Monday, February 18, 2019

Watercolor Experiments & Bluebirds

"Sunflower Splash" - 9"x12" wc & wc pencils on a hot press Fluid watercolor paper block.

Watercolor experimentation is always both exciting and intimidating - because one has really very little control over how the watercolor paints will react in differing circumstances, papers, and techniques. Here are a few of my recent experiments - only one brought to some level of completion. That one is above and the beginning experiment is direction below. The others waiting for inspiration to "hit" and my skills to make them come alive with images!

Experiment #1: splashing the paint on a smooth watercolor surface. For this one, I used Derwent WC pencils and a regular #2 pencil to delineate the design on Fluid Watercolor Paper Hot Press finish in 9"x12" pad size.

Experiment #2: watercolor on 6" square gesso board - a smooth, slick, hard surface. The one on the left has two opposite colors dropped onto the surface, then Sea Salt sprinkled on top to create a starry effect where the salt lands. This one may become a Queen Anne's Lace painting - we'll see! The one on the right is more watercolors dropped on 6" square gessoboard. This time, I tried dropping rice on the surface as it is "supposed" to soak up the water/color and leave little lightened areas where the rice landed. Alas, that experiment was somewhat less successful, although it did dry with some interesting rice shapes. Who knows what will become of that one!

Experiment #3: using 4"x6" DaVinci pro panels with different textural surfaces, I applied a single color to each panel. The green panel is very smooth. I did sprinkle Sea Salt on this one, but it's barely apparent. The panel on the right has a very rough, almost sandy, texture and it took the paint beautifully! But it was all-over blah, so I did some blotting with a scrunched up paper towel to create some texture. This one is also awaiting a decision as to how to proceed.

And it's been cold, icy, and snowy in central PA, as well as many other places across the country. The Bluebirds are coming quite regularly now that the ground is totally frozen and bugs are in very short supply. I have a worm feeder hanging on our porch and they come swooping in to have meal worms as a winter diet. Normally, they like living bugs/worms and berries, but they'll settle for dried meal worms, when all else fails! Here are some photos taken in the past week of some of our visitors.

Three Bluebirds awaiting their turns at the worm feeder on our porch. Two males, one female.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Out and About in Early February

A recent sunset - one of several that we've had this month.

Spunky looking as though she wonders what I want from her!

This is a horse farm in Oak Hill, PA - not far from our home. I love seeing their horses out when I drive by.

A glorious Sycamore tree in downtown Lemont, PA. There are several around that are still healthy, for which we are grateful!

This is Rockview Farm on Benner Pike, between Bellefonte & State College, PA - on the prison grounds. They raise cattle and have two horses that are occasionally used by the rangers. I don't know if the beef is used at the prison or sold for profit. Interesting question, that.

I was out for a wonderful meeting with girlfriends today at the Waffle Shop. We're all rather unique art quilters past a "certain age" and enjoying life to the fullest of our abilities. There was lots of sharing and laughter plus delicious food, of course. The Winter Storm Warning stayed outside as we had a fun-loving luncheon. Two of us had a Kid Special - one chocolate chip pancake, one egg, one sausage, one strip of bacon. One gal chose a bowl of vegetable soup on this gray day. And the other chose a cup of soup with a tuna melt sandwich. Is your mouth watering yet?

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

New Work - Continued

Yesterday, I was working on a couple of little field mice - wanting to loosen up my watercolor style a bit, while maintaining some details. Above you can see the results. I'm fairly happy with them, but I know that I can do better. I need to practice daily to develop the expertise I desire!

Here they are up close and personal:

Mouse in the Snow - 5x7" loose watercolor on 300# Arches - (c)Pat Dolan 2019

Little Field Mouse - 7x5" loose watercolor on 300# Arches - (c)Pat Dolan 2019

Any thoughts or suggestions how they might be improved?

Completed Commissions & New Work

I've done a few cat portraits recently - one was of Lily, a special hi-bred similar to Siamese, and the other was of 4 cats the family had as family members over the years. Lily's painting required some adjustments to bring the painting into a better likeness of the family cat. Here is the final resulting painting, fully approved by Lily's family.

"Lily" - watercolor portrait 12 x 16" - (c)Pat Dolan 2019

The other request was for all of the family's cats over the period of a dozen years or more. It is a gift from the eldest child in the family to her youngest sister.

