Feb 132018

On Friday night, as I was laying in bed and NOT falling asleep, I was thinking about singing wineglasses and crystal bowls – that particular sweet sound their resonance makes when played. At the same time, I was remembering the cold outside that I’d spent an unusual amount of time in, earlier in the day. (At one point I realized I was thinking poetry about the cold and had to grab a notebook and catch the words, but I diverge – the poetry is not part of this.) That night was a foggy, wet cold we don’t often get in dry Wyoming, with the temperature at 7F (-14C) at that time. Those two things blended together with the mental inventory I had of the excessive fabric scraps in my workshop. I’d spent the previous evening at the sewing machine mending (blech) some clothes and had to keep clearing spaces. So, as I finally drifted off on those Alpha waves towards sleep, I had the visual and texture of my too many blue and violet fabric scraps laying around, the feel of that clingy, damp cold against my face from earlier (alongside the even-colder, black, night a few feet away), the sound of singing crystal resonance, and an ardent desire to sew for pleasure.

This is how quilt inspiration works for me – I tend to think in concepts. Ymabean and Christina have both mentioned to me that the explanation of my inspiration enhances their experience of my work and they’d like more of that. I’m trying it out here and plan on making small zines exploring the inspirations for the quilts, or other items. Although, background inspiration for smaller items like paintings or pouches won’t fill a zine – those will probably be a postcard size.

Cut to Saturday, fresh baked goods are done and I’m in my workshop. I love Saturday mornings in the workshop; it’s the best feeling. Quilt “planning” based on the inspiration that gelled the night before. Some friends gave us a HUGE crystal bowl as a wedding gift – it has an incredible sound – and YouTube has a variety of pieces played on glass harps by hard-working musicians around the world. Bach’s toccata and fugue in D minor by Robert Tiso got played many times.

Music-inspired sketched flower and stamp.
While high on coffee and music, I was compelled to draw and the lines were all very long and swoopy. I ended up with a simple flower in my nearest sketchbook and turned it into a small carving. There’s also a separate leaf I shaped from the off-cuts to go with it.
I threw some almost indigo colored procion powder into the dye pot. I’d thought to stamp it after dying, but I found a small pot of Jacquard Color Magnet which is a dye attractant. It is meant for silk screening, not stamping, and I can understand why; this stuff has the viscosity of ectoplasm from the movies. Slimer-type stuff right out of Ghostbusters. A bit of water and I mostly got it onto the stamp and partly onto the fabric before being dried thoroughly, then going into the dye pot. It worked well, considering my inability to get it onto the fabric neatly. Gloopy! The pic below is post-dye-processing.
Dyed fabric with dye attractant stamping.

You can see the Dye Magnet worked as titled. Everywhere I did manage to glob this stuff on pulled more intense dye concentration than surrounding areas. I’ll use this stuff again, but will have to put some more thought into the handling and thinning of it. Then I used a mix of black and violet fabric paint to stamp on top of the same spots as if it was a surround glow background.
Dyed fabric with stamping.
A closer look at a single stamping. Looks okay, especially for something I’m planning on cutting up and adding to a small-scraps quilt.

Dyed fabric with stamping.
I did another piece of fabric in a more blue-gray shade and without the dye attractant, only with fabric paint stamping on top of the dry, dyed fabric. I like this better – the look is cleaner. The lines in the fabric are because I did a gentle accordion fold on the prepped fabric before putting it in the pot and then didn’t stir it around at all, just let it sit in the dye pot for 10 or 20 minutes. A sublte, resonance line echo.

Thus, without purchasing any new supplies, I was able to have brand new, custom, inspired fabric to use in this quilt. This quilt will look similar to Tintamarre with its small-scrap base, although this will be more harmonious in the color palette. Progress to come!

Feb 122018

On Saturday morning I was full of energy and decided to bake some tasty stuff for us to eat over the weekend. It was quite cold and I didn’t want to leave the house at all. Hence, baking!
First up, a simple quiche.
Used a frozen pie shell because making dough was going to be too much bother for me when I wanted to get to sewing. Ham, swiss, green onions, and a bit of Dijon mustard. Fast, easy, and simple ingredients so there was nothing to deter the picky-eater, Slick. It was pretty good – there are even a couple pieces left.

