Monday, February 27, 2006
Experimenting with oil pastels and watercolors
My Monday watercolor class surprised me today with some new pieces they worked on while I was away for two weeks teaching workshops. Some of them met at the class site one week and some worked on their own. I love it when they do that! I surprised them in turn by bringing oil pastels for them to experiment with. They did small drawings on rough watercolor paper, some just lines and some with shading. Then they painted watercolor washes over the oil pastel. The pastel acted as a resist and stood out brightly from the washes. Some of them added colored oil pastel to dry watercolors to enhance areas, which looked really nice. Our critique period was fun today with show-and-tell of the new technique and the recent paintings. The class is growing by leaps and bounds.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Exploring Color Class
I was sorting through my watercolor paints a couple of weeks ago to see if I needed to replenish any of my colors. I had four Ziploc bags full of paint tubes. At one time they were sorted according to the different color systems I teach, but they were all jumbled. I couldn't make any sense out of the way they were sorted, so I went on a search for a better way to carry my paints.I found this 11" x 15" box at WalMart in the fishing tackle department, called a Plano "Connectable Satchel Stowaway" #3870. It's perfect for all my paints and you can also buy a second one that attaches to this one for more paint or other supplies. The dividers are adjustable for 5-22 compartments. The case itself is very lightweight with a carrying handle. I don't remember what I paid for them, but it was very reasonable--under $25 for both, I think. I'm glad I don't have to face my new class with a handful of plastic bags, when I'm trying to teach them something about organizing and understanding color!
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Collage workshops amaze me
People get soooo creative in a collage workshop. The four-day workshop I just finished teaching in Dayton had students of all skill levels. Everyone worked very hard at learning new techniques. As a result there were quite a few fine pieces. Yesterday at a meeting of the Tri Art Club, which sponsored the workshop, the chairman showed pieces by several of the participants. It felt very good to get that feedback and know that the class was pleased with their work and willing to share it with artist friends. Techniques ranged from magazine and colored paper collage to rice paper techniques and making monotype papers for collage. I also taught a session on design elements and principles that apply to all art media. Amazing how little of that is taught in workshops these days. Now I must unpack all my collage materials and pack everything I need for my Exploring Color class starting this week at the Fairborn Art Association.
Monday, February 20, 2006
A whirl of collage
Last week's collage workshop in Baton Rouge was the greatest. It's awesome how easily people get into collage once they understand the basic materials and processes. Collage is non-intimidating to beginners and useful to more skilled artists who want to master design and color. First we talked about setting up a workspace conducive to collage techniques. Then the class made magazine theme collages to learn about adhesives and supports for collage. Day two was devoted to design and color with Color-aid or other solid colored papers as the "palette." On the third day we moved on to rice and mulberry papers, using them to laminate or overlay supports. The next day was great fun as the class created monotype papers with acrylics or watercolor paints to use in their collages. The final day was a wrap-up of techniques with discussion of copyright and exhibition issues pertinent to collage. There was no "pressure to perform." The idea was to do a lot of pieces using as many different techniques and materials as possible. Most pieces were a half-sheet (15" x 22") or smaller. Everybody in the workshop completed one or more pieces every day for five days. This week I'm teaching the same workshop in a four-day format in Dayton. Today was the first day and it looks like we're on a roll. I love teaching this workshop!
