05 March 2014

work in progress

I took out an acrylic painting I'd begun awhile ago ~ two years or so ~ and decided to try something new with it. I tested out an application of liquid masking and rather liked the effect after washing over it with darker colors. Above you can see the result on the right and the newly applied masking dots on the left (not painted over or rubbed off yet). These pictures are just a corner of the whole piece.

The entire canvas is fairly large, which I'll show you next. The original painting was rather exuberant and somehow I felt in the mood to carry that forward, but hoped to connect some of the elements that were previously only sketched in or contained only washes of color. The only problem was that I wasn't sure what I wanted.

So, I tried something new and cut out shapes in painters tape to see the outlines of what I might try. 

It seemed to give a general idea and a sort of jungle began to grow. The only problem was that I could not easily see the areas I'd already done in masking fluid so some of it was guesswork. I also wasn't sure if the masking would work out. I've painted with very little water using regular masking tape to create straight lines, but have never tried a fairly watery wash with painters tape.

Here's another part of the canvas with masking fluid dots painted on. The larger green and blue circles are painted rice paper that I'd applied earlier with matte medium. I plan to put blues and purples on top to let these lighter colors show through. Hopefully it will suggest a night sky or the surface of some rock formations or something interesting and imaginative.

The fun of digital editing ~ when I changed the photo to black and white, it reminded me of a lunar surface.

Next steps are to go wild, throw a lot of paint on top and see what happens! But before I go, here are a couple more parts of the original painting before they go.

14 February 2014

spirograph for saint valentine

I realize that in other parts of the world, Valentine's Day is only celebrated with your romantic partner, but where I work (at a K-8th grade school in California), the day is taken more in the spirit of: Hooray! Cards, Candy and Trinkets for All!

So I decided to make valentines for my colleagues and my students, and this year I decided to use my childhood Spirograph kit. I loved playing with this when I was in grade school myself. Watching the patterns appear as your pen goes around the spiral is a little bit like magic.

They don't always work out quite right. Every once in a while the pen slips. But overall, the patterns are really beautiful and fascinating.

If you've never used a Spirograph set before, it works like this:

After choosing one of the large rings and one of the small discs, the large ring is secured with tacks on top of the drawing paper (there's a base of thick cardboard underneath). The disc of choice can go either inside or outside the ring, and there are many small holes to choose from where you put your pen. After that, just roll around the ring until the design meets up with itself again.

You can also change pen color and new designs can be created by shifting to a different hole in the disc. All the holes on the rings and discs are numbered so if you make something really cool you can duplicate it again later.

After I doodled a whole bunch of different designs, I cut them out and glued them on to red paper, added a little greeting with a heart sticker, and voila' ~ fun, mathematical valentines were ready for delivery.

A few of the designs...
Since no two were exactly alike, the kids enjoyed comparing the cards. A few wanted to learn how to do it, so I'll have to bring my Spirograph set in one day. I have quite a vintage set; some of the new versions for sale look pretty sweet.

My childhood Spirograph ~ so fun to use it again.

Wishing everyone a happy day of Saint Valentine!

02 February 2014


The Super Bowl is on. But as I mentioned a few years ago, I kind of prefer Superb Owl.

SF MOMA has been tweeting #superbowl images of superb owl artworks in their collection, so I thought I'd add the questioning owls from my recent Sketchbook Project to the celebration of the day.

This was one of my dad's haiku poems that made me smile. I hope you'll check the sketchbook out if you're ever at the Art House Library in Brooklyn since this isn't the greatest photo and the owls actually have a bit more color and detail. (You might find them to be more superb).

The game goes on, and here I'll give a little cheer for the underdogs in this game ~ Go Broncos! :)

26 January 2014

Sketchbook Project 2014

Just in time, I completed my book for the Sketchbook Project 2014 and mailed it off. Alas, in my rush  to the post office to make the deadline there was no time to scan all my pages properly. I had to make do with some quick iPhone shots and I've finally posted them on flickr

This year I chose the theme, "This is not about me." On one of the first pages, I wrote this little explanation of the book's contents:

This is not about me.
This book is in remembrance of my father, A.W.S., who passed away in the last days of summer, 2013. We were lucky to enjoy one very intense, stressful, hopeful and sad year together ~ my dad, my sister and me united in the fight to extend his time with us. We all became closer than ever before, and one surprise he revealed shortly before he left was that he wrote haiku poetry. To me, they reflect his childhood in the Midwest and his time as a young man in Japan. I decided to preserve them here.

I selected 23 of his poems and arranged them by type: winter, life & love, summer and autumn. I'm very happy that some of my father's poems will be shared and preserved this way. We never collaborated on anything artistic while he was alive, but I think he would be happy with this little book with my drawings and his poems living together.

My book will be going on the California tour. I look forward to seeing it again this summer!

02 January 2014

a new year!

Hello and Happy 2014!

I've been away so long it's almost hard to know where to start. The past year was sad and terrible. My father lost his battle with cancer and we said good bye in September. These holidays were hard without him, even though I had the love and support of all my family around me. I know I am very blessed to have many wonderful people in my life, and I count all the lovely people I've met through this blog too. 

The new year is here and I have arrived to a place where my mind and heart are a little freer and happily, I found the space to create some art again. 

My first painting for the new year is this watercolor of a quilt my grandmother made. I've always loved it, and I found it again recently when I was cleaning my dad's house. Family has been such an important part of the past year that I decided to make a painting of it since seeing it always makes me happy.

I hope that each of you have a wonderful new year surrounded by people and things that make you happy. Let's have a beautiful 2014!