More Mixed Media

Dear Lisa,

I have told you about the October Mixed Media challenge I have been doing. Each day there is a new thing to make a picture of, like ‘birds’ or ‘fence’. You can use any style and material you like, then you take a picture of it and post it on the Facebook page.

Mortar and moss laid down…..

The other day, the challenge was ‘weeds’. I made a sketch of a dandelion growing in a crack in the sidewalk by a stone wall, but while I was working on it, I got the idea of doing it in collage. So I turned the page of my art journal and sketched the picture again.

A layer of collage….

I wanted to make lots of layers, so I used acrylic paints and a sponge to paint in grey mortar and some green moss. Then I cut up our voter’s pamphlet (after we filled out our ballots) for the cement and stone wall. I hid most of the text with a few coats of acrylic paint.

Basic stones and weeds…

I did a few chores while I waited for all that to dry, and then played with greens to put in moss and tiny weeds, and got the basic dandelion put in. Then I put in details with waterproof pens and a white posca marker.

How this one ended up!

It wasn’t as perfect as I wanted, but I couldn’t think of what to do to make it better, so I called it done. I will tell you what happened with the other sketch tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Art Journal and Pictures for Tim

Dear Liza,

I am still making a new piece of art each day for the Art-Ober mixed media challenge. Subjects like “cactus” and “stripes” tickle my brain! And as I gain confidence, I am willing to paint scenes I never would have tried a few months ago.

While this is all happening, I got a note from the wonderful woman who is caring for my big brother Tim. “I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I’ve got about ten small frames from the Dollar Store…” she said. Ah ha! A project!

So I went through the pictures I’ve done so far, picked my favorites, and made smaller copies to fit into her frames.

Tim has always been an outdoorsy type, fishing and hiking and such, so I chose scenes of flowers and forests.

This picture of a pair of jack rabbits nibbling on a sage brush reminds me so much of our old campsite at Vallecito, it makes me homesick. Great Grandpa Lowell took us there for about a dozen Easter vacations, enjoying the desert before it got too hot.

I made sure to write my name clearly in the pictures, so Tim could remember where they came from and know I am thinking of him.

I hope he enjoys them! I will make more and send them off. You can make me pictures, if you like. I’ll bet I could get some frames from the Dollar Store, too.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Mixed Media Journal

Dear Liza,

I have started an art challenge: To make a piece of art everyday for the whole month of October. My friend Ruth Inman posted a list of things to give us ideas, like ‘bread’, ‘sea creatures’, ‘salt water taffy’, and all sorts of things.

Auntie Bridgett, who is very sweet, gave me a big hardback, spiral bound notebook to use. It has nice heavy paper so I can draw, paint, or even glue things down to make a collage!

The cover of my Fall “Art Journal”

I started with decorating the cover in Fall colors. All our magazines are full of oranges and browns, so it was easy to put together. I even found a nice picture of Multnomah Falls to be right in the middle.

First page…

The first page came from my own need to make something seasonal and orange. Crayons, then watercolors, then some words, and taaa daaah!

The first of the challenges was ‘bread’. When I think of bread I go straight to a French baguette, eaten on the banks of the Seine at sunset. This piece is watercolor, colored pencils, and waterproof ink.

Bread…..

Ruth’s second challenge is “alcohol”, so I thought of wine enjoyed while looking out the window of a classic California winery… yummy.

Wine….

The one I did this morning was my favorite so far, because it was about YOU. The actual topic was sea creatures, but I painted them at the Aquarium, with you.

Liza at the Kelp Forest…

I am going to take a break for the evening and not look at the challenge for tomorrow…. until tomorrow.

Keep making art!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Orange

Dear Liza,

A few weeks ago I painted a bunch of bright orange cards. I have never really cared for orange, but with the skies dark from forest fire smoke, I needed the brightness.

My first ORANGE!

And I liked it! Orange is a bright, cheerful, aggressively happy color. How had I not seen this before?

I discovered my love of orange just in time. Ruth Inman’s friend Jody Tockes ran a class where we used torn paper to make a sunflower. And guess what? More orange!

And this week, Ruth is running an “Art Journal” class, and I got inspired. Of course, the class isn’t until tomorrow, but I felt the need to get an early start.

First layers of crayon and watercolor wash…

As usual in watercolor, I was disappointed by my first layer. It looked pale and boring. But Picasso said that unless you hate a piece somewhere in the middle, you will never make something you love. So I kept at it.

More crayons and watercolor…

I got some purple in and laid in some more layers, and liked how it was looking. I decided it needed some words, so I browsed magazines for whatever seemed appropriate.

