Embracing Junk Mail

No matter how I fine tune the flow of mail that comes to my letterbox, there is a daily abundance of junk mail. This year I’ve finally embraced the inevitable with new vision. It started with Carla Sonheim’s on-line class here.

Recent inspiration from my friend and fellow artist Priscilla Read followed this week! She created postcards using junk mail. And I received one of them in the mail. Click on image for a larger view.

Postcard from Priscilla ReadThe postcard made its journey and arrived in fine shape. Thank you, Priscilla, for the postcard and the inspiration!

I’ve been creating and mailing fabric postcards since 2004. I’ve shared that experience and my affiliation with Postmark’d Art here many times. But until now, I haven’t created my own paper postcards. After reading Priscilla’s how-to description, I couldn’t wait to get started.

I recently went on an art walk with a friend and picked up quite a few postcards. Some of my junk mail postcards were too large so I trimmed them to 4″ x 6″. Using a hard rubber brayer, I applied gesso to one side and let it dry. Next I used the brayer to apply acrylic paint mixed with matt medium.

junk mail in progressThen I added more junk mail. Click on image for a larger view.

A few of the postcards received some sketching

07-25-PC-0107-25-PC-0707-25-PC-12One also needed some watercolor.

07-25-PC-15I’m viewing junk mail with fresh eyes!

 

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Sketching Cats and Dogs

My first lesson with Val Webb on sketching cats and dogs was Monday. The first lesson is called Pencil Language. We started with a primer on how we were going to be using our 4B graphite pencils including warm-up exercises to become more familiar with how to create hatching, cross-hatching, scumbling and stippling. I love the word ‘scumbling’! The dictionary defines it as

softening the color or tone of a painted area by overlaying opaque or semi-opaque color applied thinly and lightly with almost dry brush.

In sketching, one draws random, meandering lines to create texture or shading. I can’t help but see that fiber artists are using a similar technique using needle and thread. We apply several terms to this practice: meander quilting, thread sketching and free-motion embroidery come to mind. But I digress.

Val explained that we would begin our journey by sketching cats. She says that their face is more similar to a human face than the dog’s face, so her students seem to have a higher comfort level starting with cats. I watched Val do what she calls a ‘rough sketch’ of a cat while she explained the 4 steps that go into the process. Then she turned us loose with 4 images of cats and said: Look for the differences in each face — a cat is not just a cat, but also a distinctive individual. Don’t worry about creating a finished drawing. Just practice looking deeply and drawing mindfully, to make an accurate informal sketch. Above all, enjoy yourself. I like her style and attitude!

I’ve completed two sketches so far. I must admit that this kitty looks a bit worried. Perhaps it’s because there were 2 dogs in the room while I sketched! Click on image for a larger view.

Cat Sketch This big, fluffy cat has some serious attitude in my sketch which didn’t show in the photo image I used. Pencils can be so sensitive!

Fluffy cat sketchI’ll be sketching with Val for 8 weeks. This is so fun!

 

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Sketchbook Skool: Self Portrait

If I had known that Koosje Koene was going to ask me to sketch a self-portrait, I probably would not have signed up for this semester with Sketchbook Skool. I have never attempted any kind of portrait sketching. But I’m in the klass now — and I’ve trusted her before and been pleasantly surprised with my product, so I dove in.

The first attempt was done while sitting in a comfortable chair in front of a mirror with a spot light on the left side of my face. The sketch is clearly of a person, just not one that resembles me much. But onward!

The next assignment was to do a self-portrait — Koosje calls them ‘selfies’ — using a photograph. This was a bit easier for a couple of reasons: 1. I had the experience of the first sketch and could see where I went astray. 2. I wear glasses for close work so I was putting them on and taking them off constantly for the first round, not so for this one. Whew! Click on image for a larger view.

 

Selfie-from-Photograph

It’s not perfect but it does come a lot closer to resembling me. And I’m not looking for perfection, just skill building. If I want a true likeness I’ll use my camera. As Koosje says

Have no fear of perfection. You will never reach it.

Now that takes the heat off!

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Broken Ginkgos II Accepted for Pip Squeak

I’m very excited that Broken Ginkgos II has been accepted for the 12th annual international juried art show at Northbrook Public Library.

Broken Ginkgos II, 12"x12", 2012, For Sale

Broken Ginkgos II, 12″x12″, 2012, For Sale

This year’s theme, Pip Squeak, focuses on small works of art — not to exceed 12″ in any direction for 2D works and 9″ for 3D works. The Call states, in part

Pip Squeak is all about big vision in a small package. Big ideas do not always have to be big in stature and this show hopes to prove just that. Art will be judged on the merit of the art and the judge’s evaluation of the artist’s execution. Art can be in any media.

Awards include one purchase prize, 2nd place, 3rd place and Viewer’s Choice.

The exhibit will be

November 14 – December 19, 2014

Northbrook Public Library

1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, IL 60062

Opening Reception:  November 14, 7:00 p.m.

If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll stop by and enjoy the exhibit.

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Junk Mail Artist Book Done

I’ve completed the final lesson of Carla Sonheim‘s Junk Mail Artist Book series. There was more painting, more drawing. . .then changing of the mind involving more painting and more drawing. At some point one has to say it’s time to stop. Done and done. And here it is. Be sure to click on an image for a larger view and clearer understanding of the page overlap.

