Archive for Artist Inspiration
This is Virginia Abbott.
Virginia is a nationally recognized sculptor whose current work addresses a variety of environmental issues. She is a member of the prestigious National Sculpture Society and a fellow resident artist at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, PA. You may recognize Virginia from a previous post where she’d combined some of our Decopatch papers with some of her cast paper sculptures. (Want to watch Virginia demo the cast paper process at our local PBS station?)
Virginia had stopped by my studio not long ago to show me the results of some sketches that she’d drawn in a Rhodia LeCarre notepad. These pendants of sterling silver, brass and bronze were created using the lost wax casting method, a labor intensive process which begins by her carving the three dimensional design model from a block of wax.
The casting process continues by placing the wax model on a base, which is then covered by a flask. The flask is then filled with a wet plaster, (known as ceramic investment) and placed in a vacuum to remove air bubbles. Once the investment has been allowed to dry, the base and flask are removed and the piece placed in an oven to burn out the wax – hence the name, “lost wax”. It is at this point where molten metal is forced into the investment mold by centrifuge. To remove the cast item, the mold is destroyed and the resulting metal piece is cleaned up by filing and polishing.
If you want to make multiple pieces from a carved model, you have to send the finished metal piece back to the foundry to have a mold made – otherwise, it’s a one of a kind.
These are a few images of the original design sketches.
When I asked Virginia “Why trees?” It was a treat to learn the response.
At this point, it might be helpful to know that deer, trees, and irony happen to be a recurring theme in Virginia’s work. Did I mention that she also happens to be a clown?
Virginia also created the deer pendant shown above, which in its antlers, is holding a taxidermists glass deer eye. (I’m totally not making that up)
Looking at the reverse of the pendant, you can see how Virginia used the cast tree design as a “gallery” which is a decorative element used behind a stone in place of a solid mount. The tree pendants shown in the photos at the top of this post are a smart secondary usage of the original design.
I was really excited about the Clairefontaine dot ruled Graf It pads because it’s a really nice light grained drawing paper and after blank, dots are my preferred ruling.
When I received the sample from Karen, I was a bit disappointed because the light violet dots didn’t play well with my eyes. My first impression was that there were inconsistencies in the printing, with some dots appearing to be lighter than others. In a side by side comparison, the grey dots in the Rhodia dotPads look dark by comparison. (That’s the Rhodia on the left and two Graf It’s in the middle and on the right.)
Since this is a drawing pad, I decided to show this paper to a number of my artist friends. What I saw as potentially bothersome, they viewed as a positive attribute. They all wanted the dots to recede from their field of vision while drawing. They wanted them to be gentle guides and as non-obtrusive as possible.
Have you tried these yet? If so, what do you think? Do you like the lighter violet dots or the slightly darker great ones?
Below, sculptor Virginia Abbott poses with a quick sketch that she created on the Clairefontaine dot Graf It pad.
Graph It Dot Grid stapled pads: 80 sheets of white drawing 90g PEFC paper with pre-printed lilac light dots. The light geometric dot matrix is used as a skillful guide for your sketches, technical drawings or note taking. This subtle matrix will become almost invisible at scan, or on photocopy to reveal only your sketch.
160 pages / 80 sheets
90gsm / 41lb white paper
Available in A4 & A5
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to test a LOT of different colors/brands of fountain pen inks. (over 100!) Because I am a visual person, the best way for me to compare and contrast was to perform ink swatches and though my method was simple, you can make this process as detailed as you’d like. In the images I’ve attached here, I used cotton swabs to do 1, 2 and 3 swipes of each J. Herbin ink in a white drawing pad.
I also kept two separate journals that I only used for ink testing. One with white paper and one with ivory.
What process do you use to remember what all of your inks look like?
With Karen’s encouragement, I wanted to share with you several events and exhibitions that I have going on during the month of October:
On First Friday October 3rd I will be a featured artist at The Banana Factory with an exhibition of my work in the 1st floor lobby. First Friday activities throughout the building are from 6-9pm. Be sure to come up and visit me in my studio #250 on the 2nd floor. (My lobby and stairwell exhibitions at the BF will be on view until Nov. 3rd.) Facebook event details can be found here.
On Wednesday October 8th I will be offering a free artist talk entitled “Metamorphosis” at The Banana Factory from 7-8:30pm. I will be discussing influences, artistic processes, and my evolution as an artist. This event is free and open to the public. The event will begin with a slideshow and talk in the Banko Gallery at The Banana Factory and end with a visit to my private studio on the 2nd floor where light refreshments will be served. Facebook event details can be found here,
October 3rd-30th is the 125th Annual N.A.W.A Members Exhibition held at the Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Gallery, 417 Lafayette St in New York City. I became a juried member of – N.A.W.A (National Association of Women Artists) earlier this year and my piece “Orbit” will be part of this historic exhibition.
On Friday October 10th I will presenting an all-new workshop entitled “Tapping the Source” with Dr. Kell Morton – an expert in the field of transformational healing and personal growth. This experiential workshop is designed to help you awaken, access and nurture your full creative self. See the attached flyer for full details or visit the Facebook event page here.
I’m Gabe Couch, a designer and partner at Few. I’m also CEO of our internal startup, Tagless Style – an alternative online style service. Our group of friends launched a design and development conference in 2012 called Made by Few and last year Designed by Few which was a large part of launching Few, a mobile and web application development house. We are located in the center of Arkansas (The Natural State) and are working on creating a truly creative culture here. Continue Readering »
What does it mean to be “grounded?”
