Getting the bookmarks ready for sale

It has been a long process getting the bookmarks ready for sale. I spent a whole day getting the courage to actually cut up the artwork – even though it had sat for years unloved in a drawer. It was not quite good enough to market, but too good for the circular file just yet. I am so happy now that I did it. The pieces are so much more pleasing than the whole drawings were. I am thinking of going back and raiding a few more. What good is a piece of artwork doing, stuck in a file cabinet? And it makes a piece of artwork affordable, fun, and useful, all at the same time.

After some thought, I decided to laminate them. The 120 lb watercolor paper was too thin by itself and rather unsuitable for the task at hand. I investigated the lamination process and thought I had it all figured out.  I ran a few test pieces at a big box store in different mil sizes  that turned out well.  Unfortunately, when I went back a few days later to do the rest, I was told that the policy had changed for the 3 mil size that I liked best and there was now a minimum per piece price instead of by the square foot.  Major bummer and just my luck.  This rendered them too expensive to run that way.  I had to go back to the heavier mil lamination to get the price per piece down.  Counterintuative, but that’s just the way things are.  At this point, if things go well, I’ll go buy my own laminator in the near future. 

Here are two samples of the laminated bookmarks – one on thicker paper and one on thinner.  I’m going to sell a single or in groups of three.  Both are now listed.

Mixed media bookmark

Laminated watercolor bookmarks

Bookmarks revisited – and happier the second time around

Well, after all the positive interest in the bookmarks the last time around, I got the courage to try again.  I have spent the last week working with all of the suggestions that came in. And it has been great. I put away the angst from the “ugly” bookmarks episode (thanks Valerie), made a whole slew more, cut up some unsatisfactory paintings that hadn’t made it to the circular file yet, and made it to the big box store to explore lamination. And you know what? It was all good. We long for those days when work seems to be on the right track and it all comes out easily – and more than satisfactory!  I used the watercolors, the pen and ink and the pastels so it runs the gamut of my studio materials.  I am thinking of marketing them in groups of three so that is why the pictures are arranged so.

Watercolor bookmarks 1


Watercolor bookmarks 2


Watercolor bookmarks 3


Mixed media bookmark

What I carry on the winding architectural art road

Creating artwork as a child, I usually used what most people do – a common #2 pencil, crayons, or a set of 6 watercolors in a tray.  In college, I took a painting and a printmaking course.  Maybe something else, but I have wiped that out of my mind for some reason….   While I enjoyed the physical activity of the classes ( if not the teachers) nothing took a really strong hold on me.  I couldn’t reproduce the printmaking because I didn’t have a press.  I kept the acrylic paints for a long while because they were easy to store in a wooden art box that my mother had given me.  However, it was hard to leave the paints and canvasses out in a rental place or after small children came.  And I wasn’t passionate about it enough at the time to find a way to make it work. 

I had bought a pen and nib set at some time,  during or after college and when I decided to start again, that was what I chose to use.  It was small in terms of materials and easy to use for repeated set up and take down.  And for some reason it appealed to me.  I liked the crisp sharpness of the pen stroke and tried out all of the different nibs in the little starter set that I bought.  Also, I think it fit my style of animal art quite well.  Then, as I said before, came the need for the print work of our new company.  I was already using the nib pens, so the transfer to the new subject matter was not a a big deal in terms of my materials.  It was obviously more a learning to draw perspectives from blue prints that didn’t look as if a 5 year old had done it.  It became  too difficult to have to reload a nib pen as often as the detailed architectural required, so in entered the use of the technical pen.  I found a great deal on a 6 pen set of Rapidographs when an art store went out of business.  I experimented with all of the pens and found the one or two that seemed to work best for me for the projects at hand.  To this day I tend to use the same ones, even though I had to replace the nibs repeatedly and finally the base too. 