Banana bread
While the quiche was in the oven, I brought up my bread machine and made use of some fairly ripe bananas. I didn’t have any walnuts, which would have tasted best, so I used almonds in the loaf and candied pecans on the top and upped the spices to sorta balance the flavors. It worked. The taste is best when I slice it, pop it in the toaster oven for a minute, and dot it with butter. Yum.

The house smelled fantastic and I will put walnuts on the list so I can make the same use of those last two bananas this weekend.

Feb 082018

I don’t have consistent lunch breaks anymore, so this habit isn’t going to continue much.
Lunch paintings
I wanted to convey the feeling of sitting inside with a cup of coffee while looking out at a snowy landscape. I do not like how these turned out.

Lunch paintings
Short break, so I went for a simple subject I might be able to complete in time. I like these.

I’m going to have to get around to explaining my sketchbook testing this year, but today is not that day. Such suspense, I know!

Jan 292018

Last week I found myself with 13 minutes of lunch time left before the next work round started. I’d wasted the other 45 minutes doing work that needs done. Foolish me. I decided to use the same watercolor crayons I’ve been playing with and do a sketch of pears, one for each of today’s notebooks.
A pair of pears.

I was still putting away items as I got on to my work call, but I did it. Art over lunch = success. Now, maybe I can focus on getting more shit done at home instead of getting sucked into video games. Nothing wrong with spending hours on games if you enjoy it, but I also need to fold laundry, take out the trash, and get a whole bunch of other stuff done. After a full work day of dealing with bullshit, the lure of an engrossing round of amusement tends to win out.

Guess this turned into more of a frustration vent than a post about art.

Jan 262018

After the speeding roller coaster that was my December, I completely missed getting my niece a present for the wretched winter holiday. Upon offer, she suggested I make her something, so I did. After much brain-poking, I settled on a small bag which I’ve seen referred to as a lunch bag. Can’t just make a bag though, I had to put my own stamp on it, literally.

Carving cat head stamps.
Carved a few, small cat head stamps for the project. Might make a couple more yet, for my own fabric printing.
Printing a strip of cat head fabric.
Printing onto the darkest pink fabric I had left, using black fabric paint and a wedge sponge. Worked pretty well. The most issues I had were with my own fingertips getting messy. I only printed enough fabric for this project on this piece.

Bag, side view
The finished bag. Not sure about the exterior fabric choice matching her tastes, but that is a problem I always have when making for someone I don’t know well and don’t interact with often. This size is a little larger than the one I made before and I prefer the slightly smaller (couple inches, here and there) size better.

Bag, cover inside.
The printed fabric as the cinchable cover. I like it, although future prints of this will be on a different color background. So bright.

Bag, cover closed.
The cover, closed by drawstring. Honestly, one of the reasons this project took me so long is because I cannot find the damn string spring closures. Finally, I found one that was keeping a spool of elastic cord closed and stole it. Hope I find them this year.

Bag, interior.
The usually hidden interior lining. Niece is a cat fiend, after all.

Did new stuff, learned better methods, fulfilled a gift need, and all is well.

Jan 242018

Lunchtime doodles.
Had a short lunch and used some water soluble crayons to scribble some colors behind a rabbit space. I thought I’d leave it as colorful negative space, but it didn’t look right, so I grabbed a brush and used outlines to define it. Also used a bit of water to blend some of the back color, then added more lines with fineliners.

Not much in the way of lunch breaks lately. I’m spoiled from the holidays and could use a break already, but there isn’t one coming anytime soon. Tonight, I’ll play video games for a spot of escapism.

Jan 162018

It seems that Saturday mornings are my favorite time in the workshop. The entire weekend stretches out before me, there is a fresh pot of coffee, Friday (my workshop companion cat) is happy to be there, and there is that strangely pleasant, almost “hungover” feeling from the Friday night weekend-start celebration the night before that makes me want to be creative in a free, chill and short term fashion. I like that. I’m often trying to scratch down the most clever of the ideas I had when falling asleep the night before, or to flesh out the tidbits I do recall, anyway. All of this combines to be simply the best feeling; peaceful, happy, mortal and alive. Love it.

