Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Bathroom Flowers

As I'm writing this, Kansas City is coming out of some of the coldest weather in years.  About half the people I know had frozen pipes or experienced rolling blackouts planned by the power company to keep the whole grid from collapsing.  I feel lucky that we were able to avoid both.

If the forecast holds, the day I plan to publish this will be in the 50s...seems crazy, because that's less than a week from now.  MIDWEST, AMIRITE!? 

So, anyway, I've been dreaming of spring and flowers and bike rides; therefore, I am collecting some of my prettiest Bathroom Flowers TM from 2020 to share in this pre-springtime.

Wood hyacinth, dandelions, chickweed, dead nettle, henbit, grape hyacinth, violets, bachelor's purse, and strawberry leaves. Little sweet things that are early bloomers and seen as weeds by many. 

First Bathroom Flowers TM of the year!
April 1st

Penny cress, yellow rocket, garlic mustard, grape hyacinth, buttercup greens, and branches left over from my Xmas wreath. That garlic mustard is pretty strong when you cut it and I plan to try to cook with it this year.
This honker lasted a long time and this vase is not for sale.
April 14th

Crab apple, allysum, forsythia, dock, chickweed, and wheaty grass.
Going tall
April 7th

Oxalis, catmint, Golden Alexander, scabiosa, yellow sweet clover, and some crazy bachelor buttons. This was particularly fragrant with the catmint and sweet clover (one of my favorites of all time!).
(Love eyes emoji)
May 9th

Roses, scabiosa, Queen Anne's Lace, yarrow, yellow sweet clover, aster, coreopsis, spiderwort, and oxalis. You want flowers to come back year after year and last a long time?  Get thee some spiderwort! And Queen Anne's Lace!  And yarrow! And basically everything in this bouquet.  All perennials, mostly natives.
Love this Queen's Vessel. Holds some girthy blooms.
May 25th

Allium, Golden Alexander, hydrangea, coreopsis, and mullein.  That blue hydrangea didn't bloom much in 2020, but when she did, she blew my mind, as always.
Take all the scraps and stick them together!
June 16th

Through many channels I've been able to identify most flowers I come across while walking or biking around.  I was a flower-shop worker for a number of years, and, honestly, I'm better at arranging now...just like with drawing, sometimes things just have to marinate for a while in your brain juices for them to fully sink in.

Hope you enjoyed this little detour, I have many more...it's a good reason to keep my bathroom counter cleared off.

I post my Bathroom Flowers TM over on my Instagram in real time!  You can see where I get my blooms and how they fit in my bike basket.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Learning to Draw II

 By April I was already feeling better about my abilities and coming to terms with my handwriting.  Age and not comparing myself to others drawing the same thing goes a long way!  I was getting used to the tools and materials and finding what I liked best.  Turns out, it was ink and detail brush.  Thank you, Rapidograph Black India and the leftovers from my Design I class at KU.

Since everything shut down in mid March, I had a lot of time to draw and listen to books while trying to keep my existential dread at bay...

pencil on painted newsprint

daffodil with ink on painted newsprint
36 x 22 inches
I think this daf looks like it just sneezed...I was playing around making my own colored ink out of acrylic paint and spray gun medium, and spending more time on each drawing. On a walk after a rain, I took pictures of a daffodil patch, and immediately came home and drew it.
field clover head; ink on painted newsprint
A little too stylized but this one got me excited regardless as I was playing with washes and layering of ink.
Rattlesnake Master
ink and paint on painted newsprint
22 x 18"
If I have a color around, I will throw it on something in lieu of washing it down the drain.  The messy background and simple drawing make me happy here.

striped squill found on a hike
36 x 22"
Really going after blown up small stuff and adding color here.
surprise lily greens that look like fries
22 x 18"

I think this is birch???
ink on painted newsprint

I began making more complicated drawings, letting my maximalism show through, and thinking of these are collages of drawn pictures...this is the first step.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Learning to Draw I

 I've never considered myself very skilled at rendering images or drawing in any meaningful way.  I can sketch out a plan to put wood pieces together or something like that, but, especially compared to my peers in college drawing classes, I basically was very bad.  So I didn't draw for real for about sixteen years, give or take.

