Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sleeping in the sun...

She might look like dinner for a coyote, but I promise you, this little squirrel was just taking a nap on my deck! It's been that hot up here in Idyllwild, recently in the low 90s, that all the animals are just panting for relief. A moment after I took this shot, the squirrel flopped over on her side and continued her snooze in the sun.
We got a little bit of rain here yesterday, accompanied by rolling thunder and followed by an earthquake (no damage, as usual). But the heat goes on, and I for one am looking forward to autumn.
I'll be home for the next four weeks, and then I take off to teach for six days for the Bead Weasel in Midland, Michigan. If any of you live in the midwest and would like to take some workshops, storeowner Anne Sturtevant reports that there are still a few class openings.
To contact her, email or phone 989-486-1900.
To see my latest workshop schedule, click here.
I hope to see some of you in Michigan next month!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Great workshop held in Brea yesterday...

I was too pooped to post yesterday by the time I got home from teaching all day at Brea Bead Works (and driving two hours there and back to Idyllwild), so now that I've recovered nicely, I'm ready to post again.
It really was a terrific class: 10 students of varying levels of experience, but each one came with a positive attitude and a willingness to be creative and try new things. I love it when I have creative students! What a world of difference that makes.
We were able to discuss the possibilities of working with copper washers from Harbor Freight, texturing them with hammers and linking them into bracelets with figure-8 links. The opportunities for embellishment are practically endless; we added coin pearls and beads wire-wrapped to the centers, made our own clasps, coil-wrapped the washers with sterling silver wire that we then spiraled three times, and more.
I just wish the class could have been longer, which would have provided more time for instruction. We all needed more time! It also would have been great to use liver of sulfur on our bracelets—but it just wasn't possible, even in a full-day workshop. But, we accomplished a lot, and I'm (as usual) very proud of my students.
I'll be returning to teach at BBW on August 16 to teach a terrific NEW workshop: the Jamaica Me Happy necklace. It's a full-day workshop with lots of technique to cover, but the end result is a gorgeous neckpiece that you'll love wearing this summer and fall.
I hope to see some of you there! To see a supply list for the necklace, click here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Learn 3 Copper-Washer Bracelet Designs this Weekend!

I'm teaching a terrific series this Sunday, July 19, at Brea Bead Works in Brea, California: Copper Washer Bracelet Trio. Learn how to use copper washers from Harbor Freight in your jewelry designs as we explore three different design options. We'll use sterling silver (or copper) wire, beads, and even pearls in our jewelry pieces—plus, learn to make two different clasps.
The class is limited to 12 students and we currently have three openings, so if you're interested, please contact BBW right away. And guess what: they're having a huge gemstone sale this weekend, too! New gemstone strands at 15 percent off; bring your store totebag for an additional 5 percent off. To get your coupon, click here.
Store phone: 714 671-9976
On August 16, I'm returning to BBW to teach my popular Jamaica Me Happy necklace, workshop. It's awesome good fun! I believe there are some openings in that workshop as well.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My favorite magazine: The Palette