Last Saturday, I felt like painting and decided on the most recent tree sketch. I didn’t want the self-pressure of a “serious” painting, so I grabbed some mid grade acrylics from the stash and a pair of 4″ canvas panels, set up my desktop easel right on my computer desk and played some techy-meditation music.
Painting with Friday the cat.
Friday joined me, of course. That is her chair now. My kitty co-pilot. I don’t know how I’m ever going to get all her cat hair off that quilt.
As often happens, it took longer than I thought and I ended up spending almost three hours on these little things. That’s okay, I enjoyed doing it. They didn’t end up the way I envisioned them – which is true of every single tree + light painting I’ve ever done, and is probably the biggest reason I’ve never shared any of them before.
Tree paintings
Here they are. I still need to finish the backs. I’m going to cover them and put small hooks on them so they can hang up in the house. Maybe. I think I only want one, instead of two. If it turns out that way, I’ll put the other in my Etsy shop. Perhaps someone else is out in the world, wanting a tiny, simple painting.

I haven’t been able to paint over my work lunch breaks lately, and I wonder if this recent painting desire stems from that lack.

Jan 152018

Seven Bottles, twice.
Forgot about this one, which was done in the previous calendar year 2017. Now I’m caught up? Maybe. Seven Bottles, twice. Looks better bigger, give it a click.

Rabbit Council, twice.
These were both done with a Fudenosuke, which translates to brush pen. Handy to have good ink in a firm brush tip, in a contained and neat package. Interesting challenge to get the right line width with a variable tool like this. These are based on my front yard and the many odd rabbit habits in it. I call it Rabbit Council, twice.

Jan 112018

Welcome to 2018, in another way – lunar new year! This is the year of the dog.
2018 Chinese New Year of the dog card
For the dog, I decided on a Chow. I like the “Foo dogs”, which are really the Imperial guard lion statues, but you can see the visual similarities. Chows, eventually translated, means puffy-lion dog, which seems appropriate. They are also one of the few ancient dog breeds extant today. Besides all of that cool info, they are cute as fuck.

2018 Chinese New Year of the dog card
The lucky flower is rose and the Chinese symbol here is the one for the zodiac sign of the dog, and not the symbol for actual dogs. The zodiac symbol was more visually pleasing to me.
These cards sell out every year, so get them if you want them.

Jan 102018

Fabric art cuff with spikes!
Before Christmas, someone was looking for a cuff for a young man who is studying to be a tattoo artist. I thought I’d push the design a little closer to the ink + metal I usually see in that culture and added some metal spikes.

Fabric art cuff with spikes!
Side view to show the spikes poking out. I also made fabric scrap choices that would include more skulls and those eyes? They glow in the dark.

Fabric art cuff with spikes!
There are also some Edgar Allen Poe quotes in the fabric text bits.

This managed to get done in one evening = go me! I’d like to make a couple more of these this year. They’re not exactly poplular on Etsy (one sale ever), but I enjoy making them, and that is a fine reason on its own.

Jan 082018

You know what’s up.

This was an image I had in my head when falling asleep on Friday night and recalled on Saturday morning. This sketch doesn’t fully capture the feel, but it is enough for me to remember. I have a number of “light through trees” painting ideas. Don’t know if I’ll ever get to them or if they’ll just litter my sketchbooks forever.

These sorta-roses were the product of the January ArtSnacks box. The slightly-orangey red is from a Posca paint marker. I’d heard of them, but never had one to try for myself. They are advertised to not bleed through paper, which is a tall claim, but they seem to live up to it. The green and now-gray are Marabu Aqua paint pens, which are water soluble. That aqua color was pressed into service as stem and leaves, while the black one I diluted and used as a gray background. The Tombow Fude pen gives the final black lines. They also had a Sumo grip mechanical pencil, which was just a fat pencil, but it did have an exposed eraser – mech pencils usually have covered erasers which means I use my separate eraser instead of uncapping the things. This was exposed, so I used it. That was nice.

This was my first sketch of the new year and I didn’t really know what to draw, so I wrote out some little tidbits from the day. You can see that I’ve started keeping notes of what I’ve used on the pages, as it relates to the sketchbooks they’re in because I’m testing about a dozen sketchbooks this year – but we can talk about that later.

Last public sketch of 2017. Doodles over a short lunch.

Drawn on the sofa when assaulted by the aggressive smell that happens when our littlest cat, Moxie, drops her evil turds in the litterbox. Even she knows they are extra stinky; she tries for much longer than any other cats to cover up that smell. I drew this to suffer through the minute it takes for the wall of stink to pass by.

