Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch offers “inspiration & painting techniques from contemporary artists.” I am not a painter, nor do I think I’ll take it up anytime soon, but I adore this book regardless. It is set up so that each double page spread is a combination of information about a particular technique or strategy for using watercolors along with a lovely work of art that illustrates the technique or strategy.
I find it interesting to read about these techniques even though I’m not using them – some of the underlying philosophies and ideas translate to other forms of art and creativity. I also find the artwork featured in this book to be very inspiring. They vary quite a lot in style and feeling, but (perhaps because they were selected [or created?] to typify a specific idea, each one provides a connection for the viewer. Despite their relatively small size (the book is only about 5.5″ x 7.5″), I found myself drawn in when looking at each piece. (I will admit that much of my favorite picture book art uses gouache, and a lot of these use that.) I definitely see this as a book I’ll keep at hand to peruse and to use as inspiration for other creative endeavors.
Full disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books.
There is currently a terrific exhibit at the CMU Art Gallery, featuring the works of CMU alum Bruce Thayer, an artist who is heavily influenced by the Chicago Imagist movement.
I have to admit I knew nothing about the Chicago Imagists before going in to this exhibit, and I hadn’t heard Bruce Thayer‘s name before. I’m so glad I went, though, as I learned a ton and really enjoyed the art on display.
Alice in the Wonderful Dog Walk, 2013
Much of Thayer’s art is political, but some is more telling of his daily life and routines, like this watercolor. (Also: I am a sucker for dogs.)
Blame Game, 2013
Thayer was an auto worker for many years and experienced firsthand the struggles of the economic downturn and the effects of the changes in American manufacturing over the last few decades.
Working Stiff, 2005
Thayer’s combination of drawing, painting, stamping, and other techniques is very effective, I think, in conveying the anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, and anger that auto workers and others felt during these troubles. Thayer’s ability to combine different techniques and themes reminded me of some of They Might Be Giants’ early music (the Pink album and Lincoln). Both use imagery from popular culture, political themes, and seem to have a sense of humor. I’m not sure I’m really putting a finger on why the one reminded me of the other, but it did.
Shift Change, 1989
This piece is one of a few cut out assembly-acrylic sculptures in this show. I like the way that this piece brings the auto workers to life as they appear to be dancing. It seems that the balancing act of being an auto worker could easily have felt like a dance at times (juggling productivity with diminishing resources and increasing demands and trying to maintain one’s self-respect).
This exhibit will be on display at the CMU Art Gallery through November 8, 2014. I highly recommend checking it out.
Several years ago I got the itch to make a neat clock and bought a clockwork kit at the Lob. Of course I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted the clock to be, so I put it off and ended up not actually making one. After unpacking the little clockwork kit again at Castle Greystone, I decided that now was the time. (Haha.) I asked K what he thought would make a good clock and he suggested the Doctor Who LP he’s had for several decades: perfect!
He put it together in a matter of moments and after a little looking around, we decided to put it in the hallway.
I think it looks great! Ideally we’d like to get some longer hands, as these are a bit too short for the scale of the LP, but for now this will do. It just seems so fitting to use a Who-themed base for a clock, doesn’t it?
Last week while preparing to leave for a trip, Susan discovered that one of my Blythes, Willow, was hanging out in her CraftyTown. She’s been there for months and neither Susan nor I realized it. D’oh! This inspired me to get the rest of my girls unpacked, having been boxed up for the duration of our moves during mid and late 2013.
Several of them were looking pretty box-haired, so I did a couple of hair treatments to get them back to looking nice again.
Dahlia has had a few hair treatments from me in the past, so hers was pretty easy and quick. All her hair is one length, which makes washing easier (though drying is a bit goofy, as you can see).
Maude desperately needed some help – her hair was still a little greasy from the factory and I hadn’t made time to wash it yet since getting her. Her hair was also a bit wonky in terms of cut, so I took this opportunity to trim her bangs to a straighter line (they look a bit off in this pic because some of them are drier than others).
Finally, Turtle got her first hair treatment (I think) from me. The way her hair is rooted/thatched is different than the Blythes, which makes it lay the way it’s supposed to pretty easily (with the exception of parts of her bangs).
Then I finally got some clothes on them all! Going through my Blythe wardrobe alerted me to a few projects I want to work on: Middie knits and dresses, more skirts (both knit and sewn), more cardis, and more knit accessories (scarves, shawls, etc.). Hooray for inspiration! What are you making for your Blythes lately?
Sometimes when Coraline gets super crazy, K will pick her up and show her around the room Lion King-style. For some reason this works to calm her down a little.
The other day he did this and then perched her on his shoulder like a parrot or Squirrelly.
Uh-oh, someone senses an opportunity…
And she dives for the mouth. We had just eaten dinner and apparently K’s breath smelled delicious. She is a weird, adorable puppy.
Some friends of ours hosted a fourth of July soiree over the weekend and we were so glad to be there. Lots of delicious food and drink and great conversation, and then there were fireworks. Woot!
I realized when we were out there that my camera has a setting for fireworks, so I switched that on and hoped for the best.
It works pretty well, actually.
The hardest thing was getting the camera centered properly to get the entire blast in one shot.
I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with how well it captured these! Because of the fireworks setting process, it takes a longer moment before you can take a second shot, and by then that firework has usually faded, so I got better with timing the further on it got.
Many big thanks to our hosts George and Jenny for such a terrific evening!
Testing 1, 2, 3 – please ignore.
Opals are October’s modern birthstone (there are other types of birthstones). Opal is said to symbolize confidence and faithfulness. It is also said to bring good luck to the wearer, though others claim that it reflects the wearer’s energy back to them – that only those who radiate positivity should wear opal. Regardless of all that, though, they’re pretty.
A short time ago I added support for gravatars here, so that commenters (and I) could have an easy way to make our icon/avatar show up in comments. If you want to know more about the benefits, here’s an article espousing the service.
An old pal of mine from the days of yore at The Bird has come up with some sound financial advice in this uncertain time, which I would like to share, because it is awesome:
“If you had purchased $1,000 of AIG stock one year ago, you would have $42 left.
With Lehman, you would have $6.60 left. With Fannie or Freddie, you would have less than $5 left.
But if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND,you would have had $214.
Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.”