Monday, August 31, 2009

. . . explored West Bottoms

I had a house showing on Saturday morning, so I drove to my favorite place in Kansas City, the West Bottoms, to take some pictures. I had not been there for a long time. There was a Bacon Festival going on, but since it was still early, I missed the cook-off and the bacon eating contest.

I just walked around and took the odd picture or so before the camera just kinda quit on me for a while. I have some idea of incorporating some of these pictures, and others that I have taken recently, into some collages. . .

As usual, I'm loving the industrial grittiness of the area. I talked to a young lady in a gallery/studio who told me that a lot of artists were moving into the bottoms because the rent was still fairly reasonable, and there certainly were a lot of spaces to rent. The gallery was showing some of Derrick Breidenthal's art. He is a local artist, and one of my favorites.

I have taken pictures in the West Bottoms before, but have cropped most of them to isolate certain segments. Here are a couple of shots of the entire buildings. Aren't they just Dickensian? Okay, well, at least my idea of the era in which Dickens wrote. . . minus the traffic signs and viaducts and utility poles.

I have been spending a lot of time in the studio, with nothing really to show for it. I have been making small studies on small pieces of wood. It's fun, quick, and if I screw up, I just start again. Also, using the wood, I can use wax, and I feel more comfortable using papers. Perhaps something will come together in the next few days. Now I'm off to watch Nora for a little while. Hope everyone has an art-filled productive week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

. . . continued playing, experimenting

trying new techniques, new materials, new mark-making tools, mixing colors with abandon. . .

or just painting something to see how it might look, no pressure. . . on small blocks of wood. . . as studies for future endeavors. . .

or just making some starts, keeping it simple, chilling a fevered brain maybe. . .lots of paint and medium drying around the studio, an artist in search of a new style. . . or a new series. . . or just messing around.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

. . . spent hours playing

in my studio/basement yesterday. A few weeks ago when I cleared a path from the basement door to the inner workings of electrical, furnace/AC systems, etc., I retrieved from under piles of junk some small square pieces of MDF board and wood left over from some long-ago project. I coated them with gesso and they sat next to a "real" painting I had started. I have been using pieces of wax paper for a pallette, as well as for a kind of monoprinting technique. The patterns and colors left on these pieces of wax paper were amazing.

In true "what if I. . ." style, I applied some matte gel to the surface of the gessoed board; then I placed the paint-splattered side of one wax paper pallette onto the board and rubbed with my hand and a brayer. Some of the paint from the pallette was transferring to the board; I shot the whole thing with a hair dryer on high. All the paint on the pallette then transferred onto the gessoed board. Then I sanded with my little mouse sander, and the result is the piece above. Nothing added. . . just a wax paper transfer.

Thus encouraged, I tried another "technique", if that's what you want to call it. I used another piece of painted wax paper and another gessoed board. After I applied matte medium to the board, I laid the wax paper, interesting side up, on the board. I heated the whole thing with a heat gun until the wax and paint and medium kind of all fused together, leaving a crinkly texture in some places where the paint blistered. When that cooled a bit, I sanded it smooth. This wax paper had paint on both sides, and when I sanded, some of the top paint came off, but the bottom paint had fused to the gessoed board. I added a couple of details (black squares and lines), then covered the whole thing in encaustic medium.

And, if that wasn't enough play time, I also created three stamps. . . I cut 2 x 2" inch squares out of cork board, corrugated carboard, and heavy mat board, four each. I glued these to pieces of thick styrofoam that had been used as packaging material. I used a part of the corrugated cardboard stamp on the picture above, in the top right corner. That's not all the fun I had, either. Perhaps when I perfect this other monoprint technique, I will show you the results. Creativity was flowing around here yesterday. Hope it keeps up.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

. . .found texture inspiration

in this tree stump in my mother's back yard. Kind of cool, isn't it? Reminds me a lot of a painting I saw at the gallery this weekend. It was heavily textured like this, three wide bands in varying degrees of light and dark, with a digital black and white photograph of a leafless tree silhouetted against the sky in the center of one of the bands. The photograph was actually on a separate piece of board or canvas that was affixed on top of the substrate in some mysterious manner. Once again, I can't remember who the artist is. . . I must do a better job of attribution.

Monday, August 17, 2009

. . . just gave up

It's really hard to maintain a positive attitude when so many people around you are free-falling into despair. So for a while this weekend I hosted a small pity party, at which I was also the only guest. No refreshments were served.

Art sales at the show on Friday and Saturday were nonexistent. For a couple of days I contemplated just quitting the whole art thing. I had set up this weekend as kind of a test. . . could I survive doing what I want to do? The answer was obviously a resounding "NO."

