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Posts Tagged ‘Winter Survival’

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Scarves and shawls, plus capes and sweaters, fulfill as much of my creative energy as do paints.

Above are samples of pure silk blanks (available online via Dharma Co., CA) painted with Sharpies fine (brush tip are great) permanent markers (not the oil base ones).  This is too much fun.  Just color/color/color the scarf to your heart’s content, and when satisfied spray (saturate) with rubbing alcohol.  Allow to dry, then press with a hot steam iron.

These recently sold well at a pre-holiday fair.  Everyone loves them.  The selection of blanks is great—Dharma even has dancing veils.

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Here Pinkie is happily modeling the world famous Potato Chip Scarf–so named 1) because it curls and 2) because you can’t just make one.  They are as addictive as the edible, salty variety.

And below we have Pinkie again, cowling it up.

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Knitted, of course.  I go on yarn surges.  A few years ago, it was Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino.  Then Cascade 220.  Then Cascade Sunseeker.  Now it is Malabrigo Silky Merino:  49% silk and 51% merino wool.  All are wonderful.  All are unabashedly overflowing and falling out of countless baskets, many of which I have made in former years of “also passions”.

And shawls.  I make long shawls—prayer shawls, gift shawls, and some for myself.  A long shawl is the perfect wrap for our autumn and spring weather, either layered over a blazer and sweater or by itself.  And I love these little guys:

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(The borders are crocheted.)  No, I didn’t make the penny quilt.  For me, knitting needles are relaxing—but sewing needles and machines are nerve wracking.  This quilt is a beauty.  It was some unknown artist’s masterpiece, possibly during the Great Depression, as the fabrics are apparently used clothing.  The quilt is huge, even on our queen bed.  We won it at a local auction years ago.  It’s been moved two times, stored on a high closet shelf, and now we are featuring it on our bed.  Things are to be used and enjoyed, especially with a good number of years behind us and not quite so many years left.  Why not?  🙂

spinning in the summer

Finally, spinning.  The basket filled with color contains wool roving, and the white fiber in the pink basket is silk.  Two excellent Jensen wheels, Wisconsin made, grace our living room and in this case one of them is (characteristically in seasonable weeks) working on our patio.  What a joy to make yarn, and knit it.  I still have a lot of gorgeous deep brown Shetland from my last two silly sheep, in the late 1990s.

But the patio leads out to even one more of many passions:

Faithful Bleeding Heart

Coming SOON!  I can hardly wait.  How about you?

Margaret L. Been — February 28th, 2016

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Forsythia

Forsythia . . .

and lilacs.

Lilacs

The sun grows stronger

moving north a little more

each day.

Dreams explode on my art table.

Meanwhile . . . .

Gathering for Change

a cozy winter view

of our park.

 

Margaret L. Been — January 16, 2016

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Textured Scenery

Watercolor painting has undergone a revolution in recent decades.  Once the stuff of faint, delicate washes and flat photographic detail, watercolor has become a medium of vibrant shades and palpable textures.  This is somewhat due to a plethora of new paint colors by many manufacturers plus products which add granulation, impasto, and crackles to the paints—and the liberating relaxation of what is acceptable:  including the use of salt, cling film, and tools for scraping.  (The most commonly used scraping tool seems to be a defunct credit card.)

I am grateful for the revolution.  As exquisite as they may be in the hands of a pro, those faint and delicate washes with photographic detail have never appealed to this amateur.  Much as I respect the age-old skill of the traditional watercolorist, I do not want “faint and delicate” on the walls of my home!  And I would not be true to myself if faint and delicate were my only options to paint.

Along with the watercolor revolution has come a fondness for the diffusion which occurs when wet paint is applied alongside semi-wet:  those beautiful “cauliflowers” and “blooms” such as you see in the upper right corner of the above rendering.  Once considered to be terrible, these blooms are now cherished by many artists.  Sometimes the blooms occur accidentally, but often they are intentional.  They can also be achieved by spraying water on semi-wet paint.  Actually I think that’s how I got the one pictured above.

I am going batty over texture.  The ethereal white streaks just left of center were made by wisping a layer of white gouache over paint which was dried under cling film.  The weird trees or whatever along the background were salted.  Table salt is okay, but since I love most everything Jewish I prefer Kosher salt.  The wildish plantings springing up on the right were done with a new kid on my art block—Indian ink.  And of course the green area was cling filmed while drying.  Not featured in this example are watercolor crayons and water soluble ink pencils which I frequently apply for texture.  And a great way to create speckles is to sprinkle sand-papered shavings from the end of a water soluble colored pencil, into wet paint.  Too much fun!

