Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mining your Sketchbook for Inspiration

My teacher/mentor always said never throw out old drawings, sketches, ideas but put them all in the sketchbook no matter how silly they may seem,even if you don't like them or can't figure out how to use them. She warned me that even if I didn't like something or couldn't figure out how to technically implement an idea at the time I might like it in the future or develop skills that would allow it's implementation. Boy was she right. I did this quick study of my daughters friend over five years ago and never quite knew what to do with it, but I see threads now lol!

One of the best resources for exploring artists (famous and not so famous)sketchbooks is this site Artists Sketchbooks Online

My favourite sketchbook is spiral bound with acid free paper thick enough I can use watercolours or acyrlics in it too.

Having a problem starting a sketchbook or what to put in it?
About.Com has a few ideas.
I put anything in it, almost like a scrapbook journal, with bits of fabric, yarn, photos, text, poems, doodles, formal drawings, shapes that please me, colour swatches, paint chips, pressed leaves or flowers.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lady Gaga Embroidery and Marmite Dictionary

I LOVE the imagery and some of Lady Gaga videos
so I

image source: NYT Style Magazine November 13th 09

this petit point embroidery by Francesco Vezzoli

Well the State of the Photograph

errr,reflects the state of Jafabrit after a large Christmas meal,a glass of sherry,a glass of eggnog, and a glass of champagne. I was ready to snooze in front of my virtual fire after this. I am looking at my happy find in my Christmas Stocking this year, Mish Mash Dictionary of Marmite by Maggie Hall. Some of you may hate it and want to hoy it oot, but wait the stuff is miraculous (not just to eat either). The dictionary is full of amazing facts, tidbits, folklore, but I wasn't suprised that the biggest lovers of Marmite come from the North of England, hee hee!
Howway the Lads

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Pelican Poo Tree

To be avoided
The first day in Rincon we went onto the beach and the stench at the left of the hotel path was HORRID. I couldn't figure out what it was, but thought perhaps a dead animal or the skip behind the restaurant. It wasn't until the next evening we figured out what it was.

After fishing all day anywhere from 10 to 20 of these brown pelicans would nest in the tree for the night. Watching them fish was fun, but watching them (from a safe distance) try to land on the tree was truly entertaining. Sometimes when they landed their weight would make the other branches sway and knock another pelican off balance (or the wind), or they couldn't land and circle several times. One even grabbed an upper branch with it's beak, flapping it's wings and trying for 5 mins to anchor it's feet on the branch below.

I got a video of them diving, but this one is better and is in the same location.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Coral & Graffiti at Domes Beach Puerto Rico

Most sites talk about the surfing and the beach

I haven't seen any reference to the coral that washes up on the shore or the graffiti. Despite most sites stating the beach gets crowded we were the only one's there and had the beach to ourselves (December). Most surfers seemed to be further down the shoreline. Some of the coral was really beautiful. This website talks about the type of coral unique to the area.
The graffiti
was on a retaining wall and somewhat hidden, so for those that don't like graffiti I can tell you it didn't spoil the beach view. If anything it helped decorate a deteriorated wall.
photos by c.bayraktaroglu

To see more PR Graffiti please check the Group Page at flickr: The Graffiti & Arte de Urbano Puerto Rico

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Trees in Puerto Rico-Squawk!

A fellow traveler and I were fascinated with the way the many of the christmas trees were decorated in Puerto Rico. Many were covered in parrots, so we took a drive to The Lazy Parrot in the hills of Rincon thinking they MUST have some. It was a lovely drive but alas no Christmas tree parrots. The gracious owned did tell us where to find them though, at the Christmas Store (Almacen Navideño) in the next town, Mayagüez. I bought about 10 or 11 parrots and 5 small birds and somehow managed to squeeze them all into the suitcase, eek. Where there is a will there is a way lol! A fellow Brit in Yellow Springs, Karen, made me this super oven glove. Okay it is just an oven glove but there is something special about getting a present that someone took the time to design and make. She got a hand made dickie bird and one of those parrots all the way from Puerto Rico which now sits in her tree pictured below.

Happy Christmas
or as some say in the UK

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Subversive Embroidery and the KISS

I am NOT pulling out the stitches on the face again, this is my third attempt and like it or not, it stays. It has been a learning experience though. The first two times I realized the scale of the stitches were too big for the size of the form and they were too uniform. So here it is unstretched, but bascially finished (just need to add my sig)
I am not too crazy on the head of the poppet doll but oh well, so be it. Overall I think it works.

The greenish on the arm was one of those happy accidents. Somehow when I ironed it this is what happened and I liked it. Here is the original sketch I based the embroidery on.

