l s

Monday, July 31, 2006

Digital image delivery

I just finished an article over the weekend for Watercolour Gazette magazine, a Canadian publication produced by Eileen Korponay of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The mag started over thirteen years ago in a newsletter format and has become a very nice, useable resource with lots of ideas, tips and techniques. I've written several articles for Eileen over the years and she has reciprocated by reviewing my books. I used snail-mail to send small illustrations to her for my articles, but this time I had some digital images I wanted to use. I converted my high-resolution tiff files to grayscale and adjusted the value range where needed. Then I resized the files to 200 dpi at a print size of about 5" x 8". The files were still pretty big--between one and two MB--so I sent six emails with a different file in each. I have broadband, so I could have put more than one in each email, but I wasn't sure Eileen has it. She says they came through just fine and she was able to set up the article quickly with the digital files. Wow, this is the way to go. The article will appear in the September issue. The title is "All Art is Abstract."

Labels: , ,

LA Experimental Artists at Viva Gallery

Visit this site to view an exhibition of experimental artwork by a group of twelve California artists who meet monthly at VIVA , the Valley Institute of Visual Arts in Sherman Oaks. The media include collage, assemblage, mixed media, watercolor on Yupo, fabric arts and more in both realistic and abstract styles. Click on the images to see the detail in larger versions of the artwork.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase

Here's a clever two-dimensional animation morphing the art of 35 artists in a seven-minute Google-video. How many can you identify?

Go to Charley Parker's blog, "Lines and Colors," to find out how it was created.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Willis Bing Davis, an extraordinary artist

In the 1970s I had an opportunity to take a one-day creativity workshop from Bing Davis, an acclaimed African-American artist from Dayton, Ohio. I had met Bing on a couple of occasions and knew that he was not only a personable individual, but also a dynamic teacher who had been a force in the success of the Living Arts Center, an experimental arts and humanities program for school children in the late 1960s. The workshop was unforgettable, partly for the ideas presented, but even more for the simple, direct approach Bing used to open our eyes and minds to creative thinking.

The workshop was held in the aging art center where I had taken other classes, a familiar venue. But nothing was familiar about the opening of the workshop. To enter the classroom we had bend at the waist and walk through a curtain of beads that wasn't normally there. Needless to say, our senses went on alert as we looked into the room. But wait! What was that crunching noise? We looked down and found ourselves walking on Rice Krispies and laughing at the unfamiliar sound. In the background an old record player was playing an African drumming recording, something completely beyond the experience of anyone in the class. Everything in this once familiar setting seemed strange. The chairs, normally lined up in rows to face the instructor's table, were scattered randomly around the room. If it had been my class, I would have straightened the rows, but instead I sat quietly, thinking about what had happened in the first 60 seconds of my experience. Soon, as others arrived, we began talking and laughing about the oddness of the situation. Bing soon joined us and we discussed how small changes help us to think and see more creatively. The day was filled with projects that expanded on this principle. To this day I think of that workshop as one of the best I ever had--and I never picked up a paintbrush.

At that time Bing Davis was well on his way to becoming well known throughout the United States and international art communities with strong ties to his African heritage. He has participated in numerous artist-in-residence programs, taught at several universities, and been featured in many exhibitions, including a recent show at the Indianapolis Museum of Art Star Studio. Bing's paintings have been purchased by many discerning art collectors. He is presently teaching at his own EbonNia Studio and Gallery.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 28, 2006

Unsung heroes in publishing

It occurred to me this morning that, although I had written thank-you emails to my editors and designers for the good work they did on my new book, I hadn't personally thanked the production staff. I had asked my editor to list them on the Acknowledgments page, so I looked them up and sent an email to Mark Griffin, production coordinator for the book. I wasn't sure exactly what he did, but I know it was a big job. So I asked him. Here's his reply:

"Matt Wagner (Production assistant) and I are part of the Production department. It's our job to arrange for having all the slides scanned (as well as obtaining images from the previous edition), QC of the final design and text, color proofing, getting any final corrections made, overseeing the books' printing/binding and all associated concerns, and managing the importation back from Asia so that books arrive in our warehouse according to schedule."