Up until now, all of my paintings have been done on either Arches 140# cold press (as above) or slippery YUPO paper.  I have held off ordering rough textured paper due to the accelerated price thereof—feeling that I should wait until I have a reasonable idea of what I am doing with my paints.

Well, I’ve been sloshing around in the colors for eight years now and recently I decided it was time to move on.  I ordered one sheet of Arches 140# rough surface, to see if I would like it.  Today I began to work on that first sheet.  Ha!  It was love at first brush stroke.  The rough texture causes far more irregularities with its crevasses and gullies, than one can possibly achieve on other papers.  So I just ordered three more sheets.  The sheets are 22″ x 30″.  I get a lot of paintings out of the big sheets, and these will go along way toward making our Wisconsin winter more pleasant.

Also, I really took a plunge, and ordered one sheet of 300# cold press.  Again, a price leap.  A sheet of 300# rough texture paper would have been even more pricey.  One step at a time.  The 300# papers do not buckle, no matter how wet they are.  So there is no need to dampen the back of a 300# painting and weight it down between paper towels and plastic mats laden with my huge atlas.

Little by little I am getting spoiled.  But I’m into painting for the long haul.  As long as the Lord keeps me on earth I hope to dink around with my brushes and explosions of color and texture!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, December 2014

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Eternally Snowing--Winter 2014--2

The salt trick is too much fun!  ↑ Here is “Eternally Snowing — Winter, 2014”, sprinkled with very coarse salt.  Our Wisconsin world!

But every year about now I begin dreaming, and my dreams morph into paintings.  Voilà “Windy Summer Day” ↓ .  This one was embellished with Kosher salt.

Windy Summer Day

After the painting dries the salt is scraped off, leaving textural marks plus a bit of “shine”.  The coarser the salt, the more of a job it is to remove.  A credit card works well for scraping, but hopefully not the card which is currently being used.  🙂

Margaret L. Been, February 2014

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I did the above pale and wimpy rendering five years ago, when I hadn’t yet learned that watercolors may be richly and powerfully applied.  Most of my art teachers, via their books, urge the reworking of old paintings which are lacking.  So I dug “Winter Survival” out from under our bed and went to work.  After all, there’s nothing to lose when working on such a lackluster piece!

Here is “Winter Survival Redone”.  The altered version has a lot more pizzazz!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Early March is the time when I traditionally clip some red osier dogwood branches and set them indoors in a pitcher of water.  I did this a week ago, when our trees and shrubs were laden with fresh snowfall. 

The snow melted in a few days, and now the weather is wonderfully gusty and sunny—exactly like March should be.  And my indoor dogwood shoots have sprouted teeny buds in various places along their stems.

How satisfying are those little rituals which mark the turning seasons and the passing years.  Clipping the dogwood was a pleasure last week, and so was painting it.  The above rendering is a tribute to one of Wisconsin’s loveliest shrubs, both cultivated and wild.  The background in the lower portion of the above painting was created before painting the branches of dogwood, by splotching color all over the YUPO paper—then pressing SARAN WRAP over the sheet, crinkling it into shapes and textures, and weighting the whole bit down overnight with heavy books.  The next morning, voilà!  Rocks, and random organic shapes.

I filled in the sky last, but it was too garish at first and it detracted from the rest of the work.  I modified the sky by running water over the upper left corner—causing the paint to bleed, fade, and in some spots disappear altogether.

This piece is titled “Tongues of Fire”.  I always picture flaming branches of red osier dogwood sitting on the heads of the dispersed Jews who gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost—that historic occasion which marked the birth of the Christian Church. 

Such “far out” mental imaging may seem ludicrous to some, but it goes with the unique territory of “Poet/Painter”.  🙂  Much as I love words, I have always thought in pictures—technicolor pictures at that!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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I don’t draw or paint animals very well.  They always seem to look like people, especially in the area of the eyes and facial expressions.  Now it may be argued that dogs are practically people—at least that goes for Collies and Pembroke Welsh Corgis.  But Ground Hogs are definitely not people, so I won’t try to paint them.

Meanwhile, I’ve always LOVED Ground Hog Day.  In Wisconsin, the traditional “take” on the day is confusing.  Whereas in some quarters 6 more weeks of winter may be considered “bad news” (for those who don’t ski), in our proverbial neck of the woods ONLY 6 more weeks is cause for a big HOORAH (provided you don’t ski).  Whatever . . . .

Here is a painting of what the Ground Hog may see, not in 6 weeks but perhaps in a few months—when he does come out to inspect my garden.  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Winter is beautiful, at least in Wisconsin.  Winter is a wonderful time for hunkering down and losing track of time while immersed in creative activites.  A winter walk can be enjoyable, when we are buffered in layers against the elements.  And the cup of tea or cocoa upon returning home is reason for euphoria.

