Thursday, December 24, 2009

Handmade Sketchbook Finished!

Here it is! The finished sketchbook open to a couple of watercolors that were painted before I put the pages together into the book. Below you will find the steps I went through since my last post to add the book block into the cover.

After pressing the cover between the boards for a couple of days it was properly dry. I squeezed glue onto the back board and brushed it out.

After placing the book block with it's cheesecloth spine down on the center of the cover I added a little more glue through the cheesecloth and brushed this out too.

Pieces of the same linen cloth used for the cover were then glued down to the mat board. They are called fillers. The cheesecloth is now sandwiched between the mat board and the linen filler.

Here, I'm brushing glue across pieces of Canson pastel paper which will be used for the end papers.

Those binder clips did a great job of holding the book block up vertically for me while I positioned the fillers and end papers and pressed and smoothed them down.

The burgundy colored end papers are a little too long at this point but I will tear them even with the other pages later. I placed sheets of newsprint to absorb moisture from the glue down directly on the end papers then wax paper next to protect the good drawings and painting pages from moisture. I also added some foam core to keep the cover up since it slants downward a little when closes. This kept the homesote boards horizontal once I put them down and weighted them.

The sketchbook is now between 2 homesote boards and more heavy art books placed on top to weigh the book down for final drying for a few days.

The open sketchbook two days later after drying. I have trimmed the end papers to the same width as the painting papers.

There are a few minor problems. In between the signatures there is a lot of space at the spine. I'll do the stitching a bit more snug next time.

The other problem is that the pages are a bit wider than the linen cover. I may not have gotten the book block glued in tightly enough against the cover spine. Bookbinding is definitely an art in itself. I'm looking forward to taking a workshop to improve on some of these details. But the sketchbook will still serve it's purpose quite well for me regardless of these little imperfections. I'm very much looking forward to filling it!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Binding My Own Sketchbook!

I have decided to make my own sketchbook from art papers that are my favorite to paint on. The sketchbooks we buy from the art stores are very nice but I wanted one with a variety of Fabriano surfaces as well as some fine drawing papers like Rives BFK in several tones. Many of the pages already have paintings or sketches on them because I began forming the pages for this sketchbook by tearing and folding from larger sheets of paper months ago and then I started using them even though I hadn't bound them into the book yet.

This photo shows the book block after I have assembled all the signatures and the cheesecloth spine and then sewn them all together. A signature is a group of folded leaves, or pages, inserted one inside the next for binding. I'm using a good book to help guide me through this process called Books, Boxes, & Wraps by Marilyn Webberlye & JoAn Forsyth. I've never bound a book before so this is a whole new experience for me.

Here you can see that the space between the signature units when laid flat is probably a little too wide. I must have left too much slack in the thread when sewing them. I was concerned that if I pulled too tightly I might have trouble getting the pages to lay flat when open but I may have over compensated. I spent hours doing this step so I decided not to redo it. I'll just pay attention to this possible outcome with the next sketchbook I make.

Putting the glue on the mat boards I am using to make the cover. I'm using my cotton boards that are left over from matting paintings so the boards are archival. I bought a piece of linen from Joann Fabric Store for the fabric cover and that is precut, ironed and laid out in the center of my framing table.

Brushing the glue across the entire sheet of mat board.

Placing the mat board on the linen glue side down. I pressed down in the center and then in all four corners, flipped the cover over, placed a paper towel down and smoothed it with a bone folder. The folder takes out any air pockets and the paper towel is there to absorb any excess glue that might seep up through the fabric.

Here I am brushing glue on the turn-ins which are then folded over and pressed down on the board.

To dry overnight I have placed a sheet of homesote board down first. Next came a sheet of wax paper to protect the homesote. Then a slip sheet of newsprint. The book cover is next with newsprint over it, then another sheet of wax paper and another homesote board on top.

This photo shows the last step in making the case to set the signatures in. You see the stack of 2 boards that I have placed the case between and the books on top to weigh it down. Those heavy art history books come in handy. I left the sketchbook cover (also called the case) to dry overnight. In my next blog entry I'll show attaching the book block to this case.

This drying process is the same method I use to flatten my watercolors by the way, after they are finished. I set the painting face down on this same table because it is waterproof. I spread water across the back of the painting with a large hake brush and put a sheet of plastic over it while the water soaks in for about 15 minutes. If you haven't seen this process done before it is a good idea to test it first on a scrap watercolor because you must be careful not to put too much water down or it could soak through to the other side where your painting is. 300 lb. paper needs more water than 140lb. paper. But you must use enough water to cause the paper to relax. I put a clean piece of cloth cut from an old cotton sheet down on the homesote board, put the painting on top of that. Then another piece of cotton goes down on top of the painting. Finally another piece of homesote board is placed on top and heavy books on top of that. I usually leave the painting under these weights for a day and a half. The homesote board is what I use in printmaking to dry etchings after pulling an edition. It is a board which pulls moisture into itself. Flattening this way makes matting and framing the painting easier as you won't see buckling of the painting under the edges of your window mat.

