Apr 15, 2017

Chinese Brush Painting

Last weekend, I attended a Chinese brush painting workshop offered at one of the nearby colleges.  Chinese brush painting is an ancient art form that goes back thousands of years.  The instructor has a master's degree in art and has studied this form of painting in Asia.  She told us she has taught this class in both Wisconsin and Illinois.  We learned techniques and brush strokes to create floral and botanical painting.  It's not as easy as it looks!

My Workstation -- Beginning of Class
Chinese brush paintings are done using rice paper, black Chinese ink, felt, and watercolor paint. You can read about the tradition of Chinese ink sticks and meditative exercise of grinding to make ink as part of the painting process HERE.  The felt is the surface you put the rice paper on while creating the painting. I found it interesting that rice paper is called so not because it's made of rice, but because rice paste is used to make it.  Rice paper is very thin and translucent. I used India ink I had on hand.  The instructor approved it before class, but during class said a previous student used it and didn't like it.  I don't know any different so I guess it was fine, LoL. 

Practice Lines
Then some mountains
and some flowers
First, we practiced some ink only painting.  Chinese painting is a really loose type of art work, which I'm not used to.  I felt like I was painting like a little kid.

My first attempt
You have to have the right balance of paint and water.  Translucent enough, but not too wet otherwise the water seeps and spreads into the paper, which (to me) doesn't look very good.  My rose painting had too much paint and the petals are too compact for my taste.

Other Student Work
The instructor was very pleased with how everyone's paintings looked so different.

Instructor's Art Work
She had us pin our paintings to a bulletin board. Then we had to talk about them and receive critique.  It was interesting to hear comments from other students.  They all were very encouraging.

My Orchids in a Basket
The nice thing about Chinese brush painting is that the art has a lot of symbolism than perfection. I should've brought my watercolor palette instead of just the five tubes of color the instructor told me in an email.  I would've chosen different colors than what I had on hand.  Oh well....

More Student Work
One of the things I liked about this class was that we had practice time before we did our actual paintings.  Although this looks like a painting, it was actually my practice sheet.

Bumble Bees
The last painting we learned was sunflowers. The sample we worked from was very impressionistic. I cropped my project down when I got home because I really didn't care for how the bottom part turned out.  I think this would make a nice postcard.

At the end of class, the instructor asked each of us which of the paintings we created was our favorite.  The next three were my favorites.

Morning Glories

Which one is you favorite?  Incidentally, the red square calligraphy on my paintings were made by a stamp set the instructor brought with her.  There were 12 different calligraphy sayings we could use.  She was tickled that most of us used them on our paintings.  I wish I knew where she got them.  I'd love to have a set.

My Workstation - End of Class
I had quite the mess going on by the end of class.  With each painting, the instructor gave students handouts to work from. So, I had those along with my paintings and art supplies strewn across my space.

I did learn something important (at least to me).  It's not a good idea to put the ink in a plastic palette if you still want it to use for watercolor painting.  It takes some effort to get off.... i.e. multiple scrubbings with bleach and a toothbrush.

One of the students brought this book to class.  Coincidentally, I have this same book checked out of the library.  It's a good reference to show the painting strokes and lots of different subject matter to practice.

I had a lot of fun taking this class.  In June, the same instructor will be teaching an Etegami class which I'm signed up for.  One of the other students is also signed up, so it'll be nice to "know" someone in class.

Until next time...


Apr 12, 2017

Spring Mailart Exchange

I recently participated in a spring mailart exchange. My exchange partner finally received what I sent so I can show it.

Part of the fun of mailart is the planning process.

Floss Toss
Then there's the stitching and embellishing:

This was the first time I've used the metallic ribbon. I found it in my craft room when I was organizing. Imagine!

The mailart project gave me reason to use my newly organized craft room.

Long time readers may remember the portable pressing board I made a couple years ago.  It is a coincidence that the stacked bins next to my desk is the right height and has enough room to set the pressing board on top for ironing as I sew.

