July 31, 2015

From Dye Painting Silk to Watercolor to Dye Painting Axel on Cotton

I started to dye fabric for quilting in the 1990s, and my big projects were the dye painted, quilted, 6 foot square chuppahs that I made for our 3 children's weddings.  We live in a Manhattan apartment and it took me quite awhile to figure out how to develop a surface design studio without a dedicated space.  I loved mixing the primary color dyes to match the color requests from the brides, and definitely loved painting and shading the silk.  While making the chuppahs in 1999, 2oo3, and 2005, my interest in watercolor painting on paper began and I love moving back and forth from paper to fabric. 

Here are the 3 chuppahs:

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I couldn't find watercolor sketchbooks that I liked and began to make my own, initially with traditional bookcloth, and then with fabric that I dyed.  These are the earliest ones I made. 

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And this shows the progression up to early in 2015. 

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I even make an annual Remains of the Day book, inspired by Mary Ann Moss, using scraps of my fabrics.  Here is the one for 2015. 

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I also just started making pockets for my pencil, eraser, and pen that I can attach to my current sketchbook and it was made with scraps. 

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We traveled most of June, so I decided that July was going to be a "surface design" month to dye fabric to replenish my stash.   My studio is very small, and not appropriate for wet projects.  Here is a photo of the 6 X 9' space while I was pulling out lots of surface design supplies.  You can see a color wheel made from mixing the primary color dyes on the back wall.

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Today is my final day of dying fabric, except for washing out 8 more bookcloth pieces tomorrow morning.  And this is my stash for the month.  I completed 20 samples on which I worked out specific techniques, and made 32 pieces that can be used for bookcloth, bookcovers, pen pockets etc.

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My favorite project of the month was my dye painted images of my imaginary friends Axel and Alice.  If you follow this blog, you may remember that Axel was born from my imagination during a 100 day project, and in conjunction with a homework assignment from Sketchbook Skool Semester 4.  My grandson Zach is my co-creator and he recently decided that Axel and Alice came from the moon and have heads of that shape because they were born during a crescent moon.  I decided that Martians are green and Moon people must be blue.  I loved creating these two 12 X 6" fabric paintings of them during one of my sessions. 

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July 28, 2015

Back to Figure Drawing

I went to two drop-in figure drawing sessions last week.  The first was outdoors, with clothed models, in Battery Park in New York City.  We had a male model with weight lifting musculature and poses.  I did all 10 one minute poses on newsprint with a graphite pencil and was pleased that I could capture gestures in such a short time.  Here are the 10 drawings, five on each page.  These are photographs on large sheets.

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Five Minute Poses:  The model had shaved sides and hair on top of his head.

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My second session was at Meetup, and the model was familiar to me from this site and Society of Illustrators.  On this sheet are two 10 minute portraits and one 20 minute pose.

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July 24, 2015

Warhol Blotted Line Prints

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a current exhibit of Warhol prints, including all 32 varieties of Campbell Soup Cans.  I don't care for his pop art product illustrations, or his many screen prints from celebrity photos, but I was really intrigued with his figure drawings, portraits, and a wall of shoes using his "blotted line technique."  It wasn't well described in the exhibit, so this week Benedicte and I went to one of the drop-in MoMA Art Classes associated with the Warhol exhibit, and made "blotted line drawings."

Here is Andy Warhol with the type of prints that I loved - this image is from ContemporaryCalgary.com in an art education article.  

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This is the link to the MoMA exhibit and several of his blotted drawings.

http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1572 

 

At MoMA there is one full wall of the Warhol shoe illustration ads for I. Miller.  His weekly shoe illustrations in the New York Times revitalized I. Miller converting it from a dowdy shoe company to the shoe brand for debutantes.  This photo is from images on the internet, selected because it shows the blotted lines very well, and the power of this technique to allow him to create multiple prints from the same drawing.

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For this technique you need non-absorbable tracing paper, a sheet of absorbable paper, and a pen that writes "juicy" ink lines.  The tracing paper can be used to trace the desired image, or make an original drawing.  Then it is hinged along the edge of the absorbable paper, making a little booklet.   The back side of the drawing on the tracing paper is then outlined with ink, making very short segments of lines, and immediately flipping it over to print on the paper.  This process is repeated until the drawing is completed.  In the video at the end of the link below, you see how an image can be repeated over and over using the same tracing paper with new absorbable paper. 

At MoMA they supplied us with a sheet of deli paper, taped to card stock, and an inexpensive disposable fountain pen.  We also had Warhol-type props, including a Coke bottle, martini glass with cherry, Campbell soup cans, and a woman's dress shoe.  Here are two of my prints.

 

The Props for my first print: 

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A photo of a Jim Dine sculpture from my phone - taken an hour before at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Auction preview: 

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By the time I reached my 5th print, I decided to draw Axel sipping champagne.  When I came home I added yellow watercolor to the champagne and discovered that we were using soluble ink pens at MoMA.  But I wanted to show Axel because I wrote "yum" on the top side of the tracing paper, flipped it over and traced the line with the pen in short segments, and then printed the word on the paper -  a 3 step method for having letters appear correctly!  

