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.

What’s on my Desk

I recently applied for the SCBWI Mentor Program.  Part of my application was to submit a one page Artist Statement.  As I thought back to my first illustrations, I remembered that I illustrated my book report cover for “Rascal” by Sterling North.  It was a pencil drawing on red construction paper of a raccoon in a tire swing.  It wasn’t long before my classmates were hiring me to create their covers too.  The price, one ice cream bar.

I decided to go back to that time and illustrate the cover again.  My plan is to create the cover, three interior spot illustrations and chapter illuminated letters.  I’ve listened to the audio book twice and will go borrow the book from the library to get the chapter breaks correct. 

By the way, it is a charming story of 1918 America during WWI, the war to end all wars.  Even during dark times, kids always seem to find a way to make their lives whole.  Sometimes animals and their connections to us are just the thing that keeps us grounded on our planet.

Thumbnail pencil sketches getting to know the animal characters in "Rascal".

Renee’s Sharpie Art All Stars Spend a Week in Paris

I received this great photograph from a friend who had such wonderful ideas for her Sharpie Art Converse All Stars.  It’s been two years since we made them and they still look great.  They even made it to Paris this Fall. I’m so jealous!!

The post of of how they were made is my most popular viewed article.  Check it out here.

Following Yonder Start

This year I couldn’t get “We Three Kings” out of my head.  So I started down the path of sketching the Kings bearing gifts.  But, again, my love of animals overtook my desire to paint more humans.  So the camels set out on their own, without their Kings, to see what the heck was under that awesome and brilliant star.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

HAPPY, PROSPEROUS AND CREATIVE 2012

Watercolor Cover Project – Green Valley Library

Green Valley Library in Henderson, Nevada is hosting an art show featuring the 125 books High School student must read.  I drew a number out of a virtual hat and selected the book, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe.  A book I had never read, or even heard of.  I downloaded the unabridged audio version and listened two times through.

Okonkwo is a man who is pulled in many directions his entire life.  He is a traditional man in all areas of living, but unbalanced in many ways.  But when missionairies come to the clan, he faces his biggest challenge.

This is not an overly exciting story, but I found it very intriguing and a gripping story of life in a pre 1900’s African clan.