Friday, September 28, 2012

Play Time - 30 Seconds

Greetings -

It's Friday already. I haven't sent the weekly bear card to Mr. Colbert, there's a basket of laundry within touching distance, and the possible tasks for the day are too many to contemplate. But I WILL be able to cross off "blog" from invisible list.

Yesterday there was no time to play either - but a quick grab in the paper drawer and 30 seconds in the studio brought a simple, yet, graphic design - and some words that will be used in the future. Woopee!
Just from grabbing a flawed piece of card-stock, 3 possible pastels - out of hundreds nearly, and the ever-preent Sharpie Marker. I do "heart" those Sharpie Markers.....

All you need is a sheet of paper. Don't worry about Quality. This is about getting some marks down just to see what comes. You could use crayons, water-colors, markers. It doesn't matter. I made two broad blue lines and two squiggly green lines - with a space in-between each area. Hmmm. Summer colors? So it seemed. So grab one more color. Yes, it had to be yellow. Four smooth yellow lines and the colored part was complete. All this was done far more quickly than the time it's taking to type this. Whoosh whoosh squiggle squiggle whip whip whip whip. Done.

The center white cried "Use me, too!" Time to trust that Sharpie Marker. Ponder colors. Ponder shapes. First thought into mind? So, when is Summer over? As good a thought as any.
Write 'er down. Yup. So, when is Summer over? Well, with all the garden and art fair photos taken this year I'm planning on keeping it around through Winter and back in to Spring. We need all the blue and green and yellow we can get!

Once again - no excuses. If you don't have a box of crayons lying around -  treat yourself. Or grab a brush, three tubes of paint, paper, and put down six shapes of your choice. Add some words, or don't.

You may create an instant "ah ha!" Or a gift for a friend. Or a new ball of paper for the waste-paper basket. It doesn't matter. Your hands and mind will have had a play half a minute or hour or, if you're so inclined, day. Hooray!

Facing up to Fall - Bayfield Apple Festival, Red Wing Art Fair, & several boutiques. Check our Sue Rowe Studios Facebook page for updates.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Forcing Creativity

When enough women at fairs request a bear-and-wine theme I have to pay attention. The customer may not always be right, but she darn sure knows what she want to buy. And I want to make my customers happy, and welcome and ask for their suggestions. Two days ago  it was time to grab paper, pencil, a bit of coffee-shop time and see who showed up. Well, a cup of herbal tea and a large lemon bar helped produce a vertical attempt that got the attitude and the words that would work. And then a horizontal design seemed to integrate image and text a bit better. Whew. Hard part over? In a way.

So yesterday I put the original horizontal sketch on the light-box, but not before requesting good husband to pose a few times with an empty wine glass. This produced good laughs but not really the effect I had hoped for. Back to the drawing board!

Here's the basic sketch. Now down to reality. I bow down to the inventor of the light-box. Not working  with high-tech goodies and computer art programs, I still have to trust the steadiness of hand and Sharpie Marker. On to it. Drawing in ink directly over the original sketch isn't the smartest of ideas, but I was in a rush, and trusting the hand, ink, and paper. First try worked! Added a few more strands of pearls (too many pearls are never enough). And  bear content with  vintage was complete. Whew.

Now on to the Prismacolor colored-pencils. More decisions. What kind of wine? A lovely red. What color bear? A pleasant brown. Make-up? You bet. Nails polished? Yup.

So this girl will make her debut at the Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival in Hudson, Wisconsin this weekend. We'll be in Booth #4 - on south end of the park.

There are LOTS of area art doings going on the weekend of Sept. 22 -23. An art fair in Afton, Mn, the Annual Franconia Arts & Artists Celebration in Franconia, MN (the 22nd), and more. Check out the new web-site: for more information on many more cultural events coming up!

Now it's time to fold laundry, re-pack the truck, and tell the pastel piece in progress that it has not been forgotten.

Dare to doodle today?

