Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Painted Smiles

As I struggle with portrait painting I think about other painted smiles. What is it about the Mona Lisa that's kept people interested and amazed for hundreds of years?
How much of it was Leonardo's knowledge of anatomy and his skill with a brush and how much of it was the mystery and promise of a story that's kept people guessing all of these years?
I like the look on Dad's face in this photo but I am clueless of how to bring it to the canvas. The smart thing to do would be to study portrait painting and learn the best approach but as my regular readers know, I hardly ever do the smart (and boring) thing in life.
For me, it's a lot more fun to learn by doing...just grab my paints and go to it. Sometimes I'm able to make up for my lack of technical ability on pure instinct and emotion and sometimes I fall flat on my face but I always learn something from the experience and enjoy the trip.
My goal in all of this is to make the viewer FEEL the smile and want to smile back at the painting.

Questions about covered faces

I noticed that people in many countries read this blog so I hope they'll comment and explain a few things to me. As I mentioned yesterday I'm attempting to paint a portrait and since I have no training or experience in that area, it's been difficult.

 It occurred to me that there are many countries where that wouldn't be a problem because they cover their faces. I grew up in the american Midwest so although I've seen a few people that do that, we've never really spoken. 

I'm not really sure how to speak to someone that I can't see. In my culture or daily life so much of what I do or don't say to people is based on the reaction in their faces so here are a few questions that I have when you can't do that:

1. How do you know who you're talking to? When people are covered up they all look least to me because I don't know any better.
2. How do you know if you should speak?

I don't want to bother anyone but I am curious. How do recognize each other on the street, or isn't it done?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Back at the painting

Portrait of Dad as a young man

As many of you who follow this blog know, I'm new to portrait painting and trying to figure things out as I go. This old photo of my Dad pulls me for several reasons and I'm finding that painting someone you know and care about is a much more complicated process because you trip over your emotions in between brush strokes and can't be as objective about breaking the image down to it's elements to capture the light and shadows to build the basic shapes and make it stand out on it's own.
At this point I also need to remind you that I'm basically untrained and self taught which of course adds to the challenge.
The reason that I selected this photo to work with was because of his smile and the fact that he's a very religious man and the way that he's framed in the window here looks like he's surrounded by three crosses.
I'm not quite sure what section to work on next so I'm taking a little lunch break while I think it over. It hasn't been that cold this winter but potato leek soup sounded like a good idea which I suppose brings us back to the garden and planning for next year.
Meanwhile back at the painting...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I just finished another patchwork bag!

 I like the first side a lot better but was too tired of cutting and piecing to do the same on the back (as well as being out of most of the other fabrics)
I'm using this one for a set of art books,workbooks and sketchbooks that I've been working with.
I like this view of the bag best and as you can see it's really big and strong so it should handle the weight of the books fine. The nice thing about this photo is that it shows you the boxes that I wrote about earlier.

Plants and Flowers, keeping it fresh

 I like the way the light hit in this photo as I was washing, watering and re potting plants this morning.
 Yes, I just rounded up all of the plants and put them in the kitchen sink.
 Having done the regular work I became interested in the light and the composition as I considered more drawings and paintings of the poinsettia before it's finished flowering for the season. It's so nice to have a little fresh color around here to work with.

Now all I need to do is decide whether I'd rather work directly from the plant or benefit by the composition and lighting of the photo. I suspect I'll do both.

Still deep in the mess-sew what?

There's just a bit of top stitching to do on the bag I made yesterday and I'm putting another one together today. The good thing about making bags is that it gives you somewhere else to put things as you're sorting things out.
I'm re arranging the storage bins and gotten down to just one that holds both fabric and patterns now. The other bins I have are small, semi clear boxes the next size up from shoe boxes. They're easy move and stack and are my favorite way to round up supplies for individual projects in progress. You can see what you've got and keep things going instead of just sitting around.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Scrap Happy

I'm still working my way through that pile of tapestry fabrics and so far it looks like I will get 2 or 3 new tote bags by the time I've finished with it. I've been so busy sewing that I haven't gotten around to taking any more pictures yet.
Meanwhile the paints and pencils are pulling at me, I can't wait to get back at it again! The only drawing that I got done today was an iris on the corner of an outgoing letter.
Having tried portraits in both acrylics and watercolors I'm eager to make an attempt in pencil.
It's surprising what you can accomplish in a small space, it just looks a little terrifying while you're doing it. My sewing things are spread all of the way through the living and dining room. Thank goodness my hubby is the sort that doesn't mind the chaos. Perhaps as a photographer he finds the composition interesting...maybe he should shoot some pictures for you until I've got time for it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I just finished a new painting!

This is an 8x10 inch acrylic painting that I plan to base some of my Valentine's Day merchandise on in my Zazzle store (*)

Depending on the results I may or may not continue working on the painting. I think it's done now but I never can tell for sure until I see how it actually looks on products.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Old Iris drawings and painted furniture

A snowy day, crochet and more of the same

I just finished crocheting this scarf. It uses up the leftover bits of yarn from 3 hats and because the textures and colors were so strong I used a simple stitch (half double crochet) all the way through until the last row when I ran out for yarn doing it that way so I pulled out that last row and did it single crochet instead which actually left 22 inches of yarn when I finished it.
 I still have some of these paintings but they're in a much tinier house on much plainer walls these days.
I did a few pencil drawings around my photos

Sometimes I miss the old place, this mural ran up the stairs and down hallways on two different floors. It took me years...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Old but Interesting Iris Projects

I just "found" these in a folder I'd put together back in 1994 while sorting through some old papers. I'll run it a few pages at a time in between other projects.

