December 9, 2016

Another Christmas Season Begins

I just spent the morning decorating our Christmas Tree, and had so many memories.  I started sewing Christmas ornaments for family and friends in 1975 and made at least 20 per year from the same design.  It is now possible to fill the 8 foot tree with just the ornaments I made.  The exception is the large painted Santa Starfish ornament that is barely visible on the top of the tree in this photo.  That was given to us by wonderful friends 45 years ago when we both lived in LaJolla CA near the ocean!

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My grandson Callum loves the Goldfish I made in 2002, before any of our grandchildren were born.  So this year I made 8, as the annual ornament that I give to each of them.  I love that they will have a collection of their own by me when and if they have Christmas trees to decorate.  The white dove on the lower right was made with fabric from my wedding dress - leftovers after I made lingerie bags for my daughter and two daughters-in-law for their weddings. 

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I made the goldfish from a pattern originally purchased from Magic Threads in Lincoln Nebraska.  I had to reduce the size to be used as an ornament - the original pattern was meant to be decorative hanging fish.  Six of our grandchildren will get their goldfish Saturday night when they come across town for a holiday sleepover.  The other two will be here for Christmas this year and get to take theirs home.

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December 6, 2016

Quick Drawings

For days when I can't even imagine sketching outside of the apartment, I have 3 x 5" blank index cards and a pencil/pen in my very small purse.  Thursday evening we took our oldest grandson to a concert by the Orchestra of St. Lukes at Temple Emanu-el.  This was the synagogue in which Henry was a Bar Mitzvah one year ago.  We sat in the second row of this space that seats 2500, and I suddenly realized I could sketch the place where he stood during his part of his service.

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Drawn with a soft graphite pencil. 

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And then I sketched the cellist.

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December 1, 2016

Barcelona Travel Sketchbook - 6

This is the final blog post from my travel sketchbook.  The remainder of the pages are filled with a few photos and relevant business cards.  One beautiful day we took the Metro close to Barceloneta and set off for our longest walk of the trip.  We walked along the waterfront of the peninsula, past the gorgeous boats, and all the way out to the W Hotel for lunch. 

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There are lots of outdoor restaurants adjacent to the hotel, and we stopped for a late lunch and a rest.  During lunch I "sketched what was in front of me,"  my internal guide for drawing all through this vacation.  Then we continued our walk along the entire beach front where people were enjoying the warm day. 

 

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Another day we decided to walk around the western part of Eixamples, to see the area behind the University of Barcelona.  There are many galleries in the area, and we enjoyed visiting them and the Museu del Modernisme which has one floor of furniture and another floor of paintings and sculpture.  They had a Ramon Casas exhibit that I wanted to see, but was disappointed with the museum lighting.  Before we left I sketched a terracotta sculpture of Antoni Gaudi.   

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On our last day we visited the Royal Catalan Academy of Fine Arts, where Picasso, and Gaudi attended art school many years before it moved to a new location.  The space is now occupied by a small museum featuring the art of the faculty from the school.  It is located in Llotja (The Maritime Exchange) and from there we enjoyed walking through Born-Ribera, and from Barri Gotic, all the way back to Eixamples.  I loved this sculpture.   

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I started my sketchbook with a painting of Maurice Sendak's Micky in his bread dough airplane, and also added Mickey flying home to the last page.  We loved Barcelona and our very leisurely exploration of this beautiful city.

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November 28, 2016

A Portrait of our FIT Class Model

Last week was a blur of food shopping, cooking, cleaning up, fixing leftovers, and lots of time with wonderful family and friends.  I literally didn't think about a blog post until I was awakened at 4:10 this morning by someone who called the wrong number from California. 

I was finished with my figure painting in my FIT class last week and spent the session doing a "portrait" of the model. 

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My painting is still in the FIT Studio for our critique session tonight, so I haven't photographed it.  I'm not thrilled with the painting, but I am achieving my goal of learning how to better use acrylic paints.  I still love pen, ink, and watercolor sketchbook art, but I believe it is a good idea to shake up my brain on a regular basis, and my two acrylic painting classes have done that.

 

November 22, 2016

Barcelona Travel Sketchbook - Part 5

Our trip to Montjuic, specifically to visit Fundacio Joan Miro:

We were surprised that the Metro connected directly to the funicular and disappointed that it was also in a tunnel all the way to the top.  But when we got to the exit, we had beautiful views of the City.

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An early Miro painting and one of my favorites.  I sketched it in the Museum and then painted it from a photo.

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One of several Miro sculptures around the Garden.

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Drawing what was in front of me!  While having coffee in the outdoor Café garden I sketched the part of the Miro museum building that was in my view. 

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It was a beautiful day and there were many wonderful Miro Sculptures on the outdoor patios on the upper floor of the beautiful building. 

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We had a lovely visit and walked all the way back to Eixample from the Funicular exit, stopping at Placa Reial yet again for a late afternoon glass of wine.

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November 18, 2016

Barcelona Travel Sketchbook - Part 4

I came home from Barcelona with a sketchbook full of ink drawings, but only half of them were painted.  There weren't enough hours in the day!  But I did have phone photos to use for my watercolor washes.  This is the Gracias Clock Tower - which sits in a lovely village square in Gracias, within walking distance of our hotel.  There were children playing and adults sitting on benches, but we were on a much longer walk so we sat for only a few minutes to enjoy the ambience.

