Currently Browsing: February 2009 22 articles


Aqua Brique from Cretacolor

Left: Painting of a pelican made using using Cretacolor Aqua Briques on gesso-coated paper. This image is cropped from an 11 x 14 inch image. As often happens with my paintings I don't like the full image. I'm interested in something closer. The height here is about 11 inches. I prepared watercolor paper with two coats of gesso, allowing my brush strokes to show (this creates interesting texture when paint is applied later) and then sketched (with light graphite) a pelican taxidermy specimen that was hanging from the ceiling of the Mississippi Wildlife Refuge building. (That's not really fun for the neck.) Color was added with strokes of the Aqua Briques which were blended with a large synthetic watercolor brush and water and sometime my thumb (see yellow portion at top left of bird's head). Click the image to view an enlargement.

In the summer of 2006 I picked up a 10-color can of a new product: Cretacolor Aqua Briques. I enjoy experimentation, especially when I can report back to students and friends and maybe help them find a tool they can really enjoy. But I am also always looking for a way to get the texture I want in  my paintings.

For several years I wrote product reviews on a Yahoo list that I had for friends and past students. I stopped keeping this list when I started blogging in 2008. Since that time a number of new students in my classes, as well as readers of my blog, have asked me about Aqua Briques.

This interest and the fact that there many artists who like to draw and paint led me to think readers of this blog would enjoy hearing about my field tests of a tool that functions both ways. What follows is a revised version of my original review.


Some Thoughts on Doctors and Education and Timelines

Above: Staedtler Pigment Liner sketch of Stella, a friend’s dog from fall 2007. Shown here to reinforce yesterday’s topic of “warm-ups,” so you can see two drawings. (Note Stella has a lovely Marilyn Monroe mole on her nose.) But also posted today because dog sketches are like comfort food for me. If I had a […]


Define Your Terms


Above: A sketch of book parts and the terms relating to them. See the post for more details. Click on the image for an enlargment. The sketch is on Quatro 8 x 8 grid paper that comes padded from Hand Book Journal Company (I just know someone is going to wonder).

A short while ago one of my blog readers wrote in and asked if I would write about the terms I use when talking about "the book." She had been confused about my use of "Verso" and "Recto" when referring to pages. In context she'd ultimately worked it out, but she wanted more definitions. (These are simply the Latin terms for left and right applied at a time when Latin was the "universal language.")

Initially I put off the task. I thought I could handle it by pulling diagrams and discussion from my class handouts, or just writing a new post. Each time I thought about it however, the sheer magnitude of the task made me elect to write on other topics first. And so it went, until this morning when I decided that with a few quick sketches and some handwritten notes I could cover a lot of what I constantly refer to.

Two Films about Death

Over the weekend I saw two films which both deal with the topic of death. They were totally different in their approaches and both were uplifting. I recommend both of these films which, despite their subject matter are still suitable for date-night fare. Look Both WaysLook Both Ways is a 2005 film from director/writer Sarah […]


Report on the MCBA Visual Journal Collective Portrait Party

Left: Here’s a quick photo of the final book we made at the Portrait Party. Top—the inside information page and the first page of the participants list (math is not my strong point and I wrote in 26 attendees when actually there were 27!); a portrait spread (all pairs were opposite each other on a spread) showing my portrait of Lynn Fisher (left) and Lynn Fisher's portrait of me (right—she took off years and years!); Ken Avidor’s overview sketch of the party participants; a cover with the optional title label. The book is 7 1/8 wide x 8 5/8 inches tall. I used Canson Mi Tientes to make the covers (people attending only had to bring cover paper). It is a 32-page, 5-hole stitch pamphlet. Click on the image to see an enlargement. (All artwork © of the listed artists who gave me permission to post.)

Last week I wrote a brief note about the MCBA Visual Journal Collective Portrait Party held on Monday, February 16. I wanted to give a more complete report, as well as provide a visual of the book which we made.

I arrived at MCBA at about 6:10 p.m. to start setting up for the 7 p.m. meeting. With the help of Emma Allen who is the adult programs coordinator at MCBA and the co-coordinator of the Collective I got extra cover materials set out (she and I both brought extra paper as we thought people would forget), organized our workspace, and I started creating “work stations.” I came with a plan all written out in steps because I knew once we started people were going to have questions and I would need to be several places at once. Having a written plan people could read was invaluable.

Playing Catch Up and Some Reminders

Art Shows You Don't Want to Miss
Richard Crammer: Into the Forest of Flowers is in its closing days. The show actually closes Sunday, February 22. Sundays are zero admission days at the Bell Museum of Natural History, so you have added incentive to go! Richard created some stunning art during his life and this is a perfect opportunity to see an overview of nature work and family portraits; works in pastel, graphite, ink, and silver point. I have been back several times to see the artwork. It is fun to remember the discussions I had with him about some of the pieces. I was fortunate to actually see Richard work on some of the pieces. Seeing them again brings all that back. Recently I visited with my friend Linda, also an artist. At one point she commented on how confident the lines were. That made me smile. There are so many areas in Richard's work where he allows things to recede, or where he leaves things unfinished. Even in their unfinished state these little details loitering around the edges of his art show great observational skill. If you are in or near the Twin Cities and love representational art with nature as its subject you really must go and see this show.


Happy Accidents


Above: A sketch of Gert, my rubber chicken puppet, who serves as my "life model" since Dottie's death. I have more to say about this 13 inch x 8 inch page spread below. Click on the image for an enlargement.

This post has been a pain to get up on my blog. Typepad went whacko today. Auto-save feature doesn't seem to want to let me do anything. It has been very frustrating. If any of this makes it to my blog I wanted to write this up front so people know I wasn't trying to post an incomplete item. Here goes again, the fifth try to get my image and words going.

Portraits, Portraits, Portraits

The MCBA Visual Journal Collective Portrait Party went off exceedingly well, with 27 people in attendance! I'm going to be posting about it at greater length very soon, with some visuals. I just wanted to let people know that it worked—we made a 32-page book (7 x 8.5 inches) in an edition of 30. We […]

Looking at Acrylics: A New Book

I’m prone to some of the oddest impulse buys. I’m not talking about the recent purchase at the Franklin Street Bakery of a “twinkette” (the cake of which was too dense, ditto the cream and chocolate covering, yeah, yeah, even the chocolate covering; but their croissant-dough cinnamon rolls were a little taste of near-Paris!), I’m talking about books. I can’t help myself when it comes to certain books, books on topics I think I should, or would someday need to know stuff about, which means basically everything.

Well the other day at Wet Paint I saw Rethinking Acrylic: Radical Solutions for Explaining the World’s most Versatile Medium, by Patti Brady, on the shelf across the counter and asked to see it. Once it was in my hands I just had to have it. (A friend alerted me to Brady's website after I mentioned my find. I still don't remember to look for these things!)

Now I'll just say, I rarely work in acrylics (see my bird-a-day project for an example of what I do with acrylics) but I do enjoy playing with it—they provide me a way of working loose. What I do is not, however, the extreme abstract type of work that is featured in much of this book. (I say “extreme” and give myself away as someone who loves representational art, and I will not apologize for this; but while it will be a long day coming before I turn to abstract work I do enjoy seeing what other folks are doing.)


One of the Things I Love about Visual Journaling

Above: Journal page from last summer, a trip to the Bell Museum of Natural History to sketch from the taxidermy in the dioramas. Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. Cold Press watercolor paper with Staedtler Pigment Liner and gouache. Click to see an enlargement. I was looking something up in last year's journals and I flipped to […]

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