That's a big job. Once the writing, editing and design are good-to-go, everything else is done by this production department. Without it, there's no book. He mentions having the slides (and art) scanned and retrieving images from the previous edition. I haven't counted the individual images, but there are 105 artists in the book, including several with multiple images. Plus there are all the little activities and projects that are in slides or original art and need to be scanned. Plus keeping the art and text and captions together as they go through the production process. The detail is beyond imagining. My hat's off (where IS my hat?!) to my North Light Books Production Department.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Learning color mixing in watercolor

Yesterday my beginners had their first adventure with color. They've been practicing washes and brushstrokes, textures and values for three weeks using only Payne's Gray. It's just too confusing to try to figure out color when you haven't learned to handle a brush. Because they're all doing homework and seem to be "getting it," we worked on color theory and mixing a week earlier than usual. I demonstrate my split-primary color-mixing system, painting a color wheel with six colors, while I explain the principles that make it work. They all did a pretty good job of painting their own wheels following the demo. The usual problem is using too much water and weakening the saturation of the hues on the wheel. Their homework this week is to play with colors. It will be interesting to see what they bring in for show-and-tell next week.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dayton Visual Arts Center

DVAC is fifteen years old and celebrating its birthday with an all-member show in its new space at 118 North Jefferson Street in Dayton. The gallery is a great venue for such a show, with lots of wall space to hang pieces of every size and shape. I visited the show yesterday and was impressed with the wide range of creative arts represented. Pastel, oil, watercolor, acrylic, graphite, clay and fibers are just a few of the media used. Collage, assemblage, weaving, quilting, ceramics, sculpture and metalworking are some of the techniques. Skill levels range from amateur to accomplished professional. I love a show with that kind of diversity, even though I don't necessarily like all of the work I see. Tables and columns display the three-dimensional pieces, which are sometimes overlooked if you tend to pay more attention to the art on the walls. Don't miss them! The show wasn't juried, but will be judged for awards. It will be a difficult job with so many fine pieces to choose from.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 24, 2006

Book Review: The Painter's Handbook

The revised and expanded version of The Painter's Handbook by Mark David Gottsegen was published this year by Watson-Guptill. This updated technical reference on all media includes information on hazardous materials and safety in the studio. The book bears a close resemblance to The Artist's Handbook, the classic Ralph Mayer reference book that is still available. However, the Gottsegen book has more current information. Some of the old techniques used in the past are described in both books, so you might want to reference both if you're interested in these. However, you'll want to know what improvements have evolved through the years in different media.

I was disappointed in the chapter on pastels, with several pages on making your own and just one paragraph on commercial pastels. (I couldn't find a word on the difference between hard and soft pastels). On page 27, where a variety of media are described and compared, there is just one sentence about pastel.

I was bothered by some minor innacuracies. On p. 24, the author states that rough watercolor paper is called "not," but I believe that term is used for cold-press paper. On p. 37 we learn about "adonized aluminum," a typo that shouldn't appear in a technical book. An * with text in bold type are used throughout the book to call attention to specific dangers, but on p. 58 there is no such marking on the text referring to lead-white paint. On p. 126 it is stated that ultramarine was "accidentally discovered" in 1828, but my sources say that chemists in France and Germany had been making a concerted effort for some time to combine known components of ultramarine into a suitable substitute and were spurred on by a reward offered for the best formulation. These are minor points, but a bit worrisome in a technical reference.

The book covers a broad range of topics, from stretching canvas and paper to framing, with great detail in pigment descriptions. If you're interested in the technical side of art, you should probably have The Painter's Handbook in your library.

Labels: , ,

Silk scarf painting

For what it's worth, here's my first silk painting. It's a fascinating process. The first week of class I forgot about it and dashed in more than an hour late, something I never do. The students (six in the class) had transferred their drawings to their 48" lengths of stretched silk and were applying gutta resist to the lines. I didn't want to hold things up, so I did a freehand drawing on my silk, whipping up some spirals, stars, suns, moon and wiggly lines. The gutta had to dry, so we were told plan our colors for the second session, which was last week. I figured my favorites would work well with the design--blue-green, red-orange and yellow, plus some red for richness. We painted our scarves last week, then the instructor showed us how to bundle them up when they were dry so she could take them home and steam them to set the color. I was surprised this week to see that the steaming had enriched the colors. The gutta was still in the lines, though, so you couldn't really see what it would look like. I painted a color wheel spiral on a little round of silk (what is it with spirals this month?). While it was drying, I went home (5 minutes away) and washed the gutta out of my scarf, ironed it, and took it back to show the class. If you're an experienced silk painter, don't look. If not, please share my excitement at trying something new that was fun and gave me a halfway decent result. I'd like to do this again in a workshop, but it isn't something I want to set up in my studio.
p.s. I took the photograph with the panorama feature on my digital camera and it really worked great. Otherwise, the image would have been tiny.