Marmite is the Toast of the Art World

Here is the story about Dermot Flynn's Toasty Art at BBC

About Marmite
Mish Mash Dictionary of Marmite (tar-in-a-jar) by Maggie Hall

Ha ha, my husband feels the same way as this fella

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Old San Juan Cemetery

Cemeterio Maria Magadelena De PazzisOld San Juan, Puerto Rico
December 2009

Can one say a cemetery is beautiful? This one was with it's white marble everywhere, gravestones, statues etc. This statue was my favourite and while the figure is in contemplation, one couldn't help contemplate also while looking at it. There was a certain poignancy that came with hearing the gentle waves and seeing quiet beauty of the place.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Puerto Rico Connection

Old San Juan
December 2009

The Connection

I read a great article in the New York Times about Carmen Herrera being the hot new thing in the art world at the age of 94. Tony Bechara, said “We have a saying in Puerto Rico,” “The bus — la guagua — always comes for those who wait.” I LOVE her response and whole attitude, she said "“Well, Tony, I’ve been at the bus stop for 94 years!” LOL! There was much she said that resonated with me. In regards to painting “I do it because I have to do it; it’s a compulsion that also gives me pleasure,” and "Ms. Herrera was sustained, she said, by the unflinching support of her husband of 61 years" (I am lucky to have the same sort of support). "When pressed about what looks to some like a sensual female shape in the painting, she said: “Look, to me it was white, beautiful white, and then the white was shrieking for the green, and the little triangle created a force field. People see very sexy things — dirty minds! — but to me sex is sex, and triangles are triangles.”
People bring their own experiences and interpretations in viewing artwork but I find it annoying when they try to impose that view as being how the artist meant it or claiming that is the only interpretation.
Sometimes people see what they want to see, yes!

Monday, December 21, 2009


We all Leave Them

One way or another

"A powerful idea communicates some of its strength to him who challenges it." Marcel Proust

Knitta Please and Racial/Class Issues
in Crafts
O stated"*Scratching my head* I really am not sure why there is any ambiguity when the group name is actually a play on a racial slur that has strong class implications."

The ambiguity is simple to explain, I wasn't brought up in this country/culture or the terminology behind the brouhaha, so when I saw the word knitta I thought of it as a play on the word knit (pronounced with a hard t). It's a mistake to assume that it would be obvious to everyone. Not everyone is born in America and has the historic cultural conditioning/experiences that comes from being raised in the usa and see what might be obvious to others. Racism/Classism exists everywhere but how it manifests itself is different in each culture.
Ernesto Aguilar wrote a commentary on his website titled Knitta Please, Racism & the Backlash that makes for thoughtful reading and take on the issue.

Somebody commented "the crafting world ....Yes, it is overwhelmingly white". There were several that agreed with her, but what I want to know is how would they would know that. Is there some data on this?
If she meant the representation in the business side of it, I don't have an argument there. Women and minorities are seriously underrepresented in the art world (this article touches on that). But if she meant crafting is overwhelmingly a white activity I don't agree. It ignores crafts/art done by a range of people in America (Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Arab American, Indian, African American,Mexican American,Cuban, Native American,South American, just to name a few)

HandMadeNews: Modern Hispanic Crafts
African American quilting history
African American History through the Arts
Black Crafters Guild
Mexican American Quilt History

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Sun Doth Shineth

and we were most happy
Driving to Rincon of the Seas from San Juan, Puerto Rico
We arrived when it was dark and the first impression was my ears being assaulted with loud twitterings in the lobby, in the hallways, in the gardens outside our room.

I and another guest were convinced it was a looped recording to add ambiance to the place (as if it needed it lol). I thought it would drive me bonkers if I had to listen to this all the time. By morning it was gone, but the next day as soon as it got dark it started up. After a couple of days I asked the maid and she explained it's not parrots or a recording and had a good laugh at my confusion.

Nope, not parrots, but this little fella called a Coqui.
tree frogs about 1 inch long
and NO it didn't drive me bonkers I quickly learned to enjoy their serenade each evening.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Repost about cheating in Art

Caravaggio Cheated
well, not really, he just did what many artists have done throughout history
Caravaggio used 'photography' to create dramatic masterpieces.

Amor Vincit Omnia by Caravaggio

There are many purists/art snobs/dilettantes who claim that the use of projector/photograph is cheating and will dismiss the work of an artist who does use them. The problem with that view is that they will have to dismiss a whole slew of artists in history whose painting and drawing skills are unquestioned. One can't just copy a photograph/use a projector and render a realistic painting without a solid background in drawing, and anatomy/life drawing.
Vermeer and the Camera Obscura

Famous Painters who copied photographs.

So next time someone gives you a hard time about using photographs or a projector (camera obscura) tell them if it was good enough for Caravaggio, Canaletto, Vermeer, Sir Joshua Reynolds it's good enough for you.

I like using them sometimes for reference purposes, and other times to copy. For Shadow Songs I wanted that stilted frozen studio portrait look and copied the pose in the photograph.

Shadow Songs

Here is a completely different take on copying photographs and it is fabulous, found it on Mr.XStitch Blog.
The work is by Cecile Jarsaillon who stitches the actual photographs, and not as easy as one might imagine.
AdviceBetter to use your own photographs (or with permission of the photographer) unless you want to get in a pickle.