- Sue

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Roberta from the Piles

This morning I dared to dig through a pile of drawings in the studio. This is not a stack arranged in any particular order. Some drawings are recent, some are from almost back to my bear "Big Bang" days. Some were remembered, others were not. Surprises were frequent. Pastels and colored-pencil drawings made up the majority of the work, but now and then an old pen-and-ink piece would surface.

Most of my college drawings were pen-and-ink.  This process forces a person to come to terms with many personality traits - are you timid? confident? that odd mix of both? You will find out much about yourself if you work in this method. I started drawing with graphite pencils and the wish that erasers magically grew from the eraser holder. Yes, I've erased lines into holes. Yes, I've worn away many an eraser to sad end. This cannot happen when you work in pen-and-ink.

It was late October of 1997 when I drew the bear that started it all.... The first few bears were pencilled bruins, but after a while I braved the world of the permanent line.

"Roberta," here, is one result. Done March 7th, 1999, on water-color paper, her full title, oddly enough written in pen, is "Roberta - Lost Hope." I have no idea why. The actual paper is vertical, with an almost complete moon behind her and lots of white below her head. Cross-hatching is an easy way to create value, and as long as the hand was able the Sharper Marker was willing. Yes, the moon was pencilled in and that evidence still remains. But Roberta, herself, appears to be drawn "free-hand." One good thing about working with cross-hatching is the ability to make LOTS of small marks, thus allowing the artist to stop, consider, and go on. You need not fear the Big Gesture That Cannot Be Disguised. Just mark mark mark mark until your image builds to your idea of completeness. You can do this! And soon you will have your own pile of pen-and-ink drawings.

Thanks, Roberta, for coming out of hiding - hope or no hope.

As long as we have paper and ink-filled pens we can have a bit of hope.

To draw or not to draw? Not a question. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Playing at the Library

If you bring your paper and pencils you can draw almost anywhere.
Yesterday I stole two hours from reality and ended up at The Stillwater Library.
Found comfy chair near window.
Put ear-buds into head and put quiet Pat Methany guitar stuff into brain.
Dared to close eyes.
Tried to relax.
A little.
But had to poke toes back into real world.
Went and sat in a different room. Got out art supplies.
Wrote some stuff to myself on piece of cheap typing paper.
Drew a box in the space that was left.
This bear came.

Who's to argue with the ones who show up?
Although there are words that I still have to memorize. Visible, for one.

On to our days. The attempts today are to make one square foot of space slightly "better," and to help someone out. Baby steps baby steps. Oh, and to make a few phone calls. I really wish I could talk the bears into being secretaries, house-cleaners, and the like. I have the power to draw 'em but they can seldom be persuaded to do more than stay on the page. And.... perhaps that's for the best.

Work, play, rest?


Monday, September 17, 2012

Playing With Frida

Greetings -
A few days ago a friend and I spent an hour or so at a local coffeeshop. Of course, I brought along some art supplies and a few more friends.

After normal "catching up on life" chatting I pulled out the art goodies (and friends), and asked if we should play for a bit. Out come the strange trio - a tiny grazing cow, a  lovely Rubber (plastic) Duck, and Frida Kahlo (finger puppet AND frig magnet! given to me by another good buddy).

Out came papers, markers, colored pencils and water-color pencils. On to choosing our toys.
Politely, I gave my friend first choice of subject. During our session she did a charming drawing of Rubber Duck and then an artful "purple cow" version of the Holstein. Hooray!

Frida had to put up with my attempt to render her most carefully in water-color. Lacking a pencil with her particular skin tone, I never-the-less, did my best. I learned quickly the power and intensity of wc pencils. Poor Frida's facial features became even pronounced due to my lack of pencil/brush control. Sorry, Frida! Yet, somehow, I do think her powerful and magnetic personality manages to shine through.

Yes, her ears are stitched quite a kimbo. We know that human facial features are a-symetrical, but, happily, most often NOT to the degree of this  particular Ms. Kahlo. Trying to render the figure as realistically as possible I forced the hand to draw those ears as sewn.  It was sometimes difficult to stay in "play" mode, and not listen to that super-critic invisible voice so many of us hold inside. Darn that "too dark" eye. Oops for that red horizontal line at neck level.  Just keep drawing and painting. I did manage to get her round nose just about perfect - ha! And aren't we glad that most of us are lucky to walk around with working nostrils? Not this Frida.