Labels: ,

Art Scam Alert?

I'm very suspicious of an email I received a couple of days ago. In the past there have been numerous art scams in fake exhibitions and painting shipments, but this is the first I've seen that involves publishing artworks in books. The company that wrote to me has a web site that looks legit, so I could be wrong about this.

Here are some of the problems I have with this email:
1. The email was addressed to me, referencing my book Exploring Color, but the salutation reads "Dear Sir/Madam," suggesting a boilerplate letter.
2. They request high resolution tiff or jpg files of two works that appear in my book, along with permission to publish the images in their book. As publishers, they should know from the copyright notices in my book that only the artists can give that permission.
3. They have disclaimers about needing the permission of Singapore authorities to publish, so what happens if it is denied and they still have your images? They might use them for prints and posters.
4. They wanted this material within a week. This is an impossibly short lead-time for such a request.
5. They claim they are publishing their book September 1, 2006. One month to publish an art reference book? Hard to believe.
6. They call it a "techincal" book, which could just be a typo, but I have a hard time with publishers who don't proofread their own emails.

Maybe it's legit, I don't know, but it has some very suspicious signs. For my own protection, I don't feel I can name the company here. But be warned about this and other possible art scams. Don't send your images to someone without investigation and don't let them rush you. I forwarded the email to the artists (with a warning) so they could make up their own minds about it.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Prioritizing in my art studio

Now that the books are shipped, I need to get my studio in order. I'm trying to figure out what to tackle next. First on the list is a looming deadline for an article for "Watercolour Gazette," a Canadian publication. The article is mostly written and I'm getting some art together for the illustrations. I still haven't cleared out the boxes of books from my used-art-book sale. They must go, and soon. I'm tired of looking at them and they take up too much floor space. Hithergreen Center, where I teach my watercolor classes, has a small library, so I may donate the books to them if they want them. There are two unfinished watercolors on my drafting table, one of which is the poured painting I blogged about a few weeks ago. My desk is covered with miscellany, I have bills to pay, and on and on. However, when our daughter showed up unexpectedly with the Little Artist this afternoon, I gladly gave up my afternoon in the studio to play ball, read stories, and field hugs for a couple of hours. I've been smiling broadly ever since they were here. They made my day.

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 21, 2006

Postal Blues

No wonder people freak out and "go postal." I've been having my share of problems getting my books shipped out, but it isn't entirely the fault of the local post office. Somewhere in the area there was a major blunder by a construction crew that has caused all kinds of problems with electrical and phone lines. This happened a few days before I started shipping my books last Saturday. There was a brief time when things worked properly and my first shipment went out okay. It's slow (media mail), but the deliveries are happening. In fact, to my great surprise, a couple of books that were shipped on Saturday arrived here in Dayton on Monday. The rare exception, unfortunately. I sent 25 on Saturday, 28 on Monday and about the same on Tuesday and Wednesday. Because of the outage, I can't get any information from delivery confirmation that they've been sent. I finally learned that they must go from Centerville (Dayton) to Cincinnati before they can come back to Dayton or go anywhere else in the country. I checked online and nothing was scanned in for three days in Cincinnati. I don't know whether the books were sitting around in the post office or on their way. It has been very frustrating. The people at my post office are so helpful that I don't complain, because it isn't their fault. But I sure felt sorry for them when I went in today with a few more packages and found that the air conditioning in the post office had been off all day--a very hot and humid one, at that. I asked Mary how she could keep smiling in that stifling heat, and she said, "Well, it's better than crying." Tomorrow morning I'll ship 20 books and on Monday I'll deliver the last 10 to my students. I'm still taking orders, but I'll be just as happy if folks buy from Amazon.com or their local book store!


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Watercolor homework and pet peeves

My small class of beginners is doing their homework. I was pleased yesterday to see so many had been practicing between classes. They'll progress rapidly that way. They're getting the washes and brushstrokes very well. The biggest problem is getting enough paint on the paper to make dark values without the paint being too opaque. One student, who missed the first two classes, showed up this week. Since I review basics every week at the start of the course for beginners, I figure she can pick up some of what she missed from that. It's hard to start in the middle with a new student. An instructor can't take time from the rest of the class to re-teach two weeks of lessons. Please, folks, if you sign up for a class, at least try to make it for the first few classes. Oh...and be on time. For every class. Now you know a couple of my pet peeves.

