Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday returns

I have written about this before, how much I actually love the season of Lent. It is such a calm time for me. We are supposed to be quiet and thoughtful, perfect for an introvert like me. And then there is the all important question; what are we giving up for Lent? Always, I will give up sweets, and maybe my evening glass of wine.
A better question would be; what spiritual practice are we beginning during Lent? I would like to say that I intend to pray more for grace.
I have another type of sacrificial practice that I have taken up during Lent in the past couple of years, which is making church banners!  I have sacrificed time, talent and energy to paint and produce some artwork that our church will use in the Easter Vigil service which is on the night of Holy Saturday before Easter Sunday. And every year it ends up being a deadline that I work like crazy to finish during the six weeks of Lent. (not a quiet or calm practice).
Three years ago it was the Creation banners. I blogged about that here, and here, and here.

And then last year, I thought we (our team of visual artists for the church) had topped ourselves for good because we made a banner that was 40 feet high and 16 feet wide. I blogged about that a lot. Here, and here and here, in fact most of last April.

I must add, I am not in this huge project alone, we have a team of artists. Our leader is Laura, a talented artist full of energy to drive us forward. I know that I could not have finished the season of painting last year without her enthusiasm and fresh outlook. Our Church of the Resurrection is intending to continue to use the resurrected Christ banner again this year. In fact, they have printed small copies of the great painting to use as prayer icons and if you go to this link, you can see a booklet that they have made about the making of the work. They have titled it "An artist's journal, the making of the Resurrected Christ banner".

(Wow, this is one of the longest posts I have written this year).
All of this is to lead up to the announcement of our new huge project this Lenten season which will (hopefully) be seen on the night of the Great Easter Vigil again.
I say, hopefully, and with the Grace of God, because I have cold feet about completing this in time and with a worthy end result. I am worried because our church is in the process of purchasing and renovating a building to move to by the end of the year. We are painting ten (!) large canvases that will have a permanent home in the new building. This is daunting, to produce something worthy and lasting, not just a banner that goes up briefly and then is tucked away.
Showing here, one of my first rough sketches of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac (stopped by the hand of God). I will explain more as I post about the progress of these paintings in the next six weeks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


A five-minute warm up gesture drawing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

gestures from Life

Five minutes for warm-up poses in Life Drawing class. We do five of these poses in rapid succession and when I pull them out weeks later, I enjoy them in a fresh way.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012


"The impermanence of everything;
Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence,
the sorry fact is
 that we arrive
here improvised
and leave without
the chance to practice."

Poet Wislawa Szymborka won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. She died last month, and because of obituaries and tributes, only now has brought her work to my attention. How marvelous the skill with which she would weave complex thoughts into a few clear words.

Above, a five minute gesture pose from life drawing group.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear
and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

Poet Wislawa Szymborka

Friday, February 10, 2012

life pose

I am pleased with the result of my Life drawing/painting class this past week.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

gesture drawings

These are the warm-ups. Five minute poses that our model takes with a little more action included than they could sustain for a longer pose. I concentrate on dynamic angles, basic shapes, and sometimes try to visualize the skeleton under the skin.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

redheaded model

I am not showing the full painting that I have made because of the tender ages of some of my readers. Finishing these paintings in an hour or so is one of the hardest things I do all week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Saturdays spent painting

I attend another Life drawing from the model group on Saturdays. (Actually, I am a volunteer co-ordinator). We have a long pose which has been an opportunity for me to really challenge myself to paint. I am learning a lot at these sessions and really pushing myself.

Monday, February 6, 2012

more from life

Today we worked on studying the muscles of the back. I still struggle with keeping all that back stuff, bumps and ridges straight. What is confusing is that it all changes completely when the model moves, twists, stands up, or reaches. Those scapular angles are always challenging.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Epiphany Season and three batik banners

At my Anglican church we are in the Epiphany season. This is the time following the birth of Christ and looking at His life and the events. I am on a team of Visual Artists that serve the church with a variety of offerings. Mostly I have been involved with painting banners. I don't sew, or build the things, I just get involved with paint in on way or another.
This season I worked with my teammate Laura, a fine artist herself, and we used a technique that I had never tried before. We used batik wax resist to paint our design and then fabric dyes for paint. The results were really cool.
Here is my design sketch, I kept it pretty loose and stylized.  The subject is the Star of Bethlehem and three travelers/worshipers/or wise people from the east.
Here is one of the three banners on the table, soaking wet as we poured and splashed layers of fabric paint. I think this was one of the more joyful, creative, art experiences either one of us have had. We were playful, and free and it turned out even better than we thought.

And here is a photo taken just before the service began last Sunday.
I also made a chunky stylized marker sketch that was used as a logo in the church bulletin.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

what have I been doing with my time

Time is hard to account for when so much is going on around me. I might be just sitting around doodling and rocking in my chair for all I know.
We have some construction going on in our house which makes it hard to concentrate!

Some big changes planned in our kitchen. And some more tearing out and building going on in the bathrooms too.

I learned how to make a hot wax batik painting this past month,(showing this tomorrow), and I've done a lot of Life drawing and painting too. Next up on the big projects ahead are ten large canvases for our church Easter Vigil. I am just working on the sketches and research for that now.
What I really feel like doing today? Taking a long nap.

Friday, February 3, 2012

right side drawing

I began drawing with a new group this week. We are starting with the basics which I am really enjoying because I need to review and refresh my knowledge and technique.
Today we did the beginner exercise called blind contour drawing. This method is meant to engage the right side of your brain and to tell the left side to go to sleep or shut up. You must use a marker or something that cannot be erased. And you must draw very slowly, looking at your subject and Never look down at your paper the whole time. I found it best if I did not lift my marker during the process and just made one continuous line.
I call it "drawing blind". Only you aren't blind, you are just blind to what is one the paper.
When you finally stop and look down, sometimes the result can be quite a pleasant surprise, and sometimes, it is just a mess of lines. The important thing is what is going on in your brain, not the drawing itself.
We had a model sitting in front of us, I started with the skeleton that was standing next to him.
There are two continuous line drawings shown here.
And then the next drawing can be executed with allowing yourself to occasionally glance at your paper, but to continue to draw very slowly with mostly one continuous line. This of course actually looks like the model but has a quality of life that a sketch usually doesn't achieve.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

february fog

My brother-in-law's pose here is echoing my own mood.