Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Carol Tree Ornaments - The Result

Read the background story here: "Carol Tree Ornaments - The Process Story"

O Holy Night

I thought the snow came out awesome! Thank you Bob Ross and PBS! Happy little trees and happy little snow where happy little bunnies live.

This is the back with a single happy little bunny track:

Ave Maria

I just started painting shapes on this one without an underlaying sketch or nuthin'. Turned it into Mary.

My concept on this one was a Middle Ages Greek Orthodox religious icon box, heavily gilt, with lots of carved doo-dads. Those things have a specific name which escapes me at the moment.

Needless to say portraiture is not my strong suit. She had a big ol' punkin' head. I hid it with the halo. The original halo looked like a huge, glittering sistahgirl afro. Had to break out a compass to fix the circle.

Hubby said she had alien claw hands. True, but I wasn't going to fix 'em. They'll be at least ten feet up a 24-foot tree, so they didn't worry me much. Nana asked if I was going to paint Baby Jesus in her arms. Um, no.

She's supposed to be touching her heart. That heart-touching thing may be post-Crucifixion symbology. I'm not up to speed on religious iconography, so you'll have to cut me some slack here.

The back:

I wanted to paint the back of Mary with her robes hitched up just a little bit to reveal a pair of bright red hightop Converse tennies and white crew socks. Hubby said that would be sacrilegious and that I should just stick to a wood panel look. Dang.

Good King Wenceslas

This is supposed to be a stained glass window. Got one good hand, one shriveled alien claw hand. Progress!

I was running out of steam creatively when I got to this one. I think it may be bordering on Brownie Scout project with all the gold paint pen lines. Oh well, ten feet up the tree no one will notice.

The back, wood panel again:

I thought these came out great considering I was working with unfamiliar materials and under a time crunch. They aren't Great Art and will only be around for this season, then they're going in the dustbin. The folks at the art center were happy with them and I had fun making them. Glad I don't have to do any more though. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Carol Tree Ornaments - The Process Story

Friday, a call went out throughout the land, "The ornaments for The Big Tree are shot! We need ornaments, and we need them by Tuesday!" This from our little arts center. The theme for the ornaments was Christmas Carols.

So I hied myself down to the arts center and was first in line to pick from the pile of printed carols. Each person was supposed to select just one, but I picked three. That way I could have one that was awesome, one that was OK, and one that sucked. If I had chosen only one, with my luck, it would have sucked. Then I would have been *so* 'shamed.

I got the easy ones: O Holy Night, Good King Wenceslas, and Ave Maria. I don't think Ave Maria is technically a Christmas carol, but hey, it wasn't my project.

Then I was off to the thrift shops to find odds and ends with which to make said ornaments. I was thinking I could sew up some puffy, stuffed doll-like thingies for Mary and King Wenceslas, and perhaps a puffy stuffed star for O Holy Night. I fondled all the bridesmaid dresses, cast-off choir robes, and silky pajamas looking for shiny material on the cheap. Nothing was suiting my vision or my wallet.

I then wandered over to the book section hoping to find reading material to keep Hubby occupied and out of my hair through the Thanksgiving holiday. Spied this tragic little baby board book:

The blanket material bit on the cover was grimy and the lace detached, and obviously the little pig doll was missing. There were more than a few gnaw marks on the edges. It was pitiful and nasty as a child's book, but was perfect for my nefariously creative mind. I loved the shape. It was only 50 cents.

I figured for 50 cents and a slather of gesso, I'd have more than enough materials for some 2-D ornaments. Including the back and cover there were seven boards making up the book. That gave me a little wiggle room in case I messed one up badly. I could start over fresh. I like a little wiggle room.

Since I don't have the art supplies for anything but pen and ink watercolor sketches, I made a stop in the Wally World craft aisle and loaded up: acrylic paints, foam brushes, paint pens, gesso, Mod Podge goo, and some acrylic sealer spray. I didn't know what I would do with all that, but I figured I could make *something.* I stopped short on buying the glitter paint pens. I thought glitter might make them look too much like a Brownie Scout project.