Labels: , , , ,

Amazon.com is shipping pre-publication orders at last and taking regular orders for The New Creative Artist. Whew! I've been holding my breath for a long time. I have no idea why. I guess just knowing my book is really "out there" now is a big relief. Someone wrote in a comment a few days ago that a Barnes & Noble salesperson had told her they weren't going to carry the book. Not true. It's offered online and at Borders, too. Let me know when you see it on the shelves. Sometimes it takes awhile. A few reminders from customers help to get them into the stores. That's especially true with revisions, but let me assure you, this is a major, major revision and more like a whole new book. To read more about it, click on the image or go to my web site.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 17, 2006

Painting on Silk

This morning I went to my second class on silk painting. Last week we learned some of the basics and then painted resist lines with water-based gutta (which is like masking in watercolor) on our stretched silk scarves, about 10" x 40" long. I was late to class, thinking it didn't start until this week, but they called me and I dashed over. I had to come up with a design really fast. I did a series of six big spirals rolling across the fabric, plus stars, moon, sun and some squiggles. This week we painted the design on the silk. I started with yellow in the center of each spiral and gradated the color through orange to red around the spirals and put a turquoise background on it. It's a little sloppy, but very colorful and was fun to do. I kept forgetting that I didn't have to paint up to the resist lines, but should let the color spread to the lines. After my painting was dry, I removed it from the stretcher bars. According to the teacher's instructions, I rolled it up with a thin cotton sheeting and made a small bundle, which was then wrapped tightly in newsprint. The instructor took our bundles home with her to steam them in a big kettle to set the colors. I'll put a digital image of my scarf on my blog when I get it back next week.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rembrandt on Lines and Colors

Charley Parker is celebrating Rembrandt's 400th birthday. He lists great resources on this amazing artist. You'll want to bookmark this one.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 14, 2006

Autographing books

Today I started signing The New Creative Artist books that are going out to artists who contributed artwork for it. There are 105, including those whose work was carried over from the original. That's a lot of books to sign! I decided to take my time so I don't make mistakes or get writer's cramp. Ten artists picked theirs up by this morning and I've finished twenty more. They're all packed, labeled and ready to go to the post office in the morning.

I don't quite understand what the fascination is with an autograph, although I'll admit that I usually ask authors to sign if the opportunity arises. I've always signed contributors' copies since my first Exploring Color was published in 1985, but I did two signings at North Light--1985 and 1990--and couldn't personalize the message because it would make shipping too complicated. In 1994 Virginia Lee Williams and I signed and shipped our book from her studio with a personal note in each one. I liked the personal touch. So I was upset when the publisher sent out contributors' copies for Exploring Color Revised without an autograph, because I knew some of the artists would be disappointed--as they later told me they were. I insisted on doing whatever had to be done to sign this new book. I finally picked up the books at the warehouse myself and brought them to my studio.

It isn't easy thinking of 105 different inscriptions for the artists, but at least I'm not in a rush. I'll try to get them done over the weekend so they won't have to wait too long for their books. They've waited long enough already, some for nearly two years.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Beginning Watercolor class revisited

Yesterday's class went well. Most of the students had exchanged their paper for something a little better and had bought a better brush. Many had even done homework and showed me their practice sheets. We did a mini-critique at the end of class and they were surprised--as most beginners are--that their first efforts didn't look too bad when you stood away from them. Of course, that's the old joke--the farther away you stand, the better they look. When they show frustration at not being able to do a perfect wash or brush stroke, I just ask them if they would be playing a sonata two weeks after their first violin lesson. They're a good-natured group, on the whole, and very encouraging to each other. That kind of atmosphere in the room seems to improve their results. One student asked me if they would have a finished picture at the end of the series. Oops! I had to explain that my classes don't work that way. I give them the basic principles and show them how to apply them using their own subject matter and sketches. It takes awhile longer to get a finished picture when you're not copying someone else's work. While I was packing up at the end of class, someone insisted that I give them homework, as I did last week. That's a good sign!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It takes one to know one.

Teaching is in my blood, so I appreciate a good teacher when I meet one. Some years ago I met and worked for awhile with Charlie Berger, then director of the North Light Art School. Charlie is a wonderful blend of fine artist, excellent teacher and all-around nice guy. Yesterday I received a flyer about Charlie's art classes and camps for adults and teens at his studio in Cincinnati starting July 17. I swear that anyone in any medium at any level could benefit from Charlie's instruction and honest critiques. Email Charlie at berger3@fuse.net. Tell him Nita sent you. (He'll be surprised. He doesn't know I'm writing this.)

