Journal Wrap ups

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Several of my handmade journals are finishing up about the same time! Here’s a quick overview. First up in the slide show is a half fold journal with 120 lb paper, fusible vinyl on the cover. I’ve enjoyed this paper immensely – not quite as heavy as watercolor but stands up very well to that medium. I followed the facebook prompts for Art Every Day in May and June and feel energized for the Summer!

The second journal in the show is made from gessoed canvas from an old project, with watercolor and drawing paper. I liked the one sketch per page format. These were studies for larger works. Still a few sketches in this one to finish.

The third journal was made from a single full sheet of watercolor following the video tutorial by Cathy Johnson. I wasn’t sure about this format at first, as the backside pages turn kind of wonky.  But the front side works well, and gives you a wide format perfect for panoramic layouts, without a gutter in the middle.  I’ve done various subjects in this journal, some freehand and some traced from photos. The paper was an old watercolor of a winter woodland scene – I used that for journaling.  I’m so pleased with it that my next effort is a 16 page folded journal from a full sheet of watercolor paper – gives a larger work area.  Already have some pieces I want to sketch.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this journal tour!  Get out, draw, paint!!

Carytown, Fast and Fresh

Thursday I tested my gear and did my first water color on the easel. Friday night I gathered paints, papers, binder clips, water, etc. and stashed it all near the door. Saturday morning I woke up to rain!! I taped a smaller piece of watercolor paper to cardboard so I could work in the car if necessary and added a couple of large pieces of clear plastic to the pile. By 8:30 am I was cruising Carytown and the rain had stopped. I parked at MacDonalds (easy access to food and facilities!), my original choice for set up. After checking in and looking around, I moved the car up the block to right across from the bright lime green building. The photo I’d taken of it the week before caught my artist daughter’s interest and she suggested it could be an good subject.
9:30 am – time for the shotgun start!! I tried really hard to make a good sketch and paint well, keeping in mind that it had to be finished and framed for judging by 11:30. Nothing like a little pressure. I cannot believe two hours can go so quickly! I was under the overhang of a restaurant with top 40 tunes blasting over the sidewalk – shaded and serenaded, the good life. Folks wandered by and chatted, watched awhile, took photos and videos, and reported on some of 40 or so other artists they’d seen. In no time it was after 11 am – time to finish up! About that point a couple stopped by and said ‘that looks just like Carytown! is it for sale?’ And my painting sold!!
Thankfully I thought to take photos, which you see above. Looking at the pictures last night, right off I saw at least five areas for improvement. Next time out…
On reflection, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Batteau Festival Arrives in Scottsville

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In 1985 while I was working downtown and construction crews were digging the foundation for the James Center, a batteau from the 1800s was uncovered in what had once been the turning basin, way below the current ground level of Richmond! It was a sensation – daily at lunchtime everyone went down to check progress of the excavation. From that discovery grew the Batteau Festival, held now for 31 years! Homemade 50′ or so batteau constructed by enthusicastic crews are poled for 5 days from Lynchburg to just above Richmond. The first couple of years it was billed as a ‘race’, but the James River can be harsh at the best of times. After multiple damages to boats and humans, it evolved to a ‘festival’, a week-long fun float with some hard work thrown in! Injury still happens, but there’s less stress.

I discovered this spring that my cousin Tad, a master carpenter, led construction last year of the Seven Islands, one of the more recent entries in the batteau fleet. They were just getting ready to raise it from the bottom of a pond where it had been since last year’s festival in preparation for the 2016 event. They sink it to preserve the wood and keep it swollen tight. Tad would be one of the crew! So yesterday four of my cousins and me met in Scottsville to welcome the boats to their fifth night berthing! Another of our cousins who lives just a ways downriver from town joined his buddies with their kayaks to escort the batteaus in.

Tad said 22 batteau left out of Lynchburg on Saturday accompanied by so many canoes and kayaks that navigation was a challenge! We saw a few c&k’s coming into Scottsville, but mostly the batteaus, with crews of anywhere from 4 to 14 folks! Some were in period attire, several included canine assistants. A few crews set off on board cannons as they passed under the Scottsville bridge! This was the middle of the week long festival. They’ll take out the long boats at Maidens Landing near Gouchland Courthouse on Saturday, onto trailers made from the chassis’ of motor homes.