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Here is an excellent tutorial followed by a 6 minute video demonstrating the technique and two shoe prints made from the same image and then painted, one with gold leaf applied at the end. 

http://www.warhol.org/education/resourceslessons/Blotted-Line/ 

 

July 20, 2015

This Week in New York

This month I am dying more fabric to use as bookcloth for my handmade watercolor sketchbooks, so there are less sketchbook pages being completed.  I began my week at a Barnes and Noble Readathon for To Kill a Mockingbird.  I recently reread the book and was happy to be one of the readers for a 12 hour readathon in the bookstore café.  I was there in time to listen to 4 readers and then read Chapter 10.  I love books, and love bookstores, so I was happy to fill in the lunchtime void in volunteers.

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I ended the week with a Sunday morning visit to the Toy Boat Pond for coffee with my husband.  It was a very hot, humid day so we arrived early and left early.  While there, I sketched the lady at the next table and one of the beautiful flowers surrounding the café patio.

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This is a photo I took over one of the flower gardens and when I looked at the photo later, was thrilled to see the children and the sailboat at the edge of the pond.

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July 17, 2015

NYC Urban Sketchers and the End of 100 Day Project

The New York City Urban Sketchers met this week on the plaza in front of the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue.  The overall plan was to sketch the Truth and Beauty sculptures and/or the Lions Patience and Fortitude.  It was a gorgeous day and I sat on one of the park chairs and sketched Truth, followed by a drawing of the man sitting all afternoon at a small table in front of me.  He said he is Garrett Buhl Robinson, an author who is selling his published books and passing out information about a musical that he wrote that will open in the Fall. 

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Our weekday NYC Urban Sketchers Group.  Raylie (on the left) and 3 others from the NYC Group are headed off this week to Singapore for the annual Worldwide Urban Sketchers Symposium. 

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100 Day Project:  Drawings From My Imagination 

July 14th was the last day of the 100 Day Project Challenge, and I celebrated with a final drawing of Alex and Alice.  The caption says "Can I take Alice and go home for a visit?"  I asked my 5 year old Grandson Zach for a backstory when he was here this past weekend.  Axel and Alice are from the Moon, and their heads are shaped like that because they were both born during a crescent Moon.  He says they were playing in Axel's Mother's spaceship and accidentally started it! 

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July 14, 2015

Sunday Morning at the Toy Boat Pond with 3 Sketching Grandsons

Our oldest son's 3 boys spent the weekend with us, and we all went to the Toy Boat Pond.  They wanted to bring their sketchbooks and a variety of crayons and markers, and we all sketched while Grandpa read the newspaper while drinking his coffee.

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I always remember the instruction "just paint what you can see," so I painted the Le Pain Quotidien Snack Bar. 

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After sketching, we walked around the pond to the Hans Christian Anderson statue which is the site for Story Book reading for children in the Park.  You can see the Patio Café where we sketched on the far side of the pond.  All children LOVE the Ugly Duckling!

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A photo taken by my husband of all of us - Charlie, Zach, an adoring Grandma, and Robbie: 

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July 10, 2015

Boat Pond and Flowers

We love to go the Conservatory Water Café in Central Park on weekend mornings.  It is possible to linger over coffee while drawing, reading, and listening to nearby conversations.  And the view over the boat pond is terrific.  When we arrived last week there were ducks in the pond and a cormorant who was taking deep dives as he swam the length of the pond.

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To us, it is always referred to as the Boat Pond, because of the remote control sailboats that can be rented.  Aficianados also race their boats on Saturday mornings, just as the Storytelling session across the pond at the Hans Christian Anderson sculpture begins.

 

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Boat Rental:  Last weekend I sketched the lady in charge of boat rentals as she was checking her phone while waiting for customers for the rental boats and the T-shirts for sale.

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There were lots of flowers blooming around the café, and lots of bees on all of them.  I sketched the day lily and then painted it back at our table, trying to capture the brilliant yellow and orange coloration. 

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This week I also finally had time to paint the Beach Pickly Rose from photos I took at our June beach vacations.

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July 7, 2015

100 Day Project

Only 8 more days in the online 100 Day Project (https://thegreatdiscontent.com/100days), and although I draw other things from my imagination for this Challenge", Axel is my favorite subject.  His character developed during a "drawing with a child" homework assignment in Jonathan Twingley's week of Sketchbook Skool, and I've surprised myself that I am enjoying this pure fantasy drawing so much.  There are days when I feel as if my imagination is totally empty and then I start thinking about Axel and a drawing emerges.  Here are the most recent 4.  My oldest son's 3 boys are spending the night with us this weekend, and I think Zach and I should begin to create Axel's story, since it was Zach who did the drawing I combined with mine when Axel first appeared. 

Where Did That Man Go?

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Can She Be My Friend? 

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A Taste of Coffee:  What Does It Taste Like?

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Makes a Good Slide!

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July 3, 2015

The Extremes in Figure Drawing

I am back to figure drawing and my last two models represent the extremes in body type.

Rebecca, a model at Battery Park outdoor drawing, is extremely thin and has very long arms and legs.  Tangerine, the model at Society of Illustrators, is massively obese.  I've drawn both of them before, but rarely so close together.

There are two 5 minute poses and a 20 minute pose of Rebecca and a 10 and 20 minute pose of Tangerine.  I sketched them with a General Sketch and Wash pencil and shading was done with my waterbrush and clear water.

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Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

July 2015

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