"Four Cats" - watercolor portrait 11 x 14" - (c)Pat Dolan 2019

Yesterday I was unwinding from several events and chose to do some very LOOSLY painted watercolors. One is of a male Cardinal in full color. The other two are still in progress - they are field mice. Something a little different from my usual bird/cat paintings!

Drawing of the male Cardinal

"Male Cardinal" - watercolor portrait - 5x7" - (c)Pat Dolan 2019

Works in progress - two field mice

And here are a few photos taken of birds in the last few days during the cold/snowy weather. Most are bluebirds dealing with the wind. Plus a Junco and a Mockingbird. Enjoy!



Friday, January 25, 2019

Busy January! And Spunky's Story

Above are two photos of Spunky's mom - a pure-bred King Charles Cavalier who managed to mate an unacceptable partner - one we guess was probably a terrier of some sort, since Spunky has many terrier qualities! Spunky was a rescue puppy.

We've had a busy, exciting month with several family members visiting from New England, each for several days. Things are just now settling down and nearly back to normal. Yesterday, we took Spunky in for her annual exam. Spunky will be 10 years old in April, and she's been showing signs of vision problems, so we were anxious to have her eyes examined. Did you know there are dog opthamologists around? Our closest one is in Pittsburg, but that wouldn't have helped with Spunky since she's been diagnosed with glaucoma. There's only eye drops to keep the pressure down in the eyes to help maintain the sight for as long as possible. Already today, her eyes seem to have improved, although I suppose that could be wishful thinking! But her pupils are no longer dilated all the way all the time, and her eyes aren't watering as much as they had been. I thought that was due to her severe allergies. Now I know it's related to glaucoma.

We also learned that Spunky has high blood pressure - as in twice the normal rate. So she's now on 4 new medications, added to her allergy meds, chronic pancreatitis meds, and pain meds for arthritis.

And this is our Spunky - she appears a tad windblown, probably because she was! Her fur coat curls up wildly when she gets wet! But she has the nose and tracking abilities of a terrier.

All this is relatively "normal," given she's 60 in dog years. She's not nearly as playful as she used to be, but her main interest remains food of any kinds! She was great with the twins while they were visiting - they tried to get her to play with her squeaky toys, to no avail. But Spunky enjoyed all of their attention and petting, to be sure!

Meanwhile, I have a commission to paint 4 cat portraits on one sheet of paper... a challenge, to be sure! An artist may get 3 out of 4 portraits perfectly, but have trouble with one of the four. It's not an uncommon dilemma, so I accepted the challenge and have prepared the drawing, which was posted earlier on the blog.

Today was the day when I'm able to return to the studio to paint. I've set aside my bird fiber art pieces so that I may complete this request. It's for a special person who is gifting it to another special person - which is all the more a challenge to do it WELL!

Here's 4 Cats - step 1. I have an acetate sheet cut to cover the parts of the painting that I'm not working on. That will protect the whole painting from accidental splats of color, smearing, and anything else that might fall on the page.

All four of the cats are now in cat heaven, so this is a remembrance piece full of meaning for the recipients. But it's impossible to take current photos of the models! We're relying on old photos collected over the years of all the family cats. It's a thoughtful gift, to be sure!

4 Cats - step 2. The black cat is down, but incomplete. Final details on all the cats will happen much later!

I'm hoping that the recipient doesn't read my blog... and I'm choosing to post the progress and avoiding putting it on my Facebook page, to guarantee that. Hope I'm right!

Here's 4 Cats - step 3. The first two cats are blocked in with some details.

And this is where I stopped for the day. 4 Cats - step 4.

I'm hoping tomorrow to work throughout the day so I can send photos to the client for any changes that are required to capture the essence of each family cat. Today was fun and I hope tomorrow goes as well!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A New Dawn, A New Day, A New Year

A cardinal drawing on Arches 300# watercolor paper awaiting water and paint...

It seems that chaos is joining us all in this New Year, however, the flip side of chaos is opportunity, according to the ancient Chinese teachings. So I'm looking at the opportunities that about today and will reveal themselves as we go forward in time.

