January 22, 2019

Random Sketchbook Pages

We gave 4 of our grandchildren new art supplies for Christmas.  Each of them enjoys drawing and painting and I put together a set of NeocolorII watercolor crayons, Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils, a Pelikan opaque paint set, two waterbrushes, and drawing and painting sketchbooks.   These all fit in a plastic Art Bin so they can keep all their own supplies together in their room.

I spent several mornings with them making sure they knew how to use the sets. While they drew and painted, I sketched and painted with them and then forgot that I had these two pages in my sketchbook.   

Cornelius Wishspinner:   Cornelius is also known as the Sandman according to the legend that came with the pattern.  This is a sculpture I made more than 30 years ago.  It is about 8 " tall and is brought out every Christmas for our fireplace mantle.  The clothes are all made of fabrics.  He has a pack of toys on his shoulder and a leather pouch around his waste.



After artist Giorgio Morandi:  I grabbed some jars and bottles from one of our dining room shelves and painted them, thinking about Morandi.




January 18, 2019

Art After Breakfast: Early January 2019

I am not doing as much drawing this month while I catch up with sewing projects.  But it is easy to do my quick gesture morning figure drawings, and I collaged another group of drawings, sketched on paper, into my sketchbook.  I usually try to do more drawing and painting each week, but volunteer activities and some hibernation due to cold weather and sewing makes these quick figure drawings perfect when time is limited. 


January 15, 2019

C Street Washington DC

We took our Granddaughter back to Washington DC on New Year's day and spent two days there as the Government shutdown spread to the Museums - our usual happy places when we visit.  But my favorite place is Capitol Hills Books, a used bookstore across from Eastern Market in Capitol Hill.  I've sketched/painted it once from the front, and this time sketched the 3 buildings on that side of C Street.  It takes me several hours to pick out books, and I never return to NYC with fewer than 4.


C Street Banner design and there was one on every lamppost on one block.  I keep a separate sketchbook for my DC grandchildren, which I started when our first DC grandchild was born.  I am now on Sketchbook #2 and this was the page I did for this trip. 


January 11, 2019

Threads, Not Paper, This Week

I have multiple creative passions and I decided that this month I was going to enjoy sewing things that were on my "To Do List" for too long.  I still did quick daily drawings after breakfast, but when I came home from my morning volunteer sessions, I dedicated myself to my sewing machine.  

Sewing was my first real passion and I made clothes for myself and my children, with household and gift items beginning in my high school days.  In 1980 I started quilting and fell in love with hand stitching patchwork, applique, and the final quilting.  After many hours at work, I loved the slow pace of stitching in the evenings.  I even carried around a small plastic bag with fabric pieces, needle, thread and scissors and made a lap size scrap quilt for myself while watching my childrens' competitive swim practices.  This is my favorite of many quilts because of the hours spent hand quilting it, and my husband insisted that we hang it in our apartment.  I have a "Threads" category on my blog for the occasional textile entries.



So far this week I made 5 pillows.  The middle one was made from a piece of Mario Fortuny fabric purchased in Venice during our 50th wedding anniversary visit there.  Twenty five years earlier I bought another Fortuny fabric in Venice and wanted another pillow to remember our visits.  



I also finally made a quilted piece for our dining room table with 3 small pieces of aboriginal fabric that my friend Bunny brought back for us from her trip to Australia and New Zealand.  I loved how they looked cut and reassembled, and just did simple machine quilting on the seamlines. 



January 8, 2019

December 2018 Art After Breakfast

More of my "after breakfast" line of action drawings.  My models are photo images from The Human Form in Action and Repose by Phil Brodatz and Dori Watson (1966).  I use one-quarter of a page of scrap copy paper, draw a quick line of the gesture/action in pencil, and then draw the full figure with ink and a gel pen.  I cut out the painted figures and collage them in my sketchbook.  The pencil lines are visible in the closeups in the final two images. 


Left Page of Spread



Right Page of Spread


January 3, 2019

Art Progress 2018 and Art Goals for 2019:

January 4th is the 12th Anniversary of my Blog, and I like to review my progress and goals for the next year at this time - an activity that was first recommended in an online art group when I first starting blogging. 


My main goals are to develop better drawing and painting skills on paper, and dye-painting and surface design on fabric.

1. Take Classes to Keep Me Inspired and Motivated:

Progress: I took classes for 2 semesters this year at Fashion Institute of Technology (Comic Book Illustration and Figure Drawing), Sketchbook Skool (Whimsical and Watercolor Rules) and Sketchbook Revival - a 28 day online class with 28 artists. I also took several half day classes, including a sculpture class at MoMA and several textile surface design classes at Quilt Festival.


Take classes in the Spring and Fall Semesters at FIT and online classes in Sketchbook Skool (Drawing People and Travel Journals are planned). 

Participate in Prime Time classes at MoMA, when available, and other short classes planned by Urban Sketchers.

Look for other classes, either online or locally, as they are announced.   