Tad’s boat was the last one in – 3 1/2 tons of white oak construction with popular wood planking, poles, and decking. He said they started out with six 14′ poles, using 4 at a time, along with the long oars at bow and stern for steering. They broke three poles yesterday! So they were picking up more yesterday evening. Most of the river was between 3 and 4 feet deep, but he said they passed thru a couple pools where the poles wouldn’t reach the river bed!

We took a picnic with us, but there were food vendors and the barbecue smelled delicious! We were between the railroad track and the river about even with the Scottsville Museum and Canal Park. Maybe a couple hundred people – not crowded, very laid back. Everyone greeted the boats as they came in and once they’d all arrived folks began trickling away.

We plan to go again next year! Pencil it in on your calendars!

Plein Air Richmond – Fast & Fresh

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I took a stroll along Cary Street this morning thru the area known as Carytown. Most of the shops were closed but restaurants were setting out chairs and preparing to open for brunch and early lunch. I was easily able to find parking – not always the case! And still there were folks on the street – its a lovely area of Richmond!

I was there to scope out possible plein air painting locations – Plein Air Richmond starts tomorrow with 30 invited artists from around the country, and will culminate next Saturday, June 25th, with a Fast and Fresh 2-hour painting session open to all in, you guessed it, Carytown! Let me know if any particular images in the slide show above appeal to you. Come out and paint, and/or support your favorite artists!

My plein air skills have a good ways to go before they top out, to say the least. I need every opportunity to practice. My easel, given to me by my resident design consultant many years ago, is checked out and ready. Just have to get papers and mats together and top up my palette! This will be a good warm up for the Cashiers, North Carolina, Plein Air Art Festival in July. They’re having a similar general participation paint out on July 15, which just happens to coincide with my summer jaunt to the mountains.  I can’t wait!



Beaverdam Park


Grand hike last week with Chesterfield County! The hikes are available thru Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation, but we travel all over the state.  This time we were just outside the small town of Gloucester at Beaverdam Park. We followed the well maintained trail thru rolling terrain, along side Beaverdam Reservoir, for about a mile and a half, then came back.  It was a beautiful warm winter day, with daffodils lining the first part of the path!  (Gloucester is famous for it’s daffodil festival, which will be held this year on April 2 & 3.)

We saw a LOT of turtles, a great blue heron, some coots, bull frogs, and a black racer snake.  Definitely worth a trip.  We were on the hiking trail, but there’re also around 7 miles of multiuse trail for hiking, bikers, and horses.  In addition, there’re boats, canoes and kayaks available for rent. Great day trip from Richmond!

Music to My Ears


Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival is this week!!  Show opens on Thursday, February 25th, and runs thru Sunday.  Richmond Quilters Guild has an exhibit, for the third year in a row.  Our challenge this year is Music to My Ears.  I contemplated sitting this one out, as ideas weren’t coming to me.  Then my resident quilt consultant made several excellent suggestions, and we were rolling!  The image I eventually used came from a morning on the beach with my grandson, just before leaving with him and his family for their newest home in Rhode Island.  The sounds of his squeals as he chased the seagulls still ring in my ears!

The quilt is based on a photograph using fusible applique.  You may have noticed from my Dan Springs Collection companion blog that I’ll be teaching a class on this technique in March for the Virginia Consortium of Quilters.  I had a thermofax screen made for the seagulls, which you may have seen used in an earlier post.  I was planning to use printable organza for the child’s face, but couldn’t find any in the Richmond quilt stores. So I went with printable silk and decided to do the whole child.  Then the printed seagulls didn’t look right. So I also printed them on the silk and fused each seagull over it’s printed version, which worked well.  Ta da!

Poem printed in the border of the quilt:

Squeals of delight by the pounding sea, Calls of the seagulls, skree, skree, skree.

Artful Healing

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A week from this Sunday the Bon Air Artist Association is presenting a fundraiser on behalf of World Pediatric Project at the Jepson Alumni Center at the University of Richmond. I’ll have my photographs on exhibit in the ballroom. Come on out!