Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mondrian's Drop Cloth

I recently finished an experimental piece of artwork.  I gave a sneak peek of it in my first newsletter, and now I'm ready for the full reveal.

Mondrian's Drop Cloth, 12.5" x 12.5" ©Vivien Zepf
All of the pieces that "read" as solids -- the reds, yellows, and black -- are painted paper towels, including the binding strip on the left side.  It was fun to see what I could do with an unexpected material, but I suppose that's only true because nothing tore while I was working with it.  I must confess that I toughened up the paper with a bit of gel medium in some parts and lightweight fusible interfacing in others in order to compare and contrast how things worked.  I've learned some lessons, both in composition (I haven't created an all abstract piece in a long while) and in how to use the paper. I hoping to experiment more.  Stay tuned....

Friday, January 16, 2015

Yesterday's Mail

Cover of the current Quilting Arts Magazine

The February/March issue of Quilting Arts Magazine arrived in yesterday's mail with Jane LaFazio's "Poke Salad Annie Series: Poke Weed Heritage" on the cover.  Isn't it lovely? It makes me want to get out the pokeberry fabric I dyed this summer and play, play, play.


There's something that hits even closer to home in this issue.  Go to page 45.  Are you there?  Look!  It's my submission to the QA Favorite Things Reader Challenge!

My piece "Cata-Leap" is on the top of the page
I'm thrilled and honored to have this thread-sketched watercolor,  based on a vacation picture of my son, selected and published.

As my sister used to say, "Cool Beans".  Yep.

Friday, January 9, 2015

When I Grow Up

My daughter is doing charcoal drawing for the first time in art class at school.  The teacher tasked the students to create their own still life arrangement from items he had in the classroom.  I've asked my daughter what direction he gave them.  "You know; just follow the gird lines on the picture and your paper", was all she said.  HA!  I'll bet there's some super duper secret she's not sharing because this is what she's done so far:

A teapot, with a bit of a creamer and skull visible behind it
The spout; I don't know how she controls the charcoal to achieve such detail
The handle; I confess I love the different intensities of charcoal here

I'm very impressed and think this is great, despite the fact she's my child.  I'm guessing there's more to this than "just follow the gridlines".  I want to know what it is so I can draw like my daughter when I grow up.  Until then, I will be thankful this school has a GREAT art program that my daughter can participate in.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Vacation Project

This past summer I finally accepted my personal truth about vacations: I'm not productive at all.   I'm not sure why, but since this has been my reality in recent memory it's time to acknowledge that fact.  It seems that I just don't have the mental energy for complex, thoughtful, and/or special projects over vacation.

BUT, I still want to go to my studio.  So what to do?

My solution: create a project that I work on ONLY during vacations.  It would have to be something that would keep my interest, be easy to leave and to get back into after time away, and that didn't require special materials.

A pieced quilt seemed perfect.

I let my husband pick the quilt pattern from a stack I had "pre-approved".  Two months passed before I  washed and dried sixty different fabrics while on fall break with my college-age children in October.  The fabrics then sat untouched until this past week when I set them on the floor, and took a black and white picture to help me sort them into dark, medium, and light value piles.

(Sorry, for some reason I can't get the picture to appear right-side up.)
Once they were sorted, I started to iron, cut and piece the quilt.  I have 792 large triangles and 320 small half square triangles to cut, all in order to piece 99 blocks.  I managed to piece 12.  (Ironing and cutting take me FOREVER!)

I love this pattern for the secondary circular design that appears when you squint.  Can you see it?  It's created by the placement of light and medium fabrics.  I wasn't too persnickety about my selections so there may be times when the secondary design isn't as visible, but that's okay.   Can you guess the color scheme?

Are you surprised?

The blocks and pieces will now remain in drawers until my next vacation.  It's going to take me years to finish this quilt, but I'm confident I'm going to look forward to working on it each time.  I already have the answer to the question, what am I going to work on this vacation?    With breaks in between it will always seems like a fresh project, as opposed to an overwhelming one.  I'll watch the quilt grow and that will be exciting.  

This quilt is also emblematic of one of my goals this year: to be happy with what I can do, as opposed to dismayed by what I can't.  I'm going to be realistic about my expectations.  I dont' want to be disappointed by a task list that's so long and/or demanding as to be unattainable.  Challenged is great.  Overwhelmed is not.

Now it's off to bed to try to catch up on my sleep after the party-party-party environment we've had here the last few days.  My to-do list is calling, and I wanted to be rested to tackle it.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

No matter your faith, I hope you are spending this day with family and loved ones, together in peace.

Nativity at the Mission of San Juan Capistrano.
  Somehow, the light naturally fell on Baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I've Got a New Man

I've been very busy celebrating these past two weeks; I turned 50!  Believe it or not, I got a new man as a gift... my own personal Adonis.

Atlant spb2, Natalya Aikens
Actually he's an Atlant, one of the statues holding up the new entrance to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, like Atlas holding up the world.  Natalya has made a series of artwork based on these statues and she was kind enough to give me one.

Here's a close up of the image and Natalya's hand stitching.  Don't you just love the texture?

Aren't I lucky?  Check out Natalya's blog for more of these fabulous artworks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Famous Art at MOMA

A few weekends ago I went into New York City with girlfriends.   We found ourselves with a little extra time at MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art) and we wandered the galleries without any specific agenda.  It was wonderful.  I had forgotten how much gorgeous art is housed in MOMA.  I'd like to share a few of my favorites, though the iPhone doesn't do the artwork justice:

Pablo Picasso, Girl before a Mirror, Boisegeloup, 1932 -- on wall
Pablo Picasso, Head of a Woman, Boisegeloup, 1932 -- sculpture
(these just make me smile; what was Picasso like as a dinner guest, I wonder?)

Paul Cezanne, Still Life with Apples, 1895-98
(love how the scene fades to white in the upper left)

Mark Rothko, No. 3/No. 13, 1949
(this positively glows -- I had no idea)

Jasper Johns, detail of Flag, 1954-55
(the depth of brushstrokes is gorgeous)

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, Saint Remy, June 1889
(luscious, luscious, luscious)

Gustav Klimt, The Park, 1910 or earlier
(I just love all the colors of the foliage)

Claude Monet, Agapanthus, 1914-26
(there's a wildness here that I'm so attracted to)

Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Three Puppies, 1888
(I hadn't seen this before, but I love it)

And there you have it, a mini-MOMA masterpiece tour.