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Shiny Designs...on the Brighter Side of Life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I've been Following Blogs

But it's not as creepy and stalkerish as it sounds.

Call me slow, but I just got around to finding out what's up with the little widget on the left there called "Followers." That's the number of people who have listed my blog as one they follow. Right now that would be - not too many but hope always rises.

Now, there are other blogs out there that have me listed as one of their followers. They get to see my little picture and have the satisfaction of knowing I am watching them. Always watching...

Anyway, you are invited to follow my blog through blogger or subcribe via email. To subscribe just enter your email in the other little widget on the left and new posts will be delivered to your mailbox.

I do see your email address but I promise not to do anything unpleasant with it like send you junky emails or broadcast it over the web. Occasional messages and postings directly from me personally is all you're signing up for.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Meet the Author of Mostly Metals

If you are close to Cape Coral, Florida on Saturday, September 27, plan to go to the grand opening of the AC Moore on Pine Island Road.

There, you will get to meet my friend and editor as well as author Karin Buckingham who will be signing her book Mostly Metals and demonstrating a project from the book. Check her blog for the details.

Karin is talented and generous and wonderful to meet. She has edited my books (Knit & Crochet Combined and Let's Knit! ) from Kalmbach Books. I can't express how helpful and encouraging she is. When you meet her, be sure and tell her I said hi!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Derwent Graphitint Colored Pencil Lightfastness Test

Graphitint pencils – graphite with color – seem like a perfect marriage of the wonderful qualities of working with graphite pencils with the excitement of color. Granted, the colors are muted and complex but those are some of my favorite colors.

Anyway, there I was all excited about them and then heard of a problem. In response to a comment from another artist who used the pencils in a journal where they had faded, I decide to perform my own, completely non scientific, lightfastness test.

The test was performed on a set of twelve Derwent Graphitint colored pencils. The color names in the set: Storm 18, Midnight Black 20, Chestnut 13, Port 01, Ivy 11, Aubergine 03, Coal Grey 23, Cloud Grey 22, Dark Indigo 04, Cool Brown 15, Slate Green 08, Cocoa 16. (Sorry they’re not in numerical order – it’s the order I put them on the sample card.)

I started August 17, 2008 by placing the sample, with the left side covered, in bright light from a south facing window but no direct sunlight. It was allowed to rest in the window for 14 days. During this time, there were a few more cloudy days than usual due to tropical storms in the area. I live in east central Florida where we have sunshine and bright light most every day of the year.

At the end of this first phase, there appeared to be no change in color of any sample. That’s a good start, but I then decided to subject the sample to direct sunlight for the same time period. While most people don’t display artwork in these conditions, it seemed an extreme test might be useful.

After 14 days of daily exposure to direct morning sunlight, there were two colors that had faded markedly – Chestnut 13 and Ivy 11 – and one that had faded somewhat – Cocoa 16. The two colors that faded the most lost all the apparent color and left only the graphite. The third color, Cocoa, faded some but the original brown color is still discernible. The other colors were unchanged to my eye.

In reviewing my results and the official lightfastness ratings from Derwent, I noticed significant differences in some of the colors. The colors that faded the most in my test are rated as lightfast and one of the colors that they rate quite low on the scale (Aubergine 03) did not fade at all in my test. Also, other colors (Dark Indigo 04 and Storm 18) are rated as not being fully lightfast by Derwent but they also did not fade in my test.

To conclude, I will say again that my method was completely unscientific though it gives me enough confidence to use the pencils in my own artwork. I will take some care with color choices and stay away from those that faded in my test. I’ll also use the ones with the lower Derwent ratings with care. If you are using these pencils and are concerned about fading, please conduct your own tests and review the manufacturer’s ratings for yourself before proceeding.

Now, it’s time to actually make some art!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Birds! Watercolor Paintings Cardinals and Oriole

Original Watercolor
For Sale: Etsy

I just finished another set of birds with a pair of cardinals and an oriole. They are all posted on Etsy if you want to see "Red" and his mate "Little Red" as well as "Notorious" a northern oriole.

I had the idea to make a mini demo of one of them to share how I paint them. You know, scanning it at various stages of WIP and explaining what I was doing. Of course, the one that I chose to document, a male ruby throated hummingbird, is the one that just did not turn out well! Funny how things go that way. I’ll try again next time.

If you've got a favorite bird you'd like to see or any thoughts on these, let me know. I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thoughts on Keeping an Artist's Sketchbook

Do I keep a sketch book? Yes, but I’ll bet it’s not what you expect. There are as many lists and words as sketches. I use my journal for everything from notes on book and article ideas to sketches of people, places and things. Sometimes, I go for days without an entry and then other times several pages are gone in one day.

I’m hesitant to share the sketches because people seem to expect a work of art and act a bit let down when the sketches aren’t as finished or polished as they expected. Some pages are more colorful and attractive than others and that usually depends on how much time I was able to spend. The fast and messy pages are more valuable to me because the ideas they contain were important. The sketch posted here was made very quickly while waiting at a parking lot because I liked the way the breeze was swishing the fronds and how the sun glinted off them.
To me, painting, drawing and sketching are different skills and may be accomplished in different styles. Some artists are more consistent, but I’m not one of them. My sketch style is abbreviated and messy while my drawings are much more precise and detailed. In comparison, my painting style is closer to my sketching style but doesn’t resemble it much because of the difference in mediums.

I really like to see other artist’s sketches. It’s like getting a peek at the thought process behind the scenes. Karen Winters, a truly accomplished landscape painter, posed a thoughtful question on her blog about drawing, sketching and sharing that process. I’d love to hear what you think.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Crochet Project for a Change - Fall Feeling

It's still pretty warm here in Florida, but I'm working on the Fall Feeling with this new project. I had an urge to crochet and found this loden green yarn in stash as well as the brown. It's woolease from Lion Brand so is nice and sturdy and washable - perfect for a throw.

As for the colors, I don't know why I bought 10 balls of this green. It's a pretty color, but I sure can't wear it as a sweater - it makes me look sick. The brown, left over from earlier projects, is called Mink Brown and is a really lovely flecked and "fibery" color. Again, it's not a good color for garments on me. SO, the next best thing is to make a warm and cozy blanket sort of project.

The hexagons are modified from an octagonal block found in one of my stitch dictionaries and they are simply edged with the brown. Single crochet holds it all together.

The hexagons don't take very long to make but I figured out that I'll have to make somewhere between 120 and 192 of them to make a fair sized throw. We'll see if I chicken out early and it ends up more like a scarf!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Another Watercolor Painting - Serene Cardinal

Another cardinal - number 8 in the trials mentioned in the previous post. He is more serene than the first one. Painted the same way but with an entirely different result!

It's amazing what can happen if you just try a little. After so many wonderful people, both online and off, encouraged me to continue with the birds, I was bold enough to paint a few to list on Etsy and have had the good fortune to sell a chickadee. You can see the remaining listings over there on the left.
Of course, I'm just as excited as a kindergartner at a carnival! I'm planning more small paintings and have a notion for birds of prey in larger formats. Any thoughts or ideas?