13 August 2012


I'm picking up Beatrice from the vet today at 2:00. It's been an ongoing drama with her for awhile now (infections, diabetes), and last week after many tests and biopsies, we discovered that she also had a hemangial sarcoma (a tumor the size of a golf ball!) in her side, so on Saturday afternoon she had surgery. The outcome was great--the vet was able to remove the entire tumor along with good "edges" all around, and she should make a full recovery. The prognosis for surgery in these cases in cats is good--without surgery, 60 days; with, three to five years. And since Bea is already 14, that's about right, so I am now hoping for maximum life expectancy!

She will have to wear an "Elizabethan collar" for the next little while until her stitches come out, and will also need to be confined so she can't run, jump, or (more likely) crawl back under things to hide, necessitating hauling her out again. So I went to the pet store yesterday and got prepared, and here is Beatrice's "prison" for the next week or two. (Oh, she will be SO mad...)

Here below is a portrait/pictorial story I did about seven years ago when I was in watercolor class at Valley College. It's called "All Hail Queen Beatrice, or, Bea, Bee and Tea."

An array of artists

While I'm waiting to find the time to finish my last two pix from the workshop, here are a few photos of various examples of everyone's work. We had 14 women (plus Brenda) in this group, and the styles, ideas, and execution are all so different and fun! I took these with my cell phone camera, so the photos are not the best, but you can still see the creativity involved...

Among these are morning exercises, experiments with tools (for instance, doing the same image using pencil, permanent ink, and water-soluble ink/Tombow pens), and sketch journaling.

By the way, Brenda did ask permission to group and photograph these, and then the rest of us followed suit, so I don't think I'm violating anyone's privacy or copyright by putting these up. (Also, you would have to be motivated enough to go after them with a magnifying glass to read anything but the titles.) But if someone from the workshop sees them and thinks otherwise, please tell me and I will take them down immediately!

(There are a few repeats from photo to photo, because not everyone realized we were changing pages and photographing again.)

12 August 2012

Sketch journaling from photos

Saturday afternoon, our big project was to find a photo we liked (either one we had brought or from Brenda's giant stash of photo references), paint the scene, then find something to "call out" from the photo, or from some idea associated with the photo, and paint that separately on the page, then join the two elements together somehow with words, borders, shadows, etc.

Everyone's ideas and results were really clever: One workshop participant painted a landscape of fields of grain receding towards distant mountains (it looked like a scene from the Central Valley), and then in the lower left corner of her paper she painted a farmer scattering corn in front of chickens. Another did a diagonal row of baskets--lower left to upper right--filled with fruits and vegetables that looked like a stand at a farmer's market, and her "call-out" was a snail down in the empty right corner, whose slime trail then formed a mustard-colored border around the picture. My new acquaintance Andrea, with whom I have lunched every day, did a pale and ethereal positive/negative image of the Taj Mahal in the upper center background, and below that had a magic lamp, whose steam went up to form the headline for her writing, which was about a child who sold her a lamp outside the Taj.

Here is mine, and of course it has to do with...BOOKS. There was this great picture of a little independent bookstore, and the call-out HAD to be a stack of books that I presumably found and took home with me from my delirious shopping spree. My text is a bit wistful--when even B&Ns and Borders are closing, where can you go to truly browse the shelves any more? Well, the library--but what if you want to KEEP the books? So sad. Amazon and e-books definitely have their place, but it's too bad they had to supplant mom and pop bookstores everywhere.

But I was happy with my picture. It isn't my usual style at all--this drawing with pen seems to be bringing out a cartoon-like illustrator side I never knew existed inside my brain--but it's fun! Drawing and then painting a brick building was certainly a new challenge. Also, looking at it here in scan form, I have to ask--are those books floating? Maybe I need a shadow underneath to nail them down. Floating books ARE my speciality.

Journaling the personal

One request Brenda made of all the workshop participants is that we bring a few items of a personal nature to draw and paint during the weekend. She wanted us to have something meaningful about which we could journal, that we could turn into a "sketch journal" entry by putting art and words together. So Friday afternoon, we all pulled out a set of items and made a drawing, and were supposed to wait until Saturday morning to paint it. My first two items, however, were rather simple to draw, so I went ahead and painted them too, not knowing that she wanted us to wait so we could first have a lesson on shadows and reflected light and incorporate that lesson into our painting.

So, this first picture is my quick-and-easy one, that I finished without benefit from that lesson (as is obvious from the inaccurate, made-up shadow!). Oh well.

The cat is from a small collection I have on a table in my living room; my mom gave me one, other people have brought me some from their travels, and I have picked up a couple as well, here and there. I currently have them displayed all sitting in a circle around one of those collectible pill boxes made in the shape of a birdbath, which seemed like a natural place for a bunch of kitties to congregate. But for this painting I had another idea--Mom also gave me this pill box with the Eiffel Tower on top, and--shades of Godzilla and the Empire State--they just seemed to go together!

So, I learned the shadow/reflected light lesson later, and you will see the results soon. The backwards leaning of the Eiffel Tower was a simple error in perspective combined with slanted paper, but it serendipitously worked--doesn't it look like the tower is rearing backwards with alarm from the advent of the GIANT CAT?