Sunday, February 12, 2006
I'm leaving today to teach a five-day collage workshop in Baton Rouge. It's always fun to meet a new group and work with collage all week. I'm not taking my computer, so there won't be any updates on the blog for at least a week. I'll be home for one day before starting a four-day collage workshop here in Dayton. As soon as I catch up, I'll get back into blogging. If you subscribe to my site with Bloglines, you'll be notified when a new blog is posted. Thanks for stopping by. Catch you later.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The worst part of writing a nonfiction book is compiling the index. I created the index for my first Exploring Color book (1985) using an early version of Word Perfect. You simply tagged a word for the index and WP picked up every place in the manuscript where that word occurred. Easy to do, but the result was useless. I had to go through all the entries and delete all those that didn't provide substantive information on the topic. Too much work! I opted to let the publisher hire an indexer for my second book (The Creative Artist (1990). When I saw it after it was published, the index was so bad they allowed me to redo it. Now I make a point of reviewing the index before my book is published to be sure it suits me. I've forgotten now why I didn't like the index for Creative Collage Techniques (1994), but I had to make a lot of changes there. For the revision of Exploring Color (1998) my editor wasn't happy with the index and didn't have time to redo it, so I volunteered. I've just finished correcting the index for The New Creative Artist (July, 2006). The indexer did much better job than any of the others in my past books, but there are still a lot of things that need work. Unfortunately, the index is the very last thing to be done and it always has to be done yesterday. I don't understand why an indexer would put in separate entries for aerial perspective, single-point perspective and two-point perspective when they are all three on the same page and can all be listed under "perspective." It makes for an oversize index. That's just one example. I suggested a lot of cuts to my editor, but I don't know if she'll have time to make them before the book gets turned in tomorrow. Oh, well, even with my corrections on the other four books, I still can't find anything with my own indexes. Maybe it's just me.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Art workshop travel
I used to love to throw my art supplies in one suitcase and my clothes in another and take off to teach a workshop anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. Eventually both suitcases got too heavy with all the books, so I started shipping the books separately. No big deal, as I usually don't have any left to ship home. But now with all the rules and regulations about luggage and carryons I have to ship my materials ahead and hope they get there in time for the first demo. Well, maybe they have a better chance than with the airlines! I'm not really complaining--I understand why the security is necessary. I'm just thinking about how it isn't fun anymore. I love teaching so much I'll do whatever I have to do to be able to do it. It's actually easier if I can drive to the location. Then I can throw half my studio into the car and take off. Preparing for my next two workshops has been a little stressful. I'll have one day between them, but at least the second one is in my home territory. Only problem--they're both on collage, so I've had to sort through my stuff and divide everything in half, because I'm sure my materials won't make it back to Dayton from Baton Rouge in time for the workshop. Well, nevermind. Everything is ready, either shipped to BR or packed in boxes for Dayton. I will survive.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
The Little Artist was here yesterday and made a picture for her Uncle Kurt for his birthday. The first one was for "practice" and became a big swirl of mud as she moved the colors vigorously in circles with the palms of both hands. This paint was runnier than we've used before and I don't like it. Also, the colors aren't very bright--the red is almost orange. We encouraged her to use her fingers instead of her whole hand for the next one and that worked much better. She spread the colors and made marks in them with her fingers. For her masterpiece I told her she could put her finger in the paint jar to get the color, so she drew circles and dots, then squished her hands in the paint and made handprints--her favorite, especially the one where she stuck all of her fingertips in the blue-paint jar and printed on top of her handprint.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Art book editors--a song of praise
After having knocked down book editors in general, I want to make a special point to praise the editors I've worked with on my book, The New Creative Artist. I've always had reasonably good rapport with my editors in the past, but for some reason this experience has been extraordinary. Is there such a thing as a "soul editor"? For the initial phase of the book after I signed the contract I had little contact with the editor, which is fine with me, as I don't like someone looking over my shoulder. But when I turned in the manuscript I learned that she was leaving and someone else would be assigned my book. Oh, no! My book would be an orphan! I couldn't have been more wrong. My editor is fantastic. She has a sharp eye and has been sensitive to my concerns from start to finish. She doesn't dictate, she suggests. We've been a great team. Her attention to detail and her personal concern for my book--I find myself calling it "our book"--assure me that we will have a finished book we will both be proud of. I can hardly wait till July!
What do book editors do?
Sometimes I wonder about this. I'm an avid reader and in recent years I've been shocked and disappointed in the quality of a lot of the books I've read. Misspelled words, poor grammar, missing words, awkward phrasing that needed an experienced editor's touch. Now we have the big flap about James Frey's books--it sounds like a government coverup: What did the editor know and when did he know it? The editor claims he was victimized by the author, denying responsibility for the false material published in both of the books he edited by Frey. This is a turnaround from his original take on it. The author is jumping through hoops, too, trying to save face, but too late, as far as I'm concerned. Everyone was saying that it isn't the responsibility of the publisher or editor to vet the book to assure its truthfulness. Excuse me? Well, at least Oprah did the right thing. Her apology to her viewers and readers seemed sincere and appropriate to me. I haven't heard anything even close to that from the author, editor or agent in the Frey case.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Painters and graphic designers
This is on my mind because I'm awed by the graphic designer and the layout artist who just finished the layout for my new book, The New Creative Artist . (Publication date is mid-July) The book is a real challenge for designers because it is both text- and image-heavy, so it's hard to strike a balance on every page. I'm amazed at the creative things the designer has done with color and other elements to make everything fit and flow. My hat is off to the fine artists of graphic design.
The book is nearly ready to go to the printer. I have some kudos for my editor, too, but that's for another day.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
You can draw!
Charley Parker posted a great blog today on Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. If you think you have no talent or creativity, read Charley's blog and then get that book. You can use it as a self-study course if you're really motivated to learn to draw. My son taught himself to draw this way when he was in his thirties.