Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This week at Brush-Paper-Water...

Magnolia, 15" x 22"
Fábio Cembranelli

When I first found Fábio Cembranelli's work, it was his lush impressionistic florals that grabbed my attention, but I later discovered that he's equally at home doing landscapes. He conveys the moods of his varied subjects with great skill and artistry and opens a delightful window on his world. We met about a year ago on Brushspace, a social networking site for artists, and he was one of the first artists I contacted when I started the showcase blog. It is my great pleasure to share his work with you.

Please link over to Brush-Paper-Water to see a few of his paintings and then be sure to visit his blog to see more. It's also well worth your time to jump to his website via the link in his blog and take a moment to look at Demonstration 1 for a step-by-step demonstration and explanation of his painting technique.

Monday, August 24, 2009

From the depths of the vault...

Starry Sky, handmade paper with inclusions, size unavailable

Back in the early 80s, I became fascinated with handmade paper. I spent my summer vacation that year taking a papermaking workshop at Sievers School of Fiber Arts on Washington Island -- just off the tip of Door County in Wisconsin. The instructor that year was Gisela Moyer, who had just received her Fine Arts Degree in papermaking. She went on to a successful gallery career, including ownership of her own gallery, before switching to outdoor festival sales about 10 years ago.

Just this weekend, I stumbled across slides of some of the pieces I produced that year. I've lost track of Starry Sky, but Lakeshore Dunes still hangs in my parents' home.

Lakeshore Dunes, layered handmade paper, approx. 8" x 10"

For these workshop projects, the emphasis was on creativity, not archival materials. As you can see, there is discoloration in the final works, particularly in the layered piece -- in part from the raw materials and in part from casting the paper onto hardboard covered with muslin. That permitted the production of pieces with some depth and also resulted in rapid drying times so we could get quick feedback and inspiration for additional works.

I later began a series using watercolor dyes to tint the pulp and create more colorful finished pieces. Unfortunately, the dyes available at that time were fugitive, so any works that were framed and displayed have faded almost to invisibility. I know I have a stash of unframed works, but their whereabouts are a bit of a mystery right now. I'll take a few pix and post them if I manage to unearth them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hanging in there...

This lovely begonia caught my eye at the local garden center several summers ago and insisted on coming home with me. It graced our front porch with its lush foliage and gorgeous flowers until the late autumn, when it deteriorated to a few mushy stumps and Señor Terremoto carried it off and dumped it upside down on a spot of bare soil behind the garage.

Now we do have mild winters here, but it does get below freezing at night for a few weeks every year. So it was with astonishment that Señor Terremoto reported one day in late spring that the begonia had new growth curling up from the underside of the lump of potting soil. He left it in place that summer and it developed into a fairly normal plant before it died back in the fall. The next spring, when new growth appeared -- now from the center of the lump -- Señor Terremoto planted it in a proper hanging basket. It was a satisfactory addition to the front porch, but nothing like its original self. When it died back last fall, he left it in the pot, watered it now and again over the winter, and we were rewarded with the extravagant beauty you see here.

Right now, I'm feeling a little like that begonia during its first winter. I've been going through some difficult times -- my dad is unhappily installed in a nursing home back in Wisconsin, in slowly declining health, and there are some family issues that make it even more stressful. My creative energy is in here somewhere, struggling to find a way back so it can flourish and bloom again. I haven't been very productive this summer, but with the support and encouragement of my friends, I'm trying to get into the studio to paint more often. Please bear with me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This week at Brush-Paper-Water...

Firm Foundation, 17" x 15"
Andy Smith

Andy Smith fits more into a day than most people do. He coaches track, gets in a decent length bicycle ride, takes time to visit his elderly mother, and still produces at least one small painting nearly every weekday which he presents on his blog with a charming little anecdote or comment about its subject's appeal to him. Weekends, he's often at an art festival, an activity that, in addition to the public festival hours, often involves significant travel time as well as hours to set up and take down a booth display.

He also paints the larger works which are featured on the showcase this week. Andy's work is evocative of a simpler time – old stone buildings, sparely-furnished rooms, old cabinetry, antique stoneware and apothecary bottles – and his skillful use of strong light and rich colors make his subjects spring to life.

Please pop over to Brush-Paper-Water for a look at some of Andy's work.

Monday, August 10, 2009

All in a day's work...

We're all about Macs and Firefox here at the home I share with Señor Terremoto. So it was a big surprise to us last week when he brought home a PC laptop that he has to use for work now (thanks to bureaucrats in suits and ties) and discovered that, running on Internet Explorer, it made a hash of some of the features on my website. After some sleuthing around, we decided that the solution might be to upgrade to the new version of iWeb. We trekked to the local Apple store this weekend, where we had to buy the complete iLife software package, then came home and installed it, having been assured by the sales guy that it would act only as a minor upgrade.

Not. Exactly.

I spent hours revising my website on Sunday evening, only to discover when I uploaded to my local host that the new software changed the appearance of the site. The art looked totally washed out, and as an extra little treat, the new iWeb also changed the sizes of some of the fonts so text no longer fit into the spaces allotted. I have to admit there was some wailing and gnashing of teeth here in the casa de Terremoto. The only saving grace was that I hadn't uploaded the new stuff to my web server.

Sooo -- back to the Apple store this morning. After much comparing of the iWeb files to the published website (which was identical when I was using the original software), they finally agreed to refund my money. We came home and restored my software to its original state and I've spent the rest of today re-revising my website. It's good to go now and you're welcome to take a peek.