Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"Spring Again" - Part the Second

Guess what? It's always still raining. Except when it's snowing. The squirrels' tails are so wet that they hang down or over their backs  like long thin towels that need a good fluffing.

Tomato plants and other garden goodies share time on studio floor under the one good light that's available for them. Sorry, African Violets, you'll get "your" lamp back - eventually....

Grey day needs colorful post - on to it.

As review:

This is where we started. Reeves brand gouache paints (I really wish gouache was easier to spell... all those vowels in confusing sequence - at least to me).

So - on to the adventure! I liked the base colors of acrylic beginning, so was pleasantly surprised that  the yellow, orange, and reds worked quite well as partners with original colors. The black outline got to stay, but the remainder of the block did get covered in gouache. I played with stippling in some areas, normal brush strokes in others, and probably put the pinkies to use, too. Above, you can see the greens, whites, blues, and purples starting to be added. I wanted the piece to convey lightness and "springiness" - so bring on more white, pale green, and those sort of flower things in lower right-hand corner.  More shapes! More colors! I am a sucker for accent points - whether they should be there or not. Bit of white here, dabs of yellow there! And there and there! I tried to paint more than think. Wanted Fun and Joy to  pop of the brushes.

Here is final piece:

Light. Playful. Not perfect, but performing proudly.

Yes, one recent day the sun was shining and the ground-cover was inviting. This bear danced out into the patio and into the green.

Playing with gouache was fun. I've now seen more "serious" art created with this "simple" stuff, and will work with it more in the future. I like it's ability to cover over layers, how fast it dries, and it's ability to be both very confident in itself, yet play well with other art supply friends.

I've not invested in high-quality gouache, so have not experienced it's personality. For the time being this grade's good enough for me.

If you want something easy to work with, yet paint that can present it's own sorts of challenges - go get some gouache!

Drippy Spring!
PS - May 3-4 (yes, THIS Saturday and Sunday) we will be bringing the bears and other artsy offerings to Rhode Pottery Farm, 1080 245th St., Woodville, WI, as part of of the "Our Creative Routes" Studio Art Tour. This event will be in Western Wisconsin, at three locations along the I-94 Corridor. Web-site:

We are hoping to see sun AND visitors!

The next weekend we will be exhibiting at  the "Llama Magic" fibers fair at the Washington County Fairgrounds outside Lake Elmo, MN. Come pet a llama, alpaca, or other wooly sort, and maybe fall in love with one of our frisky bears, too!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Post Pre-Earth Day Doings - "Spring Again!"

Part the First: Recently for my Facebook Page 30 Bear Challenge I sort of cheated? Well, not in the finished work, but in the finding a started bruin in the studio. Among MANY MANY starts... But this one whispered "Pick ME. Finish MEEEEE....?" So I did my best.

Here is how it went - in three "easy" steps: 1) choose bear, 2) decide to use gouache (an additional challenge as it's stuff I seldom play with), 3) find a suitable something to squeeze paint unto (yay for a magic pantry of seldom-used stuff to put paint on!), 4) squeeze out paint, 5) choose brushes, 6) dare to paint.

O.K., that's six steps, but really six is pretty close to three when it comes to this project.

Although these paints are not the highest quality of gouache, they were in my price-range, and are fine for my purposes.

And the brushes used were of average quality. I squeezed out eight quite basic colors, and FOUND White later. White had ben used for a task earlier. I am not always great at putting things back where they live. Always A Life Lesson: Put Stuff Back Quickly and Regularly.

So we are up to Step 5 already. Wasn't that easy?

The hard part?
Waiting for Part the Second.

"Soon. Very soon." - (an inside family semi-joke.)
Yup. Soon.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Simply Pleasure - Cute Art Fair Pup

Some days it doesn't take much.

Here is a lovely pup from our 2013 art fair season. Perhaps, a sketch subject?
At least a lovely memory of a cutie pup on a fine day.

Can we ever suck in too much "cute"?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Always in Progress

Here is latest commission - in progress.

On full sheet of Arches printing paper. Nice tooth for pastel. Sky and foreground will allow the using up of tiny bits of various pastel pieces. Not that the studio will notice.
Challenge for messy me is keeping clean areas clean. Yay for free garage-sale paper! Great for guarding areas AND making reasonably straight horizon lines.

Yes, the bear will have a head. And a partner. Long way to go, but a decent start.
And it's nice to be working in some warm colors on yet another seriously grey cold day.

Back to the drawing board!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Paper paper paper

UThis is a photo of a horrible "drug" for me.
(Note:NOT making light of really awful real drugs.)

Some folks get giddy feeling fabric, others love adding to collections of so many different kinds, many have to get that morning exercise fix.

I LOVE paper.... And Free Paper is the Best!

And free paper is EVERYWHERE!!! This box was at a holiday boutique several years ago.