Years ago, I decided to store my ribbons on bobbins rather than leave them on the spools.  It takes up less space and I can easily see what I have, but storing them like that leaves kinks in the ribbon.

Even though I could use an iron to get the kinks out, using my flat iron is a quicker and easier way to get the job done!

If I had to do it over, I'd stitch the addresses in green to match the border, other than that I'm pleased with how it turned out.

Front Designs: 

Back Design:
Spring by Lizzie Kate
Cross Stitch Crazy magazine
May 2015

Stitched on 32ct pink linen with DMC threads.
Embellished with metallic ribbon, 1/8" satin ribbon, and buttons.

Shelley sent me the cutest mailart with violets and dragonflies stitched on the front.

And butterflies on the back

Thanks, Shelley!

Until next time...

Apr 10, 2017

Marvelous Monday Update 4/10/2017

When I wrote about my latest stash haul, I mentioned listing my Dad's John Deere for sale on Craigslist.  Several of my readers asked if we'd sold it.  Back when I was selling stuff from my parents estate on Facebook, some may remember the frustrations I endured with the idiots trying to get something for nothing bargain shoppers.  My brother was in charge of fielding the buyers for the John Deere since it's his field of expertise.  He experienced first hand the same frustrations I did.  Within hours of listing the tractor, some dude texted... not called... and offered over $1,000.00 less than what we advertised it for.  Didn't ask to come see it or anything.  My brother was PO'd big time and let the guy have it in his text response, lol.  Keep in mind, we were not asking an over-inflated price... it was very fair considering the accessories implements that went with the tractor.  Quite a few inquiries later, a guy showed up to look at it.  My brother agreed to lower the price $150, but the guy tried to scam negotiate a better deal.  Finally, my brother told him that he'd give him gas money to go back home, or he could load it up and take the tractor with him.  Either way, it didn't matter to my brother.  So the guy decided to buy.  SOLD!

After serving me well for over 7 years, my Plantronics Explorer 390 bluetooth handsfree headset bit the dust.  The port where the charger plugs in came loose and now no longer charges.  I used the crap outta that thing, as you can tell by the photo below.  Rest in Peace my bluetooth gadget.

Since the Plantronics brand has served me well, I bought another one:  Plantronics Explorer 502.  It talks into my ear!  It tells me when it's pairing, if it's successful, how much battery talk time remains, if you have an incoming call, even... all sorts of things.  It even tells you when you need to recharge the headset.  Talk time is 7 hours and standby time is supposedly 6 months between charges.  I can also listen to music with it...the sound quality is pretty good, too.  The 390 couldn't do that.  So cool!

I'm participating in the All About Smalls Spring Challenge on Facebook.  The theme is flowers so there has to be at least one flower in the stitched design and has to be finished into a "small" by May 20th.  For the challenge, I chose to stitch up Victorian Pansies Bookmark.  It's a kit by Textile Heritage manufactured in Scotland.

I was really happy to receive this kit as part of a 12 Days of Christmas exchange last year.  Long time readers may remember that I stitched up companion pieces back in 2007 and 2008.

Victorian Pansies Needlebook and Scissor Fob
I recently attended a community theatre production, "Agnes of God".  It's about a court-appointed psychiatrist (Dr. Martha Livingstone) who has to determine the sanity of a young nun accused of murdering her newborn.  Miriam Ruth (Mother Superior) is determined to protect the nun, Agnes, which arouses Livingstone’s suspicions further. Who killed the infant and who fathered the tiny victim? Livingstone’s questions force all three women to re-examine the meaning of  their Catholic faith and the power of love.  I'm not an overly religious person, but this play is disturbing and controversial on so many levels.  The ending was very dramatic and graphic.  The actresses were very good and sucked me in so much that I was having anxiety by the end of the play.  I had a college class with the actress who played Mother Superior.

Until next time...