However, after spending Sunday with extended family, the babies, both my kids, and going back to my hometown, and after re-entering that state of complete denial of reality, I feel okay again. Even if, by some miracle, I manage to find gainful employment in the corporate world again, or if I have to repeat "do you want fries with that?" for eight to ten hours a day, I still have the major part of the rest of the day to make art. I have set up another test for September. In the meantime I will continue to make art, enjoy my life, be grateful for all that is good and practice "do you want to supersize that?"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

. . .watched for meteors

Heard on the news last night that there would be a phenomenal meteor shower between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

I set my internal alarm clock before I fell asleep. . . I wanted to see those meteors. Remember the song "Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day?" Probably Pat Boone from the '50s, but wouldn't swear to it. Or wishing upon a falling star? The word on the news was that one could possibly see hundreds of meteors in 15-minute intervals. I had my wishes all lined up. . . sell the house, sell the house, sell the house, survive another month, sell some art, sell some more art, you get the drift here. . .

I woke up at 2:45 and hauled a lawn chair out to the front drive and sat waiting for the show. Zip, zero, nada. . . not one meteor. Shortly after 3:00 a.m., I gave up and went back to bed. Not too disappointed, though, because sitting outside at 3:00 a.m. was extremely relaxing and pleasant, quiet except for some crickets.
These three pieces are 8 x 8", layers and layers of texture, all covered with black gesso to start from scratch. These were my "second paintings". . . receiving the leftover paint from various other projects and then kind of fine-tuned for details. They remind me of 3:00 a.m. on my driveway, except you might see some meteors in these paintings.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

. . . showed off Nora

While her mother took a conference call from home the other day, I had the pleasure and privilege of watching baby Nora. She posed for me primarily in this position. I tried to get some good shots of her little feet, her sweet little hands and fingers, and her ears, but I didn't want to disturb her sleep to reposition her, although it's not as easy as one might think to wake a baby determined to sleep. She's a peach, all right.

I just can't seem to take good pictures of my art, though. Here's one that I finished this past week. It was supposed to be 20 x 20, but it's really more like 19 x 19. I have discovered that canvas shrinks more in one direction than the other. So the finished dimensions are usually a crapshoot.
Have any of you been inundated with Chinese or some kind of oriental writing as comments on your blogs? Some have "Michael Jackson" written in English; I have translated a few of the first ones to make sure I wasn't deleting a legitimate comment, and they dealt with male sexual enhancement products. Does anyone know what is going on, and how to stop it?
Have an art-filled week, everyone.

Friday, August 7, 2009

. . . changed my focus

from painting to photography? I really do get a kick out of these picture-taking excusions, expecially when I'm able to edit the shots to get something interesting. The round disc is one of the junky things I have added to my texture-making tools.

The curving line in this photo caught my eye.

Don't know what this is. . . it looks like a wooden barrel, but I believe it is actually some sort of fabric covering. . .

Click on this picture to see why I like it. It's the side of a tall skinny concrete building on the BNSF property.

Lots of texture here, with that shot of limey green.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

. . .flew the coop

With less than ten minutes' notice for a 9:30-11:30 house showing, I grabbed my camera and split.

I had no chance to shower so I was not fit for human consumption. I wandered around aimlessly for a while, searching for a good place to take pictures.

I am not famililar with the older parts of the city in which I live so I drove up and down some of those streets until I found a Burlington Northern Santa Fe yard next to an automobile graveyard, separated only by a chain link fence. The BNSF people gave me permission to take pictures, if I promised to stay far from the tracks. No problem. . .

Here are some of the result of my happy wanderings. I also picked up some "garbage" that will make wonderful textures for my paintings.

Back home for fifteen minutes and a couple of realtors show up unannounced and wish to see my house. I didn't leave, I went into the garden and pulled weeds. Some interest in the house, but no results. It's only been about ten days since it was listed. . . trying to stay positive despite the comments left on the site by people who have looked at it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

. . . consulted color wheels

This is a small 20 x 20" painting I finished last week. I love the background color, which is an unusual color for my paintings. But I was stuck. . . I didn't know where to go after I applied the black and white elements. So I actually dug out the color wheels that I have and came up with this slightly unusual color pallette. Those color wheels really work, don't they? I deepened the background with additional washes and glazes of purple.

During yesterday's open house I lugged three big boxes of books to Half Price Books. Their offer was actually more than I had expected, and they assured me that the books they didn't want would not go to a landfill somewhere, but were donated eventually. With part of the proceeds, I took Joey and Betsy to Sonic for smoothies.

I know, I know: I live such an exciting life. What a whirlwind of activity. . .