When I got home Hubby broke out the drill for me and I drilled a hole through the top of the book to attach hangers. I had the presence of mind to do this *before* I detached all the pages. Then I cut the pages apart and started sanding my desk. I didn't think it would make that big of a mess. I was mistaken. The book was make in China so now I probably have a lung full of lead-filled Chinese printing ink and page surfacing material. I sanded two and decided that was plenty to work on for an evening.

Sanded and gessoed the rest the next day. I had them dangling on lines strung across the office. It was eerily reminiscent of the scene in "Seven" where the detectives go into a house where little cardboard pine tree air fresheners are hanging everywhere. Creepy.

I stayed up all night painting the first two, O Holy Night and Ave Maria. I fought the acrylics. They are *so* different than watercolors! They dry up oh so fast! The techniques for acrylics are so different too. I had to shift all the mental gears.

The last time I tried painting anything with acrylics LBJ was still in office. Yeah, it's been a while. I ended up doing brushwork that was a cross between Bob Ross' Happy Little Trees and Donna Dewberry's One-Stroke painting. It was interesting to say the least.

But I got them done. I was so excited about how well they turned out! I was hopping around exclaiming, "Awesome! These are awesome! I can't believe *I* painted that!!!"

But I know things look different in the cold light of morning after a good night's sleep. Lack of sleep can make things look awesome when, in fact, they suck. They only look awesome due to sleep deprivation.

The next morning I rolled out of bed and ran in to look at them again. They were still awesome! Squee!

I was running out of inspiration by the time I got to King Wenceslas. I was tired of fighting the acrylics. Decided to revert back to the familiar - sketch with pen, paint with watercolors. Broke out the Sharpie and started drawing:

I intended to take more process photos but I forgot. Sorry. Final results in the next post. This one has gone on long enough if anyone is still reading....

Friday, November 12, 2010

Having a Mandala Moment

My beloved sketching partner Miz Dee is in the hospital having surgery. (I'm sure that's a HIPAA violation of some sort.) She's a gazillion miles away so a quick visit is not an option. I sit in the deafening silence of Not Knowing, waiting for an email from one of her kids to let me know how she's doing.

My brain is not functioning. All I can seem to do is doodle mandalas on every available surface.

This one was done with fountain pens. I started with the basic shape of a wisteria seed pod...and I looked up the proper spelling of "mandala."

This one is a mixture of fountain pens and regular ol' gel writing pens. Again with the wisteria pods.

This one is fountain pens and metallic gel markers. I may not be able to claim this as a mandala because it isn't round. But it started out being round. Does that still count???

I actually broke out the Sharpie collection on this next one. That includes the regular size, the ultra fine, and highlighters. I forgot highlighters don't scan. That strange peachy color is actually a vivid, neon orange.

My soul is vibrating in unison with the wisteria seed pods.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ghost in the Moonlight

STILL I'm in the plague-infested doctor's office waiting room, drawing from my imagination.

However, this is something I had seen the two nights before. It affected me so much I wanted to draw it to remember it...and forget it.

My sister's house is on a steep hill. From her back deck I can see into the neighbor's backyard through a break in the trees. The neighbors have a swimming pool and all the accoutrement that goes along with a pool.

I was out on the deck and saw what looked like a little girl in a hooded robe standing on the edge of the pool. Her left hand was raised as if she were holding a book.

It scared me at first since it was late at night and a child shouldn't have been out there. Danger Will Robinson! I peered intently though the trees trying to get a better focus on her in the moonlight.

She was motionless there by the pool, or was she? It looked as though the book was starting to droop down ever so slightly, or was it? I stared, then looked away. I looked back. She was still there. Is she leaning over the water now? What do I do if she falls in??? There would be no way to get to her in time.

When my logical brain finally vetoed what my eyes were seeing I realized it was just an elaborate play of light and shadow among the pool furniture and pool toys. It just had to be. It still creeped me out in the worst way.

The next morning I went back out on the deck to see what had made such a spectre. Nothing. There was nothing on the pool deck anywhere near the edge of the pool. Perhaps the owners had come out early and moved things around.

The next night she was there again. Dang it! I knew it was just my imagination but she looked so real! I had to draw her to get her out of my head. Otherwise she would haunt my brain like a ghost.