This paper was from a bunch of greeting card card racks. That was it's purpose. To back and designate types of cards. It came in different sizes and slightly different shapes. It was heavy weight and felt nice to the touch. This was not "scratch paper." I could DRAW on it! Maybe even Wonderful Things.

Oddly, I  held myself to taking about twenty pieces. I wanted to lug the whole box away, while screaming "Free paper!! Free paper!!!  Yay!!!!!" (Todd would NOT have been happy.)

Self control. Yup. Had a little.

Garage-sale season is coming up..........

Did use up a bunch of smaller papers last night during a two-hour life drawing session. Yay, again! The pieces were not "valuable" but they were of different colors and textures. I prepped some by going over portions with graphite or colored pencils. Played with charcoal and erasers. Concentrated on model's head. Used up about six sheets of paper. Shouldn't have worked on both sides of sheets....; then could have used up more.  Oh, well.

Will toss some of the efforts and keep some. Copy notes made while drawing. On other paper.

We shall not speak of Journals and Sketchbooks today.....

Yay, PAPER!!!!!

Grab some, put some marks on it! It'll be Fun!!! Or at least A Life Lesson. Well worth the effort.

Now, back to that Sue Rowe Studios Facebook Page 30 Bear Challenge. It will use up at least ONE more piece of paper - woo hoo! Maybe time for a collage?

Fare-thee-well, on this 19 degree Spring day, with .......snow...... in the forecast.
And, yup, the juncos are still here - sigh,


Monday, April 14, 2014

Volunteer!! (If you want to volunteer)

If you have a moment or five YOU can make a difference.

It took many years for a friend to convince my of this. She is the Activities Director at a local assisted-care facility. We were going to do something with music. This never came to be. Whew!

But many years ago - time flies! - she broke my stubborn will, supplied me with easel, large pads of paper, a large box of colored markers, and a slot of time each month. She calls what I do "Scribbles by Sue" - and scribbling is what we do. And tell stories. And ask questions. And welcome new-comers. And make friends. And mourn those that leave.

Here's one drawing from the latest session:

The date was April first. My birthday. They surprised ME with a drawing of a huge cake, yelling "Surprise!," singing "Happy Birthday" to me AND a gentleman who'd been born on same date, but a "few" years earlier. We all got to wear goofy hats and laugh. And then it was time to draw. It's great that most months have a holiday or two to play with. So this Easter Bear came about. But in years past we've used the session to illustrate a whole drawing with stuff that starts with the letter "B," attempt a parade of miscellaneous animals - led by a skunk, re-create a story (in bear form) of one resident's mom teaching her lads who to tip over out-door toilets on Halloween. you get the picture? Idea put out - attempt made.

Oddly, though we usually finish two or three pictures in a one-hour session, there have only been about three or four utter failures - paper that we simply decided to rip into quarters and start anew. Because these sketches are done so quickly, often my friend will help in the drawing, and sometimes we get the residents involved! That always Fun; And I get the chance to watch and maybe sip a cup of de-caf coffee!

This is the only volunteer thing I do, but there are SO MANY opportunities for one and all to go do something. There are cards and bingo to be played, crafts to be made, and many other things to do. People bring their pets to  visit, folks read to others. There is really no excuse to NOT volunteer somewhere except "I don't want to."

So, ever onward, still hoping real Spring might happen, and back to transplanting the many baby basils. Record-tying Cold Temperature forecast for tonight. We are so excited.......... And remember both the moon eclipse AND (if you must) paying estimated taxes.

(Watching grey squirrels planting sunflowers seeds in backyard. They have more hope in ground warming soon that I do - ha!)


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Colored Pencil Possibilities

This 30 Bear Challenge came about because I needed bears and I needed 'em FAST. Well, not really fast - but soon.

Materials always at hand? Paper and pencils. Decision time... I love working on black paper. It makes colors vivd just by being.

Cheating? No. Knowledge? Perhaps. And the dancing bruins have been cavorting a bit much lately, so it was time for rest. They, in fact, would take a back seat, so to speak, in this piece. This was a time for Negative Space to shine!

Because I'm seldom smart enough (or too lazy) to do thumbnail sketches of possible compositions, I just grab a pencil and hope that an idea will come. Leaping into the dark end of the paper... Scribble scribble - come on bears. The composition begins on left and proceeds - bear by bear. No thinking - just shapes. It's an odd sized sheet - 7 1/2" x 13." I like working on long and narrow - in fact the very first original bear sketch I did was a group of bears drawn with graphite pencil on a long and narrow sheet of white paper. Remind me to post them someday?!?). O.K. - five bears will fit just fine.