The really surprising thing is how I came to use the  hard pastels in my drawing.  When I was in my teens, sometime in high school or college, my mother bought me a very large boxed set of 72 Faber-Castell hard pastels.  Don’t ask me why she did it.  She probably couldn’t tell me now either.  I’m sure she got a very good deal because a set that size would have been quite expensive. Anyway,she was always very supportive of my attempts at art, having dabbled very successfully herself.  I must admit that I didn’t quite know what to do with the gift at the time.  I had no idea how to use them and not a great deal of motivation for it either.  I played with my ebony pencils and had a short stab with self taught watercolor.  And then I started with the nib pens.  To make a long story short,  after I started the architectural work and especially after I wanted to branch out into commissions, I needed to be able to color the pen and ink drawings.  What popped into mind but the hard pastels.  I had never become comfortable enough with watercolors and with  a little experimentation, I found that I could successfully blend the pastels over the ink.  When sprayed with fixative, the ink would pop back out and the colors of the hard pastel became deeper and richer.  After a period of time, I could predict the color shift from the fixative pretty well.  I know perhaps in some circles it is bad form to use the fixative over the art, but when you are delivering a piece to a home owner or builder, you can’t trust them to take the care required to ensure against damage.  The fixative allows a little leeway for all parties involved.  And I like the brightness it gives the drawing.  Pieces that I did 20 years ago still look great, even after 3 moves.

Over the last few years, I started experimenting a little again.  I bought a nice set of colored pencils to use when I want a little more subtlety.  And I have been trying out some watercolors over the ink, too.  It’s all an ongoing process.  I may try to take another watercolor class this year.  I just have been having a hard time finding a teacher I like.

And I apologize for some of the spelling in the last post.  Galaxie?   I think I have it all fixed now.  I’m usually pretty good at proof reading, but sometimes after working a while on a longer post,  the brain just processes the idea expressed and not the spelling.  Here is one of my first commissioned architectural portrait drawings probably from the mid 80’s.  It was a very small square brick home, but I think that I made the house quite appealing with the lower perspective.

A cute little ranch house

My long and winding road to the architectural art door

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….  No, wait, that’s something else.  However, it has been an long and winding road that has led to this  architectural art door  for me.  Growing up I was never in the least bit interested in architecture.  My first loves were animals, animal behavior, math, science and art.  I know it may seem an odd combination, but that is what makes life interesting – all of our diverse choices and experiences.   I enjoyed the sciences because there was almost always a “right” answer.  None of this obtuse “what was he really trying to say in this novel, poem, musical piece, or art work” for me.  If he really meant that, he would have just said it, right?  And I loved animals and art,  just because I loved animals and art.  I loved to draw and most of what I did revolved around animal art.  I used watercolors and Ebony pencils mostly and still have one or two pieces that I did in my teens. 

Unfortunately, because of the heavy science course loads in high school and college in the seventies, I wasn’t able to take many art classes.  I had maybe two in H.S. and 2 or 3 in college.  I say that now with a little bit of regret, but when I was in college and took those few classes, realistic art was very looked down upon.  I actually had a teacher who told me that I was just wasting my time – realistic art wasn’t really considered worthwhile art anymore.  It was rather on the pointless side to even attempt it and I couldn’t be very serious about art if that was what I wanted.  Not every teacher I had voiced the same opinion, but it came through often enough  even in subtle ways that were very discouraging and I actually gave up artwork for  several years. 

 When my husband and I left graduate school (in animal behavior) we decided that we had to be more practical and do something to earn a decent living.  We were tired of student wages and since government funding was starting what looked to be years of decline, the academic road seemed to be closing .  We moved to central Indiana.  I got a job in a hospital research lab using my biology degree and my husband decided to pursue an interest in building – a far cry from his training in psychology and behavioral pharmacology.  Back in the late 70’s it was still comparatively easy to shift occupations and even though he had no real training, he was hired by a construction company as a field superintendant.  Though he had a lot to learn, he knew how to learn and he turned it into a 5 year study of residential building and real estate sales.  After I left graduate school, there came to be time for art again.  I had gotten over my discouragement from the college professors and started to draw animals as I had in the past.  I bought a nib pen and a bottle of India ink and began to play with them with a joy I hadn’t had in a decade.  I found some Ebony pencils and sketched.  It was a great deal of fun, without the pressure of trying to justify what I liked to do.