I told my brother-in-law this tale and showed him my sketch. He laughed and said I had an overactive imagination. That may be true, but I drug him out onto the deck for a look-see. He was stunned. He said it did look just like a little girl in a robe, but he saw her holding a basket.

"See! See! I *told* you she was there!" I exclaim. "I'm not making this stuff up!"

He said she was the ghost of little girl who had drowned looking for Easter eggs.

Oh, ha ha, jolly joker.

As we looked at the little Easter egg ghost girl, I was creeped out once again. I couldn't bear to look, but couldn't bear to turn away. She is still stuck in my brain.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Overheard Conversations

I'm sitting in a plague-infested doctor's office waiting room, trying not to touch anything, rubbing Plague-X gel on all exposed body parts... I can feel the germs leaping onto me. Ick.

There's no way I'm picking up a magazine. I don't even want my elbows on the arm rests of the chair.

I put the finishing touches on the Triumph from the parking lot, then look around for something else to draw. It's close quarters in there so sketching people is out of the question. It would be obvious I'm drawing them and I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable.

I'm sitting back-to-back with a woman on a cell phone. She's having a very (what should be) private conversation in this very public place. I can't help but overhear her conversation.

She was using some very visually interesting phrases so I started to draw her conversation. Apparently her man had done her wrong and she woke up and threw the turdbucket out of the house. She was explaining her moment of clarity to her caller.

I was drawing as fast as she spoke, so these sketches were drawn in no more than three minutes, tops.

I have no idea what a squirrel cage looks like exactly. The only squirrel cages I know are in exhaust fans. I opted for the hamster wheel look.

It was great fun drawing from my imagination instead of from reality. I didn't have to worry about getting things "just right." They could grow and evolve as they wanted. It was also fun to do speed sketching. I need to do more of that.

Wow! I just now realized I really dated myself with that telephone. Ack!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Triumph TR2 and Crazy Eyes Guy

I'm at a doctor's office, waiting on my sister to have blood drawn for some regular test or something. The waiting room is filled with hacking, coughing, plague-infested people so I think waiting outside on a bench is a better idea.

There's not much to draw out in the industrial parking lot but cars. Ugh. I hate drawing cars. I always make the wheels look like cartoony clown cars. I guess I need the practice. Luckily, this Triumph was parked right in front of the bench. At least I don't have to draw a run-of-the-mill SUV.

So, I'm about halfway through the sketch when I see him...a homeless guy, wandering around as if in a daze, talking to himself or nobody in particular. He weaves unsteadily. Drunk? Stoned? I don't know but he makes me uneasy.

I keep an eye on him. I check on him, look at the car, look down, draw. Check on him, look at the car, look down, draw. I'm calculating the speed of his progress across the parking lot against the speed at which I'm drawing. Can I get this finished before he reaches me?

He gets to a large trash can at the end of the building and starts mining for gold. That keeps him busy for a while. I check him, the car, draw. Him, car, draw. I try not to be too obvious with this staring and am thankful I have on dark glasses. I start the final shading. Oh crap! He's headed right for me!

He ambles past as if I didn't exist for which I am eternally thankful. He stops at the ashtray on the far side of the bench, carefully considering the contents. He selects two or three of the most promising looking butts and pockets them. I expect him to continue further on along the front of the building. Apparently this medical complex is part of his daily rounds.

But suddenly he turns and looks right at me, startled by my presence, as if I had just that moment appeared out of thin air. I look up at him. He has Crazy Eyes. Whoops! I'm through drawing now! I toss the sketchbook back in my purse but hang on to the pen. I'm wondering if a Pigma Micron 005 will make an effective weapon against a crazy man.

He asks to bum a cigarette. "Sorry" I say, and stand up, almost sprinting back into the building. He looked like he was about to start up a conversation. The last thing I want to do is get involved in a conversation with a crazy man in a deserted parking lot. I'll suffer heat, bugs, sun, and uncomfortable perches for a sketch, but I draw the line at crazy people.

Back I go to the plague-infested horde in the waiting room.

I might be able to recover from the plague.