2. Maintain a Community of Art Friends

Progress: I continued to sketch with Urban Sketchers, Central Park Sketching and Art Meetup Group, and Battery Park City Figure Al Fresco when my schedule permitted. In addition I attended many local museum and gallery exhibits, and art auction previews with my artist friends.


Schedule art adventures throughout the year - to include museum visits, gallery visits, Master Drawing Week gallery hop, Art on Paper Exhibit in March, and Christies and Sothebys auction previews.

Schedule regular sketching events in NYC - Urban Sketchers, etc. 

3. Deliberate Practice: Planned activities to practice specific skills

Progress: I had a Colles wrist fracture of my dominant hand in March and drawing with my non-dominant hand became my major "deliberate practice." I was born with a deformity of my non-dominant hand and doubted I could draw.  But I filled one entire sketchbook with pen and ink drawings and did many line of action figure drawings after breakfast, becoming somewhat ambidexterous. Urban Sketchers had a 30 day direct painting challenge in June and I loved painting without any pencil or ink lines. 


Continue the Line of Action Drawings regularly - Art After  Breakfast. My main goal for 2019 is to draw as many bodies as possible, when moving, including dance and sports. 

Participate again in the June Urban Sketchers Challenge: Daily direct watercolor paintings.

Draw from my imagination at  least once per week - in my special sketchbooks.

Continue to draw hands and feet in a dedicated sketchbook at least once per month.

Finish my Axel and Alice illustrated story that I couldn’t finish in my FIT Illustration Class because of my wrist fracture.

4. Bookbinding

Progress: I made cased-in 140 lb watercolor sketchbooks for my daily sketching, two recycled books with watercolor paper (for summer travel and a trip to London), and assorted pamphlet and double pamphlet books for special projects. I am also teaching a friend how to bind books and so far we have made 3 book structures (pamphlet, double-pamphlet, and recycled watercolor sketchbook).


Learn to make at least one new book structure this year - a month of researching the structure and methods, then make at least 2.  Several years ago I did this every month for 8 months, and loved it.

Continue to make my daily and travel sketchbooks, and watch for any new bookbinding classes in NYC.

Continue monthly bookbinding lessons with my friend. 

Study historical paste paper designs and make a new batch of paste paper. 

5. Special Project Ideas: I like to remain open to new challenges, and this list will shrink and grow as the year progresses.

Progress: I wanted to learn how to draw on toned paper and watched videos and selected and tested a variety of black and white pencils before my wrist fracture.  I also made a toned paper sketchbook and then decided to delay this project.  Just coping with the difficulty navigating each day for 6 weeks in a cast, plus rehab for several months was enough to keep me challenged.


Learn how to draw on toned paper.  

Quilt a dye-painted NYC skyline I started 5-6 years ago.  I painted the scene on plain white fabric with thickened dye and now finally will machine quilt it, following the actual structures and black thread to increase the range of values.   

Explore "drawing" line of action figures with my sewing machine and black thread.  I started to explore this several years ago, and would like to play some more. 

Make a scrap Christmas Quilt and use up lots of my fabrics that are leftover from years of Christmas projects.


December 31, 2018

A Santa for Christmas 2018

Getting ready for Christmas and celebrating with friends and family meant that I had almost no time to do a Santa painting for 2018 in my sketchbook.  One morning my 10 year old grand daughter and I, when she was the only one here with me, painted.  Some of our grandchildren love to draw and paint and head for the art supply drawer as soon as they arrive at our apartment.  After discussion with the 4 youngest, we decided to upgrade their art supplies for their Christmas present from us. I put everything in an ArtBin carrier from Dick Blick to keep everything together and they loved it.


December 28, 2018

Christmas Eve With Our Family

All of our family were here for dinner Christmas Eve. and each time our grandchildren are all together we try to get one reasonable photo.  This year we didn't have our usual beach weekend because the USOpen crowds made the trip difficult to impossible.  So this was important to me.  They are squirmy, they like to make crazy faces, and they easily lose focus.  William, who just turned 7 one week before, sometimes decides he doesn't want to be in the group picture and I'm adding his photo from the Hippo Park Playground the following Day.  I have lots of other photos of him from their visit, it is just the group antics that he chose to miss!   


William and the Hippo



Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy 2019.  Last year was challenging for me with my Colles Wrist Fracture of my dominant hand.  We are getting older and now I know what it is like to have a broken bone.  My new mantra as I walk around NYC is "SLOW DOWN."  


December 23, 2018

Merry Christmas to Our Friends and Family

Merry Christmas from our house to yours.  This year we have all of our children and their families here for Christmas, and we enjoy seeing all 8 of our grandchildren (ages 6-15) enjoying the holiday together.  We will have everyone together in our apartment for Christmas Eve dinner and will continue to enjoy our DC grandchildren for a few more days.


Let us all hope that 2019 is filled with good health, joy, and a more stable government and world.   


Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

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