Very few magazines reach my "favorites" list, and naturally only one can occupy the top-spot in my mind. The Palette magazine is it.
Produced by artists Christopher Schink and William "Skip" Lawrence, the Palette is a 32-page full-color bimonthly periodical. The focus is on using water-based media such as watercolor and acrylic paint to make art, but the editors (who write articles for each issue) have a penchant for mixed media, too. They seem to love teaching as much as painting, and while they know the "rules" extremely well, they also take delight in breaking them.
One rule in particular is their frequent target: the idea that watercolor paintings should be transparent in appearance, and therefore anyone who paints in watercolor should dilute the paint and apply it in thin washes. Bolderdash, according to 'Toph and Skip. Why not paint a thick, heavy application of watercolor paint on paper or canvas? And in many feature articles written either by the pair or individually, they demonstrate a wide variety of possibilities using their favorite watercolor paints.
I really appreciate an artist who knows the rules, teaches them well, and occasionally, gleefully breaks them too. Skip and Toph are masters at this.
The June-July 2009 issue is devoted to the theme of abstract or non-representational art. Last issue (#29) focused on realism and was quite educational, but I have to say, I LOVE the current (#30) issue!
Rose Metz's abstract "Brown, Red, and Black No. 2" on the cover gives some indication of the delights found within. On page 2, the editors jump right in with a coauthored article on "Collage: Painting with Scissors," a must-read for anyone interested in this art form. They cite historical examples and provide full-color reproductions of art by Matisse, Robert Motherwell, Kurt Schwitters, Andy Warhol, and contemporary artist/author Gerald Brommer.
The next article is called "Raising the Surface," and discusses the work of Southern California artist Katherine Chang Liu, an abstract painter who also uses collage in her compositions. More work by cover artist Rose Metz and other artists is also featured, along with a brief discussion on going non-objective with your art.
One of my favorite articles is on page 12, a feature on artist Phyllis Jacobs, who incorporates pieces of her own used clothing in her work. She takes old painting pants and shirts—replete with paint stains and worn-out seams—cuts them up, and adheres them to her canvases. She makes amazing abstract artworks this way.
The Palette always offers thought-provoking and inspiring how-to articles that encourage creative exploration and expression rather than the typical "copy me" approach you often find in other art magazines. "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" on page 16 is a good example. Artist Linda Fruhwald provides a wonderfully simple, child-like approach to designing an abstract composition by starting with the simplest of geometric shapes. Cut them, enlarge and simplify them, arrange them in various ways... and, pretty soon, you'll have an arresting composition ready to be painted or made into a collage.
Linda also provides tips for better page design (abstract art is all about design) and full-color samples of beautiful watercolor still-life paintings based on her concepts. Every time I see an article by Linda in the Palette, I thank God for her kindness, generosity, and creativity. What a talent! I'm always sorry to be reminded by the editors in a brief mention at the end of her articles that Linda passed away in 2007. If I could ever meet Linda in person, I'd give her the biggest hug.
Believe it or not, there are still more articles to be found in this little 32-page periodical: a feature on "taking a collage point of view to affect how you compose your paintings," distorting shapes in your art, an incredible article by Jossy Lownes on allowing "emotion to take precedence over craft" in art (this is an artist who has mastered design principles, drawing, painting, etc.). Her mixed-media paintings are gorgeous, and she generously shares her break-out experience with her readers.
Finally, if you need inspiration for landscape painting, try the unusual approach of looking down! Paint the landscapes you'll find at your feet—literally—and you'll discover a whole new world of compositional possibilities.
I just love the Palette (have I mentioned that?) because it is so encouraging and inspirational. I love taking a positive approach to art, but I do get tired of being copied by my students. More for their sake than for mine, really, because when a student copies my jewelry she's just doing over something I did years ago, and by the time I'm teaching it in class I've moved on, artistically. But I ache in my heart for students who don't believe in themselves enough to try designing their own works of art, whether it be with paint and canvas or wire and beads. The Palette encourages individual expression, experimentation, and the positive joy of doing your own thing. Lots of great instruction, inspiration, and encouragement with full-color examples of great art and no advertising—now that's my favorite magazine!
To learn more, click here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Introducing Ivy

A new kitten has joined the family here in Idyllwild: Her name is Ivy, and she's about nine weeks old. I got her at the post office in town last Saturday, if you can believe it.
A couple from Romoland (near Perris, in Southern California) had rescued a couple of feral female felines, both of them pregnant, as it turns out, with eight kittens each. They took all 16 kittens away from their mothers when they were two weeks old and bottle-fed them until they could eat solid food. Then, on Saturday, they brought up eight of the kittens to see if they could find new homes for them. Ivy was the most playful of the bunch, and I thought she'd make a nice companion for Rosie, my playful and affectionate silver tabby.
It's not easy capturing a photo of Ivy, because she's so active and silly. And she's constantly chewing everything she can get her little baby teeth into. If it isn't the phone or my notebook or a cat toy or my hair, it's my T-shirt or my bottom lip (yes, that hurt), or a piece of jewelry, or my glasses, which she delights in pulling off my face so she can chew on them more conveniently.
I honestly didn't know that kittens chew on things—I thought only puppies did that! I guess I have a lot to learn. Fortunately, Ivy is a dear, sweet-tempered kitten with a gentle personality and a forgiving nature. She loves to climb on things, especially me. But she sleeps through the night and she's not nearly as demanding as my other two.
Like a puppy, Ivy follows me everywhere. Whether she's napping in the ivy plant (her favorite spot) or playing with anything she can get her paws on, Ivy wants to be with me. Sometimes she helps me type on the computer—with predictable results, which must be erased again and again. Now and then she lets me do my work. She's just awaked from her nap, so I'd better sign off!
Cheers, Sharilyn