I love to paint the seasons.  Above, you will see my rendering “Deep Powder” in watercolor on YUPO® paper.  Below you’ll find the same painting, scanned and digitally altered.  Maybe that one should be called “Deep Powder at Evening”.

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Yesterday was the first day out of seven, that I didn’t have a fever which reached over 100 even though I kept beefing up with aspirin.  After lugging a cement sinus head around and feeling like something a cat might have barfed up, you can imagine the thrill of an outing!

We went for breakfast at a local restaurant—one of those owned by Greeks who know how to serve huge platters of food for a good price.  Joe and I always split a meal at these places.  Otherwise we’d leave feeling like we were going to blow up and we just might!

Then we went to THERAPYVILLE—that’s what I call one of my favorite stores:  the BEN FRANKLIN store in Oconomowoc.  This place is incredible for craft supplies, decorating stuff, creative gifts for all ages, you name it.  There I found:  YES! paste for all those collages I want to create; a set of goauche paints—new to me and wonderfully creamy to use; a funky mop brush for applying a wash on paper (the brush has a clear plastic handle with a pretty pink stripe); an angle shader—3/4″; and a set of wooden puzzles for our great-granddaughter, Brynn, who will be three years old in a few weeks.  (Brynn is passionate about puzzles.)

What a joy it was to get out!  Looking back, I recall many happy outings in the wake of sick spells.  One memory especially surfaces:  a 1962 recollection of going downtown in Milwaukee to the Shrine Circus with our first five children, after being incarcerated for ten days with what was then called the “Asian flu”.  I can close my eyes, and hear/see/smell that circus!  (And I can still taste the pop corn, even though we always brought our own to the circus.)

There are branches of THERAPYVILLE all around our home:  colorful coffee bistros, resale shops, used book stores, STEIN’S GARDEN CENTER—and charming antique shops in our villages and up our country lanes.  How delightful to come home with bounty.  The therapy lasts and serves me well, even when stuck indoors with a fever!

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

NOTE:  See that green stuff outside the window on the above photo?  It’s GRASS!  Coming soon!  🙂

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We have huge mountains of snow piled all around our building, created by the ever faithful plowers and their machinery.  The gentle hill leading to the park outside our front door is heaped high, and it looms like a wall of white in our patio door view.  Joe calls the hill “The Matterhorn”.  Dylan loves to run up The Matterhorn on his long retractable leash.  Then he lies down and rolls his cylindrical little body back down.  He does this several times each day, with a look of sheer euphoria on his face.

Dylan’s currently favorite pastime notwithstanding, I am thinking “enough’s enough”!  I’m ready to move on to the next items on the agenda–thawing winds and mucky March, eventually leading to warm breezes and vistas of GREEN!

Except for the pretty Valentines I received, all decorative vestiges of winter have been packed away.  Most of my red glassware has been stowed in a china cabinet–having been supplanted on tables and open shelves by Vasoline glass, clear crystal, pressed glass, and Depression era glassware in delicate shades of aqua, lemon yellow, and pink. 

I’m buying a live house plant every time we shop.  Even WALMART (called “WALLY WORLD” by our son, Eric) has live house plants.  Joe thinks we don’t have room for more plants, but I keep finding extra space by stacking the pots on footstools and extra tables in our windows, and hanging them from cute little wrought iron hangers–courtesy of HOME DEPOT. 

Then there are fake flowers–actually quite lovely.  Yellow “tulips” grace a wall planter fashioned by a friend who is a potter.  The phony posies have even made it outdoors to our garden.  A farmer’s antique milk can filled with pink “roses” hangs on a trellis, along with a garland of “forsythia”.  The riot of pink and yellow warms our view, otherwise dominated by the snowy Matterhorn!

My choice of apparel goes into a state of denial this time each year.  When I was little (a few centuries ago) I tried to quit wearing long cotton stockings in February–while begging my mother to let me wear knee socks or ankle socks instead.  I can recall Mother folding her arms and staunchly refusing my requests.  She always said, “You are rushing the season“!

Now I can wear whatever I want, and I’m still rushing the season–albeit with caution.  I refuse to wear brown, grey, or black skirts again until next fall.  But it’s easy to pull a poufy, flamboyant gypsy skirt over my WINTER SILK long johns.  Sheer, romantic style blouses can be draped over a cashmere sweater in a springy hue.  Strands of colored beads never fail to complete the picture of a funky woman who refuses to brook any more winter in her life–at least for a few months!

Meanwhile, I keep checking online for our zip code’s 10 day forecast.  It’s WINTER TIMES 10!  Oh well, I’m having a lot of fun–in my deluded state of DENIAL!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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