to create whimsical letters.  Val offered a pdf of a cat alphabet, but of course I had to attempt my dear (well, Eli’s dear dog) Pigwidgeon.  I didn’t spend a ton of time on the sketch so it isn’t quite spot on, but I love his little peeping face anyway!  This one is 3×3 inches.  And while not expert by a long shot, my control of the paint is improving!

Another lesson was Art Deco style.  Didn’t know what word, didn’t want something too long, and finally decided on Zelda, as in wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald (had to add that bit… Eli asked why Zelda, as the only one he knew was from the videogame Prisoners of Zelda!).  I was elated at how well this turned out.  The width of each section of letter is about 1/2 inch, they are about 3 1/2 or 4 inches tall:

Art Deco style lettering

Art Deco style lettering to simulate chrome–inked outline, watercolor,  used a teeny tiny size 1 brush for the shadows on the outer edges that are maybe 1/32″ wide!

Another WOOT was the “Decorated Versal” lesson.  Val had us try white ink with a crow quill dip pen.  Since I’m comfortable with nibs and dip pens, this wasn’t terrifying to me, unlike getting large smooth washes of watercolor (without blotches, which are HARD). Here are some practice bits using the white ink over a wash of blue watercolor:

White ink from a dip-pen on blue.

White ink from a dip-pen on blue.

A Versal is a fancy initial capital letter at the beginning of a verse (had to learn that one ).  I wanted to do something William Morris-ish, so I created the vines behind the letters. I wasn’t sure what I would do to decorate the letter until I was actually muddling around, and decided to have the green vines turn to white on the letter to break up the space:

A decorated versal "S".  I like this, but thinks it needs something more to "weight" the S on the bottom.  Awaiting feedback from Val!

A decorated versal “S”. I like this, but thinks it needs something more to “weight” the S on the bottom. Awaiting feedback from Val!

Another lesson was to do letters that recede into the background.  You begin with a wash of a lighter color over a large space, wait for it to dry, then go back in with a darker color to create the negative space.  Instead of working within the box or rectangle in the class sample, I wondered what it would look like to offset the text and have illustrations on the edges.  Not so great is the answer!  You kinda loose the idea of perspective–of the darks going back to a vanishing point.  But it was fun anyway:

A less than brilliant effort.

A less than brilliant effort.

But it is all about learning, and I am learning SO MUCH!  Now… I need those extra dozen hours a day to do more classwork, work on that quilt, exercise, sleep….. EEEK!  So with that I’m getting OFF the laptop and down to the studio!  Be back soon!

 

Let there be blue

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

 

Went to turn on the lights in my chilly studio this morning, and saw this:  totally frosted windows!  I don't think it has been that cold here before since we moved in.  Temps this morning have warmed up two degrees to -2, wind chill now only -15.  At least this is pretty!

Went to turn on the lights in my chilly studio this morning, and saw this: totally frosted windows! I don’t think it has been that cold here before since we moved in. Temps this morning have warmed up two degrees to -2, wind chill now only -15. At least this is pretty!

OK…so I’m working on a new quilt, and nothing on the shelf was quite right, plus I really wanted the sheen of silk for the water.  That meant it was time to bring out the dye-buckets and implement some of what I learned in Carol Soderlund’s Think Silk workshop last April.  I knew that I wanted deep blue water with glints of moonlight on it, so I checked my dye swatches and found I wanted a color made of Navy dye and a tiny tiny bit of red.  In my stock of dyes, I had two containers of Navy, one from ProChem (with hardly any dye in it…not enough really for the yardage I wanted to dye) and one from Dharma Trading, so I used the latter though it was old–there was plenty of it, so if I used a high percentage of dye to water, I could still get the deep values I wanted.  Right.

This photo shows cotton on top (overdyed) and silk on the bottom.

This photo shows cotton on top (overdyed) and silk on the bottom.

This close-up of the top fabric is washed out because of the camera flash, but it shows how PURPLE the cloth became...from navy dye from Dharma.

This close-up of the top fabric is washed out because of the camera flash, but it shows how PURPLE the cloth became…from navy dye from Dharma.

It took a while to figure out what went wrong….I was getting way too much red!  I KNEW I was using the proper method to fix the dye to the silk:  an acid bath using citric acid (not soda ash as on cotton).   I thought at first that the purplish color was because my Dharma navy was old and the red was doing what Procion MX reds do:  overpower.  So I tried a second dyebath with ONLY the Dharma navy.

