sweet-tweet studio process

Images of the newest sweet-tweet in my petite love story series...The first picture is of my sketch for 'Up in the Air'.  I build the image & arrange the composition on tracing paper  & gridded paper to piece in the pattern.  The final image is then transferred to Stonehenge paper, a heavy & smooth drawing surface.  Using colored pencils, graphite & acrylic ink I fill in the image, adding value and detail to the finished work of art.


bring it on home to me

Another Sunday, another all-day studio day. Today I worked on drawings about home; one about leaving home & the other about making a new one.  On the left is the beginning sketch for a drawing commission.  My friend's parents will be celebrating a wedding anniversary & she asked me to design an image for them using similar colors & patterns from their house, along with their wedding date.  The background will be tricky, I'm going to use colored pencil to block in the plaid and then use acrylic drawing inks & illustration markers for the thin lines running  between the squares.  Earlier today I also finished the drawing below, Remember Me. A good luck charm for the newly relocated and the constant traveler.  I'm having fun coming up with new wallpaper patterns and color combinations.  I wish I had walls that looked like this....  


maiden voyage of the Nolan

Tacked to the wall above the press is a letter from my friend John in TX & a color sample chart with names like 'cupid's dart' & 'secret rendezvous'.....

Back in June I drove up to Ohio to visit the family with my brother Jason.  While there, I went a few extra miles to Pittsburgh where I bought my first printing press, a tabletop Nolan proof press.  I used one in a letterpress & wood engraving workshop in South Dakota about 5 years ago, and have been on the hunt at antique shops ever since.  No luck.  I stumbled across a site called briarpress, a printmaker's classified & discussion forum dream come true.  Periodically I peruse the site (mainly just window shopping for presses I can't afford) and it was by chance that I saw an ad for the exact press I'd been searching for, 45 minutes from my hometown.  It now proudly sits in my studio and tonight I printed a small linocut edition.  After receiving some advice from my friend Emily about printing surfaces (the roller is set at type high so the woodblock has to be a certain height) I picked up some mounted linoleum at the local Michael's on Tuesday afternoon.  I carved a little test block with some text & patterns.  Tomorrow, Steven begins his solo trip into the wild (he goes into the Boundary Waters with a canoe and backpack for ten days), so I thought it was fitting to set the scene in an abstract forest with some four leaf clovers for good luck.  The block was rolled up in black relief ink and printed on lightly dampened Kitakata paper, using 2 scraps of mat board as packing to lift the block to meet the roller.  I am ever so pleased with the consistency of the prints!  The ink release was smooth & solid, on the rice paper and even on a sheet of thicker Stonehenge paper.  The press is in perfect condition, with a 15" x 34" flat bed & dent-free roller.  After two years of printing by hand with a wooden spoon, it's so nice to use a press again.  The familiar scent of printing ink & paper filled the studio & the wet prints were taped on the closet door to dry for the night.  I'm going to experiment hand-coloring these prints later & try a reductive color print this weekend.


I am dreaming of a place....

I was featured in art & light gallery's blog yesterday. Owner/curator Teresa took to her blog & wrote about my new sweet-tweet drawings and collage for the resident artist collection.  Ever since we met four years ago, she has been very supportive of my work as a newly established local artist. She hosted my most recent joint exhibition with Steven, Wonders and Blunders, this past february.  It was a lovely sweetheart art party that both of our families, lots of friends & art lovers got to attend.  Her gallery is a very eclectic and wonderful collection of affordable local art & upcycled home decor.  It's a great place to start your own art collection, spruce up your living space & find presents for the special people in your life.  Whenever I get a chance to go to Greenville, I always make sure to stop by and see what's new, and you should too!
Thanks Teresa!

On the left is my most recent sweet-tweet drawing, i am dreaming of a place, finished up late Wednesday night. I love days in the studio that last all day.  I was thinking about lovebirds and moving which brought to mind my next door neighbors growing up, Pete and Stella.  My family used to live in a house on the other side of town on Argyle Ave & I have really great memories from that neighborhood.  Pete and Stella were retired science teachers who lived next door, and my brothers and I were often over there to visit, always coming home with little treasures they'd given us.  I still have a piece of flint rock and tiny dried sweetheart rose they gave me in my jewelry box.  Always smiling & always together,  whether it was raking leaves out front, visiting in the living room, or in the backyard under their ginkgo tree.  I remember the leaves from that tree, I thought they were so beautiful.  Stella died shortly after Pete and I'm sure it was of a broken heart.  We moved from that house when I was in 4th grade, across town to Squirrel Hill.  My parents have been preparing to sell the house & with Steven graduating we've been talking a lot about new locations.  All of those thoughts are wrapped up in my new drawing, a dream of the past nestled in the ginkgo leaves, looking forward to a new journey together.  After all, birds of a feather flock together.  I've been experimenting with more saturated, bolder patterns in the background, using liquid drawing ink to flatten it with outline.  As the drawings are finished, I've been uploading them to my flickr feed so be sure to visit and leave some feedback!

