Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Power of Simplicity: Pencil, Ink, and Emotional Connection

I usually have at least a couple of types of projects going on in my studio.  And even if not, I often will take a break from whatever project I am working on to do some work that is more immediate.  Above you will see I have made a little corner space to do some small drawings. 
Drawing helps me to re-connect with what feels like the heart of the work that I make.  And what subject matter could be more suited to that for me than animals, which whom I spend a lot of time (my other part of my life being the therapeutic work which I do with animals) and with whom I feel a very natural, deep and vital connection.  I have an ongoing series of drawings with animals which most often are done using a combination of sumi ink, watercolor, gouache, and aquarelle pencils.
The animals who I work with (including my own, of course) from the shelter and privately touch my heart every day.  One of the cats who I spent a lot of time with recently was named Pallino.  He was at BARC shelter, where I volunteer.  Animals arrive at the shelter in widely varying states of health.  He came in with advanced kidney problems, and the shelter did all they could to help him remain as comfortable as they could, giving him a lot of love and care.  However, it became clear a couple of weeks ago that he was nearing the end of his journey on this earth.  I spent a lot of time with him, especially in his last days, sharing Reiki energy with him and sending him images of being surrounded with light and love.  From him, I felt he was so soulful, so sweet, so accepting of his condition and filled with gratitude for any attention and love. 
After he was let go, though I knew it was his time, I still felt so sad and felt his spirit all around me.  I had a few photos of him, which I often use for inspiration.  I felt I wanted to see what I could do to try and capture some of the spirit of this deep soul with whom I had shared these quiet moments. Looking into the eyes of the animal from the photographs that I have of them is often a way to access that connection if I am not feeling it already.
Most often, when I am able to connect with the feeling from the animal, the drawing makes itself.  When this was done, it felt that he was inhabiting the drawing.  When I can look at the drawing later and truly feel that the spirit of the animal comes through, I know that it is done.  If I am unfocused and it doesn't feel right, I usually will just try again to get to that place in my mind and heart, where I know it will be possible for the drawing to come forth.
Thank you Pallino, much love to you. . . .

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Sidestep: From Paint to Colored Pencil

Above:  on the left is the finished drawing, to the right are the art stix and colored pencils.

I often find it is interesting to try similar subject matter in several different media, and I learn something every time I try a different medium - is this able to show another side of this subject? is another medium able to better translate what I am trying to get across? 

Anyway, my Valentine gave me some beautiful colored pencils from Utrecht, and of course I had to try them right away.  I have been working with images of a girl in different states of motion, trying a variety of body positions, colors of her dress and colors of background.

Working with a pencil has SUCH a different feeling than working with a brush.  And, as I have been focusing on the strappo monotypes, which are made of acrylic paint, it has been a little while since I worked with a pencil, much less a whole array of colors. 
So, as I worked, I started to experiment with shading, combining different layers of color, etc. And ways of creating the layers of color.  So different to feel a small point (or even the side of a pencil) rather than the smushy brush at the end of what you are holding.
For the large area of the background, I felt I wanted a more solid color feeling, so I included layers of Prismacolor art stix, which are the shape of conte crayons but made of colored pencil material. In the photo below, you will see that I have added more shading and layers (sorry the light is not the best on the photo above, but you can still get the idea). 
I started to feel it was getting more of the feeling I wanted, as it had felt a bit too flat before. 
I actually don't mind some types of flat, but the word flat can sometimes mean to me more than flat in the physical dimensional sense, rather a flat that means that the piece is lacking the life that I want in it.  And, because I work so much from intuition, sometimes it takes trying a bunch of things before I arrive at the feeling I want.  Whereas, other times it just comes out right. And those times it feels like someone else did it!
So, back to the task at hand. Even with more layers and shading, I still wanted at least some parts of the drawing to look more smushy.  Soooooo, even though the pencils and art stix I used are not "aquarelle pencils", which are the type that blend well when you use a brush with water on them, I did use a brush with water on it on the background.  I kept wanting more of a blend, and wanted to see what would happen, if anything.  You can see in the photo below, especially around her head, the color is more liquidy-looking.  So it did blend things in places. 
And now it does have more of the feeling I was seeking.
I'm looking forward to trying some more things with these pencils to see what happens there.  Meanwhile, the strappo monotypes are continuing to be made as well :).


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Welcome to My Studio

 Hi folks!! This is the first post of my art blog. In this post I will give you a first glimpse of the place where I make my work. It evolves and changes according to the medium that I am working in, which changes as the muses dictate.  Above is one of my sculptures, and to the right you can see some shelves where I have some toys, some finished work, etc.

Above is a shelf with a few gilded sculptures which I've made in the past few years.  I work in a variety of media:  drawing, sculpture, mixed media, sumi-e ink painting, and many types of printmaking processes.

I will not be cleaning up my studio for the purposes of this blog, other than the usual weeding out and clearing away of things so that I can work!  I seem to thrive in an environment where there is a lot to look at and possible materials to choose from, and I don't imagine that changing any time soon - although from time to time I wish I had more space and could manage to have a more sparse atmosphere :)

I have a small printing press (you can see the crank on the left hand side of the picture above), which was made by Faust (the same company that makes the inks) and is a wonderful simple press to use - as far as I know I don't think they are making these presses any more.
At the moment, anyway, the press is being used for a table because the type of prints which I am doing right now do not require a press.  They are called Strappo Monotypes.  This is a process that was developed and taught to me by Harold Garde, who is a wonderful artist!  Check out his work at
OK, back to the studio here.  On the press bed, to the left hand side of the picture above, is a Strappo in progress.  You will see toys throughout my studio, as I often use them for inspiration for my work.

Above to the right is a finished Strappo.  They are made by painting with acrylic paint on glass, which is built up in many layers, then transferred to paper, panel, canvas or whatever other surface you may want to try.  In this process, the first brush strokes you put on the glass will be the top surface of the finished print.  So you are creating the image backwards. This is a very interesting way to make an image! And helps free my mind in a certain way because I am not following familiar patterns of making an image. 
The one shown here also makes use of collage.  I painted matte medium on the glass, then put the ink drawing on the glass, more matte medium, then began building up the paint.
I'll talk more about the Strappo process in later posts. 

Above are some more of the toys and paintbrushes that populate my studio.
Right now I've got to get back to work, and then will be going to the animal shelter where I volunteer, BARC Shelter in Brooklyn (  If you want to see what I am up to with the animals, feel free to check out my animal site, and my animal blog,
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!