Thursday, February 27, 2014

What I'm Working On ... A Many Faceted Answer for February

People are always asking me what I'm working on. This is a complicated question for me to answer because I am usually doing about a billion different things, in different realms, most of which is not what they would consider "Art". There is usually at least one major organizing project going on. I have a home project "to do" list that's about 200 items long and mostly just waiting for the budget to do it. I am always thinking of new things I want to try in the studio, and I've been writing these down, as it's not really time for me to create right now. I am gathering ideas and energy right now. But that's doesn't mean I'm not going on a whole bunch of field trips to look at stuff and get inspired. I have been doing that almost once a week.

So in an effort to answer the question, "What are you working on?" I thought I'd just take you on a little tour of what I've been doing in February.

Hanging out at the National Gallery of Art

Winter is the best time of year to visit the museums on the National Mall. There are hardly any tourists, (due to our crappy winter weather) so you may be the only person in that entire section of the museum. It's heaven! When I have been going lately, I have worn my "Art Geek" hat. I've been looking for guidance from the Masters, be they Renaissance, Dutch, Modern, or other.

 The layered colors just killed me when I saw this huge piece, Ocean Park No.61,  by Richard Diebenkorn. I had seen it in a book, but I had no idea it was 10 ft by 8 ft! And it just glows, like a pearl. It gave me all sorts of ideas about layering different concoctions of chalk paint and glazes to get different effects; how I could mix pigments into wax to make a glaze become iridescent or pearlized. See what I mean about Art Geeking?

In the Dutch section, I was struck by how Jan Steen used different colors in lighter and darker shades to show the folds of the cloth in his merry painting, "The Dancing Couple." For some reason, that idea is completely revolutionary to me. And when I was telling my very science geeky 14 year old about it, she mentioned that one could take advantage of the Doppler effect and have things closer to you be redder and things farther be bluer to trick the eye into seeing depth. I love it when life just teaches you from random directions.

And then there's Andrew Wyeth. I don't know what it is about this man's paintings, but they have haunted me with their mystery and beauty since I was introduced to Christina's World in 8th grade. In this one, Wind From the Sea, I was looking at how he created the sheerness of the curtains. The more I looked for shading and color clues, (picture me leaning right up to the canvas as the security guard inches closer and closer nervously) the more I realized there weren't any. He simply painted the lines of the curtains and then left at at that. Remarkable effect, wouldn't you say? Transparent looking because there is no paint there? Brilliant! 

See? This is why I go look at other people's art. Because I would never think of this this stuff. Once you figure out what they've done, it seems obvious. But it's the thinking of it in the first place that's the trick. So I just file it all away in the Mental Cauldron and it swims around in there until it decides to combine with something else and emerge again as a loosely formed idea.

Making My Own Chalk Paint

I have been toying with this idea ever since reading this post from Cottage Instincts. So this week I actually tried it. I can't tell you my results, as I am teaching a class on it this coming April 5th (more on this soon. I am super excited about this class!), but I will say it made a mess, and that's always a good thing in my book. 

As a part of my class, the good people at Websters sent me wax and mix in samples for all the students in the class! They are the best! Check them out here. And I promise to do a full review of their products as soon as I have a chance to use them. What's not to love about new brands of art supplies?

Making Things Out of Other Things

Neither of these is a great photo, but they give you an idea of what 
my inner up-cycling bug has been up to lately.

I (well, DK and I. He helped me a lot on this one) made a curtain rod out of pipe conduit. 

I couldn't stand the vertical blinds in my basement any more, both because they were ugly and mostly because my kids never shut them the right way and they were breaking. So DK and I took them down and replaced them with a pipe conduit curtain rod inspired by this hilarious post from Lynne Knowlton's blog Design the Way You Want to Live and some Ikea cotton drapes. 

And don't worry. I have full tutorials in the works for building the curtain rod (you get to use the pipe cutter at Home Depot!), hemming the super long drapes, and adding big fabric stripes to the drapes. Obviously, that last one hasn't happened yet, due to a disagreement with my sewing machine. It needs to go see the sewing machine doctor and then we will resume our merry course together.

