Veterans Impact Project


Yesterday I was on a hill above downtown Richmond at the Virginia War Memorial doing some plein air painting. It was a lovely fall day and the views were stunning! A swimming and/or triathalon event was going on at the river, folks were running along the paths training for the marathon, and a fire engine crew was doing carry and rescue drills up and down the hillsides!

You may remember the Veteran Impact Project that I wrote about in my June 29, 2014. It’s now on display at the War Memorial! It will be on display thru October  and additional posters and information about it’s creation are on view inside the Memorial Museum. Make an opportunity to visit, and you’ll be fascinated at the detail in the sculpture. Thanks to Art on Wheels and James Robertson, local sculptor, for this remembrance of our defenders of freedom.

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Making Watercolor Brushes!

Last fall our cats brought us several squirrels. At the time, I was appalled, particularly when they showed up with various pieces in the living room. We promptly disposed of the carcasses. Not long after I came across a video of how to make brushes from squirrels’ fur! The cats, however, had moved on to other prey. Until recently! Considerately, this time they left only the tail of a young squirrel outside on the porch. Serendipitously, a stand of bamboo has been cut down nearby. I collected the tail, selected bamboo pieces of appropriate size, viewed various videos, and made some brushes!! Here’re photos of my attempt. It seems a mature squirrel tail with more abundant and longer fur might be a better starting point. I’m now watching the roadsides…

 

Designing Repeat Patterns

Repeat patterns!! What an intriguing concept. This is probably old hat to you graphic designers out there. I saw a photoshop how-to in a magazine a year or so ago, but didn’t get around to it at the time. As I was contemplating fabric design and thermofax printing screens, the technique bubbled up and a quick online search led to easy directions from Julia Rothman: http://www.designsponge.com/2008/05/welcome-julia-and-how-to-make-a-repeat-pattern.html. Give it a try!

Very easy to do in analog mode; perhaps something your summer tweens might enjoy!

Traveling in Spain

Recently I had the good fortune to travel to Spain with a group of 13 fellow artists on a Plein Air tour of Madrid and Barcelona. Well, most of us were artists, and we did do some painting; but mostly we saw as much as we possibly could! Now that I’ve had two months to begin processing the experience, I’d like to share some of the paintings I’m working on. I’ve included above preliminary sketches: let me know which ones appeal to you.

I took 1,000 or so photos and did several sketches as we visited Madrid, Toledo, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Monsterrat and Cadaques. We saw many excellent museums, cathedrals, and city neighborhoods, ancient and modern. It was a satisfyingly wonderful trip!

My favorite place: the seaside village of Cadaques; my favorite museum: the Thyssen in Madrid; my favorite environment: Retiro park in Madrid. In close competition, respectively: Toledo; Museum at Montserrat; the Montserrat pudding stone needles/mountains.

For those of you planning a trip, here’s what I did:

April 28, Friday, Madrid
– arrive 8am, drop bags at hotel: Mercure Madrid Centro, Calle Lope de Vega, 49                  – hotel check in 3pm                                                                                                                             – Sofia Museum: Picasso, Pity and Terror                                                                                         – Sketch at the Crystal Palace  in the Retiro Park (east of Prado)                                                 – early evening wine & cheese reception at hotel
April 29, Saturday, Madrid                                                                                                                    – Prado Museum                                                                                                                                     – Caixaforum – Ramon Casas exhibit                                                                                                 April 30, Sunday, Madrid                                                                                                                       – Plaza Mayor coin/stamp market; street flea market                                                                     – Palace plaza, Temple Debod                                                                                                              – Thyssen Museum                                                                                                                                – 90 minute hop on, hop off bus, Puerta del Sol                                                                                May 1, Monday, Madrid                                                                                                                       – 8am coach  to Toledo (1 hour drive): cathedral; TrainVision Tourist Train
– Royal Botanical garden                                                                                                                 May 2, Tuesday, travel                                                                                                                           – 9am coach to Barcelona
– 3 hours to Zaragoza, Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar tower elevator, lunch
– Barcelona hotel: Avenida Palace, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 605                             May 3, Wednesday, Barcelona                                                                                                             – El Born Market                                                                                                                                     – Picasso Museum                                                                                                                                   – El Born Cultural Museum                                                                                                                  – Gaudi Cascade                                                                                                                                      – Arc de Triomf                                                                                                                                 May 4, Thursday, Barcelona                                                                                                                – 8am coach to Montserrat: Monastery, Museum, funicular                                                         – Stroll La Rambla, visit art supply store                                                                                       May 5, Friday, Barcelona                                                                                                                       – Park Güell, picnic/paint, Gaudi museum                                                                                        – 7:30 flamenco dance performance                                                                                           May 6, Saturday, Barcelona
– 8:30am coach to Cadaques                                                                                                                 – timed entry to the Dali House                                                                                                           – flea market via metro                                                                                                                   May 7, Sunday, Barcelona                                                                                                                     – Sketch in area of hotel
May 8, Monday, departure

