An experiment isn’t a failure if you learn something from it. / painting a dragon on fabric

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Failure or not? I’d appreciate any tips, as always.

I like dragons and thought it would be fun to paint one on a silk scarf since I enjoyed the scarf painting class and want to try it again. A lady in the class made her own template with a glue like product on cardboard. I couldn’t spot the same bottle at the art supply stores so I tried a couple other things which didn’t work. But that’s ok because I knew I had the wrong fabric anyway. And I didn’t know how my dragon would look painted on a scarf.IMG_2160

I went to Joanne Fabrics and they didn’t have any real silk so I bought some polyester knowing it was only an experiment. Since I couldn’t find the same product that was recommended to me for making the template, I bought a silicone product in a tube that was for adding sculptural detail to your craft projects. It was hard to squirt the silicone out of the tube, and it made peaks at the end of each line, which I later trimmed off when it dried. I thought this will never work, but I used the plate just to give it a try and this green dragon is what I got from the silicone template.IMG_2159

I also tried making a plate using Elmers glue. It’s too runny. Can you even tell that’s a dragon? I like the red on black though.

I had one bit of luck at the art supply stores. Jerry’s Artarama had some oil paint sticks in the clearance section so I got five for under $26.

So, this is what I learned: I need to redraw my dragon and try again with the right kind of glue for my template and paint it on silk. Also, you can buy real silk at The Fabric Hut in Norfolk. I got some and I’m going to try to do a tiny rolled hem like those imported silk scarves from Thailand. I never did a rolled hem so that might work or it might not, but it’s raining today so whatthehell. It would be great if I can make my own scarves to paint too. I’m not quitting till I get it right.

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silk scarf painting workshop #2 / inspiration

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I haven’t mastered it yet, but this is FUN! I’ll take the class again. The teacher, Meryl Ann is a great help and showed me how to correct a mistake.

The oil paint sticks work nicely on silk. The paint doesn’t affect the drape of the fabric. They cost around $10 each color, so it’s worth the class just for that one reason. She has a lot of colors. But I made a mess of it and you can’t lift the color off if you put it in the wrong place or smear it. The thing to do is cover it with another design, then the mistake isn’t noticeable.IMG_2155

This photo looks a little out of focus, but I’m not a real photographer, so I don’t care.

Now I want to make my own templates. I have some good ideas. There’s a product like glue you can use to draw on a piece of cardboard to make your own template.

Also, the ladies in the class are very supportive of each other. It’s nice to hang around with other artists because art is mostly a solitary activity and this is getting me in friendly company.

silk scarf painting workshop

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I took a class this morning at Ocean View Arts where we painted on fabric with oil paint sticks. It was something I always wanted to try but didn’t know how to do it. The class was a lot of fun!

This photo shows my two practice pieces. You use templates with a raised surface, tape the template down and tape the fabric on top of it, then lightly rub the paint stick on top of the fabric and it picks up the design of the template.

The teacher, Meryl Ann, explains the process and gives you as many practice pieces as you want to do before you start on your silk scarf. I used an op art template and got a 3D effect on the black fabric. IMG_2153

This photo shows the template and my start on painting the scarf. I didn’t finish the scarf today but luckily there’s another class tomorrow night that I signed up for. I ordered 3 scarfs so I can give them to my mom and daughter for Christmas presents and have one for myself.

One nice thing about taking the class is the paint is included in the price of the class. The oil paint sticks are expensive. It was real nice to hang around with other artists and they are very welcoming to their group.

I’ll post pix of my finished scarfs in a couple days.

Battery de Russy / charcoal and chalk / corrected and extended

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Funny thing about a woman that goes out alone to sketch, am I in danger or am I the danger? As an old white girl, I’m not usually  looked at as a suspect, but security is watching me.

Fort Monroe. It looks safe to me. Every time I’m there I see so many security cars go past me. It might be the same car again and again, I don’t know because I don’t pay it any mind. I’m just standing out there trying to sketch. Or I’m sitting in my car taking a break. Yesterday the security car pulled in behind my car and sat there for a few minutes. I thought he was running my plates. Then he left. Did he look me up? Did he find me on google? A couple times I saw a cop stop on the other side of the street and take a photo. I ignored him. I don’t know if he took my picture or not.

I chalk it up to people not seeing an artist sketch in public alone, so they don’t know what to think. Yesterday a guy (civilian) drove into the same empty parking lot I was parked in close to the battery and got out of his car. He asked me if it was ok to park there and I said,” I guess so.” He told me he wanted to take pictures and he walked over to the battery. I got in my car and took a little break.

A few times in my years of sketching in plein air alone, I thought perps were checking me out. I didn’t get robbed. Sometimes these characters talk to me but I’m not afraid of bad guys, so I’ll talk. Once I thought a perp was planning on robbing me but changed his mind when I saw him and didn’t act afraid. Then he saw I’m left handed. A lot of criminals are superstitious. Maybe my being left handed saved me that time, but I don’t like to push my luck and I didn’t go back to that spot in Richmond overlooking the James.

I wish one of those security guards at Fort Monroe would talk to me so I could better assess the situation. Should I finish this sketch? I kind of wanted to try to paint the battery. I wonder if they think I’ll try to go into the battery, which is off limits. I’m not interested in going in there. It looks spooky, but I’m not superstitious.

It might take some time for me to become a fixture there like I do at other places I hang around drawing. Maybe in the whole 400 year history of the fort no one has ever just hung around drawing. but a lot of people take photos. why don’t I just take a photo like everyone else? Taking a photo won’t help me improve my drawing skill like trying to draw the battery freehand will.