And then, with one child born and another on the way, he decided to jump start his own building company.  In the middle of the worst recession in recent times and interest rates in the teens.  Ah, youth.  Needless to say, there was no money to hire consultants or graphic artists for our publicity.  The task fell to me, even though I had never done a drawing of a building in my life, much less created something from a blueprint.  I found what little there was in the bookstore -no online searching available then – and taught myself perspective drawing.  It is a good thing that his first houses were very simple log cabins shaped like a square or an el.  I kept those first drawings for a long time.  They were truly awful and served notice of how far I had come and how far I had to go even yet.  I wish I still had them, but somehow they got lost in one of the moves.  I didn’t throw that artwork away on purpose even though it was very bad because it was an important step on the way.

Since he was designing for our homes, we would often stop on a trip to look at interesting architecture and architectural details and take photos.  At first I didn’t care much and was rather bored, but as time went on, I began to see real beauty in good design and detail.  I started to see things to point out to him – a little easier since I was usually in the passenger seat.  As my interest in architecture grew and we got into more and more complicated structures, I began to incorporate it into my own art.  I started working on pictures of interesting buildings and taking on commissioned work from homeowners and other builders.  I began to get into art shows and had a few things in a gallery.  I got a nice camera to take my reference pictures and started carrying it with me on trips. 

My style has changed a little over the years and for the better I hope.  I still usually start with a line drawing made from pen and ink.  That’s what we needed first for our print media and  I like the definition that it gives.  It must appeal to that more strict scientific side of me, I think.  I have experimented with hard pastels, watercolors, and colored pencils and currently use a combination of the three for the color overlay.  I tend use the pastel overlay as the base most of the time, although I have been trying the watercolors over the stone barns recently.  It is all a great experiment and since I  now allow myself to use the “circular file” there isn’t as much angst over it all.  It has been a great ongoing journey and not one that I ever would have expected growing up.  Here’s some art from the long, long ago.

An arctic fox

A chipmunk

Creating artwork destined for the circular file – the good, the bad , and the ugly


The good

You know we all do it – create some piece of art that just does’t work. But what to do with it?  Do we keep stacks of bad along with the good in the hope that it can be salvaged at a later date or make the decision that not everything we create is worthy of studio space?  Some time ago, I came to the decision that it was okay to pitch

something that I didn’t like.  Perhaps two household moves have helped with the decision and the inability to have much out when we lived in the interim condo.  Anyway, I have decided that if I don’t like something after creating it and then several weeks of letting it sit out of the way hasn’t improved my opinion, that it is okay to get rid of it.  Sometimes, too, the exact opposite occurs and something that I really liked originally starts to bother me and I see all the flaws start to pop out and I have to touch it up a little.  Then, the danger is overworking.

Where is this all leading to?  Well, last week I decided to play around at the art table.   I wanted to do something a little different and thought that creating a line of bookmarks and gift tags for my etsy store would be just the ticket.  I took some heavy watercolor paper and experimented with watercolor washes and pen and ink.  For a few I did the water color first and for the others I sketched out some pen and ink first.  And after several hours in the studio, this is what I got – not much worth anything.  I guess you could look at it not as time wasted, but as exercize for the creative muscles.  It still felt mostly like a bad studio session.  One bookmark that I

  like, several that were okay and half destined for the circular file.

The fair


The ugly


Also, here is the link to my latest etsy listing – because I did like the way it turned out.

Finished my bout of modern medicine and am totally ready for spring.

Well, at last I feel fine. I calculated that it has been 7 weeks since the start of my illness, even though at the time I had no idea what was really happening and thought that  a few days of antibiotics would be all that was needed. Little did I know that in the ensuing weeks, I would see way more of modern medicine than I ever hope to see again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it was available, but I have just had my quota for the forseeable future, thank you.