She WAS lucky to wear some lovely flowers in her hair, and I was lucky enough to have matching water-color pencils with which to render the blossoms.

If she volunteers herself as a model in the future I will probably pull out a bag of colored pencils and see what happens.

So, some day soon, invite a friend or two for a beverage, chat, and a chance to goof off with art supplies and the subjects of your choice. Even if the the "art" produced isn't particularly lovely, the time you spend probably will be.

On to it!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Play Day - Your Sign

Greetings -
Now and then we need (I need) that visual reminder to keep us, if not on track, then heading in the general direction of our intentions.

A nice Personal Sign may be just the thing.  It doesn't have to be fancy. It has to be Visible - Early and Often. That constant beast poking you in the eye and brain.

So - have some fun creating your motivational reminder!

It doesn't have to be perfect, it helps to make it colorful.

My recent attempt.

Sharpie Marker to outline letters. Prismacolor Pencils to have some more fun. Yup, missed that "u" in Through. No problem. And never underestimate the power of a fewExclamation Points.

My problem is to REMEMBER to Focus, Focus. Follow Through!!!!!!!!!!!

You may want to get fancier, or find an excellent quote that gets you through the day, or  use an image instead of words. The point is, still, to Have Fun. Heck, your sign may simply say: PLAY!!

That's it for the day. Packers beat the Bears last night. Tara and I will bask in reflected Green and Gold Glory for a few days. But we have to work at our own "games" to move toward our own goal-lines.
Yes, I've drawn motivational "football fields." Whatever it takes, what ever it takes.

On to prepping for the Marine-on-St-Croix Art Fair in Marine, MN this weekend. Weather seems as though it will cooperate this year. Hooray for simple Fall Weather pleasures. We will be on a road edge of Flag Park. Come chat, laugh, or share a life story (or a handful of Kettle Korn). Make your day a day of Play?

Signingly yours,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Art Fairs - Yup

Greetings -
I was a late-comer to the art fair circuit. We missed "the Glory Days" that the old-timers talk of when we gather around on a Saturday evening with a plate of goodies and the beverage that might make chats even more intriguing.

However, in our case, better late then never. It's been a quickly moving time since that first mostly horrible experience in a nearby town. A bad-craft fair. We didn't know. Pitched a booth of some s orts, offered some now-remarkably-semi-awful stuff... and yet... and yet.... the few drawings and words done on cheap paper and poorly-presented resonated with just enough quirky folks that we were encouraged to carry on. Thanks, you few customers of 1998! Without your kind words and chuckles no more bears would have made it on to more paper. All the Bob bears would not exist. The books and teeshirts, and greeting cards and magnets and Real Art would not exist.

Passersby and customers - you never know when YOUR one sentence to an artist might be just the sentence that person NEEDS to hear that day.

We progressed. Whew. The booth grew more colorful, if not the most tidy. The economy changed. Sales of smaller pieces saved the day when maybe only one or no originals would sell. Sigh. Tell us again about the Glory Days "old-timers." Yet  prizes were won, galleries asked to carry our work, and wholesale accounts were created.  The bears, cats, and piggies were starting to move out in to the world! And the chats held in and around that 10 x 10 piece of white plastic ranged from a lady baking banana bread to feed to a DNR-trapped bear to people dying of bear attacks. We discuss cancer & children & politics & religion & food & relationships & philosophy, & of course, the weather. "Sue's Booth of Truth" one woman stated. I try.

An empty booth, though filled with stuff, is gloriously different when filled with People.