With three weeks left until the Indie Craft Parade in Greenville, I've been staying busy in the studio, on a major creative kick.  Next week I'm going to take my Nolan press for a spin with some type-high relief blocks I picked up.  Look for lots of new posts over the next few weeks!


sail away with me

 In high school photo class, we were given the assignment to photograph strangers.  I lived a mere 40 minutes from the Pittsburgh airport by car and so I set off with my Dad's camera, armed with a few rolls of black and white film.  This was when you could walk right into the airport & up to the gates.  I approached a few people and asked to take their picture; the last person I walked up to was an older, dapper man who reached in his jacket pocket and handed me an autographed postcard.  There was a picture of four men on it, and it was labeled 'The Ink Spots.'  He said, 'ask your Grandma about us,' which I did when I got home.  She kept the postcard was on her icebox for a long while.  I now love this band & listen to them, usually on Sundays.  'Someone's rocking my dreamboat' was the inspiration for today's drawing. I checked on the internet & the last original member died 5 years before I was assigned this project, so I'm wondering who I took a picture of, I never asked his name.  I became starstruck and embarassed that I didn't somehow recognize him.  Apparently there were almost 20 reincarnations of the group, according to their website.  It could have been Huey Long.  Next time I'm at my parent's house in Ohio I'll dig out my old portfolio and compare the portraits.  Either way, still lovely music that makes me feel nostalgic & romantic.


I'll be in the air

A grand adventure...new sweet-tweet drawings, fresh from the studio today.  Listening to lots of the Microphones and Neil Sedaka (a bizarre but lovely combination...sad and sticky-sweet songs) while drawing today.  Last summer while at my residency in Italy at La Macina di San Cresci, I took the bus to Florence to buy a fountain pen for ink drawings at the cartoleria.  I never used it during that month abroad, and when I came home it found a place in my studio with the acrylic inks I'd bought a few years ago because of the saturated colors.  Today I pulled out the pen and pleasantly surprised by the line quality, found myself wondering why I hadn't used it before.  In the spirit of rekindling my love affair with unused studio supplies, I pulled out my Prismacolor markers and india ink brush pens, last touched during undergrad circa 2004 in Prof. Peppers's drawing course.  I am now on a mission to deplete all old/forgotten supplies.  You'd be amazed in a studio as compressed as mine that media can go unseen and unused...there is something to be said for having any & all possible supplies at your fingertips as an artist.  When I was packing for La Macina di San Cresci last year, I brought a little of everything along (with the exception of my typewriter due to weight restrictions).   In my packing, I became concerned that if I didn't have the proper supplies, great art would go unmade and so I brought a miniature 'hobby lobby' with me. Included in the art stash were two containers of prismacolor colored pencils with 20 sheets of Stonehenge paper, not because I was planning a series of drawings, but because I thought perhaps on a whim I may decide to sketch the rolling Tuscan hills.  I never made a landscape, but I surely put those colored pencils to good use (again, something I'd had forever but rarely used) and began a body of work that changed my creative process, technically & conceptually.   Lately I've been making small versions of the drawings I began in Italy, a series I like to call 'sweet-tweets,' mixed media drawings combining colored pencil with graphite, watercolor and ink.


past life as a blast

Mid-August already!  Yesterday was Steven's graduation ceremony from Clemson & today he left for Kansas & a camping trip in the Boundary Waters for the next few weeks.  After we had coffee this morning and said good-bye, I sat down in my studio with Okkervil River playing on my computer & began sketching for new sweet-tweet drawings to take to the Art Fair in September.  After pasta Sunday dinner I'll transfer the images to 5" x 7" Stonehenge and fill them in with ink, colored pencil and graphite.  The subjects will be drawn in graphite against a saturated, patterned background.  I have one week until I start teaching again, three weeks until college football season & approximately four weeks until the Indie Craft Parade kicks off in Greenville...


meet me in the garden

sweet-tweet : a love story

Sunday was spent listening to music, hoping it would rain & drawing miniature birds in my studio.

Today I made the mixed media drawing, 'meet me in the garden' (6 1/2" x 8 1/2").  Drawn on Stonehenge paper with graphite, colored pencil, ink & watercolor.   The background has a slight shimmer from the pearlescent watercolor & gel pen.  Zinnias from my garden form the base of the drawing, anchoring the tornado...Almost every year since 2003 (with a 2 year hiatus from gardening for grad school) I've planted zinnias from seeds.  When I first had them in our backyard in Athens, it was a miracle that they grew & brightened up an otherwise dilapidated property that we called home for two years.  I planted them again in Clemson because they reminded me of home & spending time with my lovely roommates.  They're happy, colorful, and this year they came up on their own in my front yard.

This is the newest in my 'sweet-tweet' drawing series: a love story.  More drawings from this series are on display at the art & light gallery in Greenville.  Their first friday opening was this past weekend, so if you're in the upstate go visit the west end arts district on Pendleton St!


a beautiful party featurette

My lovely friend Ann who writes 'a beautiful party,' has featured some of my artwork, along with Jessica Robles, in her post 'let's look at art.'  She is always discovering new things and updating the world on her studio progress & adventures, so if you haven't already visited her site, read on!