Thursday, October 29, 2009

Can you stand one more?

One of the things Jean told us to do in our techniques class is to try to visualize a picture in the backgrounds we are painting. Kind of like finding faces in the clouds I imagine, which I've never been very good at by the way.

Anyway, I stared at the purple canvas for a while and I began to see (really!) a bird emerging from a starry sky. So I painted one in. I got a little carried away with the pearl white I'm afraid, and once again I had a horrible time trying to photograph the gleam-y surface. ("Gleam-y"... is that a word? LOL)

On my monitor, this photo skews a little yellow - the whites are much brighter in real life - but otherwise it's a pretty good representation. I think this canvas is my new favorite.

I need to go shopping for some more of these little canvases!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Too much rain... already!

The winds and rains of November have come early this year -- it is storming like crazy outside today and there is no way I am going out there, much less with my camera, LOL. (I think I would have made a good cat!) So this week's photo is once again of a completed project. I got the idea to finish one of the canvases I did in Jean's class with a little steampunk-style heart.

I really like the idea of the steampunk look, but judging by the sky-rocketing prices of watch parts and antique keys, it is going to become mainstream-trendy soon. (I wonder if the fact that someone like me even knows what it is means that it already has, LOL!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another little canvas

These little 4"x4" square canvases are so much fun - imagine creating an entire painting on a surface the size of the palm of your hand. This latest one was an experiment with several new techniques on a subject I love - nautilus shells. Their geometric perfection fascinates me!

I first drew in the lines of the shell and it's chambers, then drew over them again with a clear dimensional glue. I painted the image, then shaded it with micaceous iron oxid (that is some cool stuff!) and them added the iridescence using a large flaky opal glitter. For a pleasant change, I got exactly the effect I was after - now that's a great feeling.

When everything was dry, I applied some heat activated foil in a copper color to the raised outline. I managed to burn my fingers in the process, but it was fun anyway. That stuff could prove addictive. Oh dear...

I wish now that I had used copper rather than gold inside the chamber sections, but I have some more of these little canvases to play with. I think I just might make a series of them in different colors.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday's photos - 2 Little Canvases

This weekend has not gone as planned - nothing new there for life on a dairy farm - but it wasn't completely without a bit of free time. I got some work done on my Retreat piece, but when I just couldn't concentrate any more, I dug up a few little canvases and started making colors without thinking. These paintings are based on an online class taught by Jean Bernard, though I'm afraid that there is an essential connection that I have missed while trying to learn her techniques.

(I'm sneaking these in as my Monday photo because I am still trying to learn to shoot interference colors accurately. Can you see them?)

I am not disappointed in how they turned out, only that paintings are "splotchier" than hers. I am going to try again for the smooth color transitions that she achieves.

And she didn't instruct us to add the sprinkle of microbeads, but I can't seem to resist the little things. Using them just makes me so happy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Retreat Wings Finished

I didn't make as much progress on my Retreat doll as I had hoped this week, due to dealing with the symptoms of a sinus infection. (Finding and redrilling the support hole for the right upper wing was an adventure let me tell you, LOL. Ugh.) Anyway, I managed to finish her wings/stand this morning and snapped a few quick pics this afternoon.

Layers and yet more layers of cheesecloth, art tissue, and paint were slathered on, and then the whole mess was frosted with some "Bernardization", a process which consists of a mixing up soup of Grrrip glue, micromarbles, glitter, and whatever else I feel like throwing in, which is then scooped up and applied with a craft stick and allowed to dry. The very cool frosted effect that this produces looks like meticulous work, but is actually delightfully messy and quick. Sweet, huh? (Thanks Jean B!)

The textures and embellishments on the upper and lower wings are a little different - lots more cheesecloth on top...

... and more tissue and glitter on the bottom. This is quite a large piece and I felt there needed to be some differences in order to keep it from being one overwhelming mass of yellow and gold.

By the way, I now realize why I don't work much with yellow. A little goes a *very* long way, LOL!

