Monday, September 19, 2016

The Collage Mosaic Process

Yesterday I gallery-sat for the Face Forward show at the West Hartford Art League.  The Face Forward Show is a group show of about sixteen different artists all doing self-portraits.  Gallery sitting is when someone sits there to open the gallery, answer questions, and sell art if the art is for sale.  Most of the time when I gallery sit, I bring a book or some handiwork, because there's not a lot of action.  This time, a few people came in. 

One lady walked around and stopped at my portrait.  She asked me questions and I answered as if I wasn't the artist.  I felt like if I said, "Oh, that's mine." Then she'd feel obligated to pay me a compliment.  I'd much rather discuss a work without anyone feeling awkward.  I'd rather have the honest feedback.  But as it so happened, she liked the work without knowing it was mine and she asked a lot of questions about how it was made.  Having made it, I had the answers.  

First, I sketched my face out on a white canvas.  (The show required us to work on 24" X 24" canvases.)  Then I broke down the shapes in my face, one by one.  I started with the nose.  I cut squares from watercolor paper that I had painted in my skin tones and laid those paper "tiles" out on the nose.  I think there were 16 pieces.  Then I moved them off to the side and painted the nose - and only the nose - black.  When the paint was dry, I glued the "tiles" back on top, keeping track of their placement.

Then I moved on to the eyes.  Same process.  Cut the paper into "tiles" and lay them out.  Move them to the side.  Paint only the eye black.  Glue the "tiles" down.  Move to the next eye.  Then I did the mouth.  Then I anchored down the circles for the cheeks.  Once I had the key features down, I could paint the rest of the face and glue those tiles down.

You'll notice that there are different colors in the skin tone and different shapes.  All of that helps to define the shading and surface of the face.

Then I added the hair.  Then the neck.  I left the shirt blank because I had a vision for the background, but not for the shirt.  I figured I'd get the background flowers in and then see what colors worked best for the shirt.  (I ended up using a piece of wallpaper.)

And so forth and so on, bit by bit.  I defined a shape on the canvas, cut the paper tiles, moved the tiles aside, painted the section black, and glued the tiles back in place.  It was slow work, but not overly complicated.  When it was all done, I coated it in High Gloss Mod Podge and sealed the sucker up.

Here I am at the Face Forward opening with my piece.

If you're in town, stop by the Saltbox Gallery at the West Hartford Art League.  It really is a cool show.  Every artist did a different style, a different medium.  We all had an open choice as to how we wanted to portray ourselves and it's pretty interesting to see what everyone chose.   For me, I couldn't imagine doing a 24" X 24" realistic self-portrait.  No one's going to buy it and I don't want to stare at a realistic depiction of myself all day long.  But with this technique, I can enjoy it without it really feeling like I'm basking in the glory of me, yanno.  I like it and I like the way it turned out, but the medium is what holds me, not the subject matter.  So I'll be happy to find a place for it in my home.

Thanks so much for stopping by!
I hope you all have a great week!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Magoo's 2nd Open Water Swim

Yesterday, Magoo competed in his second open water swim.  He swam the half mile at the Quassapaug Sailing Club's Open Water Swim.

This is a bigger event than his first open swam, the Pig Iron.  And it's lovely that it worked out that way.  There were fewer people in the water at his first one and fewer people in his division.  It was nice that he got to easy into that way and do really well. 

It was pretty crowded in Lake Quassapaug.

They called the swimmers in one-by-one.  When Magoo's coach, Julie was called in,   Magoo stood by her, getting mentally ready for the race.  (Julie's in the pink.)  He's developed a really nice relationship with Coach Julie.  He has a lot of respect for her.  It's lovely to watch the two of them prepare for the race and cool down after. 

And then they were off!  Open water swimming varies greatly from pool swimming.  For one, you can't see much.  The water is murky.  Then there are all the people swimming around you.  It's not uncommon to get an elbow in the back or a light kick.  Because it was windy, there were slight waves.  Coach Julie warned him going out that he had to position is head in such a way as to not get a mouthful of wave when he came up to breath.

