Monday, March 31, 2008

. . . used different colors

in another gelatin plate monoprint. Purple, gold and black are not in my usual color comfort zone, but I was playing with the old broken-down gelatin plate, and I used some of my old craft paints here.

Always looking for new experiments, I tried the "CRYSTALLINE PAPER" making method exhibited by Lana Grow in the spring issue of American Artist Watercolor Magazine. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but mine come out looking like a big ugly mess, and I throw them away (and I do not throw anything away.) If anyone has tried it with success, please let me know how you did it.

And speaking of magazine articles, The Artist's Magazine May 2008 features an online gallery 20 x 200 (www.20X200). What an interesting concept -- please take a look at the site.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

. . .wished Joey happiness

on his first birthday. What a sweet baby -- calm, laid back and happy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

. . . painted a pair

of pictures further inspired by old decaying deteriorating walls that show up in my photographs.

Friday, March 28, 2008

. . . abstracted another wall

20" x 24", mixed media on canvas

I really like the colors in this painting. No paintbrushes were harmed in the creation of this painting. Still on a roll, full of inspiration, working on two or three things at a time, loving it. After I coated the canvas with medium and it was still wet, I laid down a sheet of corrugated cardboard and then pulled it up to achieve the texture. I love corrugated anything . . . cardboard, tin, cloth (corduroy). I then used various sizes and shapes of painters' tape to keep the white areas intact. I then applied paint randomly using a trowel. I have a bunch of antique metal stencils and I used part of one to apply the numbers. I don't know what these stencils were originally used for. . . the one I used on this with about a foot long, with "30" "50" and "50 1/2" running across it lengthwise. I don't think it was a measurement of length, though, because they were spaced equally.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

. . . printed on gelatin

Gelatin monoprint 5: There's always room for Jello

If you have been reading this blog, which is highly unlikely, you will know that I struggled through a recipe for a gelatin plate. Well, after sitting in the fridge for a while, the plate was a hard shrunken glob. I cut off all the hard parts around the edges and cut the plate down to a small size. Then I printed and overprinted, making designs with combs, paper resists, just anything there on the table. Lots of fun, now I just have to figure out how to apply it to my "real" art.

Now for breaking news: not really. When I had a real job and my kids were small, I got up every morning about 5:00 a.m. for my coffee and to read the paper. Unfortunately this habit continues to today. I love the science section of my local paper. Since newspapers are written for a third-grade level, I can usually understand the science articles. Here are today's articles:

1. "A small piece of jawbone unearthed in a cave in Spain is the oldest known fossil of a human ancestor in Europe...This discovery of a 1.3 million-year-old fossil shows the process (of humans emerging from Africe to Europe) was accelerated and continuous; that the occupation of Europe happened very early and much faster than we had thought."

2. Having a big belly in your40s can boost your risk of getting Alzheimer's disease or other dementia decades later...It's not clear why abdominal fat would promote dementia, but it may pump out substances that harm the brain... most people have a sense of whether they have a big belly. And if they do, the hew study suggests getting rid of it." Editorial comment: "Ya think?"

3. Scientists are testing a plan to train fish to catch themselves by swimming into a net when they hear a tone that signals feed time. . . (these fish) would someday be used to bolster the depleted black sea bass stock. The bigger goal is to defray the cost of fishing farming." Editorial comment: "Seems like it would take all the sport out of it. It always comes down to money."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

. . . painted a photograph

Grain Elevator Abstraction, 18" x 18" mixed media on canvas

This painting was inspired by another one of my photographs of the side of a grain elevator. It came together so quickly and easily, and it looks a lot better in person. However, I'm not quite done with it. . . I want to fix it up a little bit.Check out this link to see the original photograph that was tweaked with photo-editing software:

I used to have Photoshop on my old computer -- it came with the scanner I used to have. I don't have PS on the new computer, so I have been using Picasa, as well as the editing software that is available on the Flickr site. I'm cheap, I don't want to spend the $$ for the photoshop program, so I'll probably wait and buy some piece of equipment that comes with PS.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

. . . used saturated colors

. . . to edit this picture of the side of a grain elevator. Looks like art to me.

