Sketchbook Ideas

How does one get ideas? Apparently watching histrionic black and white Vivien Leigh movies from the 30’s works for me (though last night it was 2 episodes of Fear the Walking Dead.) Vivien Leigh and zombies were conductive to making pencil and watercolor sketches. Individual pieces are small, no bigger than 3×5″.

Cross Madonnas

Using mediums has helped me ease into oil painting. I worked with oils a long time ago with a teacher who wouldn’t let us use thinners, mediums etc. and we learned to clean our brushes with soap and water. I used palette knives and came to like them, but I enjoy the fluidity of paints thinned with medium. The concern: I’ll just repeat what I do in watercolor, gouache and ink. A better understanding of the medium would open up other ways to make images. I also feel I still rely too much on “staying within the lines” when I make an underdrawing. Often the initial drawing  becomes part of the picture.

The two cross madonnas below are works in progress.

In #1 I mounted a handkerchief on stretched canvas then painted into it using gouache and acrylic.I have a pile of  handkerchiefs my mother has sent me over the years. I used to sew clothes by hand and on a machine, and make quilts. I’m always drawn to the tactility of fabric, the history and sentiments/emotions attached to old fabric. Louise Bourgeois’s small fabric pieces have always inspired me and I’ve kept my mother’s gift handkerchiefs with the hope of using them. Not sure this is the way but there’s something about the piece I like.

#2 started with the image from the sketchbook, and I drew a rough sketch of it on top of an acrylic painting on paper. Then I worked into it with oils, adding some imagery but also allowing previous images to inform choices. I like the hint of a woman’s leg and breast though (of course) not sure where this will go.

Below: pages from my sketchbook noodling and doodling about crosses, madonnas, insects, vegetation and maybe Carmen Miranda. The cross in the lower left of sketchbook 1 reminds me of a dancing, singing Miranda. Maybe another direction.. ? 🙂



Getting Out of the Sketchbook (07.07.15)

I visited my parents in Bellefonte PA the last few days so behind in posts, but before leaving I made this image…

fighting monsters -collage and paint on paper mounted on board, 10x15",

fighting monsters -collage and paint on paper mounted on board, 10×15″,

Finally getting into the “flow of yes-ness” the place my advisor, Deb Todd Wheeler encouraged me to go.

One goal this semester is to continue experimenting and drawing daily in my sketchbooks (usually old books and ledgers), but another goal is to get work out of my sketchbooks, so, à la Tim Rollins and KOS, I mounted 2 spreads from an old ledger onto cardboard, then, using a work practice in the Dada tradition (will elaborate in later posts), randomly pasted two pieces of paper (the monster “heads”) and worked into them with ink, gouache and collage elements. Working this way also mimics the sketchbook environment so conductive to my creative process.

My actions weren’t totally random. I had an idea I would draw these monsters (images I began drawing when the US invaded Iraq), but this was a first attempt to transfer work out of the books and the result feels successful. So much fear and hesitation bound up in even trying this but I did it. It’s freed me to begin using the sketchbooks differently as well. More on that, and on discovering my links to Dada and Surrealism, in upcoming posts.