Round 1 of dyeing.  Nice, but not what I wanted. Yet.

Round 2 of dyeing. Nice, but not what I wanted. Yet.  The long strip on the right is close, but that is the cotton.  The black shibori on the far left is an overdye of a black dye-vat I did in the Think Silk class, but hated the green cast from the dye (YUK).  Better now.  The center top is a scrunch of cotton, where I over-dyed the original cotton because it was too purple.  The silk on the bottom center is an overdye of one of the first two pieces of silk, again to cover up that purple.

So I dyed with ONLY the Dharma Navy, and I STILL was getting purple.  Then I noticed that the dye powder, when it touched a paper towel, had RED specks in it!  I had thought the Dharma Navy was the same as the ProChem Navy.  NOT.   The ProChem Navy is a pure dye, meaning it won’t split or “halo” red or any other color, whereas the Dharma Navy is a mix of pure dyes.  AH!   Light bulb flipped on!  There’s nothing wrong with the Dharma dye, it’s just not what I wanted or thought I had–I thought the “navy” was a pure dye, not a mix.  Now I know to check more closely!

The striping is OK, but TOO much purple still showing.  Silk (left) and cotton (right).  I wet out the cloth with plain water, then "pleated" by hand into tucks.  Next, use a sponge paintbrush to brush on the dye, trying to keep white bits.

The striping is OK, but TOO much purple still showing. Silk (left) and cotton (right). I wet out the cloth with plain water, then “pleated” by hand into tucks. Next, use a sponge paintbrush to brush on the dye, trying to keep white bits.  And this was my last piece of sandwashed satin silk.  Erk.

Close up of purple halo-ing from the red in the Dharma Navy (a mix, not a pure dye I learned).

Close up of purple halo-ing from the red in the Dharma Navy (a mix, not a pure dye I learned).

It took about 2 yards (OUCH, kaCHING) to get exactly the color I wanted.  Plus on my first go-round, the print paste or the cold wax resist (which I had used to preserve some white areas for moonlight glints) mix did not want to leave the fabric.  I called ProChem’s technical staff (LOVE that business) and spoke with one of the chemists, who confirmed my suspicions about the navy dyes.  She told me that the manufacturer had offered the navy mix to them, also, but they wanted the pure dye so folks like me would be happy and not get “splitting”.  She also suggested using Metphos, a water softener that is one of the ingredients in Calgon water softener, to try to remove the stiffness I was getting from the print paste and/or cold wax resist.  Some of that stiff feeling went aweay, but on another test, I still couldn’t get it out of the silk, so I’m glad that when I got to my last piece of silk, I opted for careful painting of dye!

After speaking with Nancy at ProChem (waving hello!), I then took out my small remaining bit of ProChem PURE navy and went back in to the last piece of silk and tried one more time.  FINALLY!  Some purple still shows, but I can knock that back when I go in with the quilting thread.  PHEW!

After speaking with Nancy at ProChem (waving hello!), I then took out my small remaining bit of ProChem PURE navy and went back in to the last piece of silk and tried one more time. FINALLY! Some purple still shows, but I can knock that back when I go in with the quilting thread. PHEW!

I also wanted some specific deep-dark hues for another part of the quilt, and my batiks were too contrasty.  What to do?  Paint!  I tried both acrylic inks and Setacolor paints thinned with water and settled on a Setacolor to darken this black-and-charcoal:

Charcoal and black batik with the contrast minimized by a thinned coat of blue-and-black Setacolor paints thinned, mixed and applied to the cloth.

Charcoal and black batik with the contrast minimized by a thinned coat of blue-and-black Setacolor paints thinned, mixed and applied to the cloth.

And a lighter mix of  blue to gray and darken this lighter batik:

And a lighter wash on the "rice grain" gray batik.  As the cloth came from the bolt it is too bright, too distracting.  This muted over paint is just right!

And a lighter wash on the “rice grain” gray batik. As the cloth came from the bolt it is too bright, too distracting. This muted over paint is just right!

Some folks love the hunt for the perfect fabric.  Not me.  I am too busy and stores are too far flung.  And I don’t want THAT much stash!  I’d rather get a good selection, then modify when I can and dye my own when I can’t!  Next on the fix-the-studio agenda:  a deep sink in the basement so I don’t have to dye in the kitchen.  The bathrooms are too small, and I don’t want the dye in  the food prep area!  So if there are any guilds out there that would like to hire me for 2014 and 2015, I’d appreciate the donation to the studio-improvement cause! <GRIN>