Monday, March 24, 2008

. . . cranked it up

This is another close-up shot from the grain elevator I visited with my camera a week or two ago. I love the shape and lines, as well as the colors. Again, the picture itself is not abstract, but the components are there for inspiration for an abstract painting.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

. . . saw the rabbit

. . . one that won't eat my garden. Happy Easter to all.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

. . . dreamed of destruction

The name I put on this photograph in flickr is "destruction dreamscape". I like this picture a lot; it's one of my favorites. It's not abstract, but it could be. I think the colors and textures are wonderful, and really, isn't that what abstract is all about?

Friday, March 21, 2008

. . . decorated schizophrenically . . .

Usually I try to post some piece of art here, but I'm all out of new pieces, so I'll digress today. My favorite design blog is Mrs. Blandings ( She lives in Kansas City, works for one of the lifestyle-decorating magazines, is a mother of young children, and I imagine her to be stylish and together in a way I never was nor could ever hope to be. As I get ready for hosting the Easter brunch for my extended family again this year, I wonder what Mrs. Blandings would make of my decorating style. At best, she would say it was schizophrenic. Look at the picture above. . . an heirloom tablecloth made and given to me by my mother. . . handmade by someone, an ancestor perhaps, in Germany, because that's where all my ancestors live. . . on top of a very plain (and cheap) greatroom dining table, with an oriental-style candle holder. This is where we have my immediate family's Sunday evening suppers. Betsy, together with the men in the family, have trashed the carpet underneath the table . . . juice, ketchup, anything Joey can throw off the highchair tray, all ground in and nasty.

. . . and here's the dining room table. Note the antique wooden bowl in the center, huge and carved from one piece of wood, another family heirloom given to me by my mother-in-law, on top of yet another hand-embroidered heirloom table cloth from my aunt, with a country French dining table, modern Parsons chairs and black candleholders, and a antique carved wood sideboard.

I will admit that the tablecloths are only on the table for Easter brunch. They are made out of linen and I won't launder them myself, nor will I iron them, since I don't own an iron (except one that has wax all over the bottom of it from encaustic experimentation.) They don't get used much, but a family gathering seems suitable.

I believe my style is in flux. I would like to throw out almost everything I own and start over. I would like pale walls (except I love the Benjamin Moore Aura wenge colored dining room walls), light hardwood floors, just one big room, no separate living room, great room, dining room, den. I would furnish it in light taupes and ecrus and beiges and white and pale grays, with wonderful fluffy solid area rugs. . . very restful. Then I would put killer art on the walls in all the happy primary colors. There would be a whole wall of fabulous built-in bookshelves, filled not with trinkets but with books, or maybe small artwork. But that will have to wait until all the babies grow up a bit more (I am assuming facts not in evidence, i.e., that there will be more grandbabies coming in the future), so maybe it will never happen. I would rather have the babies here than a fabulous decor.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

. . . cheered the 'Hawks

I'll admit to being a basketball fan. . . but wait, let's clarify that a bit. A fan of college hoops. . . no, wait -- a fan of Kansas University basketball. And if my kids were playing, or if one of my nieces or nephews are playing. But otherwise, not a fan. My husband was a high school basketball coach for many years. I have seen enough basketball games to last anyone a lifetime. There was a period of time when my husband's teams played on Tuesday and Friday, my daughter's team played on Monday and Thursday, and my son's teams played on Wednesday and Saturday or Sunday. I didn't miss many of them. That doesn't even include driving the kids to practice and staying to watch because it was too far to go back home for an hour. Or the tournaments. Or the football, volleyball, and track events. Actually, if I never saw another sporting event, I would be okay.
Having said that, however, I do love the crimson and blue Jayhawks. I love the school, the campus, the teachers, everything about it. My husband received his teaching degree from KU and my daughter received her law degree. I have attended almost every major university in the state (KSU, Washburn, Wichita State, etc.) in all my many moves around the state, but I am determined to ultimately receive my degree from Kansas University, and someday I will . . . as soon as I take that damned algebra course.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

. . . checked some statistics

on my flickr account. . . a little piece of technology on that wonderful site that I just discovered today. This picture, entitled "Theoretically", is the most popular piece of art on my flickr site. I like it, too. It's the very first big one I painted on canvas. It must have been simmering in my mind for a long time.

It absolutely astounds me that my flickr site has been visited in various way almost 20,000 times. For the big-timers on flickr, that number is probably a disappointment. . . but when I think about 20,000. . . amazing.

