Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Every man is the painter and sculptor of his own life." -- St. John Chrysostom

Friday, August 29, 2014

Using Dominoes to Make Pendants

Though I don't play dominoes, I love to create my Original Art pendants with them. I apply the artwork to the side with the pips (the "dots"), paint the rest, seal and varnish the whole thing, then add a bail and necklace cord.
An Original Art domino pendant                ©2014 Lynn Edwards
All of the dominoes I've obtained so far are vintage wooden ones. From what I can tell, newer dominoes seem to be mostly made of plastic. I definitely prefer the wooden versions; they have a nicer feel, in my opinion. Being a lover of history and artifacts from the past, I like the idea of using something that has a bit of "provenance" or "story" behind it, however humble or insignificant that may be.

Recently I was lucky enough to obtain a small lot of nine vintage dominoes with a truly beautiful scrolled pattern on the back. I don't think this pattern is all that common. Having looked at hundreds (maybe thousands) of dominoes for sale, it's the only time I've seen this particular pattern. I'd include a photo of it here, but being solid black, it would be pretty hard to see. I'm planning to bring out the design using something like gilder's paste or a metallic paint dry-brushed on. Being able to call attention to something so pretty yet so easily overlooked will be fun. Having an attractive motif on both sides of the domino will be very cool! I'm working on one now, and if this idea pans out, I'll be posting a photo of it here very soon.

Text and image ©2014 Lynn Edwards


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Living a Wild Life

One of the most interesting aspects of living in a semi-rural environment is the amazing variety of birds and animals we see on a regular basis. Readers of this blog have been treated to photos of Walter, a rabbit who makes daily visits to the lawn in front of the studio and the garden shed. Another featured visitor was a pig (owner unknown) who wandered in one afternoon, spent a few days grazing on the hostas, then moved on to greener pastures. In years past we've been a destination for stray cows, and once we were even visited by a bear.

Rabbits and pigs and cows and bears, oh my! But that's not all we've got living here. Lately, two species have been foremost in the Edwards household's ongoing critter saga:

Where the deer and the antelope play...

Well, actually, we don't have antelope (yet), but we do have deer. Lots of them. The deer seem to know they're perfectly safe here and have adopted a rather casual attitude toward us as we come and go and move about the property. Most of the time they just eye us when we encounter them. If they do flee, they never run far. They've become so laid back that last week, our friend Kathy had to wait patiently for a group of them to vacate the driveway before she could proceed on to our house.

One deer seems to have developed a penchant for playing with our driveway alarm. He strolls back and forth in front of it and listens for the corresponding very loud chime it makes inside the house. It's clear he thoroughly enjoys this novel form of entertainment. The only problem is, he frequently likes to play Activate the Driveway Alarm around 5 in the morning. Let's just say that until he tires of this game there will be no sleeping late around here.

Meet the flockers...

The past few years we've been playing host to increasing numbers of wild turkeys. At one point this spring we had a flock of at least two dozen of them, including several huge toms who put on quite a show lining up like soldiers and simultaneously "fanning" their impressive tail feathers.

Wild turkeys make their home in our yard
At this time, all but three of the flock have dispersed. The remaining three -- two adults and a juvenile we've dubbed "Baby Huey" -- spend much of their time hanging out around our bird feeder and bird bath. Baby Huey is growing fast. At the rate he's been polishing off bird seed he won't be a baby much longer.

So far the trio has somehow managed to evade coyotes and other predators and appear to be enjoying an idyllic existence. They come running when they hear the clanging of the lid on the bird seed can, and they roost high in the surrounding trees at night. One morning, I looked out the window to see one strutting around on the deck, inspecting the herbs we grow in pots. They've made themselves right at home.

Living with wild critters is always interesting and never dull. I'm not a painter of wildlife, but if I were, I'd never run out of subject matter. Sometimes having wildlife in such close proximity causes problems but none have ever been significant enough to make me want to move to an urban highrise. I can't imagine what my life would be like without creatures like these in it. They fill me with awe, make me smile, and never fail to intrigue me. When the news is filled with reports of senseless violence, political corruption and other depressing topics, I think of all the good things that Nature blesses us with, including the birds and animals I see each day. Thanks to them and the joys of living on this beautiful piece of earth we share, my own life is very good indeed.

Text and image ©2014 Lynn Edwards

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, August 24, 2014

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons history has to teach." -- Aldous Huxley

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Peace is not merely a vacuum left by the ending of wars. It is the creation of two eternal principles, justice and freedom." -- James T. Shotwell

Studio Storage: Tips for Organizing Your Stuff on the Cheap

Look at any art supplies catalog and you'll get the impression you'll need to spend a king's ransom to store your paints, mediums, papers and brushes. A rolling taboret and a flat file together can cost as much or more as a top quality leather sofa! Cheapskate that I am, I see no reason to spend exorbitant sums on studio furnishings when there are much more wallet-friendly ways to house art stuff.

Taborets start roughly around $100 but can run as much as a few thousand. Flat files are very expensive -- usually several hundred dollars, often considerably more. Sure, these items would be nice to have, but they're not necessary. Consider these low cost alternatives:

Instead of a rolling taboret, buy a rolling utility cart. I found a terrific utility cart at Ikea for just $49 -- about half the cost of a small taboret. It houses all my paints and mediums very nicely, is extremely sturdy, and rolls easily and quietly. (It's also a gorgeous shade of turquoise, my favorite color!) Besides Ikea, you can find very affordable utility carts at major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sams Club, Costco as well as discount stores and Amazon. Secondhand stores and thrift shops can be sources, too.

If a utility cart isn't an option, you could also use one of those rolling TV carts that were popular before flat screen models were introduced. You may even have one of these carts gathering dust in your basement or garage. If its shelves lack sides, use plastic shoe boxes or similar containers from a dollar store to hold your supplies. Secure the boxes to the shelves with double sided tape like that used for installing vinyl flooring.

Cheapskate paper storage in my studio consists of MDF panels spanning two file cabinets (at left). Each panel is separated from the one above it by a pair of  2x4s trimmed to 25 inches in length. Besides holding watercolor sheets, it also houses sheets of matboard and foamcore and a canvas or two.

Paper storage can be a challenge in the studio if you're storing full- or half- size watercolor sheets. They take up huge amounts of space when stored flat. My paper storage consists of a sheet of MDF spanning two file cabinets, with "layers" of additional MDF panels stacked on top of the first one. Each MDF panel is supported by a pair of 2x4s trimmed to the depth of the file cabinets plus an inch or so: 25 inches total. The cost -- excluding the file cabinets -- was about $25. That included the small fee Home Depot charged to cut the MDF panels to size.

Another way to store papers is hanging them. Clip your papers together with jumbo size binder clips, and suspend the clips from hooks installed on the wall. This method works great if you have an abundance of wall space. The only cost involved is the price of the binder clips and wall hooks, which can be had for less than $10. Besides papers you can hang large plastic stencils this way, too.

Have you found thrifty ways to create studio storage? Please share your tips. This is a problem almost all artists wrestle with, so your input will be welcomed. Just click on the "Comments/No comments" link below. We'd love to hear from you!

Text and image ©2014 Lynn Edwards

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, August 10, 2014

One of the hardest lessons we have to learn in this life, and one that many persons never learn, is to see the divine, the celestial, the pure, in the common, the near at hand -- to see that heaven lies about us here in this world." -- John Burroughs