Thursday, July 30, 2009

Art Supply Addiction

My addiction to interesting materials and supplies started by going with dad to the hardware store. Oooo...I still love a good hardware store! From wire and sheet metal it was an easy trip to art supplies, a magical land where I grew into a full-on addiction by the time I went to college and majored in art. Over the years, I have learned to narrow my focus a bit, ONLY encompassing all things related to working with textiles, watercolour and acrylic painting, drawing, anything needed for sculpting, woodcarving tools, and anything needed to create miniatures.
Caran d'Ache Neocolour II
Water soluable pastels

Both my parents were artists, so when they died, I inherited their tools and supplies, including my father's lapidary shop, wood and stone carving tools, and his fully equipped stained glass workshop. I've gotten rid of most of the stained glass items, simply because I have a history with glass that makes me uncomfortable around the nasty stuff. The lapidary tools and materials are still around, though I'm not sure for how much longer, as I'm making a real effort to shed Stuff these days. The wood and stone carving tools will stay with me, as will the watercolour and sumi brushes, inks, paints, stones, and paper from my mother's estate.

Textile Heavan, Sri Lanka

Textiles are the place my heart sings, though, and I have great difficulty passing up a beautiful piece of fabric or trim, or a cool new tool. My textile work includes needlework of every kind (seriously), beadwork, spinning/weaving, leather, fur, antique lace and trims, a veritable extravaganza of materials and tools for embellishments, and a fabric stash to make one weep with pleasure. I'm certain I must be leaving something out, but all this gives you some idea of the depth and breadth of my addiction.

For better or worse, the town in which I live is an Artist's Colony and tourist "Destination," and as such manages to support an absolutely amazing art supply. Akamai Art Supply just looks like a giant metal building as you come into town, and it took me a full six months to get around to stopping in. Now I get special treatment. That's another way of saying I'm a regular customer. Very regular. Used to be, if I had money left over, I'd buy books or textile-related items. Not any more. Now I trot immediately up to Akamai and plunk my money down. So do a number of friends who live a full two hours away in Seattle, as nothing on the Mainland compares to our marvelous supply.

It was through Akamai I became enamoured of Copic markers and pens, and now have a collection that cost in the region of six or seven hundred dollars. And Akamai is where I discovered Caran d'Ache wax pastels...their water soluable type. At approximately two bucks a crayon, I have about fifty dollars worth of THOSE. And now I have a new obsession; Daniel Smith Watercolour Sticks. Pure pigment in stick form, these Seattle-made lovelies can be sharpened and used directly on paper, wet or dry, applied to the brush, or used as traditional tube watercolours on a palette. But the lusciousness of the colour and flow! Akamai gave me a sample of one colour, and I was hooked. I'm dying to try other colours, but at thirteen dollars a stick, my thirst will not be slaked anytime soon. Still, I find myself weighing food vs art supplies, electriciy vs art supplies....hmmmm.... There's a wonderful series of videos created on the subject of these lovely sticks, so watch this one and just keep going. Oh, and feel free to send me any scraps or scrapings or broken sticks you have laying about...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Uplift - Acapella Rainstorm

I'm a big fan of acapella singing, so when I watched the following video of the Perpetuum Jazille Choir singing Toto's "Africa," and heard their wonderfully artistic and accurate rainstorm at the beginning, I knew this was the Sunday Uplift for the week.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Art Is About Feeling

Dark Goddess, E. Lorien Shaw, 2009

Sometimes I worry my art isn't good enough. Good enough. Whatever that means. Usually it means I'm comparing a single piece to some Master Artist or another. " sketch isn't as good as Leonardo's!" or *Snivel* My painting's not as good as Vincent's! or >Whine< "My sculpture's not as good as a Degas!" See, I almost never compare my work to Mary Jane's or Dave the gardener's, but rather to artists so well known they only require one name for instant identification by the masses. *sigh*

But the real issue is the act of comparing, since an accurate basis for said comparisons isn't even possible. Because art is all about evoking feeling. Of course, I could go on intellectualising, explaining how my art doesn't evoke the same dizziness as a painting by Picasso, the clarity of place and moment as an O'Keefe, the deep and inescapable sadness of Munch, or the sheer madness of a Dali, but that's really nonsense, for my work does evoke feeling when viewed. Even by me.

So let me leave you with some hope for my fellow artists and dreamers in the form of this video that loses nothing by being part of the commercial endeavor.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Just ONE reason I love Canada

Saskatchewan Wheat Field
For decades, I have seriously and repeatedly considered moving to Canada. It's unlikely that I will at this stage of my life, but I continue to have an intellectual and emotional love affair with the place. One uplifting thing that comes out of Canada is a series of marvelous films from The National Film Board of Canada. If I watch a documentary or other beautifully paced, exquisite short film, almost invariably I discover it has come out of NFB of CA. I could offer dozens of examples, but instead I shall simply provide three, for you can dig through the films yourself at the National Film Board of Canada's site.

First up is a beautiful animated piece, 12 minutes in length, that quietly, beautifully captures a grandfather sharing a memory with his granddaughter.

Next, this 5 minute animation of ART, illustrating how people walk. Simply gorgeous, it earned Ryan Larkin an Oscar nomination (short animated film) in 1968.