The simplest way to describe it, is being fully present in your life as opposed to being distracted by past or future events. When we are “in our heads” and thinking about anything but the current moment, we lose the ability to operate from or with, our fullest mental capacities. You can think about this like the RAM on a computer. Whether it’s a computer or our brain, give it too many tasks to process at the same time and it will ultimately grow sluggish.
You don’t need to take a lengthy or expensive vacation to a remote island or mountain top to do this. One of the easiest ways to reconnect with your full creative self is just by taking a quiet walk in nature.
Try this: First find a quiet place to take a walk. If you have to get in the car or on a bus to get to such a place, do it – it will be worth it.
Next, turn off technology for at least an hour.
Then, start walking. Try to be fully aware of placing one foot in front of the other and not thinking about anything else. Breathe deeply. Notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you. If your to-do list pops into your head, gently place it to the back burner while you bring your awareness back to one foot in front of the other.
If you have the opportunity, try taking your shoes off and allowing your bare feet to touch the earth – if only for a moment.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today (and everyday) is a good day to be grateful.
What are you grateful for?
My ferocious appetite for doodling kicked in about ten years ago when I worked in a cube. (Technically more of a triangle…) Doodling while sitting in on seemingly endless conference calls, my focus and recall was always better than if I sat there and just “paid attention.” My belief is that the benefits of doodling are similar to any other focused meditative practice; calming both to the mind and spirit.
Image courtesy of marianmachismo on Instagram.
Today’s creative prompt is going to be a little bit different. Are you ready?
If you are anything like me, and often travel the same route to get somewhere, you might occasionally notice a road that appears to lead somewhere interesting but isn’t able to be explored in that particular moment.
My challenge to you, is to take the time to go back to that location and take that road not yet travelled. Notice everything you can about the surroundings. Be playful and explore.
The when you get home, take just a bit more time to write down a few words about your experience. What did you see? What new things did you discover? Is it a place you’d like to go back to, or one that you never wish to visit again?
Please feel free to comment with your experiences. We’d love to know what you find.
“I can’t wait to try out a glass dip pen on it. I know the results will be beautiful, but I also anticipate a satisfaction in matching a beautiful paper to a beautiful pen, and capturing a sense of writing in a way as people have written for centuries. That creates a connection for me. Even though I’m a computer-fiend, I was a pen-and-paper fiend first, and the computer will never recreate that sense of connection. Or the feeling that not only am I creating a beautiful thing, but that the act of creating it is beautiful in itself. The action of making marks, moving pen across the page–these are artful things.”
Life Imitates Doodles blogger and artist Sandra Strait is a favorite of ours for reviewing our products because of her willingness to be so very thorough. As an artist myself, I know how common it can be in the moment to want to use a variety of mixed mediums on a surface that isn’t always intended to accept it. When anyone takes the time to test a wide variety of wet and dry mediums on an individual product, I find it incredibly helpful. In this review, Sandra tests this paper using pen and ink, fountain pen, rollerball, collage with glue and gel medium, acrylic paint, colored pencil, photo transfer, and finally, watercolor paint. You can read her full review which included loads of pictures, here.
I’ve met a lot of adults who seem to believe that because they weren’t born with a pencil or paintbrush in their hand that they have no business making art. To this I say, Hogwash!
Most young children are able to be creative without self-judgment. It’s easy for them to make art because it’s playful and fun. Things start to get a little tricky around the ages of 11-12 because this is when children desire to realistically reproduce what they see, and may become extremely frustrated when they cannot. Learning to draw realism typically requires additional instruction and a lot of practice which is why a lot of kids give up art in favor of other activities. This is why you, as an adult, may think that you have no talent for art because you draw like a child. In reality, all you need (regardless of age) is additional instruction. (and patience)
Having said all that, you really don’t require any skills at all to express yourself through art. if you want to paint, buy paint and have at it because it’s fun! In my experience, the most difficult part of making art is learning being okay with the results.
The Five Basic Skills of Drawing are good to know.
Image courtesy of nan_chanapa on Instagram
For many, summer = travel. Trips to the beach, kids at summer camp, the cabin at the lake, camping in the mountains or perhaps a drive through the desert.
Regardless of where you are spending your time, I know that many of you would never leave home without first packing a few essential tools for the inevitable creative urges that free time can inspire. Will you share your favorites? Is it a notepad, journal or sketchbook? A few favorite fountain pens or a handful of colored pencils? How about a travel sized watercolor paint box?
Andrea over at Big Gay Dragon (what a great name!) is using Rhodia Webbies for some of her daily doodles this year. To me, the doodles can be whimsical, spiritual, meditative–or all three.
Thank you, Andrea.
I for one, am a huge fan of any writing implement that can create a line of varying width. I have a sweet little Parker Debutante Vacumatic in need of a new sac that has a really nice flexible nib and I don’t know why I haven’t had it repaired yet…
Have you ever tried a flexible nibbed fountsin pen? Any favorites? I’ve always wanted to try a “wet noodle” myself. (A very flexible nib)
Eversharp Symphony and Noodler’s Ahab shown above, image courtesy of Ed Jelley. Vist his blog at www.edjelley.com and follow edjelley on Instagram.
Check out Brain Sizemore’s demo on this vintage Wahl “wet noodle” fountain pen. Many more on his You Tube channel as well.
Who doesn’t love to receive a handwritten note in the mail? I know I do! My challenge to you this weekend is to write a simple letter to someone you think could benefit from a bright bit of human kindness in their mailbox.
Don’t know what to write? How about writing out your favorite poem- or maybe a recipe for you favorite chocolate chip cookie?
Image courtesy of S. Jane Mills – be sure to visit her blog, Sketches and Studies Art & Life by S. Jane Mills