Some new aceo/gift tags

Aceo/gift tags

Aceo/gift tags

I recently had a request to put a few things in a new shop in Indianapolis that specializes in handmade items.  It’s an exciting development for me and I have been going through some of my things to perhaps place them there.  She expressed interest especially in the gift tags so I have been looking at what I have that has not been listed in my etsy store. I had plenty of small gift tags but not as many of the aceo sized ones.  I used a few blanks that I had left and made these up today.  These washes seem to lend themselves to abstract florals, but I rather like the funky dragon.

I think I will include a few of my linocuts, too.  I can easily make a few more and package them appropriately.  All of the price points should be low enough for impulse purchases, even with their commission.  I am also going to see if we can arrange a display for home portraits.  If I have a small sample and a photo album with general information, I can let them handle the financial details.

Architectural aceos

Architectural aceos

I couldn’t decide on what to do next so I ended up having a little bit of fun with some of my watercolor aceo blanks.  I feel in a bit of a rut right now and sometimes just playing around with something small helps get me going again.   The last time I looked at these,  I didn’t feel like the colors were inspirationally floral so they have sat around the studio for ages. I pulled them out and decided to use some of the home photos to put some quick sketches on them, kind of in the spirit of the abstract architecturals.

The last time I tried it, they turned out – badly, but I think these turned out all right.  As I look at them I am thinking I should have flipped the horizontal one around so that the green was in the foliage and the gold was around the windows.  I wasn’t much for the planning on these though.  The idea was just to put some ink down and get going.

What’s up next?

Fall on the lake

It is very windy outside today with wind gusts 30 to 40 mph.  If you look closely you can see the wind across the pond making little “whitecaps”.  Fortunately the temps are getting into the 70’s so it is not a cold day, at least when you’re in the sun.  I’m sure it will cool quickly as the sun goes down though.  The recent rains and winds have blown many of the leaves off of the trees so I don’t know how much longer we will have the fall colors.  At least some color developed after the rains finally came.  For a while it looked as though everything would just turn brown.  I am not, not, not looking forward to winter.  We saw a herd of deer last evening on our side of the lake, the first in quite a while.  It was too dark to tell if their coats had lost the ragged whiteness we had previously seen or if the buck was with them.  I hope it is just a temporary condition that the coming of the winter coats will resolve.

Today my workspace is covered with streetscape photos from Key West FL, Park City UT, and southern Indiana.  I pulled out everything I had to search for inspiration and have almost decided on what to do next.  I ordered some new watercolors this week , so the gourd still life will have to wait a little bit. With any luck the paints will get here quickly. I’m glad fall gourds are sturdy and should last quite a while. I plan to create a variety of the still lives from them, interspersed with architecturals.  I have found that I need a little variety in the subject matter to stay fresh and inspired.  I swear it’s the deciding what to do that is the hardest part of it all.  Once I get started on a piece, I can work it through to completion with little difficulty, but those initial choices can be quite trying.

Holiday aceos

I have been working on a few new aceos lately.  I thought I might do a set for holiday and Halloween use and make some digital copies.  I should just run up another watercolor blank that has blues and greens predominating so that there will be little more color variety.  It would be a good project when I am letting the architectural set.  It doesn’t take a lot of  time at each step, but the overall process is several days because of the drying time.

First signs of fall

As I sit here writing this post, I can here the long-awaited rains hitting the roof above me. Today felt like the coming of fall. Yesterday was in the 90’s and today’s high was barely 70, with low flying cloud cover.  I washed off my horse’s rain sheet and winter blanket in the heat of the day and set them in the sun to dry.  Truth is, I should have done that in the spring when I brought them home, but you know how that goes.  At least I did it before today’s cooler wetter weather set in.  It has been a busy few days with a quick trip to see our son who travelled to Purdue for business.  Four hours of driving for a three hour visit, but well worth it. 


I did manage to sneak into the studio for a few hours today.  I didn’t have the time to lay out a new architectural so far this week, so I decided that since I hadn’t done any new aceos in quite a while, I would spend the limited time available doing a few.  I wanted to try a few abstract compositions and the other backgrounds seemed to lend themselves to a floral motif.  These watercolor blanks had a lot of orange and yellow ocher in them and were interesting to work with.  Many of the previous pieces were more red and green in tone.  I may do a few more this week and then list some in my store on Etsy.

