Sunday, November 15, 2015


After doing about fifteen or so watercolor illustrations for stories about saints and animals, I got fed up because it was so laborious every time.  I would continually find other things to do than to face the unfinished page that was sitting on my work table.
When I had a personal sort of project to do however, like a birthday card, I would find some pieces of colored paper, cut out shapes, and make a picture out of them, bang, bang.  No matter how complicated or time-consuming these cut paper projects are, I head to the art table to work on them whenever there is a spare moment,
For example:
This one on the left is the card for Tofu's birthday this year.  The boy (Tofu, of course) has a wheel behind his feet so that he can move fairly easily up the path to the top.
It was so fun to make.
I have been making cut paper collages since I was in college, always for fun.  I never considered them serious art.
Why not?

Finally a lightbulb went off! Maybe I could do the art for my book in a medium that I truly enjoy...
What seems Real about this process is that the layers are truly layered: the background is in the back and the foreground objects are pasted on top. What's more, each color is its own discrete entity.  It makes sense in a simple-minded, literal sort of way.  For some reason that seems thrilling.  Also the textures of the papers add an organic beauty that I couldn't have invented.  And the clean edges are, well, clean, crisp.  

So I am starting over from scratch, doing cut paper pictures instead of watercolor ones.  
In order to finish this project in my lifetime, I'll cut down the number of pictures, so that each story will have three at the most, instead of about eight.  
I posted earlier the watercolor that this one is replacing which can be seen here.  

I suspect that I am an engineer at heart.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Abbey sketches

We spent the weekend at St. Andrew's Abbey.  I always take my little watercolor sketchbook; this is one of the few places where I actually use it. There are no telephones there ringing for me, no computer, no laundry, no meals to fix: only lessons about God and prayertime with the monks, and walks. So there is time to paint when nothing else is calling me.

Each of these little sketches took about an hour.

There are many turtles in the pond, red sliders, the kind kids keep in those little plastic kits until they get tired of them.  I guess someone brought one or two here because the abbey's pond is quite big, a small lake really, and the turtles thrived and multiplied.  It's funny how they pile up on top of one another on those rocks in the afternoon sun.  They don't seem to mind close association with each other, even to being used as benches.  Some of the rocks seem as though they would be too steep for creatures as clumsy as a turtle to climb up, but we watched one of them sitting on a rock at about a 45 degree angle for a long time, until he finally slid back down into the water.

In the pond also are some very large koi, some smaller gold fish, or goldfish, frogs that sing on summer evenings, and a flock of ducks. The ducks are the descendants of a pair of mallards and some white ducks, hybrids that have mallard markings in a tan color.  They live here year round, coming toward me when I walk down the path, but scuttling back to their posts at the water's edge when they see that I have brought them no food.