Labels: ,

The New Creative Artist is in the warehouse.

It won't be long before my book will be on the shelves. There's some processing involved before they start shipping. I don't know how long that takes, but I'm guessing a week or so. Yesterday I picked up the complimentary copies I'm giving to the 105 artists who let me use their work in the book. I live less than a half hour from the warehouse. Norm, the warehouse guy who greeted me at the loading dock, has loaded books for me since 1985 at the Cincinnati location. I guess we have a symbiotic relationship: I write 'em, Norm loads 'em. I'm lucky to live near my publisher, North Light Books (about 40 miles), so I can get to meet some of the people who work on the books at every stage of production. Somehow I don't think it would be as much fun to do everything by phone and email.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Perception & Composition

That's the subtitle of Picture This, a book on design by Molly Bang published in 1991. As Rudolf Arnheim says in his introduction, this book is an eye-opener for adults. It isn't just a picture book for children. Yesterday I guided my watercolor class through the first part of the book, in which the author selects shapes and colors to represent some of the characters and settings for "Little Red Riding Hood," explaining why a small red triangle works for Red, but a big one is too unyielding for Mother and how to make the forest background of straight, vertical trees look more threatening by tilting the trees and leaning one over to frame a corner and close Red in. Each page is a startlingly simple visual representation of an easily digested design concept. I had forgotten I had this book until I was sorting books for my sale. I decided to try it out on my intermediate class, telling them I was going to read a bedtime story. (We meet after lunch--a good time for naps when I talk too long.) It was fun to watch the expressions on their faces as the design unfolded--the rapt attention of children would describe them, including surprise and delight at the turn of every page. I'll continue with the book in class over the next couple of weeks, as I think it's making important points in design that will stick with the students. Unfortunately, the book is out of print, but can be found online at used bookstores. It was reprinted in 2000 as Picture This: How Pictures Work and is available from booksellers in both hard and soft covers.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Aaron--a computer that (who?) paints

Several years ago my son and I went to the Boston Computer Museum to see Aaron at work, arguably the first artist-computer (as opposed to computer-artist). It was fascinating to watch. Aaron is the brain child of Harold Cohen. If my memory serves me, the Aaron we saw was larger than the one shown in the article cited above. It painted portraits as well as still lifes and landscapes and had a distinctive style similar to that of the inventor. As the huge sheet of paper inched its way across a sort of platen, mechanical arms swung around the page, periodically moving to the jars of paint to refresh or change color. Sometimes there would be a long pause, when I imagined a mechanical or digital brain trying to decide what to paint next. I looked around, but didn't see a curtained screen with a mad-magician frantically operating the controls, a la Wizard of Oz. To learn more about Aaron, Google: Aaron computer paintings. As for the link above, it took me awhile to figure out what the writer meant about Aaron seizing animals, until I recalled that a few years back a museum exhibited a dead cow preserved in formaldehyde as an avant garde artwork. I hope Aaron sticks to painting.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Amazon.com featured The New Creative Artist!

Now and then I check the sales rank of my books on Amazon.com. When The New Creative Artist first showed up as a pre-publication entry, the ranking was somewhere over 3,000,000. A few people must have bought it early on, because the ranking went up to around 300,000, with bounces up and down. The highest I saw was around 35,000 a few weeks ago. I don't check it every day. On Monday I nearly fell off my chair. The ranking was 1,378! I was sure it was a mistake until one of my artist contributers for the book emailed me that she had received a newsletter from Amazon.com promoting my book. I'm ecstatic. I felt sure when I first saw the book that it would be well received, but I'm amazed that it has taken off so fast and isn't even in the stores yet. Today it's hovering around 4,000. I hope they printed enough to fill all these orders.