 

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Our hotel staff didn't recommend that we walk to Gaudi's Park Guell, but we reminded them that we are New Yorkers and my husband takes 4-5 mile walks around Central Park several times each week.  But we had an online reservation for entry so we couldn't stop for more than a few minutes along the way.  This is the view of the Park from halfway up the hill.  The little heads you see above the columns are sitting on the serpentine bench that are a created from gorgeous broken ceramic tiles (trencadis). 

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The back of the bench - photo just because I loved the colors and design! 

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We sat on a bench in the shade while I sketched the top of one of the two gingerbread houses at the main entrance of the park.

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November 16, 2016

I'm Drawing Sculpture This Month

This is a huge art exhibit month in New York City.  In addition to the Fall Museum Exhibits, there are terrific gallery shows, and the huge auction previews.  Both Sotheby's and Christies now have combined auction previews for Impressionist /Modern and Post-War/Contemporary that last in each auction house for more than a week.  During my visit to Gagosian Gallery's exhibit "Nudes" and both Auction Gallery Previews I sketched pieces of sculpture that I liked and photographed many paintings that inspired me.

Matisse Sculpture at Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue:  The balance achieved in this life-size sculpture was fascinating.

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 Maillot and Degas Sculptures at Sotheby's:  These life-size sculptures were next to each other making it fun to place the drawings together.

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 Mbole Figure from the Congo:

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 Moore Sculpture from Christies:  I love the family series of sculptures done by Moore and this one was very small and just right for my sketchbook drawing of the day.   

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November 14, 2016

Kraft-Tex for Mixed Media

Kraft-Tex is a combination paper/fabric product and like Ultrasuede, it doesn't ravel.  I took a half-day class with Australian Quilt Artist Cecile Whatman and had an opportunity to try it with many media.  Cecile brought a book she made, using Kaft-Tex as the cover.  It is a sturdy product and she said the book cover was simple to make decorate, and machine sew.  It is currently available in natural, white, black, gray, and brown and is distributed by C & T.

She used a tree stencil and dilate acrylic spray for the overall design.  The purple/blue square is painted and embossed Kraft-Tex, and the black images and text were transferred with TAP (see previous blog post). 

 

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When Kraft-Tex is washed it becomes more like a leather, and it is softer and can be used more like fabric.  This is a piece that I washed by hand and dried twice and you can see the difference in the texture.  Cecile once washed a piece with 20 of her regular washes.

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I spent our "playtime" trying many media on sample size pieces of Kraft Tex. 

 

1.  Blue acrylic stencil images, then gold Lumiere Acrylic painted over a Gelli plate and combed before printing.

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2.  Stencils sprayed with dilute acrylic paint (2).

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3.  Gold Lumiere acrylic paint on a Gelli plate - then lifted with a rubbing plate before printing. 

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4.  Stamped, then Inktense pencils - leaf painted with water mixed with textile or matte medium diluted 1:5 to make the color permanent.

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5.  Center image made with Shiva oil paintstick.   Then the piece was foiled using the following adhesives:  Adhesive thread, Misty Fuse pulled apart slightly, and Bonash adhesive granules.

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6.  My watercolor paints - painted on and then dripped. 

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The Kraft-Tex comes in rolls that are 1.5 yds long and 18" wide. 

 

November 10, 2016

Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) - on Paper and Fabric

Last Week I was at the International Quilt Festival in Houston - an annual trek I began in 1983.  It was so small then that it was held in the now destroyed Shamrock Hilton Hotel.  I watched it grow until now it takes up 3 floors of the HUGE George Brown Convention Center.  Tuesday I was preoccupied by the election and yesterday I was in shock and unable to think clearly.  So my first blog post of the week is several days overdue.

I took a 3 hour workshop on the use of TAP and wanted to share what I learned.  Here is my testing of the transfer of images and brushstrokes from TAP to watercolor paper.

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The tulips were a transfer of black and white Clip Art that was printed onto TAP with an ink jet printer and then transferred to my sketchbook.  Since the image is a polymer, I painted it with watercolors to see if the image could be painted.  It could,  I then painted a snippet of the TAP with watercolor and transferred it to the page as dirt under the flower stems.  We were told that you can draw-paint-color on the TAP as long as you don't scratch the surface.  The wide black line was a Pigma brush pen line I transferred from a snippet of TAP, and the single tulip on the right was an image drawn on another snippet of TAP with Tombow brush markers and transferred. 

I then transferred clip art images to fabric.   

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The yellow rectangle is velvet, the upper green rectangle is cotton, and the bottom triangle is silk.  They were all fused to a white fabric square with Wonder Under before transferring the images to the fabric square.  Each of the fabrics accepted the images well.  The "dot doodles" were made with Tombow marker directly on the Tap and then transferred.

Images are printed on the polymer side of the TAP with an ink-jet printer or created right on the TAP, and then placed face down on the fabric or paper.  They are then covered with Parchment paper and ironed for 10 seconds with a hot dry iron.  The images are permanent - and so is the color - so there are many uses for this technique - and it is lots of fun to play with it! 

Next:  Using Kraft-Tex, a combination fabric-paper with any mixed media technique.

Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

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