I also stripped a tree stump I saved from my friend Rodney's 
wood pile and made it into a plant stand.

I got this idea from my dear friend Brandi's excellent blog, Don't Disturb This Groove. Check the awesome tutorial out here. Brandi's tutorial is so good,  I don't need to write another one here. 

She and I are Instagram buddies and I was completely taken when she posted her awesome "after" pics of this project. I had the stump in my studio, curing. I tripped on it one day and decided the time had come. So off came the bark, and out came the bleach. "Worth it, but nasty" is all I have to say about the process, especially after cleaning out my tub. I also ended up sanding the stump quite a bit after it was dry, which she doesn't cover in her tutorial. I prefer the lighter inner wood to show, as opposed to the darker wood near the bark. And her stumps had no bark to begin with. Lucky!

Painting Things Really Bright Colors

This was one of my birthday presents. My sister always sends me the things that I can't really justify buying, but that I can't live without. This print was just calling to me (It's by Vin Zzep. I like all of his stuff. You can see it here) I knew exactly where I was going to put it; to the left of my desk, so I could stare at it when I got writers block and could pretend to frolic in the grassy fields under the giant fish with a crown. Totally normal, right?

I ran right out and bought a frame at Walmart and got it home and framed it up. And all I could think was "I like this, but the frame needs to be red." So back to Walmart I go, to the blessed spray paint aisle. A little primer, a little spray paint, and Voila! The perfect frame for a flying fish!

And the other day, I was sitting in my chair in the living room looking at my front door. I just KNEW it needed to be electric orange red. So up the paint chips went. DK was leaving town for the week and he made me promise I wouldn't paint it until he got back. So I agreed to just mess with paint chips in various locations until he got back. 

Let's just say 4 coats of paint were on the door and dry within 2 days of his return. And I LOVE it! It makes me feel like it really is MY house. (Tomato Red by Benjamin Moore Aura paint, for those interested.) 

It looked like ketsup on top of the can, and DK said it reminded him of tomato soup, so now our door has been named "Campbell." Gotta love my kids. Who names the front door?

While all this paint chipping was going on, I brought home some aqua chips as well, just in the name of being thorough. I had become entranced by Sherry and John's new entry way from Young House Love here. (Do you think I read enough blogs?) And yes, I have total Moravian Star light envy, but that's another story.

Long story short, I hated the aqua for the front door, but loved it for the laundry room/garage door. DK hadn't extracted any laundry room "no painting" promises, (it's the laundry room for heaven's sake) so I painted a few base coats with paint I had and ran to Benjamin Moore to get a sample of Fairy Tale Blue the day after he left. And I told him he'd have to figure out what I had painted when he came home.With me, that could have been anything. 

I am in love with it, but I can't decide what to do with the wall color, as the many paint swatches indicate. The existing taupe is pretty trashed. And while it looks nice and all, I'm just not a taupe girl.

So that's the rundown. It sounds so much more exciting telling you guys about it than it actually was. 

The funny thing is, the project I am most happy about was 
sorting through all the out-grown, hand me down clothes!

Notice the clear labeling and the uniform containers. It is ridiculous how happy I am about this.

I went through nine big boxes or bins of clothing and trashed or donated 4 bags of stuff, sent some to my sister, labeled and binned the rest for my younger kids as they grow. I have wanted to do this for a YEAR. And now it's done. 

There is such joy in "Done".

What have you guys been doing?

Talk to you soon,
CM Shaw

PS. If you find that I don't talk enough here and you need some more, 
you can follow my Pinterest boards here

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blog! Feels like I'm sitting right there! Love the red door! You need a grey or silvery tone with your aqua door...maybe sage??? Laughing at you hand me down totes! Ours are just about empty in the garage since the kids are older. But my 14 year old loved going "shopping in the garage" a few years back! I looked into Websters a few months back but they wouldn't talk to me cause I was within 18.6 miles of their nearest dealer (20 miles is the limit). So...didn't get to try them out. Can 't wait to read about the new adventures! Miss you...will you be buying a ticket on Saturday????? I AM!