Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Test Rabbit

The final result of my etching test rabbit.
I forget how much work they can be!

Etching Demo

I have plans to make some new etchings but first I had to make up some new etching solution. I use FeCl since it is not very toxic and doesn't require ventilation, something rather difficult to achieve in my studio. Still I use goggles and gloves to protect myself. I then add citric acid (from lemons) which speeds up the etching process on the copper plates. It's called the Edinburgh Etch. I had no plans to do etchings in my studio because of the nature of the chemicals involved but through research, I found some great substitutes. I ordered a small kit of products from Lascaux a few years ago and have found them quite affective! I am determined to go non-toxic. Here is a little demo that I worked on this week to test my new Edinburgh etch:
(I hope it makes sense.)

From the back of an old copper plate, I removed some scratches with my burnisher.

I brushed some Lascaux backing resist on the back of the plate. This is to protect the back of the plate from the etching solution.
On the front of the plate, I brushed on the Lascaux hard ground and wait for it to dry.
I divided the plate into sections and then made timed etchings to check out how my new solution is working. I used my sharp etching needle to make marks on the plate through the hard ground. This exposed the plate, allowing the marks to be etched.
After etching the plate in the solution and removing the hard ground,  I printed it. You can see that I etched it in different increments from 1 minute to 180 minutes. I think it's working!

I wanted to make an etching of a rabbit so I worked the entire process again with a new plate, this time adding a dark water soluble ink on the top so that I could see my needle work better. It showed as shiney marks on the plate as the plate is exposed through the hard ground.  I worked the rabbit in 3 stages of etching, the 2nd stage shown here.

Phew! The final result is at the top! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mona Lisa

The large trees in the arcade of the art center where my studio is located are decorated this year with photos of famous works of art. I do enjoy walking by and seeing them when I journey back and forth from the front door. I get a kick out of seeing this photo of the Mona Lisa because it reminds me of my trip to France last year and seeing how very secure the painting is at the Louvre. And then seeing it here on this tree, so free!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Black & White Linocut Portrait

The inked-up linoleum can be as interesting as a print, don't you think?
I see a few areas I need to work on and then it will be ready for printing.

I know, I get a little quirky when I do people!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bird Paper Sculpture

I have this beautiful paper sculpture that I purchased at a gallery in Florida a few years ago. It's so delicate. Love it! And looks different under various lighting conditions.
Each piece in a paper sculpture is painstakingly cut and separated by hand with very sharp scissors and knives and sometimes color is applied and texture embossed or engraved using special tools. I read that paper sculpture has existed for about 2000 years, beginning with the Chinese invention of paper in the first century.
Somehow I've misplaced the artist's name, although I'm not sure I ever had  it. I can't believe I don't have it!
It makes me think of Origami, which isn't exactly the same thing but I'm impressed with anyone who can do amazing things with paper!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Unfinished gouache painting

The start of a little gouache painting with the idea from a friend's writing.
Oh the places you pass by.
I love the colors on the dark Canson drawing paper.
It can be a challenge because the paint dries so quickly, especially on the palette.
Now to think about how much detail is needed!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Willis Tower in Chicago

When you are visiting Chicago, you have to take a ride to the top of the tallest building in the US (soon to move to third place, I believe). It used to be the Sears Tower but an insurance company obtained the building's naming rights and since 2009, it has been called the Willis Tower. The company has taken full advantage of the view there and its popularity with tourists, as you can see in this video!!

Anyway, it's really a great view from the 103rd floor of this 110 story building. On a clear day, you can see 50 miles in each direction and four states! And you are welcome to climb the 2232 steps to the top. The record time for someone to climb all those stairs is 13 minutes. I decided to save that for another day!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chicago Metro Entranceway by Hector Guimard

I found a little bit of France in Chicago last weekend!  I saw this Art Nouveau style entranceway to one of the metro stations. I found out that one of Chicago's sister cities is Paris and that it was a gift from the RATP or the Parisien Transit Authority, cast in 2003 from an original 1900 mold of a work designed by French artist and architect Hector Guimard. He designed a series of Art Nouveau style entrances for Paris in 1900. It's not too far from Chicago's art museum, The Art Institute, which I didn't have the time to see. :-(


