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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Preparing for another adventure

Seems like I just got home and off I go again. In about ten days I'll be flying to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where I'll rent a car and drive north to fabled Door County to the Peninsula Art School to teach a 3-day Exploring Design workshop. I've heard so much about the beauty of the area and the wonderful art it's known for. Here's a description of the class--there are still a few spaces available.

M-W, Aug 11-13, 9am-4pm
Open to All Levels
collageDesign is the secret to more powerful artwork. Instead of struggling to make a painting work, learn how to use design principles and color organization to create more expressive art. In this workshop you will try new design ideas in your current media and experiment with monotype, collage and mixed media in a relaxed and fun atmosphere with no competition or pressure to perform. Every day begins with a short demo and ends with a class critique. Activities are based on The New Creative Artist, Exploring Color and Creative Collage Techniques.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Confident Color

With the workshop behind me I'm becoming more and more excited about the release of my new book, Confident Color. The book is expected in the warehouse by August 25, but with my previous books I have seen an advance copy up to a month before. If that happens this time, I should see my book any day now. Toward the end of the editing process my editor sent me a color copy of several pages, so I could see what the designer had done with the layout. It's very--well, colorful, but a color copy doesn't even come close to the printed color on quality paper. I was struggling through the last stages of the book with cataracts in both eyes, which have been surgically removed this year, so I will be seeing the artwork with almost new eyes. I can hardly wait!

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Awesome quilters

Just finished a three-day color and design workshop with the Front Range Contemporary Quilters in Denver. What amazing artists these people are. Monday evening I gave a slide lecture to the general membership and there were stunning quilts hanging around the room. The originality, color, wit and expertise of the work rivaled anything I've seen in fine-art painting shows. The artists in the workshop ranged from relative beginners to some who are doing professional level work like that seen the night before. It was a challenge for me to challenge them and not leave the newbies behind. They were a wonderful group to work with. I hope that the workshop will help all of them to work with confident color and keep growing as the outstanding artists they are. Quilters are amazing colorists.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shannon Family Reunion

Last week was a riot, running up to our family reunion at our daughter's farm in Wilmington, Ohio. Thirty-six descendants and in-laws of my parents came from Boston, California, Colorado and Ohio to honor their memory. My daughter did most of it and she certainly did a good job. We started Friday evening with a potluck at the farm and after dinner watched a DVD that my nephew, who is in the film industry in California, had put together from old family movies dating back to the early 1940s through the last reunion in 2001. That was fun to see the families of my two sisters and me as our families were growing up. We got together on holidays when our parents were living and had a great time. On Saturday we all went to Fort Ancient State Park, a mound-builders' fort that has picnic facilities. After a picnic, the young people went canoeing on the Little Miami River and the "elders" returned to the air-conditioned house ostensibly to baby-sit our grandson. We had a grand time reminiscing when we weren't napping. Pizza was delivered for dinner on the patio. I should mention the weather, which was perfect--sunny and nice, although hot and humid, as you might expect in late July in Ohio. Sunday morning everyone assembled at my house in Dayton for donuts and coffee. We took group pictures and then set off on a trip down memory lane that my daughter had planned. First, we visited the house where my mother, her sister and brother were born between 1896 and 1904. It's a restaurant in the historic district now. We also drove by the house where my parents met and the church where they were married. We saw the house where all three of us were born and another where we grew up and lived for 18 years. The final lap on the trip was to the cemetery where our grandparents, parents and some cousins are buried on the same plot since 1938. It was quite a journey and a wonderful weekend. The oldest of our group is my sister at 78, the youngest is our grandson at 10 months.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Finding lines in the environment

Jerry Walter and his Photoshop group have been playing with more activities from The New Creative Artist. Here are his images and a description of the processes they're experimenting with.

"Just to bring you up to date. We are continuing reading The New Creative Artist, and developing little exercises as suggested by your text and illustrations. We all tried Page 48 Painted Paper Weaving with limited success (but we really learned something, which is what it is all about). It's a technique that can be done on the screen with two images and lots of concentration. We found that "weaving" two dissimilar images gave a very confusing result, probably because we didn't have the texture from the woven strips that one would have in real life. But we did have some good results with weaving two interpretations of the same image, like one with a red tone and another with a blue tone. Here the lines carried the theme and provided continuity. I don't have one of those handy or I'd send it along.

We also spent some time on Page 56 with Go Line-Spotting. That phrase "Look for lines and patterns in nature..." is absolutely loaded with possibilities. Here is my Photoshop results. There were some false starts, but soon it fell into place. Of course we are doing it differently -- we are actually tracing over the photo of the object with a small brush. Requires a lot of bookkeeping within the Photoshop format. And we're doing it with a "mouse" track on the screen, rather than the sophisticated way with a digital pen and tablet. And when we do it again, we'll work with a variety of brushes for more texture. But the results are quite amazing, a wonderful exercise all around, with a very interesting finished composite line drawing."

What a great way to train your eye to see shapes and lines in nature and the man-made environment. I can't wait to see what you dream up next.

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End of an era

McCallister's Art Store is closing its doors. I've had a fifty-year association with the store, originally called Ken McCallister's. When we returned from France, my husband's mother sent me there to have some pictures framed, which was the principal business of the relatively new store. Off to the side was an area that displayed art supplies, but I didn't have any need for them then. Nearly everything I have on my walls was framed at McCallister's. When I began to paint in 1970, I bought my supplies and frames there. Ken expanded and built a new building next door and later on, the older one was retrofitted for workshops. The current owner, George Bussinger, was just a kid when he started working with his father and Ken McCallister at the store. George has always been an enthusiastic supporter of the arts in the area, donating supplies and gift certificates for exhibitions and giving discounts to students. He served on the board for many years and as chairman of the National Art Materials Trade Association and is highly thought of in the industry. It saddens me to see this happen. A combination of factors contributed to George's decision to liquidate. Even though his store has been the best in the tri-state area for many years--and a real candy-store to artists who love to browse among paints and palettes--the advent of big-box craft stores and online art retailers hit most independent stores hard. McCallister's had another disadvantage, a result of Ken's decision to expand on his site rather than moving to a locale more friendly to his clientele. And now, with soaring gas prices, artists are reluctant to go across town on an impulse to browse and buy art supplies. George hasn't decided what he'll do next, but he has several options and I do wish him the best. Starting this week, everything in the store is on sale at 25% off and bigger cuts are coming as the inventory is sold down.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

An unexpected day off

I was supposed to baby-sit today, but the poor munchkins were sick. It took me a few minutes to get my bearings. I decided to get caught up on my Web links, which have piled up since January. Once that was done, I was on a roll, so I updated my home page links and launched a pre-publication offer for my new book, which makes it begin to seem more real. Once the manuscript is out of your hands, a book takes on a life of its own, until the real thing comes into being.

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