And words….

As always with art, I’d do a little, walk away, then come back and see what it needed next. I fiddled a little bit more and was done. But that’s okay! There are lots more pages in the book!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Art In the Darkness

Dear Liza,

It has been a really difficult week. Heavy smoke from the Oregon fires has kept us inside and is making everyone feel sick. The virus that President Trump ignored is still killing a thousand people a day, and our government seems determined to punish anyone who disagrees with it. It has been very hard to find any happy.

The gloom is almost too much….

Yesterday I wrote a letter to my brother Tim (yes, I type my letters) and illustrated it with forests and smoke. It was a sad picture, but it made me feel better to put something in paper.

I gathered up my watercolors and played with some of the skills Ruth Inman has taught me in our online art group.

First, I taped the paper down, and really soaked it. While it was wet, I gave a wash of bright yellow and orange, making sure it was nice and random.

While the paper was still damp, I used a toilet paper roll to make big circles and a rolled up strip of regular paper to make small ones…. just a few. Then I let everything dry.

This next process takes the longest because you have to let things dry between layers. If you try and paint everything at once, it all runs together. Over the course of the afternoon I put in the petals and centers of the flowers.

When that layer seemed “done”, I let it all dry. Then I got out the Elegant Writer pen Ruth had sent me and put in the details of the flowers. It was fun to see the orange and yellow pop against the black lines.

And I felt better. Something about the bright colors, the creative process and the control of this little piece of paper allowed me to feel joy for the first time in days. I recommend this ‘art therapy’ to anyone feeling sad.

We will get through this and find light in the other side, I know. And art will help.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Treasure Island Evolution

Dear Liza,

I wanted to update you about a project I have been working on for a month now. It is my painted and embroidered version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

RLS’s Treasure Island, my watercolor interpretation

It started out more like RLS’s desert island, but since I knew I was going to spend a lot of mental time there, I wanted it to be greener and prettier. Billy Bones went mad for a reason, you know, and I don’t need more crazy-making. I need less. So I added rivers, some real mountains, and a nice lush rain forest.

My first layer, paint on fabric

Having painted it “as a first layer”, I needed to figure out the next layer. Lay in the outlines, then stitch some mountains, then… maybe some rapids? Yes, this was coming along.

Basics, and a few mistakes

There were mistakes, of course. I put in what I thought was very cool texture that Bridgett said looked like obstacles the Germans put on the Normandy beaches on D Day, so they had to go. This led me to more organic lines, which I really like. More texture, more naturalistic colors, a weird marriage of map and landscape.

More naturalistic lines feel better

This project is giving me so much pleasure. Something to do with my hands, to work off the fidgety Evans energy during these shut-in days. A place to create and visit that is green and lush, far away from political and environmental ugliness. And the freedom to make a piece of my world, just as I like it.

Every stitch makes it better!

Art may save me yet.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Alberta in the Autumn Sunshine

Dear Liza,

More businesses are figuring out, after many long months, how to open up and still keep folks safe from the corona virus. And I am glad, because I am starting to run out of things.

A close-up of my latest weirdness…

My new projects take both paint and embroidery floss, since I am painting maps on fabric and then sewing over them.

Last week we walked the mile to Collage in Division Street. It is a small and nicely stocked shop, using very strict hygiene and social distancing rules. I got basic colors of acrylic paint so I can mix whatever I need.

Not even close…

But I also needed thread, and their selection leaned toward the neon. Not what I needed. Well, the good news is, there is another Collage! The only wrinkle is that it is four miles away, too far for a comfortable walk.

Can’t miss it!

So Auntie Bridgett and I got the car out and drove to Alberta, a funky, artsy neighborhood north of us. We found the Collage Annex, with its 95% off sale, and then the shop itself. Auntie Bridgett was in her happy place, visiting all the paints, pens, and markers.

I am more goal oriented, and found my floss quickly. But it was fun wandering around, anyway. We each chose a few things, paid the happy, helpful fellow, and headed down the street. Alberta is always a lively neighborhood, with lots of street art, music, and folks out and about.

Ever a dull wall in Alberta

We drove up Alberta Street, happy to see that so many of the shops and cafes we like are still open. We headed for groceries and then home, so I could start using my new toys!

Now, that’s better!

I don’t know where this painting and sewing thing will lead next. The time I spend sewing (and it is a slow process) lets my mind wander. But I will keep you posted.

Love,

Grandma Judy

New Art in the House

Dear Liza,

As I have told you before, I didn’t grow up with a lot of art. It just wasn’t something my parents understood or valued. They had both grown up on farms during the Great Depression, and were more interested in just keeping us all fed and clothed.