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago

You wouldn't want to go to Chicago and miss seeing this sculpture by Indian born British sculptor Anish Kapoor. When we were there last weekend, we went to Millennium Park where it's located along with some other interesting things to see. The Park was created only a few years ago and is located in the Loop community of Chicago. The artist named his sculpture "Cloud Gate" but people would rather call it "The Bean", making for a not so happy artist.  But it is famous! I'm not going to go into the controversy it created or its detailed construction, both fascinating subjects you can read about online. I will say that it's constructed of 168 stainless steel plates with no seams. I read that liquid mercury was its inspiration. Its smooth surface creates fascinating reflections of the skyline and people, as you can see.  It's an interesting blend of an object with its landscape!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

When I went to Johnson's Apple Orchard in Bedford, Virginia to pick apples, I noticed quite a variety of interesting wines in their shop. These are just a few. Blueberry Muffin and Stawberry Shortcake? Who needs dessert! Anyway, I thought they were colorful!
Hmm....I do like mangos...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Drawing Copy

13" x  18"

While I was working my way through my drawing classes some years ago, my teacher assigned a project asking us to make a copy of an old work of our choosing. Now I am disappointed that I can't recount where I found my drawing to copy except that it was in a book or who did it, although I'm not sure that an artist was even mentioned. I guess at the time I was just happy that it was very old and I loved it. So I picked a drawing size that I liked and got to work. There's something uncomfortable about copying another's work but I believe that one can learn a lot from it. I began by putting a wash of Burnt Sienna or Umber on my watercolor paper and then completed the drawing with brown ink, watercolor and white colored pencil. I'm not sure what the original artist used or had available at the time. It is one of my favorite drawings from school and surely makes me want to go to Rome and spend a summer drawing statues! Can you imagine that? I would love to know more about it so I've been wondering where I can find this statue or if it really does exist. I did find some statues on the Ponte Sant'Angelo, which is a bridge over the Tiber River in Rome but she was not there. :(

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Last week I attended the dedication for this new sculpture that is at the main entrance to the art center where my studio is located. It is a 14 foot tall structure that is meant to provide a recognizable landmark for the center. I can guarantee that it will work better than the invisible sign that hangs 20' above the doorway! The sculpture was created by Norfolk, Virginia native and world class sculptor Rodney Carroll. Hopefully it will beckon people to come in and take a look! I like it.
See his website for more of his work:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Duck Decoys

When we were on the Eastern Shore of Virginia a couple of weeks ago, we visited the town of Chinoteague on Chincoteague Island. There we stopped by a shop to see the many decoys, about 2000!. Years ago they were made for hunters, of course, but now they are also popular decorating accessories and viewed as an important part of American Folk Art. Some are very primitive looking but many are finely carved and painted. Apparently the largest price paid for duck decoys was 1.3 million dollars for two by a Massachussetts artist in a private sale a few years ago! The first known collector was a man named Joel Barber who began his collection in 1918. Anyway, I've never seen so many ducks! And other birds.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Thinking that I might find some interesting butterflies at our local botanical gardens before summer is over, I stopped by there one afternoon on the way home from the studio. I hadn't visited the gardens all summer and I was anxious to see what I would find! It was a real challenge to photograph anything that day as the butterflies were very active but I found these Buckeyes resting now and then. So I designed this painting from some of them with some flowers I saw. Plus I added a little of my imagination and voila!
I love color and nature certainly provides that!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Butterflies with flowers pencil drawing

It seems that butterflies are happier with flowers about so I've added a few to my pencil drawing.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Butterfly pencil drawings

While I'm thinking about a new butterfly composition for an etching I want to make, I thought I'd draw a few butterflies in pencil. No color! - which gives them a different look. I'm planning for some color in my etching but it wouldn't be as bright as a painting could be. It's more difficult to get bright colors when etching.
You can follow along here as soon as a design comes to mind! I'd love to add some words with screen print but it's a challenge in my small studio. But it can be done. We'll see!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Raggedy Ann and Andy

I was fortunate to be at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va. for a few days last month and in a shop window, I saw these Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. It seemed so funny to see so many gathered in one spot!
I read that they were created by an American writer, Johnny Gruelle, in 1915 after his daughter, Marcella, brought him an old handmade doll and he drew a face on it. It inspired a book called "Raggedy Ann Stories" which was published in 1918. Her brother, Raggedy Andy, was introduced to the public in 1920 with the book "Raggedy Andy Stories". It appears that the characters are still fairly popular today!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Sassy Sunflower

I love this sign with the sunflowers outside a little store not too far from my studio. The Sassy Sunflower - Decor with Attitude! I wonder what kind of attitude. Oops, of course, it's sassy! But it's worth checking out!

