Friday, February 18, 2011

Golden Spring on My Drawing Table

Oh, the surprise of realizing that the snow had pretty much vanished when I looked outside this morning. Ah, the ever approaching golden spring nears!

But wait, that means art work needs to get finished for shows this summer. I had started a series of art pieces, Sisters of the Earth:  Honoring Michigan Habitats, this past winter when inspiration hit like a bolt of Lori Lightning. In usual fashion, paper flew, paint spattered, knives and scissors flashed liked Edward Scissorhands, and gel mediums spillethed over as various sized rocks and stones held pieces in place to dry. Then they sat. For two months.

Today, after a slew of writing and county projects near completion, I got up the nerve to walk into my studio and ready myself to be reinspired to work on them again. I tried. Really. But something keeps pulling me away. Maybe something was not working in the current stage that they were in so what better thing to do than take photos to see at a distance. That's kinda working on them, right? Well, it did give me something to blog about.

Here they are. Pieces that sit on my studio drawing table. Artwork in progress.

Northern Fen-Promise of New Life 

Northern Fen (detail)



I took the experiences and photos of our Rifle River trip last spring and creating watercolors, I cut and layered them onto Aquaboard that I had previously prepped with Daniel Smith watercolors.


River of Life (work in progress)
 

Detail


This piece was reworked from a previous painting I had done and sold around seven years ago. It was a personal favorite and I have tried redoing it several times--but could never quite be satisfied with them. So I pulled out the image again and changed the theme to the river.

This shot, taken without a flash, shows the layers of watercolor images more clearly. The watercolor cast of river characters were cut and torn and then I altered them with colored pencil and gouache. I found that using the Aquaboard as a substrate was fun and sturdy for my layered process. I can use different
watercolor techniques to get the look I want. It was the first time using this board and I was happy with the results.

Now if I can finish the panels that would be great. Maybe they will get done by the time dragonflies fly and pitcher plants bloom and certainly by the time rose hips drop. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Shiver on the Detroit River!

Brrr! Cold, early--I better see something good. We, Marie and I, were headed to Detroit's Belle Isle for a Saturday morning of "Audubon" birding. A rush to get out of the house and into a warm van is usually chaotic at best, but boy did we screw up today! To start with, neither one of us brought warm hats. I don't know if you've ever been in Detroit in the winter, but DANG the wind is horrible cold. At home, I can run out to the chickens and scoop their coop in nothing but my wool shirt, longjohns and bandana--no problem, but Detroit--it's a different story.


Along with not bringing hats (this is winter, right?), neither one of us brought a bird book, (waiting for sighs and gasps here! This is a birding trip--yeesh!!!) and Marie forgot binocs (more sighs and gasps--"What are they thinking?" I can hear you saying--BUT luckily I brought mine), and we did pack snacks. Hey, important stuff like that counts, right? A birding expedition and no binocs, no hats, no books, but we had Triscuts and cream cheese and nuts and water!

When we arrived, die-hard birders (the real deal) were flinging Latin names around of birds I never knew existed. I suddenly became quite interested in squirrels and tried to watch them intently in case anyone wanted a comment from me on some specie I knew nothing of. I kept looking at trees and saying things like, "Oh, a sycamore tree. Ah!" or "Look, a melanistic-phased gray squirrel". I did alot of squirrel watching.

So as my feet turned to ice blocks standing and waiting outside (Marie had had the heat on in the van--and we got too warm) we at last piled into vehicles to drive out to see the fabulous birds and waterfowl Detroit has to offer at this frigid time of the year. The leader mentioned that the birds are here at Belle Isle because the river is the last to freeze so this is where they hang out. Now I need to tell you, that the leader of this group also mentioned that it would be good to have spotting scopes as opposed to binocs (remember I brought mine) which were not strong enough to see the birds today. Look Mister, I had my binocs and by golly I was going to use them. I would simply make up detail.

Well, by Jim, he was right. We pulled to the side of the river and the pepper flakes in the distance near the Ren Cen were geese and gulls. Now, that does not excite me. Geese and gulls. All they do is eat and poop--all over. Why these birders were so excited, I could not imagine. More Latin spilled out at the thrill and excitement of their spotting a Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gull. A gull, I thought. Those annoying guys that eat McDonald's fries and rip up donut bags in the parking lot of Walmart?


 After that stop, my cheeks became so numb from the needle-poking icy wind that I did my "birding" and sketching in the van. Every so often I would yell out the window to Marie, a real trooper, "Whatcha got? Anything interesting?" There were some golden-eyes out there--somewhere--I think. In my binocs they looked like paint flecks spattered across the water.
But it was the dang gulls that seemed to have everyone in awe. Folks blissfully withstood the cold to gaze at them--long, long gazes. Sure, I did get out once and took a peek. But come on, how long can you stare at a gull?


Suddenly, a Long-tailed duck was spotted! Marie's camera clicked continually as she swung from left to right, shooting in the direction of their cries of delight. (We never spotted it in her photos when we got home.) Finally, we moved cars over to the Canada side. Aha! Canada! Surely there must be some wild and rare specie here! It's Canada for crying out loud. The home of wolves and wolverines and bears and--mute swans! Those guys that--never mind--I won't get into it.

At this point, I must say that my morning cup and a half of coffee was getting to me. The trip had started at 9am and certainly it must almost be done. No. It was 10:30 by the time we got to the "mutes". Then around 11a.m., the Audubon leader told us we were going to look for a saw-whet owl in the nearby "forest of Detroit" on Belle Isle. Aha! Just what I have been waiting for! An owl! Yes!


Marie drove the van past the porta-johns and parked up the road--a long ways. Um. I had to really go, by now. The group started off through the foot deep snow to the trail to owl-spotting, while I trekked to the porta-john. Cold plastic. That's all I can say. ('m surprised that the group didn't hear me HOOT!) When I got out of the the lil blue house, the group was looong gone.

I will track them--the group, I thought. Huffing and puffing over snow drifts, down the trail, through the woods--alone. (A helicopter flying overhead made me nervous.) I walked and walked. Then I spotted our group! But they were heading back. What? I fell in line behind Marie who was hauling her camera and tripod.
"No owl," she said.
"What do you mean?"  I wheezed and coughed and used my abdominal breathing to get back to the van.
"They didn't see it where they thought it was, so they turned around," she said marching with the group.
At this point--left behind again--I was so warm I had taken off my baseball cap, and my coat, and had rolled up the sleeves up my wool shirt (I still had two other shirts on underneath and my longjohns, too).

To sum up the morning: Owl-0, Gulls, geese and swans-450,402.
But I did get my cheese and crackers and watched alot of squirrels.
Birding in Detroit--for me--not so much. At least not in the winter!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cabin Fever? Go Hunting!


Birds at the feeder...

Lisa Making Fire...(tee-hee)












What are some things an artist can sketch while stuck inside during those post blizzard, pre-spring wintery days?

Go hunting! Sometimes the best material may be hidden out in the open or sitting right next to you!

Lisa Napping...(tee-hee)





WARNING! Those living with artists have to put up with us sketching them when they least expect it. It's fun for us having ready models at beck and call.






Then again you can always sit and stare at the four walls or chimney bricks and find scenes hidden there. I did these last winter recuperating from my toe surgery. It was like artist television--sitting in the winter quiet and letting the shadows and your imagination do all the work.
BTW, we are NOT nuts, we are creative!
Ideas for Graphic Novel Story and Character!




What will you and your sketchbook find in the
shadows or corners in the next few weeks?

A Stalking Quilt Lion!


There maybe a character
or story waiting to be told right there in front of you!
Set your sights. Happy hunting!