Wet Week in Virginia

It rained in Virginia the first four days of last week. On Thursday I joined a Chesterfield Parks and Recreations hike to Cole Mountain, about 2 hours west of Richmond.

As we got out of the Parks and Rec van at the Hog Camp trail head, the rain started again! The 10 of us scrambled into ponchos and rain gear. About 20 minutes into our hike up Cole Mountain along the Appalachian trail, the rain moved off and the clouds gradually began to lift. We were headed south and met five or six thru hikers on their way north, all hiking individually, loaded with damp gear.

This was my second time hiking this trail, looking forward to the beautiful views from the bald. As we came out of the woods the mists were still cloaking the meadow. By the time we reached the opposite hillside, the sun broke thru!! We could see mountains all around us, the sun sparkling off wet trees and grass. It was glorious!

As we headed home in the van, water was cascading down the mountain side, headed for the James River. The creeks done rose!

Saturday I rode my bike along the James River as it flows thru downtown. The River was at flood, roiling and raging, completely engulfing the many rocks usually visible along its path. As typical of a flood day, it was a lovely sunny morning.

Mtn haiku:                                                                                                                                       Rain, damp clouds, ponchos – mists shred and clear; mountains here!                               The sun, the sun comes!

River haiku:                                                                                                                                     Trails inundated by rising, raging water – James River at flood.                                                 Cool air rushes by, flung by the roiling madness; muddy muddy James.

 

Thinking of my Grandmother

For years my grandmother propagated amaryllis lilies in south Georgia, trying to get one that was all white. She came very close. In 1976 she gave me a handful of bulbs and told me to plant them in light shade and take them up before frost, and they should bloom in a couple of years. So I did, and before long I had lovely white amaryllis lightly striped with pink! Then we had babies and those amaryllis fell by the wayside. Every so often I’m tempted by the bulbs in the greenhouse and currently I have several pots of them, and two are blooming!

I was looking thru my journals for ideas on what to make to take with me to Madrid and Barcelona later this month, and came across one I made in 2012. Slipped inside were two photos above of my grandmother’s amaryllis garden, and this poem:

1953 – 2012

Grandma had a fishpond, when I was very young.  We fed the fishes oatmeal; they ate them, every crumb!

Grandma had a cow named Star, when I was four years old. She’d milk her every morning as I her tail would hold.

Grandma kept brown hens, when I was still quite small. We’d feed them corn and hunt their eggs, ‘neath the grape arbor so tall.

Grandma grew peace roses, when I was very young. They bloomed all round her white washed house and sheltered frogs and bugs.

There came a year the fish were gone, no lizards could be found. Every egg broke in the nest – it was a horrid sound.

Grandma said, “was snakes.” I never saw a snake.

Near 60 years have rolled away. I feel I’m still quite young. My brother has a fishpond; my niece keeps city hens. The world has yet a happy place, when we will let it in.

Is it done yet?

Bon Air Artists’ Association’s Artful Healing Show is this Sunday!! Hope you can come by the University of Richmond’s Jepson Alumni Center between 10 am and 5 pm. You’ll be glad you did! 70 artists will have their works on display. I’ve got my pieces framed and ready to go. The photos above are of the last one out of the studio. Actually, what you see here are two versions. The first one was critiqued at our last BAAA meeting. I received several helpful pointers, and gave it another go. I like the composition better. It could use some improvement, but I’m done with this iteration.