Inside a Crooked House

There was a crooked artist who every crooked day,

Walked a crooked path to a crooked room to play.

To awake a crooked brain (4 am’s a crooked time)

A crooked cuppa coffee helped these crooked words to rhyme!

Enter, and on your left is a place to spread out and play, look out the window and make art.

The eastern exposure is my favorite. So lovely to sit and daydream, read, or make art.

On the south wall is a place to snack, make a beverage, cut flowers or make art here too.

When you come back, you get start where you left off.  So go out and make art.

If you stand in the middle and spin around.

If you come upon a crooked house…….go on in and play.

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There was a Crooked House

This is a crooked house from photo reference of a real playhouse.  I would love one of these in my backyard as a little hangout.  It inspired this little “Donna’s Weird Studio Rhymes”.

There was a crooked house that had a crooked stair,

Upon its crooked porch there sat a crooked chair,

On nearby crooked table a crooked sketchbook lay,

So any crooked artist could escape their crooked day.

Pitt Brush Pens on Moleskine sketchbook paper.

Looking for a Summer Art Retreat? Check out Ghost Ranch!

I’ve been to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico twice and each time is an enchantment.  This summer Literally Letters features some awesome calligraphy instructors, but I’ll draw your attention to Carol Pallesen of the Silent Hand Scriptorium, Reno, Nevada.

I’ve known Carol for many years and have taken classes from her for about ten.  I’ll tell you that her teaching style is second to none.  She’s taught nationally and internationally, but I’m so fortunate to have her right here where I live.  She is knowledgable, prepared, patient, persistent and delightful.  Her class materials are always ready for the student without much preparation so the intended project can get underway.  This summer Carol is teaching Italic Calligraphy and Tiny Writing.  Both classes are wonderful and in a setting like Ghost Ranch, no student will be disappointed and will come away with so much more than expected.

Abiquiu is an easy drive from Albuquerque and not far from Santa Fe or Taos for day trips.

Here are some memories from my last visit to the Land of Enchantment where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and painted till the end of her days.

Instructor Carol Pallesen seated bottom row, left.

Staying up all night to work on your art is always an option.

A view from the classroom in the morning.  Panoramic vistas don’t get more beautiful than this!  And there is coffee if you chose to stay up into the wee hours and collaborate with fellow artists and students.

Some of the awesome temporary art that can be experienced. 

And this sunset plays nightly over the interesting rock formations to be found on the property.  Here is Chimney Rock as viewed from the calligraphy classroom.  So now are you convinced to sign up?

Watercolor Mice Inspired by 100 Year Old Flowers

If you have Multiple Muse Disorder, you know how easy it is to fall down a Rabbit Hole, or in this case a Mouse Hole.  My work illustrating Rascal, by Sterling North, sends me on a lot of research journeys, which I love.  When Sterling is mandated to get a collar and leash for his little pet, he goes to see Mr. Shadwick the harness maker.  The narrative of the story tells of Mr. Shadwick engraving Rascal’s name in the finest Spencerian script.

Well, I know a little about these scripts, but not a lot.  I have many wonderful calligraphy books and a really old book called Hill’s Manual of Business Forms and Guide to Correct Writing,1877.   The fun of getting really old books are the treasures that former owner’s leave in the pages.  Old stamps, news clippings, money (not yet, but someday) and in this case pressed flowers.  The name Emily is written over the name Lester Sullivan, so I’m assuming Emily owned this book at one time.  In the leaves of the book are a few clippings of poems, an ad for an Elmo treadle sewing machine from a Lyon Brothers formerly H. Wolf & Co. catalogue and pressed flowers.  Given the age of the book, the age of the ad and the assumption Emily wanted this sewing machine and she pressed the flowers, I’m guessing the flowers are over 100 years old.  So down the mouse-hole I go.

I figure I better brush up on Spencerian lettering to get my Rascal illustration authentic.  So I get out a Hunt pointed pen, oblique pen holder, guide lines from IAMPETH, Noodlers Black Ink, Bond practice paper and away I go.  But those flowers, what about those flowers?  Emily pressed them for something she wanted to make.  Cards, art, bookmarks are all possibilities.  That’s it, bookmarks.  And I’ll practice lettering on the back.  But I started practicing Engrosser’s Script (Copperplate), which I love, and still need to look at Spencerian, which is where this short story made long started and where I tripped and fell. 

What fun tumbling down the mouse-hole.  Thank you to Emily, this week’s muse.

Why mice?  I dreamed they used the flowers as parasols.

Studio Makeover

First, I must say in my loudest outside voice, that I’m GRATEFUL to have a space to make art and call my own.  When we moved into our new home twelve years ago, this space was the previous owner’s “man cave”.  But I claimed it the first day.  The windows are east facing, the ceiling is coffered and it fits all of my stuff.  Except my textile, embroidery, knitting stuff in the extra bedroom closet, but that’s for another day.

Having Multiple Muse Disorder means that interests, desires and manifestations of many creative paths must get out somewhere.  White Wolf Studio is the place where my artistic visions dream, breathe and live.  But with that comes “stuff”.  All good stuff, but I can get myself stuffed with stuff pretty quickly.  I love to try stuff, buy stuff and ultimately stack stuff.  I’m such a stack rat.  So……..I took about 12 hours of my time off from work and this is the result.  It may not be as glossy as some of those great “Studio” magazines or as interesting as Lynn Perrella’s “Art Making & Studio Spaces”, and even as I post these pictures it may not seem like such a big deal.  But I’m ready for 2012 and my space is open, breathing and full of life and potential.

Before. Check out the upper book shelf, sheeeeesh!!

After. Select a book without danger and press fabric.

After. Ahhhhhhhh!!

Before. Full sheet of watercolor paper? Not thinking so.

Before. Dusting nightmare.

After. Dusted for another 6 months.

After. Oh, there are those due dates.

Before. There's a project board here somewhere.

After. Hey, room for my hands to find stuff.

Before. All those tracing, sketches, prelims really need a home.

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Connie Furgason's class at Berkeley, CA 2007 with my friend and calligrapher Carol Pallesen of the Silent Hand Scriptorium, Reno, NV.

And then there are those gems I find when I sort, purge and toss bits and bobs that just can’t go in the bin.

One World, Many Stories Art Show

Here is a brief video of the opening of the Cultural Month Show at the Green Valley Library in Henderson, NV.

I’m really proud to be a participant from afar.  To see what else Think Art is up to, check out the website here.

The Heart of a Monkey

Project completed for the Green Valley Library, One World Many Stories.

Pen and ink with watercolor.  The borders are carved eraser stamps to replicate traditional Swahili Kangha cloth.

Monkey’s Invitation – “Beware of generous offers.”

Monkey’s Realization – “Life’s journey requires wit.”

Monkey’s Explanation – “Keep your heart safe.”

A crocodile craves a monkey’s heart.  He devises a plan to offer a trip to the monkey.  “I will take you to the mango tree so you can feast on something wonderful besides your everyday figs.”  The monkey decides this would be a great idea.  Half way on their journey, the crocodile reveals that he will not take him to the mango tree, but have monkey’s heart.  The monkey replies, “That would be fine except I left my heart in the fig tree for safe keeping.  If you return me to my tree, I will go get it for you.”  Of course once in the tree, the monkey does not return and crocodile was fooled.  

I’m looking forward to more black and white work in my next projects.