I'm having a lot of fun with this and I can hopefully finish it soon! Stay tuned for the next installment of my book binding!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Apache Plume and Purple Sage"
9" x 13" original watercolor

This little watercolor was done in July and I intended to have it at the show in October but I ran out of time to mat or frame most of the paintings done in late summer. It is on Fabriano Extra White 140 lb. cold press. The scene is one I keep going back to because I am inspired by the mountains in Red Rock Canyon and also by the thick desert flora. I used small dashes of miskit for the flowers on the shrubs in order to preserve their light and after finishing the majority of the landscape I went back and put in the flower details at the end. The Apache Plume (in the middle ground right with the whitish blossoms) is an interesting plant because it's flower resembles a miniature five-petaled rose. But as many as 25 seed plumes develop and they look like tufts of feathers. They give the plant a soft, fluffy appearance which is a nice change from the yuccas and spiney cactus. We've seen these profuse "feather" shows in shades of delicate lime green, cream, pink and deep pink. An artist can't resist painting scenes like this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great show at Boulder City

This is a picture of former Boulder City Mayor Bob Ferraro presenting me with my third place ribbon in the fine arts division at the Art in the Park festival in Boulder City. This was such an unexpected and much appreciated award given by the Boulder City Hospital Foundation which sponsors this show. The fine arts section of this show had over 130 artists exhibiting. There were several hundred more artists in the fine crafts and traditional crafts divisions as well. This is the first time Bill and I have done a festival of this size. We had quite a strong wind both days yet big crowds of art lovers still came out to support the artists, enjoy great food and listen to all the musicians. We are looking forward to exhibiting in the 2010 show!
A photo of our booth showing the framed paintings as well as a couple of our display cases which hold original paintings which are either mounted on foam core or matted. I had about a dozen paintings in my framing room which I didn't have in the show because I ran out of time to mat them. So I have been busy since this show getting those matted and now I have a bit of a head start for the next exhibit.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Boulder City Art in the Part Festival!

The Boulder City Art in the Part Festival is coming up and it's going to be on October 3rd and 4th. I will have my paintings on display that weekend so we are busy matting, framing and documenting all of the fresh paintings I have recently finished. I look forward to the response to my latest work and I also will enjoy seeing what my colleagues have produced in the past year. Hope to see you there!

Sketchbook Pages

The page on the right has a few of what I call small treasures of Red Rock Canyon. The datura bush was blooming in the picnic area of Red Springs and while I was studying it a beautiful woodpecker landed in the velvet ash tree above me. I missed a shot of him though as they're very camera shy. The day I found the pine cones Bill and I had driven up one of the old fire roads to visit one of our favorite springs. The pinyon pine cones we found there were beautiful with the green tips of their scales contrasting with the deep sienna centers. If you look closely you can see a little seed that was left. We stayed so late it was dark as we drove back down the mountain side and in the headlights we saw a desert bighorn sheep crossing the road ahead of us. A full moon was rising over Las Vegas and the lights of the city were sparkling silver and gold and ruby. It looked like Christmas in the valley.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Study of Tenaya Tapestry

"Study of Tenaya Tapestry"
8" x 12"
Original Watercolor

This painting is a study I did last week in preparation for the full sheet painting I'm working on now. This one is on Arches rough 140 lb, although the big one is on Fabriano cold press 300 lb.
The colors in this digital photo are more vivid than in the actual painting. I'm still learning how to get an accurate color reproduction with my camera. The subject is a tinaja. Tinaja is a spanish word for earthen jar or tank. A tinaja is a pool of rainwater that collects in depressions in the sandstone. They can last for days or even weeks and so they are an important source of water for wildlife (or backpackers occasionally.) Tinajas are one of my favorite subjects for painting because they are pools of clear, cool water that reflect passing storms or blue sky or the rich colors of the sandstone that surround them.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sketchbook Pages