The pictures that have received the most hits are ones that I scanned in and posted as ephemera for others to use in their art. A few years ago I haunted estate sales, not the fancy ones that sold designer stuff, but the ones of people who lived in the older parts of the city. I purchased a lot of things that seemingly no one else wanted at that time . . . blue prints of old buildings by an architect; scrapbooks from high school of an 90+ single woman; the files of an elderly woman who had worked in the fashion industry in NYC in the 1920s and 1930s; diaries, falling-apart books, just little things that caught my eye. One of my prized possessions is an account book of an estate administrator from the latter half of the 1800s. This is still special because I spent most of working life handling estates and trusts. It is from these sources that I scanned in those "most-hit" photos. I hope anyone who used them had fun.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

. . . made someone happy

Someone Wanted Happy, 30 x 30", mixed media & acrylic on canvas
A person who should know told me that paintings with happy bright colors (especially red) sell best. Looking through my latest work, nothing struck me as particularly happy-looking. So in this painting I used the happiest colors I could think of, but I still couldn't resist grunging it up a bit. Even the black isn't black, it's Payne's gray. This photo doesn't show it well, but down in the lower right hand corner is a textured and colored area that I love. It looks good against the black background of the blog, doesn't it? I like happy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

. . . edited to GREEN

for ST. PATRICK'S DAY. Thanks to photo-editing software, this formerly rusted old door is now in compliance with the sentiment of the day. Happy day to all my Irish friends and relatives. . . the McManuses, the Kelleys, et al. It is raining and cold here, so I'm thinking of the McManuses and hoping they can keep dry in the Topeka parade.
I just added another book to my reading list, and I noticed a trend lately: I'm reading historical fiction, combining present day stories with tales of the past. I know I don't read "the good books", the classics; however, I have read a lot of them (including Ulysses which is on a lot of peoples' TBR list). When I went back to school a few years ago, studying for an English major, I did read the required texts, and found that I enjoyed them a great deal. I had never read Huckleberry Finn, or any Virginia Woolf, imagine that. During my twenties, after I quit school for the first time, and while I was working as a secretary in an insurance firm, I read everything indiscriminately: anything and everything by Herman Hesse, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Ayn Rand, Dos Pasos, and the list goes on -- auto-didactic (there, I wanted to use that word.)There was no rhyme or reason to any of it, and I had no one with which to discuss these books. I know now that I learn and understand better with the direction of a good instructor and the participation of other people in the class. I have on my shelf right now Seneca, Letters from a Stoic; Sophocles, The Three Theban Plays; Saint Augustine's Confessions; Aristotle's The Politics; and the rest of the Western Civ reading list. Will I read these soon? No, probably not until I take the class, if I ever do. I will stick to The Russian Concubine and others like that, sort of history-lite. "So many books, so little time."

Saturday, March 15, 2008

. . . was on a roll

. . . just painting like it was my job. This is the latest. No art yesterday, because both babies were here. It was a beautiful day for a change. We ate lunch on the back deck, without our coats, and then played in the front yard. Soon almost all the neighborhood kids were here, riding their trikes, pulling their wagons, and taking little Joey for rides in the "Barbie Jeep". This morning I woke up to snow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

. . . painted a shadow

I am really liking this portion of a new painting.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

. . .planned some collages

. . . using these and some other photographs that I took this weekend. I envison something kind of "urban grungy" look to the collages, but I'm having a bit of trouble achieving that look. I have a couple of trial runs posted on flickr but I'm not happy with them. I have a lot more pictures, and I'll keep working at it until my Dell ink runs out (which I didn't know was only available from Dell until I ran out rather quickly after I received the new computer.)

I think the top picture was taken in Kansas City, Kansas near a meatpacking plant; the second and third photos were taken at a grain elevator, also in KCK on Southwest Trafficway & 7th Street Expressway; and the third was taken behind Ponack's Mexican restaurant on SW Trafficway at a crumbling brick pile of a factory that puts one in mind of a Charles Dickens novel and/or the evils of the Industrial Revolution. I don't know what it was but it sure is interesting now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

. . . changed my mind

Needs a name, 33" x 33", mixed media on canvas

. . . about this painting. At first, I really liked it. . . the background colors were good, although I struggled with the yellow layer at the top. The texture was amazing, thanks to lots of modeling paste. But now I think there's something wrong with the circle. I will put it away for a while.