Painting Everything

I've got several paintings in the works these days and am having trouble deciding which one to start with today, there are even days when I get everything out at once  and do a bit on each. It kind of depends on what sort of mood I'm in or what my energy level is like on any given day.
As always there will be pictures along the way as soon as I get ready to take a break.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fabric Scrap Fashion

I started out painting this morning, still working on that design for valentine's day cards but the house needed tending to and as I was doing laundry it occurred to me that the best way to lengthen one of my shirts was to insert a patchwork band.

If this sounds familiar it's because I've been doing that since I was a kid in the 1960's.

 Hey, sometimes the old solutions are the best. 

Actually this shirt has shrunk up so short that I may add two bands and as always I'll post pictures when I've got some.

Here's the picture. I haven't tried it on yet but it looks like the one band of patchwork is going to be enough.

Meanwhile, there's a cup of tea and a loaf of bread just out of the's smelling SO good that I feel my attention wandering again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Recycle Challenge: old arm chair covers

 This project started on the 15th  and I just finished it a few hours ago. You may want to read back to that post for more information.

 It's been a busy morning. Besides finishing the tote bag I finished the last "pin up kitty" as well as stitching up all the tapestry scraps to see if there's enough of anything interesting to make a couple more bags and empty that box.
 This bag reverses, I prefer the wildlife fabric on the inside because there are 3 pockets in it but it will be up to the gal I sent it to which way she wants to use it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

3 generations and 8 place mats later

 The little piece you see around the edge and a couple of much smaller ones are all that remain of that fabric so this project worked out just about perfect.
 Yes,those are the place mats. This fabric (which seems to be some sort of canvas or heavy twill) was just printed on one side. It would have been great in a sun room, porch or on a patio if there'd been more of it this time around.
 The last time I had this fabric out I made tote bags with it.
I'll be finishing those place mats today, there are still 4 of them at the sewing machine. Getting that project done cleared out almost 1/2 of the box I'd stored the fabric in so I'll be sorting and re arranging some of those smaller plastic boxes and should come out of this with one or two that I can use for other projects as I move on through the debris field here. Each project leads to the next or builds on it but I'm so busy sorting it out that I can't really see where it's leading, I just know that I'm moving forward and even slow progress IS progress.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sailing into more projects

I just finished this little landscape and went back to my sewing projects. I'm taking a lunch break now but will be heading over to my Zazzle store to make some cards with my sailboat.
It's been a busy and productive morning and I'm expecting good things out of the rest of my day.

Creativity in high gear, full speed ahead!

I finished another place mat last night and will be back at my watercolors today. I've still got boxes of sewing supplies stacked around the living and dining rooms but wanted to sort and reorganize them as I get a bit more sewing done before I put them away again.

Speaking of sewing projects you'd be surprised how cute that little patchwork cat looks when I resize pictures of it on cat bowls and other merchandise in my zazzle store. I like to think of it kicking creativity up a notch and finding even more ways to enjoy a project.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crafts to go and back again

I had places to be this afternoon so I grabbed one of those patchwork cats and a bit more embroidery floss to finish off the edges in between things. I got quite a bit of it done too but now that I'm back home I got one of the place mats made as I did a load of laundry.
HISTORY in fabric: One of the things that's most amusing about this project is that my Mom gave me this fabric which was left from a bunk bed play tent made for some of her grand kids. I can't tell you exactly how many years ago that was but one of the boys got married last year.
I haven't gotten any pictures taken of it yet but I'll be posting them soon. Meanwhile I'm headed back to the cutting table to see how many more I can make. It also occurred to me that there may be enough to cover the cushions for my wicker chairs to match.
Here it is! I kind of like it, how about you?

Design concept for a new painting

You just never know where the ideas are going to come from, that's the great surprise that keeps me excited and headed back to work everyday. Today's inspiration was the reactions from people as I pulled different sets of teacups out of various places during the course of the afternoon at yesterday's tea.

I used to do paintings based on different dishes in my collection but now that I've been designing products for Zazzle I've decided to do a painting full of cups and saucers where I really let my imagination go wild and come up with as many of my own designs as I can. Even if some of the individual designs aren't successful the painting itself will look great in the dining room and pictures of it will make cute tea invitations or "Thank You's". 

No matter how it goes there is no downside to this project.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Distracted again but enjoying the detour

 The place mats didn't get made but we managed for tea. It was fun to see everyone again and they spoiled me rotten with gifts and treats. Thanks so much! I couldn't do the things I do without the kindness and support of my friends.
 As I sorted through fabrics to make place mats with I came across these old arm chair covers and turned them into a tote bag. All my bags are reversible so it's got the wildlife design on one side and a regular tapestry pattern on the other. In this case since the chair covers had a bit of wear I turned them to the inside.
As you can see I'm still working on this but it's a great recycling project as the other fabric came from old decorators samples and the straps are made from belt webbing. Yes, as the old song says "everything old is new again"