CoverPages 2-3

Pages 4-5

Pages 6-7

Pages 8-9

Pages 10-11

Book BackThis brain-teaser was a lot of fun. Who doesn’t have a near-endless supply of junk mail? And I had all the other art supplies in my studio.
See the progress of this project here and here.

 

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Back to the Junk Mail Artist Book

Finally! I’ve completed the fourth of five lessons with Carla Sonheim and her method for creating a small book from junk mail. This step was extremely challenging for me — each drawing extended beyond its page to pages behind creating a puzzle to solve: what the heck can be created from the partial marks here?? Here is what I came up with (click on image for larger view):

Book cover Pages 2-3 Page -4-5 Pages 6-7 Pages 8-9 Pages 10-11

Back coverThe final lesson involves more painting and drawing. Stay tuned — I will share the final book.

Click on the ‘junk mail’ link above to see the beginnings of this project.

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Sketchbook Skool

This is the first week of the second semester with Sketchbook Skool. Danny Gregory is our first instructor. The focus of this 6-week class is ‘seeing’ — not what we think we see, but what is actually in front of us. The lectures are thoughtful; the homework is challenging.

First assignment: Draw a piece of toast. Click on image for a larger view.

Franki Kohler - Seeing Toast

The assignment was to sketch every detail we could see, with the option of sketching just a portion of the toast. I spent about 45 minutes capturing a bit over one-third of this slice of toast. I used a PITT artist pen S. It took serious concentration and still I was lost in the nooks and crannies a couple of times.

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Sketching

Last week I snipped a couple small branches of my friend’s black oak tree to do some sun printing. The black oak is a native California tree and will fit nicely with the art quilt series I’m working on. I am quite taken with the shape of the leaf. It has so much character and grace with those very deep lobes and multiple points on the edges. The leaves are very soft and supple, bending gently to the breeze. I couldn’t resist sketching one of the leaves along with a feather found during a recent walk. Click on image for larger view.

Black Oak and Feather SketchI was a bit nervous about sketching my first feather so I started with the more familiar leaf shape first. I painted the leaf with 5 layers of watercolor paint to achieve the look I wanted. Between layers of green paint for the leaf I sketched the feather. I used the same multi-layer approach and 2 micro pens to capture this Scrub Jay feather. I feel like I’ve broken the ice with this sketch, so I won’t be as nervous about attempting a new feather in the future.

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Junk Mail Artist Book

I learned about Carla Sonheim from my friend and fellow-artist Priscilla Read and I simply could not resist trying her Junk Mail Artist’s Book class! In just five lessons at Silly U I am turning junk mail — the stuff usually tossed straight into the recycle bin — into a book. I can’t see a down side to this project.

Each lesson begins with a drawing exercise designed to get us ready to draw in the book by lesson 4. Here is a one-line drawing I did — no lifting the pen from the paper until the drawing is finished. (Click on image for larger view.) These exercises are not intended to be cherished art — they are simply warm-up drawings.

warm-up drawing The painting comes next. Using a brayer, a thick layer of gesso is applied to both sides. Viola! Great texture.

junk mail with gessoThen both sides are painted with 2 layers of watercolor paint — 2 different colors.

two layers watercolor paintWhen everything is dry, the pages are turned into a book, ready for drawings. Here’s the cover.

CoverNote that the pages are irregularly shaped and sized. Pages 2, 3: (Click on the image for a better view.)

Pages 2, 3This means that the drawings will overlap onto pages underneath! Very exciting. Pages 4, 5

Pages 4, 5Pages 6, 7

Pages 6, 7Pages 8, 9

Pages 8, 9Pages 10, 11

Pages10, 11The back.

BackNow the real fun and challenge begins. Here is my first drawing on pages 2-3. Notice that the top and bottom of the sunflower extends to the page behind it — page 5.

Page 3, The drawing beginsThe partial sunflower  petals at the top of page 5 inspired the dinosaur.

Page 3 drawing goes onto page 5

I have no idea yet what the tail of the dinosaur or the stem of the sunflower will inspire, but something will come to me.

This is a very different way of drawing and painting for me and it’s just plain fun. So, back to drawing, then the final lesson. Stay tuned, there’s bound to be another layer of surprise.

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Sketching for Fun

Roz Stendahl, one of the 6 instructors of Sketchbook Skool, focused on sketching animals. She particularly liked sketching live animals. She also realized that it can be quite a challenge to sketch a model that is moving, particularly if you are new to the discipline. She recommended going to natural history museums, state parks or other venues that would have taxidermy you could sketch.

Above all, Roz said that because sketching is something you want to do, it should be fun. So why not go to a toy store and pick up some fun models? I like her thinking. I went to my local toy store and picked up some dinosaurs. Click on image for larger view.

DinosaursI have to admit, it was pretty fun getting them placed just right for my sketching session. For this sketch I used pen, watercolor and then went back with watercolor pencils.

Roz’s parting gift was a set of Fun Factor Flash Cards that she designed using sketches from her journals and emphasizing points she made during her lesson. Points like “Sleeping pets make great models.” and “Never let a model down your shirt.” This one had a photograph of Roz, head tossed back laughing, with a parrot peeking out the top of her shirt. She knows her models and has fun! The tip I keep in mind is “The right time to start sketching is always now.”

This posting has been shared with Off the Wall Friday.

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