I went out to our little flowerbed in the backyard this morning and painted this page. Some of the glazes are still wet actually. I discovered a new color yesterday through the thoughtfulness of Stan Fellows at his blog Sketchbook by Stan Fellows. (Thank-you, Stan) One of his entries shows his color palette and one of the colors-Holbein's Lavender-I had not tried before. In his beautiful paintings one could see that it is a luscious color. So I went down to Dick Blick and purchased a tube. I tried it out last night to paint a quick sketch of the salt shaker on the table and it was great for the shadow side of the white salt. Then when I looked out the window this morning and saw six new morning glories in bloom I noticed that just one of them was the exact color of this tube of lavendar. A little synchronicity to tempt me outside. So I dragged a couple of folding chairs and my palette and sketchbook out and just enjoyed myself. The lizards were once again playing tag on the block wall and they slowly venture closer to check me out. And a hummingbird flew by and decided to land in the willow tree just to my right and watch. She flew to the privet also just in front of me about eight feet away and then landed in the mock orange as well. She stayed there a while then flew back to the willow and stayed another five minutes. Smart little bird-changed her vantage point three times.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"June in Red Rock Canyon"
9" x 6"
Original Watercolor

I painted this little watercolor in my studio a couple of days ago from a reference photo taken over a year ago. Up in the desert in the spring of 2008 the indigo bush put on a rich show of color. These plants didn't bloom this past spring so I was glad I had gotten a few photos from the spring before. The painting is small so I didn't put in specific details of the flowers. I spritzed the purples in the foreground and then immediately lifted with a paper towel to give the plant a little texture. It is on Fabriano Artistico Extra White cold press. I can always count on this paper to allow me to lift for this effect. When this plant is in bloom there are acres and acres of the valley dotted with this intense purple. It is a pretty sight!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sketchbook Pages

Last weekend I had a chance to do a little sketching in my yard. The sketch on the right is a pen and ink done at our piano teacher's kitchen table in May that I later put a color wash on. He has quite a color variety of rose bushes in his backyard and always has a few in a vase in the house. This sketch was drawn vertically but it works horizontally as well. The sketch on the left is the one from the front yard. I found some shade under our acacia tree early in the morning and sketched the yucca pods that are so heavy they are bowing over the stalk they are growing on. While painting a hummingbird came to sip from the tiny red blossoms on this stalk. She was not more than a foot away from me and she hovered long enough to take a good look at the painting. The colors must have attracted her.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Yosemite Paintings

"Yosemite Blues"
Original Watercolor
9"x 12"

After doing some sketchs on site I was anxious to paint some scenes of the valley back in the studio so I could use my good watercolor papers and really have fun with the blues and greys of the distant mountains done with my sedimentary colors. This painting is done on Fabriano Artistico Extra White cold press 140 lb. It is one of the first landscapes I have done where I have included people in the composition. I felt they were needed to give a sense of scale to the mountains. Yosemite's beauty is almost beyond words and I am fortunate to be able to express my feelings for this valley in pencil or pigment.

This is a watercolor sketch done in Yosemite in May. I was set up to paint while sitting on the tailgate of our car parked near the chapel. My daughter was taking a nap in the car and Bill was over by the river taking photographs. It took more time to sketch than usual because cars kept driving in front of my view. It wasn't such a good idea to go to the park on Memorial Day weekend. There were lots of people enjoying the beauty of this perfect spring day. So my next sketches were done in more secluded spots.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Trip to California

We recently returned from a ten day trip to California where we visited good friends, in-laws and several of the state and national parks. This watercolor sketch was painted just south of Point Lobos. Wildflowers were abundant and growing right down to the edges of the coastal cliffs. It was cold though and even with a coat on I didn't stay more than 20 minutes. It's nice to be painting in the comfort of my studio again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Drive across Sheep Mountains

"West of the Sheep Mountains"
7" x 11"
Original Watercolor

Last weekend my husband and I drove across the Sheep Mountain range just north of Las Vegas. The wildflower updates on reported spectacular blooms up on this range and the reports were right. This is a scene near Corn Creek Field Station at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The creosote bushes were in full bloom and their yellows next to the delicate blues and lavendars of the mountains were irresistible for painting.

We took 7 hours to drive across this range on the Mormon Pass Road mainly because we stop so often to sketch or photograph. The beavertail and hedge hog cactus were blooming in the foothills and up higher the yuccas were putting on a show. But the best color was on the east side of the range where the fields of marigolds, larkspur and globe mallow stretched for miles. We even found claret cup cactus glowing with flowers on the rock walls of Peek-A-Boo Canyon. It was a wonderful spring day in the Mojave Desert.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boulder City Fine Art Festival 2009

Bill and I and Liz had a great time this past weekend out at the Boulder City Fine Art Festival in Boulder City, Nevada. It is sponsored by the Boulder City Art Guild and held on the shady lawns of Bicentennial Park. There were over 80 artists there, all of whom are creating art that is thought-provoking, genuine and well-made. We had many good conversations with our fellow artist-neighbors as well as the art patrons. Some of the conversations were quite light-hearted and funny while others were discussions on the current state of art education in the schools.