Some does and the big buckAnd here is the photo 0f the oddly colored deer that I promised a few posts back.  They are actually that white.  I’m thinking it must be some coat/skin condition.  Even the more normally colored ones had splotches of white on them.  I hope it clears up before winter and is not an indication of some more serious health issue.  And, as you can see, the buck is getting quite a set of antlers.  I’d like to find those in the spring.  Wouldn’t you?

Ohio entryway, updated.

Well, it finally stopped raining for a few days, so there was some indoor and outdoor work accomplished. I have gotten most of the annuals planted and have started the arduous task of weeding.  Only a few things left to do, including deciding if we are going to buy some more fruit trees.  We can’t determine if we want to keep planting them in the same spot or start over in an area that we would fence.  Easier to decide now before more things go in.  Since we have had so much damage from the deer it is a very real decision.  You’d think they’d respect that we don’t hunt but they just treat my gardens like a cafeteria line. 

An elegant Ohio enrtyway

Anyway after letting the picture sit a few days, I went back and put on the color. It was fairly quick this time as the picture was smaller than the recent ones and I knew pretty much what I wanted to do. I like the fact that the slate roof wasn’t the standard blue/green/grey tiles.  It is a rosy grey that distinguished it from many of the other slate roofed homes in the area and I think quite lovely.  It fits well with the dark red bricks and limestone accents.  I love the architectural detailing that was put on residences in the early part of the century but is generally unaffordable now except in the most expensive of homes.  I let the picture sit for another day and a half before returning to make some minor adjustments and filled in the time with making some more mini tags. Last weekend I sold nine to a friend to use on her weavings and she also wanted to give a few away to her weaving compatriots. It was nice to see her go though my stack and pick out ones she liked for herself and for some to give away. It is always fun to see someone enjoy your work.

The only hang up was a near disaster with the new picture. I always try to spray the fixative outside and then let it dry out there, leaning face in against the wall for about 15 minutes if I can, because the odor is incredibly noxious. My husband had been working on the lawn outside and then started started spraying some bug spray at the various door lintels.  I saw him out of the corner of my eye and ran to my door yelling STOP.  Fortunately I caught him before he got to my inward facing artboard and no damage was done.  He was contrite, but my heart stopped beating there for a second.

Another rainy Wednesday

It’s been another wet, misty day. Not much actual rain mind you, but just enough moisture in the air to get you cold and wet and uncomfortable. I think that this spring has been just a continuation of the very long winter we just had.  All I can say is that at least it is not snow.  I’ve had enough for quite a long time, thank you.  A good day to stay inside, so of course I didn’t. I went out to play with my horse for a little while (out of the wet though) and then a little birthday party preparation for my husband.

I have been working on the latest entryway and have finished the inking for now.  I think I managed to find the black and white balance that was missing before.  I have found that if I like the positive/negative space in a drawing, I have a much better chance of being pleased with it after coloration.  I then tend to just redarken some areas that didn’t pop through the pastels and pencils and then make minor adjustments until it looks good to my eyes.  After I finished yesterday afternoon there was plenty of studio time left, so I worked on more of the artist label tags.  I sold some to my weaving friend last weekend and was in the mood to replace the stock.  I cut some of the aceo sized watercolor blanks in half (her prefered size) and proceeded to spend a few hours making some more.  I quit when my eyes finally started to cross.


Since the inking hasn’t changed that much from the last time, here is a picture in honor of the weather – fit for ducks only.  I know you’ve seen them before, but I’ve seen this rain before too.  Not much else seems to be moving around lately.

Working inside, when the outside is too wet

I’ve been working some on my latest entryway picture. The weather only cleared up today so I have been stuck in the house, unable to plant what I had bought last Friday. This is posted late today because I could finally get out and put the wave petunias in the ground before the rabbits got to them.. Don’t know why, but last year they were eaten in the flats.  I didn’t have a problem once they were planted. Crazy rabbits to go along with the crazy robins, I guess.

Indiana Entryway

In the down time, I have been working on the mini tags.  I punched a few holes and tied a few ribbons today before I took some pictures in the fading light.  There was just enough to give at least the flavor of what they will be like.  They are half the size of the aceo cards and I hope will work well as straight gift tags or artist labels – which someone  had requested of me.  They are just as much fun as making the aceos.  Unfortunately, they take almost as much time.