Another sofa sketch. A friend got us tickets to the latest Star Wars movie for the evening before the Solstice Party. We’d been planning to wait a while to see it, but you can’t turn down tickets someone got for you! And, in the nice, new, reclining seats and super-sound-BrandNameAudioBS-stuff theater, too. Despite having lots to do, I was excited to take time out for a movie, a night out with friends, and was considering wearing my ridiculously shiny dress to the movie. Thinking about how cold I get in those recliners for the length of a movie, I wore normal clothes instead. And after weeks of suffering through broken, mangled, snapped, and bent fingernails, I purchased some acrylic fake nails to protect my fingertips for a while. My nails are always incredibly short, but the busier I get the harder I am on them and I was to the point of superglue patching then. I didn’t wear the pretty nails for either event, and a later test shows that I can only make it to day two before I do something that pops off one or more of them. Oh well. I can save the pretty nails for some special occasion that lasts for less than a day.

Work-annoyance-venting sketches seem like they should have a special category, but they don’t. I painted this after trying to work through (and past) a coworker to get stuff done. I felt better afterwards, anyway.

There. Now we’re all caught up on the sketches I’m up for sharing. On to more catching up next. Like an information exposure debt.

Nov 202017

Lunch hour painting
Felt like I needed a pick-me-up on Monday, but settled for painting such instead. The cat’s expression is one I’m working on.

Lunch hour painting
I had no inspiration this day, so I swiped some paint across a page, then made animals from the blobs. I don’t know what creature that big-fisted pink thing is. I also don’t know what the animals might be protesting or supporting. I painted, that’s enough.

Lunch hour painting
Numbats eat termites and they are adorable – what more could you want. Unfortunately, this South Australian animal is endangered, too.

Lunch hour painting
Know that Tom Petty song, Wildflowers? The lyrics go, “You belong among the wildflowers ..” and so on. I had a note in my inspiration folder to finish it as “six feet under them” and finally got the spark to do it. Although the small size makes it more like “at least three feet under them.” Love this one.

Nov 132017

Three this week! Woot!
Lunch hour painting, coals from Baba Yaga.
Most people who know stories of Baba Yaga first envision the chicken legged house, or the witch herself, but the part of the most familiar story that sticks with me is the coals. It was the goal of her quest, the coals were well-earned, and they are hastily given at the end in a skull. That part lives in my head. Magical, red and gray coals being tossed into a human skull for carrying. It always seemed the bone wouldn’t be enough insulation for carrying. I always imagine Vasalisa picking up the first sturdy branch she found that had forks to wedge the skull into during her travels home. Last year when Slick and I were clearing branches from our yard, I found a really good one. I even tried it on against my head to be sure, and it was a good fit for a human skull. I idly wanted to toss some red LED battery lights in an appropriate Halloween skull and make my Vasalisa’s torch. Fortunately for my project list, I didn’t keep track of the branch – although it is probably still out there.
In one of the subscription art supply boxes I receive, there was a skinny landscape format watercolor sketchbook. (Just a link if you’re interested, no affiliate or any strings at all.) I’d seen it before but not purchased because I don’t do city or land scapes and I was unsure I’d find uses for it specifically. Between this sketchbook and a sample sheet of some truly luscious Daniel Smith Watercolors, I was carried gently on a wave of painting thoughts back to the lunchtime paintings. The long paper called out for this torch rendition, although I didn’t use the WC samples on this.

Lunch hour painting, taxidermy fox.
In one of my dreams, Slick and I attended a sort of estate sale, but it was for an institute or club of some kind. There were art books, pieces of furniture, a variety of things. I went out some dark, double doors onto a small courtyard fenced with black wrought iron. The sidewalk was damp with rain and the tree leaves sparkled as their wet surfaces caught sunlight. In the shadow of a branch, I saw what at first appeared to be a fox. As I got closer, I saw it wasn’t really a fox. The fur was flat and the snout had an oddly long shape to it. It was a taxidermied fox, and it appeared unnatural enough for me to remember later.

Lunch hour painting, a silly fucking cat on the internet.
We wound down an evening looking at funny cat clips online and this one stuck with me. The angle of his eyes and that single tooth sticking out won me over. Had to snap a screenshot and paint this silly cat. It was fun. I like combining a couple layers of pen linework and watercolor. The look of it pleases me.

Now to see if this week is equally productive.

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