This is a photo of me walking back to our booth after being presented with the Cliff Segerblom Award. Cliff Segerblom was chief photographer for the Bureau of Reclamation Hoover Dam Project. Mr. Segerblom, as a photographer and a painter, and his wife Gene Segerblom, as a teacher, writer and historian, have a long history of service to southern Nevada. During my years as exhibition chairman for the Nevada Watercolor Society I had the pleasure of presenting this award to several accomplished artists. So it was an honor to be awarded with this distinction myself. I also had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Mrs. Segerblom during the art show. Nevada is fortunate to have such supporters of the arts in our state and I am most grateful for this award.

This is a photo of an 18"x 24" watercolor titled "Sky Blue Pool". The photo shows the painting along with the ribbon which was part of the Cliff Segerblom Award which I received at the Boulder City Fine Art Festival. The painting shows a tranquil pool of rainwater I came across out at Valley of Fire State Park and my interpretation of the scene. 

Featured on Brush - Paper - Water!

Chris Beck has graciously picked my blog to be featured on her blog Brush - Paper - Water. The feature is going up tonight and will probably be available for viewing on Wednesday. This is a great honor as the other artists she has chosen in the past to showcase on this blog are all so imaginative and accomplished in their bodies of work. Chris' paintings are so beautiful, she works in a contemporary realist manner with a perfect compositional design sense, not to mention so much of her work is playful and inventive. Thanks so much again, Chris, for your confidence in me and my work. Here's the link again,

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Afternoon Iris" Original 5 x 7 watercolor

"Afternoon Iris"
5 x 7
Original Watercolor
I haven't been able to get out and paint on location the past couple of weeks for a few reasons. We've had very strong winds here in Las Vegas for quite a while and that put a damper on a couple of weekends. Also, I've been working fervently on new large studio paintings (and all the framing that goes along with that) to show at the Boulder City Fine Arts Festival on April 18th and 19th. I was determined, however, to get out of the studio and paint and so, I took my watercolors and moved to the dining room. I set a vase of flowers up on an old chinese chest we keep in front of a picture window, pulled up a chair, and painted this little watercolor. The background is from my imagination as the view out from the window behind the flower was actually our backyard block wall. Thankfully the winds have finally died down some and we'll be able to go on our regular jaunts once again.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nevada Watercolor Society Hosts Studio Tour

Above, left to right, myself, Cheryl , Jan Schaeffer, Karen Saberzadeh, Darragh Goodsite, and Maria Frank

On Saturday, March 14 the Nevada Watercolor Society hosted a studio tour as a fundraiser for our upcoming Western Federation Exhibition. Local artists Dottie Burton, Sheila Spargo and I opened our studios and had the pleasure of greeting over 35 friends and fellow painters. This is a photo taken in my studio with one of the earlier groups to arrive. I had one of my large desert watercolors on my painting table and was able to use it to illustrate how I paint the underglaze effects before flowing on the large washes which complete my paintings. My guests asked so many good questions and it was a pleasure answering them all. I also shared my framing room and other areas of the house where we have paintings on display.

My husband and I spent a few weeks getting ready for this tour by polishing up the house and doing gardening. But the biggest area to receive the spring cleaning was of course the studio. I had not done a good organizing in there in years and so this was the perfect incentive to get it done. I even found old portfolios full of drawings and paintings that I thought I had lost years ago! It was a great day full of art, food and conversations with a very diverse group of artists.

Sketchbook Pages

These flowers were sketched from the centerpiece we placed on the dinning room table during the studio tour. My daughter set up the veggie and fruit plates, drinks and the bouquet. She did a beautiful job as hostess. More magenta colored lilies from this bouquet opened during this past week and I couldn't resist sketching them in the mornings after breakfast.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Rainbow Falls" Watercolor

"Rainbow Falls At Mammoth Lakes"
10" x 14" Original Watercolor

A few years ago my husband and I were spending a few days at Mammoth Lakes. We were visiting my brother-in-law and his family. One morning my brother-in-law took us on a hike to Rainbow Falls. We left early in the morning, the weather was perfect and the hike through the forest area to reach the falls was punctuated with fresh air, beautiful scenery and good conversation. It was very thoughtful of my brother-in-law to take time out from his busy day to show us this beautiful place. It is apply named as there was a wide rainbow across the falling water. I did this painting of it shortly after our visit but I didn't include the rainbow as I was a little unsure of my ability to depict that effect using transparent watercolor. It was hard enough getting the effect of the falls dissipating into mist over the moss carpeted rocks! Just a few weeks ago I went back into this painting and added twice as many pine trees in the background as I had originally painted. This little painting has always been one of my favorites because it brings back the memories of that morning.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Desert Wash at Sandstone Quarry