Wind Swept Trees / charcoal and chalk

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I can draw outside if it’s 40*F, like today, but the wind coming off the water stopped me from getting out of my car.  It’s too blustery.

I went back to Fort Monroe to work on my sketch of the Battery De Russy and then changed my mind and drew these trees while sitting in my car. The battery is so long, I was planning to extend my sketch from before onto another paper and continue  drawing the architecture. It would have been awkward to hold my sketchbook in the wind. Forget  about standing up my easel. The wind would blow my drawing board away.

These trees were on my list of things I want to sketch there, so I got into drawing them  today. The battery will take a long time. I’ll get back to it another day.

I kind of like these trees. Think I’ll prime a canvas for it. This could be a painting I can do at home on rainy days.

Battery De Russy / charcoal and chalk

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I found another great place to draw or paint close to home. It’s Fort Monroe. They have 400 years worth of history and some spooky places to explore. I wonder if the paranormal investigating team has been there yet. I only found it a few weeks ago.

This is about 1/3 of the battery. I want to do the rest and connect my sketches so I can do a panorama later. They have 3 batteries all different from each other but all spooky. They also have a great old oak tree over 400 years old. I need to draw that while it’s still alive, but it looks mostly dead now.

Fort Monroe was decommissioned in 2011 and made into a national park. It’s free and has plenty of parking. You can go around the outside of the fort / castle, or go around on the inside of the stone walls. You can even walk all the way around on the turrets. It has a mote and a lighthouse. And they have a great free museum, the Casemate Museum, if you like history. IMG_2146

This is a photo of the De Russy battery on the side facing the water.

Japanese Maple / oil

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Don’t you just love to see fall leaves backlit? With the sun shining through the leaves the tree looks like it’s plugged in and turned on!

I wish I was a better photographer because this is brighter in person than my picture makes it look.

I was standing on the shady side of the tree and I could see the branches but on the other sunny side of the tree all you see is a skirt of leaves.

This is another try at painting like Matisse in my quest to understand more styles of art than the traditional, which is what I was indoctrinated into at art school. I taped my paint brushes onto yardsticks and stood back to paint it. It’s fun and this time I felt like I had more control over my brushes than before. I’m still mixing different styles together in this painting. I did some glazing, which Matisse probably didn’t do. And I used gray even though most modern artists don’t like to use it. Matisse wanted his paintings to reflect some kind of emotion, but I’m not feeling very emotional these days.  If I was to represent any emotion it would have to be my love of this tree.IMG_2138

This photo shows my canvas hanging on the wall over a piece of packing material and a piece of checkered vinyl to protect the wall from my paint when my paint brush taped to the stick goes off. You can see my sketches taped up too. I did my sketches and mixed up my colors in plein air on the path by the tree, but the canvas was too large for that narrow path so I painted it at home ala Matisse.IMG_2135

This was the first step, the background. I didn’t do an underpainting, which is the traditional way. This background took over a week to dry because when you paint with the brushes taped to a stick the paint goes on thicker. After I looked at this while it was drying, I decided to kill the brightness a little so the background wouldn’t compete with the tree. I wanted it to fade back a little, so when it was dry I put a thin glaze of white over the yellow and green. I think  glazing with oil paint is verboten in modern art styles.  Once a juror that rejected a painting I entered said, “Don’t mix different styles together.” I needed to do a glaze here. So much for dumb art rules.

 

another beautiful view of the marsh at False Cape State Park / charcoal and chalk

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This spot is good because I can get off the road without stepping in the tall grass which is home to ticks chiggers and snakes. They have benches and overlooks where you can be safe out of the grass. The marsh is on both sides of the road for miles and it’s beautiful all the way, especially with the Fall colors.  This is the best time of year to see it but they close the road for 6 months so the humans don’t scare the migrating birds.

I’m getting better at riding my bike on the gravel road. I can avoid the bumpy parts. But I’m trying to think of a way to take paint in there on my bike so I can do it in color next year. I might fill up a book with charcoal sketches  before I decide what to paint. I could take my plein air gear and paint at the Back Bay visitor center when the roads are closed because it’s real pretty right there at the parking lot too.

You have two ways to get into False Cape from Virginia Beach. First, is the road through Back Bay which is closing Nov.1, then there’s the beach. You can get there by boat, but a 3 mile walk on sand then the 3 mile walk back out would be too much beach walking for me to enjoy. Plus, the cape is around 10 miles long, so I’ll never get to the end of it on foot. I’ll go back down the East Dike Rd. on my bike in the spring. Then the West Dike Rd. will be open too. I’ve only lived at the beach for one year, so I haven’t finished scouting the whole area. There might be roads I can find leading in from North Carolina. It’s not very far.

And this isn’t the only beautiful marsh here. I’ll ride my bike down the Cape Charles trail  as long as the weather stays mild. First Landing State Park with the Cape Charles trail is closer to home than Back Bay and False Cape, and open all year. There’s a pretty marsh at the end of that trail at 84th St. It goes on for a mile or so. I’ll never get tired of looking at the wetlands.

a beautiful marsh at False Cape St. Park / charcoal and chalk

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Twice when I was riding my bike down the east dike road, a flock of small birds with light colored bellies, maybe finches, I don’t know for sure, was flying back and forth over the road and marsh back and forth swooping and dipping or kind of zipping all around me. It was CRAZY! Almost like the Birds movie! I couldn’t see whatever bugs they were after, if they were going for bugs.

I think the road closes in Nov. so I want to go back this week.

No Camera Needed