I have used Venetian plaster for texturing, even though it's a bit pricey. It's less expensive than modeling paste, and it can be hand-buffed to a beautiful dull shine (oxymoron?) But no matter how thin the layers I applied, the surface would sometimes crack. So I'll stick to the paste from now on, unless I paint on wood.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

. . . abstracted a door

with a little help from a photo-editing program. This is a close-up of one of the pictures I took yesterday in my drive around town.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

. . . took a drive

around the metro area to take photos for inspiration. I like the abstract nature of this gate in the back of a meat packing plant. I took so many pictures that I haven't had a chance to go through all of them.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

. . . painted a landscape

Unintentionally, but I think it looks like the landscape where I used to live about a million years ago, out in the middle of nowhere, when the tornadoes threatened (and sometimes did more than threaten.) I would watched the tornadoes, rather than take my chances in the old root cellar under the back porch.

Friday, March 7, 2008

. . . learned of wonder

Only the art of being "Nana" today. Joe is endlessly fascinated by everything. . . opening and closing the small shutters on the front door side windows; his inability to detach the fringe on the hall rug; the sound of the TV remote hitting the glass topped coffee table; the hidey-hole under the bookshelves; the taste of leaves; and most especially, the knobs on this old cabinet, the lampshade, and the ring of keys hanging there. And I am endlessly fascinated by what he's learning. He uses all of his senses to explore his environment. I think creative people look at the world the way a child does . . . everything has the potential for wonderment.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

. . . felt like this

This is a preview of one of my new paintings, always subject to change, but I think it's done. I really like it right now, probably because it does somewhat reflect my current mood. . . kind of dark with patches of light, and a dot of blue here and there. It's 24"x24" mixed media acrylic on canvas. The "mixed" includes crumbled tissue paper and Venetian plaster. It was inspired by a photo of an urban wall. I couldn't get a really good shot of it in the house, and I tried several different photo editing programs to fix it, but this is the best I could do. It needs a name.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

. . . collaged a number

This is a small collage. . . I think I'll make some bigger ones, maybe 12" x 12", using bright colors and numbers. Stay tuned.

Two very cool websites:
Gelatin monoprints: This is the right way to do it. . .
Paintings that I love:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

. . . tried gelatin printing

I managed to flip the plate over. . .

used tissue paper, acrylic paint, brass stencil

black paint on very textured natural colored paper

paper towel cleaning off plate

I like how this turned out; acrylic paint on white gessoed tissue paper

If anyone out there is really reading this blog and has done this before, they are probably laughing their butts off, because it's pretty obvious that I have no idea what I'm doing. I am fascinated with the randomness of creating with the monoprint or gelatin print process. I'm glad the gelatin plate will last a week or so. . . I will experiment more. However, I feel I need to get to my "real work" because I need 12 new paintings by May. So it's time to quit playing and get to work. Or actually quit playing one way and get back to playing another way. I hope to integrate some of the painted, printed and prepared papers into my "real art".

Saturday, March 1, 2008

. . . followed a recipe

for a printing plate with a depth of 1/2" in this plastic thing, I determined I needed 12 packs of gelatin

dissolved in six cups of cold water, brought to a boil (like that crazy crooked wooden spoon?)

and then poured into plastic thing and put in refrigerator for 12 hours . . . so now we wait.

Doesn't this all seem a little Martha Stewart-ish or maybe Rachel Ray-esque?

These instructions are at

This is the most cooking I've done for a long time. Someone told me once that a recipe was just a suggestion to me. I probably managed to screw this up somehow, too, but I tried to follow the directions. I was afraid the plastic would melt when I poured the boiling liquid into it, and then I would be cleaning up a gooey gelatinous mess. But I used the plastic thing so that I could just cut it away from the molded printing plate when it was set, instead of trying to turn it over. I would manage to mess that part up. Also, this gelatin smells funny, but considering where it comes from, that should not be a big surprise. My mom, back in the '50s, used this stuff for something, but I don't remember what she did with it. I think we ate it. . . ugh

. . . played with gelatin

mold prints . . . will keep you posted with pictures of the actual mold and with pictures of the prints. . . even if they turn out badly.