"Desert Wash at Red Rock"
7" x 10"
Original Watercolor

I painted this scene a couple of weeks ago. Bill and I drove out to Sandstone Quarry one weekend morning and I set up my folding chair and small table for my palette and brushes. We were in the big wash just to the west of the Calico Hills. It is so beautiful there and I could have painted a scene in any direction from this spot. There was a 30 foot high wall of sandstone just to my left where decades of flash floods have cut away the hillside. You can see a few shrubs growing out from it on the left side of the painting. I wondered if we were in a bit of a wind tunnel because of this land feature but I decided to set up regardless and about half an hour later when I was half way through the painting the wind came through there at about 20 miles an hour. Just a strong breeze really but it blew my umbrella down five times over the next half hour. The umbrella was attached to my folding chair with a hefty bungie cord so I reached down and swung it back up each time it blew down. Eventually I just held on to it with my left hand until I was finished painting. Next time I will bring at least two bungie cords. Bill was hiking around the area taking his beautiful photographs so I didn't see him for a while. Otherwise he would have fixed the umbrella situation immediately because he's good at solving problems like that. The more tools and fasteners to use the happier he is.

One of the interesting things about these wide washes is that the scrub oak trees grow so big in them. I thought about this for a while and my theory is that the wide grey gravel areas act as a natural fire break so the trees are protected somewhat from the lightning fires that strike here several times every season. So the trees have a chance to grow old enough to get so tall and full. I"m glad they're here. They are beautiful and they are full of birds that sing and fly from one to another. It was a lovely morning.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Art demonstration at Mohave High School

This is a picture of three of the students from the drawing class and their instructor, Ms Walla Nagazi who is second from the right. I am second from the left.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving an art talk and watercolor demonstration to the 7 a.m. drawing class at Mojave High School here in Las Vegas. Ms.Walla Nagazi is the instructor of this class and she is doing a first-class job with these students. I saw many drawings and paintings in the office hall gallery, the art building halls, and in the classroom. There were examples of still-life, portraiture, landscape, interiors and architectural drawings. These drawings showed attention to a full range of values, strong compositional devices, and the willingness to tackle some complex imagery. I was quite impressed.

I had brought along a sketchbook and my pocket palette so I showed the students how easy it is to draw and paint in a sketchbook on a daily basis. Then I talked about “breaking through the picture plane” by composing with diagonals and finally we got into the watercolor painting. I was determined to paint from the initial graphite sketch right through to the finish of the painting because I wanted the students to see it completed in 45 minutes. I kept checking the clock and thinking “Must paint faster!” But we got it done!

There must have been at least 25 students in the class and they were all so considerate. This was one of the most attentive groups I have demonstrated for. Some students brought out more of their artwork after class so I had the chance to talk to a few of them about their individual works. It was gratifying to see many strong examples of personal expression. It must be a pleasure going in to teach every day when you have such a nice group of young people greeting you in the morning.

"Scrub Oak In Red Rock Canyon"
9" x 9" original watercolor
This is the demonstration painting for the class. After I got back to my studio I lifted some of the darks out of the tree with a small bristle fan brush and replaced them with the green malachite color I had used in the shrubs. This was to unify the painting a bit. I then put in more trunks and branches. I also added shrubs in the lower right corner and put in a few grass effects. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sketchbook Page

This little watercolor ( 7" x 9") was painted on 90lb. Fabriano Traditional White cold press paper. It is one of my favorite papers as it has a softer surface than others. I really wanted to paint a pomegranate in watercolor since the piano teacher I take my granddaughters to has a pomegranate tree in his backyard and he has graciously given them fruit from this tree.

Sketchbook Pages

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Winter Clouds"
7" x 10"
Original Watercolor
This is the view from the parking lot at the visitors center at Red Rock Canyon about two weeks ago. I painted it from inside the car as the weather was very cold that day. After I finished it I went into the center and made three pen and ink drawings of the bighorn sheep exhibit. It was a very quiet and productive morning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Side Canyon Shadows"
7" x 5"
Original Watercolor
I painted this little watercolor last week while parked at the side of the road - the scenic drive in Red Rock Canyon. It is the view into Pine Creek Canyon in mid-morning light. The growing shadows on the Spring Mountain Range are a muted purple around 11 a.m. It was a beautiful day and unseasonably warm.