May Flowers, Part 1

Dear Liza,

Ruthie Inman is at it again! She has our Zoom Art class making lovely things and having fun. Since we are all in different places (Metamora, Illinois, Portland, Oregon and Edinburgh, Scotland) we meet over Zoom. Since she likes an element of surprise, she usually gives us just enough directions to get part of the project done, without giving it all away at once.

Her first direction was “collect newspaper, black and white text only.”This took a while, but having an artist in the house helps.

While we are in the Zoom meeting, Ruthie had us paint our sheets of newspaper whatever colors we chose. I pulled hand-me-down acrylics out of my box and slathered them on while we all chatted. I laid them aside, making sure they were mostly dry before they got piled up.

Our papers had time to get completely dry by our next meeting, and the next direction was “cut the papers in irregular circles, to stack into five layers, largest on the bottom, smallest on the top.” This needed some thinking. How big? Which color on the top? Which on the bottom? My biggest layer ended up being about four inches across.

Flowers. We were definitely making flowers.

After some fiddling around, I made my choice and started snipping. I love things that don’t need to be measured!

Then came the tricky bit… putting all the layers together. Depending on what we had handy, we all used different techniques. I chose five shafted buttons and, at Ruthie’s suggestion, used small twist-ties to keep them in place. Here’s how they looked, front and back.

Ruthie sent us a guide for the next part of the project, a mosaic art piece of a bicycle and a basket, and I trimmed and traced it into a piece of heavy watercolor paper for the mosaic to come, editing it as I went.

The theory is that the bike’s basket will be overflowing with the flowers.
I’ll show you what comes next at the end of the month, when we get it done.


Grandma Judy

Making a New Kind of Book Part 2

Dear Liza,

We got to finish the Concertina books! Weeks ago, Ruth Inman’s Tuesday Thursday Art group started painting black and white pages in this weird, accordion shaped book.

Once we had the black and white backgrounds down, Ruthie let us in on the next step. We would be painting a tree on each two-page spread, and each tree would show a different season.

I started with Fall, and I wasn’t happy with it at first. The background I had laid down included some very bumpy cheesecloth, which didn’t allow the ink to go down smoothly. It was a real wrestling match, but I decided to let it ride for the moment.

We continued on into winter, which went much smoother because the page itself was smoother. The ink was able to run freely and make some nice bare branches.

While I was waiting for the paint to dry, I covered the covers with some of the nifty Paris map fabric I bought to make Auntie Bridgett’s Christmas present.

For the third page, I watered down some acrylic paint for the bare branches. Using a small brush and a straw and tipping the paper, I got it to move the way I wanted.

Then yellow, blue and some white got dabbed on to make the summer fullness of the tree.

When it was time for the class to all put our books together, my Spring page still wasn’t done, but that’s okay. I can paint it later. We all got the covers, glue media and scrapers, and went at it.

The fold-y bend-y parts kept folding and bending, but I managed to not make a mess of it. Now that it is all flat and dried, I feel pretty proud of it. My adventures in book making continue!


Grandma Judy

… More Art with Ruthie!

Dear Liza,

It feels like forever since I have gotten to get online with my friend Ruth Inman and my fellow artsy students. I have really missed it!

And Thursday, we made some adorable snowmen. Ruth found the original at the blog Adventures in Fiber, by artist Paulette Insall, at I decided to photograph the process in case I wanted to do it again. I’m glad I did, because I would never remember all the bits.

First, we laid down letters. I used different sized stencils and waterproof Sharpie and Micron Pens. I wanted to play with pinks and blues in the snow, so I collaged some printed paper. Some text torn from a Mad Libs tablet gave it a nice full bottom layer.

The next step was to add some color. I added just a few watercolor brush strokes of pink and blue.

Of course, in collage, things change once you lay them down. Since part of the charm of this piece is seeing through the layers, I put some some white acrylic on with crumpled saran wrap, to soften the colors and create a nice blizzard effect. It took several layers before I liked the way it looked.

Then it was time for a tree. A nice, curvy tree… Ruth recommended finding a suitable curve in a magazine, and I did! It was a bit too light, but that’s what Sharpies are for. A little trimming and gluing and I had my tree. I sponged a bit more white on, to keep it in the blizzard.

I used watercolors for the decorations for the tree, though Ruth had a lot of fun hunting up the right colors in a magazine. The snowman was next, drawn with a Micron, with text in his tummy and a collaged magazine paper hat. I added some black Micron dots and white Posca dots for the edge of the hat.

I used a thin Micron for his face, and orange watercolor pencil for his nose. A little heart from the same paper as his hat put on the final touch!

As I have said before, collage is very freeing. You glue and sponge and add until it looks like you want. You can’t really mess it up…. if you don’t like it, you’re just not done yet. Add more, paint over bits you don’t like, let it dry and start again.

And above all, have fun!


Grandma Judy