I gave the doll herself some little breasts just to even out her shape a bit, and I am still pondering what I want to do to finish off her head. I should take more in-progress pics as I go so you could see better how they develop, but I never remember to do it until I pause to think "what's next". Oh well... if you want to know where I am going with all of this you can see the original of this doll at Sherry Goshon's blog.

Sherry and Jean's Retreat doll

Monday, October 12, 2009

Photo of the Week - Night Photography

One afternoon last week in the middle of the milking we had some trouble with the milk pump, or so we thought. Jake couldn't find anything wrong, so he called out a technician, who also couldn't find anything wrong. That is, until he put his little gizmo on the power line to check the power feed and saw that we were getting only a trickle of the electricity that should be flowing - the failsafe switch on the transformer that feeds power to the milking parlor had been tripped. (Fortunately we discovered this before the pump burned out!)

A call to the power company brought out a lineman to reset the transformer. It is always fun to watch a lineman do his thing, but just imagine our surprise when a huge tongue of flame shot out of the transformer when he flipped the switch! Fortunately noone was hurt, but... now we had a very big problem. No electricity in the middle of the milking shift, and it would be hours before the power company could send out a crew with the equipment to deal with the situation.

Jake and the guys hooked up the generator while Lydia and I went into the house to cut the power to all sensitive electronics. Sigh... It was going to be a dark and cold evening at Cascade View Dairy.

I was a little shocked by how absolutely dark it gets around here with no moon and no barnyard lights. It was a great feeling to watch the big utility trucks pull into the driveway.

I didn't have anything else to do, so I grabbed my camera and attempted some night photography using full manual settings. It took some trial and error, but eventually I hit upon a good combination of settings.

I think I ended up using ISO 800, F/4, and a shutter speed of about 1/2 second. I was able to take these shots hand held using "da grip" - I am making an effort to always compose my photos with my left eye at the viewfinder after this!

I had plenty of time to experiment, as it was nearly midnight before they finally finished. They actually replaced all 3 of the old transformers, so here is hoping that we won't have this issue again!

I have gotten some good work done on my Retreat doll as well, but I will save those photos for another entry.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Now we're getting somewhere

I finally have my Retreat piece to a place where I feel that she is structurally stable enough to really start going to town on her, and so here she is.

My main problem was caused by my stubborn insistance on using the head and hands that I sculpted out of polymer clay especially for her. They are VERY large (3" from chin to forehead) and HEAVY, and the wings-stand just wasn't sturdy enough to support all that weight. Also, her torso is stuffed fabric and the armature wire she is built on wasn't heavy enough to support the weight of that head either. Most of what I have been doing to her since I got her home has been building, rebuilding, enforcing, and reinforcing her inner architecture, but now I think she's ready for her makeover.

The second wing is lying on the floor because I haven't yet reamed out the hole it sits in. I want to try this wings-as-stand concept again, but next time I will protect those holes with a lot more care, LOL!

I see now that she could use a little more chin, but I was so proud of this head that I just really really BADLY wanted to use it.

I practiced for weeks sculpting hands and there was no way I was going to let these babies go to the spare parts basket.

Oops... didn't mean to get gesso on her fingers, but right now I just don't care. I finally get to start on the fun stuff!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday's photos

I fully intended to put up some in-progress photos of my Retreat doll today, but have you ever had a project where everything (Every. Last. Thing.) just goes WRONG? I keep plugging away, and at last I have an assembled doll and base complete, but I still need to add paint and ream out a support hole that somehow got filled in with apoxie. And so it goes... sigh...

Trust me, she is not ready for photography, LOL!

Instead, I bring you one of the most spectacularly beautiful nuisances of this or any other region - a swarming flock of starlings.

There is a vineyard across the street whose fruit is irresistable to these voracious pests. The owner of the field has set up a noise cannon that keeps them from settling on the fruit, so they settle on our barn roofs instead.

Watching them dip and swirl in the sky is quite a sight. HOW do they know how to move in such perfect unison??

You should just hear the racket they make. If the cannons don't deafen you, this flock will.

"Firebrand" the alpaca doesn't really care about the birds or the noise. Until some feed shows up, he is content to sit and enjoy one of the last beautiful sunny days of the season. Smart critter!

I really will try to get some of those doll shots posted soon.