And finally, a 29 minute triumph of film art from 1960 by Roman Kroitor and Colin Low, creating on the screen a vast, awe-inspiring picture of the universe as it would appear to a voyager through space. This film was among the sources used by Stanley Kubrick in his 2001: A Space Odyssey. Realistic animation takes you into far regions of space, beyond the reach of the strongest telescope, past Moon, Sun, and Milky Way into galaxies yet unfathomed.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wolf Howling 101

I just love this man and his canine friend...they really seem like two of kind, don't they? Simply beautiful wolves, both of them.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Other Species and Ethnics"

I generally try to avoid public discussions of a political or religious nature, but sometimes I just hafta speak up in an effort to illuminate the bugs and mold under the rock pile that is Fox News and their ilk. Sometimes even their own rabid rightwingers are stunned by the sheer ignorance of claims made. So without further explanation, I offer you the following inSANE piece of broadcast ignorance. Oh, please note the crew member off camera whistling "If I Only Had A Brain"(from the Wizard of Oz) at the end of Kilmeade's imbecilic rant:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

An Embarrassment of Riches

Goose by Lemay

I was born in the Year of the Dragon, so a certain degree of craven hoarding is to be expected, right? That's my rationale, and I'm stickin' to it. That disclaimer said, I want you to know that I really do aspire to grace, compassion, tolerance, and certainly NOT to greed. So for years now I have very carefully separated the intense part of me that craves ALL wonderful things, by giving her a title and allowing her to desire and want all she cares to. I call her The Present Whore (PW to my friends), and I do my level best to keep a tight rein on her greed and glittering desire, but at the FIRST sign of a gift, she is Large and In Charge.

Today's mail brought not one, but THREE gifts that were EACH so fabulous, PW's dancing and spinning and laughing great gales of glee. In short, she's VERY pleased with her life at the moment. *Sigh* A completely incorrigible brat, that PW, but it's hard to be stern with her utterly guileless, completely selfish pleasure.

First opened was a fabulous Crow ATC from Lemay in NJ - I am SUCH a fan of Elaine's artwork, and this card makes TWO from her private stash she's been generous enough to share with me. Like me, Elaine's style varies widely, but I haven't seen a single thing she's done I wouldn't be very pleased to include in my collection. She's really a fine artist, though I don't know if she really understands that about herself.
Next I opened the envelope from ArtandSoul in Oklahoma, and found a veritable treasure trove! Connie and I arranged to trade chunky pages with a Raven theme, and the page I received is truly a fantastic addition to my book. In addition to a beautifully hand painted raven on one of my favourite dark red backgrounds, there were three leather medicine pouches with secret contents, and a fairly breathtaking polymer Raven skull Connie created for the piece. I have a couple of Connie's pieces from swaps in which we both were players, and my appreciation for her work just grows and grows.

At this point, I had to sit down, as I was rapidly finding it hard to breath from the sheer awe and appreciation that threatened to overwhelm me.

And finally I turned to the package from VickiZ in MN. Now I always look forward to an envelope or package from Vicki, as she is MOST inventive with dimensions and movement with her cards, and she truly seems to get who I am and what would please my core soul.

And boy howdy, I was NOT disappointed in the least this time! Vicki had taken up my challenge to create an ATC depicting the place she lives, and I absolutely love the Minnesota she created! The only thing that I can see missing are those big honkin' mosquitos! 'Course, I might visit Minnesota more during the summertime if I thought there'd be no mosquitos to eat me alive! Beatuiful place, Minnesota, but insanely cold in the winter. Brrr!

But to be totally fair, the ATC was examined last, for the first thing that fell out of the package made me cry out and then tear up with joy. I AM a dragon, after all, so any jewelry proferred is ALWAYS greeted with a firey roar. But jewelry with a raven engraved? Could I be any happier? Not right this second, I couldn't. Know what else? Not a single bill was in the mailbox with all that treasure! What a great day, with a plethora of beauty and good juju...truly an embarrassment of riches from my Tribe.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Uplift - Glass Kabob

Many lovely ideas and thoughts are often lost in time, including a number of wonderfully innovative approaches to music. Fortunately for you and me, one that has survived, though not exactly robustly. is the Armonica, an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. While in England, he attended a concert given on wine glasses, and the lovely sound apparently spurred Franklin's wonderful brain to invent the Armonica.

The Armonia is one of the group of musical instruments known as "idiophones," which is simply an instrument which creates sound primarily by way of the instrument vibrating itself, without the use of strings or membranes. The Armonica is a set of graduated bowls with holes and corks in the center, mounted on a horizontal spindle, rotated by a fly wheel and a foot pedal. Moistened fingers rub the edges to produce the haunting sound.

The Armonica quickly gained widespread acceptance amongst European royalty and the upper classes; Marie Antoinette had lessons as a child, and Dr. Mesmer, the famous hypnotist, used it to put his patients into a deeper trance. More than 100 composers composed works for the glass Armonica, including Mozart, Hasse, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, Beethoven, Donizetti, Richard Strauss. One of the best known pieces that was written for the Armonica is the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker. His first draft called for "Glass Armonica," but he changed it to the newly-invented Celesta before the work's premiere performance in 1892. Saint-Saƫns also used this percussive instrument in his "Carnaval des animaux" (in movements 7 and 14).

By the mid-1800's, it suddenly lost its popularity, and gradually vanished. Superstitious rumors ran wild. Armonicas were said to drive performers mad, and evoke spirits of the dead because of its eerie and haunting sound. There was a rebirth of interest in 1982 through the efforts of the late master glass blower named Gerhard Finkenbeiner, of Waltham, Massachusetts, and more recently, because of the increased accesibility of information via the Internet, the Armonica has reached into the 21st century.

If you'd like to try playing the Armonica there is a virtual version here.