Monarch in Door County

When I went to Wisconsin, I was on the lookout for butterflies but wasn't really too successful in finding many on my travels around the area. I did find this one in the garden in front of the art center. I don't know what the plant is but it's very pretty and the butterflies love it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Knit Your Own Cat" by Sally Muir and Joanna Osbourne

I love cats so when I saw this book in the bookstore the other day, it made me laugh!
I like the design of the cover, especially the cat's tail going through the writing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Door County, Wisconsin #3

Sometimes art workshops are really hard to resist which is why I went to one in Wisconsin two weeks ago taught by a children's book illustrator whose work I find inspiring. His name is Rick Chrustowski and he has created several nature books for kids. You can check out his website if you like:
He was fun and encouraging and ready to answer any question about his experience as an illustrator.
The class was very enjoyable - of course, it had to fly by! The workshop was held at  the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek. They offer all sorts of classes, have exhibitions and everyone is very friendly. I would recommend going there because it's a great school in a great location! Somehow I found it online as I was looking for workshops on etchings.

Peninsula School of Art
flowers all around!

Rick showing some of his work

my work

Rick organized the workshop so that we would be encouraged to complete one work by the end of the 3 days. He had several texts to choose from so I chose one which had a rabbit and a bird, some of my favorite subjects! He showed us his technique and we went about creating our own works. At the end of each day we gathered to discuss our progress.

Bird Study

 Here is the start of a new work...or perhaps just a study! I wanted to paint this bird but give it a soft look  with watercolor. I might give the wings a little more color.and add more paint in some other areas. Then I'm hoping to add a nice background!

I made a light wash after masking out the whites.

I added more paint after masking out more spots.

I added more paint and removed the masking.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Door County, Wisconsin #2

Apparently this rocky beach on Door County's Lake Michigan side is a great place to practice your sculpture skills!


I liked this one.



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Door County, Wisconsin

Last week I went to a workshop in Door County, Wisconsin, which is in the very northern part of Wisconsin on the peninsula - on one side is Green Bay and on the other is Lake Michigan. It was kind of odd to find myself there but when I was dreaming about workshops on the computer one day, I stumbled upon one that interested me and a place that seemed very intriguing. Thus a vacation was born!
It's such a neat place - clean and quaint, lots of nice galleries, hiking and boating - perfect for a  vacation. Here are a few photos of some of the quaint buildings I saw there. And soon to come - some nature shots and some photos from my workshop.

Stillwater Grill & Hat Head hat store
Sunshine and Co. (home and garden store)
I like the bicycle!

Larry's Bee Natural (honey store)

(so American!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mercer Museum - Doylestown, PA

Word blocks carved to print on wallpaper and fabric


I visited Mercer's home but also his museum that was completed in 1916 to house his vast collection of early American everyday objects. (nearly 40,000 - that's a collection!) There are more than 60 early American crafts represented. The place is amazing. Here are two crafts that were especially interesting to me!

Etchings, Engravings



Philadelphia Aquarium

Is it a snake or just a friendly fish??
The patterns of life!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fonthill Castle - Henry Mercer's Home

Last weekend while we were in Philadelphia, we took a side trip to Doylestown, Pennsylvania to see what we thought might be some interesting places to visit. The building in these photos is one of three reinforced concrete buildings built by Henry Mercer in the early 1900's. This one was his home and is now open for tours. On the same property he built the Moravian Tile Works to make hand-made decorative tiles for ceilings, walls and floors. These tiles are everywhere in his home, all with different stories to tell. The many rooms are different shapes due to the fact that concrete can be shaped. You could easily get lost here! It really is fascinating and I've never seen anything like it. The tile photo is from the Mercer Museum.