My artistic brain is on over-drive - which most of us know can be both exhilarating and demanding. And on the other side of that is all the obligations that go with daily living competing for attention. So far, I'm managing to shift gears back and forth without TOO much difficulty, however it is frustrating going either direction because our attention is so divided!

As you know, my sewing studio is in the lower level of our home. Thankfully, with my newly replaced knees I am able to move between the two floors with confidence and little pain. My leg muscles are still weak from so little use over the past number of years, but they are growing stronger with each flight of stairs!

So in the sewing arena, my mind is awhirl with so many new ideas (new to me, at any rate) that I'm almost overwhelmed with inspiration. IF only one could bottle up such enthusiasm and inspiration for those times when there is little of either in our present moment! Mostly, I'm keeping the bird/fiber art on hold as other obligations demand attention. But the fibers, laces, ribbons, threads and birds are flitting through my mind quite insistently!

Various pieces in progress...

In the studio, on the main level of our home, are watercolor paintings in various stages. Two are commissioned pieces - one nearly done and the other at the beginning with only the drawings on the paper. Then there's the Loose Watercolor competition on the Paint My Photo - a bird in flight and a bird feather (both favorite subjects of mine!). The deadline is the end of the month...

Paint My Photo: loose watercolor challenge - drawings are ready, just not the time available!

And another artist's blog has a monthly challenge for keeping an art journal... that one I'll probably miss out on. But the bird in flight and the feather are already drawn on watercolor paper, begging for attention!

Cat portraits to be... on the page

Adding to the complexity of life is the upcoming, much anticipated visit of our granddaughter and her twin 6 year old daughters coming for a 3 day visit! This month! As in, next weekend! Monday is our Fibers Unlimited Artists group meeting for lunch and sharing... At least all the eye and dental appointments were LAST week! And there isn't currently a Homeowner's Association Board Meeting scheduled, so that's good. But the Bellefonte Art Museum's PR takes a few hours at the beginning of each week to create and schedule the postings. They are mostly designed, but must be written and posted. Those change monthly, of course! Then there's the dogs nail appointment...and her yearly exam. Oh my, stop with the listing, girlfriend. Get over the list and settle on today, here and now!

Do you ever feel swamped with duties and responsibilities, etc.? My creativity is one of the ways I move out of time/space/worry and into the space outside time/space. It's always renewing, and that's just what I'm going to do. Tackle one of the many art projects at my disposal and immerse myself in creativity.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Last Quilt of 2018

"Afternoon Tea" (c)Pat Dolan - gift to granddaughter for Christmas

Now that I have two new shoulders to use in sewing and two new knees so I can go downstairs and back up again from my sewing studio, I've been at my sewing machine. This is a wall hanging that I made for our youngest granddaughter's new apartment. Alyssa is a great tea lover, she collects tea pots, tea cups, and various tea varieties as well as serves as hostess for regular tea parties for her friends. So this quilt was designed just with her in mind!

The tea pot resembles my maternal grandmother's tea pot. The cup and saucer were as close as I could come to an antique cup and saucer (I used Prisma-colored pencils to shade the cup and saucer). The lace doily is from my collection of laces - my paternal grandmother made many lace doilies in her lifetime. The napkin is actually a handkerchief from my mother's belongings. It is embroidered with a "G" for her married name of Gangl. I believe that either she or her mother did the embroidery, as both were adept.

The bluebirds are symbols of happiness in many traditions and I feed them and photograph them regularly, so they are part of the ensemble. I printed the photos on silk, then fused them to the quilt top and did machine embroidery to make them stand out from the background.

Since Alyssa has been an organic farmer and is very much a farmer at heart, as well as a nature lover in all ways, the background of lush leaves provides a relaxing atmosphere for a tea party. For the table I used rusted fabric that I did many years ago back when we were still in New Jersey. I love the rusted fabrics and still have a nice collection of them, but they are somewhat difficult to quilt and worse for embroidery! Machine needles need replacing often as then dull quickly from the rust. But it makes a perfect table top for this quilt!

I did the "pillowcase" method for backing to eliminate binding - I'm not very good at corners of the bindings and find the pillowcase a great solution! Here is the back of the quilt - hopefully you can see the machine embroidering and quilting in it. Click on the image for a better look!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas to All!

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas full of love, joy, friends and family! From my house to yours, Merry Christmas!