I lost him completely once they were off.   Too many blue caps.  But he did great.  The top swimmers came back after 12 minutes.  Magoo did 16 minutes and 15 seconds.  He was 11th in his division and 45th out of 114 racers.

We're very proud of him - as always - and continually impressed with his athleticism and how he strives to improve.

In other news:
School has begun!  Yay!  Magoo and I hung out a lot this summer and it was great.  But I am happy to get back to large chunks of time to work, and he is happy to get back to learning and friends.  He's in eighth grade this year - king of middle school.  He has good buddies in all of his classes and seems to like his teachers so far.

Thanks so much for stopping in!
Hope all is well with you.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Wind and Water

As you may know, I belong to an artist group called The WeHa Artists Emporium.  The founder of the group, a lovely artist and friend, Stefanie Marco, is excellent at getting venues for us to have group shows.  Often times, it is a venue she has shown at before and she is extremely generous to share these spaces with members of the group.

Sunday morning, we hung out new show - Wind and Water - at a Hartford restaurant called Bin228.
Artists had their own spaces around the restaurant, but we all shared a big wall to hang the "show."  So, for the "show" you had to have a wind and/or water themed art, but for your own space you could hang anything.

(Below) Here's the group of participating artists in front of the group wall (which hadn't been fully hung yet.)  AJ Masthay, Stefanie Marco, Hannah Jackson, me, Phyllis Meredith, and David Davis Wilson.

Here's Stefanie, her husband & art serpa Carl, and David figuring out where things should go.  This is actually very difficult when you have a big space and tons of art but no place to lay things out.

Stefanie hangs some of her work in her space.

And here I am up against the show wall.  Pieces that are mine:  Watercolor horses in the top left, Koi fish just behind my head, and a sailor and mermaid (in two frames) bottom left.

Big thanks to Stefanie and to bin228 to having us.  If you're in the Hartford area, bin228 is more of a lunch place that caters to the working crowd and to anyone who just saw a show at teh Hartford Stage.  The food is amazing!  Eat there!  And if you eat there in the next 2 months, you can see some awesome art.  :)

Thanks so much for stopping in!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Family Reunion

On Saturday, we traveled to Rhode Island for the Gordon Family Reunion.  The Gordons are my mother-in-law's family.  We spend Thanksgiving with our branch of them.  But for this party, it was an even bigger event.  There were cousins there that my husband hadn't even met.

And it would have been lovely - except for the sweltering heat.  Oh my!  The kitchen inside had an AC running, so people would be outside under the tent chatting, drinking, and eating, and they'd have to come inside for 10-minutes of AC break and to get their core body temperature down.

Magoo and I tried to play ping-pong.  Honestly, it was pathetic.  If we volleyed the ball at all, it was a great success.  It was more like this: serve - miss.  Serve - miss.  Serve - hit - miss.

But it was still a lovely time.  And when the food was eaten, those with bathing suits (including myself) journeyed into the pool.  Ahhhhhhh!  For awhile I was nicknamed "the oldest kid in the pool" but soon after other sane adults joined me.

That made all the difference to me.  I think I've said this before - because it's not unlike me to whine - but I don't like the extreme heat.  And MAN the humidity has been torture this time around.  So, before I got into the pool, I wasn't even feeling like myself.  I was oogy Julie. 

And I know I wasn't the only one.

But the pool made things better again.  And I've married into a fun family.  We had a lovely time.

Hope you're all surviving the summer heat!  (Autumn soon!!!)
Thanks so much for stopping in,

Monday, August 8, 2016

Wind and Water

There is a group showing coming up with a theme of Wind and Water.  I have a lot of water art already (all my fish paintings count) but wind is a trickier subject.  Earlier this summer I painted this piece:

Greys in the Waves           2016             j. c. phillipps
I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  It's a rather large watercolor and I really fell in love with painting horses.  Plus, it showcases both wind and water.  Boom, boom.

But I wanted at least one more piece that had both features in it.  I saw an illustration on Pinterest of a swimmer diving into a body of water and it inspired the location and style.  But instead of a swimmer going into the water, I thought I'd make a mermaid coming out of the water, her hair blowing in the wind.