Mini tags/artist labels I


Mini tags/artist labels II

Mini tags

Just a short little post today for fun. When I was first working on the aceo/gift tag idea, I took some that I had made to show to my book group. All were appreciative but a woman who is a fine weaver (she has a very large loom where I would have a studio) asked if I could make some in a smaller size that she could use as a tag on her weavings.  She liked the larger ones but felt they were too large to use as a tag only. 

I said I would try, and the next time I had some down time letting a drawing rest, I cut  a few of the aceo watercolor blanks in half.  I also had a few odd pieces left from the big sheet cut down and recut them a little smaller.  These will have to have some sort of hole punched because they are definitely to be used as tags, but I find that I don’t have as much a problem with it as I did deciding on the aceo sized ones.  I think I will let her pick out some and list the rest as straight gift tags.

Mini gift tags

Southern Grand Entry II

Aack. I almost didn’t get to post today. Monday evening as I was browsing the net I got a computer virus. Fortunately, I wasn’t connected to any of my own sites and the other computer was off, so the damage was limited to mine. The Geek Squad was able to turn around the fix in one day and I just got it back. Hooray (except for the cost). Anyway, I’m back on line and able to get at the files that I need to.

Souther Grand Entry II

I have been working on Southern Entry II for the last week. I really enjoyed drawing the last one and looked through all of my reference photos and came up with this. It too is grand, but in a different way. Instead of all of the glass around the entryway, it has major stonework around massive double doors.  To get an idea of just how big they are,  look at the placement of the door knobs.  Yes, they really are that low.  I’ll bet that those doors are easily 8 foot tall.  I liked the grand staircase and the fact that the entry was softened by the large plantings behind the fences.  This one also makes me wish that I could see what was behind those doors.  I have obviously finished the preliminary inking and am moving on with the color.  If all goes well, I will be able to finish it by the next post.  It is a bit larger than the last one and is taking a little more time.  I have to stand up at the table to work on the top portion which is not the easiest since the drafting table is a little slanted.  Not quite tall enough, I guess.  But I love my table.  It has served me well for almost 25 years now.

I have listed a few more aceo/gift tags and bookmarks in my etsy store so take a look if you have the time.  I have had a great deal of fun doing them.  They are quite freeing after the detail of the pen and inks.

Why are we sometimes intimidated by our own work and afraid to ruin something we are creating?

One of the aecoe gift tags

The aceo sleeves arrived shortly after I made my last blog post.  I spent the next two days selecting which aceos I wanted to photograph and then preparing them for listing.  It is quite a project to do all of the photography and edit it for listing online, especially if there are multiple items.  I have to take several shots shots of each one to account for the light and the focusing aspect since sometimes the automatic focus on the macro lens  changes its mind between shots.  I want the pen and ink lines to be as crisp as possible and sometimes the lens is a little finicky.  I don’t want to have to redo a lot of photos  because the pen lines are blurred and I can’t always tell from the digital playback on the camera. 

I decided to prepare 10 cards in an initial run.  First I had to punch the ribbon hole in the sleeve and select an appropriate color ribbon to attach.  Then I took pictures of each one a couple of times in and out of the sleeves and ended up with 55 shots to go through.    All in all it took over a day to get it all done but I am pleased with the results.

This whole project brought to mind other thoughts concerning me and my art and the lurking aspect of the circular file.  Would I just be making something that would end up there?  After I had made the watercolor background and cut up the sheet into aceo sized cards, I felt quite intimidated by them and actually felt like I might “ruin” them by drawing on top.  Some of the cards were rather pretty on their own and I wasn’t sure how I was going to use them to their best advantage.  I actually stared at them for quite a while, working up the courage to start drawing on them.  I had to select the ones that were the least intimidating for me in terms of the color combinations and just start somewhere. 

Perhaps this feeling of intimidation goes back to those teachers that told me that realistic art and what I liked was not worthwhile – that the Old Masters had done it all already so just give it up.  If  it wasn’t abstract, it was passe and irrelevant.  I think that now if I was told those things I could slough it off more easily and move on.  In some ways I guess I am still working them out of my head.  At least now I can actually go ahead and do it, even if it takes a while to get started. 

I have started on my next picture – a lovely entryway that is about 1/3 inked.  I felt like going back to a close up drawing of a pleasing architectural feature .  Sometimes the part is as intertesting as the whole.  If I have finished the inking by Wednesday I’ll post it.  Not too many “mistakes” yet on it.

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