At this point I don't care about perspective - just filling space with shapes. Truncated triangles with ears.   That's accomplished. Bring on that COLOR!! Go for The Glow! Starting again from the left side I simply grabbed colors that appear and I know should Pop. And with Spring and Easter eggs in mind - well - you can see where we're going. For a while I debated bringing range of bear shapes out into whole space, but that seemed safe and boring. Just MY thought. So on to the Fun of arbitrarily choosing and using those lovely Prismacolor tones. for some spaces I did choose  specific colors, but mostly, if a pencil yelled "I'm Spring!" it was in. Did erase a few bear lines, and each bear is mostly a solid color - deep green, indigo blue, dark red, etc. But the "atmosphere" was where the challenge continued. Some portions are a single color; others, three or four layers.

More choices/decisions?  Using ivory, white, or other bright colors to outline areas. Though often using  blended shapes I admit to being a frequent  outliner... Scribble scribble, blend blend. Final decision - float bear on right in color. why? Just because.

This piece might be a study for more "important" work later on, but for now it stands (sits?) on it's own as a new way for me to work.

Go for the glow!!

Check out my Sue Rowe Studios Facebook Page for previous 30 Bear Challenges? And maybe words or images to inspire your day? Happy Dreary Rainy Grey Spring Day here! This color is about as bright as today is going to get!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chaos Always Chaos

Here be Chaos.
Sometimes the studio table is neat.
Now is not one of the those times.

And, so on to Wet Paint today - to buy MORE ART SUPPLIES!!!!!!!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Garden Journal

Can't garden these white frozen outdoor days so spent a little time with garden journal.

This journal was started as a Altered Book project in early 2012, and has served well as reminder and lessons-learned  noted and container of photos ever since.

 I do sort of wish I'd have written and noted in a more mannerly order - but no. And now it's too late, so posts go in where they best fit, or look prettiest, or sometimes make sense relating to previous scribbles.

These pages are toward the back - covered in gesso and acrylic paint, a cut-out flower from some fancy wrapping paper and a fabric fragment from one of daughter, Tara's, many sewing adventures.

The petal fragments came from an African Violet once cared for by my Grandma Rowe. She died in April of 1976 and I became the waterer of a few of her plants. They and their kids have survived the years, sometimes just hanging in there, sometimes thriving. This is a thriving year. Yay! Cleaning away some dried blossoms recently I couldn't simply toss them in the trash. Aha!!

So, using a general amount of  Matte Medium as adhesive, I glued the crushed purple petals into the book. Some day I will write a bit about Grandma, her violets, the kitchen ivy, and the wonderful gardens, flower and vegetable, she managed to grow during the tough growing seasons in Northern Wisconsin.

Now it's enough to know that a few petals will help trigger these memories. Trash? Treasure? An everyday question. This time - Treasure.


Thursday, April 3, 2014


Uh.... if it never stops snowing how will our gardens know when it's Summer?
2:25 P.M. - the Serious Flakes are coming down - prepping the green spots for the 6 to 12 inches of cold white that is forecast.

The brave little iris are poking green out by on south wall of house. Poor boos. Good luck.

And to add interest - wind is to increase to make the next two days even more wonderful.


Now, ol' Pudge doesn't mind this sort of weather. but we Midwest humans are getting bored with more than fifty shades of white and grey. We want GREEN and YELLOW and BLUE; and, if there is to be white, let it be in benign puffy white clouds floating quietly in lovely blue sky.

Our grey houses and grey fences and grey squirrels and grey birds and grey vehicles and grey moods need more than darker and lighter on the Grey Scale.

Here's an image from last Big Serious Storm - Mixed emotions? Have at 'em.

Time to head out on errands. Yes, always save driving errands and appointments till the storm begins. makes life just that much more exciting.

happyhappyhappyhappyhappyday to you and all whom you love and care for......................................

And tonight - the start of a new large pastel!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Short. Fast.

Greetings, after too long again -

So, back at the typing.

This is one of "our" backyard crows. I've photographed any and all that will let me sneak a shot. Now, have a file of about 50  - 60 images. Time for a little collaboration?  Just a little????  Yup.

Now these wary, smart, feisty birds are finding their way into drawings and paintings. Hmm... How'd THAT happen? The bears said - Take a break. Do something else. Mess around with other creatures. So I've dared the trying.

Here's Crow #2 - who is actually crow number one, but that's another story for "The Mysteries of Titling Work."

Bird is acrylic on 6" x 6" canvas. Yup. Painting. Playing with acrylic blended fibers and thick paints. And thin paints. and metallic paints. And not-really-crow-colors. But trying for some crow spirit.
Long way to go. But glad to be trying something "new." For me. Not for the folks who've depicted these wily sorts for thousands of years.

Now, it's back to applying for a few more art fairs.

And hoping that box of crow and bear art makes it safely to Art dock in Duluth, Minnesota by the end of the week.

And wishing the tappers of maple trees a good syrup season.
And stocking up for next two-day storm.

Happy Spring, Everybody!!!

- Sue