Wind and Water Mermaid     2016    j.c.phillipps

I planned to do another mermaid, but then it occurred to me that it might be even cuter to give the mermaid a love interest.  So I changed the second mermaid into a sailor.  (Plus, I really love drawing little tattoos on sailor's arms.)  Ideally, if someone buys the mermaid, they will also buy the sailor.  

Wind and Water Sailor        2016       j.c.phillipps

 Ideally, if someone buys the mermaid, they will also buy the sailor.  But they are their own separate pieces and can be sold as such.

Wind and Water Sailor & Mermaid          2016        j.c.phillipps

Okay, now I think I have enough Wind and Water pieces for the show.  This is a WeHa Artists Emporium group show hosted by a lovely restaurant in Hartford BIN228.  I'll let you know when it's up and running.

Hope you're all having a good week.
Thanks for stopping in!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Experimenting with Alcohol Inks

This past week I've been experimenting with a new artistic medium: alcohol inks.  I didn't know they existed until recently, when a woman in our town artists group started hosting classes in them.  Then, another woman who carves beautiful gourds, used some on her work.

Alcohol inks product vivid, dynamic colors, which is what drew me to them.  But they are very different from watercolors or anything I've worked with before.  Very different.

Blue Brown Anemones     2016       j. c. phillipps

For starters, they only work on surfaces that are non-porous.  So watercolor paper is out.  I bought a book that claimed they work on bristol, but I tried that and it wasn't slick enough.  I've been using Yupo paper, which is very smooth and allows the ink to flow and dance over it before the colors settle.

Also, it's taken a bit of practice to learn about how the inks react to the paper, each other, and the alcohol blender solution - which is a must.

Plunge            2016            j. c. phillipps

Every time I make something, I learn a little something new about the medium and its habits.
I also try new ways to manipulate the inks.  Some work out.  Some don't.

The Cavern           2016         j. c. phillipps

But, because the paper is non-porous, I can wipe it near clear with alcohol and start fresh if need be.  That's awesome!  Because there is a big learning curve here and it's difficult to be free when you're concerned about how much the paper you're experimenting on costs per sheet.

Waterfall         2016        j. c. phillipps

It's been fun.  I'm kind of addicted.  And, it allows me to work more abstract - which I really enjoy.
These are my favorite pieces so far.

In other news:
The heat wave finally broke.  Thank goodness!  I do not thrive in heat.

Magoo and I have seen a lot of summer movies.  Here's the grades of the ones we've seen so far:
Finding Dory:  B
Star Trek: Beyond:  B+
The Secret Lives of Pets: C-
Swiss Army Man:  B
Ghostbusters: B
The Jungle Book:  A
Captain America: Civil War:  A-

Hope you're all enjoying your summer.  Happy August!
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pig Iron Open Swim

This afternoon, in the middle of a heat wave, Magoo swam in his first Open Water Meet, the Pig Iron.
His event was the Half Mile.  He was pretty nervous and pretty excited.

When we got there, we met up with his coach, Julie.

Julie had already swam the three-mile, the two-mile, and the mile.  The woman is a machine.  She was going to swim the half-mile as well to keep pace with Magoo.  Before the race, she took him out into the water to warm up and talk strategy.

And then, with the rest of the swimmers doing the half-mile, they were off.

There were large floating ducks in the water that marked the spots for swimmers.  Magoo had to swim across the lake, down a length of it, and then swim back.  (Below) Magoo is in the silver swim cap in front.

Here he is running out of the water and past the finish line.

I was so impressed.  Truly.  I didn't know what to expect.  It was a mixed crowd of adults and kids.  I thought he'd be in the middle or close to the end, just because it was his first race.  Imagine my surprise when he finished 8th overall in that whole group - not even his age group!  He did the half-mile in 15 minutes and 56 seconds.

(Below) He was so spent, Coach Julie had to help him stand for his photo.

But he emerged victorious in his age group.  First Place!  His father and I are so proud of him.  He really did a great job!
HUGE thank you to his coach, Julie, who was so supportive and energetic and really made this a wonderful day for him.

Thanks so much for stopping in.  I hope you are keeping cool, wherever you are.  It's nasty here.