This is a tiny part of the crowd at the 2012 Ely Blueberry Festival. At this event our booth, good old #15, next to Al and Shirley, is a destination to many people, and we knock wood and cross fingers that it continues to be so. Having been one of the emptier booths in our earlier adventures it's gratifying to find an often-filled booth on our hands. Some times potential customers give up and come back later or see us at a different show. The difficulty at a busy event is trying to chat with friends, old and new, while conducting business and making eye contact and saying "Thank You!" and "Would you like a bag?"
The current year's comment/suggestion/contact notebook is always open for stories, good words, and the like. Each year's book is a treasured reminder of things to do, places to see, new things to make. And GREAT STORIES. Garrison Keillor said that it's all about the stories, and I agree.

So....  this is a short piece covering a long topic. Even if you don't plan on buying art just go walk around a good art fair. You may find joy in one booth and truth in another. You might learn about a craft you'd never known existed. You might meet an an old friend from high school. We artists will be glad to answer questions and give advice to the brave sorts who might want to pitch their own booths next year.

Summer is almost over. It's been short, long, slow and busy. Soon it will be time to start those application processes all over again. That's never fun - so we will not speak of such right now.

On to September, October, and then resting the tent.
We'll be doing some indoor events, but remembering those sunny days at a good fest.


Monday, September 10, 2012

New Sketchbook

Greetings - We did the Centennial Lakes Art Festival in Edina, Minnesota this past weekend. Windy Saturday, lovely Sunday.

Crowds seemed a bit off, as were sales, but it's still a lovely show, and the staff keeps us artists too-well supplied with hot and cold beverages, excellent doughnuts, and chocolate chip cookies, which they deliver to your booth.... Or, if you need the exercise,  you may visit the artist reception room on the lower level of the show. This will but  you in the tempting area of the Dick Blick Spin-the-Wheel-for Stuff booth. One year I won a tee-shirt - good. Last year I won a pack of pencils - ho hum. This year it was sketch book choice. I have enough medium-sized books scattered around the house, so chose the cute little 5 1/2" x 3 1/2" mixed media cutie. Haven't counted pages but there enough for more than a few adventures, and the paper is slightly textured. It could fit in almost any purse or backpack, along with a small pack of drawing/painting materials. So, Thanks!, Dick Blick! I'd wanted a new toy, but didn't NEED a new toy.

Now to find time to scribble between Autumn art fairs, trying to freeze some squash (today's garden adventure), and still trying to solve the mystery of the constantly chiming head (Mayo Clinic - here we come?). Will there be time today to play with a few pages? I don't know. Have to get back to the altered book garden journal, too.

Packers lost, Vikings won. The man  of the house will be happier than the ladies of the house - at least for this week. GO PACK, anyway!

Fare-thee-well, It's back to the squashes -

P.S. - Find some way to play today, O.K.?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Play Day - Tomatoes


No bears today. Too many volunteer tomatoes. Way too many. But here are a lucky few - drawn to the tunes of Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr.

No excuses. Hit the junk drawer #2 for the bag of markers and high-lighters.

Used: blue HI-LITER
          "Cheap" blue marker
          Red Sharpie
          Yellow Sharpie
           Pink HI-LITER
           Green Sharpie
           Bic Brite Liner

That's it. Drew the blue frame first, added to it later. The tomatoes were in a white bowl. I like drawing freely - not needing to be exactly accurate - UNLESS I WANT to be exactly accurate. I wanted the fun of drawing small tomato circles and coloring them in, using only the tools at hand. Squares and circles - with only a few accent marks for stems and such. Played around with ways to add volume - some more successful than others. And sort of wrecked the yellow Sharpie while creating orange-y areas hither and yon. Must admit I really like the orange effect. Sorry for wrecking you, Yellow Sharpie Marker. It had to be done. For Art.

Food, fresh or prepared, can be an excellent spur of the moment subject.

And there are Beautiful subjects in your backyard, farmers' market, or grocery store right now.

Maybe you'll be lucky enough to use up a few junk drawer art supplies today. Then you can treat yourself to an office supply/art supply Play Day. Woo hoo! After chomping a lovely fresh salad, of course.

Maybe tomorrow we'll get back to some bears. And you can get back to drawing whatever makes you Happy! On to it. No excuses.