Then I got an idea to make big paintings of flowers and decided I needed to be able to draw to be able to paint.  Initially what I wanted to do is just really pile weird stuff onto canvas, using up some of my infinite stash of paper ephemera, and then paint something sweet and simple on top.

Anyway, drawing is hard.

I found my old newsprint pad and charcoal from school.  To save paper, I painted over the sketches with old house paint I had laying around and sketched again and again.  

Started out very rough using images from a 1970's houseplant book to work from.

oof...charcoal on newsprint

charcoal on newsprint
These were closer to the first idea flash I had when I decided to go down this road.  One thought I had was to make ceramic planters and use those in my paintings, then sell them beside the canvases.  I like tie-ins.
charcoal and pencil on painted newsprint
dried Yucca pods

first use of ink and brush on newsprint

Rattlesnake Master
 I kept working, trying to build up the very atrophied muscle in my brain that pushes my hand to make a line.  I liked the idea of being expressive, probably because then it wouldn't look as much like I didn't know what I was doing.

I had a large collection of dried pods and stuff I focused on first.
I made this one up.

Plantain and sweet clover
Started looking at pictures I took over the years for reference.
Antelope-horn Milkweed
Maybe going super zoomed-in would be a thing I wanted to do?  Worked for Georgia O'Keefe. 

This was the jumping off point of the rest of my year's art endeavors and a new series that will continue indefinitely. 

All this started in February 2020...

If you want to see more process shots of drawings, check out the archived stories under the Drawing collection on my Instagram.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Inspired by Queen Anne's Lace

This field is now an ugly apartment building on Troost and I'm pretty sore about it.

 Queen Anne's Lace is one of my favorite things on Planet Earth.  It's beautiful in the breeze, it feeds pollinators and caterpillars, and every part of it is edible (it's wild carrot, after all).  Every stage of its life cycle is appealing to me, even the dried seed heads.

Playing with a little macro lens I got right up in that inspiration.

Is it going to eat me?

Sketched a little.  Actually, probably a lot, but I painted over most of them.

This one got me excited.
another sketch that has been painted over

So I decided to lay the groundwork on the canvas...these images were pulled from my Instagram, and were taken in my makeshift basement painting studio, so they're not great but I like to show process shots.

There were several more layers of paint than this, but the point is that I put a lot of color in this then washed it out and added papers and whatnot.

This stranger lives inside the painting forever.

I scratched into the surface like I was doing to my ceramics at the time.

Last step before adding ink and paint.

Aliens? What is this?

Weird I'd reference O'Keefe...not vaginal at all.

In summation--I made a few more, but using this single type of design didn't bring me joy like the repeated use of orzos does--although this is quite a similar shape when you get down to it.  I'm glad I went through this exercise, as it got me to start drawing, which led to a lot of very good things, but for now I'm going to be keeping this idea on the back burner.  Summer 2019 I got a wild hair to buy hundreds of feet of canvas, so I think the spark was that I was trying to figure out how to use it and make bigger work in general.

See current works in progress on my Instagram.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Incised Ceramics II

 Before the KC Clay Guild shut down in March along with everything else, I started working on some planters and incised flower themed pieces.  After six months of letting ideas ruminate, I had a nice little group of cuties when our class started up again in September. Several ended up at the Kemper Museum Shop, and the rest are available directly from me online.

First I hand-built the base forms, playing around with adding shapes together.  Then, while the clay was still a bit soft (leather hard for those in the know), I carved lines into the surface, this time with either a needle tool or pencil, depending on how thick I wanted the lines.  Before the first firing I painted underglaze in several colors on the designs.

group of planters and vases



After they came out, I added clear glaze and more underglaze into the lines of some.

finished planter with clear glaze
vase with copper wash and underglazes
available at Kemper Museum Shop

underglazed and glazed planter
available at Kemper Museum Shop

glazed and underglaze vase
available at Kemper Museum Shop

finished vase with clear glaze and blue underglazed lines

Those links again:

KC Clay Guild

The Kemper Museum Shop

Eighty Acres Art Ceramics