Labels: ,

Art retailer's dilemma

I talked to my friend George about the problems with beginners' supplies yesterday, and as I suspected, it was a combination of sticker shock and inexperience. The students did, indeed, present my list, then said they wanted the cheapest materials to fulfill the requirements. Most of the employees there know I hold high standards for supplies, but newer ones made some unacceptable substitutions. Poster paints won't do for a transparent watercolor class! I will definitely have the next class come without supplies so I can indoctrinate them before they go out to buy their materials. Maybe I should work up a chart showing the differences in quality of brushes, papers and paints to make it more convincing. I used to have McCallister's make up kits for me and the students didn't bat an eye at spending $50-60 for it, but it was a problem getting the kits together because I never know how many students I'll have until the first day. Some classes are very small, like this one (10) and some are up to 25. Can't seem to work out the logistics. Anyway, there has to be a better way to do this. Any ideas out there?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Beginning Watercolor Advice

Started a new beginners' class today at Hithergreen Center. A few have had some classes but were never taught basics and want foundation. That's what this class is for. I wish I could get through to students to pay attention to the supply list. In the first class I spend quite a bit of time explaining supplies. It usually turns out that some of them have bought inferior materials or think they can use old brushes and paint they bought at a garage sale. Then there are those who go to an inexperienced salesperson who sells them all the wrong things--even though presented with my list. I try to be understanding, because I know there is some resistance among beginners to invest in artists' quality paint, paper and brushes because of the expense. Maybe they won't even like watercolor once they've tried it. Okay, but they would like it better if they used the Right Stuff. So I tell them they can use the cheap paper and paint, but when it runs out, to upgrade. I'm not as tolerant of brushes. I require my beginners to learn to master one brush, a 3/4" sabeline one-stroke watercolor brush. No synthetics, no blends. You can do everything with this brush: wash, wet-in-wet, drybrush and line. And when you've mastered the brush, you can easily use any brush on the market. Maybe I shouldn't let beginners buy supplies until after the first class. Hmmm.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 03, 2006

Art, family and birthdays

So much going on in the past two weeks that I've skipped the blog, missed an exhibition deadline and forgot to get my hair trimmed. Our son came from Boston for several days and we did a lot of family things with our Little Artist and her mommy and daddy, including celebrating my birthday. One evening I attended a picnic with the Otterbein College alumni association, a fun event every June called the "June Bug Jamboree." My birthday party was that evening at our daughter's with my sister and her husband coming from Columbus to Wilmington, Ohio. I firmly announced that there should be no birthday cake, but one appeared anyway. This is a tough time for watching weight at our house. Following my birthday by a week is our anniversary and then my husband's birthday comes along the next week. The scale is groaning.

But I digress. I missed a show opening and submission for a different show. Somehow these didn't make it into my top priority list while my son was here.

The day after he left I participated in a one-day workshop on analyzing your drawings to find out what's going on in your unconscious mind, an art therapy technique. Maybe you've done it. You draw several things in a specific sequence, starting with a river, then a mountain, a field, a road, a dwelling, people, etc., up to a dozen or more items. The interpretation is based on the location of your object on the paper and its size and direction, indicating past, present or future. I've been told this is similar to a game called Kokology that I'm not familiar with. I remember reading about this years ago but I don't recall the name of the book. It's interesting, but you can't really accomplish much in one day. It was fun to be with so many friends I haven't seen for awhile. About half the class were former or current students in my watercolor classes.

Last Thursday I drove to Michigan to visit my best friend, whom I hadn't seen since she came here last year to attend a watercolor workshop with me. Several months ago she began to gather on a weekly basis with six other women who have a diverse interest in art and fine crafts and they have been having an amazing experience. It was wonderful to spend the day with this energetic, funny, intelligent group of women. We created handmade paper using the equipment of one of the members who formerly had an art business making paper, stationery and cards. Here's a partial list of what some of the women do or have done in the past: painter, quilter, fiber artist, knitter, arts administrater, art teacher, papermaker, belly dancer, collage artist, art dollmaker, PhD. They launch a different project nearly every week and have several ongoing and group projects, as well. Every gathering starts with sharing what each has been doing since the last meeting and because they have become so close during their association, art and personal matters are both woven into the conversation. When they start to work on their projects, it's like an electric current is turned on and when it's finished, all hands turn to cleanup. The Seven Spirit Sisters begin buzzing about the next project, then they're off to the real world. Or maybe their world IS the real world. It's certainly a great place to be.

No watercolor class today. The students voted to take a long weekend over the 4th of July. On Wednesday I'm starting a beginners' class, so next week I'll be teaching two days a week. I'm getting really antsy about the new books coming in. I'll have about 150 to autograph and ship and that will keep me busy, for sure. Today I'll be happy if I can straighten out my calendar and bring my planner up-to-date. A planner is a great way to keep tabs on all your events and tasks, but guess what! You have to look at it once in awhile to stay on track!

Labels: , , ,