Anyway, I did manage to finish my latest picture earlier this week. It took three weeks instead of the usual 4-7 days.  This one has a little bit different color combination than some of the others.  It’s amazing what some of the smaller towns come up with for the colors of the main street.  I really like the boldness of the choices.  You can tell where every different proprietor is, just by following the changes in architecture or paint all the way down the street.  Who says midwesterners are staid and stodgy.  You’d never know it by the colors on the buildings.  It is really a bit of unexpected eye candy in southern Indiana.

I used the pen and ink base once again and then layed a base of pastel.  When I got most of the color I wanted, I added in some colored pencil and popped the color with the fixative.  No watercolor this time in the overlay.  I felt that the pencil gave me the detail I wanted this time around.

Southern Indiana Main Street

No end of winter blues here – 40 degrees seems like heaven

And the good news is that it  got up in the forties yesterday for a change.  I am so ready for spring this year. I saw today that the offical snowfall was about 34″ – 16 inches above normal.  No wonder that it has seemed to be such a long, hard winter.  It has been!  Anyway 1 day and counting down for my appointment.  It looks decent weather for tomorrow so I should be able to get there this time.  The extra week delay has been a killer for me and I really would like for it all to be over.  I wasn’t up for much studio time so the picture has set idle for a week.  I guess my “day later perspective” will be pretty good this time on it.  I do like the color so far and am almost ready for the final touches.

Since I still am a little on the out of commission side, here are a few pictures of the kids’ previous stained glass efforts.  They are scattered around the house where we can often see them. The photos don’t do justice to the colors. 

Justin's glass box

Justin's dragon triptic

Jessica's first lamp

Jessica's second lamp

Well the weather outside is frightful….But at least we have power

There is nothing at all delightful about this latest winter storm. We didn’t get the worst of it, but it is bad enough for me. We aren’t even sure if the four wheel truck can get us out. We got mostly freezing rain, then sleet, then a little snow. It could be worse – the power could have gone off but the freezing rain was only about .10″. The sleet fortunately didn’t collect on the trees so even when the huge wind gusts came, the trees and power lines weren’t badly affected. I don’t know when it is going to clear off. Not too long I hope.

My doctor’s appointment was cancelled yesterday due to the weather and rescheduled for next week so my recovery is delayed again. I haven’t spent much time in the studio even though I am stuck at home. It’s kind of difficult to sit in my raised studio chair for any length of time and I really need to work for several hours consecutively. I am on the pastel/pencil/watercolor overlay phase now and I have to be able to concentrate on what I am doing to get the color right.  I am so ready for spring. I think that this is the hardest winter we have had in many years. It’s been stormy winter weather every week or so since the beginning of December.

I saw eight of the does and yearlings across the lake today so I thought I’d share something fun. I have always wanted to find a deer antler out in the woods around our home. Our previous house sat in about 50 acres and we often saw bucks and does. Every year I would be out in the woods to look and see if I could find some shed antlers. It is a narrow window to locate them because the rodents chew them up quickly. I know it is like looking for a needle in a haystack and I was never lucky enough to find one.  I  have always been envious of a friend who found a large rack where he put out food for the deer.  Well, last year my husband and I were out looking for morel mushrooms at our new place in the late spring.  We looked and looked and found nary a one.  However, just when we were starting to head back to the house, I saw this thing poking up amid the leaves left over from the fall.  I thought “it couldn’t be this late in the year be but it sure looks like….”  And you know what – it was.  I had found  the end point of a two point antler.  It had only been chewed a little on the end point and at the base.  I brought it home, washed it off with disinfectant and put it on the window ledge in the guest bedroom.  Here it is on a chair for scale. 

With any luck I will be able to get back to my artwork in the next week so please have a little patience.  I have a little bit of a hard time being more creative and dealing with my UT difficulties.  At least I hope you find the wildlife stories interesting too.

The deer antler I found