But now our house is full of wonderful, bright, original art! Auntie Bridgett being a member at SideStreet Arts helps, of course, because new paintings, prints and ceramics come through every month. But Ruth Inman, my friend from High School, has also been added to our collection.

Don’t worry! She’s hanging it, not smashing it!! Ruth Inman’s alcohol ink sunflower.
A Perfect trouple of Art….

We also just hung up a new Denise Krueger ceramic piece. It is three dimensional, one of her many sea creature-like sculptures that remind me of the tide pools in Monterey Bay. We hung it nice and high, above Sharon Jonquil’s encaustics, so we don’t hit it with a shoulder as we pass.

Look closely… there we are!

Our last new piece is a small acrylic painting Auntie Bridgett made for Grandpa Nelson’s birthday. It shows our lovely Laurelhurst Park with silhouettes of the three of us walking among the trees. It is hanging under Erin Hanson’s study of eucalyptus trees.

I love having art in the house. It gives me new perspective at times when I desperately need it. It shows me beauty and joy when I am burned down to my last neuron. And it reminds me that wonder can come from anyone, at any time.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Painting Islands…. On Fabric?

Dear Liza,

Since I retired from teaching, my brain is like a kid in kindergarten, always finding something new. I opened a cupboard and found things to write about, so I wrote… for months and months.

Writing and writing..

Then I opened another cupboard and there was fabric, so I sewed.

Sewing and sewing…..

And now I have found the paint cupboard. First gouache, then watercolors. And, like a kindergartener, I have friends with ideas that feed my ideas. “Come join my painting group,” said Ruthie. I did, and it has been wonderful. Art, silliness, and learning all come together in the magic proportions that teachers strive for.

Painting little crabby friends….

I posted the islands I was painting and dear Elaine said, “I’ll bet you could put those islands on fabric, and maybe even quilt them.” Well, it turns out that you can paint on fabric with regular acrylic paints if you add a bit of “gac” paint medium. Auntie Bridgett had some, because of course she did.

I spent a day looking at maps of all the islands I love. The Big Island of Hawaii. Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disneyland. Treasure Island from Robert Louis Stevenson. Tiny Gabriola Island in the Strait of Georgia. Neverland. Sketch, reconsider, sketch.

Pencils first….

And finally I started painting my first fabric island. After smooth gouache and watercolors, the acrylic and muslin felt heavy and clumsy, but I kept at it.

The Big Island of Hawaii, as I have it so far…

I am still not totally happy with it, but I will get better if I just keep practicing. It seems a bit flat. Hmmmmm… Maybe I can add embroidery or even some beads. Maybe my friends will give me some good ideas.

Love,

Grandma Judy

On-line Happy Hour and the Go-Gos

Dear Liza,

Friday was a very warm day. Eighty-eight degrees, with a dry, bright sky. The heat of July has let us know it’s not done yet.

Newest bunch of flowers…

It was a good day, though. I got to practice with watercolors some more, painting a vase of flowers similar to my first one in gouache. Flower arrangements are good subjects. They remind me of my Momma, your great grandma Billie, so painting them is like having a long visit with her.

We met our new neighbors across the way. They are nice people, and the lady has a wonderful “Ramona the Pest” tattoo (from the original 1968 Louis Darling illustrations of that Beverly Cleary Classic) on her arm. I think we may be kindred spirits.

From Ramona the Pest

Ruth Inman, long-time friend and artist, had her first “Last Friday” Open House on-line, and we attended with cocktails in hand. It was great to see her studio and all her good work. She has such a whimsical touch and color sense. You can see her stuff at “ruthinmanart.com” .

Some of Ruth Inman’s beautiful work

We had dinner out at the newly re-opened for social distancing Suzette, our local Creperie. It was yummy and fun to see their bright new decor.

Suzette’s new interior

We watched the Giants beat the Texas Rangers at Oracle Park, in front of ‘cheering’ cut-outs of fans. A bit weird, (especially since the Giants usually don’t play the Rangers) but better than no baseball at all.

Still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…

And for the finale of the evening, we watched a new documentary on The Go-Gos, a music group that Auntie Bridgett likes. I had barely even heard of them, so I learned a lot!

They started in 1979 as an all-girl punk rock band, and matured into fine musicians and the first all girl group that wrote and performed their own material to get a Number 1 debut album. They were incredibly successful in an industry that didn’t want them to be. It was very interesting, and I got to hear some fun new music.

And then, when it was cool enough for sleep, we all crashed and said good-bye to July. What will August bring? Hold on tight!

Love,

Grandma Judy